The Calls Still Come From Inside the House Sometimes

I’ve had a real problem with obsessive self-loathing for a huge chunk of my life, which I naïvely assumed would get better after my PMDD went away. I’m learning the hard way that, while I’m free of a lot of self-harm/suicidal compulsions in post-op life, my tendency toward self-sabotage is going to require some heavy lifting to be rid of.

Alright, at the risk of sounding like a complete asshole, it’s important to note up front that I get plenty of outside validation that I’m a smart, funny, insightful, moderately-attractive human that decent people enjoy being around, but, for some reason, I just don’t believe it… often, I can’t even hear it.

This is an inside job. I’ve worked on this in therapy and countless other means, but the problem is that the voice of my “Inner Saboteur” is still just me making what appear as very valid arguments. (I’m pretty good at debate/persuasion; unfortunately, I’ve used my powers for evil here.) When someone says “You’re so [positive thing]!!” I immediately, automatically remind myself of a handful of examples that person doesn’t know about which prove his/her point invalid, thus perpetuating this deeply-rooted belief system I’ve instilled that I’m lazy trash who should feel lucky to be around other people. Honestly, this reflex hasn’t been voluntary for a really long time.
It’s annoying. I see it, too.

…which leads to how I act in public, particularly with people I feel insecure around. Oh, FUN FACT: If we’ve ever hung out IRL and I seem like I’m in a race to get alcohol into my system it is because I am having Inferiority Overload. Honestly, I’ve never believed that drinking made me smarter or funnier, but it does, temporarily, shut off the ever-present anxiety that I’m [insert lyrics to Radiohead’s “Creep” here.] That nagging belief is always present, and when I start feeling more insecure than usual, it gets SUPER FUCKING LOUD AND RELENTLESS, so much so that I start spiraling and compounding it, whether or not I’m intoxicated. And often, I am weak and I just want a goddamn break from my demons; unfortunately, drinking gives me that for a few hours, and I thoroughly enjoy it – appreciate it, even.

The obvious problem with that M.O. is that I sober up, replay the tape of what I said/did in my drunkenness, and wind up hating myself even more than I did before. Drinking just shuts off the voice temporarily, only to be [justifiably] amplified the following day(s). It’s a motherfucker of a cycle and I’ve been tired of it for awhile. It’s just that, before now, with everything else going on, it’s not something I’ve had time or energy to really fight back at. My binge-drinking wasn’t a daily or even weekly issue, and who needs self-esteem when you can’t even put coherent thoughts together to get out of bed for half of every month? Plus, occasional drinking worked far better for me than any anti-anxiety prescription, hands down.

The last few months have been much better at dismantling my self-hate and subsequent binge-ing. I can see that nobody in my life was working against my self-worth and nobody has in a very long time (which I also realize is a luxury) It’s all been an illusion like this mental prison in which I keep running the bullshit script insecure [and sometimes genuinely terrible] people [that I no longer even know/associate with] implanted during my formative years that I still believe after years of adding my own masonry (to beat this metaphor to death.) I’ve started understanding that a lot of my beliefs about me were just wrong, that I have more power over myself than I assumed, and maybe a lot of the stuff other people believe about me isn’t just because I’ve tricked them. I’d had my suspicions about that before, but it’s starting to become real now.

Again, I’ve known that the only validation that’s going to make a difference is my own, but I struggle to know exactly how to do that. And vague tips like “Just love yourself!!!” are nauseatingly unhelpful in that they don’t give my ignorant ass any solid methodology.

The only way to get my Inner Saboteur to go away organically is to practice telling it to shut the hell up without chemical interference. It’s like a muscle I just have to flex a little more. I’m just coming out of a very long-term chronic illness that kept me isolated more than was healthy, so social situations are going to be a foil for awhile; I should treat them with extra care and arm myself with nonalcoholic options, and maybe, over time, the knowledge and comfort that I’m okay to exist in public as myself will become my new normal instead of this habit of routine self-destruction. I’ve started redefining alcohol as “Liquid Self-Loathing” instead of “Liquid Courage/Relief”, because that’s really how it’s always been for me. It’s served as a solid first step so far.

And I’ve started doing something I saw on someone’s Instagram that temporarily wrecked me when I first read it last spring. It was a challenge to “Name 5 Things You Love About Yourself!” I sat there for 15 minutes, staring into the middle distance, unable to do it. I couldn’t even think of one right there on the spot.
That felt gross.

So I started small and, whenever I noticed something about me that I liked – physical or otherwise – I took a minute to write it down. It took me six months to get a list of the first 5 things* and, even afterward, I found myself debating those bullet points in my head and resisting the urge to scribble them out. It’s weird that someone who was so damn confident before I was 10 (and I mean obnoxiously so. My mom has footage. I watch now and, between my cringing, I do envy that kid’s blind, almost-delusional arrogance) has such an inverse reality all these years later.

Still though, Struggle To Not Destroy Myself From The Inside aside, this a part of post-op recovery I’m still really grateful I get to experience. The alternative is muuuch worse than sitting here feeling physically/mentally better but whining about my self-esteem. I get that. I’m grateful I get to try to do it clean for a change.

*Oh, The List? Fine. I only have six so far. (And this isn’t me asking for help for more bullet points! Inside job! Heavy lifting! Self-sufficience!)

1) I have a really nice décolleté zone.
2) I can laugh at/make jokes about myself in a way that doesn’t involve me crying on the inside.
3) I’m reliably good at disarming people or diffusing tension with [sometimes inappropriate but always irreverent] humor.
4) I’m getting grey hairs coming in, which I love. I like to wobble my head around and watch it sparkle in the mirror before I go to bed.
5) Occasionally I photograph well.
6) I’m really good at admitting when I was wrong and apologizing without prompting – from little faux pas to massive fuckups. Similarly, I’m way, way better than ever at hearing constructive criticism without reacting negatively.

It Only Took 22 years, but I Finally Slayed That Demon.

Excuse that dramatic title, but I honestly have no idea how to start this first post back from hiatus. The truth is that I had a complete bilateral salpingo/oopho/hysterectomy and it has changed my whole life, mental state, and sense of self, but that doesn’t work so well as a title… it doesn’t even work that great as this second line in an intro but here we are.

Anyway, I’m cured. Finally. I’m mentally better than I ever have been. I feel like a filter has been taken off my brain and new energy has been dumped into my body and all the clouds have parted and I’m just a regular person again with a normal range of emotions and grip on reality. I’ve been praying and wishing and meditating and performing sacred rituals for a solution for more than two thirds of my life and I finally have it, consistently, calmly, comfortably. And all it took was me finally listening to my inner voice, telling a bunch of doctors they were wrong and didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about, and doing more medical research than any liberal arts student with just a BA English should ever have completed.

These last 6 months have been a ride. To make this as short as possible: After suffering hormone/PMS-based depression/anxiety/suicidal ideation since I was 11-12-ish, (and spending 12 years in cognitive behavioral therapy and seeing no less than 6 psychiatrists including the two I was treated by while at two separate inpatient facilities only to be driven to psychosis by misdiagnoses and over-medication), I quit my meds and started focusing on my hormones in ’14 while begging my OB/GYN to just let me get a hysterectomy and “sweep the leg” on this whole thing. It took three years of me lying around my house in a holding pattern, only really able to get out of bed two weeks every month and struggling to hold down very basic part-time gigs for me to realize nothing was getting any better and my sense of stagnation was killing my soul even more than the suicidal ideation. So last summer, I found a laproscopic surgeon who took me seriously and we started prepping to – in the brilliant euphemism of my husband – “tear down the gymnasium but leave the breezeway.”

I won’t go into all the medical parts of it here, but it worked. It worked immediately. The minute my body stopped undergoing the monthly hormonal fluctuations that cause a 4-week menstrual cycle, I was consistent and optimistic and driven and joyful and balanced the way I’d been when I was a kid. It was like magic.

(Sidebar: To be completely honest here, I didn’t realize how bad I’d gotten until recently when I’ve started feeling better. Although these last three pharm-free years have been an improvement over the decade I was having medication-induced impulses, rage, psychotic breaks and manic episodes, I wasn’t really living in any sustainable way. I don’t know why I let it go on so long. I shouldn’t have waited so damn long to find a surgeon.)

The surgery happened in early November and, while I’ve been putting my body back together, I’ve also been getting to know New Me a little in that time. And you guys, New Me is fucking aaawesome, which is a relief because I had some doubts. Here’s some stuff I’ve learned about her!

New Me
– Literally never thinks about hurting/offing herself. Ever. The compulsion of self-harm isn’t even on her radar anymore, even when she’s really sad about something.
– Completes task lists (mental, physical, or otherwise) without the crushing dread of imminent, inevitable disappointment.
– Stays out of bed ALL DAY. Even on weekends! (Last weekend was my birthday and I woke up a 7 a.m. without an alarm clock to go take pictures of abandoned buildings and take a hike through the snow.)
–  Has gotten into new music again.
– …But also listens to Harry Belafonte sometimes. On purpose.
– Can say “You know, I’m not gonna drink/overeat/over-spend tonight” and actually stick to that.
– Has actually been sober now for more than 100 days without feeling like she’s white-knuckling it.
– Can park in a giant, crowded parking lot and enter a crowded grocery store without locking up from anxiety.
– Answers emails! Within 24 hours! Sometimes immediately!
– Doesn’t cancel 95% of her plans with friends! (Now I bail on about 5% of our plans like regular people do!)
– Gets out of the house every single day!
– Doesn’t have to be reminded to bathe!
– Moves her body daily and it makes her feel happy and not at all like she’s torturing herself with even the most minor gestures!
– Is able to take the initiative to learn new little skills instead of seeing new opportunities and feeling overwhelmed with terror about her inability to absorb new knowledge!
– Can absorb new knowledge!!
FINISHES things shortly after starting them! From little things like new books to major projects, I’ve been staying on-task and consistent and focused until completion! I can even MULTITASK. I haven’t successfully done that since junior high!
– Can somehow magically listen to music and read/write at the same time for the first time everinherwholeentirelife!
– Can plan a week’s worth of meals AND THEN FOLLOW THROUGH ON MAKING THEM. Like, at least 5 nights per week! And I’m meal-prepping lunches and breakfasts now!
~ Oh, OH! AND she’s got the energy to seek out new recipes and cook something different all the time!
~ AAAND she’s not overeating constantly anymore (because depression causes carb cravings in order to produce more serotonin #funfact) and sometimes she doesn’t even clean her plate! #DIGNITY
– Isn’t overwhelmed with dread and anxiety after two shots of espresso.
– Can have bad/sad/mad feelings and magically push them to the side without letting them cloud her mind and wreck the day.
~ Is living out dreams in small steps. (I finally started grad school last semester, and I may’ve signed up to perform at an amateur drag show in a couple days. I also answered a few model casting calls and I’m sitting for a clay sculpting class at a local university this semester, so I’m glad to be getting back into that side groove.)
~ Doesn’t involuntarily obsess about bad things/people that happened in the distant past when she doesn’t get enough sleep.
~…in fact, she doesn’t have any obsessive cycles (songs repeating, words, invasive thought/memories) when she doesn’t get enough sleep.
~ Doesn’t routinely think about abandoning her family out of guilt and shame for burdening them with her presence.
~ Reacts to life’s setbacks or disappointments with the normal amount of anger/sadness/whathaveyou.
~ Is optimistic in the mornings instead of being disappointed she didn’t die in her sleep somehow. (Y’all, it got dark for awhile.)
~ Is kind of impressed with herself that she somehow made it this far, to be honest.
And more than a little proud.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. As the novelty of feeling brand new/not in crisis mode all the time wears off, I’m realizing how frustrated I am(/have been) that I’ve been just sitting here waiting to get better for such a tremendous chunk of my youngest years. I’ve always struggled with FOMO as I’ve watched my peers really getting into their careers or post-grad work and I’m frustrated that my personal work has stalled out for so long because of this ridiculous health saga. I’m working really hard to focus on enjoying my life now instead of “should”ing all over myself, but there is something incredibly demoralizing in working so hard and for so long only to be normal. For a majority of these last years, “getting me better” has honestly been my full-time job; it’s humbling to not have something more to show for it than an average 35 year old white lady. But then, maybe all these years of struggle and research was “The Work” and I just don’t know it yet. I’m open to that idea.

Still though, I’m better and I’m riding high on the relief and joy of being unburdened from my mental demons finally. It feels surreal.

“It’s another day, another chance. I wake up, I wanna dance/ So as long as I got my friiieends, I’m better, I’m better, I’m better.”



My website – along with my personal life – is undergoing some renovations for the next few months, so look for something sparkly and new in early ’18.
I’ve left a few of my favorite posts from the last decade for you to peruse in the meantime, or catch me weekly over at YourTango.

I Burn Journals (And Other Fun Facets of My Anxiety)

I’ll be honest: A lot of the behaviors caused by my particular brand of anxiety have gotten me into trouble in my life because, for a long time, I had no idea that they were symptoms of a bigger mental issue and not, you know, how everyone else operates.  Because our society’s definition of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (which is, I recently learned, an anxiety disorder that has its own spectrum) are so limited, I often found myself reacting in ways that felt totally normal at the time to the confusion, frustration, and sometimes disdain of those around me.

Here are a few of those things:

1) Within 30 minutes of leaving anyone’s company, I’ve convinced myself that I ruined it. Involuntarily, I will replay everything I said during the entire interaction and I will even physically flinch when I remember a particularly awkward misstep (I do the flinching-at-a-bad-memory thing all the time, btw. Even in public. More on that in a minute). I will then apologize for generally existing afterward and copiously thank whomever I was with for inviting me along, no matter how close I am to the person and how often we see each other.

2) I apologize constantly. Not only will I profusely apologize for missteps in the moment (real or imagined), but I used to feel compelled to go back and apologize for mistakes of mine that happened so long ago nobody remembers them but me. I used to think that this was a virtue, but the more I did it, the more I realized I was just mentally convincing myself that I shouldn’t be around other people and perpetuating my own delusion that all I do is ruin things. This lead to a lot of self-hatred toward my current and past selves (I’ve burned journals in hopes of purging memories of my darkest moments. It doesn’t work.) and has only exacerbated my anxiety toward having real social interactions. Basically, my brain was just painting me into a corner. While a lot of people have made fun of or scolded me for my overzealous apologies, the best of my friends know how to acknowledge them and let me know they aren’t necessary in a gentle and understanding way. These are massive blessings.

Oh and
2b) I Obsessively Revise Everything even after I submit it. My second-guessing means I obsessively re-edit every single thing that gets published of mine for hours – sometimes days, even after its gone live…even FB status updates and comments. No, I’m not kidding. This post is on its 27th draft according to my updates and it went live an hour ago..

3) Isolation is my M.O. This is weird, because I’m an extrovert who wilts without a little daily social interaction. Unfortunately, my cycle of anxiety makes it so that I can rarely relax and act like myself around most people without my nerves going nuts in the moment and making me act all erratic, and then berating myself for acting like a normal, flawed human afterward. After awhile, I will convince myself that nobody wants to put up with my nonsense anymore, which leads to me flaking out on people I care about a lot – something that has gotten me chewed out by a lot of friends over the years who seem to think I’m blowing them off for something better. (If this applies to you, please know that I probably spent the evening in my bed listening to music or watching reruns of some Graham Linehan show to distract myself from my rambling brain. It was not awesome.) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at communicating where I am mentally and why I’m hesitant to reach out, but I still keep my Friends Lists very small as a means to temper my self-doubt about taking up space in general.  And I’ve straight-up blocked people just because I know seeing their faces will put me into a tailspin, even if they’ve done nothing wrong to me recently. There are a few people who can ruin my week just by saying “Hi!” through zero fault of theirs. Simply put: Usually when I disappear without saying anything, it really is me, not you.

4) My intrusive thoughts make silence unbearable.
There is no zen with doing menial tasks as promised by generations of monks; instead, my mind will involuntarily ruminate on traumatic memories until I am completely overwhelmed with emotion as though I am back in the moment all over again. It is like walking around with raw nerves exposed all the time. This is when the physically-flinching-while-remembering-a-bad-interaction comes in, which happens at least once every day. Sometimes, I’ll even make a little noise as a response. Again, none of this is on purpose.  On any given day, I could be reliving any trauma from my past, from a sexual assault that happened a couple years ago to a violent instance of bullying in my youth to something hurtful someone casually said the week prior  – my mind just likes dredging crap up from any era to make me feel terrible. Luckily, I’ve learned to recognize that these are just obsessive cycles, and that I shouldn’t act on whatever feeling I’m immersed in, but they’re still pretty torturous to endure every week. So, as much as I enjoy being alone, I do best when I have music or a podcast going. Similarly, I can only meditate with audio guidance.

5) …But Sensory Overload Pisses Me Off.    I had no idea why I got so crabby when there was too much going on around me, but as my anxiety disorder progressed, so did my inability to tolerate even the gentlest of chaos. I can go to places like movies, concerts, or even clubs because there’s one usually major focal point, but often when it’s too loud and there are too many things attempting to get my attention, I magically morph into a megabitch. As aforementioned, anxiety is the body’s tendency to go into fight-or-flight mode when there isn’t any actual threat (a remnant from the days when humans did have to be on alert all the time in order to survive), so someone with the disorder already has heightened sensitivity in those moments; if the sensations get too elevated, it can cause disaster. I’ve had a meltdown just trying to narrow down my clothing choices for a trip to the grocery store before, so the idea of two people trying to talk to me at once while in a bright, noisy area can cause my inner survivalist warrior to unleash her wrath in the moment, to the confusion and irritation of those around me.

6) Traditional talk therapy is counterproductive.   Because I didn’t understand that my compulsive ruminations were a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I never ever assumed that I was on the spectrum  because I’m not a tidy person, I don’t have any tangible rituals, and I don’t exhibit any of the other socially-recognized OCD behaviors. Naturally, I assumed that me remembering all this pain meant I needed to “work on it”, so I went to therapy to talk about the trauma I couldn’t seem to get past. And I talked about all of it. Repeatedly. With multiple doctors. For 12 years. And it still tortured me almost daily. It was only after I learned more about intrusive thoughts in conjunction with anxiety disorders did I realize that this type of cognitive therapy exacerbates the problem by forcing me to focus on it, assign it importance, and allowing it to drain my time and energy while dominating my emotions. Meanwhile, what I should have been learning was how to recognize which of my emotions were warranted and which were fabricated by anxiety’s tendency to put me in fight-or-flight mode for no reason.

7) I’d Rather Drink Than Take Anti-Anxiety Pills.  Alright, listen, I’m not endorsing spending one’s life in a drunken stupor. I’m a fan of yoga and meditation and long hikes in the woods and naps and orgasms to temper my anxiety; they’re my go-tos. However, I do recognize that, when those things aren’t available in a hyper-stimulating social environment, it only takes one drink to shut down my nagging, abusive inner voices and let me be present in the moment without the torture of self-doubt or hyper-analysis ruining my time. This realization was, of course, what first allowed me to self-medicate my undiagnosed depression and anxiety when I was a minor and had no one willing to take me to a mental health professional, and, as a result, I way, waaay overdid it to embarrassing, crippling extremes. Later, I tried Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan (NOT all at once!) as prescribed to try to temper my anxiety, but each quickly ate away at my short-term memory and ability to function day to day. I felt like a zombie with no drive anymore who couldn’t focus or remember anything. When I tried to stop taking any of them for even a day, my anxiety would come back stronger and with more physical symptoms than it had ever been naturally;  these medications made me feel dependent on them more quickly than any other substance I’ve ever tried. I quit as soon as I could, despite being desperate for reprieve. These days, I’m not on anything at all for my depression, anxiety, OCD, or suicidal ideation, and I don’t drink daily or even weekly, but I do recognize that, for me,  grabbing a beer or a glass of wine in a social environment when my demons get too loud is the most manageable, reliable means to actually enjoy myself. It’s not a truth I’m happy with, but it’s one I recognize so I can keep it in check.

8) Oh, and Weed Doesn’t Work on Me at All. To answer your next question: No, Mary J is not my friend. For more than a decade now, I’ve only ever had overwhelming anxiety and paranoia when I try to smoke or eat any strain of the stuff, and in my case, it’s best just to skip it.  Yes, I understand that it’s great for a lot of people’s anxiety and many other mental disorders. I am not one of those people, unfortunately.

9) Education Only Helps So Much. It took a LOT of research for me to figure all this stuff out about myself. I know more about psychology, psychiatry, endocrinology, and reproductive health than anyone with a BA English and no aspirations to work in the medical field really should. Even 15 years of seeing therapists and psychiatrists didn’t educate me about what I was going through as well as reading others’ stories and learning to delineate which of my symptoms were “normal” and which were indicative of a disorder. Many of the tendencies I’ve always had were never addressed or asked about by specialists, so I always assumed that everyone dealt with what I do but could just handle it better than I did… which lead to a lot of self-hatred and self-medication. However, even all these years later of proactively educating myself and chasing treatments (and relief), I’ve had to realize that there’s a lot of this I may always have to live with for forever. Learning how to recognize, manage, and coexist with this is the only DIY project I haven’t abandoned halfway through. While I’m better than ever, I see that this has the potential to continue shifting and changing and I’ll have to navigate it as it evolves.
It’s the full-time job I never applied for but somehow haven’t managed to quit yet. For that, I’m still grateful.

3 Years: Recovery Birthday Update

I really gotta start taking regular-ass selfies for these sorts of posts. Pic by MLA Photography

I really gotta start taking regular-ass selfies for these sorts of posts. Pic by MLA Photography

About 4 or 5 times every year, I’ll have a friend, acquaintance, or sometimes an anonymous reader reach out for insight/help dealing with mental illness issues – whether with themselves or a loved one. At least once every few months, someone will pop up with a “Hey, I’m just starting [fill in the blank antidepressant/anxiety/psychotic medication] and was just wondering if you knew anything about it” or “My S.O is being hospitalized for mania and I have no idea what to do” or “My BFF/sister/parent/child is suicidal and I’m scared.” Look, I honestly never  believe I have any of life’s answers, but in these times, I am so, so grateful to have experienced what I have so I can be someone’s trusted confidante in a social climate where we’re only just starting to normalize mental illness. (For what it’s worth, I don’t get on any of my soapboxes or try to talk anyone out of psychiatric treatment/lecture about the perils of misdiagnosis and/or long-term effects of psychiatric meds. Believe it or not, I’ve actually become quite the supportive listener these days and just give objective, informed answers when asked. Yeah! Really!) I’m happy to be a free, nonjudgmental resource when called on, because clearly that’s an in-demand niche I can easily fill.

This is why, despite still being exhausted with dealing with/talking about my personal psychiatric/depression/suicidal ideation issues, I keep sharing my story publicly on occasion. A close acquaintance once attempted to insult me by accusing me of making “oversharing” my personal brand. Had I not been receiving consistent evidence for years now that my oversharing is directly responsible for presenting an open door for dialogue between myself and people in my social circle who need an insider’s perspective, I might have been offended. Instead, I keep posting blogs like this one and answer when being called on for what knowledge I have (even though I am often positive everyone I know is equally exhausted with me as I am 80% of the time. Thank you all for continuing to prove me wrong. <3)

Today marks 3 years since I finally detoxed off all my psychiatric meds. This feels like a birthday that I actually earned. Three years without manic episodes, psychotic breaks, whole-body aches, or reckless impulsive behaviors I could never explain. Three years of settling into myself and realizing that I’m pretty fucked up, but also, I’m kind of fantastic. Three years of forward movement after more than a decade of waiting. It’s been wonderful.

In case you’re just tuning in, I wrote about this all for XOJane a couple years ago, but here’s the short version: I’ve had suicidal ideation since I was 11. I started antidepressants at 19 when [mis]diagnosed by a university-health-center psych [who would be fired two months later for handing out drugs like candy to students at my college.] The meds made it worse (1 attempt & 2 hospitalizations in the next 4 years) Instead of scrapping my initial doc’s first diagnosis, subsequent doctors kept piling on more meds to treat side effects of what turned out to be too much serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and I became increasingly manic, impulsive, and psychotic over the course of a decade while still bottoming out with suicidal compulsions every couple months. Was given meds for aaaalll that extra garbage as well. On a pile of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, I felt dead and useless for about a year until I realized this was all bullshit and detoxed myself off everything in ‘2014 after 12 years on varied cocktails of prescription drugs. (I did a lot of research about how to detox safely but it still suuuuuucked. #BrainZaps) I also quit birth control during just to get an assessment of myself at “base level” – something no doctor had ever suggested from 2002-2014. Learned in the year afterward that I’m actually fine most of the time, but I have PMDD, which means A) I have soul-crushing depression for a week and full-on suicidal compulsions for about 18-36 hours before I start my period and then I’m fine and B)Taking antidepressants in the weeks when I’m not premenstrual were making me very literally insane. Trying to take antidepressants one week per month just for PMS weren’t worth the side effects, so we focused on just trying to level out my hormones naturally and get a normal, healthy monthly cycle going which made things much, much better. I’m like a different person altogether.

It’s funny; I remember when I got pregnant in ’07, I immediately quit taking any medication and I felt fine. In fact, during my pregnancy, my mental health was the best it had been since I was a kid, but once it was over and I’d finished nursing, my depression and anxiety came back with a vengeance. I can’t believe it took us so long to connect the dots that my depression issues have always been hormonal. (I’ve discussed being angry that no doctor ever mentioned it, but I’m at a place where I’m finally not mad about it anymore. Hell, maybe they were ignorant, too. Best I can do is just keep talking about it.)

I’ve paused my blathering about this so much because I’ve really just wanted to let it breathe. The act of coming out of this era has been its own separate story where I’m rediscovering who I am, what I’m capable of, and where to go from here. In fact, I started seeing a counselor again for a little while in ’16 because I felt stuck in this post-recovery mode and wasn’t sure how to get out. I’d identified as a “sick person” for so long and was so unable to complete anything I really wanted that I had this overwhelming sense of powerlessness once I finally came out the other side. Talking to a psychologist helped me get some perspective and generate some momentum.

What also happened in this latest counseling work is that I learned I’m also on the OCD spectrum, and I always have been… and I’m a little pissed that I never caught it because movies, TV, and popular societal beliefs only represent parts of obsessive-compulsive disorder that don’t apply to me at all. I don’t wash or clean obsessively (seriously, clutter is where I thrive) and I don’t have any life-altering rituals (delusion-based or otherwise), so I would never have assumed I was OCD at all had I not read Mara Wilson’s book and learned more about the other aspects of the disorder (like that it’s under the gigantic umbrella of anxiety disorders, for example.) I started doing research and was shocked that I’ve had symptoms of this all along. I’ve always counted stairs and paces, for example. But even more destructively, I have always had obsessive ruminations that are invasive, involuntary, and distracting. I’ve had them forever. I’ve tried prayer, meditation, yoga, ancient rituals (yes. literally), drinking myself to oblivion, and everything short of animal sacrifice to banish them from my brain, thinking that this revisiting of trauma incessantly was something I was just too lazy or stupid to control – or thinking that it meant something about my psyche and how I was still damaged goods and needed to “fix” myself in perpetuity – instead of just having a mental tic.  Had I been diagnosed with OCD originally, I would’ve immediately been advised that spending years and thousands of dollars in therapy trying to pick apart the “whys” and “hows” of my specific fixations is dangerously counterproductive and only exacerbates the problem. So, effectively, all that time in therapy really was making me sicker and more obsessive… and more stagnant.

God damn it.

In a plot twist: It’s okay. I’m not wasting my time being mad about any of it. Part of dealing with this variety of OCD is learning how to take power away from things I tend to stay fixated on – like things in the past that I can’t change and tend to want to part out endlessly. I’m actually really proud of how much better I’m doing with changing my mental habits, even though thinking about all the time I lost in madness makes me unbearably sad and frustrated if I stop to think about it… which I avoid..which is new for me…

Aside from that, I was positively (finally) diagnosed with PCOS in the last year. This contributes tremendously to the whole hormone fuckery thing, so recently, my focus has been about reframing eating habits (UUUUUAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHITBUUUUUURRRNSSS), keeping an eye on blood sugar, making sure to get exercise everysingledaynomatterwhat, and readjusting my sleep schedule.

Oh yeah! That’s another fun thing!  Until my official diagnosis [and subsequent lifestyle changes], I’d been having night terrors more and more frequently, usually in the form of hallucinations that I can see in the dark as I’m waking up screaming [to my husband’s absolute delight.] So, I’m asleep, then I’m terrified, then I wake up, then I see a nonsensical vision (like a man painted all blue dressed as a clown standing over me in the darkness, for example), all in the course of 2 seconds.  It’s superfun, y’guys! My daughter calls them “jump scares”, which puts a comforting sense of humor on it. Incidentally, I’ve always had what was called “exploding head sydrome” which – holy shit – sounds WAY more dramatic than it is, but it’s when, as you’re drifting to sleep, you suddenly get an audio hallucination like an organ blaring or a horn honking or someone yelling that jolts you awake. Those started for me in my tween years, but I never thought anything of it because they were periodic and I had a unibrow to worry about. As all this hormone crap has progressed over the years, so have the sleep disturbances. Once I figured out what was causing the hallucinations and that we didn’t need  to exorcise the house, I’ve learned how to keep it under wraps by curbing my drinking and tendency to stay up until all hours.

So, basically, if I’m sober and in bed by 9 pm, I won’t be terrorized by demons all night… Sounds like a premise for a church youth group’s terrible scare-tactic propaganda video.

As much as I hate reporting new diagnoses (because GOOD LORD have I had a heap of them in the last howeverfuckinglong we’ve been doing this), these two are actually spot-on, and manageable. And, as a result, so is my life for a change.

The monthly depression hasn’t vanished, by the way, but because I’ve gotten better, I can handle it better. I treat my suicidal tendencies as though I’m a werewolf; my PMDD-based self-harm compulsions come around for about a day during the full moon and, knowing it’s going to suck but I’m going to survive it, I just make preparations to hunker down and ride it out alone until it’s passed. Listen, I’ve been dealing with being at total-crisis-mode/completely-on-the-brink-of-killing-myself every month for 20 years now, and I’m still alive. I’m at the point where I can look at my oncoming Crazy, scoff “Biiiiitch, please. You got nothing”, and lie in bed eating fully-loaded baked potatoes for a couple days till I’m back to myself. It’s not glamorous, but it’s better than anything else I’ve tried.

And for about 20 days out of the month, I’m comfortable, I’m calm, and I’m finding a groove for what feels like the first time ever. I’m thinking for myself for a change; I’m embracing the things that make me happier and finally ignoring all those expectations from other people that I’ve always felt like were more important than my own; and I’m getting out of the house and having a life again. I feel happier and more grounded than I can remember being since I was a kid, and while my confidence isn’t quite back to 8-year-old-Liz-level, I’m just so damn happy to still be around to work toward it.

Things I am a Hypocrite About: Part II

Principle: One of my biggest pet peeves is Hollywood naming movies after famous songs. It’s awful.
Hypocrisy: I’ve been able to quote every line of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun: The Movie” since I was 8 years old.



Principle: I advocate for suicide awareness and prevention, having served on a committee of volunteers for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for three years now.
Hypocrisy: I strongly believe in the right to die and advocate for its legalization everywhere. I plan to exercise this right should my health reach a turning point when I am a senior citizen and, frankly, I much prefer that method than slow deterioration at the expense of my loved ones’ resources.

Principle: I tried to read both Twilight and  50 Shades and couldn’t stomach either despite my earnest attempts to understand the appeal. They’re cringeworthy garbage…
Hypocrisy:have read Steve-O’s book and watched every single “Jackass” thing that’s ever been released… multiple times. I like my garbage to be self-realized, I guess.

Principle: Women deserve just as much of a social platform as men and it’s wonderful that we’re finally getting representation in so many facets. Even if its often used as a PR maneuver from various media at the moment, after awhile it will be the norm and this makes me happy.
Hypocrisy: “The View” is embarrassing drivel. I’m embarrassed it’s still on the air. And WHAT HAPPENED, Whoopi?! None of this is helping. I’ll protect your right to produce it, but I’m gonna continue to be bothered every time I have to see it in some medical waiting room.

Principle: I’m very comfortable with nudity. I’ve been working on and off as a nude/artist’s model for the last 16 years and feel very comfortable posing without anything on.
Hypocrisy: I started believing that women my size/shape “shouldn’t” wear shorts around the time I was 18. Other than a few times at the gym and over a bathing suit, I haven’t worn a single pair in public since the summer of ’99. I gotta change that.


SPOILER ALERT* 4: Thoughts I Had Watching “The Usual Suspects” for the First Time in 2016

Thoughts I Had While Watching “The Usual Suspects” for the First Time in 2016

In Chronological Order

~ It’s weird how I know precisely nothing about this movie except that Kaiser Soze is the guilty mastermind. And it’s Kevin Spacey. And he totally gets away with it because it’s all an act. So literally all I know about this movie is the answer to the twist ending/riddle.

~Kevin Spacey looks like Voldemort on this witness stand.

~ Is that the restaurant they always visit/piss off in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” when they want a “fancy dinner out”? Where was this movie filmed? And how old is it? And what else has Bryan Singer done? Why do I know that name? GOOD LORD I know nothing about this movie. …Have I ever seen The Lesser Baldwin in a movie ever?… What am I even doing with my life?!

~Why is it that Kevin Pollak always makes me feel safe when he’s on screen? He’s like Kevin Costner in that way… But not really Kevins Sorbo or Spacey, so it isn’t a middle-aged, white Kevin thing… #NotAllKevins

~ When I was a kid, I always got Dan Hedaya confused with the guy who played Al on “Quantum Leap”…of course, I also used to get Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin’s names mixed up for some reason, so I wasn’t at all reliable with actor identification as a child.

~Ohhhh, I’m going to be Kevin-Spacey-chilling-in-the-back-of-this-van-and-casually-smoking-through-the-black-fishnets-over-his-face-while-pointing-an-automatic for Halloween.

~….Wait… If the corrupt cops got robbed while “taxiing” some smuggler for huge money, how did they suddenly get busted for all kinds of corruption just because their car got set on fire? I’m confused. If the whole department was guilty of years of corruption, wouldn’t they have better ways of covering that up? Was a cop car assault randomly investigated by the feds? I need answers, guys. This seems flimsy.

~ SHOOT BALDWIN COME ON!!… Whoa. Where did that come from, Self? Why am I cheering for these guys? I barely understand what’s going on here. Why am I so invested? Is it the power of two Kevins on one team?

~ Did they even hire a costume designer for this or did they all just bring their won wardrobe? Real Question.


~ This was the movie college bros used to quote mercilessly while attempting to sound intellectual/hard before “Fight Club” came along, wasn’t it?

~ I’m going to be honest; if I didn’t know the ending had a twist, I’d be done watching this. I’m 1hr 15 min in and bored out of my mind. This Keaton fella has precisely zero personality. I’d rather watch jeans being hand-woven than this character anymore. And this relationship of his we keep seeing is completely devoid of chemistry. Was it supposed to feel stale and bland and awkward because if so, nailed it!

~Sorry, but after watching a brutal rape and murder-of-children-and-wife scene in less than a minute, all the other gun violence feels inconsequential. I do not care about these drug dealers and con men shooting at each other on a boat. I know, I know. Being a woman ruins everything.  Damn consciousness and social-awareness getting in the way.

~ Verbal’s breakdown at the Keaton revelation has him sobbing with zero tears. C’mon man. Menthol drops on your fingers. Earn that Oscar.

~ How have I seen this entire ending sequence before but nothing else? Like, the whole last two minutes…

~…. And why didn’t he make up a story before he got to the police station?

~ Dude, showing an overweight black gal when he says “I mean, like, ‘orca’ fat” is more than a bit problematic even by 90’s standards.

~…Hunh… Alright.
… I bet this would’ve packed more of a punch had I not known the twist at the end, right?

*SPOILER ALERT is a series developed as a product of my many, many recent sick days spent lethargic, despondent, achy, and unable to do more than catch up on all those movies everyone saw years and years ago that I’m just now getting around to.

SPOILER ALERT 3: “Pet Sematary”

When I was a kid, I was the oldest of four in a relatively conservative household, so instead of catching new releases in the theatre, I got a lot of my movie exposure from reading the book version, which explains why I still own the paperback novelizations of “Home Alone” and “My Girl”, but didn’t see those movies until they’d been on VHS for a few years. Anyway, when I was about 11, I went on a Stephen King bender and read all his 80’s classics in about two weeks and then never watched the movies, so to this day, I’ve never seen “Children of the Corn”, “IT”, “Christine”, “Cujo”, or “Pet Sematary”.
I realize the social implications of these omissions and have been working to remedy this.

Now seems as good a time of year as ever, so here are:
My Thoughts While Watching “Pet Sematary” for the First Time as an Adult in 2016

~ Alright, 3 minutes into the movie and both children have been put in potentally-mortal danger, so the theme here is “Negligent Parenting”. Got it.

~ Why does this Mom character look familiar? She’s got sunglasses on but I know I know that face…

~ Ellie just asked a complete stranger “Are clams really happy?” after he told her she’d be happy as a clam in her new house. Ellie is what, 6? I don’t care what happens in this movie; I’m #TeamEllie

~ OH IT’S TASHA YAR!!! That’s the Mom character… Oh no… She got booted from the first season of Star Trek: TNG and had to go do this low budget horror flick? Now I feel even worse for Denise Crosby. She just kept getting the shaft, man.

~ How do they train kitties for movies? Why don’t Hollywood cat trainers get more awards? Do they have some sort of psychic connection that enables them to manipulate a cat for film?

~Wait, HOW is neutering a cat going to keep it from being hit by a car?! What kind of backwoods pseudoscience…?

~AAAAAHHHHSUDDENBLOODBRAINSKULL. Oh, he dead, y’all. Don’t even close the curtain, doc…. Ew, what kind of jerk starts talking to a dead guy and blaming him for his problems?!

~ GOOD! I’m glad that dead guy woke up, spit blood on you, called you by name, and chanted some weird curse at you. Maybe you’ll think twice about blaming him for your problems.

~ Hey it’s BloodBrainSkull guy again! And this time he’s all smarmy and smug and casually in your house. Again, I say GOOD. But I can only understand, like, half of what this dead guy is saying, if we’re being honest. If a ghost tries to warn you about something but he’s unintelligeable, how does that work? Are you in the clear? Is he free from his courier burden?

~ AAaaand the cat’s already dead.

~ Listen, I don’t care how ominous my elderly neighbor is, I’m not following him through the woods and over a rocky mountain with a dead cat and shovels in tow without first asking questions about what the hell is objective is. And I’m definitely not going to go through all that for hours and then agree to keep the whole thing a secret without actually knowing what we just did.

~ WHAT IS WITH THIS OLD MAN?! He drags the doc through the woods to bury his dead cat knowing it’d bring the cat back to life, but also knowing the cat would come back slightly demonic and violent!?  This man is not your friend, Doc.

~ Ohhhhh, that kittie is too chubbie and sweeet to be mean. Even with glowy eyes, flinging rats into the bathtub, I wanna snuggle it. I don’t blame him for being mad, either; I’d be pissed if my owner moved me to the middle of nowhere, lopped off my genitals, found me all murdered, dragged me across the county, and then buried me in a cursed lot to come back from the dead so he wouldn’t have to explain his pet owning negligence to his kid. Haunt away, kitty.

~ Oh. Oh the maid just killed herself. That was the first thing I legitimately didn’t see coming. In their basement? Why would you kill yourself at work?
Hunh. Okay.


~ Now we’re getting a story about Tasha Yar’s sister slowly dying of meningitis in a back room and everyone being happy when she finally bit it. Look, I know her name isn’t Tasha Yar in this movie, but we know who I’m talking about, right? Let her enjoy that character since the TNG writers clearly didn’t.
…No, I’m not letting this go. JUSTICE FOR YAR

~ Trucker recklessly driving while listening to the Ramones. Small child playing with kite in a field. Wonder where this is going.

~ Oh man. I knew that was coming but Jesus that was rough to watch. Well staged though. Point made.

~…say what you want about “helicopter parents”, but toddlers aren’t playing traffic very often these days.

~ This older sister wailing in the other room is the worst fake crying I’ve ever heard. That’s not hyperbole. It’s off-camera; couldn’t they find a voice actor for this?

~  Man, someone got punched at a funeral and I couldn’t even enjoy it. Dammit, I was counting on this movie being so bad it was laugh-worthy, but now I want to go get my kid from school and take her out for ice cream and never stop hugging her.


~ OKAY AGAIN. This old guy is back, sitting in the doc’s kitchen telling him another story about a dude who got buried in the cursed mound and came back all demon-y. He’s saying “The ground went sour so the Indians stopped using it. That place is evil.” So this man has been sitting on TWO stories that prove that spot is bad news, but he still took the doc up there to see what happens?!

~ Sure yeah. Your dad punches your husband at your toddler’s funeral, but definitely go stay with your parents for a while, Tasha Yar. Boundaries.

~ This acting isn’t going to get better, is it?

~ Doc, think this through. First of all, the bloody ghost of a dead guy you didn’t even know is standing there telling you not to, you know, dig up your dead kid or mess with the burial ground… again. That alone should be reason enough to let it go. Secondly, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO EXPLAIN TO YOUR FAMILY THAT YOUR DEAD KID IS BACK?!?!?!

~ This bloody-headed ghost looks gross but he really just cares about people, I think. He could be hanging out in the afterlife, visiting dead relatives and rock stars or even watching over his own friends and family, but instead he’s trying to save this complete stranger from poor decision-making. He’s the real MVP.

~ Uh oh. Yar is losing it, too. But look how helpful Captain Bloodhead is being! He’s a delight! I’d be okay with my guardian angel looking like that as long as his protection stays so thorough. This guy’s interventions are impeccable.

~ …He’s also the most intriguing part of this movie. The doc is dragging his dead kid’s corpse along on a midnight mountain hike and Tasha Yar is Catherine-O’Hara-in-Home-Alone-ing her way back to him and this is all still feeling very underwhelming.

~ Ohhhhbutlookat that sweet. little. demon. kittie. So sweet. Little fat floof.

~ The toddler is back and unpacking surgical knives while muttering to himself after his resurrection. Also, the demon cat is getting agitated. If this ends with a toddler and a kittie destroying everyone, this might become my new favorite movie.

~ WHY IS THIS OLD MAN ALWAYS AROUND?! He’s lived in this town forever; doesn’t he have friends his own age? He’s still pretty spry and hardy. Surely he has a couple drinking buddies.

~ I always wonder what kind of parents put their kids in movies like this. I’m watching a toddler biting and then sucking blood out of an elderly man’s neck before we had CGI technology which seems like it should cross some child-protection regulations. I hope they did that in one take… Even the kid from “The Shining” wasn’t subjected to the really scary stuff during filming.

~ Where did Gage get this stepped up outfit after he murdered that old man? Being demonic gives you hypermature smarts, skills, AND style? And how is he defeating these adults? Who can’t take a 4 year old if it comes to blows?
…And how is he calling people on the phone?!

~ Did they sedate a real kitty for this movie!?!?!? NOOOOO!!!!
Once again, Hollywood is the real evil here.

~ What happened to that maid who killed herself? What was that about? Are we going to see her again? Why was she necessary to the story?

~ The old guy just died by being bitten in the neck briefly? He couldn’t just get up and apply pressure to the wound? What were his hands doing while he was being bitten? He couldn’t just throw the kid off?

~Okay, Doc. Burn down your neighbor’s house after your wife and neighbor were suspiciously murdered “by your demon toddler son when he came back from the dead.” Totally solid narrative.
…and then bury your dead wife in the Demon Lot.
…and then make out with her when she drags herself back into your house.
… and then act surprised when she stabs you.
I don’t usually believe in victim blaming, but dude…

~ I’m angry at every single person who told me this movie was scary now. This wasn’t even fun garbage. I need a palate cleanser.

…. Is “IT” any better?

SPOILER ALERT 2: Thoughts I Had Watching “White Men Can’t Jump” for the First Time in 2016

While I was going through a rough health spell this summer, I spent my sick days catching up on all those movies of yore I should’ve seen but never got around to. These are my inner thoughts about each one.
(Please hum the “Law & Order” Theme to yourself at this juncture)

Thoughts about “White Men Can’t Jump” In Chronological Order

~ Alright, first and foremost, you guys should know that my initial exposure to Wesley Snipes was watching “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” 4,000 times before I saw him in anything else, so every time I see him, I’m just looking for signs of Noxeema Jackson. Just a heads up.

~ Man, this snaps battle is taking me right back to 2nd-5th grade. I miss a good “Yo Mama” joke. Times would be so much simpler if we were just resorting to that sort of rhetoric to settle our differences.
I smell a masters thesis coming on…

~ I am LIVING for this early-90’s-in-LA fashion!! COME THROUGH Color-blocked Spandex Romper! YAAAAS Doorknockers! I. Am. Here. For. This.
If someone snaps in a “Z” formation, I might lose consciousness.

~ So, I’m 20 minutes into this movie and, I gotta say, this is deliciously simple in its pacing and premise setup. We are taking our time, setting a scene, getting to know these guys and how they create a dynamic on the court. This is beautiful and doesn’t happen enough anymore in modern film. If this was made today, this whole scene would’ve lasted 5 minutes. This could work as a stage play. It’s fantastic.

~ Seriously, though, the smack talk in this dialogue. Oscar-worthy.

~ Hang on. These two dudes have teamed up to hustle the street ball scene in LA with the assumption that nobody will think that Woody/Billy/The White Guy can ball without considering that if they pull that crap even one time in front of an audience, people are going to talk about “the white dude showing everyone up and taking off with the money” all over South Central and their new gig will be over? Come on, even a white girl from the Southern suburbs can see this isn’t a sustainable plan.

~ Wait. Wait. Wait. Rosie Perez’s character Gloria is smart enough to know that Billy got hustled by his partner, but not smart enough to know that sitting around drinking vodka and studying to be on Jeopardy isn’t the best career option for her?

~ GIRL. You’re grinding on him from the car to the shower and then in bed?! SLOW DOWN. You’re making the rest of us look just awful. I mean, I appreciate the effort but that car trick won’t work away from a green screen.

~ Snipes’ screen wife gets ALL the credit for being a class act. Another woman showed up to her house to call her husband a thief and a liar, and this gal invited her in for a drink and to talk to her with respect, even though she doesn’t agree at all. Your taste in men is questionable, ma’am but well done on breaking down stereotypes of women hating women.

~ Oh sure. A guy finds out his partner swindled him out of $1,000 and is in a screaming match with him and his friends because he owes some mobsters money or he’ll die, but they all get distracted by a basketball game on TV and let the whole thing go. Sounds about right.

~ RealTalk™: Was this movie a way to introduce street ball to the white mainstream? Are we going to have a white-knight moment with Woody Harrelson saving the day?
Ohmahgah… we are, aren’t we?

~ These two mobster thugs trying to get money from Billy really illustrate how severely the mullet turned on pop culture. In the late-80’s and early-90’s, it was a legitimate haircut and then suddenly it was a national joke. It’s the hair version of Hootie & the Blowfish or Dane Cook.

~ I’m confused. Billy keeps getting held at gunpoint but never giving up any money, he’s making a drunk Gloria super angry at him pretty much daily, he’s walking around South Central talking smack to everyone including the one frenemy he has in LA… How has he not gotten the bejesus kicked out of him yet?! Not even a scratch and these thugs keep chasing him down and dragging him out to secluded threat spots.

~ This trio with the half-bleached flat top man buns are incredible. I hope they at least got SAG cards for this appearance.

~ We’re back with the snaps and I’m cackling like a crazyperson at this guy screaming for Woody Harrelson to tell Aunt Bea she’s going to get her ass kicked as a hypothetical insult tie-in to him being Opie from Mayberry. It’s like a snap that jumped the shark.

~ Oh noooo Wesley Snipes said The Title Line.
He fully asserted that “White Men Can’t Jump”.
And now Woody Harrelson is betting all the money Gloria is counting on to prove that he can, in fact, jump.
And dunk a ball.
And I bet dunking is The Thing That Saves The Day At The End of the Movie.
Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuugggggggggggghhhhhhh... Come ON…kind of lazy ass writing is this…





~ I’m crying with happiness to the Jeopardy! theme now. The old retrotastic theme. I just want it for her so bad.

~ Gloria on Jeopardy! isn’t just my new favorite Halloween costume idea, it’s what I aspire to. She is my goddess now. I bow to her.

~ Movie’s over as far as I’m concerned. Gloria got on Jeopardy! I’m done.

~ Waitgirlno!! Why did you take him back!? Why are you on top during sex again!? You don’t have to work so much this round. KNOW YOUR WORTH, GLORIA. … wh-Don’t give him money!! NOOOOOOO!!!!

~ She just dumped him while she was on roller blades! Yes. YAS. Skate away from the bullshit. Put on that Walkman to tune out his garbage. This is the 90’s breakup fantasy I never knew I had.

~ Aaaaaand there it is. He dunked the ball. The White Man CAN Jump and therefore save the day for everyone hallelujah. But now he’s broke, he’s lost his pretty fantastic girlfriend and he only kind of has one friend who barely tolerates him. Awesome. Why did people see this? To soothe fears that white people and black people couldn’t get along?

… Don’t answer that… I can’t bear the obvious… Dammit, white people…wmcj3

SPOILER ALERT: Thoughts I had Watching “The Karate Kid” for the First Time as an Adult in 2016

My health wasn’t great for a few months this summer, and I spent a lot more time than I’m happy with lying in bed and staring into space. (I can’t even read very well on those days, which was torture.) To keep from wallowing in depression about how this isn’t the life I want for myself, I started watching all those classic movies I know I should’ve seen but never got around to for some reason.

Because I don’t have the joy of talking about these movies like I would’ve had I seen them when they were still relevant, I recorded my inner monologue during each screening, which I will now share with you.

You’re welcome.

Thoughts on the Original “Karate Kid” (1984)

First and Foremost/Awful Confession: I FINALLY get the “Wax on, wax off” reference. All these years I’ve really thought it was some obscure car wax brand commercial from the 80’s that I was too young to see (I was born in ’83). So THIS WHOLE TIME I’ve been smiling and nodding awkwardly when people say “wax on, wax off”.

I’ve been living a lie, is what I’m saying here.

Thoughts in Chronological Order

~ Ralph Macchio can get it. Wait… How old is he in this movie? (:::does the Googles::) Oh good! 22! That puts me in cougar territory, but he’s still legal.
And no, I’m not going to bother learning his character’s name because it’s too late for me to absorb that information at this point in my life.

~ Oh, hold on a second. Who’s his friend at the beach party with the curly hair and the big nose and the red headband? He’s way more my type. (:::goes to IMDB to search obscure-80’s teen extra:::)

~ Really? Another role with Elisabeth Shue playing the generic, personality-less girlfriend of the protagonist? Was Disney really the only one to give her a break in the 80’s?! At least in “The Saint”, she has cold fusion going for her…

~ Wait. Did the mom just straight up lie about having a decent job in LA on top of the no-pool-no-nice-house thing? Is that part of the “Everything sucks for Macchio” motif or did I miss something? Is she waiting tables?

~ I’m disappointed that “Cobra Kai” wasn’t spelled with two K’s since it’s clearly a training center for the Aryan brotherhood. This seems like where I imagine Mens Rights Activist dads send their slightly effeminate sons when they’ve been waitlisted at conversion therapy centers.

~ OH SHIT MIYAGI BUSTING HEADS!!! This is satisfying! More of this please!!
… We won’t get more of this, will we?

~QUIT WHINING, Macchio, GAWD. Miyagi is building your strength and muscle memory, obviously. You’ve had three days of mindless hard labor with nothing to think about except Elisabeth Shue and hating your mom, and you couldn’t figure this out?!

~… See? Jeez.

~I’m gonna be honest; there is a lot more back-and-forth subplot noise about the love interest than I care to see. This is a snooze. Does this pay off? Does she somehow save the day? Is she a secret ninja warrior who is going to murder everyone at the end? Why are we watching their every move on these dates? Is she gonna get knocked up? Where is this going?
If this whole storyline ends with them just kissing victoriously, I’m going to sprain something rolling my eyes.

~ I do love how unprocessed and natural everyone looks, though. Like, they keep calling Elisabeth “blonde” even though it’s really just super light brown. That would never happen these days, but there was such a different dynamic in teen movies up until recently. Even in “Clueless”, Cher and her friends look only lightly made-up; she wasn’t a bleached, emaciated caricature of a teen like Hollywood insists on presenting in modern films. I miss when people on screen weren’t hyperstylized at every single turn.

~ Wh-why is this the first time I’m experiencing the Miyagi Drinking Song ever!? Why isn’t THIS the most quoted thing in the movie?! This is the best drunk-singing scene since Robert Shaw.

~I’m having issues dealing with Miyagi’s sadness. I’m not prepared for this magnificent badass to be drunk and melancholy. This is too much like Early-20’s Me for my comfort.

~ Here comes Inevitable 80’s Training Montage!!!
…OH NOOO. This song isn’t just a fake song made up by the “South Park” guys as a joke about hilariously cheesy 80’s montage songs?!
Man, I have a lot more pop culture blind spots than I thought going into this.

~ What’s the deal with Old Dude Befriending Young Dude Buddy Films (Featuring Elisabeth Shue) from the mid-80s? At least this kid was new to town; what was Marty McFly’s excuse?

~ SECOND EMBARRASSING CONFESSION: Alright, also, I thought it was “Sweep the lake, Johnny” because, on Patton Oswalt’s 2007 comedy masterpiece “Werewolves and Lollipops” album, he uses that term in reference to taking a girl to buy Plan B after a one-night stand and he blurts it out and I heard “lake” and when you’re looking for dead bodies in a lake or a field, it’s called a “sweep”, so I 1) had no idea it was a Karate Kid reference and 2) have been saying “Sweep the lake” like an idiot for about a decade now.
This exercise is allowing me to face a lot of truths about myself.

~ Wait. That’s it? He won the contest so now he’s not going to get the crap beaten out of him by the Hitler Youth Ninjas supposedly? And that’s it?

~ Ohhh, that wasn’t it. There’s the victorious kiss from Elisabeth Shue… She’s not a secret ninja and Miyagi is still sad and alone. :::sigh:::

~ Okay, honestly, this is a satisfying enough story about humility and inner growth and strength. I get why it was a hit for the kids; it’s basically Rocky Jr. But what happens in the sequels if his self-empowerment storyline is over? Was it just a Mighty Ducks thing where the stakes in every film get higher and higher? Is he battling the Yakuza by Karate Kid 3?