Last but not least, we have Kate, my latest blogger crush, the blogger that isn’t afraid to touch upon what others will not. Kate and I both attended a bloggers event in DC back in May, but did not officially “meet” until August. She has a way with storytelling that I’ve seen very few bloggers master, but she’s also able to touch the heart of readers by simply sharing stories and feelings that invoke the “hey, it’s not just me” thought. Check out what our last phenomenal beauty has to say!
In your post, Under the Weight of Living, you mentioned that your positive state of mind had become fragile. How did you nurture it back to its good health?
I wrote this post at the height of a mental & emotional meltdown. I’d been in a relationship for 3.5 years with a very, very good man who was my best friend & whom I loved very, very much. But a two-week visit to D.C., where I lived before we dated, helped me realize that I wasn’t in love with him. Still, I was terrified to end the relationship. I couldn’t imagine living without him – or moving out of the apartment we shared together and uprooting my whole life. I had to decide where to go, what to do, who to be – & I was unable to deal with any of it, crippled by anxiety & fear that immobilized me.
I wrote this post after one of the most difficult days I’ve ever had, even though nothing otherwise memorable actually happened that day. I work from home, so I was in my apartment alone – it was, like, midday on a Tuesday – & all of a sudden, I felt like I was being suffocated, crushed by my anxiety & crippled by my fear. In the midst of a major panic attack, I seriously considered walking to the hospital down the road & checking myself into the psych ward. I was sure my brain was broken.
I wrote that post almost 10 months ago, & I can’t believe how different my life looks today. I basically picked up & left my life, started a new one; some days I wake up, take a look around, & think, “I can’t believe I did this.” It was terrifying, but for me, the key was to just do it, fear & all. It’s been a slow, scary road – complete with medication, therapy, & a whole new life – but I’m doing better. Every day, I’m doing better.
What are 5 things you learned about yourself when you took that leap and relocated yourself back to D.C?
I learned that we always think we can’t until we do – & once we do, it’s difficult to imagine why we ever felt so sure we couldn’t. I learned that I am braver than I think I am, & that somehow I’m usually the only one who can’t see it.
I learned that I am my own harshest critic & worst enemy. If a friend said to me the things I say to myself, she wouldn’t be my friend for long! As a result of that realization, I’m trying to also learn self-care & self-kindness.
And once again, I learned that depression & anxiety are real & that there is no shame in seeking help.
You are very passionate about mental illness and removing the stigma around it. Do you mind sharing why this is so important to you?
My high school boyfriend, my first love, hung himself shortly after his 20th birthday. When I read his suicide letter, I was struck by how incoherent it was – despite the fact that it came from one of the most eloquent writers I’d ever known. Reading it, it felt clear to me that he’d been sick, that something must’ve been seriously off-kilter in his brain. I’d known him to struggle with bouts of sadness, but this was more than that. This was illness. Mental illness.
Prior to his death, I’d been considering killing myself – but after he committed suicide, I knew I couldn’t. I spent a long time being ashamed of my own struggles with mental illness & trying to cover them up, but I recently came clean in a post for xoJane. The response from friends, family, & strangers alike was so incredibly supportive that it inspired me to be more open about my issues in the hopes of helping others through their own.
What words of advice would you share with your 16-year-old self about self-esteem, self-worth, and of course, the art of blogging, and maybe finding your passion?
Some days, I can hardly remember who I was at 16. I was a pretty happy high schooler; my self-esteem issues were bad in elementary school, disappeared for awhile, & came back with a vengeance in college, joined by my experience with severe depression. But my advice to past versions of myself is the same advice I’m still trying to give to the current version: Be kind to yourself. Quit comparing yourself to everyone else. See value in your strengths, & work to cultivate them. And write more. Write about everything.
What’s next for Kate the escapist? Another move?
When I first posted to Facebook that I’d be moving back to D.C., a college friend commented, “Seriously, are you ever going to settle down?” And I’d like to! I think. But honestly, I have no idea what comes next. I’m thinking of staying in D.C. but would also eventually like to return home to Cleveland); I’m not sure where I’ll end up. My therapist is trying to impress upon me the value of savoring the moment – not worrying so much about all the possible permutations & outcomes of future decisions – so that’s what I’m trying to do right now. For someone with anxiety like mine, it’s an almost impossible feat, but I’m working on it! Breathe in, breathe out, repeat…
Kate is a writer, social media manager, and prolific TV-watcher living in Washington, D.C. She prefers dives to clubs, beer to wine, flats to heels, & the Midwest to just about anywhere. She tweets far too often at @heyescapist & blogs about her many (mis)adventures atGreatestEscapist.com.