Album Reviews: Katy Perry, Lorde, Portugal the Man

Katy Perry – Witness

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Had I listened to this album based solely on the singles ‘Bon Appetit’, ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ and ‘Swish swish’ I would have been take aback. However, I was ultimately brought to listen to Katy Perrys new album because I spent a half sober night watching her have a one hour therapy session in a live YouTube video. Through listening to her spill her guts about the pressures of functioning as a human being in the chaos of international stardom, I have come to understand her better. Though I almost let the YouTube comments alter my judgement- it struck me as very sincere and very brave-so much respect to you, KP!

‘Witness’ hits a sweet spot between 80s and 90s dance pop, but somehow manages to sound modern. Though even the most upsetting song lyrics are backed by a catchy beat, it embodies the essence of Katy Perrys best assets-her unique voice and her clever, versatile songwriting. Her lyrics have taken a turn from the goofy and become more about urban slang (Swish swish bish?)-but her ability to capture and convey an idea in a song is still strong.

‘Witness’ shows its greatest strength with its soul-as it is also Katy Perrys most relatable piece of work. With songs that cover everything from self love to lost love, it feels mature. It feels open. It feels honest. There is plenty of fun and playful, but there is a lot of human behind all of that.

I may be gushing, but I really fell in love with this album in its entirety moreso than any of her previous. It speaks to me at this point in my life-and I’m sure that it will speak to many others as well.

Lorde- Melodrama

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Not to be silly, but Melodrama is a perfect title to define the vibe of this album- mellow and dramatic.

Lorde gracefully rides the hype train to an album that maintains her unique sound and boasts a maturity and class that justifies her recent once in a lifetime compliment from David Bowie in which he was quoted as calling her “the future of music”. No pressure!

‘Melodrama’ is a moody, vibrant portrait of a hot summer night in the throws of young relationships. It is poetic without being pretentious and it is wise beyond its years without losing its youth- which is a perfect description of the woman herself. Songs like ‘Sober’, ‘Green Light’ ‘Supercut’ and ‘Perfect Places’ are groovy dance anthems that meld perfectly with the brooding, introspective songs like ‘Liability’ and ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’. It is a journey through the ups and downs of love that is guided by Lordes soothing tones and funky beats.

If you were a fan of ‘Pure Heroine’ and the independently released songs that she has released since then-like ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ and ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ from the Hunger Games-you will take to ‘Melodrama’ right away. There is growth here, but there is no mistaking that you are listening to a Lorde record. She is such a rare talent who utilizes her deep vocals in a way that feels natural-and it rides the line between alternative and mainstream pop music in an interesting way. ‘Melodrama’-much like its predecessor-is a knockout.

Portugal the Man – Woodstock

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It was a breath of fresh air to finally have a new record from Portugal the Man-since our household has been playing their 2013 album ‘Evil Friends’ half to death in the past few years. Since then, we have seen a couple of random songs popping up-like the deliriously infectious ‘Noise Pollution’ and the equally as addicting single ‘Feel it Still’-both which made their way onto the album. With a short 10 song tracklist filled with their trademark falsetto vocals and hypnotic indie rock style-‘Woodstock’ is less rebellious than their 2013 album, but it is a perfect record to bring into your summer rotation.

While this blend of high vocals and upbeat tempos with an alternative rock edge is barely unique at this juncture-with bands like Foster the People sounding nearly identical-there is something special about Portugal the Man that I cannot quite put my finger on. Their sound has become more refined over the years-arguably leaning more towards the mainstream-and they have really nailed down their offbeat approach to putting together a song. ‘Woodstock’-like ‘Evil Friends’ is solid all the way through and keep your interest piqued with catchy riffs and choruses. You’ll feel good listening to this one.

Review: Wonder Woman

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Still buzzing from viewing Wonder Woman last night, I find myself in the rare position of being seduced by a film even after sleeping on it. The magic that I had hoped for in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and (slightly) Suicide Squad was finally realized in the passion project that is Wonder Woman.

Yes, of course, as a female as I went into this experience with a far different perspective than what studios may consider to be the “audience” for these films. Yes, of course I entered with my girl power flag flying. However, I went in as a woman scorned by a couple of disappointing entries in this ever growing universe of DC films. My feelings were very conflicted.

The great news here is that Wonder Woman was everything that I wanted, and more. It is a story of a woman sculpted from (genetic lottery winning) clay and brought to life by Zeus who leaves her utopian homeland of amazon warrior women with a strange man to help end Earths great war by killing Ares-the god of war. This mix of Greek mythology, historical drama and fantasy proves to be a winning combination in the hands of Patty Jenkins-known widely for her Oscar winning film ‘Monster’.

The film spends a generous amount of time in the hidden paradise of Themyscira showcasing the rigorous training, impressive agility and compassionate society that the amazon women embrace. Their culture is one of love, support, dedication, loyalty and respect-but it is also one that teaches every member of its community to be strong enough to fight for themselves. Literally. In this environment Diana is drawn to be a warrior like her mother and auntie Antiope (say that 10 times fast). Though she faces conflicting support from her family, her strong will and fighting spirit proves to be her most defining trait.

When Steve Trevor-a British spy escaping from a pack of German soldiers with incredibly important intel in tow-crash lands in Themyscira, Diana learns for the first time that there is a world outside of her own, and one that needs her help. Her motivation to rid the world of Ares evil influence is her driving force throughout this film-while love gives her the strength to carry it through to the end.

Though her relationship with Steve Trevor is certainly central to the story, it is not the type of love story which causes the lovers to sidestep their initial motivations. It gets tiresome to hear every man who she comes into contact with telling her how beautiful she is- but it reflects on the time period. Nobody wants to hear her, only to look at her. Despite all of the obvious jabs at her beauty, Dianas most beautiful and emotional scenes come when she faces evil directly in its face. Every combat scene is expertly shot, expertly choreographed and rivals anything else that I’ve seen on screen in a fantasy setting. Her physical capabilities are displayed with absolutely nothing held back-and it makes for some of the most intense and heart pumping fights in any superhero film to date.

Wonder Woman certainly has its flaws, but I was very impressed by the attention given to every aspect of it. From the accurately devastating portrayals of ground and biological warfare, to the care that went into its characters. Everyone in this diverse cast has an identity and everyone has their contribution to the big picture. Only the villains of this tale are one sided in their beleifs. The story is well paced and never dull, and it gives little screen time to the “fish out of water” tropes that it could so easily have fallen back on. Diana doesn’t learn how phones work, or learn how to walk in heels. When it comes to quality acting- Chris Pine was the star for me here. His portrayal of both a fearless and passionate soldier, as well as a man lovestruck by a woman with unflinching independence-is convincing on all accounts.

Of course, my most beloved takeaway from Wonder Woman was the woman herself. Her compassion is not weakness, and her heart is not her Achilles heel. She persists in the face of opposition and she will be silent for no one. She stands in the way of any danger-gunfire, gas or genocide. She is driven by the idea of peace and inspired by the women who made her, but she is never blinded by the past. She looks to the future.

She is a woman, and a hero, that every woman would love to be. I walk away from this film wanting to be a better woman for this world.
Sidenote: Wonder Womans theme music is LIQUID GOLD

A Beautiful Bubble

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Being a mom is harder than I ever thought it would be. It is a test of your patience, of your resilience, and your ability to deal without adequate sleep. It is a full-FULL time position that doesn’t get you paid. It is baby germs, stains, headaches and cereal for supper. It is immeasurable responsibility, it is a catalyst for change and it can be an isolating bubble to live within.

But what a beautiful, intimate, delicate bubble it is. It is full of laughter, discovery and unforgettable moments.

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms, grammas, aunties, teachers, mentors, sisters and ladies that influence with their maternal senses. To anyone left feeling alone on this day because they lost a mother or a child- keep love in your heart.

PS. My son is saying real words now-and he loves the word “bubble” right now.

I finished ‘Fables’ today!

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The first five volumes of ‘Fables’ was lent to me months and months ago, and I left the series untouched as I reworked my old excuse that I “have too much to read already”. A few weeks back I finally decided to pick it up, and I rarely put it down since then.

I can’t remember the last time that I felt so completely enamored with a story-let alone a graphic novel-as I am with ‘Fables’. It continues to blow my mind a bit that a story stemming from the literal roots of fantasy storytelling-fairytales-could become a dark, complex, intelligent war drama starring Snow White, the “big bad wolf” and Little Boy Blue. Besides that, the art is a gorgeous melding of bright and rustic at the same time-very reflective of this epic tale.

If you need something to shake up your reading and to give you a strange realm of inspiration, this is where you should start. It is worth the eleven (at least) volumes. You won’t even notice the time go by!

Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter

After a group restructuring of sorts for Paramore’s self titled 2013 album, fans were left slightly taken aback by the new direction of their beloved free spirited rock band. Though I count myself in that camp, I have grown to love and appreciate the bold, pop centric persona brought forward-as it continues to showcase the groups signature energy and catchy hooks in a new way. In another surprising twist, on todays new release ‘After Laughter’ Paramore hones their unique blend of pop and rock with an 80s flair that takes you back to a time of neon colors and milkshakes.

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From its first two singles “Hard Times” and “Told You So” it was safe to assume that ‘After Laughter’ was poised to become a perfect summer soundtrack. A blend of nostalgic, synth-centric music behind Hayley Williams crystal clear twang results in something that rejuvenates a group that could easily have been lost in the mid-2000s emo rock movement that has since dissipated.

Although ‘After Laughter’ may have you believe that it is an escape to a rock disco wonderland on songs like ‘Told You So’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Idle Worship’-its central theme seems to be the darker side of life behind a smile. ‘Fake Happy’ is one of many chilled out tracks with a morose edge to its simplistic approach to songwriting. It asks just how many of us are pretending to be happy to keep up appearances-much like the tone of this entire album.

The groups evolution from moody, emotional, rebellious stadium rock that began to turn its head on ‘Brand New Eyes’ has certainly landed in a place that many longtime fans did not expect, but some things have not changed. As it is with many bands who are lucky enough to live through more than one “phase” in music, they are trying new things to stay fresh, but there has not been much growth in terms of maturity. In all honesty, in a musical landscape where highly skilled,creative, fearless songwriters are putting out music that is highly accessible at a moments notice- a general lack of substance in Paramores music keeps me at a distance. At the end of the day, Paramore is still fun, and they still wear their heart on their sleeve-love it or leave it.

If you’re a new or old fan, its definitely worth a listen to figure out how you feel about it.

A Rogue One Review – Spoilers ahead!

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To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with Rogue One. It definitely didn’t have that same buildup, that same magic, that same air of mystery that The Force Awakens did. That is no fault to the marketing of the film-it is simply inevitable. We already know how this movie ends. Period. Like any “based on a true story” film, Rogue One bears the burden of transparency. We know that the Rebels succeed in stealing the plans to the death star-so this film is all about the journey that the rebels and the Empire take leading into ‘A New Hope’.

Herein lies both the strongest and weakest points of ‘Rogue One’-the treatment of its characters. This film is also burdened with the unique task of incorporating well established characters with a batch of fresh ones who we never knew by name until now. I strongly feel that the films use of its classic character roster was very well done-from the epic Darth Vader scenes, to the appearance of Jimmy Smits, to the pitch perfect recasting of Mon Mothma and yes…even Tarkin.

I understand the general beef with the treatment of deceased actor Peter Cushing as an entirely motion captured CGI character. I totally get it. However, we cannot discredit the bold decision to incorporate such a prominent character whose absence would be sorely missed. We also shouldn’t discount how good it really looks. I definitely noticed it-because I knew that it was happening- but there were times where I simply forgot that it wasn’t the man himself. With the level of quality animation in modern video games, why wouldn’t we take the opportunity to utilize that in modern cinema?

When it comes to the new cast of characters-the Rebels-I felt a little detached. Even with its 2.5 hour run time this film had no chance in Hoth of establishing a connection to this large group of characters while setting up its plot. Jyn Erso’s background was covered with moderate detail, but once we learn how Forest Whitakers eccentric character Saw Gerrera saved her, thats where it stops. They throw us back to him as an old, fragile man and try to pull at our heartstrings by prodding at the lost connection between Jyn and the man who saved her life. Unfortunately, since we didn’t see any of that time on screen, it was very hard to feel its impact.

Mads Mikkelsen expertly pulls off his character in no surprise to anyone-but his screen time is short lived. Jyn and company spend most of the movie talking about him, about his notoriety and his importance, but once again we see little of it. Of the group of rebels I felt the most connection to the dynamic duo of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus-the blind Jedi and his juggernaut soldier buddy. Their dynamic brought some focus back to the themes that surrounded the original films-about the spiritual influence that engulfs everything and those who question its very existence. K2-SO is likely the standout character for the majority of viewers, seeing as they ran with what worked for C-3P0 and dialed up his sass factor by about 100%. Every instance of comedy (Stormtroopers having casual conversation, droids being droids, etc) was well used and lightened up what would otherwise be a very dark film, making it more appealing to a broader audience.

I’m sad to say that I found Jyn to be a disappointment-not because of the strength and fortitude of her character but simply because I was not impressed with her delivery. It felt wooden and lacked the genuine appeal that a lead character needs. Captain Cassian (Prince Caspian, as I call him) felt much the same. Since we spent the entire movie questioning his loyalties in a “seriously what is up with this guy” way, I did not feel a thing for him. They took little to no time to build back our trust in him, yet Jyn seemed to gravitate towards him in a pinch. I just didn’t feel her passion.

All said and done ‘Rogue One’ is a visually stunning homage to everyones favorite Star Wars films and it takes great care in respecting them. They plant little moments to make passionate fans squeal in their seats while offering a whole new atmosphere to the franchise. Rogue One is not about the Jedi vs the Sith, but it is about the ugly face of war. People sacrifice themselves, people lose their friends, people lose themselves-all to mark the way for the next big step towards ‘balance’. It can be truly painful to watch how politics and people make their mark on war-and this is where ‘Rogue One’ really excels.

P.S. Why did Jyn tell Krennic that her father installed a vulnerability? Why would you do that? Let that be a surprise, damn!

 

All The Single Ladies of 2016 Music

2016 has been a shit year in so many aspects. We’ve lost so much. Women in particular have had a challenging year-but I truly believe that if women take a stand and support one another that we can rise to any occasion. Being confident in yourself and lifting other women to do the same is one of the most effective ways that we can come together to be stronger. Lets do this.

I was inspired to highlight all of the amazing music that has come out this year from talented and inspiring female musicians once I realized how much of my recent playlists have comprised of women. All of these women are known for their incredible voices, their songwriting, and their positive energy that they bring to an industry that criticizes women left and right. Coincidentally, most of them are mainstream pop singers-therefore the subject of alot of media scrutiny. The themes and the messages that they explore in these records all cry out for the same things-confidence, independence and the need to overcome. I have found inspiration in all of them in times that I have needed a spot of confidence in my own life.

Albums are listed in order of release.

  1. Rihanna – Anti 

When it comes to confidence, sexuality and catchy hooks-Rihanna is the expert. On her eighth studio album ‘Anti’-which she served as a songwriter and executive producer on- she blends elements of reggae, R&B, dance and hip hop in a style that is signature Rihanna. She brings in influence from her Barbadian roots in songs like “Consideration” and “Work” and goes right into left field with a soulful, hypnotic cover of “Same Ol Mistakes” by alternative rock band Tame Impala. Her unique voice has grown and improved dramatically since her first record and ‘Anti’ is a perfect example of her strengths. This is a fantastic album to wind down to at the end of the day.

2. Sia – This is Acting

If you find yourself struggling with your demons, your past, or your identity, ‘This is Acting’ is a healthy dose of medicine that is sure to penetrate your shell. Sia articulates her personal battles to become herself in spite of her past and those who may get in the way of personal growth in an album full of powerful vocal performances and brutally honest lyrics. Right from the first track ‘Bird Set Free’ she muses about empowering herself through her music-while the soaring ‘Alive’ is a passionate proclamation that she has survived-and thrived. Though most every song maintains the irresistible hooks that she is known for, the lyrics remain some of the most genuine in her genre. Things turn to the lighter side on songs like “Cheap Thrills” and “Move Your Body” in a roller coaster of emotions.

Standout tracks: Alive, Unstoppable

3. Gwen Stefani – This is What the Truth Feels Like

Unfortunately for Gwen, her strength as a songwriter has always come from heartbreak.  That emotion is what drives ‘This is What the Truth Feels Like’ through songs like ‘Used to Love You’, ‘Me Without You’ and revenge tracks ‘Naughty’ and ‘Red Flag’. Fortunately, the musings of a jilted ex are outweighed by the feeling of being happy and vulnerable again with a new love. Many of the strongest songs on the record talk about bouncing back from betrayal and trusting someone again-subjects that she approaches in an relatable and optimistic way. Things get a little weird when she tries her hand at rapping halfway through, but if you get past that, this is one of Gwens strongest albums of her solo career.

Standout tracks: You’re My Favorite, Send Me a Picture

4. Meghan Trainor – Thank You

Anyone in need of a confidence boost can take a cue from Meghan Trainor. This young artist takes constant flack for her figure, but she has something to say about it. The entirety of ‘Thank You’ is an homage to self love and to love in general. With a fantastic blend of infectious hooks, foot stomping beats and rock solid vocals, Trainor shines from beginning to end. ‘Watch Me Do’, ‘Me Too’ and ‘I Love Me’ boast a confidence that is spectacularly refreshing for a young woman-while tracks like ‘Kindly Calm Me Down’ and ‘Better’ explore the importance of supportive and healthy relationships. Things get a little silly towards the end with a cheery dedication to Trainors mom-simply titled ‘Mom’, and a goofy tribute to dancing Dads (‘Dance Like Your Daddy’). Overall, ‘Thank You’ is a beacon of positive energy that is genuinely uplifting and contagious.

Standout tracks: Watch Me Do, Kindly Calm Me Down, Better

5. Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death

I recently fell in love with T&S’ seventh album ‘Heartthrob’ right before ‘Love You to Death’ was released. It carries very closely along the same themes and follows their recent foray into dance/pop music. The result is a unique blend of indie-alternative and mainstream pop that is a departure from their roots, but a successful one. One constant remains-and that is the vulnerability of their songwriting. Every song rings out about love, loss, longing and accepting your own role in these. Complicated relationships are a common theme, and these girls sing about them with honesty and little bravado.

Standout tracks: That Girl, Stop Desire

6. Lady Gaga – Joanne

As a woman at the forefront of spreading love and acceptance, ‘Joanne’ shows us a side of Gaga that is stripped off her flashy stage persona and electronica/pop style that lets us see the real her. Everything about the album speaks of coming out of the other end of loss and heartbreak-the loss of her aunt Joanne (the inspiration for her albums ‘cowgirl’ persona) and of a longterm relationship. She expertly weaves back and forth between the highs of independence and self worth-to the difficulty of dealing with tragedy. Although the sound of this record will come as a surprise to fans and skeptics alike, it sports a confidence that comes from her recent venture into jazz music and focuses less on production value and more on vocal capabilities. This is a welcome surprise for everyone.

Standout tracks: Diamond Heart, John Wayne, Perfect Illusion

7. Alicia Keys – Here

From the first few minutes of listening to this album all that I could think was “this has SOUL!”-and it does. Keys blends her signature soul flair with hip hop, blues and slam poetry that speaks to “truth” in every song. “Truth” is something that has become evidently influential in everything from her personal style to her musical inspirations. The best way that I can describe the experience is “groovy”.

Standout tracks: The Gospel, She Don’t Really Care

 

I’m sure that I missed a few-but these are the ones that I listened to the most this year. How about you?

Its Going to Be Okay: My Battle with Mental Illness

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week-I have decided to take the plunge and spill my guts about my battle with mental illness in as open and honest a way that I can muster. I am in no way, shape or form a medical professional, nor am I an expert in mental illness in any way. Anything that I say here is strictly based on my personal experiences. I simply want to share my story in hopes that people will identify with it and pursue steps to treat themselves, or at the very least-they will know that they are not alone.

To start, I have battled-and continue to battle-a few different strains of mental illness that all happen to intertwine at certain points of my life. At times I cannot differentiate them-as one is either a catalyst for the others or they are blurred beyond the point of recognition. There are three in particular that I can confidently assert as a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Depression, anxiety, and OCD.

Depression is one that I feel laid its eggs in my psyche when I was a child, only truly manifesting itself when things aren’t going well in my life. Anxiety has taken over much more predominantly as I’ve grown older-and new challenges and responsibilities have come about. In what is an incredibly frustrating chain reaction, anxiety causes me to destroy myself both physically (heres the OCD) and mentally, therefore leading to shame and depression.

Knowing

One factor that has amplified these afflictions, unfortunately, has been the complete and total awareness of them. Knowing that I have a problem challenges my brain to say “well, how are we going to fix this?”. Knowing that if I could just change jobs, make more money, cut people out my life, find ways to relax-if only it were such an easy thing. Knowing that there are people out there making spontaneous and major life decisions with ease makes me wildly jealous and all the more insecure that I cannot do it myself. My inability to act and to take positive steps towards a happiness that I imagine to exist causes the insecurities and the stress to swirl through every minute of every day. Knowing that tomorrow I will wake up no better off, even though yesterday could have been the day that I did something real. Knowing that the voices in my head that are shouting threats of failure and running through every possible negative consequence-might be wrong. Knowing that these small issues that I damage myself over are nothing to worry about in the vast spectrum of space and time. Knowing that I cannot do this by sheer will alone, as much as I want to. It hurts.

Understanding

On my first day of second grade, I took a small bus to school and met a group of new kids (I had just moved to town) and they made a comment that stuck with me my entire life. “Dont talk to that girl. She talks too much.” Now I constantly worry that I am bothering everyone by simply talking to them. I struggled in my youth with problems at home, being insecure about my appearance, and wanting to fit in. I wanted everyone to like me. I would sacrifice my own well being and happiness to give to others in a hopes that I would gain their admiration. I wanted to be smart, beautiful, desirable, well liked, independent-everything that I want to be as an adult. Perfect. Something that simply does not exist. I was afraid of absolutely everything. I would see the “doomsday tabloids” set up at the cash registers in the grocery store and believe what they said. I was constantly convinced that the world was going to end. I would hide when my family watched the news so that I wouldn’t have to hear about robbers, aliens, ghosts or killer bees. I knew so little about the world, but somehow I was afraid of all of it. I had no idea what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like-whether romantic or platonic, and that continues to elude me in many ways. I spent nearly a decade working in an industry that brought me absolutely no joy-and in fact made me even more depressed as I dreamt of a life where I was doing something that I loved.

I always knew that I was depressed, but I never knew what to call it. I was just sad. My soul felt heavy. I felt lost and hopeless. I felt like my body was empty. Sometimes I still catch myself sitting in silence, dwelling on absolutely nothing, as if my brain had turned to mush. It is a feeling akin to floating on top of the water while it fills your ears. It steals away your emotional depth and your capacity to care. You simply exist while times slips away in an instant.

Anxiety is quite the opposite in that you care about everything to the point that it causes you distress. I stress about how many hours of sleep that I might get if I fall asleep at *x o clock* and if it will be enough to function tomorrow. I stress about every interaction that I have with the outside world and hope that I did it “right”. I worry that I will never strike a balance between a career that allows me to channel my creativity while being financially prosperous. Now that I’m a Mom I worry that all of my insecurities and my emotional weight will affect my son someday. All I do is worry.

Anyone with anxiety will likely tell you that an anxiety attack is the worst bi-product of this ordeal. You feel like you are at the peak of a roller coaster that will never descend, like the contents of your stomach have relocated to another region of your body. It is as crippling as fear and steals the air from your lungs-like the feeling right after you nearly get in a car accident. I have been taking anti depressants for months now, but I decided one day that I would discontinue them and try to treat myself. Within 48 hours I was in fetal position, bawling my eyes out and hyperventilating. I thought that I could fight this alone.

The one thing in my life that continues to bring my tremendous stress and confusion is my OCD. Since I was very young I would pick at my scabs-and since I seemed unable to lift my feet properly when I ran-I had a lot of them. I started to pick my nails, and when I hit puberty I began to pick at my face and body. These habits never ceased and eventually got much worse. I started wearing foundation when I was in my early teen years to cover my scabs from incessant picking and prodding at my face, my arms, my chest, anything that I could get my hands on. In my early 20s I continued these bad habits, and my boyfriend would point out what I was doing. I felt utterly ashamed and embarrassed of this bizarre behaviour because I didn’t see it happening to anyone else around me.

Only recently did I decide to do some research in hopes that I would gain a better understanding of what I was doing. I came to not only learn that it had a name-several in fact-but that I was most definitely not alone. What I always thought was “just a thing that I do” I now know as Dermatillomania, Excoriation disorder and skin picking disease. Although this has helped me significantly, it has not stopped the symptoms. In fact, in the last few years it has gotten to the point where I pick and cut my nails completely out of my finger. I unconsciously pick at things that I have already picked to the point of blood and pain and I participate in a cycle of destruction and shame on a daily basis that never ceases to leave me feeling overwhelmed and ugly. There is no way around it, I CANNOT stop. I have also come realize that this is likely the same demon that makes it impossible for me to make the right dietary choices. No matter how much I want to lose weight, I continue to punish myself with food that I want and proceed to beat myself up emotionally when I look at myself in the mirror. These thoughts follow me around like a shadow and frankly,it is a burden that have taken over my life.

Healing

With full support from my partner I walked into my doctors office several months ago and tried my best to articulate my feelings and my afflictions. Even though she is a doctor, I still felt apprehensive and embarrassed about being a grown woman who can’t stop picking her nails and worrying about whether or not people like her. Somehow, I managed to express that I was suffering and that I needed help. She offered me anti depressants to help with the anxiety, and they have been a big help. Like I mentioned above, as much as I want to get through this on my own, sometimes that is not an option. The Dermatillomania is still on shakey ground as it is not something that is well known to doctors and requires special knowledge to understand-so I am working on that.

When it comes to my everyday life, I have made an effort to bring things into my life that give me joy and relief from the weight of the world. Whether it be watching my favorite shows, enjoying the fresh air of the outside world or spending time with my family. I have made an effort to change my perspective and focus on all of the wonderful things that I have and the things that I have to look forward to. Pop culture is a huge passion of mine, so being able to look forward to new movies, new comics, new shows and new music everyday gives me a lot of positive energy and allows me to see a light in my future at all times. I try to get extra sleep when I can. I indulge in my hobbies, like writing and cooking. I talk to my husband whenever I am feeling low. As much as I feel that I am burdening him with my problems, he is supportive and encourages me to open up-something that I have rarely done with anyone in my life.

For nearly two decades I have walked around with a chaotic soul searching for peace. I have grown and matured but often feel that I haven’t moved an inch. I still feel the insecurities of a teenage girl and I still crumble at the first sign of failure. I am passionate and incredibly caring, and I know that has a tendency to be my greatest weakness. I know that many of the invasive thoughts that eclipse my brain are figments of my imagination and that I need not let them consume me. I know that I am loved, and that I need to love myself.

My name is Danielle, and I have a mental illness, and its going to be okay.