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I'm Not Fine, I'm Not Fine...

Hey. It's been a rough few weeks since I last wrote. Truth be told... I'm still not where I should be to get back to my usual self. It may be a while until I get to that point. Why am I feeling this way? Well, it's a lot of things right now... The Great Resignation is a big part of this. No, I didn't resign from either of my part-time jobs. But people around me are, some of them unexpectedly. And that creates more stress when those of us who remain are stretched way too thin in order to keep things going. Especially for yours truly. I ended up being tasked with far too many responsibilities to the point where I would go home stressed and on the verge of tears each day, even on my days off. And I wake up each day dreading what more worse things can happen at my job. I found that out the hard way what happens when so much seems to be coming at you all at once. I suffered an anxiety attack while on the job this past weekend. It... Was... Too... Much... For... Me. And I was doing over five different responsibilities all at once without any help or support. I was a mess. I was shaking, I was crying, I wanted to scream, I couldn't breathe, and I just couldn't do it anymore. How I was able to get through the rest of my shift without being rushed to the hospital is a mystery to me. I did let people I care about know about this. Like my mom. Like my best friend who lives in Las Vegas. Like my church friends in the area. Like my Henry VIII cast. Like the director and associate director of a virtual show I am a part of. Like my pastor. I was a wreck, let me tell you. I ended up taking the next day to relax and spend time for me. And that's something I hadn't done in a LONG time. It got me thinking... When was the last time any of us admitted to each other, and even to ourselves, "I'm not fine"? Really and truly admitted, "I'm not fine"? Especially when we're having a hard time breathing, we dread going into our respective jobs, we replay all of the previous day's events in our minds to the point of having nightmares about them as we sleep, and we're not getting enough support? Those times when we're not okay are those exact times we HAVE to be honest to others... And to ourselves... We're struggling. We're having a hard time right now. We're frustrated. We're sad. WE NEED SUPPORT. The bad news? We're still in the middle of a seemingly never-ending pandemic, and being able to get the chance to say something to others in person, let alone social media, is a lesson in endurance and frustration. Because right now we're all spent. And I do mean ALL. We're at a loss for words. We can't seem to say something different from what we've been saying for a while. We're tired. We're agitated. We're scared. We're angry. We're confused. We're fed up. We're all the above. I think this pic perfectly says it all...

It's been a curse to live in this time right now for many of you. We looked to 2020 with hope, and looked what happened... We looked to 2021 with hope, and looked what happened... We looked to 2022 with hope, and look what's happening right now... And it can put a damper on our moods and wellbeing when so much of that hope is spent on trying to rally each other... And even ourselves. But here's the thing: We're not meant to have all of the answers all the time. Nor are we meant to shoulder on so many tasks at once without support, let alone being honest and open with others saying "I'm not fine." Even if there's not a lot the other person can do, just the act of someone actually listening to you and knowing that they're there for you is enough. But it's when we put on the smiles to hide the pain and bravely carry on as if nothing's wrong that it becomes a problem. And slowly, the pain and hurt creeps in at some unusual times and places. Your eyes lose that glimmer and shine you normally have. You find yourself having to take a breath after every phone call and email, even if it's simple query or transfer to someone else. You don't want to talk to colleagues or loved ones as much as you'd like. Your statuses and posts are more negative and snapped than they regularly are, especially if it doesn't say much. You say "fine" to others when you're really "not fine". The days events are being replayed over and over again in your mind. You're dreading coming into work or seeing specific people the next day after the events of the previous day. You don't respond to other's messages and comments when they ask you what's going on after sharing the rough day you have. And so much more. It's especially bad when the people you love reach out to you and you don't respond... Several days in a row. Or even longer than that. It's those times when they have a right to be concerned about your wellbeing. Let me explain. I met a very kind, hilarious, and special friend from church in 2019, and she was the best. I gotta admit, I always appreciate her hugs and saying "I love you, Nessa!" She never failed to stop praying for me, and check in with me when I needed it the most. It was especially hard during much of the pandemic when we couldn't see each other in person. She was struggling to find a job, keep the roof over head, love herself, and plan for her upcoming wedding. I prayed for her in return as often as I can. She ended up getting married to the man of her dreams in the fall, and I was so happy for her. Then, one day, I received a message from her in the church group chat, and she accused some of my friends for being judgmental for marrying a non-Christian. She then left the group without another word. Now, this caught me and everyone else off guard. I immediately texted her and asked her if she wanted to talk. She replied "not right now."


I texted back to her saying I'm here if you need to talk. A few weeks went by... No response. I texted her again. "I'm here if you need to talk." A few more weeks went by. No response. I texted her again, and even mailed her a Christmas card for good measure. "I'm here if you need to talk." The holidays came and went. No response, not even a "thank you" for the card. She FINALLY got around to texting me a week after that, and she wanted to hang out for lunch. I heartily accepted. But then she texted me several days later saying that family was coming into town and she'd needed to reschedule. I told her, "fine, let me know when you want to hang out." I didn't hear back from her since. Then, about a week ago, her Facebook statuses alarmed me greatly. While many of us were raving about Disney's Encanto, she expressed that didn't like the movie at all because of what she experienced in her family growing up. We were all caught off guard by this (her friends from outside the church, for clarification purposes), and we all tried to help her. Then, another status from her came up, and it simply said this: People suck. At this point, I've had enough. I decided to text her again, and I said this: Hey there. I'm seeing your Facebook statuses lately and I can't help but feel concerned about you. How are you honestly doing? I'm praying each and every day, and you may not see it now, plenty of others are, too. You are not alone. You are loved. You are appreciated. And you are a child of God. Even though it feels like otherwise. I care about you deeply, and hate seeing you in so much pain and sadness. I hope you know that I'm here for you if you ever need to talk to me. Love you, and stay safe out there. That was on 31 January. And she still hasn't responded back to me as of today. The reason why I bring up this exchange (or lack thereof) is because of what happens when you try to soldier on with all of the sadness, anger, and pain without reaching out to others. I get that you need time away to gather your thoughts and figure out things for a brief period, however long it lasts. But it's when you share the pain and anger that comes out unexpectedly on social media without much details, and people genuinely ask you what's going on and you don't respond individually or give an update several days later as you continue to soldier on is when it becomes a problem. You don't need to share all of the details, but the important thing is to COMMUNICATE when people ask you what's going on. It doesn't have to be out on social media, mind you. It can be a simple thing as "Let me message you separately." Or even "I'll text you more details." Nobody should have to shoulder all of the burdens and stresses all by themselves, let alone let it creep through into your everyday life to the point you don't recognize yourself anymore. But you shouldn't leave people hanging all of the time, either. When there are those in your lives that care about you and express genuine worry about you to the point of messaging you, and you don't respond within several days to a week through a separate message or text, it's when we get concerned. That's where it becomes a problem. Not just for us... But for YOU. Granted, we each have our reasons for being away from contacting others for an extended period of time, and many times we don't even let our closest loved ones know about this. That I understand. But when you shoulder all of the pain and anger in your life, not tell us what's going on in our lives, even if it's as simple as saying "I'm not fine," and then disappear for an extended period of time, THAT'S when we get worried. Especially after reaching out to you week after week, or even day after day. Or even hour after hour if we're that desperate. What I'm trying to say is... Don't be afraid to reach out, especially when you're at your lowest. I get it. Your pride might be wounded, but what's worse for you: Your pride being wounded, or you ending up dead with no pride left? Think about that for a second. You may think you're alone in your sorrows right now, especially when it hurts the deepest, but when someone you may or may not know genuinely asks you "how are you?", they are concerned for your wellbeing and want to help. Friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, and more fit into this category. No one is truly alone. Even yours truly. You may not realize this when you're crying, depressed, and struggling in the moment. But the moment will pass. All you have to do is SPEAK UP. Just simply saying "I'm not fine" is enough. You don't need to go into much details if you're uncomfortable, but by saying that you're not okay you will be given some form of understanding, patience, and grace to take things at your own pace or however you're mentally and emotionally capable of handling that day or week. And even admitting it to your audience out in the social media stratosphere can make a big difference. You might just have people out there who are also going through similar, if not exactly the same, struggles as you are right now. We're not here to judge whatever you're struggling with right now. Especially during a pandemic. We're all doing our best to figure this out, and it hasn't been easy. Sometimes silence is the only option because if we even try to come up with a message that is close as coherent as possible, it may sound clipped or snippy. But even in the silence and the "I'm not fine" moments, we should still let people out there know we're hurting and how much we need support right now. Even if it's from a distance, which has been the case for over two years. It may be easiest to just log off of social media, the news, and more for a while just so we allow ourselves time to grieve, heal, reflect, and clear our heads. Just the same, letting people know we're not fine, either leading up to signing off for a while or on the day of, can make a big difference. It lets people know what's going on, and for them to understand that you need time away in order to navigate through what's going on. It especially gets the word out that alternate methods of communication is important if you need to be contacted with some important form of communication. It's not just a respect to your mental and emotional wellbeing. It's a courtesy to others and to yourself. Being courteous is enough in these instances, even if you respond several days later when you're not quite yourself yet. I get it. It may not always be easy for you to admit to others you're not doing well, or even be vulnerable in the moment. Especially when social media has made us so judgmental against each other, with the constant comparison game. And especially during a pandemic which is constantly testing us to the point of being exhausted of being strong for others' sake... and our own. But think about the times pre-pandemic when you weren't okay, and you had to admit to others your struggles and insecurities. Even then it wasn't easy, and to make matters worse, the amount of judgment was probably the same as, even less than, it is now. It's okay to admit that "I'm not fine." And when you do reveal to people that you're not doing well and need time away, some may blame you for being in the shape you're in mentally and emotionally, without even realizing that they're just as much to blame because they're too insecure themselves to see the damage they're bringing to you. Maybe they're the one's that needs to take a step back and focus on them. But until then, when they start blaming, gaslighting, or even abusing you to the point of being mentally and emotionally unstable... That's when you may have to let them go for good. Even if they're family or very good friends. Times change, and unfortunately, so do people in times like these. It can bring out the worst in the form of their true nature, and sometimes crumbling under pressure is disguised as something else in order to hold them together. Even if it's at your own expense. If they're the ones who refuse to understand why you're "not fine" and how much time you need away from them in order to heal, they're not worth having in your life anymore. And that can be just as painful as having those individuals who may have meant something to you years earlier now be different to you now in a way that isn't healthy. It's okay to do what's best for you in the "I'm not fine" instances, even if it means cutting ties with certain people who were never really there for you to begin with. It'll hurt at first, like hell. But in the end, it will be okay. Even in the "I'm not fine" moments. (First of all, I'm doing much better now. I'm glad I had the chance to write this week's post, even if it's not as in depth or thoughtful as I want it to be. But just the same: these are my thoughts and experiences. If you are going through any mental or emotional trauma, I want you to first put down your phone and step away from it and all of the social media channels you are glued to. Then, consider reaching out to a small amount of people you genuinely trust and let them know what's going on. And finally, consider going to seek therapy or counseling in order to deal with the "I'm not fine" moments in order to truly start healing. What I do NOT want you to do is spew hateful, disrespectful, and ignorant comments on this or any of my other blogs. Kindness and understanding is of the utmost importance right now, and the last thing we need is to turn against one another. If you can't even find it in your heart to keep your cruel words to yourselves, I will block you.)

Before any of you ask, I'm doing much better now. I guess the anxiety attack forced me to do the one thing I hadn't done lately: And that's love myself. TRULY love myself. As many people are leaving jobs ("resigning," as it were) with only the bare bones of an organization hanging in there by a thread, it's easy to feel the stress and strain of multitasking more than what's expected of us. It goes on and on for a while, until we reach a point where enough is enough. More often than not, it's not by our own will power or understanding, but through things falling apart unexpectedly. It... Was... Too... Much... For... Me. Not being able to breathe, constantly shaking, crying, wanting to scream, and so much more was a wakeup call for me. So, what am I doing now? Well, I'm taking it slow these days. Even as I'm continuing to go work and rehearse and auditon. But I'm also COMMUNICATING to others right now. More than ever. I'm admitting that "I'm not fine," and I need help. My biggest problem with all of this? It could've all been avoided had I spoken up about being overwhelmed in the first place and truly accepting that "I'm not fine." That's my chief fault. Not speaking up about how I'm truly feeling. Growing up in an abusive household will do that for you. I don't want you to make the same mistake I made, or still making quite frequently these days. I want you to speak up. I want you to tell someone, anyone you know that you trust, "I'm not fine." I don't want you to go through the pains and stresses of life shouldering all of these burdens by yourself. Not when there are those individuals out there who care about you and want to help. Especially when you slowly start to lose it when the snippy comments and statuses come out. Especially when you don't respond to texts or messages right away. Especially when you feel that silence is the best option. Just telling someone "I'm not fine" before things explode might be the only way you can truly start to love yourself. And what does it look like? For me, it looks like... Sleeping in a little bit later and not rushing to eat breakfast in the morning before going to work. Longer walks outside to clear my head. Listening to some of my favorite songs, especially soothing ones. Taking on the tasks that I know I can complete, and leaving the rest to others without overhwelming myself. More hugs. Eating some of my favorite foods. Staying away from social media for an extended period of time. Saying "no" to certain things. Limiting how much news I consume. Finding the time to have a good old belly laugh. Reading Scripture and praying. And just saying "I'm hanging in there" or "I'm getting better." We all need time to slow down, even if we make up the bare bones of an organization or workplace. Or will we be forced to do so. One way or another. I hope you find out sooner rather than later it's okay to tell people "I'm not fine." And that it's okay to be supported by others for a while. You don't have to do things all by yourself, and you're never truly alone. It may not seem like it right now when you're hurting so deeply, or even recovering from an anxiety attack or nervous breakdown. But it will be okay. Sometimes it takes those traumatic moments in order to tell us to slow down and appreciate the little things and people who mean the most to you. It won't make sense right away. You'll be in a haze for a while. But it will get better eventually. Just let go. Just breathe. Just speak up. Just know it will all turn out all right in the end. You'll see.

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