Life

Los Angeles Adventures: I feel terrible OR: 4 Ways to handle fear / depression and live your best life

Without any other issue, making a cross country move without knowing anyone before moving is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

Without any other issue, being blind, gaining your sight, seeing that nothing was what you expected it was and you also lack the tools most women developed in college to deal with certain social situations – or simply the ability to know how to feed yourself and run your own finances – is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

Without any other issue, a divorce while running your own company and also a day job is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

For some reason my path decided to hand me all 3 of these things at once. I am one of the top people who do what I do and on the east coast companies constantly fought over who would get me. The girl who was picked last in gym class in school is now the one picked first. I can build a company, manage 3 billion dollar+ projects for major corporations – I even was one of the main people who launched the iPhone in America – but benign things all people do like laundry or handle a drunk man hitting on you in a bar when you are a serious music student and not there for that?

I don’t know how to do these things because I’ve never seen them before.

I’ve already had 1 Weinstein – like incident, been stabbed in the back by supposed friends on both coasts more than once since I got here, been through a serious health scare, fixed several lingering medical issues, and literally had to rewrite and reinvent my entire internal programming to be able to take care of myself.

For awhile, my programming was on high alert and I wasn’t afraid to be rude to protect myself. Then I settled down somewhat, got screwed again, and now I may have found a balance in my internal security system.

On the east coast I can ask around to find out who is and isn’t legit to limit that somewhat. Here I do not have that luxury. The truth is that I am a very gentle and sweet person who wants to believe the best in others. You may see me as powerful because my job is to make declarative statements online but I am just seeking light in others because it makes me happy. There’s a spark in me that seeks good and see good and I can’t stop it. It’s like a disease.

No matter how many times someone may slam me in the skull with a tire iron, it seems I am too stupid to give up on the fact that there might be goodness and light somewhere and that I will eventually find my people here to create art and music with.

This is why I always try and do more to welcome a new person to my groups. I know how shitty it felt when I moved to college back in the day. And unfortunately I’m experiencing it again with magnifiers put on that experience x1000. It’s easy to think that nobody cares about me even though factually I know that’s not true.

Depression lies. And mine tells me I am worth nothing.

However – never before have I loved where I live more. California is my home. That was the correct decision for me. No matter where I moved I’d feel this way. But adjusting? If I cry myself to sleep only 3 days out of 7 it’s a good week. This is what bleeding to death every day looks like on social media:

A post shared by Oni Durant (@onidurant) on

No, seriously.

It’s made it hard to work on my projects like usual. Up ’till now I’ve posted on social media the happy bits. I’ve omitted this part – because I figured who wants to hear this? Nobody. Nobody wants to hear about a woman who appears massively successful crying herself to sleep.

But over on my Patreon Betsie asked me how to handle fear when starting a new project. At the same time someone sent me another message saying how they thought I had it all figured out and I’m so great at what I do…so heyyyy…fuck it.

Let’s do this.

This is one of the realest posts I have ever made in my entire life. I’m starting an entire new life and project(s). The pain and fear is just as real as my smile on the other end of it.

How I Manage My Fear so that I Can Work On Projects:

1. Shift to a personally emotive or satisfying thing even if it’s embarrassing – like this post: This is not a a technical whitepaper. This is a vulnerable piece of my spine.

Fear is often generated by internalized toxicity that has been given to you by your life experiences. The person who body shamed you, the person who told you that you were stupid and would never amount to anything. These messages poison us in our live via many paper cuts. They take hold inside us in the form of our Toxic Self.

How to neutralize your Toxic Self? Go home.

“Home” can be something familiar and have nothing related to family.

If you draw, try and do a portrait of a favorite actor, flower, or something that gives you joy. Don’t worry about it ever seeing the light of day. Just do something that makes you feel good while you are doing it.

I was overthinking it and thus, created less posts than I wanted. The second I sat down and decided to shoot the shit with you like buddies, this post came in minutes.

Don’t try to play for the gallery.

If you are a musician, learn a cover song that isn’t hard but makes you happy. Don’t worry about it being silly, plebeian, or weird. When I get crash boom fuck all depressed, 4/4 is the only thing that doesn’t stress me out even though I’m a huge prog / jazz / fusion fan with timings so complex it’d make your math teacher vomit. I love everything Allan Holdsworth ever did. But in some dire cases, I’m able to sync my breathing to 4/4 easily so that I don’t panic attack like crazy.

Yeah that means it’s your cue to bust out the Gaga, Taylor Swift or Cvurches. Just breathe and don’t worry about the plebeian nature of it as long as you don’t hyperventilate. create a safe zone. Nobody needs to know what it is.

Unless you are me. Now everyone knows that I get half-naked and sing “Marry the Night” in my room occasionally.

The very act of what you are doing should make you feel whole, safe, and happy – not upset. The idea is to disconnect your mental self from your judgemental self. Usually these are voices put into your head by people in your life who have been toxic to you. You are neutralizing this poison.

Understand that your internal taskmaster may be telling you that you are lazy because you aren’t producing like a factory but the most important thing creative people tend to neglect is their own biological and mental ability to produce and it leads to burnout.

Don’t try to live up to other people’s expectations of you. Just play around like if you are 5.

2. Give Up…for now: Go outside. Go to the mall. Visit a friend. Get some ice cream.

Completely don’t do what you think you should be doing and get your brain into a hedonistic place where you just be kind to yourself. Go have a drink. Get a burger. Buy a new dress. Take a nap.

Break the feedback loop and be lazy for a day. Or a week.

3. Look at the data: We often assign emotional idea to our work and that can be ok, but I see so many people fail because they look at things too emotionally and not enough by the data.

Make a list of the steps you need to complete the project. Review them morning and night to keep your mind in the game. If your brain starts panicking, just know that once you write it down it’s captured – safe. Just refer to this task list like you would manage and big project – like cleaning your car. Oftentimes we get overwhelmed and then stop moving forward and it help just to have that note there and obey the mighty to do list. It kinda simulates having a boss for those of us who self manage and could use some management.

4. Gratitudes: Every night write what you accomplished today and/or what you are grateful for. Perhaps you have a great dinner, could afford to buy a nice pair of shoes, or you had an awesome cookie for dessert at lunch. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. But it’s something that you could have today that you are glad for. Remember – some folks are dying of diseases and can’t even get out of bed. Keep that perspective. For example, even if someone screws you over – what are you glad you learned form that asshole? Did it empower you to help another person in the same situation later? There’s something good in every experience – even very bad ones.

Review these whenever you start to feel like you have nothing. Even when my life was a dumpster fire, I could find things that I was grateful for – like the roof over my head and my job.

Conclusion:

Most of us fear starting new projects – or new entire lives – because we are afraid to fail. But if you use these steps to break it all down I think you’ll find that it helps you accomplish whatever you are trying to do.

Most importantly – don’t be too hard on yourself. You aren’t a machine. A nap or a cookie or a Netflix binge or a trip to the gym is perfectly fine. That’s a lesson that California is teaching me – strive for 80% – not 150%. Really it was the missing piece in my life that’s helped me – even though I don’t quite have the hang of it yet – and I hope that it also helps you.

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