A Parting Sketch

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When we choose to part, I will keep silent. I will squeeze my screams in my chest and leave them alone there. Until a sad tune touches my heart and pours them all out – in my pillow.

When we have to part, I will keep seeing my friends, the same day – the same Friday. I will keep smiling and singing and posting silly images on Instagram. I will smile to the waiter, dance like a crazy – and come home. Like always. But something will not be the same. Nothing will be the same.

When I am without you, I will keep living. And you will keep living, too. You will go out, post silly selfies on Facebook and go to work as always. Nothing will change. But something will be gone. For good.

When my world lacks you, I will cry a bit more, miss a lot more and dream a lot more. I will dream about us – give in to illusions – for a while – but then – dress up, put the usual make-up on, smile in the mirror and go out.

When I decide to quit, I will keep dating. Even though it will be only one-time-no-sex-only-chat dates. But I will keep searching. I will not give up – for the sake of the beauty of love, for my sake. For your sake. Why? You’ll feel my lightness rather than drag the burden of my love. And you’ll be happier, I am sure.

When we feel we must part, I will hide you from my Facebook, I will bite my lips when they long for a kiss, I will tie my fingers – when they strive to type you, I will break my phone – when it lures me to a call. The pillow will suffer from more crying and beating and laptop will be blowing up with sad songs. But I will put my makeup on, dress up, go out, smile and live, walk a bit more, walk kilometers despite the heat and rain to walk away from the pain and memories.  I will hide you until your presence doesn’t touch my heart the way it wants to commit a suicide.

When I feel lonely without you, I will cry on mom’s shoulder like a baby, keep her in the dark, let my loved ones suffer with me, share my pain and tortures. I will keep the secret – but I will give away my pain. It’s unbearable to live with that pain. Although I will keep going to work, smiling to colleagues, smiling to friends, smiling to you – from my Facebook posts. I will keep being desirable to other men – especially in that blue dress – but hating myself for that.

When we drift apart, there will be silence. Emptiness. Obscurity. Uncertainty. Hopelessness. Despair. And all these together multiplied by loneliness. But I will keep dancing. And believing that this all shall pass, too. The lightness will come – despite the tons of tar boiling in my heart. The love will gradually sip through the holes of my heart, the scars will group to form a tatoo and I will be proudly wearing them on my neck.

When we choose to part, I will cry a lot more, I will cry until the pain subdues, I will scream in the open air, I will beat the pillow – I will do all the standard things that therapists suggest. I will try them all and invent my own methods. I will write, write, write until I have no energy to stay awake. I will do everything until I start loving life – without you.

And over time, when the pain subdues  I will come back to life – the life I used to live without you, before you.

And, I will keep going out, smiling to friends, smiling to people and – smiling to myself. Because I don’ t want to suffer anymore. Because there comes a point that suffering no longer exists – as you don’t exist. You don’t feel how the life is passing by. You just notice it going away. You notice people who live, laugh, love and grow – but you’re too consumed by your pain to engage in it. But you still dress up, put your make-up on, dress up a little bit more, go out – push yourself out of your prison of a room – and live. Or, fake living – until you make it.

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Tales of Depression and Victory: tough relapse

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It seems to have come out of nowhere. Without any prior notice. Or, wait – the daily accumulated tension and multitasking at work – this is where it all began.

The first stage is the attempt to ignore and take easy the signs of the looming storm. You just persuade yourself it’s the fatigue, bad day at work (although almost every day can be dubbed as such), PMS or even the vitamin deficiency. But then drop by drop it accumulates in the vessel. One drop – a bad day, another drop – fight with family who don’t want to see your sour face and not even know what to do about it, the third drop – daily fading desire to wake up early and observe morning rituals. Writing included. This is already alarming.

Alarming as it was, the relapse was probably unavoidable. And you can’t even guarantee or guess the exact time to be prepared. No, it’s an insidious bitch.

Then you find yourself in the same vicious circle again. Again and again. You start avoiding your family. You don’t find the energy to write to a friend. Or, you write to complain and speak up – but they don’t seem to understand, which is totally normal.

In fact, no one is possible to wear your shoes. And you don’t even want your precious ones to be inside them. The Spanish shoes…Inquisition. Medieval Ages. This is not the past. This is what’s going on inside you daily. Sometimes the light breaks in and you try to catch up. As though in the 1990s- when the electricity and water were supplied in small chunks and mom tried to juggle laundry, shower, household and all the possible stuff within this short period. The war was going on and we just adjusted to that harsh reality – thinking having interrupted supplies of water normal.

Now we have 24-hour electricity, water and even gas (at that time, gas was considered an almost untouchable luxury). But it’s all off inside me. Only chaotic flows of water circulate in my body and splash out in forms of tears and screams.

Once I even weep in the middle of the street. Loud. This is the final phase of relapse. Uncontrollable weeping.

I sit in my room and the hail and rain knock at my window. I just want to merge with the raindrops and fade away. For good…

 

 

Tales of depression and victory: episode 4 – fearless worrier

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When the climax of panic is gone – and, believe me, it will happen sooner or later, no matter how desperate you feel now – you will be overcome with a liberating wave of fearlessness. Not that you won’t worry at all. No. You will still worry a lot – for trifles or major issues – but you will experience the feeling of invincibility, the inner strength that you never experienced before.

It will be hard paved road. The way to the state of a fearless worrier will be thorny. There will be moments of total despair, and there will be moments when the colors of life will brighten up. But in most cases, you will feel scaringly fearless. Unbelievably high-spirited. And outrageously brave. When faced with a bullying boss, or confronted by a toxic colleague, or just burnt out under the loads of work. Or, just in the face of loneliness or recent breakup.

Believe me, you will feel totally fine with yourself, with your worries, pains – physical and mental, – with your greatest fears. Because you once (or many times) experienced how it feels like to perceive the closeness of death, or, to be more precise – its twin brother – the panic attack.

The one who felt the hot breath of death close to his/her face cannot be afraid of losing a job. Or fear of being ignored, or even being dumped. You still worry a lot, but the daily growing brave warrior in you throws back the anxiety attacks, and fears, and disappointments. It’s such a meditative, philosophical state of mind. Suddenly all your career ambitions vanish – ayou find the meaning not in achievements, but in fulfillment and joy of simple moments.

Sometimes I even wonder – how a formerly ambitious career-oriented girl could turn into a process-driven protagonist of life full of simple joys. This is how a panic attack can change you overnight. Without a prior notice. Like it or not – you’re not the same any more…

Keep this spirit high. You’re invincible, my warrior brother. Don’t fret: soon your inner fearless child will beat the nasty oldie you’ve become and grow into a fearless rebellious youngster, living in the present, living FOR the present…

P.S. This post is inspired by and dedicated to my favorite yoga instructor Lena, a fearless woman and a loving mother.

Tales of depression and victory: the repeated scenarios

Once-upon-a-time

I used to be a master of drafting and acting on repeated scenarios. Amorous ones. With clear understanding of their being not-happily-ended yet untamed desire to go for yet another experience, fall into another gut of emotional turmoil. With outright stubbornness and outrageous frivolousness towards the results. With a speed of the fastest sprinter did I find myself in subsequent chains of doomed affairs.

They all had almost the same introduction: innocent flirt on the internet or over a cup of coffee. Then it all swallowed my emotional aura – with passion, turmoil, guilt, sweet anticipation of yet another secret encounter. The climax was almost the same: me asking them tough questions and them – distancing themselves more and more. And the ending felt me devastated, plus, as in case of the last year, with acute symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety.

Yes, secret. This is the most luring part, isn’t it? And the saddest one, too. I am not going to go into the details of each relationship – this I spared for my “Memoirs for My Granddaughter: Lessons to be Learned”. I’d like to tell you about the victory: you’ve already had enough of ‘depression’ chunks in my narratives.

…In the middle of my third repeated scenario, I just couldn’t bear any more. I was overcome with utmost fatigue – emotional, mental and spiritual. The script didn’t seem to be changing in a positive way this time, too. I again ignored a few signals that it wasn’t going to work. Moreover, it wasn’t already bringing joy and fulfillment in the short run, either. So, what was the benefit for me? Why should have I always felt that killing feeling of constraint, rejection and anxiety?

I was tired of expecting for illusions and ghosts: there was no two-way train bringing me to the station of Union this time, either. I felt sick of this ailment. Yes, unreciprocated or doomed feelings are a malady – one should get rid of it as soon as possible until it starts defining his/her being, every single step, every action.

So I quit. I just ran away from the station. Far far away. Leaving a note to him: “Sorry, I am tired. I lack freedom and space. Don’t contact me any longer. Wish you well. Siri.”.

I never looked back. I just moved on. The lesson was learnt this time. I chose my psychological balance and health over crumbs of romance I was trying to entertain myself with, a romance which in fact was a phantom with beautiful silhouettes.

There is no such thing as easy breakup. Every breakup hurts – even if it was a short-lived affair. But you should always be sure: when the wound is recovered you will feel as liberated and revived as ever. You will be empowered from within, as this is the greatest victory one can have: victory over the ghosts of past and illusions of the present. Now you have all the rights to feel proud of yourself.

P.S. Curtain: the chain of repeated scenarios was broken. I am not waiting for another train. Not yet. I chose to be alone for some time. At least, I won’t actively seek a partner. But whenever I again choose to travel, my next destination will be the Land of Reciprocated Feelings…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales of depression and victory: Sunday kind of blues

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Life is unfair, especially towards Mondays 🙂

Why are they dubbed ‘blue’, ‘tough’ and even ‘horrific’? It’s Sunday that deserves the epithets.

Sunday is a rare bitch. Even if you’re a free-spirited self-employed person with already fading memories of the cubicle life. But still, you’ve got the scratchy feeling in the throat once the Medusa of Sunday shoots a devastating look at you.

Indigo blue mixed with gray spots in between. This is the color of Sunday. And it always smells and feels like rain.It’s also a day of seeing my therapist. A good reason to wake up in the morning and cheer yourself up (and cheat yourself) with cheesy affirmations.

Sunday can zeroize all your efforts of the week: just like that. It’s a PMS bitch. Even though you don’t have to fear the idea of Monday – as it’s a regular day with a chunk of freelance work from home – you feel the jitters.

Again, the blues will squeeze in the most cowardly way. ..Out of nowhere – it seems. But in the middle of crying you will catch the thought. Mostly – it’s the overarching feeling of despair. Stronger than all of the cheesy affirmations and scarier than the fear of public speaking. You know it will go away, but you also feel it is not going to leave you any time soon. All you want is just to get rid of it. Swallow a dozen of antidepressants. Cry yourself out of the despair. Scream – a scary but effective option. Beat the pillow. Beat yourself. Go away. Disappear… The most frequent wish.

Suddenly you feel all the tears are gone. No power to hold a tear. And total emptiness.

No single wish. Peace. “I don’t care” mood. Just an insatiable desire to sleep. Sleep.

Sleep…More and more. As you don’t feel like greeting the sun in the morning. It’s just a shitty ball of fire which unfortunately brings a new day to the world and one has to wake up and live it. A sad prospect, as all you want to do is disappear in the blackest hole of the universe.  It’s Sunday – you think – and it’s only natural. Monday will repeat itself and Tuesday will be bearable. Just live until Tuesday. And then – you’ll see.

The thought is comforting. It will not last forever. Nothing lasts forever. It shall pass, too…

To be continued with solutions to Sunday syndrome

Tales of depression and victory: episode 1

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Today I can’t keep silent. I’m sitting in our candlelit sitting room. The lights are off, so no internet and full of time to at last set to my narrative.

I am going to write about depression. Not the state of being depressed, but the real, devastating, mind and heart-draining depression. Spiced up with anxiety and panic attacks.

It’s time for the world to acknowledge the plague of the 21st century. It’s not cancer. It’s the cancer of soul, depression. It’s time for people to take care of their mental health – even more than they do about their physical condition.

I am not talking about the state of ‘the blues’ that we once in a while experience. I want to write about the chronic sense of emptiness, constant feeling of insecurity and panic, and uncontrollable crying triggered from seemingly nothing. And, above all, the background track called ‘Despair’…

If it all rings a bell, I don’t envy you…and your loved ones. You’re now a tough burden for yourself and your family (no matter how hard they try to convince you of the opposite).

I am writing these lines during those happy moments when a ray of light comes into the dark room of your thoughts and brooding. No, I am not hopeless. I still preserved the sense of pleasure and some happy moments within a day – connected with swimming, walking and…crying out loud on the shoulder of my family members.

But I strongly believe that depression is not a life sentence. It’s just a temporary imprisonment in the fortress of your thoughts and fears and failures. They are the guards of the prison. Severe and alert. Sometimes they sleep and you manage to catch the fresh breath of air from your prison window.

The daily dose of crying is over. Every day it starts almost the same way and ends in the embrace of different family members or friends. The good old panic attack is an unpredictable bitch. It likes fooling me around, pretending it’s headache or stomachache, or even it’s gone for good through a touch of a magic wand. But I feel it’s coming from the very first step it takes. It’s the old Chinese torture – the dropping water over the head of a prisoner, with the single difference that it’s you and your thoughts that have started the torture, not an external force. Yes. You and your attitude to reality, people, situations, success and failure, love and despair, expectations and inevitable disenchantment.

Today I cried right in the street. I was stepping out of granny’s house when it started. I was with mom. No longer could I hide my pain from her. I did it for too long. I spared her feelings. But I couldn’t keep silent any longer. That’s another thing about the attacks. Suddenly you stop caring about what others will think. The only thing you want is get rid of the huge shark of pain in your throat which threatens to swallow your whole being. Crying and screaming are the only solutions. I am lucky to be able to loosen like that. There are people who say they can’t. It’s horrible.

I didn’t care about people looking at me in the street, holding my mom’s hand and crying right in the middle of walking. I just wanted (as always) to get rid of the tons of lead in my heart, mind and body at the moment. An attack doesn’t differentiate between places. It just happens. And leaves you desperate and frightened – if it’s for the first time, or in the full swing.

Sounds familiar? I want to hug you, my friend. This is what my friends always do and this is what is the best healer, the best method. Don’t tell them to stop or to be strong, or to be ashamed. It has the opposite effect. Just be there. Just hold her/his hand. Say – I am with you and I will protect you. Let her cry away all the pain. It may come again, but she will feel safer.

It’s time to confess to ourselves: depression and anxiety are the banes of the century. Too high expectations, life paces, ambitions, illusions about love, perfect Facebook couples posting their every kiss…It doesn’t have to be a major bereavement and adversity to trigger the depression. Vice versa, the small and at the first glance trifling events may conceive it. Don’t blame yourself for being weak. It happens to the strongest. Don’t blame yourself for being pessimistic and desperate – it may happen to the most optimistic of us. Don’t think it has gone for good…it’s such an obtrusive bitch, it won’t leave you so easily…Be prepared for her possible arrival on your next station.

I am a super emotional and passionate creature, and my energy is often turned into a destructive one.

But I am not going to analyze myself. My therapist does it quite well. I am feeling so relieved while writing these words. I can write – and this is my weapon against panic and anxiety. This is my answer to depression. Yes I got weaker and I cry a lot and I am damn desperate at times, but I am a winner. I lost a battle but I will win the war. Because I am stronger than you. Because I have so many precious people around me, who help me in all the possible and impossible ways. Because I know they do care. And that’s what’s the most important thing in life. That’s a treasure that I am grateful for.

Be grateful, when you’re desperate. I know it’s hard to do as you are obsessed with the things you don’t have. But – do be grateful. For the simple joys of life. For this very moment. For this very second.

I will come out a different person. More mature and patient. This is my mantra which doesn’t seem to work…

To be continued…

Job-hunt: our top 3 outrageous interview situations

 

The most absurd questions at job interviews

Sometimes we deal with abusive interviewers

-How was the interview?

 

-Oh, as usual. They started asking me absurd questions and I backfired with a tirade of sarcastic answers.

This was one of the typical dialogues between my friend and Ruzanna over the past few months when she was seeking a job after quitting her seemingly posh yet juice-draining position as a store manager.

As nо less experienced and pained interviewee, I would start mildly hinting her to be more tolerant to get a job, to be patient (the one word that could infuriate her most of all!) and so on and so forth; but, excuse me, how to stay cool-headed when an interviewer, for instance, asks if you’re ready to make coffee for the boss and his guests on a daily basis while you’re not applying for the secretary position. (Well, at least, let’s be thankful then that we are informed about this subtle “nuance” of the job beforehand).

So, inspired by our shared bitter practice and this BBC Capital article, I picked up top 3 ridiculous interview situations we went through which may be useful  in your quest for landing a dream job (of course, if such exists):

  1. We’re hiring that’s why YOU are more interested.  This situation is vividly illustrated by having you wait for the super VIP HR manager for more than 15 minutes without further “sorry for waiting” (hey, by the way, politeness is a universal virtue). In one of such cases, I told the recruiter I had to go earlier because of their delay. Interview in fact is a two-way street: you need a job- but they (most likely) need your skills and experience – that’s why respect and understanding should be mutual. If they don’t value your time in the very beginning of your possible co-operation, they are not likely to do it afterwards.
  2. We’re hiring that’s why WE are asking questions. This one logically follows the bullet 1. Once, as a newly graduated linguistics major I was interviewed for an administrative position at a VIP fitness club in my hometown. After the standard questions and Einstein test (!why the hell is it needed if you all have to do is amiably greet the guests and record their names and such kind of stuff?!- another ridiculous situation, indeed), I attempted to ask some questions about the position. With a look of an intelligence agent aware of the top state secrets and not willing to give them away under the threat of death, the HR condescended to answer. “You will learn everything IF (read: you, common mortal, how did you dare to even ask it!)you pass on to the next stage. Period. Lord knows how many nights I didn’t sleep trying to figure it out – even when I learnt I didn’t pass (read: sarcastic smile 🙂
  3. And, finally, the “epic” one. We are hiring that’s why WE can belittle your experience to make you agree on our terms. Or, the so-called interview abuse.

“4 years of experience as a store manager?Well, it’s easier than the sales officer job you’re applying for. Isn’t it JUST coordinating and organizing the things?”, my friend quoted her last met HR as saying this while trying to look a super qualified professional. The tactic of downsizing Ruzanna’s skills backfired with a bunch of sarcastic comments before she gracefully left the office (oh, I wish I could see it!). She’s eventually found a decent job, that’s not the issue. The thing is that in our digital age it’s so easy to scare away the right professionals from your company by such a behavior (the opposite holds true, too): a few Facebook statuses or just the life-tested word-of-mouth are enough to gain a certain (not favorable) image among job-seekers.

And, lastly, dear recruiters! Of course, you will have your “side” of the story, too. Feel free to share if you happen to read this perhaps not-so-pleasant entry.

Dear job-seekers,

I’m sure you have your own bitter, funny, ridiculous or outrageous interview story. Let’s share and help the newly-grads not to get desperate in such situations and deal with them with dignity and a bit of irony.

Toxicity detected, or why are some people always unhappy?

 

Unhappy

Do you know any “always unhappy” person?

In one of my previous posts, we together unveiled how to identify and shield ourselves against emotional vampires. Let’s face it we’re all sometimes sieged by them, moreover, at times, we are the Draculas! (Not the funny one from my favorite Hotel Transylvania, but the real one- emotionally depleting and horrible).

 

Now let’s talk about a particular vampire “species” – “the always unhappy and complaining” type. They are toxic. But I’m not going to bash them: the inner discomfort may be deeply enrooted in the childhood or family circumstances; nor am I going to justify their being “a pain in the ass” for their surroundings. Let’s just discuss the reasons for their chronic unhappiness. If any of my readers identifies himself/herself of her friend, for instance, with the “type”, it will be useful for them to ponder over the reasons and try to eliminate them: not only for the sake of “the unluckiest person in the world whose problems are alien to anyone else in the world” but for your sake in the first place 🙂

  1. They’re not grateful for what they feel and have. Rather, they obsess over their not having enough money, friends, energy, resources, time (!), marital status, support from parents and spouse, support from strangers (!), support from God! and, continue the list, for being happy. Now listen: enough is enough and I’m going to be harsh on you with the simple truth. There is no “enough”. We humans are greedy creatures and our exponentially growing needs die hard to our resources at any single given moment.  As cliched as it may sound, just be grateful. The only path to harmony is thankfulness for the things we experience first and the things we have secondly.

2. They think their problems are the worst in the world and everyone owes to listen to them dwelling upon their hardships (for at least, 2 hours, for instance- offline or online :). That’s ridiculous. I’m deeply convinced that nature is so balanced, the give-and-take mechanism is so perfect that all the people are “granted” with the same amount of problems and are obliged to make sacrifices at this or that point of their lives. If someone chooses just not to overwhelm you with their troubles, worries, routine problems or even the major ones, that doesn’t mean he/she is on top of the world with joy and luck. That doesn’t mean I urge you to ignore a friend who feels like sharing and is going through a tough time. But you certainly have one who ALWAYS goes through a tough time and you don’t see an end to it.

3. And, lastly, by default, they believe life is hard. Well, you and I don’t think it’s a piece of a  strawberry marmalade, either, do we? But we don’t reiterate it and try to prove it to others by our being permanently disenchanted (or, at least, I hope so – in the majority of cases:) ) And again it boils down to the “victim” mindset. Listen. Life is hard for EVERYONE. I repeat- ev-ery-one. Now, are you a bit happy about it? Just a bit? Keep repeating it to yourself, my chronically discontent friend, as a mantra, whenever you feel like flushing your problems to your parents, spouses, friends or colleagues. Make it your affirmation in the morning, or do with it whatever you feel like. In addition, be grateful and think of others’ problems (by the way, supporting others rather than expecting support from others also helps), and maybe in near future you’ll notice you have all the “enoughs” to be happy!

Process vs. results. What’s more important?

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Results vs goals, what’s more important?

What’s more fulfilling: the road you carve toward your goals or the ultimate result?
Admit it: there is something devastating in having the sacred dream of life-changing goal realized. But, the unhappiest time is when you reach the goal you thought would make you happy but eventually you end up feeling bitter emptiness. “What’s next”?- you wonder. “Is this it?”

Unless you have some new goal “ in store” you are sure to feel this way. So, is life equaling to a chain of mechanical actions? Goals- fulfillment-other goals- fulfillment?

Not at all. In-between, there is a whole palette of emotions- hope, faith, disappointment, anger, fury, anticipation and the long-awaited fulfillment. And, of course, the piercing feeling of guilt after you reach it. (“I don’t deserve it”, – the so-called “imposter syndrome“).

So, the answer to the question is just to stop asking it in the first place.

Stop it. Just live. Breathe in peace, breathe out anxiety. Relish the process, do your best and even more but don’t link your happiness to the result, nor tie it to people, phenomena or circumstances.

“Easier said than done”- you’ll probably argue. That’s what I’m doing right now while I scribble these lines. But who said “the easy” is the friend of “the happy”? 🙂

 

A TED speaker coach shares 11 tips for right before you go on stage

Smash your fear of public speaking with these tips from TED speakers!

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Gina Barnett advises a speaker during TED2014. Below, her best last-minute public speaking tips. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED Gina Barnett advises a speaker during TED2014. Below, her best last-minute public speaking tips. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

The weekend before a TED conference, each speaker rehearses their talk in the TED theater. It’s a chance for the speakers to get to know the space, for our curators to give last-minute suggestions on talk content, and for our speaker coaches to give advice to help each speaker feel their absolute best the day of their talk. During this time, we overheard speaker coaches Gina Barnett, Michael Weitz and Abigail Tenenbaum give a few extraordinarily helpful tips that we’d never heard before.

We asked Gina Barnett, longtime TED speaker coach and author of the upcoming book Play the Part: Master Body Signals to Connect and Communicate for Business Success (to be released in June), to share some specifics:

  1. Start drinking water 15 minutes before you start talking. If you tend to get…

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