#IFF: Irrational Fear Friday

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Ok. So clearly, I’m not doing a good job blogging/creating content/social mediaing. And why is that, you might ask? “You were so active for a couple…months…” you might add. Fear. The answer is fear. With an anxiety disorder, a lot of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (oh, hey, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) are influenced by fear a.k.a. worry, nervousness, or unease. And many of these fears, spoiler alert, are super irrational. I fear rejection, failure, vulnerability…all of the things that go hand in hand with putting yourself out there and having your voice heard. I want so badly to advocate for the causes that I hold dear. But, like an adorable turtle, I retreat into my shell, afraid of the world (wide web). So, considering this, I really think it would be fun, both from a self-discovery and growth perspective, and awkwardly hilarious entertainment perspective, to explore some of my irrational fears. And what better way to organize the thing and literally force myself to write about it than an easy-to-remember, catchy hashtag! IFF is an acronym that could mean any number of things on the internet: Image Fest Friday, International Flavors & Fragrances, Internet Freedom Foundation…but I’m going to go ahead and appropriate it, and now it’s #IrrationalFearFriday.

That’s right, folks. Every Friday I’ll be discussing another of my irrational fears and how totally and completely ludicrous they are. And hopefully, for anyone else who suffers from anxiety or excessive worry, you’ll realize that you’re not alone! And I mean, who doesn’t suffer from anxiety these days. Jesus. Let’s be honest: some of these will be more ridiculous than others. But I think some will resonate with many folks. Human beings are emotionally fragile creatures. Resilient ones, but fragile nonetheless.

I’ll keep this one short and sweet, since it’s super late (gee, I wonder why I put off posting this until 10pm….): my entire being is dictated by my fears. My fear of taking risks, of the unknown, of imperfection. I know there is so much potential inside of me, so much creative and joyful energy…I just have to break down those fears, just say “fuck it” and take those risks, put myself out there, try new things. Find my bliss…Sure, being afraid of failure is relatively rational. It sucks to fail! But what is irrational about it is that I don’t even try. And thus…I automatically fail. Well, I’m calling myself out on my own bullshit now. It’s time to face the ultimate fear: the fear of everything.

And so we commemorate the inaugural Irrational Fear Friday. But don’t worry, my dear reader, it shan’t be a mope-fest, a time to weep over how our brains are dumb-dumbs for being afraid of such silly shit. Nay, it shall be a time for mirth and hilarity, trust me 😉 After all, the blog’s called Hillary Be Laughin’

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The Big Three Oh!

A lot of people, not just women, seem to dread turning thirty, like it’s some impending deadline before we turn into (gasp!) grown-ups. This arbitrary distinction always flummoxed me. It’s just a number, right? Maybe when I was younger, I would see jokes made on sit-coms or hear women complaining about the big 3-0, and perhaps I bought into it. But as I slowly crept through my late twenties, I relished the idea of 30. Perhaps the pendulum was swinging too far in the opposite direction, but I was stoked to finally be an adult, to get my shit together, to feel like I knew my place in the world. I turned thirty in August of 2015 and, although I did have a job (finally, after 2 years of depressing partial-employment after my cancer treatment), I didn’t really feel all that “put-together.” Then, a month later, I saw this little gem of a magazine cover:

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What is this shit? THIS is 30? What about the rest of us? The non-celebrity, not-so-powerful, not-so-successful, non-photoshopped, potentially frumpy ladies out there? I can appreciate the attempt to make 30 feel less threatening, but c’mon! And I also realize this is a fashion magazine, and I shouldn’t take it personally, because this is what fashion magazine’s do. But for whatever reason, it really hit me. It offended me. Now before you say “Oh you millennials get offended by EVERYTHING,” let me counter by saying a) I am not a millennial. I don’t know how all of a sudden everyone who was born within a 40 year time period is suddenly in the same generation and b) How would you like it if a magazine told you that THIS was what someone your age should be, not what you actually are. Needless to say, despite all logical rationalization to the contrary, I was bummed and felt inadequate. So I had an idea. Why not try and make my OWN magazine cover, for us chubbettes, for those of us who got totally screwed by the recession and the concept of “follow your dream” after our bachelor’s degrees turned into “good fucking luck.” So this is what I came up with:

This is 30

Photograph by Sylvie Rosokoff

Forgive my poor photoshopping skills (yikes, my right arm is crunchy!) and my ill-fated attempt at matching the fonts. I want you to know that the only post-production work done on this was some color correction in Lightroom, and of course removing the background and adding a gradient and words in photoshop. But the point is not my amazing photoshopping skills, the point is that Keira Knightley isn’t the only 30-year-old in this piece. BOOM! This is what 30 is about, for me at least. Sagging breasts, dimpled thighs (both are beautiful!), my little thyroidectomy scar, my Jewish nose, my crazy pink hair (RIP, pink hair), and my ill-fitting romper. And you know what? I love it all! Don’t be afraid of 30, people! It’s just a number. Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional. Just because there’s a three in front of my age doesn’t mean I have to stop shopping at the stores I want, or listening to the music I want, or playing the video games that I want. It’s just a number. And in a few short months, I’ll be 31, and THAT will be just a number. And all the numbers after that, each one more awesome than the last. Embrace your numbers, whether they be age, weight, or anything other measurement. They are just numbers, and do not reflect who you are as a person. Remember that 🙂 Cheers, my lovelies.

And rising forth from the ashes, she was…

Ok. So. Hi. I’m Hillary. I started blogging in 2013, and….things happened. Lots of things that got in the way with me keeping up consistently with the -ing we call blog(g). That blog was called The Validated Hypochondriac, because I, a neurotic hypochondriac, was finally “validated” after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013. And that was only after a series of escalating, unrelated health problems, from horrifying skin reactions on my hands and arms, to a herniated disc which left me “floor-ridden” and unable to walk for six weeks. But I digress. I started that blog as a form of writing therapy, to help me get through the insane story I was living by writing it down. After the cancer was cut out, there were still health issues to blog about, but it became more of a general writing therapy than a health-related one. Anyway, like I said, things happened. It got worse before it got better before it got worse again. I can’t even begin to tell you how much has happened since 2014 when I essentially dropped off the blogosphere for “good.” But here I am, back in orbit, here to tell you tales of what happened, is currently happening, and what yet may be. Here’s an infographic to cover the basics of early 2013 until, well, about a month ago:

Hillary's Timeline.001Images from The Noun Project by Zach Harris, Sergey Demushkin, Dilon Choudhury, Joao Santos, Dominique Vincent, and Artem Kovyazin.

Now, when I say complete mental breakdown, I suppose that’s a bit of an exaggeration. To give you a bit of background: I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and depression since I was about 13 years old, so needless to say I’ve been in my fair share of therapy, and on my fair share of psychotropic medications. One of these medications left me with some serious side effects and I found myself hospitalized. It was scary, and it was the culmination of a steady deterioration into relative madness. Now, I’ve come out on the other side with safe medications and a new diagnosis of Bipolar II. It’s like Diet Bipolar. If you don’t know what Bipolar Disorder is, I recommend you watch this cute little video from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness):

So here we are. I’ve established a “brand” for myself in Hillary Be Laughin’, and I want to put myself out into the world, share my story, and hopefully help other men and women who have experienced a shitstorm of weirdness in their lives. Let’s get started…