What Anxiety Is Doing to Me

I can’t breathe.

I can’t think.

I think too much.

I cry.

I scream.

I get angry.

I question everything.

I doubt everything and everyone.

I doubt myself most of all.

I panic and feel tired.

I feel awake and not tired at all.

I feel like I am losing, even though I barely try.

I feel like I am lonely even when I know you love me.

I feel buried and useless.

I get angry.

I scream.

I cry.

I think too much.

I can’t think.

I can’t breathe.

Why does anxiety do this to me?

Ask Me No Questions, I Will Tell You No Lies.

 

Pace. Sit. Pace. Sit.

She does this for hours and then heads straight to bed.

She can’t get her mind to stay silent, and she can’t stop her heart from racing.

Her eyes close for about an hour, but she’s not sleeping.

She opens them back up and looks around the dark room. The shadows whispering everything she tries to ignore the entire day.

They tell her so many things. They make her mind spin, and when she gets up to start pacing around the house the room begins to spin along with her mind.

Dazed and feeling frustrated from not sleeping, she makes herself a cup of coffee.

Sits on the couch with the mug in her hand, steam rising along with her heart rate.

She stares off out the window watching the sun come up, and everyone goes about their day.

She just sits there. The coffee goes cold.

Her phone lights up because it’s always on silent. Some sounds make her clench her jaw.

“Hey! How are you?” the screen asks.

“I’m good!” she replies.

“I’m good!” she lies.

©2018 Joana F. Simoes

The Mourning Song

 

This is a fictional essay inspired by current events. If you are concerned about my mental state, I promise I am doing well. Inspiration strikes in weird ways, and I felt I needed to write this.

TRIGGER WARNING: This essay mentions depression and suicide. If these things have negative impacts on your mental state, please do not continue reading.

The Mourning Song 

© Joana F. Simoes 2017

In Honor and in memory of all those that gave us something to hold onto in our darkest moments, but could no longer fight for themselves. We miss you.

 

 It is not poetic this morning that the rain is coming down harder than it has all year. It is not romantic or cozy today that even with all the windows wide open, the clouds and the pouring rain aren’t allowing much light to shine through. I imagine this is what my head looks like right now. I want to let all the light and brightness to come in, but something just does not allow it. I would turn to my favorite singer’s voice and lyrics, but it’s too hard.

Last night as I scrolled through my phone, as one does to pass the time these days, I started to see little trickles of news that were less than appealing to me. Also not exactly a shocker at the moment, but it was something harder to believe. This had to be some kind of hoax. He could not be dead. As time passed it was harder to ignore. News agencies all around the world were reporting it now. He died. My heart turned to stone and instantly dropped out of my body.

People take a lot away from teens, and their emotions. They chalk it up to hormones, and body changes, but for some it’s deeper than that and their feelings still go ignored. This is why as a teen I turned to his music. His voice, his melodies, and his powerful words were the stable ground I had to walk on when everything else seemed to be crumbling underneath my feet. As an adult it was still a coping mechanism and the most powerful tool I had in my arsenal.

He died, because he lost his fight with depression. I don’t like to say he committed suicide. The only thing he committed was a life of putting forth strong and powerful music that somehow saved so many lives without him realizing it. The battle with depression is a hard and treacherous one. It deceives even the most pure souls into believing they have nothing left to give to this world. It will make a great day turn to dust in a split second, and you cannot reason with it, you cannot negotiate with it.

I am having a hard time this morning. I am ignoring my medication, which I should never do. I am ignoring all the things I have learned from my therapist about what I should be doing to get myself out of bed and into the day. He has left this big black hole in my soul, and I don’t know how to fill it. Am I worthy to be here if he was not? How many people in the world are feeling the exact same way?

People have been writing online that mourning a rockstar’s death when there are other important things happening in the world is a waste of time. I don’t accept that at all. If people knew or felt a quarter of what some of us feel when we hear a certain song or watch a movie that makes us laugh deeper than we have laughed in ages, they would get it. They would understand that not only do these people deserve to be mourned; they deserve respect, our love, and attention.

That was the moment that it hit me. Maybe he would no longer create music that could bring meaning to my dark days, but all the music he’s already created will always be a part of me. I am doing myself and his memory a disservice by ignoring all the steps forward I have taken, that his music had helped me make in the past.

I get up take my medicine. Give my depression the care and love that any other illness requires and demands.

I put on one of his records and let the words and music roll over me, blanket me in comfort. This is a song like no other, but today it is the mourning song.

 

 

4am Anxiety

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It’s hard to put into words what it feels like when I can’t get my mind to just quiet down. To pace around our apartment at 3am like the ghost of Christmas past.

I move from the bed, to the desk chair, to the couch, and back to the bed. On heavy rotation, and more like a broken record I can’t seem to throw away. I close my eyes and the visions behind them play over and over like a silent film. Visions of things I have done or said long ago or things I have yet to do or say.

My eyes fly open and I decide I need some water. I drink and think that maybe it’s better if I just stay awake. If I am awake I am prepared for whatever the world has to throw at me. Asleep I’m vulnerable.

Then come the tears. I cry for no reason at all and sometimes for a million reasons all at the same time. It’s exhausting and exhilarating, it’s depressing and motivating. It’s something different every time.

My body is tired of course. My brain is well aware that I need sleep, but it’s too aware of everything else that I struggle with on a daily basis. I could list things that bother me. Things that trigger me to panic but some days that list will be empty and I will still feel it all building up deep within my bones. It’s a messed up spidey sense I never asked for.

I over think and underestimate just how much I can do. Some days I do nothing. I sleep and think and then sleep some more because it’s the only way I can keep the thoughts silenced.

I can conquer the world one day and barely lift a finger the next.

People don’t understand and people judge what they don’t understand.

Anxiety is not just a little feeling in the pit of your stomach. Depression is not just feeling sad.

It’s all consuming and tremendously frustrating. Your mind is a tangled mess and you spend all day trying to untangle it and you spend all night trying to think of why the tangles happen in the first place.

I write this as the clock strikes 4:00am and I can’t sleep because I wonder will the new day bring me more to worry about or will I be able to function properly?

And that generally sums up these feelings. I worry about worrying and it’s never ending.

But never say never.

Why I Write

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I don’t think I need to tell you that books mean the world to me. This is an obvious fact about me, and doesn’t need much of an explanation.

My love for reading very quickly bred a love of writing. I always enjoyed writing. I wrote ridiculous amounts of poetry as a teen and young adult that should never be published unless it’s going to be done in a comedic sense. Writing though, is not about perfection. Books on every level are a very subjective form of art. There are so many popular titles out in the world that I just did not enjoy. Just like there are many that I love, that others dislike as well. To be a writer you must first realize that not everyone is going to love your work, and the second thing to realize is that there will always be someone better than you. Seems daunting doesn’t it? It’s okay. We are all in this together. While these things may turn many people off from ever writing a single word of a story, it makes me want to tell my stories even more. So Why do I write?

To be a writer you must only do ONE thing, and that is to write. YOU HAVE TO WRITE. I consider myself a writer. I have spent countless hours writing thousands upon thousands of words. I am in the process of editing one book, while also throwing myself head first into research for another one. I have ideas written on notecards, notebooks, iPhone notes, and even a sandwich bag because my mind is constantly telling me stories. No this is not my way of admitting that I am crazy, although, I think to be a writer you need to have at least some dose of insanity somewhere within you.

What Inspires me?

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I get asked this sometimes by friends or family. I think what originally inspired me was stories like Harry Potter. That series specifically burst open my imagination. The detailing, and just unique story made me realize I had characters and stories of my own running around in my head. Characters with loud personalities matching those of the people who I have crossed paths with. Characters with personalities matching my own. Quiet, shy, and ready to kick ass if necessary.

I have always had notebooks scattered about the house. Piles of them telling different stories of my own reality. It was only in the past 5-6 years that I realized that I wanted to write about the other characters my imagination decided to introduce into my daily life.

Possibly the biggest inspiration behind my writing, really the biggest of them all is Portugal. I was born there you see. In a beautiful city called Viseu, where at the age of 30 I have only set foot on its streets a handful of times. rua-direitaI was raised so far away from it, far from it’s cobble stoned sidewalks, it’s gorgeous parks, and beautiful architecture, that for most of my adult life I’ve had a hunger–no, an unstoppable desire to become better acquainted with a land that I barely know, and yet love unconditionally.

A place where family has grown, aged, and lived without me within their immediate bubble. I am inspired to create worlds around that longing, and the history of Portugal. I can’t explain it any further here. One day, with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work, I will be able to share the stories this feeling has inspired.

Till then, I leave you with these words:

Telling a story isn’t about perfection. It’s about expression, emotion, and that feeling that you’re making something bigger than yourself.
I write almost every day. None of it perfect. Never let that stop you because it will never stop me.
 

Short Story Sunday – Part II

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Well well well, if it isn’t another Sunday. I know I said I would update this story on a bi-weekly basis, but well I got sick, and it blowed. I really didn’t bother updating the blog at all, and then had work to catch up on, but enough with the excuses here. If this is your first visit, then you will want to read Part One of the story.

PART ONE

Now that you read that, here’s Part Two. Enjoy!! Please note that I do this on a whim. No editing goes into it, and I basically just want to do this for fun. It helps get the brain flowing, so that I can go and work on my other stories. 😀 Still I really hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to share, comment, and like!! Peace and Love!!

NOTE: TRIGGER WARNING for Sexual Harassment. Please do not read if sensitive to this subject. 

Part Two: Invitations and Hesitations 

I really should tell you how I ended up locking myself away like a depressed Rapunzel in her tower. Yes, it comes down to that party invitation. I spent the next few days being extremely indecisive about it.

“I mean it could be fun.” I would say to Patrick one minute. “but then again, I think I would rather just stay in on Saturday.”

“Something new, then.” Patrick would reply. “Look I know you hate parties, and not everyone needs to be belligerent and drunk 24/7, but you haven’t really done much other than work on your art and selling pieces online–” As I was about to defend myself he cut in again,”Which works for you Zara. You are the way you are, but don’t you ever feel like trying? Try and meet new people, or just break out of your shell a little?”

After another day or two of me being wishy washy, and Patrick barely listening to my excuses by Friday night, I finally said while I was making dinner, “FINE! We will go, because YES, you are coming with me. Let’s be social. Let’s walk into the lion’s den!”

I didn’t get dressed up because it didn’t seem like that kind of party. Skinny jeans, white tee, and a black hoodie seemed like a perfect outfit. As we both walked out of our door to head down stairs to the party, patrick turned to me before locking the door, “You are sure you want to do this?”

“Well don’t question me NOW Pat. For fucks sake.” He moved aside and I closed the door to the apartment, took a breath and locked it.

When we arrived, I couldn’t find the host. It was already crowded and excessively loud. “I’m going to grab us a couple of beers. You’ll wait here?” I simply nodded at his question. I shoved my hand into the pockets of my hoodie and based myself against a wall. People kept walking by, dancing and spilling their drinks trying to get through. Suddenly someone was next to me, and he came really close to my ear to talk to me, I realized then that it was possibly just because over the loud music that there was no other way of communicating, but smoke signals would have felt less suffocating to me. He continued to talk, and I zoned out completely, as I tend to do under normal circumstances anyway.

“…and that’s how I ended up here.” Is what I heard from this tall stranger with black hair, green eyes and a chiseled jaw when I finally tuned back to earth. I laughed because he was laughing, and I responded with “Haha, that’s cool.” His expression kind of flickered, which told me he realized I hadn’t paid attention to a single word he said. At this point I could see Patrick carrying two beer bottles in his hand, all I could think was ‘thank god’. I turned my back on the stranger as Pat handed me a beer.

“Sorry they only had hipster microbrews here.”

“You mean cereal and milk left out in the sun for too long? It’s okay, I kind of expected that with this crowd.” I took a sip and shuddered. Patrick then waves at some dude across the room.

“It’s my coworker Daniel, wanna come with me?” Pat asked.

“No no, you go. I will be fine here.” and Patrick walked away. He glanced over his shoulder and his forehead creased as I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned, the stranger was still standing there.

“That your boyfriend?” he asks.

“Umm, no. Just a friend. Best friend actually.”

“Good.” and he put his hand on my waist. I winced at the touch. I grabbed his hand and placed it back on his side.

“Playing hard to get huh?” and the most disturbing grin crossed his face. I took a step back, as far as the crowd and walls would allow me, but he stepped forward. “I am not playing at all actually. Thank you, but NO thank you.” He wasn’t having it though, and he once again put his hand on my waist, grabbed it actually and brought me close to him with no effort at all. His face was close to mine at this point, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. “Can you please let go of me?” and I glanced over at Patrick, but he wasn’t near his friend, he was struggling to get through the crowd to come to me. Suddenly I felt like a boulder fell onto my chest, and the hand on my waist felt more like a giant bear trap. I started to panic, and began to push myself out of his grip. At this very point he said “Fine, bitch!” and pushed me off. I stumbled back, my breath caught in my throat, and of course in this instance, I fell straight to the floor, the beer bottle in my hand crashing and breaking to pieces.

I knew I was having a panic attack, the heat rising to the back of my neck, my chest tightening. I struggled to get up, and cried out when placing my right hand down on the floor. There was glass stuck in my palm, blood rushing out. Patrick finally reached me, and helped me to my feet. Before I could say thank you, I turned and pushed out of the crowd to the building’s hallway. I ran again. I ran right back to the elevator and right to our apartment door. Realizing too late that Patrick had the key. I slammed my back against the door. I fell straight to the floor, and began to sob all while trying to calm my breathing.

I felt a hand on my arm, and flinched. It was Patrick.

“I’m sorry. You’re okay, you ARE safe.” He sat there with me, me against the door to our apartment, and him against the wall next to it. He didn’t touch me again. He let me calm down enough, to finally open the door. He guided me into the apartment, “Let’s get your hand cleaned up.”

“I…I Don’t want to gg..go to the hospital ththough.” I struggled to speak.

“No. No we will do it here, and if it needs more care, we can go tomorrow. Okay? Where’s your medication?”

“Ba-Bathroom.”

We walked slowly to the bathroom, and he cleaned out my hand. Carefully and slowly, cleaning out all the cuts as he went. “Take your medication, to calm down, and I will go make you some tea.”

I took my meds, and headed to the couch. I sat there crying, and I’ve been going back every day since. To sit there, occasionally crying. Patrick occasionally brings me tea. What a way to live.


Well that’s the end of part two. I know, it got a little dark, but I hope you liked the read.

See you next time!!

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

©2016 Joana Simoes. All Rights Reserved

Short Story Sunday

shortstory

I wanted to share some random writings with you, so I will start Short Story Sunday. Which may be a bi-weekly thing rather than a weekly thing. This particular short story will be shared in small bursts, till we finally reach the end. Please note that anything I post here is a work in progress, and has gone through ZERO editing. I just wanted to be able to share some of my writing. Not everything I write is fantasy or historical fiction, and this is a prime example. This one has some dark humor in it, but it is definitely going to twist at some of your emotions. This is a work of fiction. Enjoy!


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

©2016 Joana Simoes. All Rights Reserved

Part One: A Party You Say?

It’s been a month since I have stepped outside of my apartment. I want to say it’s a choice, and plenty of people would argue that it is– my mother tells me I am overreacting all the time. I have gotten fully dressed and ready to step outside a grand total of 8 times. Winter coat on, scarf at the ready, I place my hand on the doorknob and start the pep talks.

“Come on Zara, you are just going to the grocery store for eggs and milk.”

“Come on Zara, you just need to step out for some fresh air.”

“Come on Zara, go to the bookstore! YOU LOVE THE FUCKING BOOK STORE!”

I take a few deep breaths, turn the doorknob,and as I do so, sweat begins to drip down my forehead, down my neck, and pools on the small of my back. I slam my back against the apartment door. “Not today!” I yell, and walk down our short hallway, back into my bedroom, and straight back into my pajamas. Just so you know, I am not always like this. I can leave the apartment on good days, but for the past month it has just been a never-ending chain of bad days. Sometimes those bad days are really awful and for the past month even on Okay days I have just been too exhausted to go anywhere.

I live with my best friend Patrick. He takes care of the grocery shopping when I get like this. We moved to Portland from Pennsylvania about 6 years ago. Sharing an apartment seemed like the best bet to save money, plus I don’t think Pat and I know how to function anymore without the other one around. From the outside looking in, people assume we are a couple or really weird siblings that moved straight from the womb to an apartment in Portland. We are not, and have never had any sexual entanglements. I have barely dated, and he’s brought home a couple of girls. They always wake up the next morning, run into the weird chick wearing the batman pajamas eating oatmeal from a disney princess bowl, and are never seen again. Whatever a great wingman is, I am the opposite of that.

Patrick is patient, and the past month a lot has fallen to him. He doesn’t complain, but I apologize profusely a million times a day anyway.

About a month ago I was invited by one of the many downstairs neighbors to a party. Figuring that everyone there was going to be between the ages of 18 and 25, I asked Pat to come with me. Technically I gave him no choice, I’m awful like that. I always tell him I am way past my partying stage and he reminds me that I never went through a party stage. Usually Patrick is the one that gets all the invites, and he will always casually drop by, while I stay upstairs watching tv. This time I got caught in the crosshairs of a conversation in the laundry room. As I threw my laundry into the dryer, a girl of about 22 with shoulder length blonde dreadlocks turned to me and invited me to her party.

My initial thought was “No, I don’t want to go to your patchouli infested apartment where you will serve tofu and vegan brownies and talk about that month you spent in India, appropriating another culture. I’ve seen you in that Sari bitch!” But I am good enough at filtering my thoughts and making them less rude quite quickly. I also had just spent 30 seconds staring at the shell bead hanging off of one of her dreadlocks, and needed to say something and get out of there.

“Uhhh, Sure.” I stammered.

I sped down the hall and straight into the elevators. I hit the button for the 7th Floor, and hit the close door button knowing it is not actually going to make the door close any faster. When I reached the 7th floor I practically ran to our apartment.

Patrick was in the living room on his laptop as I step inside and he looks at me quizzically.

“Why are you out of breath?” he asked.

“That blonde girl with dreads just invited me to a party.” I say in between huffs and puffs. Shit I really should work out more.

“I think her name is Mandy, or Amanda.” Patrick said this like it mattered.

“Of course it is.” I reply.

“I’m guessing you said no?”

“I said sure, which I mean, kind of leaves it open to interpretation.”

“No it doesn’t Zara.”

“Sure it does. For instance, ‘Sure, but I would rather pull my teeth through my ass.’ or ‘Sure, but I have to wash my hair that night, try it some time.” I explained.

Patrick laughs as he continued to type on his laptop and then said, “Only you would think that ‘sure’ is open to interpretation.”

“So we have to go to this thing?”

“We?”he asked.

“WE!”


Hope you enjoyed the very short first part to this story! Leave some comments down below and let me know what you think! Happy Sunday!

The Art of Missing Out

I originally wrote this back in November while in Portugal. I decided it needed to be placed up here on my main blog. Check it out. 

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me in Portugal

I have spent most of my life outside of the land I was born in. At first not by choice and then it was a decision I made.

Sitting here at 2:00am back in Portugal. I felt the need to write something that maybe no one understands. I left when I was four, but I think I forgot my soul here. Children are forgetful, and I left a piece of myself here.

I lived in New Jersey most of my life. It was never home to me. People always laugh when I say that because when I speak English I sound American. When I Speak Portuguese I sound American. When I speak German, yes I sound American. But I am not. I never became a citizen. It was not home. Sure I made wonderful friends. I wouldn’t change a thing about that, but I’ve felt lost for a lot longer than I realized and I’ve missed out on a life I will never know because it was never meant for me to meet.

I’ve missed out on a lot of things. I have watched young cousins grow up in splashes of time. Older relatives faces tell stories that I was never a part of. Does this make me sad? Well I think there’s a bit of sadness there sure. I would trade some aspects of my past to be able to have more memories with a lot of people. Then I look at how my life has worked out and how I’m currently sitting here again, and while I call Germany home, because it is my home, my soul may always live here in Portugal.

It’s an art really, to come back and each time feel like I’m meeting some people for the first time every time. But they’re so deeply embedded into my heart either way. Now as I watch my nephew beginning to grow here into someone who I am so proud of, my little niece who smiles more than any baby I’ve ever seen, I think about all the things I will be missing out on and how that breaks my heart.

Then I think about how much closer they are now, how much closer I am to the place where my soul lives. And there’s a joy there. One I am looking forward to exploring. It’s an art. The Art of Missing out.

The Worlds in my Head

photo-1450849608880-6f787542c88aI have loved reading books since a very young age. I remember it actually the first time I was learning how to read. The teacher had given us this yellow book, the story itself I cannot remember because I think I was about 5 or 6. The book was used and kind of old already at the time, it had a very distinct smell to it, as books often do. I remember a few years later having the most wonderful 5th grade teacher. Mrs.Taub was her name, and she might be truly responsible for my love of reading and beautiful stories. She would constantly read to us. She had us remember parts of Shakespeare, some of which I can still recite to you. I loved book fairs, I loved ordering books from those scholastic order forms(it is where I ordered my first Harry Potter Book, but not in 5th grade) My parents never said no when I asked for books. I had every single Goosebumps book. I loved Little House on the Prairie. I continued to read through my school years. I just really enjoyed it. Through that love, I also realized how much I loved to write.

Writing Teen Angst Poetry,Writing Fiction

Obviously I enjoy writing, or this blog most likely would not exist. The written word, for the most part, comes easy to me. Not saying that I am a five star writer, I can always improve. I have improved, especially in the last year. I realized the more books I read, the better my writing becomes, because now not only do I have these fictional worlds and stories building up in my head, I have found the right words to describe them. This is a great improvement to the humongous folder of poetry I wrote through out my teen years. Some of it isn’t awful, but a lot of it is just angsty rage or borderline depressing shit. I am at least a lot better then I was at that point in my life.

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But you see, I made a choice, and a promise to myself that I would continue to write. While last year (2015) was my most productive writing year with 40,000 words down for a contemporary story, I want to go further this year. I am nearly done with that story. I say nearly because it is entering the turning point, and its final hurrah. It is my absolute first full novel. The idea of that actually scared me for a while, and scared me to the point where I couldn’t really write. Still, I am not only proud of myself, I am looking forward to finishing this one. I want to dive into the other worlds and stories in my head. Currently I have 4 other major ideas, 2 of which I have started research on. More so for one, as it will be a historical fiction novel.

Why am I telling all of you about this? Well because I really hope to one day be able to share the worlds that are trapped in my head with you. I think there are some of you that would love them. I also feel like people don’t actually understand the deep seated love I have for writing and reading. Of course my job, my school work and my family will always come first, but writing? Writing is my heart and soul. It is my dream and my ultimate ambition. Sure it would be nice to get published. I would love to one day walk into a book store and see MY book on a shelf. That won’t come easy.

The Year of Writing

That is why this year, I am calling it the year of writing. This is NOT a resolution. I do not make resolutions. I started this last year, but I had many bad moments where I lost sight of what I was writing, and why. There were days where every word looked awful within my story. I think I will have those days again. It seems to be a part of the territory. This year though, I need to push myself through those moments where my confidence falters. I just need to write a little bit each day. If it’s a bad day, I need to put at least 200 words down on a page. I need to pull more late nights at some point. I need to finish this first book and spark up the next one. I have to do this for myself. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do on the other hand need to prove to myself that this is something I can do. This is something I feel happy doing. I may feel tired some mornings this year, but the outcome will be worth it.

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So as I type this, I am looking at a couple of books I am about to crack open for research purposes for my next story. I know the road ahead is paved with caffeine jitters and notes of all shapes and sizes, but I am looking forward to continuing this journey, and I hope that some of you will be there at the finish line.

MATG