Life Update: Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

I make a concerted effort to never apologize for not writing a post. Sometimes life gets in the way, and that’s okay. Sometimes life throws you a curveball… or ten. Sometimes you run out of words to say and need to spend your energy on other life things. That’s all okay.

I’ve missed my blog a lot. This is a happy place full of inspiration, creativity and love. It’s also a way for me to relax and enjoy a sense of community with other people that love paper and ink. My blog isn’t my job; it’s a passion that I spend a lot of time on. I tried to make a consistent income off my blog and lost my inspiration almost immediately. That’s why my website sometimes takes a backseat to things like my job search and most definitely takes priority over making memories with the people I love.

I’ve grown up a lot over the past years. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve made some pretty things. I’ve, most importantly, come to know some of the most beautiful people and have the privilege of calling them my friends. And the thing is… I constantly get to make more friends and support this community by building others up and receiving amazing support from them.

I have plans – good plans – to post on here regularly and get back into my craft room once again. I don’t know what’s going to happen, because I now understand just how unpredictable life can be, but I can say that not blogging is like missing part of my heart. I miss it. I want to grow this website and inspire more people to start crafting.

Why am I telling you all this? I don’t have a short answer for that. I like being honest, and this is me sharing how I feel about my blog and this community. There are also a few things that have been happening in my life that have caused me to grow up a lot in the past couple months. These things are so big and so life-changing that I can’t not share them with you. I’ve put off writing this post because I didn’t want to jump back in and pretend that everything is fine and dandy, because it’s not. Life is hard, and this month has been the hardest month of my entire life to date. I will learn and grow from this, but you have to experience the deepest sorrows in life in order to experience the height of love and happiness. So, without further ado, here is where I’ve been and where I hope I’m going.

1. I Quit My Job

I worked in retail at Blick, an art store, to make ends meet between freelance design and while I figured out what my next step in my professional career would be. I needed the money, but the stress from working a retail job and being overscheduled resulted in a very, very unhappy Britta. It was time for me to officially start finding my way into the professional world. I had a portfolio, I had convictions and I needed a job; I began the job search.

A canvas I made for a call to art at Blick. All the color comes from gelatos - I'll have a tutorial for this someday soon!

A canvas I made for a call to art at Blick. All the color comes from gelatos – I’ll have a tutorial for this someday soon!

I filled out job applications, I freelanced for a big company in the area for a couple weeks and I did a couple of odd jobs. I had to find a direction to go in. What do I want to DO with my life? So I met with my career counselor. After meeting with her for the first time, she came up with the same conclusion that I had before the meeting – Nonprofits would be a good place for me. Helping other people makes me happy. I have such a diverse set of skills, awesome varied background experience and the love for learning – all of these things make me endlessly excited to move forward with my life and my career. I have a direction! I’m now in the process of getting in touch with my contacts at a few favorite organizations, so that’s going pretty well. I’m so happy and so blessed to have direction and feel drawn to work in a capacity that allows me to directly make the world a better place. I might be an idealist, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

2. I Lost My Grandmother

Truth be told, I had never had anyone I was really close with pass away before. My grandma, I called her Mormor (mother’s mother in Swedish), was one of the driving forces in my life from the very beginning. She is a huge part of who I am today, and I still miss her every day. She was sick for a very, very long time. She had an advanced form of Parkinson’s that made life very hard for her. She was in a nursing home for about six months before she had a stroke and was moved into a hospice. We knew she didn’t have very long after that, so that gave us time to say goodbye. That didn’t make her dying any easier. She survived for about a week and a half after the stroke, and then she was gone. No longer in pain, no longer giving nurses hell, no longer physically here.

A little something I made with what I had on my desk right after I found out my grandma had passed away. The song "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World was comforting to me at the time.

A little something I made with what I had on my desk right after I found out my grandma had passed away. The song “Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World was comforting to me at the time.

I cried for days. Her funeral was a few weeks after she passed away, so I had time to grieve and process what was happening. I gave her eulogy at her funeral, and I know I did her proud. I was daily vlogging during this time, so you can even see me reading it to my brothers the night before the funeral. That weekend in central Illinois was hell, but it was worth it to say goodbye to her and to be with my family.

Here’s the video with the eulogy:

Here’s the video the day of the funeral. It was a good day. There were so many pictures and memories to share with one another, and this video captures some of them in a way that makes me so grateful for modern technology:

I miss you, Mormor. I’ll always hold you in my heart and know that you’re forever watching over me.

3. One of My Best Friends Committed Suicide

One of my best friends, Tim Patterson, took his own life a few weeks ago. It happened on June 5th, and the 6th was the worst day of my life. Tim was one of the nicest, most loving people I have ever met. He would get a paycheck from work and literally ask us what to spend it on because he didn’t know what to do with extra money; he had all the things he wanted. So he saved his money and bought us perfect presents with it. For Christmas last year, he gave Jake a first-press original Star Wars sound track in perfect condition. He would text me about it and how hard it was to find; I can’t even imagine what he spent on it, but it was all about giving his friend something that he knew would make him happy. Tim gave the best gifts, he gave the best hugs and he was always up for any adventure. I miss him every single day.

At the outdoor hockey game this year & celebrating Tim's birthday. From left to right: Timmy, me, Jake and Dan.

At the outdoor hockey game this year & celebrating Tim’s birthday. From left to right: Timmy, me, Jake and Dan.

If you know me or have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a huge advocate about extinguishing the stigma around mental illness. I have severe, clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety, and I want EVERYONE to know that people who struggle with this need support. People who have stupid chemical imbalances in their brain (that’s all depression and anxiety are, really) can be wonderful, productive members of society. No one should ever be afraid to ask for help or see a therapist. My psychiatrist and psychologist are two of the biggest reasons I can be who I am today. They give me the battle plan so I can fight those terrible thoughts racing through my head.

Along with this advocacy comes a sense of responsibility – one that propels me to tell everyone who will listen that suicide doesn’t stop things from getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of them getting better. [For more information on the Semicolon project, go here.] Anyone can become depressed or suicidal. It doesn’t have to be hereditary or because something bad happened (although it definitely can be), sometimes we just need to reach out for help. Click here for the National Suicide Lifeline. It’s always there in case you or a loved one might need it.

Friends are the family you get to choose, and I’m am blessed with about 15 of the most genuine, warm-hearted, beautiful family members ever to exist right here in Minneapolis. Some have moved away, some work funny hours or have a lot of commitments, but we are a family. Tim IS part of my family – one of my honorary brothers. Tim never even talked about his real family. I didn’t even know he had a sister and a brother until I read his obituary. He never wanted to talk about his past, so I didn’t ask him. We made our own memories to cover up the sad ones from his past. We knew he was hurting – he had stomach pain issues and even had his gallbladder removed in December. I gave him the phone number of my therapist and he said he would call her. We didn’t know how bad he was hurting, though. I got to read his note – an open letter that he left before he ended his life – and it was clear that his stomach pain was so blinding that he couldn’t imagine ever having a normal life again. He withdrew from us as friends, even though we kept reeling him back in. He said in the letter that he knew that we loved him so much and that he loved us so much. Maybe that’s the part that sucks the most… that he knew he wasn’t alone but that we might not have been able to save him if we tried even harder.

But we can’t go back in time and change things. All we can do is keep one foot in front of the other and try to learn, grow and love more. My friend family is and was my rock during the toughest of times. I don’t think I was alone for the first seven days. Between someone visiting me at the apartment, having friends sleep on our couch, making dinner together or just talking on the phone, we grieved together. Sometimes we talked about Tim. Sometimes we talked about everything else or about how funny life is. Sometimes we just cried. Now and forever, I will always love my friend family.

On the day of Timmy’s funeral, we all had a fish fry at my friend Jeremy’s house. Those that could make it into town came, and everyone brought food and beer to share. We spent about 20 hours together that day – from the funeral in the morning to the wee hours of the morning when I was a designated driver for a few people that wanted to stay at our apartment. Tim would’ve really loved that party. And I know he was there. I feel him with me all the time. Everything reminds me of him – Target, Batman, Starwars, Game of Thrones, the color purple and even cheese – and nothing will ever be the same.

My Friend Family the day of the fish fry. A few people couldn't make it or didn't make it in time for the picture, but we were all together in spirit. Left to right: Back - Hannah, Jake, Darren, (Erik) Platt, me, Katelyn, Kenny, John, Jordan, Megan, Lydia, (Jeremy) Herder - front - Joe, Dan

My Friend Family the day of the fish fry. A few people couldn’t make it or didn’t make it in time for the picture, but we were all together in spirit. Left to right: Back – Hannah, Jake, Darren, (Erik) Platt, me, Katelyn, Kenny, John, Jordan, Megan, Lydia, (Jeremy) Herder – Front – Joe, Dan

It’s gotten easier to deal with over time, just like they say. I am blessed with a support network even outside of my Minneapolis friends that sprung into action the moment I needed them. Phone calls, texts, tweets and everything else from people who didn’t even know Tim. They prayed for me, they talked to me and they shared with me how they deal with grief. Every bit of it helped. And Jake. He’s amazing. He was there for me and I was there for him, and we mourned together. We still mourn together. We keep building each other up even though we hurt inside. I am so thankful for our relationship.

Tim, I miss you. I love you. We all love you. I hope you’re somewhere starting the best collection of beer afterlife has to offer. We’re sure going to need it with all the catching up we’ll have to do when we meet again.

4. Life Keeps Moving and Good Things Still Happen

Here’s the part where it gets better. Well, you know, comparatively. Because I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression actively since I was 18, I was able to be there for my loved ones who had never experienced depression before. I clicked into helping mode, and it helped me cope immensely. This only further cements my convictions that working with charities and nonprofits is the right direction for me. I want to help people, and helping people makes me a better person. I thrive while helping people, and all at the same time I’m able to see those lessons and put them into practice in my life.

Leia has been absolutely wonderful. She likes to sit out on the porch with me and Jake on this harness + bungee leash system. It's awesome, and so is Leia.

Leia has been absolutely wonderful. She likes to sit out on the porch with me and Jake on this harness + bungee leash system. It’s awesome, and so is Leia.

My heart still aches, but the ache is a little easier to deal with day by day. Good things are happening. I’m planning a trip with a few of my friends out to explore the Pacific Northwest. I’ve had a couple of interviews. Every day is now a non-zero day. I’m reading a lot of books. I’m exercising. I’m eating well. Life has a funny way of being so terrible and so beautiful at the same time.

And I have this blog. I have my crafty friends and inspiration and love that this community provides. I’m planning to really make this a part of my life again, because I realize that I need it. I need that creative release and that time in my craft room. I need to let my hands do the talking through art and through posting. I need to share my life with you, because if I can make a difference in just one person’s life for the better, I’m happy.

I love you, and thank you for being here. And if you made it all the way through this post, I’m sending you a huge, virtual hug because it means so much to me that you read it. I know this post was definitely not fun, but this is all part of me now and I want you to know me. I want you to know that I’m an advocate and that I’m writing out a new battle plan for each day. We’re in this together. Humans are weird like that. ;)

Love,
Britta

27 Comments

Filed under Life and Health

27 Responses to Life Update: Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

  1. Oh honey…what a beautiful re-entry into blog world. You know how much I love you and every word you typed struck a strong resonance with me. I’m confident that the world holds amazing things in store for you. And I can’t wait to see what they are. :)

    God Bless You, sweet Britta. ♥

  2. Dear Brittany, sending you sympathy on the loss of your dear Mormor, and your friend Tim! Also good wishes your continued good health. I love reading yur blogs, and hope all will go well in your life!!!!

  3. Susann

    I’m terribly sorry for your losses, I suffer from depression and anxiety too and know all too well what a pit of hell it can be. The creative part of your life can be great therapy (I forced myself to finish a bunch of little Easter cards the afternoon my dog was put down, I was numb and crying while doing it and definitely NOT in the mood but it felt better to be doing something that might brighten someone else’s day and I’m glad I did it). Good luck on the job search, whoever gets you will be lucky and blessed to have you and I’ll say a prayer for your grandmother and friend. <>

  4. Anita Rex

    Oh Britta what a post. I am so sorry for your loss of such a great friend. It took courage for you to share all this, good for you, sending hugs. Take it one day at a time your love for paper and scissors will come back to you! Good luck on the job hunt :)

  5. Linda Baker

    Hang in there. Hugs. Would love to see more of your artwork and tutorials!

  6. Marti_L

    Hi Britta,
    I’ve thought of you often, so I was pleased to hear from you again through my email. Sounds like you’ve had a rough time ( I did read to the end!). I have had losses too, in a period of 6 months, I lost my husband and 2 dear, long-time friends. For a long time, I was even unable to enjoy my art. Hugs to you and the best wishes for your future.

  7. Cathy P in AZ

    This happens to me often-I just was thinking about you and how you were doing and here you are with this profoundly happy and sad post. It made me smile and think and cry and realize that yes-this is the human experience for all of us in some shape and form. Your journey with dealing with what I call mind monsters (we all have them!) and life’s uncertainties with such open honesty is inspiring in itself! Seeing your ‘friend family’ all together and being supportive of each other is a wonderful gift! Sending you BIG hugs, lots of prayers and hope for your bright future. And pet your beautiful kitty for me-I own her cat twin and her name is Sophie! :)

  8. I’m so sorry for your losses. I was just thinking today on my way to work how weird your vlogging videos stopped and if you are ok. I guess the death of your friend Tim was that reason. I’m so sorry for that. It’s kind of weird how some things help us get on the right track. You are an amazing person and your art and blog helped me take the tour down the crafting and card making road so I want you to know you already made a difference. At least in my life . I hope that art helps you and that sharing it with us helps too, because I miss you around here and want you back when it feels right for you. Good luck on your job-searching (I’m in the same spot at the moment and after a year of searching I realised there is nothing that I would love more than to work in school, teaching kids, and that means I have some work to do before that) and I hope you find something perfect for you. And if you don’t, you can search again because you are an awesome person and have an amazing support system around you. Sending big hugs your way!

  9. Kim

    Welcome back! We love you!

  10. Britta, you are such an amazing, beautiful person. I DID make it through the entire post, and you poured your heart and soul into that one. Thank you for that. It encourages ME to get through the battles that Life throws MY way.

    Bless your heart, your friends’ harts, and your family’s hearts; thank God you all have each other.

    Your art work in this post is truly beautiful and I can SEE the feelings & Love in it.

    I’ve always been a Fan of yours, and I’m happy to see your “back” again! No, Life is not easy all the time; it’s a crazy ride of Ups & Downs; now that I’m 46 (what the?!) I see more & more every day what Life is all about – it is about finding your true joys, true loves through family & real friends, and just loving yourself for who you are. Your blog is an extension of You and who you are. The people you reach out to are part of another family you have, and that’s your “Virtual Family” (it’s so weird how the internet has evolved and a whole new way of life has happened for so many, sort of like another Branch of loved ones). I have followed you and your blog for a long time now, and although we’ve never “chatted”, I feel like I have shared in quite a bit of your experiences. Thank you for that.

    I’ll “see” you soon, hun, and remember this – you’re AMAZING!

  11. conil

    You’ve definitely had a few very rough months…but your resiliency is admirable. Bless you for choosing the path to help others with their demons. So many need help and seldom run into that rare person the wants to, so that makes you exceptional.

  12. Natalie Winterstein

    How funny that I was just thinking about you and your blog. I miss you. I thought about you and hoped that you were happy and fullfilled. I am so sorry to hear about your losses. It doesn’t get better but we learn to live with it. I hope that you continue to find peace and happiness this crazy world. Love you,

    Natalie

  13. Although we’ve only met once, I’ve admired your work for a while. First welcome back and tons of virtual hugs for sharing your journey. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more of ya!

  14. Loly Borda

    I did miss you! But I have never imagined what you’ve been through, so deeply sorry for your losses and so glad to see you back. Abrazotes !! (Big hugs)

  15. Ria N

    Oh, Britta. I missed you and now I know why. I hope you’ll find the comfort and the composure you need in everything you do

  16. j

    Sorry for your losses – hope you have a great summer of fun – you deserve it

  17. {{{{{Hugs}}}}} and congratulations on your courage in sharing what has been happening and how you have dealt with it.
    Blessings
    Maxine

  18. Gerd Marie

    Hang in there, dear Britta.
    Miss your video-tutorials, they are really inspiring and I’m looking forward to the day you’re able to send them out regularly again.
    Good luck with your job-hunting and with life itself.
    Hugs and blessings from Norway.

  19. Renee

    My sympathies on your losses, I am sure you know what a blessing it is to have had these loved ones in your life. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, that takes real courage. Your blog is one of the ‘regulars’ on my list, and I look forward to seeing your crafty goodness again.Please know I’m sending love and positive thoughts your way. Love, r

  20. I’m so sorry for your losses Britta. You are a brave and strong girl. I am rooting for you (as so many of your crafty friends are ;)

  21. Elizabeth

    This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey and your heart. The world needs more people like you in it…making a positive difference. Thank you.

  22. Mary-Anne V.

    Britta, reading your post was very difficult. I am so sorry that you have had to suffer so much with all these things. I will be keeping you in my prayers. Draw your strength from your supportive family and friends and know there are your bloggy friends who are thinking of you too!

  23. Sophia

    Hey Sweetie:
    I don’t know you personally, I have stalked your website and purchased inserts from you with that being said; upon reading your post I felt like I will share with you. I could not read all of your post as my heart goes out to you I have experienced some of the things you have, and know how difficult it is to put one foot in front of the other when you are faced with these types of difficulties. I appreciate your transparency and pray that you will remember the GREAT memories that you have shared with your grandmother and your friend…..using them to help you to move forward daily. God Bless……

  24. Gay Johnson

    It is unbelievable that only 24 people have commented. Just goes to show the misconceptions around depression. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So sorry for your loss. I hope people will soon realize that there is help out there, and there is no shame in getting treatment.

  25. Pingback: Timmy’s Plum Shirts | Britta Swiderski Creative

  26. Kenny

    Your words always have a way of getting through my tough skin. I miss Tim. I miss my Minneapolis family too…
    Keep writing my sweet, sweet Briderski :)

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