top of page


6 items found for ""

  • Mother, is this Madness?

    I lounged in the backyard patio with Mom. Bees buzzed around my thighs, lazing on me briefly to rest from the sun’s heat and to slurp up some of my sunscreen’s nectar. I focused my eyes onto them, unamused, but too afflicted by a sunshine lobotomy to consider moving. I returned to my book, The Alchemist, one I had been trying to get through since freshman year of high school. Perhaps a descent into fictional philosophy would cure my existentialism, I thought. I read left to right, left to right, left to right, but the words disappeared as soon as they left my eye’s focus. I began again. Same, nothing. Each word sat in my brain, holding no meaning, no emotion, just weight. Defeated, I looked up to Mom, who was snacking on pistachios and reading the new People magazine. At least she wasn’t pretending to be a scholar. I wondered what she was thinking. I bet she was judging Reese Witherspoon’s cornbread recipe or she was taking notes on J-Lo’s bikini body workout routine with laser focus. Or, she was there, replaying the headlines in her mind, unable to feel anything. Like daughter like mother. Was she in her body or was she in the clouds? Fuck. The book, right. I blinked my eyes back into focus as Mom swatted away a bee. Frustradedly, I tossed my book to the side and shot up, stepping over to Mom. Left, right, left, right. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I settled into the chair next to her, readjusting awkwardly as I untangled the words caught in my throat. “Mom? I have a super random question for you. Do you ever feel like you’re not really in your body, like you’re experiencing things but kind of as a viewer?” She replied casually, her eyes still lingering on Reese’s baking instructions. “Well sometimes I don’t feel like I’m living in the moment. Like my mind is on something that im worried about”. “Yeah, but it’s not like not living in the moment. Does it ever feel like you’re watching yourself from afar, like you’re not inside of your body?" Mom tilted her head and pressed her lips together, her kind heart searching for any way to relate to her daughter. After returning from thought, her contemplation melted into motherly concern. I turned my head away as my throat tightened. “That’s okay. Nevermind.” I reopened my book and stared into the worn pages as they mocked me. I knew I should’ve never said anything. I wished more than anything that I hadn’t said a word. Because, as the words spilled of my mouth, they materialized within the air, becoming real. At least, inside my head, they were still my delusions. At least, in my delusions, I could pretend Mom would understand. Mom didn’t know it at the time, but it took me nearly a year to ask her, or anyone else for that matter, about that feeling. Something about it felt so odd, abjecting, and agonizing in a way I could never seem to put into words. I used countless metaphors and odd phrases to try and describe the feeling: -A brain on a stick -A spirit leaving my body -A robot in my mind controlling my body with levers (think Inside Out, but the Alfred Hitchcock addition). Okay, this one still needs a little work. They weren’t perfect, but how else was I to explain a feeling that no one ever taught me was real. A description of this unidentified affliction was first used by Henry Frederic Amiel on July 8, 1880 in The Journal Intime; He wrote: "I find myself regarding existence as though from beyond the tomb, from another world; all is strange to me; I am, as it were, outside my own body and individuality… Is this madness?" Amiel, a philosopher and poet, was shrugged off as a wacky creative, the type whose mental disarray was a necessary ingredient to his art. No one dared question his creative process. In 1898, psychologist Ludovic Dugas introduced the illness in a clinical setting. And, in a grand attempt to bring logic to an otherwise spiritual sounding condition, he claimed that there was a disconnect between sensory input and the associated muscular sensations. But, Dugas, failed to answer the question which Amiel presented. Is this madness? I remember the day my life turned to madness. I was sitting in my freshman year of high school English class, drawing scribbles on my paper and tapping my foot against the linoleum. Then, my face go hot and my eyes dizzied. I looked down at the arms that attached themselves to my being but I could’ve sworn they weren’t mine. The pencil I was holding pressed against the finger pads, but the sensation no longer made it up to the brain. I wiggled the fingers and panicked as they moved correctly. The bell rang and briefly snapped me out of my stupor. Without even thinking about saying bye to anyone, I lifted the body up to stand and awkwardly exited the room. Left, right, left, right, I had to tell myself. I felt sickeningly aware of the way the bones clanked together as the skin constricted into a taut humanoid shape. My spirit felt like it was floating just centimeters above the body, close enough to know everything that’s going on, but too far to feel anything. The sound of breathing suffocated the ears as my internal narration screamed. I opened the passenger door to Mom’s car to which I was promptly greeted with a “how was class?” I looked at her and staggered back. I knew she was Mom but I felt nothing towards her. I looked ahead and said “good”, mimicking the way a human should. I so badly wanted to say more. I wanted to scream. But, speaking felt like a disgusting reminder of how I felt. What would I say, anyway. Months passed and time slowed. Every glance at a reflection or touch of the skin reminded me that I was trapped inside of myself. I burned holes through my bathroom mirror with bloodshot eyes, desperately trying to recognize the body which claimed me. The sunken eyes that stared back at me whispered an unheard surrender. I was entirely estranged from my person. I didn’t know what to do other than try to erase my identity completely. I canceled plans with friends, went home right after school, and imprisoned myself to my bed, convincing myself that that the less I moved, spoke, or even thought, the safer I would be. I became comfortable not living in order to survive. I chalked it all up to depression. Or, insanity. Both of which felt too shameful to admit to anyone. One night, I lay in bed, tucked under my unwashed sheets, scouring the internet for anything that could make me feel less isolated. I opened purple tab after tab after purple tab, hoping I would find something new. Then, I stumbled upon a gem: an uncolonized Reddit thread. I hungrily clicked the link. At the bottom of the text, a person described their recent diagnosis of depersonalization. I immediately looked up the word. Depersonalization: The persistent feeling of observing oneself from outside one’s body or having a sense that one’s surroundings aren't real. The heart raced and I pushed the head back above my covers, staring into the dark of my room. A warm tear rolled down the face. Depersonalization. That’s it! I wanted to say it out loud over and over and over. Depersonalization. I wanted to hear every syllable of the word enunciated slowly like syrup. D e p e r s o n a l i z a t i o n I couldn’t believe this was real. Depersonalization. The next week was spent reading every piece of fiction, non-fiction, journal article, and medical document that mentioned the word. I found that it was officially recognized by DSM-II in 1968. The text described the mental pathology as “a feeling of unreality and of estrangement from the self, body, or surroundings.”  Only 2% of the population ever meet the clinical criteria for it. The etiology, or cause, is unclear; however, it is typically a response to trauma or excessive stress. There is currently no official treatment for the disorder. But, I was desperate for a solution. My ego had me believe that I could be the one to find the cure. I eagerly scheduled a phone appointment with my psychiatrist, Dr. Schwab. He was a loopy, mouth-breathing old man whose body had taken the shape of his chewed up leather recliner. He had been prescribing me antidepressants for the last few years. They hadn’t really helped, but I was still hoping for a miracle. My phone buzzed and I picked up on the first ring. After exchanging pleasantries, I told him that I realized I might be experiencing depersonalization. Unfazed and unbothered by the implied gravitas of my revelation, he let out a hmph. “And what is that exactly?” A pause. I began to stutter over my words. My script for this phone call didn’t exactly include a description of my affliction to my psychiatrist. Losing confidence in my Reddit confidant, my words spiraled as I again lost any ability to verbalize what I had been experiencing. I consulted the Google definition to put an end to my sputtering. Schwab took a dignified deep breath, proclaiming that he had never heard of it before. He feigned a word of sympathy before thanking me for bringing it to his attention. His hot breath seeped through the phone and stung my eyes as they welled. I bit my tongue. “You’re welcome, Dr. Schwab”. He chuckled, so as to break the tension. “Would you like to add on any more medicati–?” I bit off the end of his words. Any hope that I had for finding a solution or even a bit of solace was erased in that moment. I squeezed the hands so hard they turned white. I squeezed the hands harder, digging the nails through the top layer of skin. I didn’t feel a thing. “Thanks anyway, Dr. Schwab, I’ll talk to you next time”. Back to square one. I was isolated in my own world all over again. Fuck you, Dr. Schwab. Anger was something that depersonalization never seemed to strip away. On March 15th, 2022, I wrote in my diary: “Numbness is the worst pain. Be thankful if you can cry, scream and laugh and feel it truly. What a beautiful thing”. A week later, my boyfriend at the time took me along to see one of his favorite artists, Dodie, perform live. In the car ride over, he played their music, a whimsical and whispery British bedroom pop artist. Committed to the role of supportive girlfriend, I plastered on a giddy smile and assured him that I was so excited to hear them live. We arrived to the venue, and pushed through the crowd of ragingly pubescent teens to our third row seats. Dodie floated onto the stage, charioted by a sea of fog below them. They seemed to float. One foot on the ground and one foot in the sky. I was mesmerized. After finishing a song, Dodie daintily stepped forward into the microphone and took a grounding breath. She seemed to find confidence in her own uncertainty as she attempted to describe her next song which was dedicated to her struggle with an affliction. One that she had come to know as depersonalization. My eyes widened. There’s that word again. Depersonalization. I gulped and a wave of heat rushed into my body. Depersonalization. My eyes ached with tears and my smile ripped my cheeks back. Depersonalization. I looked over at my boyfriend in disbelief and he grabbed my hand, smiling sweetly back at me. As the first chords swelled, all of the stress I built up in my body flushed and I felt joy. I felt so much joy. My god, I could have died in that moment. I crushed my boyfriends hand and bobbed up and down in my seat before gathering myself to listen to the song. The words still echo in my mind, but what was more powerful than the lyrics was the sound evoked through the chords and the haunting strings. The melody translated the feeling that I am not sure can ever be expressed through words. As the final chord dwindled off, I roared with applause all the way from my gut. That was the first time that I didn’t feel so alone and so crazy. The words perfectly captured the desperation and exhaustion that coexist when you’re experiencing depersonalization. The desperation to return. The defeat and acceptance of numbness. It didn’t make the feeling go away, but knowing that it’s real made me feel okay. Knowing that I wasn’t alone fueled me to fight. Knowing that I wasn’t insane made it easier to give myself compassion in moments of chaos. Understanding depersonalization makes it just a little bit easier to accept it and care for it. Sometimes, there are even moments when my feelings slip their way past my brain and I am me again. But, they aren’t the moments you think. Not while cliff jumping, when my stomach drops and the water smacks my skin cherry red. Not while performing onstage, when I am enveloped in another character, desperately grasping onto my lines. Not even when I’m hiding away in my room for days, hoping that numbness can protect me. I grasped so hard to the idea that I needed to do something extreme or completely erase my identity in order to feel myself again. But, it is the little moments, the unexpected glimmers of humanness, that pull me back into my skin. The moments of being seen by a friend who truly understands, the nerves and excitement of a first kiss, brushing hands with a new lover, catching eyes with a stranger and somehow knowing their pain, smelling a scent from childhood, telling your friend you love them for the first time, or like that moment at the concert, hearing a song that resonates so deep it hurts your heart. Those moments are when I catch myself feeling something so deeply beyond myself that somehow couldn’t feel more personal. So, to answer Ludovic, yes, this is madness. Being able to feel is madness. Emotions are uncontrollable, loud, strange, and unwavering. Depersonalization, or living just out of reach of those emotions is not the madness, it is gaining the awareness that we have been mad all along. But, I think I like madness. Feeling enraged by the sound of Mom’s breathing, crying over that heartbreak that never seems to fade, loving so hard that you ache. That is maddening and crushing and real; but, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I call Mom. She picks up, happy to hear my voice. “Hey Mom. Do you remember that conversation when we were both outside reading and I asked if you ever feel outside of your body”? “Vaguely. I remember I was just trying to understand. I feel like I couldn’t relate to it”. “Okay. One more question. When you’re reading a magazine, what are you thinking about?” “It’s one of the few times I don’t really think about myself. I’m thinking about what I’m reading about. It helps me get out of my mind. I think that’s why I watch TV. I don’t wanna think about, i don’t wanna obsess about my own stuff I’m dealing with. I can let go of things.” Even though neither of us thought it at the time, Mom could relate to me. She was never so far removed. She was never reading celebrity gossip just because she loved the drama. We aren’t so different. We all do things to protect ourselves from our own minds and escape the madness. Mom watches TV, reads magazines like a hawk, hoping for a moment of reprieve from life’s chaos. My brain disconnects from my body to protect it from the thoughts that consume it. I never finished The Alchemist, but I have gotten into tabloids. I think Mom was really onto something with that one. And sometimes, when I’m reading them, I even catch myself laughing along at the absurdity. God, how beautiful is it to catch yourself in a feeling.

  • Little Sister Syndrome & The Pokémon Conundrum

    I knock on my brothers door, quiet but with great impatience. He groans and mutters a “what” before i slowly twist the knob to his room and enter to find him furled up in bed, surrounded by the rubble and remnants of tweenage boyhood. His football poster is peeling from every corner, gripping to the wall with the strength of one scraggly piece of tape. His navy blue walls are contrasted by a colorful and vast collection of bouncy balls, stuffed animals, and most importantly, Pokémon memorabilia. After recovering from the visual assault, I settle my eyes on Luke, who has thrown his covers over his head to shield from the dull, yet apparently aggravating presence of afternoon sun. I gleefully present him with my newest prized possession, a Mewtwo Pokémon card that I scored from a mystery pack of cards that I got at Target that morning. I gloat about my success, babbling on about how my new card will be a huge addition to my collection. I wait. After a moment, he peeks his head out of his covers and asks to examine the card. I confidently hand him my winnings. With a judicious and stern look, he studies the stats of my Mewtwo. He nods in satisfaction, meeting me with a good job. I mutter a pleased little chirp, grab the card out of his hand and gleefully jet out of his room. I walk down the hall, stopping by my door to throw the card in my own room, strolling away before seeing where it lands. My love for Pokémon came and went at the mercy of my older brother, Luke. Luke, who is three years my senior, dedicated his childhood life to sports and Pokémon, a dedication that I admired, feared, and strived to match. As leader of the neighborhood shenanigans, Luke gathered the neighborhood boys and created a live-action Pokémon game. It became our whole lives. The basis of the game was as follows: Player pretends to be a Pokémon that they have a card for. Player can get more XP for their character by doing physical activities. More XP equals more power and thus the ability to perform better against your opponents. For example, playing basketball for 30 minutes equalled 20 XP. Coincidentally, my brother, who crafted the rules himself, happened to already play an hour of basketball a day, religiously. At the time, I was huge into gymnastics. My family had just purchased a glorious, new trampoline for our backyard, and I practically lived on it. I would bounce around for hours a day, practicing my flips and back handsprings. When I inquired about the XP that I would get for gymnastics, he told me it was precisely 5 for every hour. I initially fired back at him about the unfairness of his rules. How come Noah from down the block got 15 for an hour of soccer and Drew from across the street got 10 per every 15 minutes of flag football? Luke looked down at me with all the fearless confidence of boyhood and explained to me that gymnastics simply does not require as much skill as the aforementioned activities. As much as I thought his rules were nonsense, he was my older brother and I trusted him. And, after all, he had dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of sports and play, so he must’ve known something that I couldn’t understand. So, I carried on, but I made it my mission to catch up to him. Everyday, I would bounce on the trampoline until the soles of my feet turned black and my hands would slip out of the back handspring from the sweat. However, my efforts yielded little reward, as it was impossible to catch up. I was upset. In fact, I was furious. No! I was disappointed. I felt everything inside but I felt like nothing to him. Eventually, I quit doing Pokémon with all of them. I felt as though I didn’t belong. I threw away my cards and all my other accessories. Without him to play with, the cards and trinkets were just paper and plastic. It was no fun to play alone. Years later, Luke moved away to college and I followed shortly thereafter. We went on our own paths, no longer held together by a shared bathroom and taco Tuesday. When I would meet college friends, they would ask about Luke. “What kind of relationship do you guys have?”. I would respond in the defensive, explaining that I love him but I never felt like I could forge the relationship that I wanted to with him. I spoke as though our relationship were crystallized in form when we both moved out of the house, as though life didn’t afford me the opportunity and time to create the relationship I wanted. However, when I returned home from college last summer, something shifted. He no longer was the little boy that ran around pretending to be a Blastoise and hollering at the neighborhood boys to follow suit. He had unshaved facial hair peeking out, the wrinkles between his eyebrows didn’t wear when he relaxed his eyes, and he spoke about his newfound career as a teacher the same way my dad always did when I was growing up. “Living the dream” he proclaimed as he walked through the door after a long day. Seeing him so grown up made me realize that he had taken a new form. In Pokémon terms, you could say he evolved. I looked at myself and realized that I had too. I forgot how to do a cartwheel but I learned that life only stays stagnant if you don’t get up to move. And, maybe it’s silly, but it took me physically moving away and coming home to realize that Luke is right there for me to reach for. So, I swallowed my pride. I knocked on his door, quietly but with great impatience. He responded with a “yo” and I walked in, greeted with the sight of his colorful bouncy balls still present, yet consolidated neatly in a plastic bag. I stumbled into my words, explaining that the new thrift store down the street by Mangini Farms opened up and maybe we could go together to see if they have any Pokémon cards or something like that. He responded plainly, “yeah sure I could go now”. My head shifted back in surprise and I paused for a moment before smiling and heading out his door to grab my shoes. We hopped into his gray Acura and I tossed his basketball off of the front seat before getting in. When we got inside the shop, he navigated directly to the Pokémon cards, examining them in the same serious manner that he surveyed my Mewtwo card in. I stood behind him while he crouched down by a case and just watched. I hadn’t thought about Pokémon cards since I threw them out. I wish I never did.

  • Unpacking Travel Anxiety: Why did I bring so much underwear?

    I’m currently writing this from a plane. Middle seat. Left elbow dancing with the person next to me who whistles a vacant snore. Relaxation is left on my bedside table. I knew I forgot something. My relationship with travel has been strained since I was young. I never understood why I dreaded it. Even an overnight stay at my Grandma’s house or a sleepover at a friend's house sent me into a spiral. Being in a new environment without my usual comforts and consistencies made me feel like I was covered in grime. Unfamiliar sheets seemed to rub against my skin like sandpaper, sunscreen smelled sour, and the experience was laced with an air of existential dread. My personal boundaries were shoved up in a suitcase and most days were spent feeling vaguely nauseated, tense, and emotionally shrill. But, travel is fun. Change is exciting. How dare I dread something that is such a grand privilege to experience in the first place. I must have had it all backwards, I thought. So, I buried my feelings and tattooed my face with a smile. I had a christmas card photo I needed to be preparing for, after all. The problem is that, in the process, I didn’t learn how to properly identify or express my feelings. I believed there was something wrong with me for not enjoying travel. I remember going on a trip to Oregon with two other families around age 11. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time in a new state. It is a blessing that so many people are not allotted. Yet, I cried for weeks leading up to the trip. Dreams of returning home kept me going. As the other children relaxed along the river, napped midday, and played games at night, I was wrecked with anxiety, draining up all my energy pretending to feel the same. Objectively, I knew it was the grandest privilege to be able to travel, but I was so scared. Clearly vacation wasn’t the problem, so it had to be me. My fear limited my experiences, disrupted familial dynamics, and ripped away at my self esteem. It has been years since I have traveled anywhere and I am harboring the same fears as I did when I was a child. Looking back, I wish I had known how to identify my anxiety. Not having the words to express my emotions led me to internalize them and believe that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Adulthood, and the independence that it brought, mobilized my inaction and confirmed my boundaries. But, at 21 years old, I am putting words to fear. I understand that my “issue” with vacations has little to do with vacation at all, but my fear of being out of control. Unfortunately, fears don’t always just go away with time like the left side of my bed and the upstairs attic (that one still gets me from time to time). But, putting a name to them lessens the grip that they have over me. It’s okay that travel isn’t a simple pleasure. I’m not quite sure any experience is so simple. So, I am choosing to sit in discomfort. The seatbelt sign is on so I don’t really have a choice. But, still. I wonder if anyone else on my flight feels the same. Maybe the person next to me is sleeping away their flight anxiety. And, perhaps the person two rows back majorly overpacked because they can’t bear to leave their comfort items behind. But, we don’t get to see that on the holiday card. Okay, the drink cart is coming by so I’m buckling up my feelings for the day. See you on the other side (of the country).

  • Ditch the way You Look at Attachment Styles

    As the world crumbles into lawlessness, one final pillar of security remains: personality quizzes. Alone, furrowed away into my bed sheets, I peek onto the Myers Briggs website: perhaps my recent party attendances have unearthed a seed of extraversion that the quiz can confirm. Call it a form of self-soothing, but it really tickles my fancy to boil my entire existence down to a few letters or numbers. I relish the opportunity to identify myself with an arbitrary, subjective title that was designed to typecast people for work output optimization in a capitalist society. I realize how trivial personality quizzes can be, but please indulge my harmless vice just this once. Recently, one personality quiz has not left my mind: attachment styles. Airing on the side of seriousness and based in solid psychological research, the attachment styles are a far cry from the quizzes I frequent. John Bowlby, the psychoanalyst who developed attachment styles, claims that a child’s relationship with their primary caregiver(s) informs their communication patterns in adulthood. I truly think that there is so much to learn from understanding your attachment style, but I have been put off by the way the attachment styles are discussed. But first, let's dig into the lore. Bowlby maintains that there are 4 main attachment styles: Anxious: An anxious personality seeks consistent validation and approval from their partner. They have a negative view of self and positive view of others. Their actions are driven by a fear of abandonment or rejection; as a result, they can be clingy and highly aware of their partner’s needs, often prioritizing their partner’s needs over their own. Avoidant: An avoidant personality may self-identify as highly independent and reject guidance or assistance from others. They avoid emotional intimacy and have a tendency to repress their emotions. Emotions are observed as weakness. Anxious-Avoidant: An anxious-avoidant personality exhibits anxious and avoidant traits. They may struggle to regulate emotions and their actions may be perceived as contradictory. Anxious-Avoidants have a fear of rejection and find it difficult to trust others. Secure: A secure personality is emotionally regulated and has healthy mutual dependency within relationships. They excel at creating bonds, trusting others, and communicating their needs effectively. Beyond my basic descriptions of the four types, there is much to explore regarding how we can understand, challenge, and work with our attachment styles to build healthier relationships. But, the way that attachment styles are discussed on many platforms detracts from the purpose of the quiz. Many websites make sweeping assertions about childhood relationships and claim that certain communication styles are indicative of childhood abuse or neglect and that others are a result of positive childhood relations. While certain relationship patterns may lend themselves to particular adult behaviors, assigning absolutes isolates and narrows the breadth of experience. As a result, individuals may feel defensive or turned off to attachment styles as a whole, thus getting distracting from the whole point: to understand and learn from your attachment style. Personally, I thought I must’ve taken the quiz wrong when I received the multiple page report about how my upbringing was. It was entirely wrong, I thought. Then, I started questioning if everything I believed to be true about my childhood was a lie. The consensus is that my mental gymnastics was entirely unnecessary, albeit a testimony to the power of a quiz. I came back around to the results a week later and realized I’d be damned if I got caught up in the “diagnosis” instead of the “symptoms”. And, when I looked beyond the strict guidelines for each attachment style and developed my own interpretation, I gleaned some incredibly powerful takeaways about my relationship patterns. Now, I absolutely believe that our early relationships play a crucial role in forming our adult patterns, but there must be a less prescriptive way of exploring ourselves. After all, it's a personality quiz. There’s nothing prescriptive about it all. We’re relying on our own biased self-perceptions to paint a comprehensive version of self. It’s faulty to begin with. So, when viewing attachment styles, it can help to detach yourself from any title. Through passive viewership, you may notice certain thoughts or feelings popping up upon reading descriptions. Notice them and tune into what it conjures up. Those feelings are so much more telling than anything a website throws your way. Now, get quizzing, my fellow perception junkies. Sincerely, Your resident 4w3/INFP

  • 15 Minutes in the Quiet of Chronic Pain

    The stillness of the room around me bore a thick air of heaviness. The hum of silence tingled my ears like static buzz. I immediately noticed the hollowness of the room around me. It felt strange being the only living, breathing thing in the small box that I occupied. I think it’s because I spent the last hour on my phone, absolutely mindlessly. I didn't feel alone then; yet, suddenly, in the same space I had been sitting in, I felt completely dull, isolated, and odd. After my initial discomforts subsided, I noticed that I was in pain. It’s constant and something I deal with every moment. But not having any distractions forced me to tune into it. With every inhale I felt an uncomfortable pressure on my abdomen and chest followed by a shooting pain during the exhale. It repeated. Why did it have to repeat? The rhythmic nature of the pain was slightly tortuous. It felt like a clock ticking so loud that I couldn’t hear anything else. I couldn’t get it to stop. I scanned my body and realized that my spine was curled and my shoulders were pressed up toward my ears, as though I was bracing for impact. I tried to relax, I really did. But it felt scary not to be holding myself. I got frustrated and I just wanted to cry. But, I couldn’t. The stillness of the room mocked my weakness. I shot up out of my chair and fell disjointedly onto my bed because the pain was too much sitting up. I felt weak. I spend a lot of time laying because of the pain but this felt different. I noticed how inescapable the sensations of my body were. Usually, I can pretend it is something beyond myself that I must manage. But, as I let everything go around me such as my phone, music, and people, this was the thing that stayed. It was numbing. So, I tried to disappear in thought. I started thinking about my to-do list for the rest of the weekend. I started a mental checklist which was quickly derailed by the pains’ cry for attention. Then, I returned to the to-do, never quite getting to the bottom of the list. I tried to stop myself, but it was distressing to not have everything mentally sorted out. If I couldn’t control how I felt physically, I needed to control something. I tried to center myself in the present. I took a deep breath, the kind a yoga instructor would extend an excited brava to. But, the air quickly escaped my body, as though it knew it was not a friendly place to stay. Desperate for some semblance of control, I mentally drafted this essay. What would I write about, I thought. Then I was thinking about how I was going to write about how I was thinking about what I was going to write about. Then, I thought that that was a silly thought and I would make sure to note how silly I thought it was. Chaos. My brain had turned into chaos. The chaos was always there, but external stimuli seemed to pacify it. In this moment, all semblance of order washed away and I was left with the unfiltered nature of my mind. Not only did it hurt physically, it hurt mentally too. I wondered if the chairs felt the same.

  • I have been meditating (almost) every day for two months and I still hate it.

    It takes about 66 days to form a habit, and here I am, right on the crux of it, and I am hardly meandering into the realm of habituation. Writing this makes me feel like a jaded, pessimistic fool who finds pleasure in the antagonization of science; but, I am aware that my anger is misguided. I am honestly just frustrated that I haven’t reaped the benefits that are so flagrantly flaunted on social media. I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself so I will describe a typical meditation session. I sit at the edge of my bed: shouldered dropped, breath deepened, and psyche surrendered. I focus on my pattern of breathing while taking note of the physical sensations throughout my body. A few seconds in, my brain wanders to unpleasant thoughts. A cyclone of past blunders, future concerns, and present to-do lists whirl through my mind without a tinge of hesitation. Now, I know that I am human and this is inevitable. So, I sit with the thoughts, acknowledge them, feel the sensations they conjure up, and gently return to my breath. This cycle continues and I try my best to simply watch the broken record instead of fixing it. But, after a while, it becomes exhausting to observe the ecosystem of my mind. I often end sessions feeling disoriented and a bit upset. In the beginning, I told myself that this was a normal reaction to such a stimulation detox. I remained optimistic that my meditation skills would grow stronger and I would be able to calm my nervous system through small installments of mindfulness. However, two months later, I still leave each session feeling dimmer than before. Part of my gripe with meditation is that it is touted as a scientifically proven way to ease anxieties and improve quality of life. It’s incredibly simple, and it's certainly not magic, but therapists, spiritual leaders, and overworked mothers alike swear by its restorative properties. I absolutely believe it, and trust me, I am not immune to the relaxing effect of a few deep breaths. However, I can’t help but feel as though there is something wrong with my mind. Now, I know that this is untrue and it is my ego’s way of trying to keep me from growing or changing. The brain is multiplicitous and works in tricky ways to keep you safe. But, I would love to trick my brain for once. One important note is that I have chronic Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder (DPDR), a condition that makes me feel as though I am outside of my body. I really began my meditation journey to help ease these symptoms. But, so far, all it has done is spawn and exacerbate the issue. I didn’t plan to write this as an attack on meditation. In fact, I would encourage everyone to engage in moments of mindfulness, whether that is while walking to class, making dinner, or in bed at night. I will continue to meditate everyday because I believe in its benefits and I want to gain a deeper sense of awareness. And, right now, the biggest hurdle in that journey is going to be removing judgment from the equation. Meditation is not sending me into a transcendental altered reality, but it is challenging me to acknowledge and accept my current state, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. So, yeah, for right now, I’m mad. But, I’m learning as I go and I’m challenging myself to find neutrality in the present.

bottom of page