Reframed: The Series of Hope & Bravery

My big exciting news that I mentioned in yesterday’s post has to do with my Reframed photo series (found here).

While I can’t say what the news is specifically (yet), I will tell you that the series is expanding! I have around 20 new models- many strangers- who have agreed to share the most vulnerable parts of themselves with me and my camera. It has been so inspiring.

I’m meeting so many people who have been brave enough to share their story with me; I can’t wait to share them with all of you. This has been an incredibly moving process, and I can’t believe that my small project may make such a large impact on others.

I want to thank those who have, and who will, participate in this project with me. I applaud your bravery for coming forward and making a difference in the world. This series is doing huge things when it comes to breaking down the stigma of mental health, and I am so happy you are a part of it.

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EXPOSURES!

Hello beautiful people!

Today was a very big day for me! A lot of people saw I made multiple Instagram Live videos to share some exciting announcements that I’ve got for y’all! I figured folks who don’t have Instagram would want to hear the news, too, so here you go!

First of all, drumroll…

I’m starting a podcast!

Yes, you read that correctly! I’m putting myself out there and am starting a podcast that will also be titled Putting Down the Rope. I plan on branching off of this blog and diving more into mental health and its relationship to art. I will be interviewing guests, accepting stories from folks who would prefer to remain anonymous (and I will read the stories on the podcast), and featuring music/poetry/writing/art in any auditory medium (and will even link to visual art in the description of the podcast).

If you would like to be involved, PLEASE send me an email at PuttingDownTheRope@gmail.com. I will always be available to chat, bounce ideas around, and hear your story. This podcast is about you as much as it is about me.

Now, second of all…

I am raising money to fund my new project that merges mental health awareness with art! You can see the inspiration for my project here.

Basically, I want to show others that art can be used as a coping skill for things like self harm, poor body image, recovery from eating disorders or addictions, and beyond. The concept is that my subjects paint their bodies on parts of themselves they find the most vulnerable, or parts of themselves they struggle with. For me, it was self-harm. I knew using paint would be a more effective skill than actually self harming, and it actually had a better result in the long run.

My overall goal is to show others that they are seen, they are beautiful– because I think folks with mental illnesses often get overlooked or don’t think they’re special or beautiful– and above all, they are not alone. 

The problem is, I currently don’t have the key ingredient to this project: a camera!

So, I started a GoFundMe! My anxiety was very much telling me not to publish that, but here it is. I need help to make this dream a reality. I plan on buying a super cheap DSLR and the lens my friend recommended for portraits. I believe wholeheartedly in this project, and I think it will take off.

I would so appreciate any donation you can give. You can find the link at https://www.gofundme.com/cameraphoto-series.

Thirdly…

I made today’s Instagram live videos an added exposure and I played a song I recorded on live video. Un-flippin’-real.

Those who know me are very aware that I hate singing in public, or in front of anyone, really. Yet, today, I did the thing I have been most terrified of for a many, many years now. And it feels awesome. Just had to share that with the blog. 🙂 #WarriorPrincess

Lastly…

I’ve had some major mental health setbacks lately. And here I am, coming back swinging. I am so excited about life and what life has to offer, and I want to inspire others to find that spark, that zest for life, too!

I’m telling you, when you put down that rope, the world opens up. I can’t wait to share all that will follow.

Endless love to all!

K

Lowering the Bar

When you have depression, suddenly the world shifts. You have the burning desire to sleep all day, your passions become an afterthought, and small tasks seem unattainable. The number of times I have had to explain to my dentist that I don’t brush my teeth as often as I should because of my depression fills me with shame. Or when I start crying when I get the urge to pee because that means getting out of bed. When I’m at the bottom of a depressive well, the amount of guilt, shame, sadness, and exhaustion cover me so I can’t even see the light at the top. And I’m at the bottom of that well right now.

One of the adjustments I have had to make lately is adjusting the standards I set for myself. I now get rewarded for the smallest things. Things that I’m sure most people have no problem doing every day. I now get congratulated and celebrated when I do something simple, like put a dirty dish in the dishwasher, or take a shower. I have to force myself to go hang out with my friends, or reach out for help when I feel overwhelmed.

Today, I was congratulated for making social plans. At first, I was disheartened. All I did was reply “Sure” to a text from a friend who asked to hang out. Why does that earn celebration? I once read a memoir about a woman with bipolar disorder, and she writes something similar about receiving praise for moving from her bed to the couch.

The thing is, I can’t look at things the way I do when I’m not depressed. Because those are completely different circumstances. When you feel it’s impossible to get out of bed, or keep your eyes open, it is a major celebration when you do those things. Because, in your depressed mind, you have just accomplished the impossible. Which means, you can do anything. It will be hard as hell, sure. And it is doable. That is what I’m holding onto while I’m stuck looking up from the bottom of this hole I’ve found myself in. It’s going to be work. I’m going to have urges to act on maladaptive behaviors. I’m going to want to sleep all day. And I know that I can say no. I can get up and go to work, or see my friends, or buy groceries.

Just because I have to lower the bar now, doesn’t mean it’s forever.

 

judgment police

I’ve been having judgments lately about myself, and my poetry, in particular. Nothing seems to measure up to the standards I have set for myself. The content– what I have to say– doesn’t seem worthy of publication. In fact, I believe it only encourages judgments from others.

The last poem I wrote, unnamed 1.49, was one that I have many judgments about. Specifically, the topic: someone’s hands. I don’t know what it is about hands that I love so much, but I wanted to try and write about it. After all, the blog is all about me challenging my perfectionism. So, I posted it. And as soon as I did, I started beating myself up.

But the thing is, that’s not what art is about. It’s not out there for the sole purpose of being judged by others. It’s for you, the creator, the artist.

I don’t know if that poem was any good. I do know two things, however: that it came from me, which makes it the right thing to post here, and that it is imperfect. Nothing is perfect.

I’m going to challenge myself more and not call the judgment police each time I have an idea that I want to explore in my writing. This blog is for me, not you. I’m just privileged you would want to come on this crazy ride with me.

So, thanks for reading and please be sure to challenge perfectionism in your own life!

The Passion Spectrum

Good morning, folks!

I recently announced on my private Facebook page that I am moving back up to Los Angeles this summer. For those readers who don’t know me personally, Southern California has been my home for the last few years, and while I live close to LA now, it’s not close enough. I moved out of LA for a job, and now that the job (and treatment) is over, I’m ready to head back. Which, of course, means looking for a new job.

Which brings me to the subject of this post! What happens when your career is part of your identity, but you realize you want to switch careers? I’m currently figuring that out.

Theatre has always been a part of my identity; it’s the only passion and love I’ve ever really had. But lately, I’ve come to the realization that it’s been a long time since I’ve felt fulfilled by theatre. Particularly in a creative way. I think my time in San Diego and in treatment gave me the perfect opportunity to take a step back and take a look at what I truly want to be doing. And right now, as shocking as this realization was to me, that thing is not theatre.

A good friend of mine runs a blog called “Tipsy Theatre Traveler.” A few weeks ago she wrote this post regarding theatre and how it’s often tied to identity, and the relationship between dreams and our idea of failure. Her post really spoke to me because I definitely believe theatre is a part of what makes me me, and that has what made it so difficult to begin pursuing other career options. All my life, I have worked towards a career in theatre. I was a theatre major, I moved to Los Angeles to work in theatre, I moved to San Diego to work in theatre; this will be the first time I won’t be chasing the theatre dream. And I gotta say, it feels incredibly strange.

I don’t know what comes next for me. The last few months have been incredibly overwhelming because I haven’t known where to turn or how to begin searching for a new dream or passion. Theatre feels like all that I am. Recently, I have been starting to formulate a new career goal- which has been exciting- and yet it still feels very foreign and unlike me. Honestly, not feeling fulfilled by theatre feels very unlike me. All because it has been all that I am for most of my life. When people think of me, that’s what they see. And now that I want to change that, it feels disappointing; almost as if I’m letting myself and others down.

As I am discovering other skills and fleshing those skills out into careers that interest me, I am excited for the future. And I am flippin’ terrified. But I am a different person than I was before treatment. Now that I am not so focused on my health, it’s time for me to allow myself permission to explore other careers in a non-perfectionistic way. I am not a failure because I’m shifting gears away from what I know best. Theatre is not all that I am. My dreams are allowed to change.

 

 

 

 

Self-Harm vs. Authenticity

*Trigger warning: Self-harm*

 

 

Well, it’s time for me to out myself. I’ll do it AA style: Hello, my name is ____ and I am a self-harmer.

And I am working on recovery.

It’s difficult to admit to the f*cked up things I’ve felt or thought in my life. But I know now that hurting myself will not make things better for me. Maybe in the short term, but after that, people will just go back to living their own lives.

After a recent journey of self-discovery, I came to the realization that I hurt myself because I deeply want someone to notice me. Most of the time, I feel invisible. Unwanted, boring, the last person someone calls when they are looking for a good time. In my depressed mind, I convince myself that if I have a broken foot or a bruised and bloodied hand or a scar on my face, I will be more beautiful and, ultimately, more seen. To those of you who don’t struggle with mental health, I know you don’t understand. It’s a difficult thing to understand. Hell, sometimes I don’t even understand it. But my head does a great job of twisting the truth into lies that are nearly impossible to recognize. If it acts like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it must be a f*cking duck, right? Not in my head. I’m still learning that just because there’s a part of me that wants to beat myself senseless, doesn’t mean doing that is actually effective. Which is why I decided to write this post.

Earlier today, someone asked me if there was something that I’ve been wanting to blog about but have been too scared to write. Well, yes. There always is. But this one in particular is a big one. And I need to out Sasha. Because posting this will last a hell of a lot longer than any bruise or cut I could give myself. And maybe this way, I can stop being afraid and start being more authentic.

I don’t know if I’ll ever know or believe what it’s like to feel needed or wanted. Hopefully I will. But what I do know is that hurting myself will not get me the attention I desire. It won’t give me the love and connection I crave.

Earlier tonight I was having a tough time. We went on a meal outing in program, and I came really close to not showing up at all. I sat in the parking lot of the restaurant for a long time, crying, not understanding why I couldn’t just get up and go inside. Eventually, with the help of my therapist, I wiped my tears, pulled my hair up, and got out of my car. As soon as I walked in the restaurant I wished I had gone home. I felt all eyes on me. But I sat down at the end of table with everyone and stared at my hands, forcing my tears to retract back into my eyes. Within a few minutes I had a meal sitting in front of me, and I still hadn’t looked up from my lap. The conversation continued as it had before I was there, and I sat waiting for it to be over. But then, something happened.

I saw my friend stand up from her seat on the opposite end of the table and make her way towards me. I wondered if she was going to walk out the door like I wanted to, but she didn’t. She pulled out the chair across from me and sat down. I had been isolating myself. As much as I want people to see me, I want them to see the me that I want to present. Not the snotty, pale, broken me. And yet, here she was. Looking me in the eye. Asking me if I was ok. Willing to make that connection. And suddenly, I knew I could share myself with her, pain and all.

You see, even if I hate admitting it, I recognize that the attention I seek comes with authenticity. I can’t expect people to see me if I hide the parts of myself that I don’t like or am uncomfortable with. So, instead of creating the wrong kind of attraction by hurting myself, I’m publishing this post.

I don’t want this post to be misconstrued. I’m not looking for your pity, and I am certainly not begging for attention. What I crave isn’t superficial. I long for deep human connection. And I know that some of you reading this don’t know me very well, and I don’t want you to feel obligated to reach out to me. I’m doing fine. Just ask my therapist.

 

unnamed 1.31

there’s so much i want to say
but nothing i’m brave enough
to mutter out loud
in my head i beg you
to hear me
when will you realize
that this isn’t me
i don’t act this way
writing poems and
remembering you at
inconvenient times
you’ve flooded me
every cell knows
that i’m in love
such an unfamiliar concept
i don’t know how to express
what i’m feeling
when i don’t think i
understand it myself
how did i contort myself
into this creature
how did i convince myself
i needed you
how did i allow myself
to fall so freely
without seeing what
lies at the bottom
of this cavernous chamber
in my heart

The Bitch Bag Breakup™️

So, listen Sasha. We gotta talk.

You and I both know we have a long history. I’ve been wrapped around your finger for years. Our hands stay intertwined no matter where we go, and when I can’t find you I panic. It helps that you’re gorgeous; everything I wish I could look like (and more). I think you did that on purpose. You see, while I was fawning over you for all this time, you figured out exactly how to keep me around. Promising a life of beauty, happiness, art, and endless pain to foster my creativity. After all, you were the one who told me good art comes from suffering. And I believed you for a long time. Until now.

I’m outing you, Sasha. You’re emotionally abusive, and I can’t take it anymore. It’s time to shine a spotlight on you in front of the world. You thrive in secrecy. The shadows is where you like to play. Not anymore. It’s time everyone knew you for who you are: an emotionally manipulative piece of garbage. In fact, you’re more like the gum someone scraped off their shoe and stuck to the garbage in the trash can. Someone close to me recently described you as a “bitch bag.” I’m sorry to laugh but…you know what, I’m actually not sorry at all.

I’ve written a lot of posts about you and your devious ways, Sasha, but I always end up slinking back to you at the end of the day. Desperate to cover myself under the cloak of your shadow. But this is my promise to fight you. To not let you seduce me into your twisted ways. To not hinder my recovery for the sake of your comfort.

So, there it is Sash. I’m declaring this our official breakup. I’m taking back the reigns from your thin, frail hands. I’m going to live my life now. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

 

Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)-B4B4E5FCE988-1.gif

 

The inspiration for this breakup is funded in part by Demi Lovato’s Sorry Not Sorry. Please find the lyrics here, as I have been playing it on repeat all day.

*If this post has left you thoroughly confused, please feel free to learn all about who Sasha is and why we are so codependent here.

Promise of Recklessness

I have a friend who, in my opinion, writes beautifully. Her writing is reckless, yet eloquent and poised. She dives deep underneath the surface of herself and her subject to explore the meaning that lies underneath. My perfectionism tells me I need to be like her; a profound writer. An explorer. A collaborator. A curator. When I read her work I immediately feel inspired to work, to get something on the page. Yet when I do, I’m met with contempt in my own mind. I scrap it, claiming what I write will never be as good as hers.

The thing is, I can’t allow my perfectionism entrance into my creative hemisphere. I can allow it to open the door and poke it’s head in, but it is not welcome across the threshold. I write enough about perfection and it’s role in my life, but when do I stop writing about how I’m going to ignore it, and actually start ignoring it? Otherwise this blog is just proof of my hypocrisy. And I sure as hell won’t write anything profound if I delete everything I create. I read a quote recently from Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work! that sums this up pretty perfectly: “You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it.”

As I write this, I’m sitting on a bench on a cliff with the ocean spread wide beneath me. It glimmers and glistens in the sunlight, moving effortlessly. I look out at the water and think “That is perfection.” But then I notice the waves bumping into one another, tripping over themselves as they stumble towards the sand beneath me. The surface is smooth in some places and rough in others. Boats carve white trails in it’s surface. No two waves look exactly the same.

Nothing is perfect. Not even the sea, despite it’s many idyllic qualities. The sea is chaotic. Constantly giving and taking with reckless abandon. Today, as the sun warms my face and my nose inhales the salty air, I am making a promise to be more like the ocean. Unforgiving. Exploratory. Imperfect.

Allowing Rest (& giraffes)

Y’all, it’s been a crazy week. I’ve been hella busy between program and my lovely mother visiting!

I beat myself up when I don’t post as often as I would like, but today I’m going to allow myself to rest, enjoy time with my mom, and allow my brain to incubate. This weekend I promise I will be back to your regularly scheduled blogging! In the meantime, please see the picture below of a giraffe trying to eat a branch stuck in his lil’ feed basket. (Unrelated: the San Diego Zoo is bomb.)

Peace and love,
K

IMG_7264.JPG
This picture is without zoom. That’s how close I was to this majestic creature.