2018, Life, Things Happening RN

TRYING TO BE HOT AT MY FIVE-YEAR REUNION

On Saturday, I had my five-year high school reunion.

I went in with low expectations, and by that I mean that I went in with the highest expectations and fully expected to be disappointed.

I regularly make jokes about the kind of person I was in high school; “I looked like a thumb with eyes” is a common one, given the fact that I had red, horrible skin, didn’t figure out a haircut that worked for me and I plucked my light eyebrows into impossibly high, thin arches that rendered them completely invisible in photos.

Embarrassingly (although everyone is guilty of this) I was obsessed with maintaining a façade even more than I was obsessed with maintaining a severe eyebrow arch. I probably even loved saying the word “façade” in high school. Difficult pronunciation and a squiggly accent mark? Chic! Essentially, I was kind of geeky and not-chic, except that I thought I was the most chic. Animal-print? Yes please. Neon? Why not! I was also perhaps most famous in high school for having a blog, and by that I mean, I was gay and literate and wrote about it.

Going into this reunion, I had one main goal: make everyone want to kill themselves with jealousy.


I assumed that this goal was very much attainable and also very much in the bag. However, things started to unravel very quickly. A tussle with a sheet mask ended up with me having a slight allergic reaction. A haircut ended up looking a little too egghead. My skin, which has been on a journey not dissimilar to Arya Stark trying to find her way back to Winterfell, decided to have a flare-up! Everything was coming up rosacea!

For reasons that I discuss extensively in therapy but will not disclose here, I feel a powerful need to prove myself to everyone, but particularly people who dislike me. Given the fact that I went to an all-boys Catholic prep school and was gay/wore leopard-print, I was not wanting for enemies or bullies!

I showed up to cocktail hour an hour late and dressed fucking cute, and immediately realized that I would not get through this night without alcohol. I was sucked into a conversation with a former classmate about his career track. He does something client-facing, and wears ties, and honestly that’s all I could remember because I was too busy scanning the faces of other classmates and making mental notes of everyone who got hot.

As I mentioned, I went to a prep school, whose main exports are insecurity complexes and people who work in square professions – finance, real estate, anything that has you start as an “analyst.” I was one of maybe four people who was in a creative industry, and reminder, I barely have a job! I was back in an environment that both fostered trust-fund fist bumps and discouraged me making any sort of “anal-yst” jokes! It was tough!

To overcompensate, when people asked me what I did, I formulated a square and safe response. “I’m a writer, and I’m going to grad school in July.”

Over the course of the evening, I got progressively looser and more annoying. “I’m a writer” became “I’m a freelancer writer,” which became “I’m a freelancer writer and I work at Trader Joe’s,” which somehow devolved into “I write about gay stuff!” and then completely deteriorated into just “Gay!”

To be fair, it always ends up that way.

But sometimes I realized, as my answers about “What I’m Doing” became sillier and more honest, is that people responded in kind. I got an accountant to admit that if I don’t pay taxes, there’s a possibility that nothing will happen (don’t do this though, pay your taxes). I asked a civil engineer if he got inspiration from that underground cavern in Marvel’s The Defenders. He did not laugh!


When I was saying hi to somebody, the person next to him saw me and made to do the “How are you doing!” facial shift.

The problem with this was that we never had a conversation in high school. I knew who he was because he’s hot, and he knew who I was because I’m gay, but no words passed betwixt us. So when he said, “How’ve you been?” I responded with “I’m good – I’m excited to have our first conversation ever!” And all he could do was laugh because literally it’s true.

And once we got over the truth, we actually had a conversation. We talked about high school, his work, my work, marijuana dispensaries and being hot.

I detest small talk because it kind of defeats the purpose – it’s meant to facilitate conversation, but it actually becomes a barrier against having real conversation. It becomes “Where did you go to college again?” and “What have you been doing?” instead of “Did you love college?” and “What do you think of Cardi B?”

By the way, people have high praise for Cardi!

I understand the impulse to put your best foot forward – I’m the fucking mayor of Putting Your Best Foot Forward – so I’m not sure exactly what snapped in me, but I’m glad it did. Because instead of exchanging meaningless pleasantries, I actually dug into real conversation with both old friends and people that I had never connected with in high school.

High school was messy in roughly eight thousand ways, and these all made going back into the Vineyard Vines viper’s pit quite stressful, which is probably why I became acutely obsessed with my appearance. A classic redirect to avoid confronting past trauma, sis!

But despite it all, I’m glad I went. I got a chance to look hot in suede boots, call everybody “hon” and “handsome” and snag an alumni baseball cap. And at the end of the day, that’s really all I could ask for.

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2018, Mental Health

MARIAH CAREY COMES FORWARD WITH BIPOLAR II DISORDER DIAGNOSIS

Header image source: Wikipedia


I’ve come out three times in my life. First as gay, second as depressed, and third as a ride-or-die Kelly Clarkson stan. Strangely, it’s only the last that has caused permanent strife in my family. I expected that; the truth is hard to hear.

On Wednesday, skinny legend Mariah Carey announced that she has been dealing with a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. In an interview with People, Carey described that, while she was first diagnosed in 2001, it was only in the last few years that she fully accepted and grappled with treatment.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she said to People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”

It’s easy to drown this announcement in platitudes and inspirational sayings. It’s easy to say that Mariah is brave. It’s easy to say that this is important. It’s easy to bury this in well-wishes and forget how desperately important this is.

So it needs to be stated regardless: this is fucking important. This is fucking brave. And this is life-saving.

I was fifteen when I started going to therapy. I was nineteen when I went on medication. I remember the first time I went to CVS and picked up my prescription. I carried it back to my apartment, the small paper bag crunched up into my sweaty fist furtively. I eyed the small blue ovals with displeasure, and resented every swallow, every day, until one day I didn’t.

I am, relatively, extremely lucky. I live in a bubble where my mental health does not limit or define me. I have friends who have their own struggles, and I have parents who have advocated for me. It’s easy for me to forget the magnitude of disclosing mental health now that it has become so normalized for me.

But I let myself forget sometimes that I started writing about my depression and anxiety because when I needed it most, there was no literature that I found helpful. There were dry, clinical descriptions, and there were void-swallowing depressing missives. There weren’t people that I could relate to, people who were “normal” and functioned.

And in 2001, I can’t imagine the hostile environment that Mariah was facing when she received her diagnosis. It would have probably been career-ending to come forward, as a woman and as someone with bipolar disorder. She would’ve been labeled disruptive or crazy or entirely unreliable. She would’ve been a national joke.

It’s only the last few years – if that – that I’ve noticed a shift in the conversation surrounding mental health.

If I had had someone like Mariah – or Demi Lovato or Kesha or Dwayne Johnson – when I was fifteen or seventeen or nineteen, I think that I would progressed out of that shame a lot more quickly. I probably wouldn’t have been so reticent to accept help. I didn’t know that you could be successful and also depressed; I didn’t know that this didn’t have to be a life sentence or a limitation.

Despite the strides we’ve made, disclosing mental health issues is still a major risk. There’s a stigma attached to it, stigma that could eliminate job opportunities or personal relationships or credibility. That stigma is reduced when people disclose their own struggles, and represent as people who are functioning, productive and driven. It also opens the conversation to the ways that mental health can contribute to people’s downfalls, when people aren’t functioning or productive or driven. It can open the conversation about the ways that we are failing people who struggle with mental health.

Because there are people like Mariah, who had wealth and time and resources to understand and cope with her diagnosis. There are people like me who have a supportive family and a network of people.

But there are so many people without those resources, without the access to therapy or medication, for whom mental health can be detrimental. This helps them.

“I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating,” Mariah told People. “It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

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Humor, Life, Mental Health, Things Happening RN

Lol – I’m Depressed

It was probably the eighth time that I went to open a Word document to write a blog post, hovered over that blue W and then flicked my finger away that I realized something was probably wrong.

It was probably when waking up left me feeling more tired, the kind of deep, head-wrapped tired that dips your bones in wax.

It was probably when the thought of sending an email filled me with enough anxiety to justify binge-watching the latter half of Real Housewives of New Jersey. (I also just, like, had to do this. Siggy is crazy, y’all).

It was probably when depression curled itself around me like an angora sweater-shawl that I realized something was up. A blend of cashmere and sadness.

Depression is weird because even when you have a “handle” on it, it can still surprise you. I’ve been in therapy on-and-off since I was fifteen; I’ve had ups and downs and I thought that I was pretty solid on my mental health. Even so, I would be surprised to realize that the few “bad days” I was having, where nothing seemed to go right and my thoughts couldn’t be quelled, were small depressive blips.

In lay terms, I often describe those blips as a common cold. It knocks you out of commission for a few days; it makes you a little fuzzier and a little slower; you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s almost over. But, in the same way that a healthy person always seems a little in denial that their body is fallible, I’m always a little naïve that I can fall prey to these blips.

This last time has been more than a blip: a blap, perhaps, or even potentially a bloop. Depression is wild because it completely changes your way of thinking and distracts you from itself. It’s the Cheshire cat of mental health: me not being able to write a coherent blog post, or answer an email suddenly gets attributed to other things – I’m not funny or talented, or I still can’t figure out if “Best, Danny McCarthy” is going to be my email signature. It took a few days/weeks to realize, “Oh, it’s been you beside me all along.”

I live for a romantic comedy, but not one that ends with me and Depression kissing in a gazebo.

This bloop was brought on by a myriad of things, none of which were particularly noteworthy or memorable in and of themselves. I’m applying to grad school and wading through applications. I’m working. I’m trying to find a psychiatrist. I ran into my major high school crush whilst at my day job when I was underslept and overshaven. I’m living in my childhood bedroom. I graduated from college and I’m spiraling.

There’s no real button to this blog post that’s neat or clean. I’m still having a bloop; and I’m doing self-care in the ways that I know how: forcing myself to write, doing pull-ups and listening to a lot of Kelly Clarkson. I think it’s important to write this because I often feel that whilst I’m in the moment of a bloop that I can’t talk about it: better to wait until it’s over and then I can be triumphant and saintly and tough. But that’s not realistic, and that’s not relatable. And as much as I worry that these seem like “Cry for Help” posts or pity parties, I know that they’re not. I’m fine now, and I’ll be fine later. I don’t want to wax poetically about how I “made it through, and you will do.” I know I’ll make it through, and I know you will too, but hon, we’re here for the moment. Might as well lean into that angora and be honest.

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Mental Health, Rambles, Things Happening RN

MENTAL HEALTH IS CHIC, YOU GUYS

In typical fashion, I had a perfect title before I had anything else even written.

I just sent an email to a potential new psychiatrist (in the event it works out and I eventually tell you about this, hi hon!). While I was in school, I utilized our student health services and saw the same psychiatrist on-and-off for about three years. Always check out the resources available to you, especially when you’re at school—I’ve heard some horror stories about SHS, but I’ve always had good experiences.

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Humor, Mental Health

SELF-CARE: SOME TIPS, TRICKS, AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Written after eating Talenti coffee gelato and trying not to hate myself. 

See that right there, that “trying not to hate myself” was a great act of self-care. I’m already off to a fantastic start. Go you, me!

Monday I wrote about my anxiety-ridden weekend, so I thought it would be nice to write something medium-positive to take the sting out of pouring my emotions out for the homies. It was either this or go in the complete opposite creative direction to make you forget completely that I can ever be a sensitive human/sentient robot.

So I was doing my daily ritual of light incense, meditation and cleaning out my “YouTube Watch Later” playlist, which at some points is longer than my list of friends (short list of friends or long list of to-be-watched videos? You be the judge), and I watched a video of Tyler Oakley’s called “Five Easy Ways To Self-Care” or something like that—idk I’ll put it below, don’t make me look it up rn—and that triggered/inspired/thinspired me to do something similar, but a little more…me.


A lot of times when I see self-care things, they’re by “nice” people and all of the suggestions are helpful but not very appropriate for someone who spends as much time praying that “vibing” people with negative thoughts will make their lives worse.

See I also just watched the season two premiere of Difficult People, which if you’re not watching, you should be, and if you are watching, stop taking my thing, and that’s much more me—a couple of 7/10s running around, being mean/funny to people. For a lot of people like me—hot but mean—we can’t really identify with traditionally “nice” people. So here is the self-care guide you need if you’re a little bit of a dick and a lot of a mess.

Obviously there are the obvious things—obvi duh—like exercise (because exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make people happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands, duh!), drinking lots of water and eating healthily, and getting plenty of sleep. But you didn’t come here for a regular self-care guide—you came here for the Naomi Campbell of self-care guides (dangerous, beautiful, unpredictable).

1). Scream so loud: This is actually (semi)therapist approved. I once had a therapist who suggested that, as a way to get out my deep-seated anger, I get into my car and scream. Loudly. For as long as I could. When I, repressed as I am, finally did it, I was amazed at how good I felt. The primal and visceral reaction of screaming out loud, or into a pillow, or silent-screaming, is shockingly effective. It releases tension, it untwists the anger coils in your chest, and it’s so flagrantly weird that you have to laugh. At least, that’s what it makes me do. Alternatively, you could fake-laugh-scream at something, which always makes me actual laugh. Because I can find nothing real-funny until I find it ironic-funny. I’m a millennial.

2). Throw out your scale (or if it’s expensive just don’t use it): Seriously, if it’s money, just put it out of sight. I’m on a budget too. When I was at school, I didn’t have a scale and it actually really improved my mood. I know this because when I got home for the summer and discovered our fancy digital scale, I became obsessed with weighing myself. A lot of the anxiety-driven part of my depression manifests in body obsession and that translates to needing to know how much I weigh at any point. So I decided to stop weighing myself again and just let myself live. And it really helps. Numerical weight is such a scam anyway; a number can’t tell me how I feel about myself, or how the weight carries itself. I can be at my heaviest, but if I feel good, then that number is irrelevant.

A lot of self-care is cutting out unnecessary stress and stressors in your life, and trying not to give a shit about your weight—within reason—just seems like a no-brainer.

3). Pep talk: I don’t know how most people think, but I don’t think in words as much as I do in images and visceral emotions. Like, I don’t think, “Oh I’m nervous about work.” I feel it much more deeply and see it play out before me. And because of that, I don’t really have any sort of internal dialogue with myself. So when I’m feeling like I need to self-care, I’ll have a pep talk for myself, out loud in the mirror. In his video, Tyler actually said to treat yourself like your best friend, and that means to be nice to yourself and to lift yourself up. Alternately, I constantly sing out loud to myself. I’m not a good singer, but I do it when I walk, or do dishes, or fold laundry. Singing is a good, very healing thing to do. Emote, bitches.

4). Unfollow unhealthy social media accounts: I talked about this a little in my last post, but I can’t stress enough what a difference it has made. I’m not just talking about unfollowing boyz who you think are out of your league but are actually too emotionally withdrawn to like you; this totally works for cleaning out your social media followings. Unfriend that person you haven’t seen in forever; don’t force yourself to click through the Snap story of a colleague from four years ago who you only follow in the faint hopes of a shirtless moment. A lot of self-care is surrounding yourself with positivity and people you love; ditch the acquaintances.

 5). Watch videos of people falling: Funny as shit.

There are other, simpler things—good music, time spent outdoors, snuggling with cute animals. Then are other, more extensive things—a good therapist, self-reflection, journaling. It all depends on what you need. Also always remember to try to look on the positive…is the most annoying thing that anyone can ever say to anyone, but it’s honestly true. Even if you don’t have depression, it’s so easy to be stuck in the rut of negativity; taking active steps to appreciate things around you—nice eyebrows, the sunlight effusing a green leaf, old people holding hands—can change the roadways of your brain and rewire you for a happier outlook. Idk if that’s true; I read that somewhere.

If all else fails, start small. Smile. Take deep breaths. Close your eyes and just sit. And then read through all of my blog and tell me how smart, but how humble, and how funny, but how unintimidating, I am. Also someone sponsor me!!! Give me that $$$ so I don’t have to write “60 Ways To Get Your Sexy Back” listicles for the rest of my life!

Also I’ve been frequently changing up my header image to convince myself that I have some semblance of control over my life. What do you think??

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Source: Danny McCarthy via The Wunderkindof

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Life, Mental Health, Rambles

RUNNING AND SPILLING THAT ANXIE-TEA

Written on a Sunday evening, laptop on chest. 

I’ve had one of those weekends where I realize everything that’s ever been wrong/will be wrong/is wrong with my life. And I think it’s something only a rising college senior could experience, the compounded emotions of living life in your childhood home while simultaneously expected to grapple with the upcoming reality of post-graduate world. So that’s fun.

But actually that’s just me being hyperbolic because I realized that this weekend, and possibly the last week, I’ve been in the middle of a depressive slump. Being medicated while depressed is a weird thing because mentally you assume that the little blue pills you swallow every morning—I can swallow dry, tell your friends—will cure you. But really, they just help you manage the depression. I, and probably a lot of other depressed people, then operate under the assumption that we’re “better” or “normal.” This is confusing because when you go into depressive slumps, which is natural for anyone and extremely natural for someone with depression, you almost don’t realize what’s happening until you’re already chest-deep in emotion.

And the “you” in this situation is “me.” Or “I”?

I used to have these wild mood swings where for two weeks, I would be deeply depressed, then I wouldn’t be, and that joy would elevate into this kind of superior fervor because I wasn’t depressed at the moment, and then it would gradually swing back. Medication restricted that vast pendulum swing, and so my moods travel back into the regular range. And on one hand, that’s awesome because blah blah blah we get why that’s awesome. But on the other hand, I A) became addicted to the feelings of high and almost reveled in the lows, and B) was able to realize when I was in a slump because it was so obvious.

When you have a regular human range of emotions, mixed with the (wrong) belief that you’re cured of depression, those slumps can really sneak up on you, and BOI did they sneak up on me.

One way to realize that you’re in a slump is that things begin to resonate harder with you. Before I was on medication, I described it as if I were a well. Anything could happen and it would ping down into my well and reverberate deeply inside. When you’re on medication, the well seems shallower, so the things don’t vibrate as deeply or for as long. But in this slump, a lot of little things—the usual bunch of body image, boy weirdness, friend weirdness and job anxiety—compounded and suddenly became so overwhelming that I did something I never do anymore.

I ran outside.

Basically from ages fourteen to eighteen, I was constantly running. After I got into college, I dropped that like a hot stone and recently I’ve picked it up slightly in the form of highly regulated, 12-minute sprints on the treadmill. I hate going on runs. But I was so amped up and anxious and I had no car to go to the gym to burn away my emotions that I just started running in my neighborhood. I only ran three miles—okay ran/walked/stood and tweeted three miles—and it really helped to cleanse me.

I power-sprinted to Meghan Trainor, I walked to Matt Nathanson, and I boiled down some concrete things I could do. A lot of what’s been stressing me out has its claws in social media, and I took some action to alleviate some of that anxiety. One of it was unfollowing someone because following them only confuses me romantically and indulges my tendency to fixate and obsess. And even though I still meander over to them in my mind, I don’t have that digital bee-sting when I scroll past their stuff. And so that’s something that I could do to make myself feel better and did.

I think a lot of dealing with your emotions, whether or not you suffer from depression, is about taking distance. When I was in the full flush of all these emotions, I had to step back, recognize the slump for what it was, and realize that that was enhancing my anxiety. Not that these things wouldn’t have stressed me out on a good day, but they wouldn’t have made me as emotional. And having space from the things that are causing you to be stressed also allows you to evaluate them. Like, I’m an obsessive person sometimes, so I’ve been fixating on this one person and thinking that I like them when really maybe I do like them but I’m also looking for someone to fixate on and someone to rationalize current other emotions. Sounds complicated, right?

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Source: Pajiba/Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the show I’m currently watching. V good, v good.

I’m rambling, but I wanted to write it out and idk get this thought out there? I reached out to people when I was feeling really spiral-y—Marco, Nina—and having their friendship and listening ears really helped me out. So I think putting stuff like this out there, that being medicated doesn’t mean cured and that’s not a bad thing, and it’s okay to get overemotional and stressed and anxious, validates a lot of feelings I think we all have. And that’s important—the validation of our feelings.

Anyway, anyway, anyway. I wrote an article responding to the Dallas shooting on The Odyssey Online, so if it’s up by the time this gets published, I’ll link it HERE (DON’T FORGET DANNY). I don’t want it to look like I’m ignoring last week’s events.

I LOVE YOU GUYS. Even you. Yes, you! I like that top. Most people would’ve be that brave to pull off something like that. No that’s not shade. OMG IT’S NOT SHA—

Byeee!

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