The Sleepless Anecdote

One might think there’s something romantic about a late night. The dim lights, the silent house, the rustle of the wind outside.

There isn’t. I couldn’t sleep. I got into bed at 10:30 and fell asleep at 4:30. That’s six hours of non-romance. It was frustrating. The crazy thing was, my brain was totally awake and processing the implications of the situation while also enjoying the game of keeping me awake.

I finished reading The Bell Jar. I watched three episodes of Friends. I meditated. I ate cereal. I took everything off my bed and put it all back. I solved a math question.

I did everything but sleep. My body is like “you suck” and my brain is like “yay I won!” and I’m like dead.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

Insomnia for the win,

Ella

Song Quote:

Even when you’re sleeping, keep your eye-eyes open. -Eyes Open, Taylor Swift

P.s. Happy second birthday “Sick and Sick of It”!!! Rather than creating a virtual cake with candles, you’re each invited to just write a wish in the comments below. I think my wish is obvious at this point.

Advertisements

I’m Going Home

 

antique-art-curtains-home-photo-Favim.com-136368

Not my window, but a dreamy window indeed

 

I can totally do this.

The past few days have been filled with pain and the past few nights have been filled with consciousness. I am tired and tired of studying. I am sick and suffering, but I can do this.

Two tests left. My window is open to let the cold, crisp air in and onto my face, and every now and then I remember to breathe. I have a playlist of Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Beyoncé to keep me from getting too bored of my material, and a yellow highlighter that matches my dried mango (god’s gift to man).

A classic study set-up.

Not only am I motivated and uplifted by the light I can glimpse at the end of the tunnel, but I now have something to look forward to: I’m going home. I moved away from my hometown when I was 7, and in many ways where I live now is a larger part of my identity. It’s where my family is, where most of my friends are, my school, and my past ten years of life. This culture now feels as much an inseparable part of my identity as the culture of my early childhood.

But still, the thought of going back for a visit makes the words “I’m going home!” shout in my mind, bang around and jump up and down (primarily as I try to study). For once I have something to look forward to, and by golly, is it uplifting.

I just feel like I can do this, I can make it through these tests and then go home. The first time I went back to visit was many years after we moved away, and at the sight of my neighborhood I began to cry in the back of the cab. Those tears were because I missed it all and I wished we’d never moved. The tears I’m sure will come this time will not be the same. I’m no longer a 7-year-old girl. In a few months time I will turn 18 and I will need to accept that the fibromyalgia will become a part of my adult life too.

This time I will cry because I really need a break from the reality of my life that is so often sad and frustrating.

This time I will cry tears of joy, because despite it all I love the person I have become and I know I would not be the same if we had never moved away.

This time I will cry, and then leave the tears aside and focus on being where I am. The Dalai Lama said that there are only two days that do not exist: yesterday and tomorrow. In my life, my yesterdays always carry over to my todays (in the form of a headache) and I can’t help but worry about all of my tomorrows.

This time I will cry.

Yours,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Millions of miles from home in the swirling, swimming on, when I’m rolling with the thunder, but bleed from thorns, leave a light, leave a light on. –Midnight, Coldplay

 

Stay tuned for part 2! I plan to write all about my trip.

Part 1: I’m Going Home

Part 2: I’m Home!

A Letter to My Enemy

Writing-A-Letter

Dear Fibromyalgia,

I’d like to talk doogree with you.

           Doogree- straightforwardly, with no beating around the bush

I am no longer naïve enough to believe that despite your presence I can make my life the way I’d like it to be. I am old enough now to realize that I can never make peace with you. I will never be my truest self until I am rid of you.

Did you hear that? I will not be free until I am free of you.

You are constricting me. You are suffocating me. You are the enemy I fear, the pain I dread, and the negative I cannot escape. You. Suck.

My friends wonder how I do it, how I live with you in my life. I wonder why.

I just want to make sure you are not mistaken on this: we are not friends. It has been years and I tolerate you, but that does not mean I do not hate you with every fiber of my being.

See what I did there?

There is not much more to say.

The next time I write to you, I hope it will be a goodbye.

Ella

Song Quote:

Light up, light up, as if you have a choice. –Run, Snow Patrol

The True Reason You Should Be Kind

How cool is the world? I mean, seriously, how cool is it? Because I think it’s pretty freaking cool. There are just so many people. Every single one of them has a name, has thoughts, feelings, and a story. Then I think of how many people have lived since ever, how many nights have been slept through and how many sunrises watched. How many breaths have been breathed!!! The average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day, and there are about 7.2 billion people alive today. And that’s just one single day…

I am the only person who will ever be me, and there is so much to me. That means that… it’s just… wow. I can’t wrap my mind around the vastness of it all.

I think these thoughts more often than is probably normal (we’re talking at least once a day, usually more), but especially prompted by two things: good news and bad news.

The good news is when I’m uplifted, when I realize how awesome and incredible the world is (in other words, a Big Thinking Moment). Things like the “Project for Awesome” remind me how many people have good values and are creative and inspiring. Music and books and movies remind me that I am not alone. Nature brings me back to earth (literally), and it’s when I feel peaceful and whole that I value the beauty of our surroundings and remember to stay connected to it. My family and friends remind me how lucky I am to have them. Or all of these at the same time.

FullSizeRender

Had quite the onslaught of Big Thinking Moments as I stood staring at this and wondering how the colors could possibly be natural. I didn’t edit this picture at all — it was real life, in all it’s glory.

The bad news is when I hear about suffering. War makes me sad, and I become sadder when I realize that if we haven’t yet found a way to eradicate it, we are not as developed as we think we are. My hopelessness strips away the beauty I previously saw. Racism, cruelty, prejudice, hate, torture, rape, murder… I lose my faith in humanity, if only for a few moments. This is when I realize that if there are so many people in the world and we each experience hardships, there’s a sh*t-load of hardship going around.

The bad news is also what leads to me keeping things in perspective and not taking anything for granted. So on the personal scale I suppose you could say I find a way to make something positive of it, but in reality it just sucks and I hate the world sometimes.

I would say I range from being realistic and practical to being truly optimistic, and this is what keeps me going. My ability to find good and change the way I look at situations is something I have worked to cultivate and plan to fall back on throughout life.

So the way I approach the bad news? I try to be nice. Because yes, there are those with a vision who can change the world, and yes, I could set myself the goal of being one of those people, but that isn’t me (at least not yet). What I can do now is see people. I can notice when they’re having a hard time and need a kind word or gesture. I can tell when they need to be recognized for their personal successes and their abilities, and I try to do that for them. I also just say “hi” and ask how they are because I genuinely want to know. The ways are endless…

This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. This doesn’t mean I’m a good person. What this means is that I’m trying. That is all that can be asked of a person, and that is what I ask of you: please, try to be nice to all of those around you. Small gestures can make such a difference to people, and I’m not going to get all cliché and say that together we can change the world, but together we can make someone happy. Maybe that’s enough.

In the words of the great Ellen Degeneres, be kind to one another. Bye-bye.

Ella

Song Quote:

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain. -Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd

On Self Defense and Being Awkward

images-13

A* has intimidated my entire grade since we were in our early teens. He’s tall, broad, staring and deep-voiced. One might think his stutter could even out the playing field a bit, but it simply gives him an additional edge: it’s ominous.

When his legs were hurt this summer, my friend and I wanted to go visit him in the hospital to be nice and show we cared. But what do you bring with you to visit someone you don’t really know? I had no clue as to what to bring, say or do. So I went with what I know: writing. I wrote him a card. Damn that stupid card.

We got there and instantly felt out of place, because his friends were there and he didn’t really know us that well. And we were intimidated. We tried to stick as close to the wall as possible to leave room for the people he actually liked to be near him. We kind of wanted to leave, but we were dependent on busses to get home and we didn’t want to wait outside the hospital for forever. So we stood, awkwardly, praying we disappeared into the background.

Finally, an hour later, it was time to go catch our bus. But I was still holding the letter that I’d taken out of my bag as we’d entered, and had since clasped in my clammy claws of hands. Eventually I said, “Where can I put this?” and he said, “Here, you can give it to me.” I passed it to him, wanting to snatch it back and burn it.

Months later, I was sitting in the school lobby and looked up to see him standing next to me. Standing. I squeaked out “hi!” (Intimidated).

“Hey. How are you?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. You’re walking!”

“Limping,” he corrected, and thus ended our interaction.

After that, they told us in class to bring our gym clothing for the next day, because A was going to teach us some self-defense. A few weeks before there had been an incident with a knife outside our school that ended, thankfully, with no injuries, but with an injured sense of security.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to participate fully, I decided to at least dress the part. I might stand out because of everything else, but I refuse to stick out because of my clothing. So I come in my t-shirt, leggings and sneakers, and slowly take in that everyone else on the field is dressed normally. So much for that.

I also knew that I would have to let A and the other instructor know in advance that I wouldn’t be taking part in everything and I would be more of an observer. In theory, that part shouldn’t have been so bad.

Except that I miscalculated how far away they were from me. I started off at my normal walking pace, which I wouldn’t call slow but also can’t categorize as fast. If they hadn’t looked up I would have been fine. I would have had my time to collect my thoughts and call out to them in my own time. But they looked up, and saw me coming from a distance. They halted their conversation and focused on watching me approach them. Let me stress this: they were just standing there, watching me walk to them. Eye contact? Yeah, there was some of that. Awkward eye contact? Yeah, heaps of that. I kept walking and walking and walking and it felt like I might never reach them.

Then came the dilemma: do I speed up, now that they see me coming? I mean, these hulks of men might get impatient and why would I want to add fire to their wrath? But I decided to stick to my original pace, feeling that that might exude a sense of calm and normalcy about my gait. Once I was within earshot, one of them called out, “Hi.”

“Hi,” I said. Steady breaths. I didn’t feel as short as I thought I would, but that didn’t improve things much. “So here’s the thing I have health problems and I can’t participate in everything but it’s okay I came to watch and I’ll do what I can and it will all be fine so yeah thanks.” And breathe.

“Okay.”

Okay. So, I guess I leave now… right? I said what I came to say, but they’re still looking at me. Deciding once again that consistency is best, I turn around walk away from them at my steady pace, except I now feel their eyes on my back (or butt? *Nervously tugs down the hem of her T-shirt*).

Did he read my card? As the thought occurs to me during my time-consuming departure from them, I’m almost sure they can see my blush through the back of my head. He never said anything. I never said anything. Did he read it? Does he think I’m stupid? Am I stupid?

Uh oh, hell no, how do I stop these thoughts? Well, having to turn around and face them as they called us to attention was probably not the best way. Turns out that they were following me, about five paces behind me (of course).

The value of the self-defense that I learned most probably outweighs the discomfort I felt for a few hours, and will likely stick with me for much longer, so I’m going with positivity for this case.

Until the next time I cross paths with A….

Ella

Song Quote:

And the only solution was to stand and fight, and my body was bruised and I was set alight. -If Only For A Night, Florence and the Machine

*Want to guess what A is short for? Leave it in the comments, and get creative!

An Ode to the Changing of the Clocks

tumblr_lrfset5wcj1qcrsn7o1_500

It’s cold now. Cold means big sweaters and heavy blankets, which mean safety. I bought new slippers, in honor of the changing of the clocks. They mean, I know these look like they belong to an 80-year-old woman, but they’re comfy as heck. Cold means tea, and tea means a burnt tongue, which doesn’t have any enriching value besides reminding me of winters past.

It’s earlier now. Early means I wake before I need to, and fall asleep before I’m supposed to. At least it used to be that way. It isn’t anymore, because sleep and I are on a break. But it does mean that as I lay in bed staring ahead, I see the raindrops (on roses and whiskers on kittens) caught on my window, and the smell of it seeps through the walls. Do the raindrops look like tear drops as they cling to my face?

It’s darker now. Darkness means comfort and calm, and more hours of it should mean less time spent in a frenzy. Because frenzy leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to pain, so really I’m sitting here praying to the darkness: take away my pain.

I latch on to the hope that comes with change. It was fall. Now it’s winter. This was change. May the change bring with it all the good I wish for during my waking hours of staring at raindrops.

Yours truly,

Ella

It’s cozier now, and cozier leads to winter playlists. I put together a playlist for this season (yay!), called ‘Changing Clocks’, that you can find on Spotify (click the link or type ‘Changing Clocks’ into the search bar, it’s the top result, and then you can follow it to see when I add new songs).

Song Quote:

If the rain keeps falling and you can’t see the tears in my eyes, they say the night is daunting but we all need somewhere to hide. –It Could Be Better, Lewis Watson

P.s. Comment below if you caught the Friends reference in here!

Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes

IMG_3094

Scrabble doesn’t come with a question mark, so we’ll have to make do without one

There once was a girl (A) who didn’t pass her cheerleader tryouts, and she was upset. There was also a girl (B) whose boyfriend dumped her, and she was upset. But then there was a girl (C) whose friend was dying of cancer, and she was upset.

Before us we have three (fictional) girls, and each is upset. Who, in your opinion, is most upset?

Please don’t answer that because it’s a trick question. I believe that it’s not fair to compare people’s pain because each is suffering in their own right. So yes, one situation seems way more serious than the others, but does that mean that the other two aren’t upset and don’t have a right to be? No. The fact that one person is worried about cancer and the other is worried about boys doesn’t mean that the one worrying about boys isn’t distraught and in pain, and you can’t discount that.

That said, I am human and sometimes I fail at upholding my own high standards. I look at this girl who is throwing a tantrum because she didn’t get the teacher she wanted for a certain subject and can’t stop thinking about girls in many parts of the world who have to fight to get an education, and often don’t win. I want to scream at her, “just appreciate what you have!”

But then those thoughts lead me to one of the most depressing inner conversations I regularly have. I know I’m suffering, and I know my pain is real, but at the same time look at the world, look at how many people live in terrible pain due to poor hygiene and distance from medical help, and see how many of them continue living completely normally. In comparison, I’m just acting like a baby. But those thoughts don’t make my pain go away and it still gets in the way of me doing everything people my age do.

So when I have these conversations, I force myself to the conclusion that it is important to keep things in proportion and not feel too sorry for myself, because compared to some my troubles are not that bad. I do think you need to keep going and try to pick yourself up, and that’s what I do. But there is also a real reason for sadness, and it’s okay to let yourself feel it.

When someone I know is suffering from a horrible headache, I bite my tongue and never let the “now you know how I feel all the time” escape. But I always think it. It’s not that I think their pain is lesser because it’s a one off thing, it’s just that it gets frustrating when people have no way to understand what I’m going through. I want him or her, for just a minute, to try to imagine what it’s like to feel what he or she is feeling every day and how hard it would be to manage.

Then I feel guilty. For not focusing solely on the person I’m with, but mostly for treating myself like I’m the top-sufferer, like I’m the most unfortunate. I promise you I do not forget how lucky I am to have everything that I have. But then after feeling guilty, I feel even guiltier because it’s almost like I just betrayed myself by my sort of accusation that I’m just exaggerating.

It’s exhausting.

So to girl A I say that there will be more opportunities in life and this way she’ll have more free time to hang out with her friends. To girl B I say that he’s a fool for breaking up with her and if she ever needs a wing-woman I’m her girl. To girl C I tell her how sorry I am and offer her my shoulder.

I allow myself only a minute to contemplate how it seems no one is ever that happy.

 

Yours truly,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

I find it hard to take, when people run in circles it’s a very, very mad world. -Mad World, Tears for Fears

 

Next Week:

My Relationship with Taylor Swift

Get ready to tweet along with me using #TaylorReadThis, because I need your help getting her to see it! So as of next Sunday when I put it up, we’re going to bombard twitter with this hash tag and the link to the post and try to get her attention. You with me?!