Mom Hugs and Puppy Snuggles: How I Let Depression Get the Best of Me Before I Explored Why Life is Worth Living

As you already know, this summer has been rough for me. I have been lonely, dealing with an emotional new roommate, and starting a job at Walmart that was slowly sucking my soul out like a Dementor. I won’t go into lots of details, but I was in a dark place. I was unmotivated and found it hard to be excited about anything. Even the trips I IMG_9974had (and still have) coming up to visit family didn’t excite me. Basically, the Hydra monster grew a new giant head called depression—one I thought I had cut off in high school.

So I used the tried and true method of driving the hour to my parents’ house to snuggle with Reggie and go to the doctor to get some things checked out. (I experienced vertigo for the first time and, let me tell ya, it was WILD. I felt like I could fall over at any moment for a solid week and a half.)

Even though both of my parents were sick, we still had a good time watching Bohemian Rhapsody and going to a thrift store to shop for books and making a Starbucks run. But the best news that happened while I was home was that a local bookstore called to offer me a job. Originally, they had said no (hence the job at Walmart), but a position opened up so I got the okay! I am so excited, even if I do have to start as a barista before getting to the bookseller stage. This bookstore is so welcoming and so close to my apartment that it was a no-brainer to switch to this job. I can finally feel excited to go to work rather than dreading it. Plus, now I know how to make a good shot of espresso!

It was this instance of random goodness that made me reflect on my mood this past month. I hadn’t seen anything to look forward to this summer, and now, after this one small thing, my entire view of the next few months was flipped upside down. I thought IIMG_9981 shouldn’t have let myself get so low, I should have been optimistic about the future. But it’s hard to do that when everything seems to suck.

I’m trying not to be too upset at myself for the way my mental illness took over the first half of this month, because I want to enjoy the rest of the summer if I can. I want to make a conscious effort to see the good in my life, to really take stock of what I’m grateful for, instead of spiraling into a deep, dark hole where my only companion is the Hydra monster. In this vein, I’ve started a bullet journal to try to gain back some of my artsy roots, I’ve been keeping in better contact with my friends, and I’m forcing myself to write more of my novel after such a long slump. (Forcing means actually getting myself to sit down and not judge every single word I write. Because once I’m doing it, writing is actually pretty great.) I keep telling myself to get back into better self-care practices, but this really deep slump has actually been a much needed kick in the pants. My life doesn’t suck and there’s always something worth living for.

One of the things worth living for happens to be the very reason this blog post is going up a little late—I drove up to Colorado to spend time with my aunt and attend Denver IMG_0038Pride!

My first moment of “pride” on this trip was making the seven-hour drive to Denver by myself. Driving isn’t my favorite thing to do, and since my car was being fixed, I had to drive my dad’s car, who I loving dubbed Harrison Ford Fusion. I was nervous about being behind the wheel for that long. But it ended up being fine, if a little boring. I made it up there with only one stop, and the same goes for the drive back. And the drive ended up being so worth it.

After a relaxing first afternoon/evening with my aunt and uncle, Saturday came roaring out of the gate. My aunt and I drove the hour to Denver and our first order of business, of course, was to go to a bookstore. I’ll discuss that more in my wrap-up of the books I read/got this month. Basically, that was the one thing aside from the actual Pride festival that I wanted to do. The Tattered Cover is amazing, and my aunt was so nice to walk a half mile out of our way to go buy books and then she carried them around in a backpack. Real ally, right there.

Pride itself was hella overwhelming. There were so many people and colors and booths and dogs and noises and free stuff. It was a lot. But it was a lot of great people and a lot of love and a lot of acceptance. So even though it was a lot, I was able to have fun soaking itIMG_0052 all in.

One of the best things at Pride were the groups of moms and dads offering free mom and dad hugs. Although I am lucky to have a mom that loves me, I still enjoyed seeing such enthusiasm and acceptance in a generation that uses their age as an excuse to discriminate. There were also so many churches out there defying the norm of hatred in Christianity, which, as a person who grew up Catholic, was heartwarming to see. At one of the churches, I was able to write down a prayer request for my friend with a terminal illness while feeling like these people would actually respect who she is as a bisexual woman.

Though Aunt Karen and I stayed on our feet most of the day, we did sit down a few times. We found our way to the main stage for a few performances, the highlight of which was

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My aunt and I!

the Kingz Rule showcase. Though I can’t remember his name, the king who performed to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” was AMAZING. My aunt and I couldn’t get the song out of our head all weekend, and that king had so much energy that we were ready to stand up and walk around again after the show.

The next day was the actual parade. It lasted so long that we were able to stop somewhere for lunch in the middle and come back an hour later to watch more, and it still wasn’t over by the time we left Denver.

Though I enjoyed the Dykes on Bikes and the dancing condoms in the parade itself, I remember the people around us the most. We found a spot near a gigantic Great Dane named Olaf who was wearing a rainbow tutu. He was so friendly and lovable and just wanted all of the attention. Dogs automatically make me feel calmer and more grounded, which was helpful in such a huge and loud crowd. I also remember chatting with a guy named Gil who sat next to Aunt Karen. He came from a horrible home and a father who called him hateful names, but he had so much life and hope and sparkle (literal and figurative).

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Olaf!

When looking back on overwhelming weekends like this one, it’s important to pick out the moments that felt real, that felt like a calm in the middle of the storm. Those moments involved the dogs I pet like Olaf, the hugs from nice people, the meals and chill sessions with my aunt, the trip to the bookstore, being able to watch drag kings and queens while seated and resting, and getting to know other people’s stories and passions. Back at my aunt’s house, we snuggled with Bella (the queen of all Boston terriers) and went for a walk in the rain and had tea while watching cheesy gameshows. These small, quiet moments are often my favorites. It’s been hard to remember that this summer, because most of my moments have been small and quiet but alone. This time, I was able to experience them with people who love me—my parents, my aunt and uncle, and dogs. Focusing on these small moments is one self-care practice that always seems to go by the wayside when my anxiety or depression get overwhelming, but I just need to remind myself that these are the things that make life worth living. Sure, Denver Pride was fun, but this past week has been all about reconnecting with the little things I love about being alive and human and fully, unapologetically me. I needed that, and I hope whoever is reading this finds some moments like this that remind them why life can actually be pretty neat.

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