Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stories from the past, adventures in the present




I don't know the exact moment my severe anxiety disorder disappeared, but i think it may have been the morning of January 15th last year.
I'd gotten up early in the morning for an appointment at a hospital i'd never been to before, and i was going there alone.
It was only a few weeks after my marriage had fallen apart, and only three or four days since i'd reluctantly agreed to a separation, and i was still a complete mess.
Was it in Steglitz, maybe, the hospital?
My memory is the worst sometimes, but i do remember that i had to be there early in the morning, something that in itself used to be panic inducing for me.
Morning appointments, morning flights, all a complete nightmare for someone like me.
But i went.
And i waited, as one does in hospitals.

A few days before i'd been to another appointment alone, but a minor one.
An ultrasound, to try to determine if any of my many sometimes painful tumors could be cancer.
It's funny how they always tell you to do self exams, but there's very little information out there on what to do if you have a bunch of tumors, but don't know if they're benign or not.
Get checked.
But not too often because of the radiation.
"Let us know if that thing under your skin gets any bigger. Cause that's bad. Ok good luck, see you in two years!"
To another check-up i went.
On the day of the 15th i was getting a biopsy done, of one of the more sketchy looking tumors.
They all look sketchy to me, to be honest.
It's so random which ones get checked, and which ones just get left there to kinda do their thing.
Their thing being hopefully nothing at all.

Like i said, i waited.
I was probably reading a book, but i can't remember which.
I finally got in with the doctor and a couple of nurses.
She was nice enough, the doctor, and the room was dark still, because it was morning.
I wasn't nervous, and i found that odd.
Normally my heart would be pounding, and my face would start to get warm.
My stomach would turn and a wave of anxiety would roll over me.
I'd wonder if i was sick, maybe a fever or food poisoning?
I would need to run to the bathroom, maybe run cold water over my wrists or take a panic dump.
Then i'd probably realize that i was having a panic attack, and i would try to breathe, stay calm, and most importantly, make sure no one noticed.
Years of covering up my condition had made me a master, so they wouldn't have.
Very few people ever suspected.
But none of that happened.
I just sat there.

I'd had biopsies done before, the procedure didn't scare me, but i was still a little shocked when massive amounts of blood started gashing out from the tiny hole in my right breast and onto my light blue jeans.
It just kept coming, the fabric turned a dark brownish red.
My jeans still have a faint spot, barely visible now, and only i know that it's blood.
I had the wound for months, it was tiny but refused to heal, and it was located right next to a surgical scar that only a few people even knew existed.

They wrapped me up in gauze and tape.
Wrapped it around my body like they were trying to pass me off as a boy, flattening my chest completely.
Then i left.
In the lobby i ate part of a banana because i felt light headed, but because i'm such a germophobe, i didn't feel comfortable eating in a hospital.
I ate about half, then took a taxi home.
Or, not home.
The house that wasn't a home anymore.
But i had nowhere else to go, and as you know, it would take me over a year to get out of there.

So why am i even telling you this?
I haven't even blogged about anxiety in a really long time, but yesterday someone asked me if i'd experienced any during my weekend in London, and i said "oh, i don't have that anymore".
And i realized that i don't, actually.
But even though i don't suffer from it on a daily basis, saying that i don't have it is only partially true.

Having an anxiety disorder isn't exactly something you can ever be cured from, is it?
I don't think so, not completely.
But you can stop suffering from it.
You can stop having panic attacks.
And mine went away when i lost everything.
I had to learn how to be my own safety person.
And in a way i was lucky.
Not lucky when it came to the circumstances of the breakup, or the pain it caused, but the outcome.
I was already working on getting over my anxiety way before the breakup, but it was hard work.
Reading numerous self help books, maintaining a specific diet, meditating daily, and even with all that effort, a panic attack could happen whenever and wherever.
All that work and what finally did the trick was a shock to the system.
An emotional earthquake.
An event that would destroy my old life, and also destroyed the old me, and the anxiety with her.
Yeah, i guess that's kind of lucky.

I'm not cured, i'm not immune.
In theory, i could have a panic attack right now.
But i still went to London this weekend to work, and for the first time since i started attending the tattoo convention ten years ago, i was anxiety free the whole time.
And i felt such immense gratitude.
I was grateful for no longer being in a relationship that made me feel so sad and guilty about everything, that it would manifest itself physically and literally make me sick.
I felt grateful for my new life, for my friends, for being able to travel without fear, for meeting new people, for not being secondary, for not hiding.
Being single, being alone, being lost, being confused, it's all worth it, one hundred percent worth it.
Cause i might be lost and alone and confused, but at least i get to be me.
I get to be the main character in the novel that is my life, and i get to live that life without fear.
And i can't begin to describe what a huge change that is from the person i was when i last attended that convention two years ago.
I still have a lot of love and empathy for the person i was back then, but i sure am glad i'm not her anymore.

I did bring the Canon to London, but since we were trapped in a basement most of the weekend, i didn't take that many pictures.
So here are some crappy iPhone ones, of which there weren't many either, actually, but it'll have to do for now!



We arrived Thursday, dropped our bags off at the apartment, then headed to the convention to set up for Friday... walked by the river and saw this view on our way back

Dungeon life! The booth wasn't in the best spot, unless of course you like water leaks from the ceiling or the fact that no one can find you!

I sold out of these prints, so i ordered some more for my etsy as soon as i got back. What a crazy feeling to actually sell prints of my own art work... surreal!

English breakfast kinda rules

There in the background are Wendy and our roommates Lorena and Darby, waiting for me while i try to take a picture of a cat... that's what being my friend is like, in case you're wondering

Selfie action with fellow dungeon dweller Jee

That time i got my hair braided by this awesome lady 

Broken heart, but not heartbroken 

Coffee and the best breakfast ever at TRADE with Wendy and sneaky Stuart

Dinner and colorful drinks at Giraffe with the roommates

Sunday steeze...Grimes meets The Tick? 

Wendy at work on Saturday 

The roof of our building had a very nice view of the city

British beauties

On the way to the convention in the morning

We felt like such idiots for leaving our selfie stick in Berlin, but we made it work anyway

Besides being best friends and flatmates, me and Wendy have also traveled together three times this year, and we still haven't killed each other... i think we should get some kind of friendship trophy for that

I love having friends who not only don't mind waiting around while i take pictures for my instagram, but even assist me when i need it... enablers in the best way!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pumpkin spice shut the hell up




It's Sunday, and i don't have much to write, but i got photos back from the lab on Thursday, and since it's a rainy day today, i felt like posting a few sunny ones. 

I'm still in denial about summer having ended, and every time someone talks about autumn being their faaaavorite season, and how being cozy in your bed with a wide assortment of pumpkin related food items is just the best thing ever, i kinda wanna punch them in the face. 
Seriously, what's so fucking great about freezing?
But that being said, even though it's getting colder and darker, i'm generally pretty happy. 

I recently found an older rant on my phone about how boring this summer was compared to the last one, but all things considered, i'll take a bit of boredom over last years constant drama.
I think...

 From the iPhone journal: 

What is happening to Berlin? 
It's still summer, right? 
Summers here are supposed to be epic. Last year was epic! 
I remember working a lot, but I also went out every weekend. 
So much drinking, dancing, kissing, fighting, laughing, doing crazy shit with crazy people every damn week. In comparison, this summer is just kind of... sad. 
People leaving. 
Even the drama is more just plain sad than it is passionate. 
I'm starved for fun. 
One more week of this and I'll be back at Yaam, making out with Puerto Rican gangsters. 
 Don't let it come to this, Berlin!

Lucky for me i didn't get that bored! 
He was very nice, though, for someone who wore a bandanna and had a tribal tattoo on his hand.
Oh yeah, i'm all about making the good life choices.

Here are a few shots from my neighborhood of Neuk├Âlln, one from Haubentaucher, a place in Friedrichshain with a great pool, and a horse in Spandau. 
Because why not.