I went back to the high desert land of tumbleweeds and sage for the first time in 7 years. It holds nostalgic memories for me. One of anxiety, pain, destruction and rebirth.
Ultimately, a land where I do not belong.
You can see it in the way that I count 0 minorities–Asians, African Americans, or Latinos–in the perfectly white-washed town.
You can see it in the way TRUMP PENCE signs line the white picket fences.
You can see it in the way families stroll with their young ones in strollers, settling down for a life of vanilla; plain and ordinary.
You can see it in the way young people are stoked for rock climbing, snowboarding, camping, and outdoorsy sports that I could never get into. The call of the wild for people like that are much too intense for someone like me. I love nature and trees, rooting myself in the ground, hiking (for miles and miles), running, and yoga – but the mountains, great outdoors and highly fitness enthused is a demographic that I find especially intimidating. That call for adventure is wired differently for me. Travel + extreme sports don’t always go hand in hand.
I went back to this place, revisited where I once lived for three years, and did a semi nude photoshoot in nature for the Wild Woman.
I saw myself slipping back. Back to a time of severe insecurity. Back to the anxiousness. The lack of appetite.
I barely ate while camping. Nibbling on some red grapes for dinner and breakfast, and fasting on water. The sensation of hunger not registering in my mind. I remembered. I remembered the time I dropped 15 lbs. and lost my appetite. I lost my tastebuds for flavors and food on the breakup diet. My body was lighter but I felt fat and ugly, never 100% satisfied with my looks no matter how skinny I get.
Camping shouldn’t become a feast, but it doesn’t have to be a famine either.
Whether it was my degenerative thoughts, or my literal ‘famine’ on the infamous feast and famine cycle of freelance, I let myself not eat and felt good about it. I began to see how anxiety around food happens with anorexia. How isolating it feels to be around people who eat, and how it makes you want to shun social life and further isolate yourself from normal reality.
I could not eat. I lost my appetite. I was anxious. I had no money to buy anything, but nature is free and I need it to recharge.
There are always two sides to the same story.
When I was younger, I wished I was depressed enough to cut myself or have an eating disorder. I was into emo and didn’t feel emo enough without mental disorders. None of the psychologists who saw me thought I had clinical depression or anxiety and I was never prescribed anything.
I wanted so much to have a mental disorder so I could justify my thoughts. I admit, my anxiety crippled my life. I didn’t feel like myself because I lived in a place that did not allow me to be. Throw that in with good old cultural identity crisis, long-term birth control (it does make you feel crazy) and you have a recipe for disaster.
Yet when someone calls you on your mental illness, it hurts. It hurts no matter how much you’ve romanticized depression as something ideal because all your favorite characters were basketcases. Because normal is just a little too polished and pretty for my liking.
Jack Kerouac, Frida Kahlo, Anais Nin, Allen Ginsburg, Vincent Van Gogh. Deep characters with creative genius and yet mentally unwell, depressed, and always on the rocks.
It’s hard not to associate creativity with depression. The madness, the eccentricity, the downward spiral. It goes hand in hand with the starving artist and creative genius. What if it didn’t have to be that way?
What if I stopped romanticizing depression and instead romanticized happiness? That abundance and creativity are at my fingertips. What would that feel like?
In the first story, I spiral downward and become emotionally isolated, depressed, anxious and stir-crazy to a land that was never my home. Where I felt like the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a prisoner left to her own devices. In the second story, I create my life with abundance, creativity and flow and live happily with the Universe supporting my energy. Clients come to me with ease, sex is on the daily, and I am standing in my power.
I’m glad I chose the second story. Depression and mental disorders be damned, I will build an empire on creativity, flow and abundance. Let’s not start with the link between entrepreneurship and depression. For another day…