The Positive Power of Plants

I was never one to have a green thumb in my life. If I ever bought a plant, it would be dead within the month. I blame that partly to the fact that I am an artist, a do-er, a hands on learner, so taking the time to research proper plant care was far from me. Instead I would fail by trial and error; buy a plant, forget to water it, over water it, burn it in the sun, starve it of sunlight, or for whatever unknown godforsaken reason that never became apparent to me, it would just shrivel up and die anyways.

Yes, I am not proud to say that in my past I was known as a plant torturer.

Poor things.

But now! Now, things are different. Thanks to a beautiful website called the YOUTUBE, I have been able to not only learn about proper plant care, but watch good plant mommies and daddies take care of their tiny green children. I’m someone who learns by seeing, not by reading, so it was incredibly beneficial for me to be able to see in real time the proper care of plants.

Since researching plant care, I have cultivated quite a little garden for myself, and I plan to continue adding to it because it brings me so much pleasure. My space is now full of succulents, aloe, various odds and ends, and even a venus fly trap! The point of this post, however, is not for me to brag about the fortunate turn of events for all the plants in the world that happen to fall into my hands. No, this post is about the positive power of plants.

As someone who has dealt with depression in the past, part of my healing process is the nurturing of other life besides my own. By taking care of plants, it not only keeps my mind busy, but gives me a sense of purpose each day. Gotta wake up, the plants need watered today.

Have you ever gone hunting for a new tree? Have you ever stood near a tree and tepidly reached out to stroke the bark, careful to make sure no one is around the see the soft blush of your cheeks? Have you ever hugged a tree? Have you ever held hands with a tree? Have you ever taken a tree out for ice cream and wiped caramel sauce off its nose while giggling like you’ve never met a better tree before? This is it, you think, this is the tree for me. You take it home, you dig a nice hole in your backyard, and you bury that cute little tree so deep it could never hope to escape.

Ahem.

No, but really, trees are great too! I went to Lowe’s over the weekend and just stood there in awe of all the baby trees just waiting to be bought and planted and loved. I thought, wow, this is a living thing. That thought had such power for me. It was an animate living thing. That was the day I came home with six new succulents and a venus fly trap. How can you buy just one?

But I digress.

The power of plants is profoundly simple. You take them home and let them live in your space with you. They give off wonderful oxygen for you to breathe. They add gorgeous color to your home, and they thrive best when you love them and take very good care of them. It’s a way to see your love have an impact on something other than yourself. If you can keep a plant alive, maybe you can nourish yourself a little more too. The same is true of people. If you forget to water them and give them sunlight, they will shrivel up and die. Take care of yourself the same way you would take care of your favorite plants. And if you have no plants, go out to the store and buy one. They’re very cheap! One of my succulents was only three dollars. Woah. I know. So cheap.

Try it out! You might find a new hobby.


Are you a proud plant parent? If so, what is your favorite kind to take care of? I’d love to hear some plant stories!

Stay up to date with new blog posts by following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Take care of yourself and your plants, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Kat

Sunday Pep Talk |Pick Up The Slack When You Can

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Happy Sunday! How are you doing? I hope your week has gone well. Mine has been so very busy. I forget what it feels like to have a day off, but I’m also thankful for being busy, because I am spending time with friends and family. One of my keywords for 2019 was balance, so I’ve taken this weekend off from writing. I put my laptop away and didn’t open it. Instead I focused on other things that needed attention, such as cleaning and nurturing my social network.

Some of my friends are going through rough patches in their lives during these winter months. I wish there was something I could do to help them, but Taurus reminded me that it’s not my job to solve everyone’s problems. All I can do is be supportive and let them know I’m there for them. However, there are little ways in which you can help your loved ones and friends!

If you are at a point in life where you are feeling ok, consider looking around you at those who may be struggling.

Help them out.

If they are loved ones or friends, check in with them. See if they’re ok. Let them know you’re thinking of them. Sometimes a quick text or voicemail can make someone’s whole day. And for someone who might be struggling with their own depressions or anxiety attacks, it might mean a lot more to them.

You can help others by picking up the slack, by assisting them more in the workplace or offering to make dinner on the nights where you feel up to performing these tasks. And when they are feeling ok, they may return the courtesy and help you too when you need it.

Just remember that you can’t solve their problems for them, but you can be there to support them and love them.

Stay safe out there, friends!

Kat

When Are You Finished With Therapy?

In January 2018, I had just been dumped (seven days after New Years), I was working a job I hated, I was still living at home, and I was so depressed that the only options I saw for my future were to start therapy or suffer a nervous breakdown. I could feel the breakdown looming just outside the edge of my emotions. I was holding on by a thread; a thread that was frayed and about to snap. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own anymore. I needed help.

I sat in the therapists office on the verge of tears, ringing my shaking hands like I was washing them in soapy water, as I began to explain my situation. This was only going to work if I talked, I knew. I hated talking to people, especially strangers. But I knew I had to talk or it would have been a wasted trip and a waste of money. So I talked. And more came out than I ever expected from myself.

In my first hour session of therapy, I unloaded all of my deepest baggage in the hopes that she would be able to guide me away from the hypothetical ledge of my nervous breakdown.

It was this or the bridge.

One year ago yesterday (as I am writing this), I stepped into the therapists office for the first time. Yesterday, I walked out after having been put on “maintenance”, which meant I was done until I felt I needed to come back in again.

We had reached a point where I had nothing left to talk about. Things were going well. I had started working another part time job, I was in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man, I had coping mechanisms to help me when I was feeling anxious, and I was finally medicated to help deal with my depression and anxiety which before had completely consumed my life.

There was nothing left to talk about.

But life always has its ups and downs. I know that there may come a day when I will need to go back to her. That may be the result of a death in the family, another break up, financial struggles, or something completely unexpected.

So to answer the question “When are you finished with therapy?” I think no one is ever really done. You just enter periods of your life that are easier to manage on your own. But don’t feel bad about going back, starting your sessions back up, or asking for more help. Therapists and life coaches are there to give you advice, help you through the hard times, and get you back on your feet. They are an anchor in the angry sea of life. Allow them to ground you and guide you.


To find a therapist near you, check Psychology Today.

For more posts regarding my mental health journey, check out: Dealing With A Life Plateau, Things Become Okay, and Sunday Pep Talk | Trust Yourself.

Thank you for reading! Stay up to date with new blog posts by following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Kat

Things Become Okay

 

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Things become okay. And by okay, I mean you will eventually reach a point where you can function on a normal human level, keep up with your work, and enjoy the weekends like any self respecting person.

Things might not be okay right now. I get it. I’ve been there. Things might not be okay right now, but they will be.

When I was younger, I always assumed depression and anxiety were just things I’d have
to live with. They were a part of who I was as much as my flesh and hair. Until I sought help to deal with my mental health, I was not okay. I was very not okay. Until I started therapy and anti depressants, I was not a normal functioning human being, I wasn’t keeping up with my work, and I didn’t enjoy any days, let alone the weekends.

It always felt like the world was on Hyper. Any Final Fantasy fans will know what I mean by that. It felt like things were moving too fast and there was no way I was ever going to keep up. Even if I had a good day where I got a few things done, the next day would come and everything would build up again faster than I could manage it. Eventually I began to think what’s the point? 

On the bad days, I knew I needed help.

But then the good days came, and I would think, well, things are okay, so maybe it was just a bad day. I feel okay, so it seems stupid to start therapy. I feel okay.

But I wasn’t okay.

Just the fact that I was having bad days meant I wasn’t okay. And by bad days I don’t just mean I had a bad hair day, stepped in dog shit, and got the shits from eating a bad burrito. No. Bad days during depression are more like bad weeks. Long stretches of time
where things stop having meaning. A home stops being a home and instead is deconstructed to four walls slapped with some white paint. Friends stop being friends and instead just become people who tolerate you a little more than other people. And in your mind, everything sort of melts together like crayons in the sun. Instead of having a timeline of the future before you, where you tackle things one at a time, the line gets all jumbled up and suddenly you’re worrying about things that are thirty years down the line and not even guarantees yet. Yes, even time loses its meaning.

But things will become okay.

There are people in the world who are there to help. There are coping mechanisms for anxiety. And there are medications that will finally silence that voice in your head that is a constant reminder that you are somehow, spectacularly and miserably different from everyone else. The truth is, you aren’t. You are a human being just like everyone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you feel that medications aren’t for you, there are ways to become okay. Find something that works for you. Reach out and ask for help, and things will become okay.


Take care, everyone, and don’t forget to take your medications.

The First Rejection Hurts The Worst.

The first rejection hurts like hell. Everything after that is just fuel for the proverbial fire of productivity.

Do you remember the first time you’ve ever had a broken heart? Maybe you were a teenager in the midst of your awkward, geeky, emotional hormone-rich stage. Maybe it happened yesterday. It doesn’t matter when it happened. All that matters is that it did. This pain is important. It teaches you things. Most importantly, it teaches you how to wipe the tears away, get back on your feet, and take a few more swings at the challenge. Without the pain of rejection, we can never really appreciate the savory taste of victory.

Whether that rejection happened in love, in searching for your “dream job”, or while you were trying to get your novel published, everyone is going to get rejected at least once. Why this rejection happens isn’t important. What’s important is how you deal with it. You must decide for yourself whether you will be a person who gets back up and continues on the journey, or folds their hand and sits in a stew of self-pity and sorrow for the rest of their lives, holding on to the one arrow in their heart that was pulled out long ago but never seems to heal. Which one are you going to be?

The fear of rejection often stops people from trying. After all, isn’t it better to remain in your safe space where nothing hurts and everything is fine? Well sure, it’s nice to live there, but you can’t stay there forever.

As one of my favorite characters, Wolf, says in The 10th Kingdom,

“Well, you may not get hurt, but huff puff, you won’t get loved either.”

Eventually you’re going to have to venture out and take a few hits. Why are we scared of this pain? Yes, heartbreak hurts, but eventually you get over it. Go out there. Get rejected. Then go out there again and do it all over again, and eventually one of those tries is going to end in success.

When I was searching for a job I loved, my mindset was solidly rooted in the idea that a career was the thing that was going to make me happy. I thought that because I didn’t have a passion for something (or rather, because I had too many), I thought that I would never find a job suitable for me. That’s a very negative mindset already to have before you even start to apply to jobs. So naturally when I received my first rejection for a job after I spent the time and energy going through the interview process, I broke down a little. The negativity grew into thoughts like “See, why did you even try?” and “you knew they were going to reject you”. But after a while those thoughts began to fade. The pain and humiliation of being rejected began to fade too, and eventually I began applying for jobs again. After that, it became an exciting challenge. “Ok,” I thought, “let’s see if I make it to an in-person interview with this company”, I would tell myself. It didn’t matter anymore whether I was hired or not. The point was that I was doing it. I was getting my resumes out there and doing the thing that seemed so scary before.

The topic of love isn’t such an easy one. That is by far the hardest rejection to cope with. Going through a breakup is never easy. For the dumpee or the dumper. As someone who has been in both positions, no one ever likes rejecting someone or being rejected, but these are life lessons that you need to learn. If you’ve never dumped someone, I highly recommend it. Just because you are rejecting someone doesn’t mean you have to be mean about it. There are nice ways of letting someone down easy, and the best one is by being honest and communicating how you are feeling, honestly. By going through both situations (being dumped and dumping), you learn how it feels to be in both positions. That’s a great life experience. There’s nothing negative about that, if you learned from it.

Don’t be afraid of that pain or discomfort, because those are the situations that really matter in life. You have to take the good with the bad. You have to prepare yourself for heartbreak in order to gain love. You must consider the fact you may be rejected after you interview for that really awesome job just as likely as you are to get it. And either way, life goes on. Just remember that.

“Why did I let her in? Didn’t I know she was bad? I did. Of course I did. But I also knew that I couldn’t keep the door closed all my life just because it was dangerous. Just because there was a chance that I might get hurt.”

Snow White, The 10th Kingdom

The first rejection hurts the worst. Everything after that is fuel. Use it to light your way. Don’t give up. You will reach your success if you continue to try.


Stay strong, little troopers.

Begin Again, Never Over artwork by Chronographia, a local Pittsburgh artist.

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Antidepressants Killed My Creativity

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I used to be very depressed, and very anxious. There was a voice in my head constantly berating me and degrading me, telling me I wasn’t enough and I shouldn’t even try. I projected that negativity onto everyone around me, but mostly I projected it onto myself. But that voice did something else too; it created incredibly complex scenarios in my head that fueled my creativity. After all, good art is complex, and often darkest before it begins to grow light.

The things that I produced were dark, flawed, and filled with emotion. Being on antidepressants has done wonders for my mental health, but since I started taking them six months ago, I haven’t been able to write on any of my fictional stories. The nonfiction seems to flow just fine. It’s part of the reason this blog is doing so well. I am able to put together coherent thoughts in the nonfiction realm, but when it comes to creating in that paracosmatic world that I so often lived, I find that my well of creativity has run dry. There is no desire in me anymore to work on those stories, because to get to that negative headspace again would be miserable. Oh sure, I created some interesting pieces of writing, but to do so I had to depress myself so entirely that I felt on the verge of mental collapse. I would isolate myself for months at a time, especially during the winter where most of my writing happened. I would research dark topics to fuel my ever growing imagination. I would let myself spiral down and down in order to create what I created.

It seems to be a difficult tossup. Be mentally stable, healthy, and produce orthodox blog posts, or let myself sink back into that tortured psyche and create vastly interesting fictional worlds. Some of the best writers in history were known to have suffered from excruciating mental problems. Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Sylvia Plath. In one way or another, through drugs or simply lack of mental stability, these authors produced some of the most tortured works of fiction. After all, how can someone create such dark literature if they live in a world of light?

In some ways I feel like that darkness was a piece of who I was, and I owned it completely. By medicating myself to become more mentally and emotionally stable, I don’t quite feel like myself. Oh sure, I feel happy. Actually, I don’t really feel anything at all. The pills I take are quite enough to deaden all of my emotions, which has definitely helped me in the real world and dealing with my anxiety. But I don’t feel like myself. Because depression is something I identified myself with for so long that it became a part of who I was. Now without it, I look back at the life I lived and wonder if that was the truer life, the truer way to live, the reality which I was born into this world to suffer through. Am I learning the lessons I need to learn by dulling my emotions? Am I fulfilling my life purpose this way? What if my life purpose was to create beautifully dark fiction and then leave this world? Surely Edgar Allan Poe’s life purpose was not to become a successful accountant. No. His life purpose was to create great works of dark fiction. That was his gift that he was born into this world possessing.

Are we, in effect, disrupting the natural flow of destiny by making ourselves comfortably numb? Is it better to take the red pill and escape the matrix of our minds? To live with the pain and discomfort of mental instability in order to grow as humans and use our greatest gifts we as creators possess; our creativity and our imaginations?

How To | Dealing With A Life Plateau

Recently my life has revolved around self improvement. After going through “tower” energy–which for those of you who do not follow tarot, means a huge shakeup that levels everything you knew down to the foundation so that you can build something up stronger–my focus was on fixing myself. The process of healing became my raison d’etre. But now that I feel my healing is coming to an end, I am left with a confounding feeling of “what do I do now?”

If you’ve spent so much time focusing on one thing, when it ends, you might end up feeling a little lost, or like you’ve hit a plateau. Everyone in life encounters plateaus from time to time, whether it follows a new job that was once challenging but now is so routine that it has become boring, or whether you feel like you’re in the best shape of your life. Well what do you do when your health stops improving? What happens when you’ve mastered a job?

Naturally, the human inclination is to move onto something else, something better. We are constantly in a state of evolution. Humans constantly seek a new challenge. When we reach a state of peace or contentment, our nature is to create chaos, to shake things up, or to find struggle. Think about Adam and Eve. They were placed into paradise where everything was perfect. They wanted for nothing. But wouldn’t perfection like that get boring? Of course it would! Why do you think they took a risk with the apple? Because it is human nature. In more practical terms, “paradise” might be related to boredom. When you are bored it means that there is nothing to do, nothing to think about, nothing to work on. You literally are searching for something to do. You are not content to sit there and do nothing, which might sometimes be the case when you take a break from something you are currently invested in. But when you are truly bored, you aim to end that state of boredom. How? By creating conflict. The conflict might be as simple as getting up off the couch and cleaning the kitchen. Whatever it is, human nature dictates that when we become bored with things in life, we tend to shake things up.

It’s why so many people become addicted to drama. Drama constantly shakes things up. It constantly creates conflict that keeps things moving, keeps your lessons coming, keeps your life interesting. Of course not everyone adheres to drama. For those people who are relatively drama-free, they find their shake up in other ways. Perhaps those who do not seek drama already have mentally stressful jobs that constantly require focus and energy. Ever seen a dramatic doctor? Chances are low. And if they were dramatic, it probably means they don’t have many clients. The two are inversely proportionate to one another. Drama is the antithesis to hard work. Both create struggle in two very different ways. Both also serve the function of quelling boredom.

In shorter terms, you’re either working hard to change something in your life, or you’re bitching about it. The only way you are doing neither is if you’re catatonic or dead.

But I digress.

What does this have to do with plateaus?

Plateaus are what is created when you are in a state of boredom. Plateaus follow completions. Plateaus are a good thing! But when they last for long periods of time, it can make you feel a little anxious. Oh my gosh, I’m not doing anything with my life now. Your human mind is looking for the next challenge to occupy itself. How very masochistic.

In my example, for the last eight months I have been working on self improvement. I got my mental health under control, increased my income, got over a tough breakup, and learned some new skills. But over time, the thrill of these things began to fade. Now I am faced with…boredom. I have improved as much as I can at this point in my life. I hit all of my goals for the year. I have hit a plateau. But I’m not worried, because I know that plateaus don’t last forever.

As one very cool dude in history once said, or maybe it was from a book or the bible, “this too shall pass”.

So how do you “pass the kidney stone” of plateaus? Let’s look at some ideas.


Read

Reading is one of the best pastimes when you are bored with your life. Is it a conflict or challenging? No, but by reading, you open your mind up to a multitude of new information, both fictional and realistic. Perhaps you will stumble upon something that sparks a new passion, a new goal, or a new life path. Knowledge is the key to contentment. And if you don’t find anything to break the plateau of your life, at least you’ve killed a few hours of that ever-nagging boredom.

Commit

It’s easy to love something and leave it, to get a job and quit as soon as it becomes routine. It’s so easy to give up. But to break a plateau, you must commit to something. That’s how you master it. That’s how you reach Lv. 100. That’s how you become better than the other guy. You stick with it. Sometimes the best way to beat a plateau is just to endure it and come out the other side. Appreciate the small things in life, take it one step at a time. Nothing lasts forever, and if you do nothing to break a plateau, believe me, the universe has got your back. She’ll do it for you, if you wait long enough. I think we call that fate, or luck, or whatever the hell…natural disasters. The unknown variable. Stick with something long enough and sooner or later you’re going to see some sort of universal shake up.

Meditate

Meditation is just a fancy word for deep thinking. Just kidding. No it’s not. But that’s a big part of mediation. It’s all mental. If you find that you are stuck at a certain point of your life and you aren’t sure which way to turn, try meditation. Along with all the other benefits of meditation, you might just find an answer to your questions too. Sometimes just by turning off the mental clutter and negative juju you feed yourself during periods of stagnation, you are able to focus in on what’s important and think of a plan for your next steps. Even if your next step in life is to become a cat. Yep, it can happen.

Go back

Plateaus are wonderful times for self reflection. You achieve a goal and you’re feeling great, but that emotional peak is followed by the dreaded plateau. Go back to the you that you were five years ago, or ten years ago, or fifty years ago. Celebrate your accomplishments. You are not the same person as you were back then. Try to remember what you thought of back then. Did you have different goals? What was important to you? What did you want to be when you grew up? All of these reflective questions can help bring you back to the core of who you are. I also highly recommend reverting a little bit. Yeah, I know regression isn’t healthy, but sometimes by listening to the music or visiting the websites or hobbies that you used to occupy your time with can give you a great counterbalance to where you are now. Go ahead and have a good chuckle about how you used to cosplay when you were fifteen and thought you were the coolest teenager alive, living their best life. Reconnect with that inner child and give them a chance to stretch their little legs. You might just find that the room you give yourself to go back will be all you need to propel yourself forward.

Step outside your comfort zone

No good story ever begins with “So I was eating a salad”. The best stories are the ones that involve two foot long spicy volcano burritos and a trip to the bathroom that would have made Lucifer himself proud (the hugest pun in history, nyuk nyuk nyuk). Do something that scares you a little bit. Have two scoops of ice cream. Go rock climbing. Rob a bank. Just kidding, don’t do that. You never know what you’ll encounter by taking a step outside your normal routine. By wondering off your beaten path, you might just find some beautiful flowers. You might discover you are not a person who likes two scoops of ice cream. Or you might find out that you are totally a person who loves two scoops and decides to join an ice cream enthusiast group. You might tumble off a canyon wall and right into the arms of your true love (don’t laugh, it actually happened). Nothing shakes up your world like doing something that scares the hell out of you.

Join an organization

So you’ve found something that you’re really passionate about. You spent the last six months researching old books. But now what? You’ve grown tired of browsing ebay for elusive copies of Thomas Hood and Marquis De Sade. Why not share that passion with a group of people with similar interests? The thing about human interaction is that it usually propels change. Maybe you’ll make a new best friend. Or meet someone that shoves you forcefully into your dream career of being a published author. You certainly aren’t going to meet these catalysts by sitting in your bedroom. By joining a club or organization, you are inviting change. It might not be the ultimate change that you imagined, but it might just be the push that gets the ball rolling.

Return to nature

I don’t know of any problems that can’t be solved by returning to nature. (Except perhaps life threatening diseases. Nature can’t really fix that. Go see a doctor.) Outside of that, however, nature is a great place to go when you’re feeling stagnant. Realign you energy, feel the wind tangling your hair into a rats nest, run away from ALL THE BEES. There is so much to see outside in nature, so much to experience. Nothing makes you appreciate your standing in life more than being chased five hundred feet by an angry mama bear. Perhaps you can dip your feet into the scum filled pond at your local park, or get a brilliant lobster red sunburn at the beach. All joking aside, getting some sunshine and fresh air is super healthy and I highly recommend it. It might not solve your plateau, but it will probably make you feel at least a little better.

Explore your world

Do you remember being little and exploring all sorts of things? Even something as foreign as your backyard was exciting. You could get your hands dirty and play in poison ivy with no cares in the world for the danger of scratching your own skin open while whining profusely to your mother about “oh my god, it burns! It burns!” Oh yes, exploration leads to strange and extraordinary opportunities to live. Now, as an adult, exploration doesn’t have to be so itchy. Instead, you can explore much more enjoyable things, like the new speakeasy in the cultural district, or the burlesque show that you would never ever have considered going to in your life. Boredom leads to very interesting shake ups. Even if you have to go exploring on your own, doing something new and exciting might just be enough to jar you out of your flatline lifestyle. Ever seen the movie Eyes Wide Shut? You know, the movie with the infamous orgy? The main character in that movie leads a perfectly normal life. He has a good job, a lovely wife, everything a middle aged person could possibly want. Because of that contentment, he creates drama by following a metaphorical white rabbit into a world of secret societies, weird sex things, and danger. Of course there’s more to it than that, but just roll with it for the analogy.

Make new goals

And lastly, and probably most obviously, make new goals. When you hit a certain level, the next logical step is to climb to the next. Unless you are one of the most powerful and rich people in the world, there is always room to improve. There is always room to learn more, meet new people, and experience new challenges. Make a list of goals for the next year, the next five years, the next ten years. Determine that you want to join the peace corps, or remodel your house, or get married. One of those new goals could even be as ambitious as being president someday. I mean, they’re letting anyone run for president these days, so…


What do you do when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant in life? Leave a comment! 

Talk later, friends!