Self-Care Lessons I Wish I’d Known Before my Breakdown

After suffering from chronic depression, unbearable anxiety, and panic last year that lead to an all-out mental breakdown, I’ve been on the long, hard road to recovery. I’ve had good days and bad, perfect weeks and weeks of relapse where I slip backward, but all in all, I’ve been on the mend one act of self-care at a time. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been because for the first time in my life I’ve actually learned how to take care of myself. Specifically, my mental health. I don’t mean I’ve finally got on top of the laundry because honestly, I’ll always suck at that.

I grew up in a pretty tough family. My great-grandma was institutionalized after a breakdown, my grandma suffered in abusive marriages, and my mom experienced the kind of childhood that people make movies about. The women in my family have been through some serious shit and because of that they’ve got grit to spare, but absolutely no patience for wimps. Like zero tolerance. If I fell down as a kid, my mom would lean down and say, calmly, “you’re fine, if you’re going to scream and carry on, I’ll give you something to cry about,” when we moved eleven times and I changed school after school, I understood that I wasn’t allowed to complain. Not because my mom is an asshole, but because she knew the world could be dangerous and unforgiving and above all things I needed to be strong. And even though I don’t feel strong most of the time, I’ve learned that I am. My therapist once said I’m “one of the most resilient” people she’s ever met.  But sometimes, being able to cope with horrible things can work against you, like when my brother died in 2008, and I shut down and did my very best to forget him as quickly as possible–I couldn’t even begin to process something so terrible, so I didn’t. Feelings are not a thing that I do well and after decades of numbing out and pushing forward, my body had had enough, my brain basically imploded, and I ceased to function as a normal human being. It sucked. I cried. I panicked. And luckily, I got help. The entire thing has forced me to examine myself up close and learn for the first time ever to identify feelings, toxic behavior and to use fancy words like “post-event rumination.” Which basically means, obsessing like a lunatic about things that happened and driving myself crazy in the process. Once you can identify it, you can manage it. And, most importantly, I’ve realized the true value of listening to myself and taking care of myself.

I wish I’d known these things before my breakdown.

Self-Care Lessons I’ve Learned

Knowledge is Power: Reading is it’s own act of self-care even if you’re not reading about mental health or ways to heal. Although, bonus points for reading books that help you work on yourself and, most importantly, understand yourself. My friends and I started a self-care group and we read a book every month about self-care. We talk about it, implement the things, and support each other through our wellness journey. The things I’ve learned have been so valuable. As kids, so many of us are taught how to take care of our teeth, our skin, how to do our hair and dress nicely, but very few of us are taught how to take care of our mental health. I mean especially those of us who grew up in the 80’s. I was lucky if my mom even cracked a window when she chain-smoked. AmIRight?

Stress Catches Up With You: Eventually, after years of stress, trauma, or depression, shit will catch up with you and you’ll pay the price. There’s a strong correlation between complex trauma and immune disorders, gastrointestinal problems and things like fibromyalgia. You might not have a total mental breakdown, but your body will pay the price for things you’re not dealing with. Women are especially resilient and we think, “well that horrible thing sucked but I got through it.” But the truth is that all of that pain is in your body somewhere, hiding. And when it’s the most inconvenient it’s going to resurface all, “HERE’S JOHNNY,” to fuck with your shit.

Bodies Talk: For years, my body had been sending me signals that things were not okay. I’d lost my appetite but just thought, “eating is boring! Meh!” I slept poorly but just assumed it was because my husband tossed and turned or my dog moved around a lot. I yawned constantly for years for no reason. I became super jumpy and would scream when someone would come around a corner quickly at the grocery store. And I have no idea how I didn’t find that bizarre. But the truth is that living things are shockingly adaptive. Feeling like crap felt normal because it happened so gradually. It wasn’t until I started to have full-blown panic attacks did I realize something was seriously wrong. In retrospect, I wish I’d gotten help at the very first sign I needed it. It would have saved me a lot of trouble (and money on mental health services).

You Can Fix a Wounded Brain with a Little TLC: There is no such thing as a broken brain. Suffering from depression or anxiety is scary and I was terrified of being told I had a problem because the last thing I wanted was to be told that I had a disorder. But diagnosis doesn’t mean you’ll have it for your entire life, in fact, a good healthcare professional should reevaluate you annually to see if your diagnosis has changed. I was diagnosed with a panic disorder, chronic depression, and anxiety. Now? No formal diagnosis. My Dr. changed it.That being said, if your diagnosis is lifelong, that’s okay, too. The stigma that used to exist around mental health is lifting and people are coming out in droves to talk about their own mental health challenges. Self-care can help you manage and treat even the most complex issues. Anxiety, depression, panic, irritability, stress, migraines, fatigue, and pretty much any and all physical and mental issues can be improved through self-care. But most importantly, it can prevent issues from forming in the first place.

Prevention is Better: It’s so much better to learn how to manage stress and prevent larger issues from forming than to wait until your body and brain freak out on you. What’s that saying? Prevention is worth a pound of cure? I wish that I’d learned growing up how to pay better attention to my body and my needs. Seriously, self-care and mental health should be taught in school alongside sex ed. For decades we’ve known so little about the way the brain works and only now are we starting to really understand it at a basic level. We need more education so that we can take action sooner and prevent ourselves from slipping into something worse.

Any mental health lessons of your own? Put it in the comments below. And please share if you liked the post.

 

 

 

 

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This Little Shit That I Love

Every morning I walk my dog, Oliver, around the block in the freezing cold begging him to make a doody so we can go home and I can get to work. Yesterday while walking him, bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, we’d rounded the corner to come home and he still hadn’t gone. So I began to plead with him, “please for the love of Jesus, just go. All of these spots are great! Look at this patch of grass!” I walked onto the grass and hopped around a little like, “oooh, aaaah, isn’t this glorious,” in an effort to show him that it seemed like the right spot to me. He stared at me for a second, taking in the whole scene, then continued to trot down the street. I tried making him run for a second to get his digestive system working. I even tried to get him to smell other dog’s poop to see if that would inspire him. “Look! Look at what this good dog did!” He just stared at me judgementally and continued on.

When we were two houses away from ours, he ran on my neighbor’s grass and sniffed around. Then he spun in a circle and did his business. The neighbor in the house next to this one, came out to warm up their car. And I started to get nervous. What if they think I’m not going to pick up Oliver’s shit? Or, worse, what if I pick it up and then another dog goes here later and they think it was Oliver?

We like our neighbors, a lot, and I’d argue that we live in the best neighborhood in the state. So, the last thing we want is to be labeled as, “those assholes who sprinkle their dog’s turds all over the city.” So then I got really showy about the cleanup. Once Oliver finished, I held his little bag dispenser up for all to see, sort of waving it in the air before taking a bag out. Then I shook the bag out in every direction so anyone looking would notice, “ah, yes, she has a bag. She’s not a terrible person after all.” Then I called to the neighbor warming up their car, “Well hello! Good morning!” I said in this weird Mr. Rogers voice that I’ve never used before in my fucking life. I waved hello with the bag in my hand. Once they waved back, I leaned down and scooped up his nasty little lawn ornament. While bent over and holding a handful of steaming crap, Oliver decided it was a good time to kick the grass and snow with his back legs, showering me with debris. I yelled, “stop it, you little fucker,” and looked up to see the other neighbor shuffling her kids into the car for school.

I stood up and dangled the bagged turds in my hand and waved, “Morning!” The mom shot me a “gross, good morning you freak,” look and I quickly made my way home to dispose of the doody, wash my hands, and pick grass out of my hair. Oliver stood in the window and screamed at people passing by while I searched for my laptop cord and keys.

He makes me crazy.

Later, a friend of mine was like, “so I’m thinking about getting a dog,” and I practically screamed, “No! Don’t!” at her while removing a small bit of leaf from my sweater. I love my dog, a crazy amount, but some days he’s such an enormous pain in the ass. But the other days? The other days he makes up for it by providing laughter and cuddles and love. Just focus on those days, I tell myself.

On Getting Pregnant

I spent my entire adult life doing everything in my power to not have a baby. Condoms, the morning after pill, the trusty pull-out method, any and all means necessary to just not be pregnant. And turns out, it’s not all that easy to get pregnant in the first place. I mean, not when you’re actually trying to do it.

Isn’t life strange?

A few months ago I decided that maybe, just maybe I’d gotten to a place in my life where I felt somehow “ready,” to be a mom. I mean, not ready, ready because I don’t think that anyone ever feels totally ready unless they’re insane and just not thinking about what it means to be a parent. Because here’s the reality: It’s incredibly difficult. And if we’ve learned anything from movies like Star Wars, it’s that you can try really hard and still end up with an asshole like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren. And who wants to take responsibility for either of those shitheads? Nobody, that’s who.

It’s one of the few things in my life where I thought, “I need to actually be prepared for this,” hence waiting until my mid-thirties to make my vagina rain a baby. I’ve been in therapy for over a year working on my shit, have read a billion books on self-care, have done a lot of work on my marriage and trained my dog a little bit more (although you’d never be able to tell because he’s still a psycho). And, most importantly, a few weeks ago my therapist was like, “you will be a really good mom. Really. You don’t have anything to be afraid of,” after one of my long rants about my fears of being a parent. And since I trust her I came home from my appointment and was like, “IT IS TIME. Put a baby in me!” to my husband who was confused but also like, “Oh, cool,” because that’s how he reacts to all things. But, turns out, it’s not actually that easy to get pregnant and I’m learning that it’s miraculous that anyone accidentally gets pregnant at all.

My sister is a nurse and she instructed me to buy these weird ovulation pee sticks to find out when my little egg skydives into my uterus every month. They’re like pregnancy tests but they look for a specific hormone, LH (Luteinizing hormone). Been doing that every single day and it seems that the sticks and my ovulation app are at odds. Mainly because my app claims that I have a fertility period but according to the sticks I haven’t ovulated at all yet. So, that’s interesting. Is it possible to have used up all of my eggs already? Can wine dissolve eggs? Can they be incinerated by too many hot showers? I’m asking for a friend.

I find it interesting (and ironic) that after a decade of fighting off sperm like a foreign invasion I’m like, “wee, a baby!” but now my body is all “LOL this is fun,” and is apparently holding my eggs for ransom.

Cross your fingers. This is going to be interesting.

 

 

2018: A Better World (and better M.E.)

I know that New Year’s resolutions are getting kind of old and tired. But making a list of goals at the beginning of every year is pretty important to my general mental health and happiness. I’m a goal-oriented person and also an anxious and occasionally depressed one, so having a solid plan and a reason to get up every morning is key to my sanity. I’ve always been that way, ever since I was a kid. I make lists and then practically orgasm every time I cross something off. Inhale, check, exhale.

This year, I want to really focus on myself and on the world at large because I’m a hot mess and so is the damn planet. Seriously, what is happening? So, my goal for 2018 is to do whatever I can to make the world a better place and also really focus on my own health and happiness. Instead of “learning French,” I want this year to be more like, “be a beacon of mental health and kindness and save Orangutangs because THEY ARE DYING.” Why? Because if 2017 taught me anything, it’s that self-care is the cornerstone of being able to show up for others and it’s not something I’m good at (because I like to focus on others to avoid dealing with my own shit, let’s be honest). Plus, I feel like as a woman and as the oldest kid in my family, I was taught how to take care of others but I never really learned how to focus on myself. However, I’m learning because I kind of had to after I totally lost my shit a bit ago.

In the fall of 2016, I had a nervous breakdown (weee!) which made 2017 the Year of Self-Care by necessity (SO MUCH THERAPY, guys, SO MUCH). In 2017 I learned:

  • That self-care isn’t just something for my hippy friends. Taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs can mean the difference between a life riddled with anxiety and stress or a life that’s filled with happiness and only the occasional moment of stress or anxiety.
  • I can’t solve everyone else’s problems. I have a tendency to try to fix things for other people and in doing that I take on their stress, anxiety, fears, and an array of other negative emotions. I had to learn how to trust others to solve their own problems. Sure, I’ll offer advice when necessary or when I can, but then I have to back away and just be supportive without doing things for them.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a real thing that works magic. Example? After 35 years of being afraid of the dark, I am no longer scared of the dark. Retraining your brain is hard and takes a ton of effort (it’s an all day thing) but it really does work and it’s kind of amazing when it does.
  • To trust my therapist. I’m not a trusting person by nature and it’s not unlike me to walk into a situation and look for reasons not to trust someone. This time, I promised myself that as soon as I connected with someone, I’d let myself be totally vulnerable and trust them. If my therapist tells me to do a thing, I do the thing. If she makes mistakes, I don’t hold it against her and use it as a reason to avoid therapy or come up with why she’s not right for me. While I have been to terrible therapists in the past and I know that shit providers exist, I also know that I’m really good at searching for flaws and I use it as some weird way to self-protect. My current therapist has basically guided me through a breakdown to a much more stable version of myself. It’s been weird to actually just let someone in and be okay with it. Terrifying, but really good.
  • To say what I want in my relationships. Especially in a marriage. My husband once told me, “I’m more selfish than you are, so if you don’t tell me what you want, you probably won’t get it because I won’t even realize it.” And I was like, well that’s a weird fucking thing to say, whacko. But I’ve realized that my relationships across the board are better when I’m just as open and blunt as possible. I went from, “Hey babe, it would be really nice if you cleaned the bathroom,” to, “Hey babe, I need you to clean the bathroom in the next few days and here’s why. If you choose not to, that’s fine but know that I will hire someone to do it because I don’t have the time to pick up the extra cleaning slack.” And then? Follow through mother fucker. Although follow through is not something I’ve ever struggled with. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. I’ve learned to be very careful with my threats because I’d hate to say, “I will stab you if you do that again,” and then be forced to fork my husband.
  • To not take on other people’s feelings. My husband is a pretty anxious person and I used to take on his anxieties and make them my own. Now, I’m a lot better at going, “this is your shit, dude,” and preventing him from spraying me with his anxiety cooties.

In 2018, I want to take the self-care up a notch by allowing myself to really dive into the things that make me happy like painting, writing, reading, and watching an endless stream of handicap goat videos.

Another thing that’s important? I feel like the world is ending. The air is polluted, there are dead zones in the sea, and a shocking number of animals are inching towards extinction, including adorable fuzzy ones that I spend hours stalking on Instagram every day and that infuriates me. We’re a smart species, we can figure out how to have all the things we want AND have fish in the ocean. I don’t want to live in a shithole because, well, I fucking love wildlife and uhm, air. So, in addition to taking care of my own ass, I want to do more to take care of my community and the people in it and the planet because we all kind of need each other to survive. Except for assholes. We don’t need assholes. They can hitch a ride to Mars.

My New Years Resolution: A Better World (and a better M.E.) 

Here’s a very general list of the things I want to achieve this year. It’s very general but my husband is pacing in the living room going, “baaaabe, I wanna go hiiiiiking,” and he’s distracting me.

  • Find a new husband
  • Self-Care
    • Meditate every day (Headspace is my fave app of all time)
    • Read 10 books on self-care and do what the books recommend
    • Have brunch or coffee with friends every week
    • Workout every day
    • Eat more clean (and also more chocolate)
    • Take notes in Therapy and make to-do lists that I follow through on so I can continue to work through my shit but more efficiently
    • Do what I want to do, not what I think I should do. This is something I really struggle with in terms of my career. I’m always trapped between what I love and what I think is “responsible.” The outcome is that I’m just not as happy as I could be
    • Write every day (essays, blog posts, screenplays, plays, lists, scribbles, all the things)
    • Tell people the nice things that I actually think about them. I’m not good at complimenting people I know. I’m way better at complimenting strangers (no, I don’t know why).
    • Bullet Journal every morning (bullet journals are the greatest thing since sliced bread. But also I don’t even know if I’m that impressed with sliced bread).
  • The World
    • Get involved in local politics so I can advocate for environmentally friendly policies and policies that build community trust
    • Eat local from local farms as much as possible
    • Buy more stuff from vintage stores instead of new
    • Make my house more sustainable by getting rid of paper napkins and paper towels
    • Donate money to a good cause every month by eating out less
    • Volunteer time every month and get on the board of a charity
    • Learn how to preserve veggies (I am terrified of botulism) this summer so I don’t waste my garden’s produce
    • Start composting and try to significantly reduce waste in our home
    • MAAAAYBE buy an electric car (Tesla Model 3?). Our second car is about to die and cars are the worst polluters.

What about you guys? What do you want to do better in 2018?

My Purse is Now a Trash Can For Un-Eaten Snacks

This morning my dad called and asked if F and I wanted to get coffee with him. I had work to finish, so F went ahead and met him at a nearby cafe and I’d join them after I finished. Waiting a bit would also give my dad a solid 45 minutes or so to get all of his conspiracy theory anxiety out of the way before I arrived. Because, “baby, you need to buy gold and silver,” for one hour can wear on the sanity. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared but I’m already anxious enough without “THE ECONOMY COULD COLLAPSE ANY DAY” hanging over my head.

When I walked in the cafe, my dad and F were seated in the far west corner in the sunlight in a few leather lounge chairs. “Hey baby,” my dad said. He stood up and kissed my face 456 times. F nodded to me and my dad joked, “looks like the boss is here, buddy!” I rolled my eyes and sat down in a lounge chair, “yeah, at ease,” I said. I asked my dad about his day a little, we chatted about my younger siblings and about some Zucchini Persian dish he wanted to make. Then he pulled out his phone and started texting and getting all smiley and I was all, “what are you up to?” And he showed me some text messages between himself and one of his friends that were really intensely affectionate and I was like, “so are you guys dating? Does he know you’re married?” And my dad laughed. But seriously because the messages were something like:

Friend: Hey wanna go to the gym?

Dad: Oh, sweetheart, I’d love that.

Friend: Great! See you there!

Dad: Oh, I’ll be looking forward to it, baby.

This is how my dad talks to everyone. Busboys, waitresses, best friends, his kids, everyone is “sweetheart,” “baby,” or “tiger.” When I was younger, it embarrassed the shit out of me to have my dad call the woman at the sandwich counter, “baby.” As in, “I’ll have the Torky (turkey) sandwich baby.” But, as an adult, it only slightly embarrasses me but I mostly just find it adorably weird. F got up to go to the bathroom and during a pause in the conversation with my dad, I reached into my bag to grab something. Apparently, I took too long and he got bored because out of nowhere he started blasting Persian music. I looked up and my dad was sitting there, in the sun, with his eyes closed and his iPhone turned up on the highest volume while he swayed back and forth. An older gentleman across from us lowered his newspaper to peer at my dad over the top of it. A young couple on the other side of the cafe turned to look, too. And my dad? Oblivious, because he was having the best time ever.

F came back from the bathroom. I stretched and felt my stomach rumble. “Are you guys hungry?” I asked. Being hungry is like the end of all things for ethnic families so I knew that both my husband (who is from Italy) and my dad (who is from Iran) would quickly rush me towards food. My dad stood up, “yeah baby, let’s go get you some Pho.” He shot Francesco a look like, “well, let’s go,” and F grabbed his coat. My dad began filling his pockets and then got this really bummed out look on his face. “What’s wrong?” I asked. My dad sighed, “I can’t find my trainers.”

“Trainers,” are little squares with a connecting band that my dad carries with him EVERY SINGLE DAY in case he needs to use chopsticks. Just in case. It’s not like as a Persian man living in Salt Lake City he eats Chinese food or Vietnamese food for every meal, but just in case, he’s fucking ready. The last time we hung out, I took him for Pho and he fished them out of his pocket and stuck them on his chopsticks and I was all, “what the hell?” and he looked at me like it was the most normal thing in the world and said, “it’s my cheaters, baby,” and I immediately took a picture of them.

Chopstick Trainers

I’m not making this shit up. LOOK AT THOSE THINGS!

So, anyway, he was sad that he didn’t have his trainers or “cheaters,” for Pho but I assured him that he probably mistakenly left them in his other jacket and he was all, “well I hope so,” in a very serious manner.

At the Pho place, as soon as F and I finished ordering my dad paid and went to find a seat. While F and I gathered napkins and things, Persian music started blasting from a corner of the restaurant. I looked up and there was my dad again, volume up, eyes closed, just having the time of his life. Mother’s turned around to stare, kids were wondering why the Pho restaurant had become a middle eastern dance club, and F and I just shrugged. Because, well, we’re used to it. My dad might be a total weirdo (and he is) but he’s our weirdo.

After lunch, my dad said goodbye and rushed off declaring himself “a very busy man” on the way out. On the way home, F magically ended up at a grocery store without telling me he was stopping anywhere and I was like, “don’t just go places when we’re together without mentioning it to me, dude. I’m not your purse.” He thought that was hilarious and he laughed and I fantasized about the many ways to choke him to death.

Inside the store, he beelined it for the bread counter and asked for 9,000 samples. I wandered away from the cart to buy succulents and cashew milk. We walked around the store for a while, argued about what kind of salad to make, and then decided it was time to leave. I reached into my bag to find my phone and my hand felt like I’d plunged it into a garbage can. There were dewy soft things wrapped in paper things and I was like WTF? Then I opened my bag wide for a good look and realized that F had asked for samples and instead of eating them, HE’D PUT THEM IN MY PURSE. ALL OF THEM.

“Babe,” I tapped him on the shoulder.

“Yeah?” He asked.

“Did you fill up my purse with bread samples?”

“Uhm, yes. Just leave them there, okay?”

“For what?”

Then he waved me off like I was being crazy by demanding to know why he’d turned my purse into a snack station for old food.

I shook my head and mumbled, “dude, between you and my dad. I swear to baby Jesus.”

And he laughed. And then I laughed.

Ah, family.

Headaches: Natures Little “Fuck You”

I’m 36 years old and up until yesterday, I could proudly declare that I’d never had a headache before. “Never?” people asked with a tinge of disbelief. “Never,” I’d silently gloat. But that all changed at about eight p.m. last night.

Out of nowhere, I got this weird chill and then BAM all of this pressure on both sides of my head. I laid down on the couch and pouted to my husband, “my head feels funny like there’s all of this weird pressure.” And he was like, “huh, that’s weird,” absently and not at all concerned because he’d binge-watched Peaky Blinders all day and was on episode 2,000. I glared at the side of his head and mumbled, “hopefully I don’t die,” before rolling over to watch the show with him and swoon ever so slightly over Cillian Murphy’s character, Tommy Shelby. I’m really into Cillian Murphy’s presence, he’s hard to look away from with his confusing eyes that are like terrifying but also charming. And I kind of get his character Tommy and like to shout advice at the t.v. as if we were having coffee together in a cafe somewhere in Birmingham. “Keep your eye on Michael! He didn’t grow up like you and he didn’t even flinch when someone got killed. He’s a sociopath! He’ll take over!”

I grew up very, very rough and tumble. As a kid, I had a group of friends who were not unlike the Shelby kids. They fought, they stole, and a few of them ended up in prison (although one became a cop, another a psychologist, one went to Stanford, and many of them are now successful business owners because nobody is better at running a business than little shithead street kids). And for whatever reason, there’s still a small part of me that gets an occasional lady boner over a bad boy with the big heart. Tommy Shelby is cool, he’s intelligent, and he’s a family man. What’s not to like? The answer: all that murder.

So, I’m mumbling advice to the t.v. when the pressure in my head suddenly turns to pain, like an invisible troll is bopping me on the head. It hurt. And I started to panic and grabbed my head and starting pushing on it like a ripe melon. My husband, F, noticed me cradling my head and finally got a little worried. “Babe? Are you okay?” he rubbed my arm. “No, dude,” I peaked out through my arms that were wrapped around my head, “I think I’m having a stroke or something.” F disappeared and came back with a thermometer because this little device is his answer to any and all sickness. When we were dating he once sprinted out of a hotel room to buy a thermometer because I had period cramps. I used to fight off the thermometer but we’ve been together for long enough that I know there’s no point, he’ll just keep trying to airplane the thing into my mouth until I give in any way. I begrudgingly held it in my mouth while my head pulsed like the treble in a speaker. My temperature was normal. He shrugged, “maybe you’re getting the flu?”

I laid back on the couch and grabbed my phone to google my symptoms. A tension Headache was the first thing to come up under WebMD. The second thing that came up was CERTAIN DEATH. A headache?

“Babe, do I have a headache?” I asked.

F’s face lit up, “does it feel like your head is in that one machine thing that squeezes you?”

I nodded.

“Yeah! That’s a headache babe!”

Then he laughed for ten minutes because I’d been panicking over essentially nothing. But that didn’t make my head stop hurting. It kept aching until about 5 a.m. this morning. I slept like shit and I feel totally drained today. How do people just get these all the time and still carry on normally? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE!?

I’ve decided that headaches are like natures little way of saying, “fuck you,” for absolutely no reason. Life was just a little bit better when I didn’t have them but I’m also pretty glad that I wasn’t having a stroke.

A Merry Christmas Face Plant

I’ve been limping since Christmas day.

A little backstory: As most of you know, my family is multicultural af. My husband is from Italy, my dad is from Iran, and that’s not even counting my grandparents who came from Wales, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. In that sense, I’m as American as it gets: A big fat melting pot of things. What does this have to do with my knee? I’ll explain.

On every holiday or weekend day, my husband Skypes his parents, sister, and our nieces. We also call our friends in Italy and Spain and sometimes my cousins in London. Also, my dad busts out his Facetime and calls every relative we have in Iran. Every. Single. One. On a day like Christmas, my family can easily spend HOURS staring at iPhone screen. I love talking with our friends and family, it’s like my favorite part of the holidays, but sometimes you need a break to eat or pee or just to let your eyes go back to normal or think of new things to say because there are only so many interesting things you can talk about after 4 hours.

My dad handed me his phone no less than 64 times by 11:00 a.m. on Christmas and after an hour of saying, “Hello! Merry Christmas! How are you? I’m great! You’re beautiful! I love you!” in Persian (because I only know about 100 words and the older I get the more I lose), I needed a break. So, I casually strolled up to my little brother, shoved the phone into his hand with my cousin on the screen, and sprinted away. He shook his fist at me but I was gone, gone, gone.

I peed, I had a snack, and I settled onto the couch to play with my parent’s dog. No less than 5 minutes later, I notice that my little brother was slowly making his way towards me. He was closing in and I panicked. I knew what he was doing. So I tried to nonchalantly do a little stand-squat thing so I could bend over the back of the couch to escape. My plan was to simply sit on the back of the couch so I could flip my legs around and hop down. I’d done it 1000 times in the past while wrestling with my younger siblings and fleeing from them. But it seems that as I’ve grown older, I am no longer a stealthy ninja, but instead a clumsy and uncoordinated lump of shit. Instead of  making a clean getaway, I sat on the back of the couch (which is a solid 4 feet high at least) and then FELL off sideways, belly flopping from the back of the couch onto the marble floor. The entire family screamed, “OMG!” And as I lay on my back laughing but also stifling a scream from the pain (I’d hit both of my knee caps HARD), my family peaked over the back of the couch at me with “did you die” expressions on their faces. Then, my little brother’s face popped into view from above my head. He shoved the iPhone into my face, and my aunt who I am obsessed with was all smiling at me, and I was forced to take the phone and try to explain in broken Persian why I was laying on the floor, all red-faced, and mangled. I heard my brother whisper, “look alive, sis,” as he made a run for it.

My knees are black and blue and I learned a valuable lesson: Next time I fall off of the couch while trying to evade my brother, play dead. Just fucking play dead. Also? Revenge.