Advice my mother gives me

No beverage: just frustration

Hi friends! So I know you haven’t heard from me in awhile, and honestly, I had a post mostly written and ready to roll out for my big return (stay tuned for that one) but today I feel like I just need to get something off my chest. And this just happens to be my outlet of choice

For those of you who’ve been loyal readers (thank ya kindly) you know that as a runner, and as a woman, I’m no stranger to creepy men doing creepy things. Just as a recap, I’ve been catcalled, followed, spit at, had someone pretend to jerk off at me…the list goes on. I once had someone tell me repeatedly to kill myself and that he hopes I die because I ran into the street while his dog was chasing me.

These experiences don’t make me special, I know. It happens to most, if not all, women. It also happens to men and individuals in general. But let’s not pretend that it’s an equal distribution.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that I’ve also been intermittently vocal about my issues with creepy men doing creepy things, in addition to the occasional irresponsible dog owner. But here’s the thing about using a Facebook status as an outlet for a complaint. People don’t always want to hear it. It’s old news. It’s dramatic. It’s just words.

A couple of years ago, I didn’t say good morning to someone on a run. They didn’t say good morning to me either, so I wasn’t aware I had missed the conversation. But anyway, the person proceeded to scream terrible things at me. But when I took issue with this, I was accused of being dramatic, of putting more severity into something that wasn’t that severe.

To that person I say, how do you know? How do you know the intention was just words? How do you know I’m mistaken? Because I don’t. And I was there.

This all brings me to my title and to my rant. Leaving a workout yesterday, I saw a man notice me and cross the street to my side. The man made me uncomfortable before he even crossed. I could see he was having a conversation with someone, and I could see that he was watching me. As he crossed the street he approached me saying, “I am homeless. I need help. Give me money.”

Ok, so if I can interject for a second: any John Mulaney fans get some New In Town vibes from this?? Anyone? Just me?

“Excuse me”
“I am homeless”
“I am gay”
“I have aids”
“I’m new in town”

Just saying.

Anyway, I didn’t answer the man. I was alone. I felt uncomfortable, and I wanted to get to my car. I also don’t carry cash, but that’s not really here nor there. What matters here is that when I failed to answer, he continued to follow me, demanding an answer, calling me a fat bitch, and saying he was going to punch me in the face.

He didn’t. I’m fine. I got in my car, and I drove home. I called my parents. I immediately tried to minimize it. Was I being rude for not answering? Did I manifest the situation by being uncomfortable before he even started speaking? Am I really fat?

He didn’t actually hit me, so was there really a problem?

Like I said, I’m fine.

And yet, none of this is ok.

That brings us to today, and my motivation for this post.

Today I went for a run. One mile in, some guys in a work truck drove by, and one yelled at me and told me to take my shirt off. A half mile further down the road, a car full of teens said something similar. And like I said earlier, none of this is new. And I know the odds that anyone is going to stop is pretty small. But at the same time, I have been followed before.

And it brings me to what my mom said on the phone last night.

“As a woman, you can never just assume you’re safe.”

You see, when I saw the guy yesterday, I immediately got a weird feeling. But no one wants to be that girl who assumes everyone is out to get them. And again, the guy never touched me. But he also didn’t get close enough. So when it comes down to it, who knows?

And are you noticing that even here, in a space that I own, I’m taking care to make a space for this man? Are you seeing how much I feel like I need to clarify that I wasn’t hurt? Can you read into it the insecurity I feel around the possibility that someone may think I’m exaggerating or being dramatic? Can you tell that even now I’m questioning whether I overreacted to the situation.

In the case of the two cars today, I didn’t think that they were going to pull over or anything. Like I said, that type of behavior is pretty common. But it’s all just so exhausting. It’s demoralizing. I’m trying to accomplish something, and instead I’m reduced to an object that is not deemed worthy of even the slightest respect. It makes you question why you’re doing all of this shit in the first place. The repetitive decision making process of determining what’s a threat and what’s just “guys being guys” makes the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the run seem pointless.

Which is why I’m sitting on my porch right now instead of finishing the last two miles of my run.

So I guess that’s really all I have to say on the matter. There’s nothing really to do about it, and I’m sure I’ll be back out for a run tomorrow. But sometimes it feels nice to just remind people that this is the shit that women get to deal with.

Thanks friends, and I promise you’ll get a new post this week! A fun one!

M is for May; M is for Mental Health; M is for My Story

Trigger warning: this post discusses mental health and eating disorder behavior, specifically bulimia. If that’s not for you, come back for the next one!

Note: as many of my readers already know, I write my personal experiences from a humorous lens. This does not mean that I do not take the following issues seriously. That is just my method of expression.

May is coming to a close, which means it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. This post is actually one I’ve been sitting on since February. I have mentioned in the past that some of my posts just turn into random streams of consciousness. This was one of those posts. I wrote this post during Eating Disorder Awareness week and never published it. After making some edits, I have decided that, in the words of Rafiki from The Lion King, It is Time.

As is my way, I still plug in sarcasm and self-deprecating humor. Enjoy! Or not. I’m not your boss, just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman…I mean blogger.

Today’s beverage: coffee, black…aka 75% of my bloodstream

Let’s start from the beginning.

I was in middle school when I decided that I was obese. No one ever called me fat. Because I wasn’t, and also that would just be rude. I mean, I even had a 6-pack, something that I managed to define as a personality trait and have been desperately clinging to ever since.

I distinctly remember the summer going in to 8th grade, being up at camp (Lakehouse if you will. Apparently, “camp” is a regional term, and all through college my teammates thought my parents owned a summer camp, which is comical) and trying to see how little I could eat and still get through the day. Fortunately, my mom shut that down real fast. Thanks momma bear.

After expressing concern about not being as thin as some of the girls on one of my soccer teams, my dad tried to impart some wisdom on me.

You see, I take after my dad. We are a short people with long torsos and muscular legs. In my early adult life, this spurred the “hip to tit ratio,” where me and my tall friends would line up our hip bones and point to the nips, determining that our torsos were indeed the same length. It’s an accurate form of measurement, I swear. It’s science.

But I digress.

Back to the wisdom.

“You’re an athlete. Athletes aren’t supposed to be skinny.”

Bless. His. Stubby-Legged. Soul.

At the time, this was devastating to me because all I’d ever wanted to be was skinny.

Here’s the thing: he’s right! The wording could use some polishing, but this is a sentiment that should be shouted from the rooftops on a daily basis. Come at my dad and you are gonna catch these hands.

At that point I was always on 2 or 3 soccer teams, and I was also an Irish dancer. I briefly dabbled in gymnastics, but since I can’t even touch my toes, that was a no-go. There was no world in which I wasn’t going to be muscular, and he was constantly trying his damndest to remind me of that and to help me realize that it was a good thing.

Switching from soccer to running created a whole set of new insecurities, like the transition from baggy soccer shorts to “bun-huggers”. I was “recruited” by the cross country coach at my high school during my freshman year of JV soccer. Part of this was because my brother was an incredible runner. The other part was that my biggest assets to the soccer team were that I could beat the opposing team to the ball, and I could run the length of the field all day long without getting tired. I knew this. Teams I played against in club leagues over the years knew that despite being less technically skilled, I could shut a player out of the game. It once resulted in me getting slapped in the face by a very talented and very frustrated player.

Anyway, off I went to the world of distance running. And I loved it. I still do. But nothing is perfect, and I have covered this topic in detail in my post “A forgone conclusion.

In college, I struggled with reminders (99% of which were in my own head) that I wasn’t “built like distance runner,” which is something I strived for. I felt like a failure. One night in a bar, a drunk townie told us he was going to guess what our track events were. This resulted in a heated argument with a drunken asshole in which I felt I had to prove I was a runner because in his opinion, I was too big. Specifically, my legs were too big. The kicker is that he was still saying I was clearly an athlete, just not a distance runner, but I felt the need to argue until he accepted that I was like the rest of my team.

Fast forward a few years, and I still have my beloved 6-pack, but in my mind, the scale reflected failure: a weight gain of 5 pounds. Unfortunately for me, I base my “ideal weight” on what I was when I was 18, despite being…not 18. In my mind, there’s no reason that should change since my height hasn’t changed. I mean, I was older, no longer racing competitively, going to school, and working multiple jobs, but yeah, let’s just continue to base everything on me still being 5’2″. Real smart, Brigid. To be clear, I’m aware that this makes zero logical sense. The facepalm is real.

Right out of college I started training for my first marathon instead of taking a break after 8 years of racing my way through high school and college. I also got in to a bit of an unhealthy relationship. You could say I was crushing it.

I love running and I love racing, but when I was told by my then-boyfriend that he would no longer date me if I ever stopped training, it felt mandatory. At the time, I accepted his reasoning that he wanted to be proud of me and that he wanted to date someone who understood his lifestyle as a runner.

That relationship ended, and I jumped right in to another one, also a runner. So close Brigid, so close. I was looking for someone to coach me, and I went to him…because he was a local coach! He said he would, but he also told me that as long as he was my coach, the subject of my weight would always be on the table. He convinced me that every pound I lost could mean one second faster around the track.

I over trained. I got injured. I was a burden to his training. Running lost a lot of its appeal. That relationship also lost its appeal to me so I ended via text message between beers from a bar in Florida while my friend stepped away to use the bathroom. Girl Boss!!

Life after grad school and toxic boys hasn’t been all roses though. After to moving to a new city and making new friends, I stopped working out as much and drinking more, which honestly I feel like just goes with the territory, and I’m good with it. New city, new people, new bars. Also, “stopped working out as much” only entailed a drop from 75 mile weeks to 50-60 mile weeks.

My mid-twenties became a turning point. Despite dealing with mild, undiagnosed anxiety and depression for years, this is when things took a nosedive. My anxiety has always manifested itself as nausea. As a result, I fell back on a behavior I taught myself in college for dealing with feeling sick. In my senior year of college, whenever I was hung over, I’d make myself throw because it would settle my stomach, and then I would go eat brunch and go about my Sunday, calling alumni and asking them to give all their money to the school…like as a job, not some weird hobby of mine. Despite the constant protests of my roommate, I rationalized the puking by saying that I was doing it so I could feel better and eat something and get on with my day. She vehemently disagreed, but *shrug* .

So fast forward to age 24. I would eat a meal, a perfectly reasonably sized meal, feel nauseous, and throw up. The thing is, I couldn’t have really been that sick, since I was the one making myself throw up. I also didn’t connect that the nausea was my anxiety around food and weight.

It wasn’t a secret from anyone, really. But you can make anything make sense if you bend the facts. I mean, have you ever used the internet? You can also make a situation sound less serious if you laugh it off, a skill I’ve fine tuned, to toot my own horn. If someone mentioned “bulimia” I would deny it because I wasn’t binging. I would argue that the food just wasn’t sitting well. It was just a “perk” that I saw results on the scale that made me happy (problematic, I know). I got back down to my ideal weight. I was also seeing blood every time I threw up.

This all stopped for a bit after I got mono. I lost a ton of weight because I was sick, and so I was happy with the number on my scale.

When my anxiety hit its peak a few years ago, I realized the same action could put an end to a panic attack. The smallest things could send me into a tailspin. At my peak of 3 panic attacks a day, I was purging pretty much everything I ate.

At the encouragement of my lovely mom, I finally went to my doctor for help. Unfortunately, the medication I was put on was not right for me, and I was not prepared for the side effects. My anxiety went through the roof, I lost my appetite to the point that I was forcing myself just to get through 400-500 calories a day. Oh, and I was still exercising. And I was still, somehow, purging. I wasn’t sleeping. I lost over 10 pounds in the course of a week, and then I lost my fucking mind.

I went from CPEP, to a partial inpatient program (self-dubbed the Island of Misfit Toys), to finding my own therapist and prescriber. Along the way, whenever I described what was going on, people kept asking me if I counted things. I could not figure out what they were getting at. Am I being casted for Sesame Street? Am I Mr. Owl?

Then I got my diagnoses: GAD and Depression (no surprise there) and OCD. I was so confused. In my mind, OCD was cleaning everything and turning the lights on and off. My electric bill clearly shows that my light switches have never seen the “off” position.

OCD definition from psychiatry.org: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

I slipped under the radar because I didn’t see my compulsions as compulsions.

I slipped under the radar because most of us only have surface level definitions of mental health.

We’ve all heard it. Most of us have even been guilty of it.

“Oh I keep my house clean. I’m OCD.”

“I like to write in pencil, because I’m OCD.”

Nah, you’re just tidy.

Anywhoooo back to me.

I started new meds, and my mental health improved in the sense that I wasn’t checking myself back in to CPEP and the purging subsided. But then new side effects of the meds hit, and I started gaining weight. During this time, I had accepted that I needed to put my fitness on the back burner (to an extent) in order to recover some of my mental and physical health, but I was still working out and eating the same, so the change shouldn’t have been as drastic as it was.

I gained 20 pounds, and I hated myself. In my mind, I was a failure. I argued to get my meds changed, because while I wasn’t having panic attacks, the weight gain sent my mental health back down the tubes like one of those water slides that ends in a giant toilet bowl before it spits you out into the pool.

I started purging again. And it became the first time I ever admitted out loud that while the vomiting was still mainly a compulsion to stop panic, I was also purging to lose weight. This got me a med change, and that’s honestly the only reason I said anything. I needed to lose weight.

I started losing weight, and I started training for a marathon. Not only that, I set out for a PR. Makes sense, right? My last marathon had been like 3 years prior and I had barely run in the last year.

*facepalm*

Not surprisingly, training didn’t go well. Feeling like I was failing brought panic and purging back to my life. I stopped training and things got better, and I stopped purging. Then they got worse, and better, and worse, and so on.

Mental health isn’t linear. It is a constant battle between your emotional and logical mind. And sometimes I think people fail to realize that. I have times that I feel great, and I have times that I feel like shit is hitting the fan and spraying back into my face. (pretty image, right? I have a real way with words, I know).

Mental Health is also not one-sided. Yes, my purging is (albeit negative) coping mechanism for stress, it is also at times a function of bulimia. There are so many moving parts, and all of those parts need to be addressed.

So that’s my story, or at least part of my story. This post is already long enough. As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the fact that understanding that you’re not alone in your problems takes a huge burden off your shoulders. Mental illness comes with a stigma that is problematic and undeserved, but the more we talk about it and bring it into the light, the less frightening it becomes. So this is me, shining a little light on the subject. Hope ya don’t mind!

In lieu of my usual sign-off, visit I’m leaving you with the link for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Home | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

And don’t worry, next post we will be back to our usual programming. As a preview, here’s a working title: I don’t need a man; I just need pockets.

I do have a man, though, and I love him, and I’m keeping him. But like, functional pockets would be cool.

Like a dang carnival barker

Today’s beverage: post 5:30am run coffee with a side of bunny snuggles.

Tatted up like a dang carnival barker”

This is one of my dad’s staple phrases. I honestly should get it carved into my tombstone someday. It’s a joke, so nobody yell at him.

By most people’s standards, I am not really “tatted up.” I have four tattoos, five if you count that one is a cover up. There’s nothing wrong with the original; it’s not like I got “butthole’s butthole” tattooed on my butthole. (FYI I know someone who does indeed have that tattoo). No, I was just indifferent to the tattoo that was there and decided to cover it with something prettier.

Now, I know that not everyone is a fan of tattoos.

It’s gonna look weird when you get old.”

Yes, well so is the rest of me.

No one will hire you!”

Gainfully employed, thank you very much. I will concede that this is an old sentiment, and that opinions on tattoos for people other than ax murders have changed.

What about when you get pregnant?”

First of all, if, not when. Let’s normalize the concept that not everyone is able to, or wants to, get pregnant.

Second, if I get pregnant, that baby is likely going to make my skin all sorts of weird, regardless of whether or not I have a tattoo. I’ve seen pregnant people. Babies are jerks.

What if your significant other doesn’t like it?!”

Ok, well first of all, FUCK THAT NOISE! Your partner doesn’t like your tattoos? Find a new partner. For transparency sake, I had three tattoos already when I met my boyfriend, and I did discuss it with him before I got the other two. I wasn’t getting permission, but I do like to know his thoughts on things. Spoiler: turns out he loves me no matter what awwwwww

They hurt.”

DUH.

They’re expensive.”

Question: if you’re going to have someone carve an image into your skin with a needle, you’d want them to be trained and qualified, right? Me too. It’s the same reason I’d never seek out discount LASIK.

“Tatted up like a dang carnival barker.”

My dad likes to act scandalized by the tattoos in our family, like he has delicate sensibilities or something. I’m in the lead with 4-slash-5, my mom has one, and my middle brother has one. He jokes that I corrupted my mom. When I got my first tattoo, I was 18. I got a winged foot on my left thigh, ‘cause….running. Naturally, I was nervous, because, to be perfectly crass, I’m a pussy. So my mom went with me. She even paid for it because she’s the coolest lady ever. Move over, Lorelai Gilmore.

At this point in our lives, my mom was undergoing treatment for cancer, but she surprised me by admitting that she’d be down to get a little ink. (I winced typing that, but I’m trying to be cool). At the time, her getting a tattoo was a medical no-no, so I told her that I’d get one with her when she was in remission.

Here’s the thing about your first tattoo. The biggest side effect is wanting a second tattoo.

I got bit by the bug.

My mom went into remission. YAY!!

So off we went for tattoos. She got a cute little shamrock on her ankle, and I got an infinity symbol on my ribs.

DISCLAIMER: Unless it is something racist, sexist, or otherwise openly offensive, you can get whatever tattoo you want, and who da fuck cares. If you like it, that’s all that matters.

DISCLAIMER PART 2: if you want to get a white ink tattoo so that you can say you have a tattoo, but no one will ever see it, I have a suggestion. Just lie. Say you have one. It will save you a lot of money, and as stated above, tattoos hurt.

My infinity tattoo would definitely be considered “basic bitch” status, along with anchors and feathers and “Live. Laugh. Love.” But I liked it, and a friend drew it for me, which was a neat added touch. That being said, there should be a written exam prior to getting a second tattoo. Like a Buzzfeed quiz called “Are you sure? Or are you just impatient?”

Fast forward a few years, and I now have the winged foot on my thigh, the cuuuutest T-Rex on my ankle, a watercolor elephant on one side of my ribs, and I recently covered the infinity tattoo on the other side of my ribs with lilacs. It’s not that I dislike that tattoo, but I was indifferent towards it.

Am I done? Probably not. And here’s why.

**I’m not going too deep into the following topic but to do my due diligence: trigger warning: I will briefly be discussing the topic of disordered eating. I also want to remind you all that I like to mix humor in with serious things. I’m not making light of anyone else’s situation, just my own.

Ok, let’s do this shit!

Body dysmorphia: a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance.

I tend to describe it as living my life in a funhouse mirror. Most people, especially women, know what I mean when I say there are good mirrors and bad mirrors. I don’t know what some people are doing when they make these things, but you can go from supermodel to that blueberry girl from Willy Wonka real quick.

When I look at myself, regardless of the mirror, I do not see what you see. I do not like what I see. Specifically, in my mind, I am fat. This is in addition to a whole host of other “flaws” that I see that other people have told me don’t exist. Jokes on you, Brigid’s brain doesn’t give a flying fart what you think.

In the battle of emotion mind versus wise mind, my wise mind is definitely the kid who’d get picked last in kickball.

But Brigid, lots of people don’t like their bodies. Don’t be dramatic.

True. But there’s a line between seeing something you don’t like and seeing something that’s not there. When I look at myself, I tend to see proportions that are objectively, not possible.

To be perfectly clear, this is not meant to diminish anyone else’s opinions of their body. A friend of mine who does stand-up comedy has a really good bit about anxiety and it turning into a pissing contest. Everyone is trying to one-up everyone else’s anxiety.

If I have to be fucked up, I want to be the most fucked up. I am the Queen of stress, hear me roar, and nervously chew my fingernails.

*evil laugh*

I’m not trying to out-anxiety anyone. I may be competitive, but that would be like trying to see who could get the highest fever. No one really wins. I’m simply trying to create a clearer picture of the point I’m trying to get across.

Side note: I did once compete with a friend as to who could get the lowest blood pressure readings over 24 hours of wearing a pressure cuff. I lost. But I’m sure if you asked a medical professional, they’d say we both lost, which is why we didn’t ask.

Anyway, my body image issues, along with my other mental health struggles, have led to a lot of negative coping measures that wind their way in and out of my existence, such as purging and over-exercising. These aren’t constants in my life, but they have a tendency to pop back in an say hello despite the fact that I specifically told them that they aren’t in my COVID bubble. I accidentally wrote a whole post about this last month, which is safely tucked away in my drafts folder and will likely never see the light of day, except for being shared with my family and my therapist.

So what does this have to do with tattoos? Well, I’ll tell ya!

I don’t really like looking at myself in the mirror, but it’s kind of necessary. Otherwise I’d probably walk out the door looking like I wrapped myself in Velcro and threw myself into my closet. If it sticks, I wear it! Or I’d forget to put make-up on one side of my face. Though, honestly that might not be noticeable. I finally learned how to do eyeliner at the age of 27, and I usually do the bare minimum. Want me in your wedding? I don’t care how much the make-up artist costs, I’m paying. I know how to do literally nothing with my face.

Also, the fact that I don’t like looking in a mirror means that I spend my entire day looking at my reflection trying to pick apart the things I don’t like. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

Still waiting on the tattoo thing? I’m getting there, I promise! Scout’s honor!

My tattoos give me something positive to focus on, on the days when I have trouble finding the positives I was born with. I love my tattoos. I love to look at them. So when I need to try on a bathing suit, or change outfits 700 times to find the right one, I use them to refocus myself. They are my healthy coping.

Some people think that tattoos need to have meaning. So when I tell people that I have a big watercolor elephant holding a balloon on my ribs, they will ask me if it’s for my rabbit, who’s named Elephant. It’s a fun coincidence, but honestly I just thought it was cute. The T-Rex on my ankle? I like dinosaurs, and it makes me smile. The winged foot obviously has to do with running, of course. And my most recent addition, a diamond with lilacs poking in an out is just plain cool.

I don’t need meaning. I need something that I want to look at.

That’s not to say I’m going to cover myself head to toe. Just because you like oil paintings doesn’t mean every square inch of your walls is covered in framed art. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those if that’s what you want.

You do you, boo boo.

One of the things I actually like is that all of my tattoos are pretty easy to cover. It’s like I have secret body armor under my clothes…like deodorant! Except now that a global pandemic has kept me home bound, it’s shocking how frequently I forget to apply.

So while I have a few ideas for small things I’d like to add on here and there, I mostly focus my tattoos on the key parts of my body that I view as flawed. It’s why I don’t have a butt tattoo…because…flawless. *hair flip*

KIDDING…kinda 😉

At the same time, although I can easily point out “flaws” on my face, such as those caterpillars some would call eyebrows that I inherited from my father, I also won’t be getting a face tattoo. You want a face tattoo? Get a face tattoo! But I just don’t think I’ll be able to rock it as well as Post Malone or Mike Tyson. I’m leaving that to the professionals. I have my limits.

And with that, the sun is now up, and Elephant has bitten me enough times that it’s clear my attention is to be shifted to her.

Ok, Brigid, connect it back to the theme…working on my mental health is part of navigating my quarter life crisis.

BA-BAM!

So until next time….I guess I need a closing catchphrase, but that’s a hurdle for another beer.