Jana Says

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Tag Archive: opinions

Make it stop

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you’re dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, please know you’re not alone. And it might not seem like it now but it will get better. Maybe with medication, maybe with therapy, maybe with time, maybe with all three. But it will get better. And please, if you need help, reach out to someone. A professional, preferably. Especially if you’re thinking about suicide. You can find help at 1-800-273-8255 or via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or text HOME to 741741

Whether we realize it or not, all of our lives have been touched, at some point, by suicide. It might be personal, it might be professional, it might just be from hearing about Chester Bennington or Robin Williams in the news. But we all know someone who’s taken their life. And, more than anything, it’s hard to understand how or why someone would do that.

There is no simple answer. Depression is a complicated, shape shifting monster that fucks with your brain in any way it can and has no regard for race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, or anything else (we can talk about statistics if you’d like but really, depression does not discriminate). It strips you of everything you love and feel one minute, makes you feel everything on steroids the next, and in between it gives you moments of respite. Like a dog, it’s always there, following you around, waiting to see what you do next. But unlike a dog, it never brings you joy or comfort. It mostly just pees in your bed and shits on your shoes.

Depression loves to kick you when you’re down, too. Just when you think you can’t feel worse, it ramps up. It tells you you’re worthless and no one cares about you and all the things we think people feel about us (and sometimes we feel about ourselves) in a loud voice that screams above all the others. Not only that, it says it constantly and on a loop. You cannot escape it and it eventually becomes fact. It’s irrational and irritating and shrill and bossy and sometimes so loud the only way to make it stop is to just stop being. When you get that low, the only way to stop the hurt is to not be here anymore.

Suicide isn’t a rational decision because depression isn’t rational. I wouldn’t even classify suicide as a decision or choice. It’s an action that’s forced upon you by a lying murderer because you can’t spend one more day feeling like you don’t matter and that no one cares. And when someone take their own life it’s not because they want to cause more hurt. Revenge or spite suicide isn’t a thing. Someone dies by suicide because dying is less painful than living.

If you’ve never experienced true clinical depression–and if you haven’t, I would never, ever wish it on you–it’s hard to wrap your brain around how someone can feel like that. After all, aren’t we just supposed to choose happy? Just wake up and put a smile on your face and take on the day? Fuck that. If you have a sick brain, you can’t choose it. Because trust when I say anyone with depression would choose happy over this shit any day.

It’s a horrible thing to think that someone feels so worthless that they truly believe the world is better without them in it. Which is why it’s up to us to make a concerted effort to understand depression. If you have a friend suffering (and, to be fair, you might not always know if someone is hurting. We are experts at hiding it so please don’t blame yourself if you aren’t or weren’t aware), call or text them. Let them know that they’re safe around you to be whatever they need to be that day. Let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready. Be patient. Tell them they’re loved. Tell them something you like about them or recount a funny story. Reach out and keep reaching out even if they don’t respond. But more than anything, don’t give up on them. They need you.

For those of us fighting depression, we have a responsibility to educate. To help end the stigma and make it okay for people to talk about their mental illness. To stop hiding in shame. To tell our stories and provide comfort and hope to those who are suffering. To give them a comfortable place to talk without judgement.

And to anyone who is suffering, let me say this again:

If you are feeling like you literally cannot live anymore, please, PLEASE tell someone. Doesn’t have to be family or a close friend. Tell a random person on the internet. Text a random number. Email me or reach out to me on social media. But just tell someone. Because, despite what lies the depression is telling you right now, your life is important. You are a good person. You have gifts to share. You will find the place where you belong, with people who love you for who you are. You are more than your debt, your bankruptcy, your job loss, or whatever horrible situation you are in. I’d even be willing to bet that there are people right now who love you just as you are and don’t give a shit about the rest. You will survive whatever it is you’re going through.

Because.

Depression lies.

You are worth life.

8 things I’ve learned about losing weight

Over the last 11 months, I’ve lost a bunch of weight. I’m not comfortable disclosing the actual amount but it’s enough that I need all new everything and that people I see regularly, including the owner of my gym, notice. I mean, I don’t see it but apparently it’s there.

I’m not saying that to brag or show off or make you feel terrible about yourself. Because honestly, this was a decision I made for me and if you make a different one for you, that’s cool. I support whatever you want to do and whatever is best for you. But after the 80th or so time of my weight being alluded to in conversation (and the final time by a woman for whom I have a ton of respect), I was sick of comments. I needed to change something (aside: it is never, ever okay to comment on someone’s weight. No matter how self-deprecating you might be in your comment, even as a form of commiseration, you’d be better off shutting the fuck up. If you think you should say something, don’t. Just don’t. This applies also if a person is naturally skinny because there are people who want to weigh more and simply can’t).

So I did.

Truth be told, it’s hard. So. Fucking. Hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you (incidentally, one thing you learn through losing weight is that sugar is in everything. Every blessed thing). But when you commit to doing it, you learn some things:

  1. Social media will either inspire you or make you feel worse. There is no in between. You will either look at pictures of people who’ve lost tremendous amounts of weight and feel like you too can conquer your weight loss or you’ll feel like it’s insurmountable and you’ll never be successful. You’ll figure it out rather quickly, which is nice, and once you do, go with it. For me, I can’t look at it because I’m in the latter camp. It’s better for me to ignore. I have enough self-esteem issues.
  2. Speaking of social media, you are under no obligation to declare anything on any form of social media. You do not have to post weekly pictures or check-ins of your weight loss or mention on Facebook that you’re on a diet or anything of that nature. If it helps you be accountable, then go for it. But if you’re like me, you need to do it quietly and in your own world. We live in this weird world of oversharing and being public about every fucking thing and if you’re fairly private, you feel awkward sharing and that may have to do with…
  3. The fact that you are fucking ashamed and embarrassed. Because OMG, HOW DID I GET SO DAMN FAT? Well, you might not say those exact words but I definitely did. Sharing my weight loss progress on social media meant and means admitting publicly what I say to myself daily. And because I judge myself so harshly I assume that others will do the same.
  4. However, you’ll need to get over your shit because without a support network you will fail. Specifically, having people who encourage you even on your worst days will make all the difference. For you it might be a FB group or an online community or your spouse. For me, it was friends I made at the gym (and trust when I say I struggle making friends. I’m weird and awkward and self-conscious so making friends was a huge step for me). There are two women there, not counting some of the instructors, who have helped me through this whole process probably even more than they realize. Without them I might have quit months ago. Also…
  5. Find exercise and an eating plan you can live with. Eating low carb and running isn’t going to help you if you’re miserable every minute of every day or dread doing it. Counting calories and Zumba aren’t going to work if you hate them. There are tons of options for how to eat and how to exercise. Find what makes you happy and fits with your life because that is the only way to keep at it on the days you really really don’t want to. But remember that…
  6. It’s okay to take it easy for a day. Or even a week. Most people cannot be committed to perfect eating and exercising 100% of their days. So it’s fine for you to go off-plan for a day and feel like a normal person. Just don’t step on the scale for a few days afterwards because it will kill your motivation and self-esteem and you will berate yourself more than usual. Fine, that might be just me but feeling “normal” is sometimes the only way to sustain the long arduous process of losing weight.
  7. While we’re talking about the scale, it is also essential that you have nonscale victories. Sometimes the scale might not move but a pair of pants you couldn’t fit into 6 months ago are too loose or your rings will fall off or being able to run a 5K without stopping. You must celebrate those victories in some way. I don’t care if it’s with new makeup or a manicure or an IG post or a piece of cake. You must celebrate and acknowledge your progress. Your mental health through the process will thank you.
  8. And finally, accept that this is not an easy thing to do. It’s not a quick process at all. Basically, losing weight fucking sucks balls. Hard. You will want to quit on more days you want to keep going. Getting off the couch in the cold and rain to go to the gym is awful. Eating with no restrictions is fun; counting calories is not. Your self-image will take a beating one day and you’ll feel amazing the next. But. If it’s something you want for yourself–and, let’s be clear. You must want to do this for yourself and no one else–it is worth every agonizing day.

If you’re curious how I’ve lost weight, it’s simple. I use the app Lose It, eat mostly protein and veggies (with some exceptions. You can pry my cheese out of my cold, dead hands), and take a variety of exercise classes (boxing, Pilates, and BodyPump. I’ve also started running 3 days a week. I double up some days if I need to). That’s genuinely it. Nothing gimmicky, nothing tricky, nothing else.

Also. Who you are doesn’t change whether you’re thin or fat or somewhere in between. You will still be you and who you are is just fine. But if you want to change the packaging, I say go for it.

Let me be clear. I’m not at all qualified to tell you what you need to do to lose weight. You should consult a doctor or nutritionist or even a health blogger. I’m just a formerly fat lady who’s less fat now. And, if I may, I’m kind of proud of that.

P.S. Set your own goals. You know how much you want to weight or what your ideal clothing size is. Aim for that and don’t let anyone else dictate what it is. Unless it’s a doctor. Maybe listen to a doctor’s suggestion.

P.P.S. When I say fat, it’s an adjective. It’s not a moral judgement. Fat does not mean bad or less than or whatever else we as a society use it to mean as a value or person’s worth.

Ramble on

Brace yourselves. It’s a Jana rant and ramble coming full speed ahead.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Some of that is due to laziness, some of it is due to end-of-summer-let’s-cram-in-everything-possible madness, and some of it is due the absolute endless dumpster fire that is this country. My brain is on fire, my soul aches, my patience is gone, my blood is hot, and I continually feel every emotion possible EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’ve been trying to work out the words to explain my thoughts and feelings but each time I try, I come away in tears and have to stop. You guys. I’m Jewish. Never in my life have I been this scared to be a Jew in this country. Have I dealt with ignorance and idiots and a lack of understanding and been treated like a freak on display? Absolutely, yes, constantly and still to this day. And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told “you don’t look Jewish”. But that doesn’t matter. Because when I can watch the news and actually utter the phrase “I’ve never been so glad to have a non-Jewish sounding last name”, you know American anti-Semitism (yes, WordPress. It’s a real fucking word and the hyphen is supposed to be there. Stop with the red squiggly line yelling at me that I’m wrong) has reached a new level. Is it on par with the hate and vitriol other groups receive? Not in the least. I still have the comfort of white skin and I acknowledge that. But if something isn’t done, AND SOON, I don’t know how much longer I can say that. We’re all at risk in one way or another and if I’m being honest, arresting and charging the neo-Nazi featured on that VICE news segment isn’t going to help anything. It will fuel their already white hot hate fire. I’m not saying he should get away with anything; I’m just saying we need to brace ourselves for backlash. This isn’t a man who’s going to turn to his followers and say “do the right thing”. This is a man who’s going to turn to his followers and say “do the right thing”. 

We all know they have very different meanings. 

And the worst part is we have an unqualified man in a position of leadership who, instead of using that position to heal, uses it DAILY to divide and spread his hateful agenda. We all know this. And we all know why. He’s doing it because he aspires to be a fascist tyrant rather than a leader. He hurls insults and temper tantrums at anyone and everyone who doesn’t kiss his ass or even attempts to express slightly different opinion.  We all know that he wants to go to war because he wants his turn. He’s jealous of the praise and accolades heaped on Obama before, during, and after his presidency, and the man occupying that chair now can’t handle it. He wants it for himself, no matter how undeserving, and he’s obsessed with popularity rather than actually doing his fucking job. He doesn’t care how many people he has to hurt, harm, or isolate to get his way. He’s a spoiled petulant hateful child with anger issues, a lack of compassion and now, nuclear codes and the overt support of white supremacists with whom he sympathizes. 

Not sure which one is worse. 

While my anger continues to simmer, I have gotten to the point of oversaturation. I can’t stop consuming news and information because I need to know. I want to know. I HAVE TO KNOW what’s happening because my concern is that if I stop paying attention, I’ll miss something crucial. But it never ever fucking stops. We never get a rest or reprieve. Hell, even as I write this, we’re dealing with the fallout from his Arizona speech, the transgender military ban, and an active shooter in downtown Charlestown.  My brain cannot take one more detail or one more issues to be angry about but how do you stop when the world around you is burning down and while you might have a small platform, you still have a voice and a space to do something about it even if that something is vent so others don’t feel like they’re alone?

I guess, like an oversaturated towel, you wring yourself out, dry off a bit and get back to work. 

That’s pretty much where I am now. But I don’t know how to do that. Talking about the mundane, unimportant things like the fact that I ate probably the most delicious donut of my life last weekend feels like I’m neglecting what I should be talking about but at the same time, I can’t live in this cesspool all the time. It’s not healthy. I have to talk about other things. I have to maintain sanity because if I lose my shit, if I can’t stay informed and vigilant, I’m useless. 

I know I’ll figure it out. 

Eventually. 

And if you have any tips or suggestions, I’m all ears. 

P.S. Does anyone else have this go through their head every time 45 opens his mouth?

Charlottesville

My blog is my safe space and I'm in no mood to argue with people on FB so if you wanted to know my thoughts on Charlottesville, well, here you go.

I don't need to recap in detail what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend. Everyone's already aware that a bunch of neo-Nazi white supremacist racist assholes protested in a "Unite the Right" gathering the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. But let's be clear. That wasn't what they were doing.

And we all know it.

What happened wasn't about a statue or uniting a political party. No. It was about attempting to instill fear and oppression into groups that are already institutionally marginalized in this country. And it could have worked too if more people were ambivalent and didn't give a shit. But, surprise, motherfuckers! We've progressed to the point that overt Nazism and racism will be met with loud, outspoken opposition. LOVE TRUMPS HATE. Because if it doesn't, if we stay silent, we're aiding and abetting.

I could spend time commenting on 45's lack of condemnation and vague words and how ineffective he is in every capacity and how his subtle and blatant anti-Semitism and racism and xenophobia have emboldened and empowered the white supremacists but I'm not going to do that. He gets too much attention as it is. Rather, what I'm going to say is this.

If you want to be a racist, FINE. If you want to be anti-Semitic, FINE. If you want to spend your weekends spreading messages of hate and invoking the first amendment so you can do so, FINE. I can't stop you. But do not FOR ONE MINUTE expect that your words will not be met with resistance and that we will not do so with the same protections you covet despite your and your White House ally's attempts to silence us.

Because we will not be silenced.

We speak loud and clear and far.

There is no room in this country for that kind of hate. There simply isn't.

And we're going to keep reminding you.

In the name of Heather and everyone else who stood up to you and your hate in Charlottesville. We owe it to her and them.

It’s my birthday and I’ll philosophize if I want to

I KNOW! A Monday post from me! But it’s my birthday and I do what I want. 

So, a few weeks ago, someone found my site by searching for “don’t give a fuck anymore”. I hope they meant it in a good way, like the Sarah Knight Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck way and not in a mental health depression way because that makes me concerned and I hope they’re okay, but either way, this is clearly a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. I know I’ve written about things I don’t care about before (you can read a couple of my favorites here and here and here) but in honor of my 40th birthday, here’s yet another incomplete list of things that I’ve learned are completely unimportant and a list of things that are and they’re in no particular order or even separate lists or because that’s how my mind works now. 

  • How much money you make. I’ve met rich people who are stingy assholes and poor people who would give you their last and only sandwich. It’s not about how much money you have. It’s about what you do with it and how you treat people. 
  • Speaking of money, if it’s not my budget, it’s not my business. I give zero fucks about how other people choose to spend their money and you will get zero judgment from me if you make a choice I wouldn’t. I might not understand your choice or make that one for myself but I don’t have to live with your wallet. 
  • Your religion. Okay, that sounds wrong. But what I mean is that I don’t care who or what you worship, or if you worship at all, because it genuinely doesn’t matter to me. We can be friends regardless as long as you’re not harming anyone or leading a cult. 
  • What you feed your kids (if you have them). Are they fed? Good. 
  • Speaking of kids, it’s unimportant to me how many you have or if you have them at all. I love my non-parent friends as much as my parent friends and I also believe that having kids doesn’t make you superior to anyone and that having 5 kids doesn’t make you superior to those with 1. It’s not a fucking contest. It does take a village so let’s all work together to raise a generation of caring, compassionate, driven, helpful, decent people. 
  • Comparing myself, my situation, my progress, my kid, my anything to anyone else. I do me. You do you. There’s room for all of us to succeed and be happy. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: success is not a finite resource. It’s not cake. 
  • Take risks. Or don’t. It’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with and I don’t care one way or the other. I just want you to be happy with your choices and if you want to do something that scares you, I’ll be there to support you. I will encourage but never pressure and if staying in your comfort bubble makes you happy, then I’ll support that, too. 
  • One more thing about kids and this one is preachy rather than an important vs. unimportant musing. If you choose to have them, remember that they are not there to fix your past mistakes or live your missed opportunities. They are their own people with their own minds and interests and gifts and talents. Your kids’ accomplishments are your kids’ accomplishments. They are not yours. Be proud of them, encourage them, and provide options and opportunities as time and money allow for it. But let them make their own choices. 
  • Social status, or perceived social status, is an absolute load of shit. We don’t live in a caste system, no one is better than anyone, and how you treat animals, service and retail workers, and the elderly will tell me more about you than anything else.  
  • Other’s opinions of you, at the end of the day, don’t matter. It means nothing to me if someone thinks I’m fat or lazy or the grammar police or a terrible mother or a good mother or funny or anything else. I have to look in the mirror at the end of the day and be okay with myself and how I lived that day. 

For more of what I believe, you can also read my 14 Commandments, life lessons from my grandfather, and 38 pearls of wisdom (I wrote that on my 38th birthday). 

Let me be clear that my beliefs, my thoughts, and my opinions are fluid and when I turn 50, they might change. Most likely not but I’m open minded and I’m willing to see what the next 10 years have in store. 

And now that my brain is exhausted from all this deep stuff, I will eat carrot cake and take a nap because that’s how you celebrate your birthday when you’re 40.