Bipolar II

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This has been a very interesting summer. I would call it a Season of Self Care for me this year. I’ve had some majorly awesome personal things happening that have taken a lot of time and energy. Mostly exciting stuff! We bought a beautiful new house, we’ve been nesting and redoing the condo, we went to Vegas for my birthday, to Chicago for Steve’s, went to visit my sister and their new baby… General life stuff. Feeling great!

However, I’ve also been taking some mental and emotional space to realign. If you read the blog (and yes, I know I’ve been negligent for a few months- sorry about that!) you know I’m living with the intent to manage my eating disorder and balance any other mental health issues as naturally as possible. Until recently, this has meant treating my depression and anxiety as they come up through the normal means- exercise, sunlight, being gentle and patient with myself, essential oils, supplements, etc.

It’s a constant experiment in what works and what doesn’t, and I keep inching toward less bad spells as I go along.

However, a few short months ago, it came to my attention that what I’m actually dealing with is much more likely to be bipolar II. I’ve been giving myself space to understand what that means and adapt how I’m treating it. It’s been incredibly eye-opening and life-changing! Continue reading

March in the City of Stars

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Photo by Teo Duldulao on Unsplash

I love LA this time of year. I really do. It’s still cold (and GOD has it been raining this year) but the warm, sunny days are coming more frequently and isn’t so hot yet that you don’t appreciate them. There is something blooming about now that might be my favorite smell in the world. I’m not a flower person, I have no idea what it is. From the smell, I would guess it’s called something like “honeysuckle”.

Is there a flower person in LA reading this blog? What flower is that? It blooms like crazy every spring and makes everything smell delicious and amazing and edible.

It reminds me of when I first moved here. My first official spot in LA (after some couch crashing- sorry I filled your living room with balloons while I trained for my weird party clown job, David) was in the Hollywood Hills. The flowers that blossomed up there smelled like what heaven must smell like. Not the Christian heaven, which I always imagine smells like Pine-sol. Like…maybe a Buddhist heaven. Or whatever atheist liberal heaven is.

That can’t be the best way to explain that….but there it is.

Anyway, whenever I get a big breeze carrying that gorgeous LA spring smell, I’m totally transported back to the excitement of first moving here. I remember when getting hired as a party clown was a positive thing, back before numerous side jobs beat all the spirit out of me and I learned to hate all people. When LA was a city of dreams and famous people and possibilities. When I only had to find $500 a month for rent….in the Hollywood Hills….three houses away from Lindsay Lohan.

Ahhhh the good old days.

A few things have stayed the same. I still love the smell. I still feel LA is a city of dreams and famous people and possibilities. I will never again clown, and I literally can’t stretch my imagination to the realm of $500 rent. (Guys….can we imagine this? Did I move to LA in 1956?)

But, god, I’m still excited.

I’m not in the habit of dishing out unsolicited advice (hahaha yes I am, I’m the oldest of 6, I give out advice like it’s my job, y’all- it’s very annoying), but I’m going to give you some (more than I already do) right now, dear reader.

Live a life that gets you excited as hell. Whatever you have to do, do it. ESPECIALLY those of us that deal with depression and anxiety and every other type of mental crap. Because when SO many days are hard for no reason, shouldn’t the rest of those days be outstanding? Joyful? Shouldn’t they happen in a place or with a job or in a relationship where you can’t WAIT to get out of bed and be a part of it??

Find the thing. Find your thing. You deserve it! We all fucking deserve to have as much happiness as we can find in this brief time on the planet.

Whatever your place is, whatever your situation is, find somewhere where the flowers are always blooming for you, where the very smell in the air makes you skip down the street. God, you owe it to yourself. I don’t care if it’s a corner of your basement or a whole city. A nine to five or a dance class. A whole life upheaval or organizing that awful closet once and for all. Find it. Claim it. Proudly.

My head and my nose and my heart are so full of happy. There’s so much work to be done in the world, I know, but we may as well do it from our happy places! I, for one, will be stopping to smell the (What is it? Gerber something? Hydrangea? Is that a gardenia? Guys, help!) a lot this season.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Being So Hard on Yourself

Happy 2019 friends!! Hope your year has been fabulous so far. I know I feel that “brand new crisp notebook” feeling in the air- do you?

I’ve actually had a beautiful realization in the new year that has me more excited than anything else, and I have to share because it’s been pretty powerful.

If you’ve followed this or any of my other blogs, or follow me on social media, you probably know I have been in recovery for an eating disorder that I probably developed somewhere around ten or eleven years of age. I have written about the awful voice that was part of my disorder, the one that sits on your shoulder and constantly tells you you’re failing, you’re fat, you’re lazy, you’re worthless, because you’re undisciplined and unmotivated and not dieting or working out enough, and that’s why you didn’t book your last three auditions.

It was a really fun time.

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What sweet relief when I discovered, as my recovery marched along, that voice was becoming quieter. It was showing up less and less. I could actually talk to it, tell it to shut up. Eventually, it stopped coming by almost completely.

Continue reading

“Fighting” Holiday Anxiety This Year

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Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek

The holidays are a stressful time for most of us, I would wager. At least most people I know.

If you have financial trouble, nothing puts pressure on it like needing to buy a million gifts, travel, or make a time extra magical somehow for your kids. If you are far from your family or have little family, holidays will shine a spotlight right on that sore spot. Let’s say you have money- are your gifts thoughtful enough? If you spend too much, will you make them uncomfortable? Are your kids learning the right lessons about giving?

On and on, the anxious mind can spin.

Did your mother-in-law hate your turkey? Is your racist drunk uncle coming to the Christmas party where he will certainly pick a fight with you? Will your flight be canceled due to a blizzard and you’ll miss Christmas altogether?

And, for those of us who identify as introverts, my big question every year- how do I build in badly needed “me time” to the nonstop holiday celebrations?

I’ve read list after list of ideas for fighting the extra anxiety that the holidays bring. They usually include things like this:

  • “Make sure you make time for workouts! Those endorphins will help bust through the gloom and keep you feeling great!”
  • “Don’t go into debt to give gifts. Give something handmade, or just trust that being together with your family is the most important thing.”
  • “Don’t go overboard hosting! Keep dinner simple and click THIS LINK for tons of inexpensive DIY decor!”
  • “Teach your kids that giving is better than receiving. Volunteer, adopt a family in need, and encourage them to make gifts from the heart for teachers or friends.”

The brilliant “tips” go on like this, full of ways to put your mind at ease that you’re doing your very best.

None of these are bad ideas. Nothing wrong with them. But let’s get real for a second.

I’m busy. I’m even busier during the holidays. While a trip to Michaels, hours on Pinterest, and even more hours creating an “inexpensive handmade” gift might sound like a good way to save money on expensive items, swapping my credit card for a perfectly lovely present from a department store is way less stressful.

Will I make time for workouts? I hope! But, honestly, eating a vegetable or two and getting six hours of sleep might be about all the wellness I have time for some days.

Will showing up without a gift, encouraged that the “present of my presence” will be enough really make for a comfortable situation in most cases? Probably not, let’s face it.

There will likely be family drama. My jeans will likely get tighter. The kids will likely not have a perfect Hallmark Christmas full of lifelong lessons about the magic of giving and the evil that is constant consumerism. I hope to teach them gratitude, how little others have, and how fun it is to give someone a gift. Here’s hoping.

Here is my point: this year, I’m leaning in. I’m just accepting that this is going to be stressful. I’m sitting in it. I’m going to organize as best I can, and spend too much, and miss some things, and probably not work out enough. I might get high strung. I might have a meltdown. I might forget a gift until the last minute, or not get holiday cards out this year, or spend too much, or too little, or gain weight, or not get out of bed some days.

So what?

Will the world end because I didn’t wake up an hour early every day to do yoga? Will my family fall apart because we had to say “no” to some events and invites? Will my husband leave me because I didn’t create a Pinterest-worthy spread for a Christmas get-together?

Nope.

Will I regret the credit card debt come January that will save me loads of time in December?

I don’t know. Maybe.

All I know is that I can’t do it all perfectly, and I can’t do it “imperfectly” perfectly, so, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be real.

Try to stay present. Spend money if needed, don’t if it’s not necessary. Give myself a break. Constantly find reasons to be grateful and notice them as often as possible. Be prepared to fail some days, totally fail. Don’t miss the magic in the very small things, if you can help it.

This is my holiday plan, and probably just a decent plan for life, too. I constantly find that the best anxiety buster is accepting anxiety. It seems to dissipate once given into.

And, failing that, there is always, always wine.

 

3 Types of “To-Do” Lists that Can Help When Depression Sets In

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Let’s get real. Making a “to-do” list on a day you’re struggling with depression can be many things, but “helpful” is not usually one of them. Most days I wake up this way the feeling is so heavy I can’t even find the tiniest bit of will to fight it. Or I stare at my list of goals I made the night before and cry, knowing I’ll never complete anything, any time, anywhere, because that’s what the voice in my head is telling me.

I can’t even get in the shower, but I’m supposed to create a thoughtful DIY gift for my anniversary, plan a party, work on a script I’m writing, and make three phone calls?

Um, not happening.

Honestly, when depression sets in, I usually forget why I wanted to do any of these things in the first place. Nothing seems important. Everything feels impossible. I just want time to stop so I can hide under my covers and cry or sleep.

However, over many years of dealing with depression in the various forms in which it visits me, I’ve learned that at certain times, there are things I can do to cushion the blow. Mostly, I’ve developed tools that prevent it from hitting me so hard or so often- though these don’t always work. Once it comes, it’s generally out of my hands, since I’m not exactly “myself” during those times.

When I am able to get a small ledge to hold onto, one of the things that can help me is, believe it or not, a to-do list.

Generally, depending on where I am mentally, these lists fall into one of three categories. I’m going to share them here in case one or more can ever help anyone else when they are slipping down into that deep hole of sadness or numbness.

And please remember, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, if that’s what you need. Sometimes we just need to stop and be as gentle as possible with ourselves. There is no shame in having to stop.

Here are the types of lists I use. These aren’t in order of “feeling best to worst” or anything like that. Depression simply hits differently sometimes.

List #1: The “Things I Know Will Make Me Feel Better and Start to Move Me Out of a Depressed State” List

This is one only accessible to me when I’m just starting to get a bit “off” or when I’ve been feeling depressed for a bit and can see the light, however dim, at the end of the tunnel. Continue reading

Actors- Confused About the 2018 Tax Law Changes?

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Hey LA actors! I don’t know about you, but I am completely lost as to how the new tax laws affect me. I’m not thrilled about it either, seeing as I spent the last fifteen years as a professional actor learning exactly what was deductible, what wasn’t, and how to make the most of my tax returns.

Now it’s just the wild west.

If you are feeling a little confused or unsure, I have great news! The Actor’s Fund is sponsoring a FREE workshop on Thursday, September 27th at 6:30 pm to explain to performers how the changes will affect them going forward.

Tax time is already stressful- come to this event and learn what you need to know to be as prepared as possible!

It will be held at the SAG-AFTRA building on Wilshire, but my understanding is that you do not need to be union to attend.

Here is the link to RSVP and secure your spot:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-tax-law-changes-be-prepared-not-panicked-registration-48940249604?aff=ebdsorderfblightbox

If you aren’t in the LA area, worry not! I will do my best to condense and share useful information here on the blog after the workshop.

Final note- The Actor’s Fund has a huge list of programs and workshops besides this one to help performers, so be sure to check them out at their website, https://actorsfund.org/ when you get a chance. If you need help, reach out to them. If you can give, it’s a worthwhile cause!

 

3 Ways Social Media Makes My Depression Worse

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I am not trendy.

I know, when it comes to social media, a lot of millennials love to hate it. It’s cool to bash Facebook and take “breaks” or swear it off altogether. (Yeah right, Karen. See you back here posting in a week.)

I get into Snapchat and Instagram, too- I’m not completely unhip. But I’m not as cool as my younger friends and family who don’t even need a Facebook page, who may barely ever check my hilarious Snaps of my cat (their loss!), who post one perfect selfie #ootd Insta a week, with an inspirational quote here and there to mix it up.

I still use emojis when I should be using a little person that looks like me and makes the proper expressions, according to my 13 year old step-daughter. (An avatar, maybe? I just imagine myself all blue having weird hair sex…)

Social media suits me. I’ve moved to six different states. I’ve lived the actor’s life of having a “show family” you love with all your heart that you may never, ever see again. I travel for work. I also “network” for work (UGH).

Here is my point- I need to, and enjoy, keeping in touch with great people I meet all over. I LOVE knowing what my family in Indiana is up to and how everyone is without making thirty phone calls a day. I like getting updates on college acceptances, post-op progress, and finally getting to see when your baby goes from “gross alien you love anyway” to “cute!”  Continue reading

You CAN Go Home Again

Home. The City of Angels. SoCal. LA. We made it back.

I once heard someone say that once you live somewhere for ten years, you are really from there. Does Los Angeles count for me? I celebrated my ten year anniversary of moving here at the end of April.

Of course, I took some breaks. I spent a year in Atlanta, chunks of time away to make a movie in Minnesota, to travel Ecuador, to all over North America when I worked jobs for Porsche, a long time to shack up with the husband in Michigan….

Still, I felt like an Angeleno the moment I arrived.

I’ll never forget that flight. My boyfriend at the time and I had decided to move to LA, not New York as we had always planned. I honestly forget why. We were living in Sarasota, Florida, doing a long run of a show. Evita. A ten week run. Maybe we were burnt out on the idea of eight shows a week for a while. I think maybe his dad suggested to us we try LA. I know NYC had always been the end game…we had visited for long periods and loved it.

Maybe it was a fluke. Something about the movies drew us in. I really can’t say a decade later. Continue reading

A Whole New Book

Sometimes in life you get to start a fresh new chapter.

Today, I feel like I’m starting a whole new book.

Yep. I got that first day of school, fresh, clean notebook, crisp pages, shiny ink-filled pens vibe.

I’ve been away from LA for almost a year and a half. Not totally, strictly “away.” I’ve been there for chunks of time. Months, sometimes. But I haven’t had a true home there in something like 18 months.

It’s been an exciting 18 months, for the most part. I did get to start at Groundlings. I spent two weeks in Thailand. A month traveling all over Ecuador. Performed onstage in NYC for the first time.

I worked random jobs- a hosting gig here, a commercial there.

I got to go home- as in my birth home- a lot, spend a lot of time with family, mine and my husband’s.

Today, we are packing up the Cadillac and starting the road trip home. To the west coast. To LA. To the place my dreams live. To the city that makes me feel like I can take a deep breath and be the most me.

Life is full of twists and turns you can never expect. Now it’s time to ride those twists and turns out west, to jump on Route 66 and start my new book with a road trip adventure.

Also, Los Angeles is now offering yoga classes with Lola the Sloth, so it seems my return is just in time. 🙂

 

“Overweight”

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I am overweight.

That’s what the color-coded table on the wall behind the scale says. That’s what the nurse wrote down on my chart. That must be true.

After all, these are the experts. The doctors, the graphs, the numbers. They know.

I’ve never seen them do it before, maybe I never noticed. I’ve been the same weight for about a year now, give or take. After my body hoarded fat for a while as it tried to rebalance after 15 years of an eating disorder, it’s finally calmed down. It’s landed and settled. It’s a lovely place to be, because I feel happy for my body. Like it finally trusts me again.

Like it knows I’m not going to starve it anymore.

I feel amazing. But I’m overweight. That’s the word. For my height, if I weigh this number, I go into an “orange zone.” It’s not the “normal” zone. It’s over the line. I’ve gone too far. Medically, I set off an alarm.

There is no category for “underweight.” Not on the chart behind the scale. I looked. My old weight, the weight range I was before I got healthy, it isn’t even listed. It’s not worth the effort of assigning a color. I weighed myself obsessively every single day for years, and I know all the numbers. Not one of them was on that scale. Continue reading