Hey all! I’m back again and I feel that instead of talking about current life, I should go right on and head into the continuation of my journey. Now, I left off at the end of my fall semester of 2016 which lead into Christmas break. Honestly, this semester was one of the most trying ones I had experienced. My health was in shambles, I had trouble walking more than a mile at a time without having aggravated nerve issues, and one thing I didn’t mention in my last post (probably the most horrific issue of them all) was my coming home after my physiology midterm to find blood all over my appartment. I looked around in terror to find out what it was to find that it was my mom’s cat!!! We had had issues with her acting listless and had taken her to the vet who told us she had a small rodent bone in her stomach, gave her meds to help her pass it, and sent her home. The problem is… she had an abscess growing in her tail because of some unknown trauma that lead to an infection we didn’t know she had. The abscess was what was making her sick and when I came home to blood all over the place I was beyond angry and mortified! Thankfully, we got her into an emergency care (at a different vet) and the vets there went above and beyond to help us apply for emergency pet support to help us afford to have her tail amputated and saved her life.
When Christmas break came… I faced it with a sense of relief that classes were over and a sense of terror that I might have to endure another break in severe physical pain. I worked as much as I could (considering my pain situation). I actually had been promoted towards the end of the fall 2016 semester, so I was learning a new position with lots of new stressors. Then… the Spring 2017 semester came at me with nearly a full load and again… no exercise or theatre as an outlet. Now, Part 17 of my journey begins!
Spring 2017 semester came at me with nearly a full load! I had Speech, Critical thinking through literature, and government of the United States (Political Science). My course load along with a new position as a Customer Service Rep/ Cashier Supervisor seemed like a great idea at first, buuutttt I found that by the time I would get off work I would have a hard time focusing on my studies. At this point, my body was struggling to get over 106 pounds. I was eating probably around 1700 cal to 1800 cal a day which was not enough to be trying to gain weight AND I was still pretty restrictive with what I was eating. As pressures from classes mounted, midterms approached, and pressure at work increased, I found myself spending my days at home, in bed, in pain, while studying through my chaotic home life and my days at work and school, struggling to make it through each day. On top of it, I had to constantly push aside my battles with PTSD which (at the time) would make chaotic situations seem like they were 3X as bad as they were putting me on edge… I was completely miserable. One morning, as I was eating breakfast about a week before my midterm paper for Poly Sci was due… I felt what seemed like pressure that felt almost like hands push through from my upper back, around on each side towards the front of my chest, and then squeezed my heart! I told my mom what was happening and tried to gather my strength as I clenched my chest. I got up to put my cereal bowl in the sink and… I felt my legs buckle beneath me. My mom rushed me to the ER. There, I weighed just over 106 pounds. No one made mention of the fact I was still under weight, and they shrugged it off like I was just dealing with too much stress. Funny, because I’ve had just as stressful situations more recently and have not had the same pain. Anyhow, as a result of the pain, the doctor advised that I do what I can to avoid stressful situations which meant dropping political science and postponing my transfer to California East Bay. At first, I was so ashamed, I felt like I totally failed! I was going to receive a W as a result of dropping this class. The professor refused to withdraw it despite my medical circumstances. I was completely shattered! My transcripts were tainted and I wasn’t going to transfer in time! At the same time, shortly after I dropped the class, I felt a huge amount of weight being lifted from my shoulders! Political science class was so full of information, and between that and all the reading I had to do for my critical thinking through literature class, all the pressure had me literally laying in bed every free moment that I had. That was no way to live! As a result, I had more downtime, less stress, and I started pushing myself to try to take mini 1/2 mile- 1 mile walks when I would stop at the store between my house and the school. Though it was painful most times, I still did what I could to try to press through.
Meanwhile, I found a new haven in public speaking! All the skills I learned in acting, I got to apply in this class! Also, since I had already been public speaking prior to this course, I was able to use the tools that I acquired while taking the class to help improve my speech writing as well as delivery! What a blessing!!!
Now, as far as my weight goes, one of the chiropractors at the chiropractic chain that I was going to kept nudging me to gain weight! He just wouldn’t let it go! He was like that annoying voice in the back my head constantly telling me I was too frail and thin, but my stubborn mind wouldn’t wrap around it. Finally, after reading a blog post from a well known blogger that goes by “Drops of Jewels” and is also known as “Lord Still Loves Me Julia” made a post about something known as the Minni Maud method. Immediately went to search out what this method was about! In doing so, I found out that according to the method and according to your weight, you are to gradually increase your caloric intake to anywhere from 2,500- 3,000 + calories a day. The person in recovery is not to be restrictive whatsoever. This means candy, ice cream, pizza, cake… yup! Eat it all!
I read about her experience and I continued to study up on the method. I knew I had to do it! I gradually began to increase my calories, and one night as I was getting ready to talk to a friend of mine on the phone, my neighbor offered to purchase my family a pizza. I quickly went and hid in my room and avoided it. Yes, for all of those who’ve been following my blog, I do have gluten allergies. At the same time, my spirit wanted so badly to be free, even for a moment, even if it made my stomach hurt, I just. wanted. freedom! Meanwhile, the eating disorder trapped me in fear! I had a beautiful conversation with my friend, who encouraged me to just do what my gut was telling me and to enjoy the time with my family. I then went and enjoyed not just one piece, but two pieces of pizza along with a big slice of Oreo cheesecake for dinner! On top of it, the excitement from the freedom must’ve totally phased out the side effects of the gluten because I had no stomach issues! That night triggered a whole slew of what I call “freedom eating.“ each and every day I made it my goal to try to increase my calories to a point where I finally was eating 3,000 calories each day. Things like pancakes on my nephews birthday, bagels and cream cheese, Frappuccinos from Starbucks, you name it, I was eating it!
Thennnn severe stomach issues mixed with brain fog, headaches, and inability to focus started to set in which are all symptoms of gluten intolerance. I had to quickly re-think what I was putting into my body and try to find ways to work around the various allergies/ sensitivities in order to get my calories in. Finally, I reached my Doctor’s goal weight of 110, but that didn’t quite feel like enough. I kept on going to a point where I finally felt that it was OK to stop eating the excess and get ready to go into maintenance mode.
As all of this was happening, I was still attending classes and working. I continued to find release in my speech class, and fell in love with my literature course. You see, in speech I found A new level of structure and confidence in my speeches. I was also invited to take part in our school’s annual speech contest for extra credit. There, I got to compete in the dramatic interpretation section (which is pretty much like performing a monologue) and won first place! Along with this came the invitation from my professor and the speech team to join the speech and debate team for the following semester! As far as my literature course went, we were given several texts to read which we were to dissect and pull out any symbolism and possible hidden messages that the author may have left for the readers to pick up. In other words, we had to figure out what the author was saying between lines. We also learned how to compare and contrast different texts and find common hidden meanings in texts that, unless looked at closely, would appear to be completely different. It was absolutely thrilling to find out that I could not only apply this in my every day reading, but I could also apply it in my biblical reading. On top of it, there was an incredible book called The Citizen in which the author speaks from the perspective of an African-American in her daily life. It looked directly through her eyes into the circumstances involving prejudice and straight up ignorance that she and countless others have experienced. That, along with the studies that I did just prior to my dropping political science in regards to the Civil War, I was appalled at the human race and the amount of prejudice that exists even in today’s society! The hatred that this nation has carried since its roots… all I can say is that this semester definitely had a profound impact on my knowledge of racism and the need to cut it up from the roots immediately! Until then, I had no idea how bad everything truly was. I was raised to see people as people. I learned about segregation and prejudice in elementary and High school, but when this semester’s studies set in, the blinders were fully taking off my eyes, and I realized how much hatred humanity has had for one another for ages! It was heartbreaking!
Nowww back to the health issues. My doctor had put in a referral to a new physical therapist. Now, I know physical therapists mean well and they are very well educated, however; for my situation… this form of physical therapy just was not good. My situation requires chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy (psoas release so I can do core and strength training pain free again) and someone to guide me through proper core and balance work. (Due to severe imbalances). The physical therapist gave me muscle energy techniques that are pretty much self adjustments that realign my hips, pelvis and spine (which I have been given time and time again) only to find they didn’t quite do the trick. They also gave me strength training exercises to help strengthen the “week“ muscles. The problem is, no one would listen to me when I would tell them that I had psoas issues and that the exercises they gave me were giving me ITB syndrome that flared up if I walked too far. They swore up-and-down that it had to do with my muscles being weak and that I needed to adjust to the exercises, but the more I did them, the worst I got, and I nearly became debilitated again. When this round of physical therapy ended, they referred me to aqua therapy in hopes that I might find some relief their.
As the semester came closer to an end, I continue to try to go for walks and did the best that I could, but my body just kept acting up. Finally, finals rolled around, yes… the Lord gave me victories over my classes with straight A’s again, and it was off to summer break and some hope!
You see, I kept telling a sweet friend of mine that I consider a sister that we need to get serious about our dreams of becoming actors. Toward the end of May, she sent me a link to a casting call for 13 Reasons Why extras that was going to take place on the 4th of June. She commented “said you wanted to get serious.“ She was totally calling me out! On June 4, I got up early, packed some food, she and a friend picked me up, and we headed to the casting call! As we waited in the long line, I looked back and it continued to just grow! As we got closer and closer to the building they were having the casting call in, the line had gotten so long that they decided to create a cut off point and sent everyone behind that point home. They informed them of how they could go online and register to work on set as an extra. For those of us who hung around, we were given business cards and the option to go home and apply online or hang out and wait to be let inside for our group meeting. The three of us were determined to get inside, so we waited. When we got in we got the information we needed, had our pictures taken, I registered my profile online, and off we went to go spend some time at a mall, then went back to my house and celebrated my 34th birthday with my family! What an amazing birthday celebration! Not only did I get to go and make steps towards my dream career, but I got to spend it with some of my nearest and dearest friends including my godmother and her husband!
Every day, I checked for postings to see if they had any work up and as soon as they did, I began to apply! Then, about a week after my first submissions for work, I was going for a walk in an attempt to alleviate some pain and… I RECEIVED A BOOKING REQUEST!!! I automatically responded and confirmed that I could work, called my mom crying tears of joy and headed back to my car! Ok… yeah, I know, some people might think that I’m only a “background actor.“ The fact of the matter is background actors actually play a major role in helping each scene come together. Not only that, but this was something that I had dreamed of doing my whole life! I was SO overjoyed! I tried to carefully read through all of the pre-information that they sent me, and prepared myself as best as I could mentally and physically for my first day on set.
The morning I first set foot at home base, has filled with so much excitement! As I was standing around after check in, I looked over and Dylan Minnete crossed over right in front of me to go get some coffee. Now, of course I binge watched the series so I would know what was going on and how I might need to hold myself in scenes in order to properly contribute. During my binge watch, I was so amazed at how well each actor performed! Seeing Dylan in person was really cool! So cool in fact, that I completely forgot that the pre-information had clearly stated that we are not supposed to go and speak to any of the actors because they are there to work and not be distracted, annnndd like and overly excited little kid, I blurted out, “ oh my gosh! You did an excellent job in the show!” He kindly smiled, and humbly said, “thank you.” At that point I realized exactly what I just done, so I pulled myself back and hoped to God nobody caught me speaking to him. So, if any of you readers out there end up on a set as an extra, just take a little caution to read documents that they send you to make sure that you don’t go crossing any lines! Anyhow, on set, I learned that it’s a lot of sit around and wait. I waited with about 100 or so other people for them to choose the people they needed as background actors for each scene until they decided to choose me. Though season two has already been released and I have posted pictures of myself and the scenes that they captured me in, due to the legal documents that I have signed, I’m not allowed to expose the dates, times, and or locations at which filming was done. What I will say is that and my first day on set was amazing! While waiting, they consistently make sure that we had fruit and snacks to munch on. Unknowingly, I packed a lunch only to find out that they were actually providing lunch FOR us. I kept my lunch set aside just in case due to the food allergies, but little did I know, they were providing a full catered lunch full of options for pretty much everyone! I was thrilled to find that I could easily pick out items that I can eat without having stomach issues. I couldn’t believe this! Here I was, the girl that had been yelled at half my life, always told that I was not allowed to be or do anything that I ever wanted to, the one who was physically and verbally abused for the majority of my life, the one who worked countless jobs that were physically and emotionally taxing, currently works as a supervisor in a place where people completely disrespect my coworkers as well as myself… I mean literally to a point bringing me to tears a few times… and this one day… I walked onto set as an extra, what most people view as the low-end of the totem pole, and it was like being in a totally different universe. Yes, I had to sit around and wait, but hey… it gives me plenty of time to read! Yes, I got hungry, but I didn’t have to wait for my line to go down or the customer to stop yelling in my face before I could step away and take a bite of an apple. I could keep a snack in my pocket and take bites between takes, eat in extras holding, talk to new and interesting people who actually treated me with kindness, watch a Netflix production being made… what in the world just happened to me?
I went back on that evening and the excitement from the day kept me on a total emotional high! This is it! This is what I wanted to do! All the standing around and waiting, walking up and down the street in the background of a shot where probably never got seen, the 12 hour shift, it was all worth it, not only because of the way I was treated, but because I was doing something that aimed towards what I’ve wanted to do since I can remember! For the first time in my life, I was really attempting to reach toward my dream of becoming a professional actor! My whole life, everyone told me what they wanted me to be, and yes, people tried to put me in the “runner box” like I wasn’t allowed to be anything else… At the same time, here I was, for the first moment in my life, and I took what I love to do for fun in community theatre and began to work toward doing it as a career. It was just so freeing!
As the summer kept going, the casting calls kept coming! I worked primarily in the quart room scenes and worked in several others as well. During the hours spent on set over the summer, I met so many incredible people! A few of the people, have actually become very dear friends of mine!
Now, as I’ve stated time and time again in this blog, I found that throughout my life God has his reasons for things. I kept questioning why life had to be in such a chaotic mess that I would have to drop my political science course and postpone my transfer to start my classes at California East Bay, but God knew what was up. He knew what he was doing all along! You see, had I started classes at East Bay, I never would have had the time to even attempt to work on set!
As fall classes approached, I face them with gratitude, knowing that this would be my final semester at CCC annnddd… I would, Lord willing, I would get to be working on set a bit more!
Wow… so, this post was super long and I apologize for that y’all! However, I believe that I’ll have one more post after this and I’ll be done! For those of you who have followed me on this journey so far, thank you so, so much! I am so thrilled and excited to be able to share with you all my trials and tribulations and to help remind you that no matter what you were going through, God is there, there is a reason for everything, and don’t you ever lose hope! Until next time, God bless!