Tuesday Confessional

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been struggling lately. I’d say REALLY struggling for the last 6 weeks or so. Some days I get out of bed and put my feet on the floor and go through the motions because I know that’s what I should be doing. But really, I just find myself wishing more and more that the floor will open up and just swallow me.

There hasn’t been in any major trigger, as such. (Though I’m sure the lack of employment, shitty weather and darkness at 5pm certainly has a lot to do with it.) And try as I might to keep myself in a positive place, I feel a black hole slowly dragging me into it. I know the feeling well. I’ve been down that black hole a couple of times before and I really don’t want to go back.

I felt good for so long that I wonder if I’ve been fooling myself over the last few months into thinking I was in a better place than I am. I honestly don’t know because on days like today I feel like my mind just isn’t my own. I often don’t trust my own thoughts anymore because all too often anxiety clouds my judgement and screws with my thinking. I second guess myself. I don’t know if I’m well or unwell or just a completely fucked up individual who should never be off her meds. But I know I’m spending entire days in bed crying and it hurts.

I find my mind wandering to what life would be like for other people if I wasn’t here anymore. I feel like such an absolute useless mess sometimes that I think the people I love would be better off without me. And I feel like I can’t even say those words out loud because the weight it would place on someone else is so burdensome – and I can’t bear the thought of being a burden.

I’ve started obsessing about my kids’ mental health. I’ve been reading a lot of material and watching a lot of documentaries about mental illness and genetics and I’m worried to death that those three amazing boys of mine will somehow be damaged because I’m such an incompetent parent. I can’t describe the pain I feel in my heart when I think about the failure I am as their mom. They deserve SO much and I feel like I give them so little.

So you there, reading this, feeling like you don’t know if the sun will shine tomorrow, know that you’re not alone. Mental illness is an agony I understand far too well. I literally feel your pain. And so do many others. I can tell you, it’s no fun to be inside your own head when you’re feeling low. So if you are struggling at all, I’m begging you to reach out to someone. Don’t do what I’m currently doing and just sit and be alone with it. We are our own worst enemies.

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Anxiety and Relationships

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Well it’s been a hot minute since I did any blogging about dating. The 40 days and 40 nights of Lent are long over. My reprieve from online dating sites is not, however. I know, it’s hard to believe that after 2 months I haven’t reactivated my accounts with vim and vigor, given the tons of success I’ve been having over the last 18 months. (If you didn’t get the sarcasm there, I’m losing my touch.)

Not only have I not gotten back into the online dating swing of things, I haven’t even considered going back. The only thing I miss about Tinder and POF are all the opportunities it presented for me to provide much needed feedback, mostly to men, who are doing things way wrong. Don’t get me wrong, online dating works for a lot of people. I am simply not one of those people.

So why this post? It appears to be dating related, you say. Correct. It is. But it’s also about mental health. It’s a mashup of dating in this day and age mixed with the fact that we’re all suffering (at times) from some sort of mental health ailment. It’s actually taken me a long to put my own thoughts on the two subjects down on paper. (That literary reference is merely metaphorical. It’s 2017 so I’m obviously typing my thoughts in my Notepad app on my iPad.) I first started writing this piece almost 2 months ago, and I’ve been at it half-heartedly ever since. Writing, deleting, and writing again. Finding the right words have been a struggle – and I’ll blame that right on my anxiety. Gettin’ all up in my space making me worry I’ll say the wrong things or not clearly convey the points I want to make. Well not today, anxiety, not today – you can GTF.

Dating nowadays is challenging enough. For the most part, we’ve become more apathetic instead of empathetic as humans, which means we often care less about the effort we’re putting into our relationships. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, sometimes present-day dating can feel even more overwhelming. Social media and societal pressures often make us feel inferior when we’re stacking ourselves up against other people in our networks. And while we should never compare how we fair against others, we all do it. We all want the perfect life we see our peers sharing on Instagram or Facebook. This puts unrealistic pressure on ourselves and the people we might potentially date. Right off the bat, we’re setting our relationships up for failure. Video might have killed the radio star, but social media is killing relationships. But that’s a post for another day.

If I had to name my own personal relationship killer, I would most certainly point the finger at my anxiety. It has been a very long time since I’ve been able to look at myself in the mirror and genuinely think I’m deserving of an amazing life partner. Sure, on good days I can rationalize those thoughts and understand that I’ve got great qualities that might make me attractive to other people, but it’s not the same as feeling like I DESERVE to be loved. And it doesn’t matter how many people might tell me otherwise. My nagging, negative thoughts constantly outweigh what anyone else says. And I bet if I polled people in my life who suffer from anxiety, they’ll say the same thing. It’s a struggle for everyone.

We’re all somewhat guarded when it comes to dating and new relationships. We put up walls and are very particular who we let in. My wall is massive – think of a Donald Trump sized wall, even. I’m so convinced that who I really am as a person will scare people away, that I avoid letting anyone in. My anxiety reminds me constantly of things that went wrong in past relationships, so I have major fears of getting close to anyone because I assume any new relationship will end badly like others have. Then I obsess about ways it could end badly – all the while telling myself I’ll be the reason it does end. The answer is never that they’re the wrong person; it’s always that there’s something wrong with me and I’m simply not good enough. And when you get to be close to 40 and single, with failed and toxic relationships behind you, it gets real easy to believe every shitty thought you have about yourself.

Even the basic day-to-day relationship stuff, like communicating, gets overwhelming at times. Take texting, for example. Rarely will I text someone I’m dating before they text me first. Why? Well, what if they’re busy and I’m bothering them? Or don’t want to hear from me. I mean, if they wanted to hear from me, they would have been in touch. And what if I say something wrong? I appreciate that this probably sounds so fucking ridiculous to some of you reading this, but I’m surely not the only person who suffers from anxiety that feels this way. I am one of the better communicators I know, but I kid you not, this communicating shit literally turns my stomach most times. Someone once very important to me called me out on it once. He couldn’t understand why he was always the one to say good morning first. I remember we got in such a racket about it. And rather than explain to him what the REAL issue was, I just made up some idiotic excuse and apologized. Trying to get someone who doesn’t have any of these problems to understand seemed like a waste of time.

Anxiety means I need constant reassurance that things are ok; that I haven’t done something wrong; that I’m still wanted. It means having a hard time trusting even the most trustworthy people. And that has got to be so fucking tiring for the other person who might be in a relationship with me. So, then the worry becomes driving a potential partner away with that sort of incessant bullshit that I honestly cannot help. It all seems like such a recipe for disaster, the easiest thing to do feels like staying single for the rest of my fucking life. And what do I do when I have any sort of conflict with romantic partner? Blame it all on myself, of course! It may not happen right in the moment of a blow up, but in the hours, days or even weeks afterwards, I will obsess and overthink and drive myself bat shit crazy thinking about it. I’ll dismiss my own feelings, convince myself they aren’t valid, and focus on getting over the whole thing. Obviously, the right thing to do would be to talk it out and get closure, but when you’ve already talked yourself into believing something was your fault, that’s not so easy to do.

We are no less worthy of love because we happen to be inflicted with some stupid mental illness. And I recognize it takes someone special to love someone with anxiety and that it’s definitely not easy to be that person. But if you look past all of the stuff I just wrote about, people with anxiety tend to be the most loyal partners you can find. We’ve got a lot of love to give, often because we don’t have many people in our lives to share it with. Patience, understanding, compassion and empathy are qualities you should seek in a partner if you’re struggling with anxiety. And being kind to yourself is crucial. You simply cannot be happy with someone else if you’re not at least trying to be happy with yourself.

You deserve to be loved. Hang onto that.

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Everyday I’m struggggglin’….

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If you got what I did there with the title, bonus points for you. If you didn’t, not to worry, everyday isn’t actually a struggle for me these days. But I needed something catchy, and that fit the bill. It’s been well over a month since I last blogged, and nothing else has been working for me as of late, so I figured I’d let my fingers do the talking and try and pull myself out of this latest funk. I’m also doing 2 loads of laundry here in the hotel, and this is helping me kill time.

For anyone who isn’t aware, I’m spending this rotation in Sydney, Nova Scotia. It’s been a nice change from the small town living of Port Aux Basques. It’s got all the comforts of home as far as amenities go. All that’s missing is a Costco. Work itself has been a little less hectic on this side, so the slower pace has been making time drag a little longer than I would like. I’m on day 26 now, so I’m really looking forward to getting on the plane after 3 more sleeps. I’m also already dreading how quickly my two weeks home will fly by.

I’ve been having a hard time the last week or so, and while I’m usually pretty good at talking myself out of the bad places I tend to end up, I’ve not had much luck with that this time around. Am as bad as I was this time last year? Definitely not. But it’s safe to say I’m feeling worse than I’ve felt in a few months. I’m getting up every morning, going through the motions, but it is a struggle, lemme tell ya. My attention span is that of a 3 year old that’s just binged hard on Halloween night. I’m finding it hard to focus. I’ll start a task at work, and it might take me an entire day to finish it.

First and foremost, I’m not sleeping well – and sleep deprivation really wreaks havoc with my mental health, even if everything else is hunky dory. I’m tired when I start my day at 5:30, and then I have to punch a 10.5 hour work day. I might hang with co-workers in the evenings for a meal, or practice some pool by myself, and almost always I end my day with a soak in the hot tub. But even after the long ass days, when my head hits the pillow to go to sleep, I don’t. My anxiety takes over and my brain goes into overdrive and some nights I wonder if I might crack up altogether. Then I get up the next day and do it all over again. There’s no break. I have to be on my game almost constantly, and that’s so draining for me.

Obviously being away from home and my monkeys and my family and friends takes a toll as well. I’ve got an amazing support system at home, which makes working rotationally and providing for my boys possible. But I’m still a parent when I’m gone.  That responsibility doesn’t just go away. I still worry about being gone and worry about placing the burden on other people. And in the moments when my anxiety is at its worst, I beat myself for being gone in the first place. The rational and clear headed me knows I’m doing what’s best for my kids, but the troubled and anxiety ridden me just stomps all over those positive thoughts.

I think I mentioned in my last post that I have been dealing with my mental illness without any medication. When I was last home, I saw my doctor and we chatted about things, and I’m still sure my depression and anxiety is manageable without prescription drugs. I try to be kind to myself and remember that it can be a tough go to battle some days without any help. We rarely give ourself enough credit for how strong we actually are. So if you’re reading this and you’re struggling, try and remember to be kind to yourself as well.

Mental illness is so frustrating because even when you’ve got so much good happening in your life, this black cloud still somehow manages to invade your space and follow you wherever you go. It’s often been referred to the Black Dog Effect – and this video does a much better job illustrating what it feels like than my words probably do. From the outside looking in, there’s no good reason for me to feel this way. I most certainly don’t want to feel this way. Yet here I am, in the laundry room of my hotel, teary-eyed as I struggle to even find words to describe the mess inside my head.

I don’t think I’m in danger of slipping back into the abyss that I was in 18 months ago, but there are fleeting moments of doubt for sure. And I’m the absolute worst at telling ANYONE just how bad I’m struggling. I don’t practice what I so often preach to others. I do exactly the opposite of what you should do if you when you find yourself hurting like this. It’s part of the reason I turned to my blog tonight. It’s always been therapeutic for me. And I’m hoping tonight’s no different. And if it doesn’t give me the kick in the butt I need, maybe it’ll do something for you. At least one of you is reading this and totally getting what I’m talking about here. So I’m talking to you as much as I’m talking to me. And even though I will probably never reach out to you and let you know I’m having a hard time, I 100% mean it when I say that you can always reach out to me.

I WILL be fine. I always am. It’s that knowledge that usually gets me through these moments. I’m an old hand at this stuff now. And I’ve had enough downs in my life to firmly believe the next up is just around the corner. In my 36.5 years on this earth, things have never NOT gotten better or worked out. So I hang onto that. And you should too. ❤

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You can take the girl outta the Ceebs…..

 

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Well, it’s been a week. 7 days. 178 hours. Whatever way you do the math, I’ve been away long enough to miss home and the comforts that come with it. I miss my monkeys and my family and my friends. Even with technology and social media and FaceTime, it’s been an adjustment. And I knew all of this, of course. I did my best to mentally prepare myself for the separation. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve only had fleeting moments of homesickness and feeling lonely. At the obvious times, of course; during the nights when I’m stuck in this bloody hotel room with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. And we all know being alone with my thoughts for long periods of time isn’t always a good thing. But, like every other opportunity or situation in life, this too is going to help shape who I am as a person.

And as long and painful as some of the nights have been, the days have been the complete opposite. 10.5 hour work days and a 15 minute to commute to site each day really helps speed things up. I’m thoroughly enjoying being out here from a work perspective. Without getting into specifics about the project itself, it’s another exciting one to be part of. And much like my Bull Arm experience, I’m feeling blessed and grateful to be part of something that’s going to be such a benefit to our province and our future. And I’m super duper lucky to have the opportunity to work on sites over here on the West Coast of the province as well as in Nova Scotia. Very few people get this kind of chance, and I won’t take a minute of it for granted – even on the days I’m complaining and whining about silly things.

I had forgotten how quickly you bond with people on projects like this. We’ve got a super small team, and we get on really great together. I’m working with some pretty impressive young people; guys a few years younger than me, in fact, and they’re really good at what they do. I plan on learning as much from them as I possibly can over the next 6 months or so. Unlike my first week or so in Bull Arm where I was somewhat reserved and standoffish, I did quite the opposite during my first 7 days here. Part of that is because I’m really into just being me these days, and part of it is because we’re all really comfortable around each other. And it’s no secret that I’m a fan of working with a bunch of guys.

Bull Arm exposed me to a bunch of dreamy Italians and their culture, and this project is exposing me to some handsome Norwegians and their way of life. I’m feeling super fortunate to learn about life in Norway and in turn expose them to some of the nuances of life here in our province. And we’ve got a ton of great local people working on the project as well. One of the best things you can do for yourself these days from a career perspective is expand your network, and this new gig is the perfect opportunity for all of us to do that.

Returning to project life has obviously come with some challenges. Choosing to leave the boys for a month at a time was one that I really stressed and agonized over my last few days at home. If it wasn’t for the amazing support I get from their grandparents and my sister, it would never possible. Of course, leaving was a much bigger deal for me than it was for them; they seem to be adjusting just fine without me there and that makes all of this so much easier.

Another huge challenge has been living in a hotel. For a split second that may sound kind of glamourous, but I can assure you, there’s nothing fancy about living in a hotel in Port Aux Basques. I haven’t had a home cooked meal since I left CBS. None of us had. We’re starved for some decent food. I’ve at least got a microwave in my room, but Mr. Noodles and Chef Boyardee doesn’t do much to fill the hole, especially when lunch consists of a sandwich or something out of the microwave at work. Thankfully I used my power of influence to convince my boss we needed a convection oven and hot plate in our office. Tomorrow I’m cooking a chicken dinner for the 4 of us, and I’ve never been as excited to cook a meal before in my life. I can almost smell it here right now in anticipation.

As far as towns go, Port Aux Basques isn’t so bad. There’s no Walmart, but there’s Rossy, Coleman’s, Shoppers, Canadian Tire, The Source, a pretty kickass Foodland (that’s actually more like a Sobeys) and some kind of Bargain Centre with a bunch of random shit that they seem to buy in bulk from Costco and re-sell. For eating out, there’s Pizza Delight, Mary Brown’s, Tim Horton’s, Subway, a Chinese place and a couple of local restaurants/pubs. Our favourite spot so far has been a place called 1 Ton Pub. They’ve actually got a selection of beer (unlike any other place here) and deadly wings and it overlooks the water so the views are on fleek.

In fact, this entire area is super pretty and photogenic. (Can a place be photogenic???) I work next to a beautiful lighthouse right on the cliffs, overlooking the ocean and miles of sandy beach. We’re all looking forward to our next turnaround here when we’re hopefully getting spring weather. If it’s this pretty to look at now, I can’t imagine how stunning it will be when the weather is nice. Lord knows the weather hasn’t been the greatest up to now. It’s no secret this part of the province is windy AF – Wreckhouse ring a bell for anyone? We drove through the worst whiteout conditions I’ve ever encountered a few mornings ago. My nerves were shot and seeing a transport truck just blown over the side of the highway didn’t do much to calm me down. But we haven’t had a snow day yet – you folks can keep those over on the East Coast, thank you.

I’ve been blabbing a while now; if you hung on this long, thanks. The mood just kind of struck me this evening while sitting here debating what to watch on Netflix when I really don’t care to watch anything at all. I’m craving some attention. A connection. And helps me feel like I’m keeping in touch with a bunch of you at once. And I did have a point as well. I’ve always got a reason for writing, aside from my own selfish needs of just getting my thoughts out. This working away stuff is tough. I didn’t quite get an appreciation for it in Bull Arm because I was home every weekend, and was only a couple of hours away. But this picking up and leaving behind your family and friends and relationships and life is fucking hard. And I’ve got some mad respect for those of you who have been at it forever already. And I feel for those of you that stay behind and keep your homes running while the people you love are away. Make no mistake, we make these sacrifices because we want what’s best for the people we love. I hope you never have to feel what it’s like to make this kind of sacrifice and try not to take what you’ve got for granted.

I miss you. ❤

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We’re all in this together

I’ve had words bottled up inside for a long time now. And honestly, I don’t have any plan for this post. I’m just hoping if I get some of this clutter out of my head, one of us will feel better. Best case scenario, nobody feels worse after it!

First of all, can I just say how in the fuck is the first quarter of 2017 almost over? Seriously. Time is whizzing by so quickly, I spend way too much time worrying that I’m not going to have time to do all the things in my life I wanna do. I’ve literally been the most unproductive person since Christmas, and time has still just passed me right by. St. Paddy’s day is this weekend, and before you know it, we’ll be in the thick of summer and I’ll be whining about all of the summer related activities I haven’t had a chance to do.

Anyone who knows me, or anyone who’s followed my blog posts, will recall some pretty low points for me around this time last year. I was lucky to get access to a great counsellor, made some changes to my meds, and life itself changed for me. Things were on an upswing, and for the remainder of 2016, I have to say, I found myself content. I hesitate to say happy because I don’t think I’m there yet, but I was certainly feeling like life was worth living again. MAJOR improvement. I eventually had to give up counselling, but am considering going back and I haven’t been on any medication since June of last year. MAJOR improvement.

Christmas came and I loved every minute of it. It was the first holiday season in a very long time that I wasn’t filled with a sense of sadness. I was feeling genuinely blessed to have the time with my family and friends, and I’m sure if you asked some of them, they’d say they saw a difference in me too.

Then it was January. And let’s face it, the best of us have a hard time after Christmas. So here I was, unemployed, no job prospects, in the dead of winter and snow and cold, faced with the realization that my own mental health was quite in my hands. And I was determined not to get sucked back into the same black hole. But how would I avoid it? Probably wishful thinking to pretend I wasn’t going to take a couple of steps backwards. I had to be careful though because a couple of steps backwards can easily turn into a snowball that sets off an avalanche that would bury me. So what did I do/ what have I been doing in these last couple of months to ensure I don’t break again?

Finding ways to be productive while waiting to go back to work has been key. Need Something, Got Something still takes up time, and I’ve been working on another project that you’re all going to hear about soon enough that’s got me pretty excited. I’ve been trying to get myself back into writing more. But honestly, when I feel blah, writing is the last thing I wanna do. (I gave myself a kick in the butt to get at it this afternoon and 500 words in, I’m glad I did.) I’ve reconnected with a couple of old friends and I’ve made some new ones. There’s something to be said for having a small group of solid people you know you can say whatever to. I’m always the person who tells everyone to reach out if they ever need to talk, but I’m generally the last person to take that advice. So I’ve been making an effort to be less closed off with people I know care about me. I made a small list of attainable and time-sensitive goals. Some have been achieved (got a new job!) and I’m still working on some (win a trip to Vegas!) but having that list to reference has been helpful. I’ve also been super aware of my thoughts, and that’s not easy to do if you’re not really in tune with your mental health. I know my own pretty well, and so I’ve gotten pretty good at reminding myself when it’s my anxiety talking.

It took me 649 words to determine the title for this blog post, but I think it works. We are all in this together, and I think that’s why I finally talked myself into writing today. I’ve got friends hurting these days. I see new moms on Facebook looking for support from other moms because they’re going insane. People are losing jobs and not finding new ones. Our communities have been rocked lately with some shitty news stories. We’re all just dealing with a lot at the moment. Can we all agree with that?

That’s why I’m constantly using the k-word. Kindness can literally make the difference in a person’s day. I can’t tell you the number of times in the last few weeks I’ve been feeling like a completely useless piece of shit when someone in my life has been kind enough to remind me I’m not. Without even knowing they did anything. Be that person. We all gotta aim to be that kind of  human. Picking each other up without even trying. Cause we’re all in this together. ❤

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Sex in the Ceebs: 40 Days & 40 Nights

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I’ve been at the online dating racket for about a year and a half now. I’ve gotten very little return on investment in that amount of time. And when I mean ROI, I’m talking about the amount of time and energy I’ve put into online dating. Creating profiles, swiping left and right, chatting with stranger after stranger; never fully knowing if the person at the end of the conversation is being completely genuine. I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the whole dating process over the last few months, and admittedly I’ve put way less time and effort into it as a result. Tinder and POF have simply become another form of social media for them. I check them like I check my IG or FB.

18 months of online dating has yielded me about half a dozen first dates/meets and I’ve met (in person or virtually) a dozen or so pretty decent guys who are friends or acquaintances that I’m glad I got to know. But that’s not much to get excited about when you consider that I have spoken to hundreds of guys since I first signed up for Tinder and POF. Now let’s face it people, any first date you go on is great practice. Just like job interviews. So even if they amounted to nothing, it felt good to get out there and feel like I wasn’t completely out of the game.

Anyways, the point I want to start to make is that I’m tired of online dating. I’ve become jaded and bitter and at this moment I’m not convinced I’ll ever find anyone online. In fact, I feel like I most certainly will not. I’m done with ignoring messages from fake profiles. I’m over POF lifers and fuckboys constantly blocking up my inbox. And I’ve had more than my share of those single-by-choice guys who just *poof* disappear into thin air.

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So for at least the next 40 days and 40 nights, I’m done with online dating. The apps are coming off my phone, and I’m gonna give those swiping thumbs of mine a rest. I still think online dating works for people, and I am always encouraging people who tell me they’re considering giving it a try to go for it. Do I have a preference? Is there one site better than the other? The short answer is: it depends. What is it that you’re looking for? If you’re 45 plus and interested in finding a suitable partner, I would for sure pay for a subscription to a site like Match or e-Harmony. If you’re younger than 45, interested in slowly dipping your feet in the online dating pool, and don’t mind reading some vulgar and creepy messages from time to time, give Plenty of Fish a try. You can do it all while remaining completely anonymous. If you’re under 25, not sure what you want, and don’t give a fuck who knows you’re on the dating scene, Tinder is the place for you.

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I might go back to it all on the other side of this experiment. I might not. But I figured it was just as well take a break for Lent because I certainly won’t be missing anything by not being there. And taking a break from online dating sites should not be confused with taking a break from men. That is not what I’m doing. Obviously you can’t take a break from something you don’t even have ever. (So buddy, if you’re out there and happen to read this, don’t be shy about hitting me up. This isn’t that kind of a break.) I’ll still be out there, complaining about being single and not being able to find any decent men in the real world. And who knows, maybe this whole “you’ll find it when you’re not looking” bullshit will prove me wrong.

 

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Sex and the Ceebs: New Year, New Me

 

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That new year, new me bit is dripping in sarcasm. New me? It’s taken me 36 years to come the tiniest bit close to enjoying the current me. I’m not about to start reinventing myself at this point. I still have miles to go until I love the old me. And if you don’t love yourself, how the fuck is anyone else supposed to know how to love you???

I’ve been completely and totally single now for almost a year and a half. SHIT. 18 months. It’s gone by kinda quick, actually. Especially the last 9 months or so. Bull Arm had a lot to do with that. Time flew during those 7 months. So loads of time has passed, but very little has changed with my love life. Got a few more stories to tell. Learned more about myself and others. But it has been the same old, same old for the most part. I think that’s what compelled me to write today. I’ve had this pent up frustration over how little has changed and just wanted to put my thoughts into words. And I figure there are other people out there feeling like me. I KNOW there are.

When I landed a job in Bull Arm last May, I thought I had it made in the shade. And I guess I did, in many ways. The lone female, working with a team of 40 or so Italian men certainly was as amazing as it fucking sounds, obviously. Sure, there were some cultural nuances we all had to adapt to, but all in all I spent a lot of my time in the company of some pretty delicious eye candy. And the Italians aside, I was working on the largest project in the province, with hundreds of (mostly male) workers on site every single day. It sounded like I hit the single-girl jackpot. I didn’t even hit a number though. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I had a squad. And like all squads, we had goals. Some of them focused on taking walks with me to check out the landscape. Work-related walks, of course 😉

Biggest takeaway about the dating scene in Bull Arm: it’s full of great men, but they’re all fucking taken! Or single by choice. And way too many want to have their cake and eat it too, if ya know what I’m saying. I’m sure there are a quantity of lovely single and available men in Bull Arm, but they must have all been hiding in a tool crib somewhere because I couldn’t find them anywhere. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I had an entire team of co-workers who were on the mission to find someone for me. Mostly because they were sick to fucking death of hearing me talk about wanting to find a man.

Bull Arm was an amazing distraction in general though, so being single when I was working there really wasn’t a big deal. I had things to keep me busy in the meantime 😉 I slacked off in a big way in using Tinder and Plenty of Fish. I deleted my Tinder account for a couple of months, and only recently re-activated it. (Because I miss playing Hot or Not.) I kinda just used to check POF when I was bored and had checked all my other forms of social media. The extra time on my hands now means I find myself doing more swiping these days, in comparison to pre-Christmas. Still mostly swiping left on the same old faces. (I’m making the assumption here that you know what those swiping references mean. If you don’t, google “swipe right” and you should have an answer fairly quickly.)

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Repeat users on Tinder are expected, considering the app is mostly used around here by 20 something year olds looking to expand their NSA FWB connections. It’s the repeat users on Plenty of Fish that really stand out. And anyone reading this right now who uses that site is sitting there nodding, like fuck yeah, I know just who this bitch is talking about. They create new profiles like it’s a hobby. Once a day for sure. Sometimes several profiles. Some have their photo and some don’t, but the second you start reading the profile, you KNOW it’s them. They were at it 18 months ago when I created a POF account, and they’re at the same shit now. And the most disturbing thing about that last sentence, is that like those users, I have been on POF doing the same old shit myself for 18 fucking months. There are probably men logging on to POF after a year hiatus or something who see my profile and think there’s obviously something wrong with me because I’m still there. That’s what the anxiety in me screams out anyways. The sensible me wants to scream back and ask if you people see what the fuck I am working with here. Seriously. And ladies, you know what I’m talking about right? I know at the very least you will support me here. Things are PRETTY FUCKING BLEAK.

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And it’s not just limited to dating sites anymore. And judging from some recent conversations I’ve had, I’m not the only female experiencing this – men hitting us up on the DM on Facebook. What the fuck, guys? NO. That’s not cool to do. I get that POF makes it really easy because they’ve started shoving us in your faces through the people you may know sections, but please stop doing that. We see your messages on POF, I promise you. In no circumstance should you message us on POF, then find us on  Facebook and message us there too. STAAAAAAAAAAHP. I know what I’m talking about here. Females will always somehow let a guy know that she wants to interact with him. We’re magical ninjas that way. The constant pinging of our inboxes just makes you look desperate. It’s a small town we’re living in here. That gets exponentially smaller online. You never know when you’re going to run into someone you’ve interacted with on social media in real life, so don’t act weird by’!

Real life example: Just this week I had a dude send me a message on POF and he let me know that he had seen me at Costco just before Christmas and wanted to approach me and buy me an ice cream. I thanked him, half jokingly, for not doing something that could have left us both feeling majorly awkward in the middle of the Price Club. Then he went on to explain how he also had a fetish with feet and pantyhose and would have also asked me to help him pick some out. Like, wtf buddy? Can you imagine? And who knows if he actually would have, or if he was just trolling. He kept randomly messaging me over the next couple of days though, so I’m inclined to think he was being truthful.

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I don’t know what 2017 will bring for any of us, but I hope some of the amazing single people I know find someone cool to hang out with sometime this year. I’m just gonna keep doing me and I hope you all keep doing you. And then I hope we all get to do at least a couple of people from now to December.

My research continues, so stay tuned.

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When you find the words….

I had a hard time starting writing this entry. My blogging has been the biggest trigger for some online bullying I’ve been experiencing over the last few months (you can read about that here), so I’ve been avoiding writing for that reason. I’ve also found myself with very little alone time while feeling motivated enough to write. I’m sitting here not knowing where to start things, or how to structure what I want to say. Typically, my blogs have always focused on one topic at a time. This one is likely going to be a mish-mosh of topics, and it may not be as well written as other entries have been. Either way, it’ll be MY thoughts and feelings and opinions. Which means not everyone will agree. And that’s cool. That’s what makes us so great; we all have different beliefs/values/morals/opinions and we won’t always agree. But we can always choose to be respectful and kind, regardless of how we might feel about something another person says or does.

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So. What the heck have I been at for the last month exactly? Officially, I’ve been doing Site Administration for Fagioli (pronounced, Fa-jo-li; as in, doesn’t rhyme with ravioli); the company who is going to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to assembling the Topsides of the GBS for the Hebron Project. Site Administration is similar to Office Administration, except you’re out in the field, on the project site. And while some of the tasks are the same in both roles, a Site Administrator often has many more responsibilities and a much broader spectrum of varying duties. I’ve done everything from laminating, taking meeting minutes, booking camp accommodations, onboarding new employees to attending weekly safety walkthroughs, preparing safety reports, acting as mom to some, work wife to others. It’ll be one of those job experiences that teaches me boatloads and one I’ll never forget. The people I work with are amazing. We’re a team of about 50; a mix of local personnel with a heavy influence of foreign workers, mostly from Italy. A couple from Spain; a few from Poland. I’ve learned important lessons from many of them already. I can say with quite certainty that it’ll be hard to say goodbye to this group of people when the contract is completed in a few months.

From a mental health perspective, I’ve had some ups and downs for sure. As amazing as my job is, and as much as I am loving this experience, it’s challenging being way from home for 5 days at a time. Work-life balance is hard because I am still trying to be full time parent as much as I possibly can while working 10 hour days. It’s only possible because the kids have their grandfather here with them full-time and my mom and sister give us tremendous amounts of support. The kids and I are so blessed to have the kind of help we do. Even still, with all of this greatness going on, my depression and anxiety lurks in the background. The switch flicks on and off when it wants to, and coping in the Bull Arm environment isn’t easy. It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies this entire time. I’ve had a few overwhelming moments; consumed by guilt, loneliness, sadness. The same cast of characters as always. I don’t sleep well ever. I’m averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, which is tough when you’ve got a 10 hour workday facing you each morning. As I mentioned in a https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcarlacrotty13%2Fposts%2F10157172733275657&width=500” target=”_blank”>FB post recently, there is some mental health support available through EZRA Chaplaincy Services. While it may not be enough support in my opinion, it’s comforting to know the option is there.

Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder; and I’m thankful this experience allows me to appreciate the precious time I have with my family and friends while I’m home. And even though my time home is limited, I still try my best to keep up with giving back and volunteerism as much as possible. I recently spent half a day volunteering the Mighty Girls Day initiative; an amazing event and movement to be part of. And I’m still doing as much as I can with our Need Something, Got Something FB community. We’re very close to 5000 thousand members now, an amazing feat, and it shows just how many people are struggling in our province’s current economic climate. I rely quite heavily on the other admins these days to manage the group, and I’m so thankful to have those 5 ladies in my life; and we’re all lucky to have them dedicated to the NSGS effort. This weekend, my family celebrated the marriage of my cousin Sam, and his new bride, Pam. It’s been a while since we have all gotten together for a Crotty FamJam – especially decked out in our Sunday best. Here’s a shot of me, my sis, and my cousins – “Taylor Swift and her Squad” – because my Sarah is a pretty close resemblance to TSwift herself. Time with family is so important, and I learn that more and more as I grow older.

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I was going to write a separate piece about online dating and camp life all on its own, but it’s just as well lump it in here with the rest of what’s been going on. You’ve heard me say in previous posts, it’s a small world when it comes to online dating in this province. Believe it or not, it gets even smaller when you work at a site like Bull Arm. My co-worker, Danny, is my BFF and wingman on site, and the poor darling often puts up with my constant ramblings about the male population at Bull Arm. I’ve walked into the cafeteria at supper on more than one occasion and have recognized 3 guys from Plenty of Fish. And if I’m recognizing them, one can assume they know my face. Then there’s the faceless guys of POF who message you to let you know they work at Bull Arm too and have seen you around. Or even worse, know what your name is. That is unnerving. And I’m not weirded out in a concerned-for-my-safety kind of way. It would just be nice to know who some of these people are. Most of these guys won’t compare to the constant parade of eye candy waltzing in and out of my office on a daily basis. And sure, I’m aware none of this content is politically correct and if it were a male talking about female co-workers, there might be some major uproar. C’est la vie. I would not blame any male who spent 10 hours a day working with a bunch of females from Europe; half of whom look like they could have a career as a model. This is the struggle I face; pushing the envelope as far as I can without ruining it all. #firstworldproblems

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Living the “camp life” isn’t something I ever thought I’d be doing, but I don’t have any complaints, that’s for sure. Evenings/nights can be long and boring sometimes, but there are things I can do to change that. The longer evenings that come with summer means taking in more of the local scenery of the neighboring communities. Food on site is best kind in my books. I’ve heard plenty of people complaining about it, and perhaps I don’t have other camp experiences to compare my situation to, but I’m more than happy with the meals that have been served. There’s always 3-4 main courses to choose from; plus soups, salads, fries, onion rings, a half dozen dessert options. I’ve got almost 5 pounds on since May 11 – thank you camp food.

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I guess the positive side of jamming too much food in my mouth on a daily basis is that I’ve been motivated to drag my lazy ass to the gym. I don’t go regularly at this point, and am only running 2-3K when I do go, but doing a little is better than doing nothing at all, I figure. I’m simply doing it to combat the overeating. I’m not turning over some new fitness leaf, and I certainly won’t be signing up for the Tely 10. But, I did get up this morning and go for a jog. On my days off. Just because I felt so inclined. That’s progress of some sort; I’m not sure what exactly. But good job, Princess. Heading into my 8th month as a non-smoker for sure has a lot to do with me being able to run longer than like, 15 seconds. The fact that there are gym goers who are easy on the eyes also makes being there easier. I’ll keep it up, for now anyways.

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That was a lot of words; so much for not knowing how or what I was going to say! I probably lost half my readers 500 words ago, but I put this all out there for me more than anyone else. Sure, I’m happy when people read and give me positive feedback and are entertained by what I write about, but at the end of the day, it’s the only therapy I’ve got right now. If you stuck it out and read it all, I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for reading. Be kind and love as much as you can. ❤

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Mental Health Monday

I had been planning this blog post for a week or so now, and it’s completely coincidental that I’m drafting it on the first day of Mental Health Week. The timing certainly works out well though because I am here to give an update on my journey. For you it’s an update, for me it’s more of a way of talking myself through the jumbled thoughts I’m having.

I’ve taken a break from any writing for the last couple of months. I haven’t felt motivated or creative enough and at times I felt like I might write with TOO much emotion. But I’m ready now, and need to remind myself of how far I’ve come during the time I’ve been away from my blog.

Shortly after my last post at the end of February, I started back in counseling. An amazing stroke of luck, given current wait times can be anywhere from 2-7 months, sometimes more, in our Eastern Health system. I also lucked out and got a really stellar counselor. I had heard of her from others, so I was optimistic before our sessions even began. Turns out my instincts were right, and things have been going well. She seems to really have an understanding of me as a person – there are times she easily finishes a thought or sentence for me. I’m comfortable telling her the truth about what I am feeling – which is likely one of the toughest things for me to do. (And one of the reasons I write.)

Saying it’s been going well essentially means my counseling sessions are hard work. And like everything we do in life I suppose, it’s a “no pain, no gain” situation. I THOUGHT I knew myself pretty well before starting these sessions. Ha! I have learned so much more in such a short period time; it’s almost a blessing and a curse. I have come to so many realizations, but am still left with some nagging questions. And I’m so scared about the work I still have left to do.

There are three learnings so far that stand out for me more so than others – the ones I know I have more to discover and work on. Knowing something intellectually and knowing something emotionally – definitely a skill I am slowly trying to improve. And it’s very frustrating because my mind knows things, and even my heart is starting to get it, but deep deep down in my core, I’m not getting it. So say for example if someone lies to me….I know that’s because they’re the one with the problem, not me. And I’ve even started to allow myself to stop feeling hurt as an initial reaction. But give it some time, and I’m asking myself why. What did I do? I’m looking for all the negative things I can about myself to find an answer to a question I already know. It’s because they’re the problem not me. But oh my GOSH it is such a hard thing to get past.

What has made all of this a little easier to digest is learning that my depression and anxiety is coupled with being a Highly Sensitive Person. I always understood I wore my heart on my sleeve more than the average person, but it also turns out I’m an HSP, along with about 20% of the population. HSPs tend to become overstimulated more easily and we have an innate ability to be emotionally reactive and empathetic. There are pros and cons to being highly sensitive. We over process most of our thoughts and have a low self esteem. But our empathetic nature allows us to more easily respond to the needs of others, which is an advantage in any relationship. Having all of this explained to me was like a light bulb going off over my head. My actions and reactions in situations in my past made more sense.

Biggest takeaway of all just happens to be the theme of a little diddy Justin Bieber sings called “Love Yourself”. It’s not an easy thing to admit and it’s certainly not an easy thing to feel. And while I like things about myself and I can sit here and rhyme off several wonderful characteristics about myself, I still don’t LOVE myself. On bad days there are still moments when I feel like the world would carry on just fine without me. And I’ve learned in counseling that some of the things I have allowed to happen to me have a lot more to do with me thinking I don’t somehow deserve any better. This has been the hardest part of all on my journey. It’s the scariest part. It’s the saddest part. And it’s the part I want to avoid working on the most.

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As I mentioned earlier, this is the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. Our province has suffered some significant losses over the last month, and we all need to ensure we keep the conversation going about mental health and how we are feeling. If you need someone to talk to, or know someone who does, don’t be afraid to reach out.

#stopthestigma #getloud #mentalhealth #lightitupQuinn

Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland and Labrador

 

 

Melancholy Monday

I’m purposely writing this blog at two separate times today. It’s currently noonish, and I’ve been having a less than stellar morning. Nothing’s happened to “set me off”; I’ve just woken in a general state of melancholy.

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(Sidebar: Ironically, melancholy is one of my favourite words. Both for its meaning, and because of its phonetic characteristics. I love saying it. It’s a beautiful way to describe a state of sadness. End digression. Back to the point.)

I often just wake up in a funk. Just like you do on rare occasions. On days when I’m doing something like work, for example, I at least have that distraction to keep me away from my thoughts. On days like today, when I’m off and home with nothing BUT those thoughts, feeling completely unmotivated, it’s easy to let melancholy just swallow me up. I’m sure you’ve felt it once or twice? Or too many times for you to count, like in my case. All of the bad thoughts are amplified. And sure, at this point, I know, from an intellectual perspective, plenty of ways I can try and counter these feelings and cope; knowing emotionally what to do, is completely different. It’s much harder to do and it’s draining and I’m tired of the battle.

BUT. I’m writing in two parts because I’m meeting with my new mental health counsellor this afternoon. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m eager to have someone completely unbiased to listen and give me the honest truth. I’m super anxious mind you; but optimistic and feeling positive about it as well. So I wanted to leave this post and come back to it later after I speak with her and share some of the experience.

Before I go, I wanted to point out that it’s been a month since I’ve been back on medication and while I couldn’t say that the anti-depressant has had a huge difference, I do feel this kind of sadness less often. And let’s face it, you know how long medications like that can take to work. Well, some of you know. My anxiety has lessened noticeably. Especially the physical symptoms. My heart doesn’t feel like it’s going to beat out of my chest in situations that might otherwise have me anxiety ridden. I don’t get the shakes nearly as bad. I kid you not (and I mean this with no disrespect at all) but I would shake like someone with Parkinson’s sometimes, my anxiety would be THAT bad. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten like that, even though I’ve been in situations that have caused me to feel anxious or nervous in the past. I take the medication nightly, so my sleep has also drastically improved. But it’s also fair to say I’m in a bit of a fog. I don’t know if that’s even the proper way to describe it. I’m always feeling nap-ish; and I’m not sure my brain is as alert as it could be.

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So here we are; 7 hours or so later. I’m definitely feeling much more hopeful than I was earlier today when I spoke to you. I don’t feel nearly as much despair about my kids’ future; or my own, for that matter. I had a full two hours today to basically talk out loud to myself and actually listen to some of the important things I had to say. I really like the counsellor I’ve been paired with; she definitely seems like someone who will be able to help teach me new skills and refocus my thinking on things that matter most – especially when it comes to self-care. If you’re still debating talking to someone about the issues, stressors, or problems in your life, you’re really not doing yourself any favours by keeping things to yourself. At the very least, talk to your family doctor about potential options that might work for you. Unload to someone you know can offer you the support you need.

Seen, heard, and understood – three things we as humans need to feel. There’s nothing wrong with wanting validation. I’m sure you, like me, are guilty of giving others great advice, but never taking it yourself. I’m not afraid to admit behaviours of that like mine; it’s part of the reason I’ve sought the advice of this professional. There are certain circumstances in life you and I can’t change. How we deal with our emotions is something we CAN control, for the most part. My mental health is important to me, and I want to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure I stay mentally well.

So, there is a moral to the story….a kind of predictable one at that. After a shitty day, a session with a mental health counsellor, and some perspective, has improved my outlook again for the time being. So if you’re wondering at all what you can do to help yourself or someone you care about, take my advice. I’ve got experience and know what I’m talking about here. Nobody can do everything alone. It’s simply impossible. I’m trying to teach myself to stop thinking that way and you should think about doing the same. ❤

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