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Love, Life & Happy Pills...

9.17.2017

pic via here

Why am I writing this... that is a very good question. I suppose I am for many reasons, one of them being to help others that may be going through the same and are feeling alone. I'm also sharing because it's been part of my process, a way to fully understand (as much as I can) and digest (again, as much as I can) the varying range of emotions that I've been feeling so deeply for far too long.

Trying to gather my thoughts for this post hasn't been easy. I've been playing with various versions of it in my head, shaping and molding it to my liking for about a year now. It's the big fat elephant in the room that everyone's aware of but not one is willing to talk about. Depression, even for those of us that have been labeled as "high functioning" is still a daily obstacle. This is my version and it includes losing love, a few therapists, some happy pills, finding myself, and whole slew of family and friends that were there for me when I needed them most. I was lucky... or at least as lucky as you can get after hitting the lowest of rock bottoms. And while I am by no means advocating medication for everyone because I genuinely believe that it is a very personal and individual decision, I am whole heartedly a supporter of getting the help you need be it what it may. Because therapy shouldn't make anyone feel embarrassed and pills shouldn't make anyone feel ashamed.

"What if I try therapy?" I bargained with him as I knew there was nothing left but that. I had been living with various bouts of anxiety and on going depression for the last few years without fully realizing it. Or maybe on some level I had, but I honestly believed I could fix it myself. After all, I wasn't clinically depressed, just sad, right? So you name it and I  bet I tried it. Birth control- went off them because maybe they were effecting my hormones/moods/ability to be happy. Exercise- I ran everywhere and threw myself into yoga, I literally learned how to stand on my head. Eat healthy- I was looking up any and every recipe I could find that included specific serotonin boosting properties and ate my sad little heart out. Learn new things- I picked up the ukulele, dabbled in fabric dyeing and learned how to weave. Remove myself from toxic environments- I quit my mentally and emotionally abusive job and still continued slumping through life. And so I finally had to admit, maybe I needed help.

One of the hardest and most painful things I experienced was that first initial round of finding a therapist. I didn't even know where to begin. Google? Did I need a therapist or a psychiatrist or a psychologist and what even are the differences?!? Cold calling (because that's what it felt like) therapists and trying not cry while explaining that I wasn't really depressed but maybe I was and asking if they were taking new clients and how much did they charge left me drained! It's incredible how rude and insensitive some of them could be, or was I being overly sensitive? Every time I had to pour out my soul in five minutes or less to see if we were a good match felt like I was reopening a wound over and over again. After that came the handful of phone interviews, now guaranteeing me at least 15 minutes to see if we were a fit, and like two in person meetings which I understand are rare and I was really appreciative of. For about a week, although it felt like a month, this was all I did, Wake up, eat, try to find a therapist, crawl back into bed and repeat. When I finally found her, I just knew it then and there. As painful as it was, I could pour out my heart so easily to her. And she even worked with me price wise because unlike others, she was in the profession to actually help people and not just to make money. Again, that may not be accurate at all (about the others) but that's what it felt like at the time. Then bam, he insisted I find someone through our insurance and I died again...

Round two of the same sad saga but perhaps even worse because now I was facing a lot more rudeness (I thought) and the "we are no longer taking that insurance" spiel which was like nails to a chalk board. After another dreadful week, I had only managed to find someone I didn't hate but wasn't in love with and so we compromised. I'd do a few sessions with both to feel them out and then make a decision. Only I never did. For a solid eight or nine months, I continued to see both. I felt like such a cliche and I kind of laughed it off at how LA I now was. I worked in fashion and had a cat and did yoga and had not one but two therapists! Of course when I say I laughed it off I mean only to myself while actually crying because I kept it very much a secret from the world. I was still not ready to come out and felt frustrated that I couldn't fix myself. Mind you, I would have had no problem accepting, supporting, and even loving someone else that could've been going through this, but for whatever reasons, I was so hard on myself.

"But you're not a depressed person" was the response I got from him, family, and friends when I told them about my therapists (now there was a marriage counselor in the mix too) suggesting I go on antidepressants. And I agreed, sort of. When the first one had suggested it, I aggressively said no. I was after all, in therapy twice a week. Surely that would be enough?! When the second one suggested it months later, it bothered me but did get me thinking that maybe... And so finally when our marriage counselor suggested it too, I thought I'd be dumb not to at least try.

Did I want to take my own life? No, I'm embarrassed to say I was too much of a coward to do anything like that myself. But boy how I wished it would all just end... I couldn't quite explain how sometimes I felt so alone. Alone while still being a marriage that was surely spiraling down the drain and not helping my situation in the least. And while he was there in a physical and financial sense, I had never felt more alone in my life. There were times when I felt so alone with him that the idea of tip-toeing around in my marriage for the next forty years and then some seemed terrifying. Surely we couldn't live like this, and the thoughts "I'd rather be dead" would creep up from deep within and I would cry. This had become bigger than us. And she would point out to me "Its seems like you are willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the relationship to the point where there is nothing left to give. When does it end?"

I was a prisoner of my own mind, slave to my own self imposed rules and I was driving myself mad. So what exactly was my problem with the pills? What if I wasn't me anymore? What if I was numb, couldn't feel things, wasn't creative or passionate about anything anymore? What if it didn't fix us or me? What if after all this he still couldn't love me because I had become so impossible to love? And did it mean I had failed? That was the first honest and open conversation I had ever had with him and the tears would not stop streaming down my face. And he listened. He actually heard me for once. I was so scared of living, I had somehow ended up hiding behind him without even realizing it and now he didn't want to be there for me to hide behind anymore. Truth is, I couldn't blame him either. I guess that's when I finally reached the point where I felt like I had nothing left to lose so I gave in and made an appointment with a psychiatrist because they, it turns out, can prescribe stuff like drugs. And in case you're keeping track, I was now down to one therapist (the insurance one and I broke up after I left my job and was no longer covered), a marriage counselor, and now a psychiatrist.

It was explained to me that sometimes, when stressful life circumstances collide with hereditary dispositions, depression can be triggered. Serotonin is the thing that helps keep us happy and normally it replenishes itself. But sometimes, when too much has been depleted and for too long, the brain might need help in catching up, which is where the pills came in. Or at least that's what I think I remember hearing through the haze of it all. I knew this would be the beginning of another long and hard road and that it was very possible that things could get a lot worse before they got better with trying to find the right drugs and dosage, so I decided I needed to surround myself with unconditional love and support. Something I knew he couldn't give me, so I decided I'd go home to Miami. Just before I left, I had my last session with my therapist where she congratulated me for taking another step towards self preservation. She also mentioned that I had been an amazing patient to work with, always putting in the work on my end and focusing on being introspective no matter how much it hurt. And lastly, that I was finally talking about my life and experiences as someone that was actually going through them because when we first started, I had spoken from a detached place, as if I was talking about someone else. Always a teacher's pet, I took those words of praise and headed east.

I can remember now with a weird sort of fondness how despite the fact that the drugs were making me feel all sorts of terrible, I was willing to take it if they helped me in the long run because nothing could be as bad as how I had been feeling for the last five years give or take. As the side affects subsided, I noticed I didn't quite feel anything, which was a relief for the time being. I even tried replaying the last year of my marriage and some of the harsh truths that I hadn't wanted to hear that had come out during our marriage counseling sessions just to see, but nothing. No sadness, no tears, nothing. Maybe I was all cried out? And while I didn't particularly want to feel nothing forever, for that moment in time, I embraced it. Slowly as I healed and started to balance out again, I started to feel stronger, more capable. It was like I had been in a dream-like, fuzzy state for years and I could finally see clearly. For once I felt like I could understand things from a logical stand point without falling apart. What's more is, I felt alive again and I knew what had to be done. If you're interested in that story, you can read about it in an earlier post here.

It's been over a year now and I am honestly so glad I went on medication. I now understand that expecting myself to just get better without treatment is like asking a diabetic why they can't just deal without insulin. We both need it in order to function and that's ok. Will I stay on them forever? I don't know, I don't really think much about it. But if I had to, would it be the end of the world? Not at all! I know I got lucky in finding the right pill and dosage on the first try, but even if that hadn't been the case, I know I would've eventually gotten here. These days I'm very open and honestly share my story with anyone that might ask because I know what it's like to feel afraid and alone. If I could hold each and every single person's hand through their own journey, I would. Because it will be ok. And you don't have to feel like the world is ending, in fact, the world is just about to be reborn for you.

A few things that I'd tell my younger self if I could would be to reach out for help sooner rather than wait and try to carry the heaviness on your own for so long. That more people are going through this than you realize, you are not alone. That having a mental illness doesn't mean you failed. And that depression doesn't have to define you. That you will get through this because you are more resilient than you give yourself credit for. That you can trust and lean on loved ones for support when you need it. And that you should be kinder to yourself, it's ok to have bad days.

I'd also like to say a very special thank you to my parents, who did their very best to try and understand and continued supporting me even when they didn't. My sister for allowing me to be imperfect, raw, and vulnerable with her. My mother in law for her endless support despite what must've been a very conflicting situation for her. Those friends of mine that came forward with their own experiences of depression and pills and encouraged me to keep going. The strangers that I met along my cross country journey that accepted me as I was, a work in progress and loved me for it. And of course Brooklyn, because for better or worse, he's always been by my side without judging.

So that's my story for now as it will forever keep unfolding and changing and I hope to continue sharing as I go. My name is Jackie Lugo and this is what depression looks like. Sometimes it's smiling and sometimes it not. Sometimes it's creating and sometime's it's destroying. Sometimes it just needs to be listened to and other times, well, other times it just might need a hug.

>>>This is deeply personal to me so please be kind. If you have no nice thoughts or comments, that's totally ok, but then I'd rather you keep them to yourself. Only hope and positivity allowed here on my blog, thank you!

One way of me sharing before I was actually able to was by posting things on facebook for my family and friends to read and learn from. Feel free to check them out here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

***Today I am thankful for what feels like a second chance at life. It's great to feel truly alive again and I'm making sure I live it to the fullest!***

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Women's March on Washington...

3.03.2017

^^^people even in the trees!^^^
 ^^^i love her!^^^
 ^^^yelling it loud & proud!^^^
 ^^^i love her too!^^^
 ^^^my girl gang!^^^
^^^free the nipples!^^^
I'm afraid I don't have the words possible to describe the immensity of this event and the impact it's had on me. Even as I edited these pictures, I could feel my body tingle with the same excitement I felt during the march from all of the fond memories resurfacing. I hope these images speak to you too and if you were there, or at any of the other marches world wide, I hope they make you tingle too!

***Today I am thankful for the opportunity to have been involved in such a life changing and historical event***

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Meanings...

3.02.2017

People have been asking me what the triangle tattoo on my wrist means so I thought I'd share. While triangles can have all sorts of meanings, to me it signifies balance. It reminds me to keep both feet rooted securely on the ground below me while still being able to look up into the sky above for inspiration, not getting stuck, not getting lost or overwhelmed.

The triangle structurally is one of the most resilient designs because of it's strong foundation. The last few years I'd been leaning heavily on him for all kinds of emotional and mental support without realizing it and crushed him in the process. I never want that to happen again with anyone. I want to build a strong enough foundation for myself that enables me to stand on my own and be self sufficient, pulling everything I may need from within.

It also means change and serves as a reminder that change doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing or a scary thing. It is an inevitable part of life, an almost certainty you can count on. It can be exciting and an opportunity for growth if I let it be. It's my constant reminder not to runaway from change, but to embrace it instead with eyes wide open, arms out stretched, and a genuine heart.

Simply put, I want to be a triangle...

***Today I am thankful for triangles and everything they mean to me..."

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Love, Faith, & Happiness...

3.01.2017

To love myself unconditionally above all things... To generate enough love that I never have to depend on anyone or anything to feel loved... To open myself up to receiving love from those that are genuinely offering it... To spread love as much and as often as possible...
To have faith in myself and my abilities... To remember that I'm stronger and way more capable than I give myself credit for... To have faith in my intuition and listen to my gut feeling more often, they are usually right... To not loose faith in others based on negative experiences or interactions...
To live my life in the pursuit of happiness... To only do things that make me truly happy and eliminate those that don't add or take away from my happiness... To cultivate my own happiness, guard it, and protect it because it is very special to me... To be responsible for my happiness and none else's...

My mantra that I adopted while spending time in the desert after a lot of soul searching and reading into Buddhism.

***Today I am thankful for love, faith, and happiness and defining what they mean to me***

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Winter Flowers...

2.28.2017

glasses: ralph lauren | coat: j.crew | scarf: borrowed | gloves: gap | jeans: c/o hudson | boots: madewell | lipstick: bite via sephora (aubergine)

A few things of note...

It feels real good, I mean insanely great to be back in a proper city. To use my legs to walk around instead of having to drive. To be surrounded by an endless array of awe inspiring architecture. To have culture at your finger tips. And last but certainly not least, to have to bundle up because SEASONS!!!

My jeans make me feel like I'm wearing a wallpaper or carpet or both and I love it!

This is the first winter coat I've bought since my shiny silver one that I got way back when I first moved to NYC. It was popping at the seams, had (most likely beer) stains that couldn't be removed, down feathers coming out of it... A total mess because I wore that coat, and I wore it hard! I'd had my eye on this one for a few years now but living in LA, who needs a coat. Needless to say I was really excited when I saw this baby was still available and even more so when I found it in petite sizing meaning the sleeves are actually the right length for a change.

I really enjoy picking flowers/weeds/foliage of all types when I'm outdoors and dead/dried ones make no exception...

And completely random but worth a mention, I don't have a preference as to which I pour into a bowl first, the milk or the cereal. It makes absolutely no difference to me and I'll happily eat it either way.

***Today I am thankful to be back in the city swing of things***

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More Like Goals: 2017 Edition

2.27.2017

Pic by: Lee McMullen

One day left until February is over and in my usual tardy fashion, finally nailing down my goals for this year. I have to admit that the lateness in part is due to laziness and actually writing it all out, but also due to the fact that I really wanted to figure out what areas I wanted to focus my energies on this year. Each one I have thoroughly thought over, examined, picked apart, and shaped into what I hope to accomplish with them this year. I know last year I reviewed the previous years' goals but quite frankly, I don't have it in me to do that this year. 2016 was, well it just was and I'd rather leave it be.

1 | Finish my #everythingwillbeoktour weaving collection ---> Some of you may or may not know this but, this summer I launched into a full on weaving frenzy inspired by all of the beautiful places I was traveling through on my cross country adventure with Brooklyn. I had been stuck in a creative rut, drought if you will, and that mashed together with other personal things I was going through left me feeling dead inside. Not to sound all dramatic, and if you're a creative person you'll probably resonate with this sentiment, but when I am not creating, I don't feel alive. When I'm not being inspired, I feel lifeless. It was clear to me that something had to give and then when pretty much everything did, weaving in a way saved me. What happened I can't even really explain... All of the emotions and feelings of fear, worry, sadness, defeat, they all poured out of me into my creations. Weaving became my therapy, a way of working with my hands that I had been craving while doing some serious soul searching (and crying). Still stumbling through life (and my weaving) with no clear direction or indication about anything, I happened across an opportunity I knew in my heart I couldn't possibly give up. Enter Terlingua, an offer as a local guest artist for my weavings, and a sweet gig as a bar tender (something I've ALWAYS wanted to do!) and it seemed like fate was finally giving me a break... or maybe it was God? What I'm trying to say is that out of a whole lot of crap, just.jackie.co was born and so was my #everythingwillbeoktour series which at last count was somewhere in the 90's? Possibly 100's by the time I make it NYC? Everything finally clicked and made sense and the ah-ha moment happened. Now I have a lot of weaving to excitedly get through so stay tuned to the shop!

2 | Shop more intentionally and mindfully ---> Like many things in life, why certain things seem to stand out and take precedent over others at certain times I'll never fully understand but here I am. After realizing that I would only be able to bring with me the things that fit in Beyonce (my car), and the fact that Brooklyn's tree took up about one third of that space, it was made clear to me that major prioritizing had to happen. All of a sudden everything that I had once deemed so important lost its value as the necessities began filling up my car. My beloved stuff became just that, stuff. Living out of your car for six months can do wonders on how you perceive material possessions. Of course I know that when I eventually get to the other side (NYC) I'll have to add a few things back onto my list of stuff, like a mattress, perhaps a bed frame. But that got me thinking about buying out of need vs buying just to buy, to feel good, to fill a void which was something I was totally guilty of in the past. I didn't want to end up surrounded by a bunch of stuff again. Hoping to take my new found/forced on minimalism one step forward, one of my goals will be to only add to the list of "stuff" things that I genuinely need. And around the time that I was toying with that thought, another one seemed to surface that actually went hand in hand, shopping mindfully. What I mean by that is being the best consumer I can possibly be by shopping responsibly. Doing my research to try and purchase locally, environmentally friendly, sustainable, and ethically well made goods whenever possible. This may mean they might be a little more on the expensive side, but since I won't be senselessly shopping, I'm ok with that. Plus as a designer, I can appreciate the time and labor that well made goods take and along with it, their value. It's not something that will happen overnight, but somethingI see as more of a life style. Through this journey, I'll be creating a shop responsibly tab at the top of the blog and adding companies as I discover them if you want to join in.

3 | Run more/again ---> Let's face it, I have a pattern when it comes to running... a love/hate relationship that I just love to, well, love and hate! I fall in and out of it and where I'm running has as much to with how often I'm running as my moods do. But bottom line is this, I really (usually) enjoy running and so as long as I continue writing yearly goals and as long as my knees cooperate, some variation of running more often than not will always be on the list. I will continue to run for me and nothing else. Run because it keeps me fit, run because it helps me think through my thoughts, run because I can and I am very grateful for that.

4 | Educate myself on feminism ---> Feminism... often perceived as such a dirty word. So many stigmas and negative connotations, I myself have to admit, it wasn't a word I wanted to associate myself with. My experiences with the term sadly has been on the frustrating side. Women putting down other women if they aren't portraying their ideal of what a feminist should be, talk like, look like. Man haters, against child rearing, and anti any and all things pink! After having many talks with much more intelligent women than myself like little k and other proud feminist friends, I began to realize and understand that the only way to change the stereotype was to own the word and project a different image for it. One that I too can be proud of. What I feel the embodiment of a feminist should be. So I'm claiming it loudly and proudly on this here blog, I am a feminist and want to further educate myself on what this means to me. If you have any thoughts on this subject, I'd love to hear them in the comments :)

5 | Laugh more, smile often ---> Another one of those things you may or may not know about with me and my life is that my marriage kind of fell apart. I shared a little insight in this post if you care to read. So it's a safe assumption that I cried a lot this last year. I think I may have cried more in 2016 than I had in the whole of my life combined previously. And that's ok, I needed to let it out. In a weird, round about way, I had one of the saddest, hardest, most challenging years ever that was also filled with so much love, support, and many things to be grateful for. And while I did get to experience a trip of a life time and do something that many others may only dream about doing, I think I quite possibly cried in each and every state I ventured through, each national park I explored in, each bed I laid my tired soul to rest on. Slowly though the journey, people touched me in ways I didn't think strangers could and made me start smiling again. Shyly at first, I had been so out of practice! And the further I continued east and the more I allowed life to happen as it willed, the more I smiled. That smile eventually turned into laughter and it felt good, great! The heartbreak was still there but it was beginning to heal. The growing pains ached but I could see hope on the other side. I've always been a smiley, all teeth showing kinda person so to lose such a distinctive part of me also felt like I had lost my identity in a way. So now that it's feeling more natural again, I fully intend on smiling more and to everyone. And laughing, yea, that too. I'm talking laughing so hard from deep within your belly you hardly breath as tears stream down your face, kinda laughing if you want to join!

***Today I am thankful for words... sometimes I have none and sometimes I have too many and sometimes they don't make sense at all but that's ok***
 

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