Anxiety and Depression · Lifestyle

The Heart is a Muscle

The Heart is a Muscle” – Gang of Youths

Hello friends, and greetings from the Philadelphia airport.

It’s been six months since I last wrote.

Six whole months.

Half a year…

You may not have missed me (*sniff* I understand), but I have. I can’t explain it other than to say that my soul has felt void of verbal potential. I’ve had trouble filling a page in a DIARY. And the more I put off trying, the harder it’s become. So I am hoping this post will be some sort of proverbial band aid rip. Painful but necessary.

Also, if we are in keeping with the tone of this blog, the original intention, I have not felt particularly “brave” for any reason. Not that that is entirely true. Some could argue that even getting out of bed each day is brave but I am (as we VERY well know) a very harsh self critic so the words just wont come even though I can feel them wanting to emerge… So here I am, fully aware that I am awash in first-world problems.

As hard as it is for me to admit, for the past six months, I have largely not been ok. Not in danger but still not thriving. Just getting by in the day to day, emotionally. Physically, I have been busy as hell. In the past six months I have been to the West Coast twice, I’ve been to seven concerts, I survived Alumni Weekend (no minor feat), I dated someone new, I’ve gone to two wonderful weddings, I saw the Statue of Liberty from a distance where she was bigger than a postage stamp… I did STUFF that, ostensibly, I enjoyed but many times felt like part of me was turned off. Depression is real folks, and it can seamlessly wear the mask of fulfillment.

On a sadder note, I also lost my grandfather. One of the best men I’ve ever known and a hero in many facets of the word.

“Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost…” – Nicole Krauss

That in mind, I am here to rephrase the world for myself and others. As noted, I am currently sitting in the Philadelphia airport. I am waiting on a flight to London for a work trip. I feel immeasurably spoiled to be able to say that and I am, for all intents and purposes, excited. But the thing is, I am the strangest level of anxious. I have this nagging sense of impending doom. “Why is that Liz,” do you ask? Well I can tell you why dear reader… In the most irrational way possible, I have truly uncomfortable feelings associated with London. Weird, I know. The last time I was there was two years ago, almost to the day. Again, for a work trip and a bit of vacation. That trip is when my marriage started to dissolve. At least, in retrospect, when I started to see it dissolve. I was fighting, a lot, with my ex, at a 5 hour time difference. I can see, looking back, that that was the beginning of the end as I knew it. According to him, it ended a long while before that (always heartening, right?). This is not a blame situation. As of July 16, it will be two years since we were actually together and I have recovered significantly if not fully from my dramatic life change. That being said, I have these dumb and irrational associations with a place that I formerly had nothing but love for, having studied abroad there my junior year of college.

Also worth mentioning? I am flying through Iceland. Prime honeymoon location folks!

I’ve done an inordinate amount recently to get over and reclaim negative associations. On one of my West Coast trips, I was in Portland, OR, where I got engaged in 2015. While there, I went to the International Rose Test Garden, to the very bench where it happened, and I cried for a bit (quietly) behind my sunglasses and then got up feeling like a weight had been lifted. That was a more significant instance but there have been a number of smaller victories lately in the same ilk. A number of opportunities to let the hurt go just a bit more. They say that the time it takes to get over a relationship is half the time you were together. If that’s the case, I still have a year and a half to go… Time can be a real bitch. Each of these victories, big or small, is worth celebrating. But, if I am being honest? I am tired.

A little while ago, a post was circling the internet describing grief as being a ball in a box. The box also contains a button. At the outset of grief, the ball is huge and hits the button frequently. As time goes on, the ball grows smaller and becomes less and less likely to hit the button. I am not quite in either spot. I feel like the outset of my overall grief was that large ball. You can ask my nearest and dearest, I had a hard time not ugly crying at the slightest provocation for a few weeks at the beginning. I feel like that big ball was an amalgam of all of my feelings. I could not define them and, therefore, I lumped them all together. With time, the ball has broken into pieces. I can name each piece and identify them: betrayal, regret, insecurity, etc. Each of these balls, it’s true, is smaller than the original amalgam… I have made progress. But there are still multiple balls bouncing around this box, each occasionally hitting the button like some sick and emotionally charged version of that old Blackberry brick-breaker game. Putting clear and concise names on each ball does help me target each and continue to make them smaller which is a blessing, but there are still those moments where it feels like I have an internal toddler just constantly saying… “What does this button do?”


Anyway, that’s my long winded way of saying I have some feelings. In the great scheme, what else is new? As always, I am dealing and continuing forward in my own way.

Part of that way? I am trying to stop pretending that I am ok when I am not. There is never, really, an excuse for me to have an all-consuming melt down but who wants that drama anyway? Some of you have already been on the receiving end of this and some of you may be in the future (for you dear strangers, count yourselves lucky.)… I am working on owning and expressing my feelings rather than letting them fester and rot inside.

In other news, from London, I will be disappearing into Scotland for a few days after my work responsibilities are completed. I’ll be crossing off one of my 30-Before-30 items (aka visiting Scotland again) while exploring Edinburgh for the first time. Despite a few emotional switches currently being on the fritz, I am excited to have an adventure.

So in conclusion, for now… I am going to therapy, enjoying friends, craving music, devouring books, traveling, living, and moving forward in whatever way I can. Despite those damn balls and that awful button.

The heart really is a muscle, and I want to make it strong.

Photos: E. Campbell (2019)
Six Months – Six Photos
Arizona, Alabama, Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania

7 thoughts on “The Heart is a Muscle

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. It may sound trite but I dont mean it to, I believe in you! It really is the absolute worst but I’ve found strength in both telling those I am closest to AND faking some bravery for 30 seconds. It’s amazing what you can do in 30 seconds that will carry you forward.


  1. Edinburgh is a great city! I studied there in grad school. Sounds like you are making progress with yourself and I hope you continue to do so! You certainly are a strong woman!
    All the best and enjoy your time away!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely check out Edinburgh castle! Soo neat! The view in the back of it is so cool. I went to a few different pubs there, can’t really recall the names lol, but all of them were pretty cool!

        Thanks 🙂 Lucy is a cutie. She seems to like having her pic taken haha


      2. Thank you! I have been considering Edinburgh Castle. Arthur’s Seat is my big one for views too! I am sure I’ll find a plethora of pubs to hit up but I appreciate the consideration.

        And shes definitely a cutie! She always looks so happy! I am so happy for you and your family.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh yes, Arthur’s seat was awesome! It’s a little hike up to it. Got some really cool pictures. So pretty!
        Thank you very much! I appreciate it ❤️


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