Fake It Till You Make It

It’s a curiously well-known fact that the act of making yourself smile will cause your body to release endorphins and serotonin, even if you aren’t feeling happy at that moment. Because of this, it’s been speculated that if you smile when you feel stressed you can minimize the toll that stress takes on your body. The official jury is still out on how strong this reaction is and if it’s effected by whether you’re forcing a smile or genuinely smiling (called a Duchenne smile, which involves muscles from around the eyes), but nonetheless studies show that it seems to have an impact.

Shrinks will tell you think of thing, too. If you’re depressed and nothing makes you happy anymore, make yourself do things that used to make you happy until they make you happy again. Pretend you’re still happy. Make yourself do things happy you did. Eventually you’ll feel better again, they say.

It sounds so easy, like when I mine information and develop new interests in things when I meet new people… but it’s not that easy. I sit down to draw and can’t think of anything to draw, or worse, I think of something to draw and ruin it. I try to play a video game, and I can’t even get the game basics right. I go out to a show and end up sipping vodka in the back of the room alone instead of talking to anyone, and end up leaving feeling worse than when I dragged myself out.

Recently, D2 had a friend who was really tail spinning. Long story short, a girl fell for her best friend. He didn’t feel the same. So she was devastated, and he was angry. Her behavior spiraled out to the point she cut herself and contemplated suicide. So D2 went to her house and held her, called her parents, and I guess she’s doing better now. He also planted in her head that she might be bipolar, like he is.

Here’s why that all bothers me.

A, not everyone is a fucking bipolar. D2 is diagnosed. I am diagnosed. It does not mean that everyone who tries to kill themselves is bipolar. It means a lot of people can’t deal with life. For a number of reasons.

2, I, personally, wouldn’t have time for this bullshit… Spiraling out in to overwhelming depression because someone doesn’t love you back romantically is a dumbass reason to be suicidal. It’s mellow dramatic. It’s attention-seeking. It’s stupid. Being angry at someone for having feelings for you is a dumbass reaction. It just invalidates that person and leaves them open to some dumbass emotional response that will distance both you, and turn into some superfluous bullshit.

D, D2 tells me all of this, about people I barely know, who have pretty much replaced me and my function in his life… and meanwhile I’m at home looking at hoarded bottles of Xanax, Temazapam, and antipsychotics wondering if I have to put me to asleep forever.

D2 thinks he knows what suicide looks like. He’s been there, tried that, and recovered. He knows what a spiral looks like. It’s big, it’s in your face, it’s trying to get people to hurt you, and getting blackout drunk, and causing a scene at work. It’s crying in public, and looking distraught, and not being able to keep it together. It’s cutting yourself, and screaming at your friends, and suddenly cancelling all your plans with people, and putting yourself in dangerous situations. Anyone can spot a spiral. Those are the people that end up getting help. Those are the people whose parents worry about them, and whose friends ask if they’re okay, and who end up in a shrink’s office on a script of Prozac. What D2 doesn’t know is what giving up looks like.

Giving up is a process. It’s quiet and gradual. It’s always cancelling plans last minute because you feel “sick,” but promising that you guys will do something together soon. It’s giving up your hobbies because you’re too tired after work, but promising yourself that you’ll get back to them. It’s not taking a shower for a week, because you wake up late every single day and don’t have time. It’s staring at a bottle of vodka in your freezer, and being too depressed to even drink your sorrows away. It’s coming home to people and pets that are super excited to see you, but being too tired to deal with their energy, so you yell at them or close yourself off in your room. It’s buying things you don’t need just because you think it might fill the hole in your life where your friends used to be. It’s eating too much. It’s not eating enough. It’s sitting in your car for an hour after you get home because you know that when you walk through the door your spouse/kids/pets will want attention, and you really should mop and vacuum and clean the bathroom and put your laundry away… and all you’re going to be able to do is sit down and waste the evening until it’s late enough to go to bed… and it all starts over in the morning. It’s the fakers, who still get up, and go to work, and smile when you see them who give up.

So I’m waiting for my dresses: bright colors and happiness. I’m working on perfecting that Duchenne smile: how to smile with your eyes. I stopped buying books so I can read what I have. I’m monitoring what I eat and when, trying to stick to lean meats, veg, and some chocolate. I’m trying not to look into mirrors too long, so I can’t see the cracks in the facade. I’m distracting myself with educational youtube channels and staring at blank paper until I decide I can try again the next day when it’s finally time to go to bed.

I’m faking it… and I don’t know that I feel better at all, but it’s pretty evident that no one is the wiser to what’s going on beneath the surface. No one’s come knocking on my door to check on me. No one blinks an eye when I cancel plans at the last second, no matter how many times in a row it happens. No one thinks twice about my overuse of the 😛 emoji, or how they haven’t seen me in real life in a while.

Sometimes, when I feel real low, I wonder what people would think if I were to kill myself. I mean, all the signs are there. It’s not like I’ve put real effort into hiding it. Just put on that fake smile and talk when you’re supposed to, and everything else can be ignored. Everyone always says they never see it coming when people kill themselves… but it’s because no one is looking, and even if they are, it’s easier to convince themselves that it’s not their business.

It’ lucky, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, that I have so many pets… I’m sad, yes. I think about killing myself a lot, yes. I am overwhelmingly responsible, though. I would never leave my pets, or my mom like that. Especially since my mother would just kill HERself, and we’d both be dead, and ten animals would end up in a shelter without us. It’s just a series of events that wouldn’t help anyone.

Still, sometimes I wish someone would ask if I’m okay and demand to just be there. What a hypocritical statement… it’s not like I bother checking on anyone… but they say suicide is selfish, so maybe that comes with the territory.

Update: I reached out to check on Bird. She’s been sad, and I wish someone would check on me, so I checked on her. And told her a cool Zelda hack about chickens. So… at least I did that.

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Jared

When I was a kid, I watched The Neverending Story. A lot of things about that movie fucked me up… like no one missing Bastian, and Artax drowning in sadness, Falcor having to rip Atreyu away from the same sadness that took Artax, but especially the Nothing.

I found the idea of NOTHING spreading over Fantastica/Fantasia to be nothing short of impossible to imagine. I mean when people think of emptiness, they think of black, but darkness is something. The only way I’ve really been able to grasp the idea of nothingness is through death. Death is admittedly something, but when you die everything you are becomes nothing…

Today I learned that a friend from high school overdosed and died. I don’t know if it was intentional or accidental, but the result is the same: he’s dead. We weren’t close, and I wouldn’t be so rude as to pretend that we were. I can’t tell you what he’s been up to or if he was involved with anyone. All I know is that when I knew him, he was a nice kid, and the people who knew him more recently seem to have really cared about him.

It’s weird when someone you’re aware of but not at all close to dies. When you’re close to the deceased you have feelings. You feel loss and hurt and longing. When it’s just someone you’re aware existed, it’s sad, but it doesn’t really hurt. There’s no hole in your chest where that person used to be, no regret that you never got to tell them something.

I, personally, just don’t know how you’re supposed to feel when someone you weren’t close to dies.I’m not empty of emotion. I’m sad about it, kind of. His absence now reminds me of the times we DID interact.

My favorite was in high school. I actually went to his house, with a group of friends. His parents were, and probably still are, loaded. We all jumped in his pool, and his mom didn’t even ask questions when he took a giant ball of wet black clothing up to the drier. We sat around in our underwear, wrapped in blankets, and watch The Exorcist, scaring ourselves and each other the best we could. I can’t remember why we there, since it wasn’t a place we usually hung out. Nothing nefarious or even PG-13 happened. We were just dumb kids and we had a nice time. I can’t even tell you why we were there instead of at one of our usual hangouts…

It’s weird that he doesn’t exist anymore, but there’s no emptiness associated with it. It’s like when celebrities die… you’re sad, but you know that in a couple of days you won’t really even think about it. In this case I feel bad I won’t think about it, though. He should be thought about. He was a person, and people deserve recognition.

So, I don’t know. I guess I just want to remember him.

So here’s to you Jared. You were a nice kid I once knew, and you seem to have touched a lot of people. I’m sorry you’re gone. I just hope that whatever happened, you were happy in life.

2016: The Dumpster Fire Of A Year In Which Everyone Died

Carrie Fisher died today.
Princess Leia is gone.

Here’s a list of people that died this year that had an impact on my life.

  • David Bowie
  • Alan Rickman
  • Mohammed Ali
  • Zha Zha Gabor
  • George Michael
  • Prince
  • Florence Henderson
  • Gene Wilder
  • Merle Haggard
  • John Glenn
  • Anton Yelchin
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Kenny Baker (R2D2)
  • Harper Lee
  • Ron Glass
  • Gloria DeHaven
  • Doris Roberts
  • Abe Vigoda
  • Alan Thicke
  • and of course, Carrie Fisher

This is but a fraction of the celebrity deaths this year, each one adding a little more sadness to the year.

Emotionally, it’s been a hard year.
We have four days left, and to be honest, I’m just hoping that no one else dies.

#Fuck2016

Danny’s Memorial Show

The line for Danny’s Memorial Show.

Somehow, within just a week, a good friend of Danny’s put together a show to celebrate his life. I honestly can’t think of a better way to celebrate a great musician and a great man. 

I’m here now, leaning up against a wall on the smoking patio, just watching. It’s a weird atmosphere. I dunno what I expected. I’m not good at emotions, and I’m definitely not good with death, so my reactions are mixed. Still it’s fascinating to see a packed venue full of people that a person touched and how they’re taking it. I’ve seen crying, which was expected, but I’ve seen laughing. There have been hugs and drinks, smiles and distant stares.

It’s amazing how many people are here, even people I haven’t seen at a show in years. It just makes me wonder if Danny knew how many people he managed to touch, how many people have great stories about him, how many people are going to miss him.

I find grief interesting in the sense that people don’t often cry for the lost. More often they cry for the piece of their lives they lost. That’s ok. It’s not an inappropriate emotion in times of crisis. You can’t always differentiate between the two, especially when that person was such a big part of your life. 

Danny was not a major part of my life, and I’m sad about that. He was such a good person, and I wish that I’d known him better. You can feel the way he touched every life and how important he was to some people here. 

My friend Hannah’s band is playing tonight, and she was close to Danny. In spite of how strong she can appear, she’s hurting a lot. A lot of people have turned to her for support, and it seems like it’s taking a toll on her a bit. I hope the show is therapeutic  for her. She and and her husband brought every piece of Danny’s discography that they had, going back years to his first demo. I wish they’d sell copies… I’d buy one. 

Danny’s best friend and band mate is here, along with the rest of the band. He seems okay, but I know better than to believe appearances. I haven’t spoken to him yet, and I don’t know if I will. I’m not good at what to say to the grieving. 

The Denver music scene lost a good friend last weekend. And all you need for proof of that is to ask anyone here. Laughing, crying, drinking, or blogging via phone, we all felt Danny’s passing. I can only hope that with this loss someone out there might realize they have touched more people than they could ever know, and that they are cared about.

Scarlet Canary – Hannah’s Band. Look up their song Blink. Tonight will be the last time they ever play it live… and it’s worth hearing.

My Friend Danny

I want to tell you about my friend Danny.

I met Danny a couple years back at a show my friends were playing. I love local concerts, and Danny’s band, Resonance, was awesome. My first impression of him was that he was very hot. My second impression of him was that he also very nice, very friendly, and probably a really good guy. That opinion of him has never changed.

Danny is the kind of person that could make you feel important, even if you most certainly are not, especially if he sees you at a show. Danny loves his fans. He keeps in touch with them personally, knows them by name and face, makes a point of telling them how much he appreciates them coming out to a show, and even goes out of his way to personally invite people to shows.

Resonance turned into My Own Iris not too long ago. I went to their album release show. The build up to the album release show was brutal. We were on perpetual countdown on Facebook, and I was so hyped to go. I was not disappointed. It was a great time. They put on a great show, as always, and I left tired but happy. Danny was so excited to see me there, just like always.

My favorite thing about Danny is how when he sees people he knows, whether he’s met you once or a hundred time, his face lights up. He has the best smile.

Over the weekend, Danny killed himself.

I’m not claiming to know Danny intimately.
I couldn’t tell you his favorite band, color, or coffee drink.
We weren’t close friends that told each other everything.
But Danny touched my life, as he did so many lives.

This Sunday is a memorial concert for him. His friends in the local music scene put together faster than I’ve ever seen someone put together a show. Donations are the only fee, to help the family, and prolly to pay the venue since that definitely isn’t free… although if a venue were to throw a free show, it would be Hermann’s.

I don’t know how I feel about it all. Yeah, I’m sad for Danny, because he was a good guy and no one knew that he was in pain, but like… he outran whatever he was running from. I like to think that means he found some peace, even if makes me sad.

Also, as someone that thinks about suicide SO REGULARLY it’s always weird to me when someone I know does it. Like… why didn’t I? What was worse for them? What’s supposedly better for me? I dunno, but it’s a weird feeling. Like regret, but not.

Danny will live on forever for me through his music. It always spoke to me.
If you’re interested, here are some links.

My Own Iris Facebook

My Own Iris Website

My Own Iris YouTube Channel

My Own Iris Twitter

I’ll Miss You Danny.
I hope you found your peace.

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My Grandmother: Weird Sentimental

It’s weird what will suddenly remind you someone.

When I was a kid, my grandmother didn’t bake cookies. She didn’t knit. She didn’t kiss boo boos. She didn’t give me sweaters at Christmas that had to wear just because she bought them. My grandmother could not have been in a Hallmark movie. My grandmother wasn’t even that good of a cook.

I touched briefly on my grandmother back on her birthday; the highlight of that being that she was a robot from outer space sent here to take me away from my mother. She was a trip. Why she decided that I needed to be wary of her, I dunno, but in our weird little dysfunctional way, we were very happy.

I remember less about her than I like to admit.

  • She always drank that Folgers instant coffee, that was like coffee crystal granule things
    • She always took it with milk. Not cream. Not sugar.
  • She was fat
    • She loved pecan pie
    • She loved fried chicken
      • Coincidentally the only thing she could really cook
      • She’d eat pretty much fried anything
      • She was the kind of person to clean a bone
        • Then gnaw on it
        • Then crack it open and suck the marrow out
          • It was as gross as it sounds
  • She was from Mobile, AL
  • She loved lighthouses
  • She had an old sewing machine in her bedroom, but I never saw her use it
    • Mom said she was good at sewing, and even taught my mom to sew
    • Her bedroom was always cluttered up and jumbled
    • I think she was a little bit hoarder, probably caused by late-life depression
      • This strolls casually through my family, getting to know them all personally and intimately
        • Remind me to tell you about my uncle someday
  • She lived in a trailer
  • She chain smoked until my mom made her quit when she got emphysema
    • We were convinced that she was going to blow herself up, trying to smoke while on oxygen
  • She had these gnarled up fingers from arthritis
    • And these long ass nails she’d dig into your arm if you disagreed with her

Yes. My grandmother was a trip. Irregular. I thought she was narcoleptic for like my whole life, because she would fall asleep in the middle of conversations, and TV shows, and anything. Turns out, when I was a teenager, my mom figured out they had some of her meds up WAY TOO HIGH and once that got adjusted she was conscious. All the time. It was weird.

Anyways, what reminded me of Lois today, was this.

When I was a kid, Lois had a lamp. It was a scene of a geisha, and one day we made her a caged bird. I didn’t know, until that day, that my grandma was talented. She made this tiny bird, in a cage made of toothpicks. Very delicate work. Turns out that when my mom was a kid, Lois helped her make dollhouse things all the time. They couldn’t buy them, so Lois made them. It was cute.

I miss my grandma. We were talking about her yesterday, because someone was talking about cancer. Cancer is another thing that strolls casually through my family, infecting us all. Sad, really.

Anyways… I miss my grandmother. She was cold, little mean, cackled like a witch… and I feel like I emulate her quite nicely. I hope she would enjoy the person I’ve grown up to be.

How I Coped With my Potential Cancer.

If you missed my previous post, I might have breast cancer.

So how does one cope with a potentially fatal illness at 25?
Not well… Well, actually, I don’t know how other people cope with this sort of thing, but I decided to lose my mind.

Friday morning I found out I have beads of doom in my boob, so Friday night I drank. A lot. I started with a Long Island iced tea, which was pretty clear, tasted awful, and opened the door to drinking more vodka, doing a red headed slut shot, and a tuaca shot. Then, when I was already drunk, and my memory gets hazy, I did something I never do: I accepted things from Charles.

You may be wondering why that is so rare… It’s because Charles is pretty much a frat boy without a fraternity, and anything he hands you could ruin your night. Pills, pot, drinks… You accept nothing from Charles, but I did…

So after getting some Afghani strain in my system, I blacked out worse, and my bestie had to drive my twisted ass home.

The whole night is just flashes. I know I cried at the bestie and a KJ. I know the flower guy that does rounds to the bars every night said a prayer for me. I know that some girl reassured me that she went through the same thing and it was nothing. I don’t know much else.

Waking up this morning, I thought I would feel like shit. I was oddly perfect. I was even in high spirits. I discovered that I’d eaten a whole jar of pickles… Is that the secret to a hangoverless night? And yes, I know hangoverless is not a word.

Tonight, I went out again, for a friend’s birthday. He and his totally non-serious cover band played. For whatever reason, I’m blaming the lack of birth control, I’m extremely into this guy today. So, I slut myself up a little (as much as a fat girl can without looking desperate) and went, I got to say maybe three words to him.

I did get Voodoo Doughnuts, though, as the bestie went and stood in line for two god damn hours for them earlier in the day. This guy, who I vaguely know, was so excited to get one that he could have been an antidepressant commercial.

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It was fun to go out. Lots of my music scene acquaintances came out, so they had guest singers and players.

For instance… This is what NSync’s Bye Bye Bye looked like.

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Still, coming home alone is pretty crap.

I’m sad… Maybe because I’m just bipolar… But who can say.