Month: May 2018

The Unseen Side

So today is a big confession time. So today I’m facing a big fear…the dentist.

It’s been about five years since I’ve been to a dentist. A lot of that was losing my dental insurance and not being able to afford it. But a lot was just my fear. Because I hate the dentist.

I’ve never had good teeth. I’ve had braces twice. I’ve had tons of fillings and a crown and not really sure how much of my teeth are even real anymore. I know, kind of gross. And it wasn’t that I didn’t take care of myself. I did brush my teeth. I did floss. But sometimes…

Sometimes I wouldn’t for long stretches of time. Not because I didn’t know I should be. But because I didn’t think it mattered.

Because that’s the funny thing about depression. When you don’t think you’re worth anything, you can’t really be bothered to take care of yourself.

It really shocks people when I tell them that I suffer from depression because they can’t see it on me. I function really well. I laugh, I smile, I tell funny stories. I pay my bills and take showers and wear clean clothes and on all accounts I appear ‘normal’. And I am. Especially right now, I’m doing really well.

But just because I function and can control my depression doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Doesn’t mean it’s always waiting. Whispering to me. Telling me I’m worthless. Telling me I’m tired. Telling me that it’s just not worth the effort to care about myself.

A lot of my fear of facing the dentist is shame. Of admitting that I haven’t taken care of my teeth. Of admitting that I haven’t always taken care of myself. Because I didn’t think I was worth it.

It’s hard for me to admit it to my boyfriend, even though he supports me through it. It’s hard for me to deal with the consequences of it. And dealing with all of it makes it that much harder to not fall down into it. Allowing it an opening to swallow me up and back down into the dark whirlpool of my mind.

Some people think of depression as a whiner’s disease. “You could get better if you wanted to.” “Why don’t you just try to act happy?” “You just like being sad.”

Yes. I’ve had all these things said to me.

Some people might read this and think I’m making up a bunch of excuses. And sometimes, I feel like that. I feel shame. Because why can’t I take care of myself? The rational part of my mind knows. But it’s too overwhelmed by the darkness to care.

Depression isn’t an excuse. It’s not whining. It’s a trap. A trap your mind falls into. You’r’e sitting at the bottom of a whirlpool staring up at a circle of light, wishing with all of your strength you could swim to the top but being thrown back down every time you try. It’s being bombarded by voices telling you how worthless you are and how hopeless your life is. Over and over and over until you don’t know what to believe anymore. It sucks out all of your energy, so that even the effort of taking care of yourself grows to be too much. It gets so hard to battle your own mind, that you just come to a day where you can’t fight anymore. You don’t have the strength. You give up.

I’m afraid to go to the dentist, to hear what they’re going to tell me. That my teeth are all rotted, that I’m a horrible person, that I should be ashamed of myself. These are all the things my brain is telling me. Over and over and over again. No matter what the dentist actually says. No matter how kind they are. No matter how healthy my teeth might actually be.

Because that’s what my depression is to me. Shame. Shame for the hold it has over me. Shame that I have to admit how it affects me. Shame that I have to fight it everyday, even when my life is going really well.

But today I am doing what I always do. Facing my shame. Facing my depression. Battling it and winning. Taking a deep breath and walking forward, even though my fear and shame are paralyzing me. Taking a deep breath and dealing with the consequences of this disease. Taking a deep breath and admitting to myself, to those that I love, that I struggle with this monster.

I’m fortunate in that I have family who supports me. I have an amazing boyfriend who battles this monster alongside of me. Who doesn’t make me feel ashamed, who gives me hope. Who gives me the strength to fight on the days that I just can’t anymore.

It’s hard to describe just how much of a battle it is for me to walk into the dentist’s office. Knowing I’m going to have to own up to my past habits. To explain that I’ve not done the things that I know I’m supposed to do. To admit that I’ve struggled against my depression and lost, and my teeth are the result.

But I know I can do it. I can walk in. I can do battle. And I can deal with the result. Because that’s what life is with my depression. And I know that no matter what happens, I can walk out of there with hope. Because I know that I’m worth something now. I’m worth fighting for.

Wednesday Writings: The Elder Tree

A teardrop falls

Ripples racing across a pond

Echoing through eternity

As a butterfly flaps its wings

A hummingbird flies by

It’s wings blurring the lines

Between fantasy and reality

Dancing between unicorns without horns

Still I sit

Beneath the elder tree

Leaves weeping around me

Roots holding together Time

White dragons twine around the sky

Growling and snapping, flashing bright

While raindrops join the tears

Transported away to other worlds

Knights to slay the demons

That stalk the shadows

But still I sit under the elder tree

Safe within its hold

Writing Wednesday: Phoenix Wings, a Poem

One of the best ways I’ve found to deal with my anxiety and depression is writing. There is something soothing about putting words to paper (or screen). I have no purpose or form to my writing, other than to just write. Recently, the stuff flowing out of me has taken poem form. Even though I’m not a ‘poet’, and I don’t really study the form or anything. But I decided to start sharing some of my writing (Writing Wednesday). I hope you enjoy.

Phoenix Wings

You think you’ve got me down

But you’ve only filled me with fire

A Phoenix, eternally rising from the pit

No matter how many times you throw me down

I will rise up stronger than ever

Throw all the stones and sticks you want

I know the secrets that lie within your heart

For you might as well throw the rock at the mirror

For it is you who are afraid to look at your own heart

Blame me for whatever you wish

For the excuses and guilt will only live within your heart

You hide behind lies parading as truths

Masks that you wish to wear

Because you can’t bear the truth of your soul

That you’ve let yourself down

While I drag myself out of the pit

You wallow in the darkness because you can’t believe you’re worth more

Do not be jealous of my flames

For the fire that drives my soul

For the way that I have grown

So tear me down all you want

Throw all the chains you may

But I will rise on Phoenix wings

And simply fly away

Fun and Friends at the Gallup Trials

Wow, what a weekend!

We just got back from the Gallup trials down in New Mexico, and it was amazing. First off, I’ve never been to Gallup period, let alone to ride. But I love anything down in New Mexico. I love my trials family down there. And I grew up falling in love with the Tony Hillerman books, and everything here was like stepping right into one of those novels. The desert landscape, the mesas and mountains rising up into the distance, places like Gallup and Shiprock.

So first impressions…

I love the town of Gallup. It’s very quaint and full of touristy stuff, but also full of a lot of history. The whole town just gives you this quiet, slow-paced sort of vibe. Everywhere you look is color, and a lot of the stores have gorgeous old original signs that are just really cool. There’s a lot of open, free parking and parks and stuff to do. And the food! The food is outstanding. We ate at four different places while we were there (Sandra’s Cafe, Jerry’s Cafe, Gerrano’s and El Rancho) and each one was better than the last.

Going into El Rancho was fun. There’s so much history there. Wandering down the red carpet halls, looking on the name tags to see who had stayed there. Hearing the story of how John Wayne rode a horse all through the hotel and into the bar. Seeing all the old photos. The giant amethyst geode. The furniture made up out of cow horns and wagon wheel motiffs.

But now to the main event. Trials!!!!

We got there on Friday and just spent some time playing around. It’s an amazing motorsports park owned by the city! It’s huge, and what’s more, people want us there. It’s really sad how many times motorcyclists get kicked out of places, so having an entire city welcome us with open arms is absolutely awesome.

It was actually kind of scary pulling into the pit because instead of the field of trailers we were used to, we actually stumbled into some kind of National Guard war games. Oops!!!

Friday night was when we visited Jerry’s Cafe. It’s small, and there’s not a lot of seating, but the food was so good! I don’t really handle spice well, but since I’ve been dating Dave I’ve been getting a crash course and getting accustomed to it. The green chili was so good, and the rellenos were to die for!

Saturday dawned sunny and warm, and it was FUN TRIAL day! Of course, Dave and I went out scoping the numerous trails in the area first. It had been three weeks since we had last rode and it wasn’t long before my legs were crying. But the views! Riding along ridges, high above the desert and the city, nothing to obstruct your view.

So what is a fun trial you ask? Basically we all spent some time setting up five sections, and ran a ‘gate’ trial. By gates, meaning that we put gates in the section on obstacles, and each gate was worth a certain number of points. To get your points, you had to ride through the gate and ride the section clean (meaning no putting a foot down). Put a foot down…no points. So even though you might have been completely awesome and gotten every gate (including not crossing your tracks or backing up), put one foot down and all your hard work and eleven points goes down the drain. The New Mexico group did something really cool too, where they gave a points bonus to the lower level riders who maybe didn’t have the skills or confidence to rack up a ton of points. Meaning that novice riders got 9 points, amateurs got 8, etc etc down to champs.

We got in groups of five or six and headed out. It was so much fun just competing to compete. No medals. No year end trophy. Just pushing yourself to see how many points you could get, balancing that against having to ride clean. There was even an ‘endurocross’ section, with hills and tires and a twisting track that we raced on. Best time would get points. I knew I wasn’t going to challenge anybody for time, but it was fun racing! Especially because I could have taken the lower level route, but I chose to take the harder route over the hills and big tractor tires and actually managed to make it around without crashing. The guys in our group were having a blast trying to go faster than each other.

The end of the day came, and I didn’t win anything (the winner got a brick with Gallup scratched into it), but I ended up 18 out of about 33, which was pretty cool. But I couldn’t stop smiling. This is what life is for me. Good friends, good fun, and spending the day with people that make you smile and laugh. Not to mention I put in some kickass riding.

Supper that night was Gennovo’s. If you ever go, get the chile rellenos. You will not be disappointed!!!

So Sunday came, and it was another amazingly gorgeous day. And it was time for the regular trial. Lower classes were up first, and I wasn’t really sure what the day was going to hold. Gallup is dirt and rocks, but the dirt crumbles, so the possibility of not having traction in certain places was a major possibility.

The sections were everything I could have hoped for. Tight, twisty technical. Unfortunately, my score didn’t really reflect my riding. I ended the day with four fives. Once because I slipped off a slanted rock. Once because I popped over a rock and Spitfire (my Beta bike) decided to pop herself into neutral and dump me on the other side. Once when I missed a gate (all the rocks look the same on the hillside!) and once more just because at the end of the trial when apparently my bike was tired in a turn and decided that she needed to lay down. Unfortunately that meant I ended up in a thorn bush with a bent clutch lever. Bad bike!

But I also had some really awesome saves. I’m getting better at riding things in second gear. I hope to actually get some video of me soon, but of course I always think of video AFTER the event. Which is so helpful.

I fought for a lot of things Sunday. To save points and get myself in better position to ride well. And that’s what I love about trials. It’s not really a competition against other people. It’s a competition against yourself. To ride that section clean after fiving it. To make it up the scary rock. To find that line that sets you up perfect for going in this curve. All the people that watch and encourage you. Give you tips so that next time you can pull off the perfect line. That one moment when you try so hard and finally clean the monster section that defeated you the first two loops.

I ended the day four out of eight for the amateur class with 37 points. Kind of sad point wise because I felt I rode a lot better than that, but I did have the four fives. And it was still a really great day, so I’m proud of my ride.

In the afternoon we checked upper section 3 (sportsman class up to pro). I finally pulled out my camera because I wanted to play with my polarization lens. I also had read some tips to start using a new more manual function on my camera. The section we were in wasn’t great for what a lot of people think as “action shots”, the big jumps off of rocks and stuff. But I loved the way our section was. It was a fight uphill, turning around on the face of the cliff, then back down through a slick dusty section filled with large rocks that moved and constantly shifted during the afternoon as people hit them. Still, most people rode it clean or with just a dab. However, more than one person got to the top, turned to go back down and exclaimed “That’s a lot steeper than I thought!”

Everything looks bigger when you’re actually on the back of the bike.

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It was a great afternoon, and sadly it had to end, but it was a great ending to a great weekend. That was the evening at El Rancho, and then just chilling out in the hotel room after a long, happy day.

I love the New Mexico group, and I can’t wait to go back. So until then, Trials Up!