Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

blog

Filtering by Tag: anxiety

defacebooking: an experiment {5/30/13}

Kelley Clink

You may have noticed that I've been quiet lately, Internet-wise. This is in part because I continue to focus my energy on physical rehabilitation. But there is another reason. In the past five years social networking has become de rigueur. It started innocently enough with blogging, LiveJournal, MySpace. Facebook swallowed them all whole, but that seemed okay because it was about 'staying connected.' Then Instagram, Google Plus, Four Square, Twitter. Now it's a bunch of shit I haven't even heard of (Vine?), in addition to the old standbys. If you look up from your phone, you'll see that everyone else is...looking at their phones.  

Clearly I'm not a Luddite--anyone who wants to have a career as a writer can't afford to be. But I've noticed more and more the uncomfortable itch that comes over me when I sit at my kitchen table without my computer. I wanted to understand where that itch comes from. I wanted to sit with it.

So for the past few days I have been. And wow. WOW.

For me, social networking started out as a way to 'stay connected.' It was a novelty to check in with friends I hadn't seen or heard from since high school. My current friends posts are always smart, funny, and interesting. I'm not sure when the change occurred, when status updates and tweets took the edge off lonely moments. When I started squeezing my life into 140 character chunks. When I began needing people to like, to follow, to comment, to reply.

What I didn't realize until I sat without it, was how much I've been using Facebook as a distraction, an escape from the present moment. 

During meditation, thoughts and feelings arise. We acknowledge them, we sit with them, and we let them go. This is supposed to help us do the same while we are not meditating. The more we realize the transitory nature of thoughts and feelings, the more peace we will cultivate in our lives. This is especially necessary for me as someone who experiences depression and anxiety. The problem with social networking is that it's all about tightening your grasp. Every little thought, observation, or experience becomes fodder. Becomes relevant. This is speaking just to speak. This is the opposite of mindfulness.

This isn't to say that mindful social networking isn't possible. It is. There are people doing it. Some of them are in my newsfeed. I'm just not one of them. Yet.

For now I'm going to continue my experiment. I'm going to sit at my kitchen table sans computer. When status updates pop into my thoughts I'm going acknowledge them, sit with them, and then continue washing dishes, or folding laundry, or reading a book. I'm going to try and get back to breathing. I'm going to pet my dog. I'm going to look at my face in the mirror, smile, and say "Welcome back."

kelley, the woman {4/12/13}

Kelley Clink

I have a confession to make: I have another blog. 

I started it in the fall of 2011. At the time I was extremely ill. I'd lost over twenty percent of my body weight and no one knew what was wrong with me. I spent most of my time on the Internet, trying to self diagnose, and running from one doctor to the next in search of answers. My obsession with my health kept me in a state of constant panic, and with no end in sight I plunged into a deep depression.

I didn't have a therapist at the time, so I went to see one recommended by a friend. She dropped some wisdom on me that helped save my life. She said I needed to separate Kelley the woman from Kelley the patient. And so www.kelleythewoman.tumblr.com was born.  

I resolved to post a photograph every day for as long as I needed to. And I succeeded. It helped me to remember that my life was about much more than my illness, and it gave my body the space it needed to heal. (I had gastroparesis, which is now, thankfully, under control.)

Why am I telling you this? Because I recently had hip surgery, and the recovery has been much slower and much more painful than anticipated. Once again, I found myself growing obsessed with the state of my health, and falling into depression. Kelley the patient was choking the life out of Kelley the woman. I've decided to resurrect my old blog, in the hopes that I will regain some perspective.

It occurs to me that the advice that therapist gave me stretches well beyond those recovering from illness or injury. All of us--especially those of us prone to anxiety or depression--run the risk of narrowing our lives and losing perspective. Problems demand attention. Uncomfortable situations are, well, uncomfortable. People want everything to be pleasant and easy, and we burn a lot of focus and energy trying to make them that way. And there isn't anything wrong with that--we're human. But when focus turns to tunnel vision, and all the other layers of life go dark, we need to step back and reassess.  We need to reclaim our personhood. 

It's important to remember that we don't do this alone. I always forget that, and spend weeks trying to fix everything myself before I reach out and ask for help. It's scary to take that step. It's scary to admit that everything isn't okay. But once I do, I instantly start to feel better--because in that action I am widening the circle, taking those first steps out of the tunnel.

Come with me, if you would like. Tell me about your tunnels, and your guiding lights.

don't panic {3/28/13}

Kelley Clink

I know I haven't written in a while, but I have a good reason. Four weeks ago I had hip surgery, and I've spent the last month focused on my body. Healing takes a lot of energy--both physical and mental--and I haven't had much spare brain power. Plus rehabbing is really, really boring. Seriously.

This week, however, has been a little more exciting. First off: I got my stitches out. The scars are actually quite beautiful--delicate pink dashes and dots, like the story of my pain in morse code. If I can figure out a way to photograph them without getting too scandalous, I'll post a picture.

Secondly, I started coming off crutches. Having been prohibited from engaging my hip flexor for three weeks, I've basically had to learn to walk again. The first few days were surreal: my rhythm was totally off. But I gradually began to trust my body more, putting more and more weight on my leg, easing into the bending of my stiff joint. On Tuesday I took my first steps without any crutches. On Wednesday morning I walked the length of the house.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was back on both crutches.

This is just how it goes sometimes, I know. The old cliche: two steps forward, one step back. Don't panic, I told myself. 

And then I panicked.

This is one of the problems with having a history of anxiety and depression. The more we practice a behavior, the more often we engage a set of responses, the deeper they become engrained. Over time, depression becomes a neural pattern. So to does anxiety. The more we panic, the more we panic. 

The good news is that we can change. Of course it takes practice and patience. Both of which suck. But it gets easier--I think. I hope? Well, it must, because here I am, 24 hours later, not panicking. 

Or panicking less, anyway.

I'm finding, and have been throughout this month of recovery, that awareness helps most of all. If I can acknowledge my anxiety for what it is--a feeling, just a feeling--it doesn't last quite as long. I can give the fear and frustration space, like a child crying out a tantrum, and then I can validate them. You are right, I can say. This is hard. Life is hardAnd then the anxious, fearful thoughts quiet down, and I can hear the rational, steady voice that has been there all along.

Maybe the more I practice, the faster the rational voice will come. Maybe panic won't always be my first response. Maybe it will. For now, at least, I am not panicking about panic. And for now that is enough.

compassion {12/11/12}

Kelley Clink

The front yard of the house where I grew up was shaded by two large trees. In spring they were home to dozens of twittering birds, and of course, the nests of their young. Inevitably some of the newly hatched fell (or were pushed) out of the nests. Every year my brother and I would find their small pink bodies on the driveway, the sidewalk, or in the grass. Once in a while we would discover a baby bird that had survived the fall, wriggling blindly, chirping in fear. We would scoop it up and run to the house, begging our mother to help us save it. On the advice of a local veterinarian, she would procure an eyedropper and some dog food. My brother and I would fashion a makeshift nest from a shoebox, which we'd place under a lamp for warmth.  

My heart is not a baby bird, but sometimes it feels like one. And, nowadays, I try to care for it like one. 

Self-compassion is a relatively new concept for me. For years I excoriated myself for having depression and anxiety. Why do you have to be so weak? I asked myself. Why can't you be like everyone else? I told myself that I was a burden on the ones I loved. I told myself that I was worthless, a failure as a human being. And the harder I was on myself the more depressed and anxious I became, and the more depressed and anxious I became the harder I was on myself.  

It seems sort of obvious, now, that my response to my illness started a vicious cycle. But it took over a decade for me to realize what I was doing, and half a decade to stop doing it. In fact, I'm not even sure I can say that I've stopped--but I'm trying. There are days and weeks when my heart feels naked, vulnerable, and bruised. During those times I try to nurse it like a baby bird.

I'm not calling this a cure and I am definitely not saying this is easy. For some reason (I tend to blame the Puritans), many of us feel that we are unworthy of compassion, though we tend to give it to others. "Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend," is the first mantra that got to me, and it's one I return to again and again. "Treat yourself the way you would treat an abandoned baby bird" works just as well.

I am not naive. There will always be suffering in the world. The baby birds of my youth, despite our best efforts and my mother's round-the-clock care, never survived. But we never stopped trying to save them. I can't stop myself from experiencing difficult feelings, but I don't have to add anger and self-hatred on top of them. I can hold myself gently.  And I've found that when I do, I recover more quickly than ever before, with less scars.

Besides, my heart is not a baby bird. It beats, it bounces back, it lives.


 

CLICK HERE to subscribe to Kelley's blog by Email