Archive for March, 2017

I was prepping food earlier and while I was dividing out everything that I needed before I started I got to thinking about garlic.

Garlic is the best, right?

If you don’t like garlic I don’t know if we can be friends, but anyway.

I’m not really here to talk about why garlic is the bomb. But more so, what is the purpose of garlic and how do you go about drawing that essential quality of it out?

Garlic is so potent. The usable part of garlic is surrounded by a thicker skin and then several layers of a husk. The husk seems stable in holding the garlic together while it’s closed around it but once you begin to peel it away you see how frail it is, and the slightest move in the air will find the husk being whisked away effortlessly. The skin, it’s a little more stubborn. You have to work to get it off, one of the best ways to accomplish this is actually by cracking it against the back of a knife so that it splits open and you free it up a bit so you can peel with ease.

As I was peeling my garlic, ridding it of the husk and then with a little more effort peeling the skin away, I started thinking about how I feel a little bit like garlic sometimes. Or at least my journey with mental illness makes me feel that way.

Today is the first day of spring and I am ready to welcome it. I hate the winter.

I am an introvert, yes. But I also love to be outside. SO, that’s a weird combination sometimes. I need fresh air, but I also need space.

The winter always heightens my feelings of depression and anxiety because there is so much time spent indoors and it’s pretty gray often.

This year was a little different than normal, because in NC we’ve had about, ummm, 3 hours of winter. But still, the official change of season has me reflective none the less.

When I choose to speak about the battles I fight with my brain and my surroundings I know that it resonates with some people, it’s made a lasting impression on some of my now friends, who I otherwise wouldn’t be connected to had I not opened up sometime about something. It makes me feel like that usable garlic, that makes a noted difference and adds something to the end result.

But the process of getting to those moments where I connect with someone over this unfortunate bond is similar to the process of getting garlic to that beneficial state. It’s a little bit of work.

Through the ups and downs of my anxiety and depression some situation or conversation will cause that outer later of me to start to open up, and that’s where things are fragile and frail.

I have a friend who observed me in a panic attack a few months ago say afterwards they could see the moment the change took place on my face and they noticed a shift in my stance and voice. That’s the husk, whatever disturbs it can take away what is seems to be effortlessly holding it all together. In that moment where my skin feels hot and the room is spinning and my irrational thoughts are assaulting me at a million miles an hour, that’s the outer layer coming off and I can tell you: I feel completely helpless and it feels like this battle was meant to destroy me. In those moments I don’t feel like my struggle is helpful or usable or something to be shared.

But then, the next phase.

Once that outer layer is gone there’s a more stable protection in place. It’s like the skin on the garlic, you have to use a little effort to strip it away. I feel that skin being peeled away when I open up to people on a personal level about myself and the way I process things.

Do you know how crazy a person with anxiety can sound to someone who doesn’t have anxiety? Just ask someone who doesn’t have anxiety (actually don’t).  I can mouth off about anything to anyone when it comes to a screen. I post ridiculous or funny or controversial or sentimental things on social media and I stand by those things – but I’m not always as willing to be as vocal in person or even on a one on one message thread. Some of my thought processes sound so ridiculous that I don’t even like talking about them out loud usually, but my momentary embarrassment at times seems to continually be rewarded by meaningful friendships or memorable moments when I can reveal some of my anxious tendencies so that someone else will learn that they are not alone, and no – they are not crazy. It’s like the protective skin of the garlic, whenever someone engages in a conversation with me in person about my struggles or their struggles, or in a message, I can feel that protective layer being pricked. It’s in that moment when the conversation shifts from the silly and everyday to the vulnerable and straightforward that I understand the purpose of having to shed all those outer layers. I’m finally down to the form of understanding how my struggles don’t have to box me in and destroy me, but the very thing I fight can also be a thing that enhances my relationships and can be used for good and important things.

Every message I get or conversation I have with someone who feels the weight of my words because they carry similar struggles inside is freeing to me because it reminds me of the goodness of relationships which I sometimes avoid. Even for people who don’t understand, there are people I talk to who love someone like me and maybe the person they love can’t articulate the things I say here in this blog or on some of my Facebook posts, and opening up that bit of insight for them reorients my thinking on mental illness and it feels less like a burden and more like a privilege. I guess that might sound a little silly, but I do truly consider it a privilege to be able to say what some of you feel that you aren’t able to say, and in turn help the people that love you learn to love you better. This is when I’m usable garlic: when I go through all those layers of living a panic attack, the shift in my behavior being noticed, having a conversation about it, and then coming here to document it all, which as I’ve always said: this blog is for me. It’s free therapy to catalog how I feel when I feel it and reflect on how much I’ve grown. But, I’m pretty thankful you’re here too.

Anyway, that’s how I feel like garlic.

Maybe you have something you live through day in and day out and you can’t see the purpose in it, you’re not sure how it’s useful or you hate it or you feel alone or misunderstood but maybe, just maybe, you are like garlic, too.

Unless you hate garlic, and then we can’t be friends.



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