A Friday pick-me-up reminder that while living wholeheartedly can be terrifying, it’s also the only way to go.

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LOFB - LaurenI, like most of us, had never pictured myself in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. I would’ve liked to imagine it all going down in a blaze of glory. Kicking and screaming, handsome muscular nurses being called in to help yelling things like “We’ve got a live one doc!” while secretly thinking all Cary Grant-like, “My GOD she’s spectacular.”

As it turns out, responsibly calling out of work, and driving oneself to the county hospital is pretty anticlimactic. Apparently some kinds of crazy are also craaaazy responsible (boooring). 

I expected to be met with the indifference of a 5 hour ER wait from an overworked employee whose seen it all and whose mere “M’can I help you” would be daunting. But the hospital staff were all, that glorious day, the nicest people alive. That, and MAN are they proficient at damage control. I could see it in their eyes. They knew I was barreling towards an unstoppable collapsible puddle of ramble-mumble-tears, messing their floor with all that greasy grief and terrifying all the poor little Timmys and Tammys just there to get stitches. “Mommy…why is that woman pretending to be a sad snake?” “Daddy! The real cat lady from The Simpsons!!”

From the ER I was sweetly escorted to another department where I spoke to a social worker while trying the hardest I’ve probably ever tried not to lose my shit. Yes, discovering you’re crazy will make you lose what little shit you have left ok!?  Then to another office talked to another doctor (aka explained the whole painful confusing story all over again). Then ANOTHER doctor, rinse and repeat.  And finally, I was escorted to a clean sparkly unicorn land with lots of doors that lock from the outside.

I’d always assumed a psych ward would be scary, uncomfortable, and full of weirdos. But I found myself happily resting amongst my fellow weirdos, medicated with relaxers that blessedly slow down your 8 hour hummingbird-heartbeat marathon. In the ward, they sit you down in a padded reclining fancy-type chair. None of those hard plastic ER chairs here, only the good shit!  They give you a blanket to snuggle under because of that drafty wafty hospital gown. Then they give you a sack lunch and FUZZY WARM SOCKS to wear!?! My GOD this must be how Kim Jong-un lives! 

How did I end up in the ward you ask? Let’s hop in our DeLorean and take a maaaagical journey down Looney Tune Lane because “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit.” 

TIME CIRCUTS SET TO: EARLY 2014

Life’s been feeling a little south of normal and we’re not sure why. We begin to encounter massively destructive category 5 hurricanes where the narrator of this tale does some seriously reckless shady cyclone shit she never knew she was actually capable of. No guilt or empathy is felt while cycloning. Urges and insecurities normally suppressed and kept in check with ease are now in the eye of the storm being UNstoppably acted upon. Acting on these urges quickly becomes an addiction and feels completely normal. The world then comes hurling down around in an utterly baffling way and the night is spent on a bench that smells questionably strong, arm in arm crying with a homeless woman who just the day before was weirding everyone out.

And BOOM, just like that, psych ward.

Quite the Cinderella story no?

Read The Rest Of Lauren’s Story Here!

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Lauren Yormack is a Los Angeles based lady of leisure… JK, she’s hustlin’ 24/7 as an actor/singer/dancer. I her spare time sometimes she writes stuff. You can find her at laurenyormack.com. Support her causes at http://www.americanmigrainefoundation.org/ and www.bringchangetomind.org.

Despite my best efforts, I don’t really like to share a lot about myself. I think I’m weird. I think I say and think a lot of really dumb things. I think I look weird.

And the thing is, I do all of those things. We’re all that way though. I say and think dumb things, and I look a little funny. I am really weird, but that’s part of who I am. It’s part of who we all are.

When things get tough, I like to pretend to be so strong and not share, but I end up killing myself. I dissolve into shame at not being able to handle everything all at once. I make myself worse than I was before, because I won’t reach out. I won’t find connection.

I am ashamed of my pain.

The thing about shame is that it’s a spiral. We start off being ashamed of maybe one or two things we’ve said to someone. Then we’re ashamed of the way we look one day. Then, we’re ashamed of the way we think. Before long, we’re ashamed to be alive and we’re nearly dead and it feels like there is no way out.

We mostly live as islands. We feel unique, and because we are, we feel that no one else in the world can empathize with our experiences, thoughts, feelings.

Here’s the thing, individuality and sameness are not mutually exclusive.

You can be you, uniquely, perfectly, weirdly you, and still rely on others experiences to relate to. You don’t abandon who you are because you share and empathize with someone perhaps very unlike you. You don’t lose you because we all share sameness with others in the world.

What grows our world is the fact that we are so very different, and yet live with experiences and people and stimuli that share a base level of sameness.

It is only through sharing that we learn.
It is only through sharing that we grow.
It is only through sharing that we find a connection to our world and make it, and ourselves, better.

When I started sharing, instead of being met with the chorus of disgust I anticipated, I was met with an even more massive chorus of, “ME TOO.” We’re all different. We’re all the same. Moreover, we’re all in this together.

When I started opening up and sharing who I was, I learned that I share so much with so many different people. I learned what a diverse and stellar group of friends and family I have. I learned that I am not alone–I may be lonely, but I am never, ever alone. Help is just a text away.

So, If you need permission, here it is:
You don’t have to be ashamed of who you are, what you like, and what you do. If you’re not hurting anyone else, do your fuckin’ thing. Open yourself, and grow. 

This week in our Master Class from The Bad Bitch of TED: Listening to shame. Shame comes from refusal to open up. SO DO IT.

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LOFB - MoniAre all men weak because they own a pair of super sensitive balls, that everyone knows they can kick and probably bring the dude to his knees? Of course not!

Why then do we consider ourselves weak for showing other kinds of vulnerability? We need to see the strength in setting our personal boundaries out on Front Street so that people know what they are and that kicking them will have consequences.

In my day job as a public librarian, I deal with some scary shit. You probably wouldn’t expect that, but it’s true (seriously, my fellow librarians and I are considering writing a book). The other day, some enormous, gang-member looking lady went nuts on me, for no other reason except she was crazy that she didn’t like “That face…or that walk…I mean look at her, she’s such a bitch!”

The problem was, my own depression had been talking really loud that day. Those of you who suffer from it know what I mean. It was telling me all sorts of shitty things about my own self-worth. Add that to the fact that the insults Ms. Ghetto was throwing really triggered my inner teenage girl who had always been bullied because of the way that I walk (seriously, I have so many easier traits to pick on!).

Long story short, I handled her extremely well (if I do say so myself) but her antics had taken place in front of every single staff member on duty. I was mortified and felt like everyone else was enjoying my humiliation. The minute she was out the door I turned on my heel…and burst into tears.

Public crying is not my thing. I’m normally known for being a bad-ass, loud mouth bitch. In my nearly decade-long stint at this library, nobody had ever seen me act vulnerable, even in situations way worse than this one. And you know what? The response was amazing. When I thought nobody “had my back,” I found out it was only because they didn’t realize I wanted help. Showing my vulnerability led to better communication with the entire staff about what each of us needs from each other.

Not that we all grabbed guitars and sang fucking ”Kumbaya,” but you get the picture.

The same thing happened when our fabulous Noa showed her own vulnerable side recently. With all the trolls on the Internet, that could’ve gone seriously sideways. Instead, we got to restore just a smidge of our faith in humanity.

We need to let our guard down, every once in awhile, to prove that we are still human. Like shouting tagging in a friend when we’ve had enough, or walking into cage match fights without wearing a cup. Wait, scratch that last one. That’s not good. Unless you don’t want to have babies, in which case free birth control.

You know what, though? I haven’t been completely honest: I am a bit embarrassed that people I work with every day saw me break down like that, but what is the worst that could’ve happened? Even if it hadn’t turned out well, I will borrow another quote from Noa and say: “Fuck it, I’ll do better next time.”

About Moni:

I am a mommy, writer, and librarian extraordinaire. I love reading and writing, and reading about writing, but find that numbers are hard.

When I’m not being wordy, I can usually be found with my family, which includes my daughter, Chuckles the Warrior Princess, Duke, the shiba inu/criminal mastermind, and long-suffering Hubby Joe; or rolling around on the floor with strangers under the guise of practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu. Oh, and being serenaded with the song “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol himself, which is a true story that actually happened because the connection we share is real.