A Love Letter to “Baby Daddy”

TAHJ MOWRY, CHELSEA KANE, JEAN-LUC BILODEAU, KAYLEIGH AND SURA HARRIS, DEREK THELER, MELISSA PETERMAN

Over the years, I have talked endlessly about Baby Daddy to anyone that would care to listen. I’m not even slightly sorry. There has never, ever been a sitcom that’s made me literally laugh out loud with every single episode. I have nothing but love and appreciation for the creative geniuses behind this comedic work of art, for the Wheelers, for the cast that brought them to life and the crew that gave birth to not only them, but also the jokes that made me laugh so hard I ended up crying. I will always carry Tucker’s bad country song about Bonnie with me.

Back in January 2015, I tweeted about Baby Daddy being the light of my existence, heart and soul. It still is. It will always be. Tahj Mowry was right when he said that comedy changes lives and laughter mends hurting hearts. This show has been with me through everything for the past five years, getting me through terrible breakups, awful mental health days, deaths. Times where I felt that nothing could ever cheer me up, even though deep down I knew Baby Daddy would be able to. And it was. Every time. So thank you for giving me a place to run to whenever I didn’t know which way to go – or many places, for that matter. The boys’ apartment, the firescape, Bar on B. Places that I know will always be there to welcome me home.

Baby Daddy may be saying goodbye on May 22nd, but I, for one, will never stop running back to the Wheelers. Like Riley once said, “Like it or not, the Wheelers are my family too.”

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

x, Tania.

Hello, Stranger

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Guess who’s back? Back again? OK, too early to make way too dumb jokes? Yikes. On that note, is it still cool to make Eminem references? Is he still bae? Am I hip enough? Honestly, man, these 21st century problems.

First of all, should I just, uhm, introduce myself again? I’m aware it’s been an awfully long time, and you may have forgotten about me.

So, hi.

My name’s Tania.

I’m not going to go into details, but for the past few months I have barely written anything. Blog posts, articles, poems – you name it, I haven’t done it. If you remember the last few posts I published, which I have now deleted, you may recall me not feeling my best. While I think they were a very accurate, and somewhat too raw, portrayal of my reality at the time, I believe my absence speaks for itself when it comes to what was going on behind the scenes.

Life wasn’t great for me when I stopped posting. I mean, it kind of was: I was living a dream I’d had for a long time. It was me who wasn’t feeling great. Now I can see that my mind probably thought it was a wise decision to somehow step aside from those dark thoughts that were clouding my judgement in order to get some fresh air, which I could only do by giving up writing for a bit as it tends to go hand in hand with my deepest, most hidden emotions. In any case, at some point that wasn’t even a choice anymore. My life got turned upside down in a way I was not expecting at all (me, the one who can always anticipate everything) and suddenly I wasn’t even thinking about writing, just about… getting by.

It wasn’t until earlier this week that I realized how much I missed writing: for myself, for this blog, for other websites. I was craving it. I knew that, aside from everything else, I was missing something that was crucial for me. For my life. For who I am as a person. I was missing my art. And your art matters. Tattoo that on the back of my hand because I won’t stop saying it for as long as I believe it. Because it does matter. Because it’s about time I start getting myself back.

That said, to some of you, I have to say thank you for the encouragement and all the kind words. Both regarding my writing and in life, always. It means more to me than I could ever put into words.

Come back soon for more Eminem references. He is and always will be cool. 😉

Tania x

Welcome, 2017 & 23

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It’s the first day of 2017 and my third day as a 23 year old. That may not mean much to you, but it does to me. I’m not one to sit down and write about resolutions because I will simply forget about them within the first week, and while I do have some minor ones, this time I want to leave written proof of what I want this year to look like.

It’s going to be the year of no fear. It’s going to be the year of doing things that scare me to death because those are the ones that are really worth it in the end. It’s time to learn that sometimes fear is a good sign, and instead of running the other way, you should just embrace it with both arms until it becomes the size of a fly. It’s the only way to see what’s in store for you.

It’s going to the be year where everything is real. I want real relationships, real friendships, real exchanges. I need people I don’t have to figure out. I shouldn’t have to. I’m tired of games. I can’t say I have never been a player myself, but honestly, that’s really not me. I don’t need anyone who doesn’t want to be here – or who doesn’t know if they want to be here, for that matter. In that sense, for me, everything’s black or white. I don’t love people halfway, so I will not accept that in return.

It’s the first day of 2017 and I have already told someone something that should’ve been said a long time ago, something about not letting the enemy into my life anymore when I know it only wants to stab me when I’m not paying attention. I really don’t need it. No fear and no games. A great motto, if you will. So here’s to a year of not holding back, not tolerating bullshit, caring without measure and loving fiercely and, why the hell not, dangerously.

It’s on, 2017.

Let’s do it.

Tania x

How I’m Spending Christmas

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Which is to say, I’m not.
I can’t see the lights
or hear the music.
And I try, damn it,
I do try as hard as I can.
I’ve been faking it
in the hopes that I’ll make it.
I’ll smile and sing
and joke and play,
but birds and owls
always drag me back
to my emotional deathbed
and its water stained pillows.

I don’t want to talk to anyone
so I can’t blame them for not noticing.
Still I wish they would.
I wish they could see that
when I say I’m not feeling festive,
I mean my favorite time of the year
feels like a knife to the stomach
that keeps turning without mercy.
When I say I’m not doing great,
I mean there’s a storm with my name.
When I say I didn’t have a good day,
for the nineteenth time in a row,
I mean I’m more salt water than human.
When I say something isn’t right,
I mean loneliness sings me to sleep
and life feels too heavy on my shoulders.
I’m screaming with my mouth shut.
Why can’t you see it.
It’s so obvious.
I mean
help me.

#WorldMentalHealthDay: Anxiety, OCD & the Art of Healing

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Anxiety by TamberElla

Ever since I entered the scary ride that is adulthood (to place that in time, let’s just say when I finished high school – I’m 22 now), I knew there was something off. At first I thought that maybe I was strange, different from anyone my age. University is supposed to be the craziest time of your life. Instead, I spent those years locked in my room wondering why I just couldn’t go out and have fun and stop worrying so much about every little thing in my life. However, I thought that was just my personality. Maybe I am just a dull over-thinker.

I had what I later found out was my first panic attack when I was travelling with friends back in 2013. I’d been very irritable for days, and at that very moment all I could think of was that I was going to die away from home. It sounds ridiculous now, but it’s what I remember the most. I didn’t die -well, obviously-, but I kept it for myself. Come to think of it now, I didn’t share it with my family because I knew it was not ordinary. I knew it didn’t have anything to do with my blood pressure or any other common health issue. I didn’t want to worry anyone.

I spent the following year being very unsure as to why I was so unstable emotionally, so to speak. I was irascible, tense, constantly stressed out, angry, probably very difficult to be with. But I still didn’t tell anyone. I kept thinking I was imagining the whole thing. However, over a year later, everything fell apart. I was dealing with so much at the time, but not more than usual. To this day I still don’t know why it happened. All I know is that I started getting worse and worse, to the point that I couldn’t even focus revising or reading a book. All I know is that one fine morning in May 2015, I went up to my mother, crying, and I told her everything: that I wasn’t okay, that I was obsessing over things that did not make any sense, that I didn’t want to be near anyone I cared about in case I ended up hurting them accidentally, that I couldn’t bear being inside my head anymore. She was really surprised. That’s the thing about mental health, that you learn to hide things really well. However, I got really lucky with her, which is not the case for many people suffering with mental health issues. She’s had anxiety for almost 15 years now and she never once told me it was “all in my head”, thankfully. When my tears let me finish telling the whole story (or as much I felt capable of sharing at the time), she didn’t even give me a choice: she said we were going to our family doctor as soon as she was available, which was in a couple of days. I didn’t oppose. I was so grateful. That’s how badly I needed help.

I spent the following days crying. I’d kept it all bottled up inside for so long that, as weird as it sounds, it felt so good to finally be able to cry about it. I cried in front of my doctor. I told her I thought I was going insane, and she told me that I definitely wasn’t, that what I was feeling was real but she couldn’t really help me as much as I needed, so she sent me to a psychiatrist. I cried in front of her, too. She also told me I wasn’t crazy, which felt ridiculously good to hear. I cannot stress enough how important it is to feel validated when you’re dealing with mental health issues. It is so relieving to finally put a name to your problem. On that note, she diagnosed me with anxiety and OCD – which, mind you, I’ve been suffering for since I was a kid but never had a clue. I just thought I was hired that way. It turns out that the pressure I’d been putting on myself for years to make up for what I thought was a messed up personality had finally taken its toll on me. The beast that still lives inside my head had been unleashed. My anxiety was at an all-time high. My OCD had basically exploded.

I’m always going to remember that summer as the worst of my life for the mere reason that I wasn’t feeling like myself at all. I was taking two pills of sertraline a day while also going to therapy and doing anything I could to help me stay sane: meditation, herbs, exercise, poetry, self-help tips I got from the Internet. I was also saying yes to every single plan that came my way, even if all I wanted was to stay in bed and cry – advice that I stole from my mother, who kept saying “You have to force yourself to actually do things when you least want to because it’s when you need it the most” when she first started dealing with anxiety herself.

Some of those things -or maybe all of them combined- worked, because by the end of the summer I remember there was a Sunday where I thought, “Wow, that was the first (almost) anxiety-free week in forever.” I felt free. I felt alive. And it was, mainly, because I’d forced myself to go out and get my mind off things and sleep at a friend’s and go to a random party where I ended up having the time of my life. Obviously, these were all people I felt very comfortable with and to this day remain some of my best friends. But I suddenly wanted to do things with my life. I no longer wanted to sleep and never wake up just so I didn’t have to deal with my own brain. I wanted to see my friends, sing, dance, write, have fun. It obviously wasn’t an abrupt recovery. It didn’t happen in a week. It took months and so much hard work for me to feel whole again. In fact, even though there are days that are a lot easier, I still have what I call the Dark Days; days that require a little bit more of work on my part in order to keep my sanity.

Look, I don’t think there’s a secret to recovery that works for literally everyone. However, I can share some advice from my own experience: Get help. That’s the most important advice I can give you. Tell your family, close friends, professors if you need to. Tell your doctor. You’re not insane, or losing it, or even a bad person. They will understand. They all helped immensely in making dealing with such a delicate health issue a bit easier. Say yes, even if all you feel like doing is hiding under the duvet – especially then. Find whatever form of expression works for you and dedicate yourself to it whenever you feel a bit closer to the cliff. I found mine while taking a Poetry class at university when I was at my lowest, and I will forever be thankful to my wonderful professor for being so passionate about poetry, hence passing it on to me. Listen to me, your art matters. More than any demon you might be battling. Remember that. That ugly, scary demon is very real, you’re not making it up, but you can’t let it win. If there is something that makes you feel even a bit better (whatever it is: painting, writing, learning a new language, scrapbooking, woodworking – ANYTHING), do it. Since I was diagnosed with anxiety, I have graduated university, successfully finished my final dissertation, written a collection of poetry, been published on some of my favorite websites, created my own blog (which people seem to love judging by the heartwarming private messages I receive), become a contributing writer for an entertainment website and I’m about to start my Master’s Degree in Editing and an internship at a publishing house. So you see, I’m not just blowing smoke. Heal any way you know how. It will get better eventually.

So if you take only one thing from this ridiculously long (and relevant – at least, for me) post on #WorldMentalHealthDay, let it be this: please, please, please… Get help. Come to terms with the fact that you can’t solve everything yourself, because sometimes that’s the hardest part to admit. It’s completely fine. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be shy. Dumbledore was right: just because it’s happening inside your head it doesn’t mean it’s not real. Be kind to yourself. Let other people guide you if you just can’t find the way. That’s what will make all the difference.

For The One Who Can’t See Her Worth

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We may not have seen eye to eye quite a few times over the years, which is fine, but there is one thing that we don’t agree on and it upsets me to no end: the way you think of yourself. You definitely do not see yourself through my eyes.

Last Friday night, I saw you break down over someone who definitely does not deserve to have you in their life in any way, shape or form. You may have realized, but I just didn’t know what to say or how to react. I shut myself down. I know that feeling far too well. I didn’t want to demand you stopped crying, because I knew you needed to let it all out. I didn’t want to scold you and tell you that this stupid douchebag doesn’t deserve you, because you know that already. And I know for a fact that there’s nothing worse than being aware of the fact that they don’t deserve you and still being unable to help yourself. I didn’t want to tell you off and make you think you had to apologize for having feelings, because the rain doesn’t say sorry for falling, and neither should you.

Look, if there is someone I’ve learned from, that’s you. You say I have changed a lot over the past few months, and that’s true, but what is also true is that I’d always wanted to be more like you. More carefree, less shy, more friendly, less worried all the time, with a hint of that confidence that always seemed to come off you like perfume. I have always been kind of jealous of that – and I don’t think I’ve ever told you. Somewhere along the way, though, we switched roles. I don’t know when or why it happened, but at some point you stopped seeing yourself like the badass woman that you’ve always been. You’re kind, funny, strong, smart, adorable, pretty and, last but not least, yes, you’re hot. With incredibly gorgeous eyes and Rapunzel hair. And you can draw. You are damn talented. You art matters.

I wish you could see all that for yourself. Hopefully, one day you will. One day you will be able to say, “Fuck it, I’m better than this” and never look back. You deserve it. And remember, you don’t need anyone by your side to remind you of your worth. But if you ever do need someone to do exactly that, I’ll gladly take the job.

I love you more than I loved Zayn back in 2012. That’s a lot.

Tania x

What Heartbreak Truly Looks Like

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So you met someone, fell in  love, things got serious, both of you thought you were going to be in each other’s lives for the long run (at least for a short while) and then they broke your heart. So far, so good. Or so bad. In pop culture, we tend to romanticize heartbreak. We see Rachel Green staring out the window while U2’s “With Or Without You” plays in the background. We read articles about moving on and wishing the best for the other person. We read empowering poems about your strength after you’ve been left in the dark. Joseph Gordon Levitt meets a new romantic interest called Autumn after things with Summer don’t work out.

In real life, heartbreak looks nothing like that.

Heartbreak looks like your whole life shattered into a million pieces. I have only felt like I was losing myself once before and it was because of me, because of my anxiety. I have never lost myself because of someone else. Heartbreak looks like trying to put together the pieces and rebuilding those that are clearly missing now. It looks like being unable to quit the anxiety pills I’ve been on for more than a year because I have come to feel a hundred times worse than I did before I met him. It looks like getting what I’ve worked so damn hard for destroyed.

Heartbreak looks like having coffee at 6am while your mother cries with you. It looks like sleeping on your sister’s bed because you don’t want to be alone. It looks like going to work after getting three hours of sleep and spending all night and day crying hoping your bosses won’t notice the bags under your eyes. It looks like not washing your hair in five days if you don’t have to leave the house. It looks like sending the same text message to your best friend, over and over, saying “I’m sad and I don’t understand why.” It looks like my mother saying people fall sick from wondering why. And she was right.

It looks like being told by my parents they’re disappointed in me because the Tania they’ve come to know and love would never allow anything like this to happen. It looks like them smiling the first time I use my bad temper against him after the breakup, saying that “it’s you again.” Heartbreak looks like accepting the most time-consuming job possible because you don’t want to spend any time thinking. That’s what’s screwed up: I used to love being by myself (I am a homebody, after all) and now I can’t stand it. It looks like being nicer to him that he deserves, simply because you want to respect and be faithul to your own feelings. Heartbreak looks like still foolishly expecting an honest apology that’s not as hollow as his words of love, because otherwise it’ll be thrown into the exact same drawer. It looks like forgiving in order to be able to move on, but never forgetting – clarifying this because some people seem to take the fact that I forgive them as a free card for them to be mean to me. You see, gorgiving you does not mean I will put up with your bullshit, lies and awfully disrespectful behavior towards me. I won’t. Your lies are like bullets going through the holes you left in me and they hurt in places I didn’t even know I still had.

There is nothing romantic about heartbreak. There is nothing romantic about not being able to listen to certain songs or going to certain places because they bring back memories. There is, however, something amazing to be said about rising from the ashes and finding yourself again, because my parents (and friends) were right: I would never allow anything like this to happen to me. I’m far too strong. And if you think I’m willing to be manipulated in any way, shape, or form… think again.

Tania x