Meet Shannon– My Reproductive Syndrome

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This has been the longest, most painstakingly drawn-out summer of my life. Right now I’m sitting with a mug full of hot tea on a brisk day near the middle of September with two weeks until my first day of classes and not a whole lot to show for it. Actually I take it back. I went a few places. I did a couple of things. I talked to people in those places— when my foot wasn’t in my mouth. There was even a very exciting encounter with a bear, at least I think it was a bear. The point is, I had an arduously fulfilling summer all thanks to friends and family who let me tag along on mini trips to where the bears live (Tahoe), where the sun lives (Los Angeles), and where the Mormons live (guess) and thanks to Shannon.  On every trip, and during every dull day between, I was accompanied by Shannon. This post is dedicated to her.

“It’s like a fat lady is sitting on one of your ovaries” my Gynecologist told me a few months ago. So I named the fat lady Shannon because why not. Shannon = my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the symptoms that come with it. In a nutshell, Shannon exists to make my life hell by causing me various biological inconveniences through way of hormonal imbalances that I’ll have to holistically supplement and treat for the rest of my life because as of today, there is no cure for PCOS. Dope. So now what?

or in other words…
 Shannon’s palette of side effects includes anxiety and depression. Hearing that was a relief. I’ve stopped counting the late mornings, absent conversations, and petrified phone calls I’ve made… let alone the number of times I’ve submitted to destructive feelings of inadequacy.
  …….. ……..

Now I had someone to blame, it was Shannon’s fault. Not mine. A medical professional said so, even if she used a really shitty analogy to explain it to me.

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Shannon in all her snoozing glory …….
Understanding the separation between my essence and my emotions has been another subsidiary soundtrack to this summer. Shannon’s presence in my life has made me asses my emotions like I’ve never had to before. Shannon sometimes makes my mood unpredictable, so to help prepare family and friends for what’s coming on any given day, I came up with a morning mood rating system which goes as follows:
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– Puddle of emotion, vacuum of inspiration, tired, doubtful of my own abilities, 100% emotionally paralyzed
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– Anxious, mind is like a hamster running in a wheel, doubts, worries, pressures, fears all circulate, 75% emotionally paralyzed
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– Pacing, somewhat anxious but feeling more helpful and trying to wake the hell up 50% emotionally paralyzed
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– My mind has slowed significantly, good night’s rest, still on my toes but excited and only 25% emotionally paralyzed

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– THIS VIDEO ENOUGH SAID.

It’s Shannon who is my biggest handicap and Shannon who’s given me what no one else could. She’s taught me to grant myself allowance on the 1 star days and how to really get hyped on the 5 star days as rare as they are.
In the middle of a 300+ member family reunion in Utah my anxiety levels were so high I literally felt like I was drowning. It had nothing to do with the toddlers and grandparents in matching reunion t-shirts around me but I felt grounded by guilt at the thought of leaving the festivities. It was Shannon who made the switch from fight mode to flight mode, and without realizing it, I had called a local friend and asked her to pick me up. It seems like a lot of over thinking for such a small thing but if that hadn’t happened I would have missed out on one of the best nights of the summer.  We cruised through Sandy, windows down and in a comfortable silence, against the backdrop of the purple mountains down for hours and hours and I’ve never felt more free in my life.
Shannon taught me that there is a severely under appreciated art to accepting offers of services from others. It took having a panic attack on the side of the road to realize that I had a small handful of genuine friends who had all stated previously, “Call me anytime if you need to talk”, whose offers I had never taken up. One friend picked up, (you know who you are), and I can never pay back that person for talking me through the process of driving myself home that night. They never asked to be paid back. That’s what friends do.

Sometimes when others aren’t there to listen or offer assistance, Shannon taught me that sometimes you’re all you need. Honestly ask yourself, “what do you need in this moment, right now?” If it’s a drive, get in the car. If it’s chocolate, go to the grocery store. If you don’t know, take a moment to lock the door, and breathe. Sometimes it’s the little rules we invent along the way that get in the way. Screw those. You’re allowed to get up in the middle of the night and eat something if you’re hungry and you can’t sleep. You’re allowed to walk away from social situations where you feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to not reply if you don’t know what to say. Venting isn’t pretentious or privileged.

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other days you just gotta hide in your hotel room and belt Coldplay on the uke
If you need someone to tell you that you are allowed to feel what you feel, I’ll be your girl because you are.
So that’s all I’ve got so far. We’ll see what the upcoming year brings besides another season of Stranger Things and a new President. Looking very much to one and not the other. Please be kind to yourselves and know that I’m here to talk if you or someone you know deserves a home makeover  is struggling, my email can be found in the “Welcome Mat” tab on the left. Lastly, thank you as always for lending me your time dear reader.
Long live Barb.