Friday, February 5, 2016

"Cog-mitive Ther-py" or Keepin' It Real

My last blog post didn't get the reception I wanted. First of all, nobody read it (other than my mom). Second of all, those who did read it (my mom) said they were concerned because my last few blog posts make me sound depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic, instead of revealing my positive, loving, bubbly, amazing, wonderful, fantastic personality. Ahem, sorry, I got a little carried away there. Well mom, I have some unfortunate news for you... I AM depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic. I am also positive, loving and bubbly (we'll stop there). Enter the world of a happy depressive. What a dichotomy I am! Just imagine the war going on in my personality every day, a fierce battle of good versus evil! It goes something like this, "Remember, just be positive." And then, "But I don't wanna!" It's really sophisticated. The problem is, what I choose to write about is usually issues I am dealing with that I know other people are too, in the hopes that together we don't feel so alone. It often requires me to dig deep into my depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic bucket of sorrows.

So as a nice change, I'm going to try writing about happy things only...

Puppies are nice. I like them. They lick me and I don't mind. Other people are like, "Hey, stop licking me, that's gross!" but I'm like, "Hey, thanks! That's a little bit gross but mostly cute and I like it." So that's nice. Puppies will love you even if you feel unlovable. Puppies were actually the first hippies and started the hippy movement in the 60's but they are so under-represented that they never got the credit they deserve.

Kittens are also nice... sometimes. But they have these little claws that are like razor-needle-scissors and they won't hesitate to use them no matter how much you love them. They are not very particular in who they use them on either (in whom they use them on? On whom they use them on? Who they use what on? Who's using what, now? How? Why? Let's move on). They will scratch your eyes out if they want. But don't let it hurt your feelings because they don't mean it, even if you know they secretly laugh behind your back about it.

Also, I love babies. My brother had one, which was really nice of him, cause of how much he knows I love babies. His name is Ewan, like "you-won" (which we did), not like "E-won" which is cool because it sounds like something from Star Wars, but unfortunately not his name. God made Ewan extra-special cute (I'm not kidding, he is extra-special cute) just to make me happy because He knows I can get depressed, lonely and slightly pathetic sometimes. So gee, thanks. I like him. I like him a lot. All I want to do is visit him so I can squish him and be as physically close to him as I possibly can. Some day my nephew is going to sing to me, "Don't stand so, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me," but in the mean time he can't talk. He can't even get away. He physically isn't even capable of crawling himself to safety. He is mine, all mine, MWAHAHAHAHA! Actually he's my brother and sister-in-law's, but you get the idea. I'm quite attached. Being an aunt is amazing because you can finally kiss a baby as much as you want without feeling like any minute now the mom is going to charge you with molesting their child.

I also like ice-cream but I'm allergic. I found out I'm even allergic to goat's milk ice-cream, so that little victory of finding a delicious alternative to real ice-cream died about as quickly as a fading star AKA a fiery ball of gas (like me when I eat it). Turns out I'm not lactose-intolerant to cow's milk (the allergy I have to dairy is like a hay fever allergy), instead I'm lactose-intolerant to goat's milk. It's like when I found out at an early age that I'm not just allergic to the milk in chocolate - my favourite food on the planet (is chocolate a food? Or is candy a separate category? What if the chocolate has almonds in it? Then does it count? So many questions...) - I'm also allergic to the very cocoa itself. And wheat. And potatoes. And rice. I would die in Italy, Ireland and China. Some people might think God hates me... Oh gosh I never thought about it that way...

This happy-writing thing isn't working.

You see, I could write about only happy things, but writing about only happy things gets boring after a while and usually doesn't do a lot of good. I mean, if you really want me to, I could write about my nephew for a very, very long time. For instance, he likes to growl like a little bear, all the time, and sometimes, if you're lucky, he makes pterodactyl sounds which is just really cool of him, also really smart considering he's only seven months old. Cause, like, how does he even know what a pterodactyl sounds like? I mean sure, nobody does, cause they're prehistoric creatures and all, but the point is he is pretty much a paleontologist. He even flaps his chubby little arms around a lot like he is preparing to fly, and I just don't have the heart to break it to him yet that this will never happen. He will never fly. That kind of news can really mess up a kid's dreams of being a pterodactyl. Also, the spelling.

But I suppose happy things do make us feel better, and positive thinking is incredibly important to making positive changes. It's called Cognitive Therapy, say it with me now, "Cog-mitive Ther-py," and my mom loves to tell me about it. Maybe, for once I should listen to her. She is usually right. Someone with depression will automatically think negative thoughts and their view of the world can become so distorted that they don't even recognize the truth when it stares them in the face. It can affect their very memories, so that a depressed person remembers events differently - as negatively impacting them even if it was them who negatively impacted others. Scary. But there is a solution! Cognitive Therapy was created by a woman named Judith Beck. She said, "It's not the power of positive thinking. It's the power of realistic thinking. People find that when they think more realistically, they usually feel better." And let's face it, nobody wants to be around a negative person. We all have these people in our lives and we try hard to avoid them. It goes like this:

Negative Nancy: "Ugh, I had such a bad day. Everyone was so annoying at work. One lady told me all about her daughter's conjunctivitis, and I'm like shut up. So wanna hang out?"
Positive Pearl: "Sorry I'm actually kind of busy."
Nancy: "Of course you are, you're always busy! Nobody takes the time to do real things anymore, probably because they're addicted to their phones. I can't stand people who are always on their phones! I mean get a life!"
Pearl: "Yeah, I hear you. Maybe Mediocre Melissa is free. She's a nice girl."
Nancy: "Seriously? She's the worst. Oh man even talking about her gave me a headache. Do you have Tylenol?"
Pearl: "Sorry no."
Nancy: "Ugh, of course not. I think I'm getting a cold. It's probably a virus. It's probably conjunctivitis from that lady's daughter. She probably passed it on to me as the spit particles from her annoying conversation floated on the air particles to my mouth. Ew. Gross. I hate air particles. I hate breathing other people's air. Especially on buses. That's why I will never take the bus. My mom could be dying and I would not even take the bus to go see her in the hospital. So what are you doing this weekend?"
Pearl: "Oh... things. You know. Maybe go for a run."
Nancy: "I HATE running. I don't understand people who exercise."
Pearl: "Haha... right. So what about you?"
Nancy: "Let me just check the schedule on my phone. Oh look, nothing. I'll probably just sit on the couch and watch TV by myself because I have no friends. Everyone's too busy for me."
Pearl: "Haha... well, it's been great but... My cat... is... calling me."


And I certainly do not want to be one of those people. But being positive in a legitimately negative situation is just plain obnoxious. It usually goes like this:

Normal Norman: "I have cancer."
Obnoxiously Positive Olivia: "Don't say that! You need to think positively! You are fighting cancer."
NN: "Ok, I'm fighting cancer. I've been meaning to tell you but didn't want to upset you."
OPO: "I'm really sorry but I'm so proud of you for not giving in to it. You know there are lot of naturopathic-herbalistic-hippyistic remedies I can send you. Like asparagus. Just, like, eat five pounds of asparagus a day and your body doesn't know what to do with all this asparagus so it like poops out the cancer cells with the asparagus. It's science. The only downside is you have green poop."
NN: "Can't wait to try that, thanks."
OPO: "Have you tried meditation? Maybe you can think the cancer away."
NN: "I don't think so."
OPO: "See, there's your problem right there."
NN: "Also, my dog died."
OPO: "Maybe you should have fed him more asparagus."
NN: "I hate you. Our friendship is over."
OPO: "That's just the cancer talking."

You don't want to know what Norman said next.

I like that Cognitive Therapy isn't just about being positive, it's about changing your thoughts from negative to realistic, which can be hard to do. Negative thinking usually has a grain of truth in it, but it's exaggerated to the point where the problem seems overwhelming and unsolvable, and instead of working on it, you give up. If you look at something realistically, the problem becomes manageable, whereas if you only think of it positively, you ignore the problem altogether. They've done studies and found cognitive therapy doesn't just help people with situational depression, it can actually work as well as antidepressants, even in severe cases. I would say I was sceptical of these findings, but that would seem negative.

You see children, it is important to be real, not just positive. So here I am, keepin' it real. And life is hard - something I wanted to shout at the dude in front of me in the line-up at Rock the Shores as he said, "Why do people complain so much and say life is so hard. Life is great!" My guess is he still lives at home, his mom still does his laundry, he doesn't have depression, his best friend Norman isn't dying of cancer and he isn't living in poverty, but I could be wrong. Yet as hard as life is, you can't take it too seriously or it gets a big ego and starts sending you lemons, like anybody was ever happy to receive lemons. People say, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," as if there were any other options. You can't get a job with lemons, unless your job is making or selling lemonade, which is not very profitable. You could maybe make lemon squares, but you need other ingredients so let's just hope life throws you some flour and baking powder too. You could try trading lemons for other things, like Pokemon cards, but unless your friend has scurvy he will probably be like, "Why would I ever want lemons?" and he might punch you in the face so be careful. Those are about your only options when it comes to lemons... This has been a great conversation. Let's keep it real again sometime.

Faith'sbook, out.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Guess It's New Years

It's been a long time since I wrote a blog post so I've given myself until the end of the year to write one... Bad joke. Unfortunately tonight is New Years Eve and everyone is getting ready to celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. Did I say unfortunately? My bad. Personally I think we should all be wearing black shrouds and throw ashes over our left shoulder to mourn the death of 2015. But maybe nobody loved 2015 that much and maybe everyone is just excited for it to hurry up and die so we can celebrate the birth of a new year. Who knows. People are strange.

I've come up with a genius idea that I'm sure others have come up with long before me: turn on the TV and watch the New Years celebrations from some random Eastern country like China and THEN GO TO BED AT A NICE, DECENT, EARLY HOUR. This is my solution to the biggest problem I have with New Years: it's way past my bedtime. I mean really, I can barely make it past 10 o'clock let alone midnight and you expect me to drive home after? That's just not fair to other people on the road. And no one wants to hang out at a party with a girl asleep on the couch. You can find me there with the drunk girl passed out next to me. Let's just hope she doesn't throw up.

There's a lot of pressure surrounding New Years Eve. For one, we just had Christmas and Christmas is literally the best thing in the world, so good luck following that one. Also, isn't everyone fat from eating chocolate and turkey? So like, now we're supposed to put on cute little dresses that don't fit us anymore and feel great about it? And high heels? Give me a break. I wore those at my Christmas work party. Don't make me bring those out again for at least another year. And they were only kitten heels! Imagine me in full-grown-cat heels. Can't see me? I'm the one fallen over in the ditch, my too short dress up past my new love handles. Why isn't it just tradition to have a PJ's New Years Eve celebration. We can all wear onesies and eat more turkey. Or if we really want to start the New Year off right, wear a track suit and get some exercise to kick-off our New Years resolutions while we still feel excited about them, instead of resenting the fact we ever made them or shared publicly what will inevitably be a giant failure. Too pessimistic? Wait until February and then get back to me. An even worse pressure point for New Years for us single people: finding a date. And if you do find one there is the immense pressure of that super awkward New Years kiss with someone you probably don't actually like too much because you panicked under the pressure and asked out the first person you came across, either one you hardly know, or one you've known for years and once witnessed picking their nose and you've never been able to look at them the same since. But the irony is that if you don't find a date there is that let down of not having anybody to kiss at all and scouring the room for anybody, anybody will do, anything really - a dog, a stuffed animal, a baby, a piece of ham - to smooch and not feel so terribly alone. And to think I am an optimist at heart.

I'm one of those people who love to prolong Christmas as much as possible so New Years always comes as a shock. It happens every year and yet I forget this is actually a big deal to people. I'm still wanting to do Christmasy things with my family. We spend literally hours opening presents Christmas day and don't have brunch until 2 o'clock, then we have our Christmas dinner Boxing day because all that in one day is just ridiculous and this year my mom and I fought with the turkey trying to cut it in half because it was still partially frozen, putting our literal blood, sweat and tears into it as my mom cut herself and I sweat profusely and cried. So when New Years comes along I am still in denial that Christmas is over. Not only that, but as if I've had any time to even think about New Years or start my guilty deliberations over whether I will actually go to that party I was invited to because hey, I was finally invited to one, and actually have an answer to that fateful question "what are you doing for New Years," or stay at home like my heart of hearts desires because talking to people is hard. I'm just trying not to cry that they stopped playing Christmas songs on Boxing Day, and even more sacrilege, stopped playing them on Praise 106.5 the day after Boxing Day. Like they're sick of celebrating Jesus' birth already? So what God came to earth in the form of a little baby to save us all, that was yesterday, we live in the now. Sure there are people who hate Christmas music, but they should probably go away for Christmas (maybe forever), a nice trip to Hawaii say - we could even all pitch in and start a fund for them in the spirit of Christmas itself and watch as a bucket of burning coals falls on their head. I'm still in denial that I'm back at work and in awe that people care about their pension and have questions about their T4 because they are overplanners and have no love in their life. I mean it's not even 2016 for goodness sake, why are you wanting to do your taxes? What's wrong with you and why are you calling me? Yes, this is a call centre but don't you have something better to do like buy Christmas decorations at significantly reduced prices?

I guess I love New Years in theory. In reality, I am neither a particularly classy person or a drinker and we all know New Years is supposed to be this super-duper classy night with sparkly dresses and champagne in those annoyingly small glasses, or a drunkfest with those not-so-small glasses. But maybe I'm going about this all wrong. New Years is a beautiful thing if you think of it more as a way of prolonging the holidays, a nice finale to take the edge off the disappointment of Christmas being over, a time to reflect on the year just past and welcome in all the good things you hope the new year will bring, no matter whether your dreams come true or not. You don't have to mourn last year for what didn't happen or the bad things that did, instead you look forward to new opportunities and a clean slate, and wherever you can, you do your best to make those dreams come true and trust God for the rest.

So no black mourning clothes and no ashes. Put on those high heels, fall in that ditch and get back up again. Embrace that too tight dress, wage war with those too tight pants and drink that champagne in that ridiculously small glass whether you like the taste or not. Because you can and you are a grown up and you are alive, so that's something. Or just sit at home by the fire made from the firewood your dad brought you because you are too weak to chop your own and don't have a boyfriend to do it for you, and eat even more chocolate than you did at Christmas until you go into a chocolate coma, then go to bed at 10 o'clock. Either way is fine by me. Yes I am allergic to chocolate. So what? Tomorrow is a new year! My immune system can wait. It's really just a miracle I don't have a life-threatening strand of influenza right now from all the chocolate I've eaten. And I didn't even get the flu shot. I guess you could say I like to live on the edge, kind of like James Bond (AKA slightly disappointing and overdramatic).

Wishing you a Happy New Year, friends, with all God's blessings and maybe some nice walks and a salad. May the force be strong with you in 2016.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Singlehood Debunked

Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but singleness, or what I like to call utter aloneness, can lead to feelings of being... alone. One might call this "alone-liness," or just, you know, loneliness. You've probably never heard of it, or suffered from it (because if we thought others did we wouldn't feel so alone). This blog post is about this rare condition. Prepare yourselves. It sucks.

My brother got married! I am so incredibly happy for him. I got to be a bridesmaid and of course, was mistakenly given the task of being the first bridesmaid to walk down the aisle. There was no dress rehearsal. But as most of life does not come with a dress rehearsal I should have been okay with simple directions. Unfortunately I am not good with simple directions. All I remembered was which groomsman was my partner and towards him I walked aaaannnnd lined up on the groom's side of the bridal party. I stood in front of him, realized what I had done and whispered to him, "I'm on the wrong side aren't I?" then did an awkward side shuffle to the other side of the stage. This actually happened. Most said it was the highlight of the entire ceremony which is quite something considering two people just gave their lives to each other in holy matrimony. In a way I'm a little offended for my brother and his wife. In another way I'm incredibly gratified. Shame does not come into play here like it would for most people. Anyway, I always thought I would be married first. Not because I was more likely to meet the man of my dreams than my brother was to meet the man... of his.... wait that didn't work out. What I mean is I just assumed I would get married first because I was more likely to fall head over heels with the first man I clapped eyes on and marry him, natural-born serial killer or not. This wasn't my plan or anything people, I'm just a realist. Thankfully God has saved me from myself, (something He is all-too familiar with) and from the potential serial killer I might have married. So here I am. All alone. A spinster. An old maid. An ol' fuddy-duddy. (Somehow this turned into name-calling for single women.)

I can only hope to find someone as perfect for me as my brother's new wife is for him. But will I? That is the question. Last year I got so hopeless I joined e-Harmony, and then Christian Mingle. Sorry did I say hopeless? Haha, I meant, um, er, adventurous. So far it's been... hopeless. Sorry did I say hopeless? I meant despairing, THE END. A lot of the eligible bachelors online aren't even close to being right for me so it's not so much that I am missing out as being saved from a life of misery. I have said it a million times but I will say it again: I would rather be single my entire life than be with someone God didn't want for me. Does that mean it won't be freaking hard if I never find someone? NOPE. It sure doesn't. NEWSFLASH: my number one, number two, even three,
four and five reasons for being placed on this earth do not include finding the man of my dreams. This is very hard for me to take in. I'm... having... a panic attack... right now... thinking about it... My heart, mind and body are trying very hard to tell me that in fact finding the man of my dreams is the only reason I was placed on this earth. That is just not true. My actual reasons for being placed on this earth are:
  1. To love God
  2. To serve Him
  3. To love His beloved children (AKA everyone)
  4. To serve His children
  5. To try not to screw up on 1 through 4. (If you must know 1 through 4 are actually all the same thing: serving God. Number five is called "being human.")

This feeling of desperation, of "needing" a companion, some would call anti-feminist. And I would say, "Yes, thank you. I will tell myself that as I cry into a bucket of ice cream that I am allergic to." Some would also say if you're not happy when you're single, you'll never be happy. And I would say, "Screw you," depending of course on whether it's that time of the month. But there is nothing wrong with wanting a companion. And there is nothing wrong with feeling lonely. It's what you do about that feeling that matters. Are you taking it to God or are you giving yourself away? Are you trying to fill your heart with good things or are you the wolf licking the frozen, blood-coated blade not realizing you are only harming yourself? (And most likely others too.) Don't you know that those immediate, quick fixes lead to death? I for one want what Jesus is offering: life and life to the fullest. So I will wait on God. But if I wait with my eyes to the ground I might miss what God is showing me. I recently read the book, "Boundaries in Dating" by Dr. Townsend and Dr. Cloud which my mom gave me in a subtle attempt to say something, what I don't know, but this book is amazing. It taught me dating can be a really good thing when done the right way. And online dating is just a convenient way of dating, or a great place for socially awkward people to try to get dates. So now I'm all pumped up to start dating in the right way - with no dates. I haven't had much success with online dating. Part of my problem with e-Harmony is that I don't let the online relationship go past "Makes or Breaks." This is literally the third step... There are only four. The first one is asking a couple ice breakers that you can answer with multiple choice, and since childhood, it has been instilled in me that multiple choice means lowered chances of failure so I always do this one. The second step is asking more in-depth questions that require you to write a real response. This takes effort. The third step is sending your "Makes or Breaks" - your deal breakers and makers in relationships, and finally after all this hoopla you can message the person. Let me give you the low-down on what usually happens with me: I get to the "Makes or Breaks" stage and either his answers suck or my motivation has died five steps ago in the four step process. Why you ask? Well for one I just cannot be bothered with anyone I am not really interested in and it is very hard to be interested in a computer. The other reason I don't go past makes or beaks is because quite often the guy's deal breakers include not sleeping excessively and being emotionally stable... Awkward. This is me in a nut-shell: "Hi, I'm Faith. I'm tired. All the time. I sleep as often as possible. In fact I wish I was sleeping right now. I also have depression. I am emotionally unstable. Hi. Marry me."

Let me tell you some fun anecdotes from my online dating adventures. Everyone knows that girls are suckers for animals. So you see all these pictures of guys holding cute animals and it's true, I am instantly sucked in. Granted, I am looking at the animal and no longer at the guy in the picture but he gets wrapped up in my warm, fuzzy feelings for animals. It's genius. I thought I had a keeper when I saw this one Albertan's profile picture of him holding a cute little bunny. Unfortunately, the caption ruined it. It said: "I have a rabbit farm for eating rabbits." He might as well have said, "Hey look at this cute rabbit I am holding! I love rabbits! Oh wait, I already ate this one. My bad!" Another guy asked me if I was enjoying the atmospheric conditions. I moved on. Many do not include a single picture where they are smiling. This makes me think they hate smiling, which of course I agree. Smiling is awful and way too much work. We will have a wonderful life together not smiling. Ever. And if he smiles just once, I will file for divorce. Unfortunately there seem to be very few Christian men from Vancouver Island online. That's because, and Statistics Canada has confirmed these findings which you can verify here, 90% of Vancouver Island is made of women - they use the term "swarming with them" - and 90% of Christians are female. And yet I'm having such a hard time finding a female roommate! What gives. At this point most people would question if maybe they were the problem. I refuse to do so. Fact number three: 80% of men live in Alberta. 100% of them are rednecks. Fact number four: long distance relationships are hard and often not worth it unless you 100% do not care if you have to leave your family and friends and everything you hold dear.

If you are single and finding it difficult, that's because it is. And you shouldn't feel guilty either when you hear about how much you should be cherishing your singlehood and, well... aren't. We were made to want companionship. It is as much a part of life as the desire for protection, happiness, family and food. Yes food. Of course with food, if you don't eat you will literally die, whereas they tell me you cannot die of singlehood. But you can die from loneliness. I would say that most suicides are caused by sheer loneliness - whether it's loneliness that brings on depression or depression that brings on loneliness it is all the same in the end: death. (This got morbid fast.) I just mean we don't take loneliness seriously enough. I struggle with depression and despite being surrounded by loved ones, loneliness is a big problem for me. God made us to love and want love, but what we forget is that He made us first and foremost to love Him and to want His love. The idea that someone would feel so lonely they would want to end their life, when in fact, their Creator loves them with a passionate love and died to eradicate the very loneliness they are suffering from is a fantastically woven lie from the very enemy of our souls. Now, I know from experience that the more you seek God, the more you abide in His love, the more your desire for earthly things, including companionship, will fade into the background. What is earthly love when heavenly love is in view! Instead earthly love is seen for what it is: an extension of heavenly love. God is love. So what do we single people do? We fix our eyes on Jesus. Does this mean your earthly desire for love will go away? Hell no! (Wrong phrasing?) All I know for sure is, He has not taken away my desire for earthly love yet. You?

But how do we fix our eyes on Jesus in real life? I mean, who has time to pray or read their Bible anymore? Who has time to put effort into a relationship? Good news! You are well on your way to a life of bad relationships. Communication is just as important in your relationship with God as it is in your human relationships. A wise philosopher once said, "If you don't communicate your relationship will die" (I learned this in the class "Dating for Dummies 101.") The hard part is taking the time to listen, but just talking to someone without listening is not a relationship. It is freaking annoying is what it is. Sometimes you have to force yourself to pray, which I know, can feel like dry chalk in your mouth; but did you know that chalk is made of calcium? So it's good for you. Yay! Eat that chalk. Because when I force myself to pray, guess what usually happens? I usually end up seeking Him. This includes striving to get rid of anything that gets in between me and Jesus: being careful what I watch, what I think about, who I hang out with and what I am putting in my life. This is how I fix my eyes on Jesus.

You see friends, my desire for earthly companionship means I am in a continuous, daily, trust exercise between me and my Father. Granted I suck at it, but I need to trust Him, not just because He is trustworthy, but because I whole-heartedly am not. I do not trust myself. Neither should you. (No seriously, don't trust me with anything, I will probably lose it.) And this trust exercise is really, really hard, especially when it comes to loneliness and especially if you struggle with depression, which more of us do than you think. For some reason I am constantly forgetting that in fact God is in control and I am not. I fall on my face and get back up again. Like I said, a continuous trust exercise. And we all hate exercise so we eat burgers instead. And apparently (and now this is really crazy) this trust exercise does not end in marriage! I know! Can you believe it? If you want children, then you have to trust God with having children. If you want your business to succeed, you have to trust God with your business. DOES IT EVER END? Yes. It's called death. It all comes back to death. (Which, of course, is only the beginning.)

The End