babbles

Moving back to Manayunk & feeling some type of way

(featured photo by Tyler Corbley)

This Saturday I single-handedly hauled all my belongings into my tiny Honda Civic and drove off to Manayunk. I don’t have a lot of things – at least not furniture wise. So right now, the room is kind of… barren.

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(Yes, that is a little ball of Nova Dog on the bed there.)
Also I don’t own a chair.

Continue reading “Moving back to Manayunk & feeling some type of way”

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Crashing. (and how to cope with it)

Mental illness is not always constant. There are days, weeks, or months where you could be feeling on top of the world. You’re taking care of yourself, you’re getting things done, the days don’t weigh you down like they used to – momentarily, you feel like a real person. I think that’s one of the scariest parts for people with mental illness; the knowledge that the “real” feeling is only temporary, and that it’ll burn down in a ball of flames one day. And that day could be any day. And it’ll probably be terribly inconvenient.

Maybe crashing is mostly consistent with those who have bipolar disorder or PTSD, but I’d argue that the combination of depression + anxiety can create a very similar crash. The labels and technicalities aren’t important and I’m not a therapist. All I know is that crashing, at least for me, is serious. The higher the high, the lower the low. It’s chemical.

Continue reading “Crashing. (and how to cope with it)”

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Dealing with death, getting myself together

For those of you who’ve been reading my posts, you know that my grandfather (whom I’d been living with) died in September. Well, last week, my aunt (my grandmother’s daughter) died of cancer. (Rather, the intensive therapy they bombarded her with – but that’s another rant on its own.)
I saw her in hospice before she died – unlike Chacha. I was sick when he was in the hospital, and I didn’t want to risk getting him sick too. I held my Aunt Lizzie’s hand while she struggled to breathe and complimented my eyebrows. We always talked about makeup and skincare and how much we hated working in healthcare. Everyone said I was just like her; empathetic to the point of it being a downfall. When my brother and I were little, we called her “Crazy Lady.” She would dress up and do comedy skits with us in an absurd “crazy lady” voice. We loved it. We loved being with her. She bought me my first ice skates and took me to lessons. She helped me find a psychiatrist in high school. She broke her back for the people she loved.

I’ve come to accept this fact: the people who raised me are dying and there is nothing I can do about it. Continue reading “Dealing with death, getting myself together”

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Past-selves & getting to know you.

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I think a lot of us look back on our past-selves and think, “who was that person?”
We go through transitions constantly. We change our minds, we change ourselves, and we change our surroundings. Sometimes, as we change, we get to know ourselves more – and sometimes, we get to know ourselves less. Unfamiliar territories can open up a big can of “who the hell am I,” and “why am I doing this?”

Questioning yourself is the most important part of getting to know you. Lately, I’ve been feeling unfamiliar to myself. I spend so much time cooing patients at work and focusing on other people, by the time I sit down and look in the mirror, I’m thinking –

“who dat.”
Continue reading “Past-selves & getting to know you.”

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Babbles: being afraid to die.

There is one thing for certain in our world: we all will die one day. There is no guarantee on how many days we have. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, religious or atheist, healthy or frail – we all are going to die and none of us have any idea when.
My grandfather passed away on Wednesday morning at 4:30am. He had a bone marrow problem – myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS. It’s a condition similar to aplastic anemia, in which the bone marrow does not produce cells properly. This can result in a critically low red and white blood cell count. No red cells? No blood. No white cells? No immune system. The condition can progress into leukemia and often has no known cause. Treatment involves frequent transfusions and even chemotherapy drugs. To be honest, the side-effects seemed worse than the condition itself.

The Friday before, he fell at home and fractured his hip. He didn’t survive the surgery and passed with my grandmother by his side. My brother and I arrived only minutes after his death; his hand was still warm when I touched him.

Continue reading “Babbles: being afraid to die.”

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Babbles: telomeres and getting older

Telomeres are like little hats at the end of each chromosome. They’re a sequence of repetitive nucleotides that prevent the chromosome from fraying, deteriorating, or fusing with other another chromatid. As you get older, your telomeres shorten, causing more error in DNA replication. Thus, our skin sags, our hair grays, and our eyes just don’t work like they used to.

Continue reading “Babbles: telomeres and getting older”

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Babbles: living as a victim of sexual abuse

TRIGGER WARNING: rape mention, assault mention

I’ve been thinking about making a post like this for awhile, and I feel it’s important that I do. Too many of us are living as victims, sworn to secrecy by our own personal oaths. I can’t talk about that. That makes people uncomfortable. No one will love me, no one will see me the same. I know those thoughts. Too many of us hide this very substantial part of ourselves. The fact is, it happened. And it’s changed you. And you should not be ashamed of that.

This is my story. I really hope it makes you feel less alone.

Continue reading “Babbles: living as a victim of sexual abuse”

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Babbles: running in the rain

One of my favorite things to do when I was little was run around outside during a thunderstorm. I think it’s something we’ve all done, even if our parents didn’t let us. It was stimulating without being overwhelming – I don’t know how to explain it. It’s impossible not to laugh when you’re being assailed by rain-drops with friends – I’d recommend being about 10 years old though. 23 year-old Steph wasn’t too thrilled when she saw her makeup and hair after. Or how cold it was.

Continue reading “Babbles: running in the rain”

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Babbles: saturday coffee & not knowing what to do with your life

I’m doing a bit better being back in Bucks County. I’m still a little scattered and there’s still a billion things to organize all over my floor, but I’m feeling more myself again. I decided to go to the Coffee Room and work on some Bloaty comics – of course, I forgot my tablet pen. Because I have no brain. Apparently.

I asked the girl at the counter for a “weird request;” a vanilla-lavender latte, a concoction Jenn got me hooked on a couple weeks ago. She said that wasn’t weird at all and we somehow got to talking about how people in Newtown compare to people in Philly. “‘Can I have an iced latte with foam on top?’ That’s weird. That’s how people here are.”
She told me she used to live in Philly but left her “good job” to pursue a business opportunity – which ended up failing, so she had to move back in with her parents and work at a coffee shop. She shrugged it off, but good lord. I can’t imagine giving up so much only to have it fall apart. She said it wasn’t so bad because now she has stories to tell people. Her attitude reminded me of 2013 Steph; I felt like my life was just one giant story that I wanted to tell people. I thought the meaning of life was to live as interestingly as possible. Then I got old, selfish, and boring.
The barista on bar heard me mention I went to Jefferson and asked if I liked it. I didn’t, I admitted, but I told her it was a great school. We ended up talking for a good 10 minutes about where she could apply for nursing and what kind of programs I’d recommend for her; I was shocked at how much I was able to help. She said she’d been going to our town’s community college for awhile and was tired of it. She felt old and wanted out, but didn’t know where to go. It was reassuring to know that there were people older than me who still didn’t know what they wanted out of their lives.

Most of my friends are still in school and they all seem like they’re in the right field. They all love what they do. And I guess I was there once, studying hard night and day, loving learning and feeling proud when I did well… Real life is so different, isn’t it? School doesn’t actually prep you for much. It’s the piece of paper that counts. A $33,000 piece of paper, in my case. Plus interest.

I work in fertility. Me, a 23 year-old devoid of any maternal instinct who would prefer it if we all stopped reproducing for 4 years to control the population. I think babies look like squishy old men. I have absolutely no idea how I ended up where I am – all I ever wanted to do was research microbes and teach. But we hardly ever get what we want, don’t we? Maybe it’s more about getting what we need, and maybe the universe works all that out for us. Not sure why the universe thinks I need to count sperm and prick 30 year-old women all day right now. But I guess that’s fine.

Once, while I was drawing a patient’s blood, she asked me suddenly, “Do you like your job?” I really didn’t know what to say. Yes? I do? In theory? It didn’t seem smart to tell someone you’re unsure about your job when you’ve got a needle in their vein. She was unhappy with hers; she was a lawyer who worked for a firm with a verbally abusive boss. I’ll never forget her. She was the only patient I had who was openly unhappy with her situation. No “I’m fine, how are you?” or “Work is work, we all just deal with it.” I loved her honesty and I empathized with her. I wish more people were that honest, cause it would make me feel way less alone.

I guess this just ended up being a long babble about women I’ve met who felt lost. Maybe we’re all lost – and if you aren’t, please message me and tell me your secret. Take care of yourselves and remember that you are in control of your life. And if you feel out of control, find someone to talk it out with. Every problem has a solution, and if it doesn’t, then it isn’t a problem.

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Babbles: being by yourself & depression

I just moved out of Manayunk and I’m having a really hard time transitioning back.

Manayunk wasn’t a super busynoisy place, but it pretty much had everything I needed. A bustling main street, a quiet towpath for running, good dogs EVERYWHERE – I was content there. Coming back home to the suburbs is strange and overwhelmingly lonely. I was so used to having people around me – just close enough so that my personal space wasn’t invaded but I didn’t feel lonely. And having Tyler with me in the mornings and evenings was the ultimate comfort. I always had someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. My brain seldom ran off the deep-end since it never really had the chance – I had the perfect amount of distractions to keep me from losing it (usually).

I think this kind of loneliness happens when you stop living for yourself. And maybe you guys with depression would agree – when your days get dark, you don’t really pull through it for yourself so much as for the people around you. Not healthy, I know. But it’s the reality of it (for me, anyways).

So today I came home from work and unpacked my mountain of clothes, organized here and there, threw some things out, gave some things away – until, all of a sudden, I was pacing around not getting anything done. Then I started shaking, and then came the inexplicable crying, and then I realized I was back to being alone with myself again. No distractions. Just me. And I never really liked me.

Now, if this ever happens to you, you have to let yourself cry. You just have to. If you don’t, all that anxious energy is gonna keep balling up in your chest and your throat and you might do something you’ll regret. Sometimes it’ll feel like it’s never going to stop, but I promise you it will. Nothing is forever. It might take a few minutes or a few hours, or maybe all night on your worst days. After I calmed down and texted a friend, I found the energy to start typing about it. And here we are. Functioning again.
Toxic thoughts are hard to combat when they start snowballing, so if that’s something you have trouble with when you’re all alone with your brain, it’s important to stop them in their tracks. It takes a lot of cognitive strength (which I’m clearly lacking), and it gets even harder the more abstract the toxicity gets. I often think “every day is the same and it’s all meaningless” – well, yeah, it is, but you can change that. Dummy.

I guess when I come home now, I have nothing to look forward to. No dog to greet me with kisses and a happy snoot, no Tyler to smack my butt and say “what’reyoudoing?”, no roommates watching shitty TV shows – just me and my big attic in my grandma’s house.
My best friend Jenn – who I grew up with here – has been 1000% supportive of me and almost always comes to my rescue – and she’s probably the best part about being back in Bucks County. But the fact is that I need to learn to be by myself. I need to learn to live for myself. And I don’t know how.

If waking up every morning hurts, I know how you feel and I’m sorry. Keep pushing through, every day, no matter what. Nothing is forever.

Take care of yourselves! More Bloaty to come this week, and I have some poems on the way.