I’m Dani Kelley,

and I do lots of things.

Mental Health

Haikus With Dani: Splinter

Dating in general has taught me a lot of things about myself. About what I need in a relationship, what kind of dynamics are healthy for me and my partner, how those dynamics differ relationship to relationship, how to communicate and listen effectively. Perhaps what it’s teaching me most of all is how much of myself I hold back for fear of overwhelming someone with my Muchness. And, unfortunately, how much I need to hold back … if I don’t want to lose someone.

What I’m realizing, however, is that holding things back does make me lose someone, every time.

It makes me lose myself.

The Process of Being.

This Saturday, April 22, I will turn 30 years old. (Want to help me celebrate?)

Frankly, this terrifies me.

All my life, I never envisioned myself living past the age of 28. I figured that either the rapture would have occurred, or I would have killed myself. So you’d think 29 would have been my all-out panic year, but I spent 29 dealing with a lot of other things.

Now, with 30 at my doorstep, I’m caught in its headlights, awaiting its impact with an ever-increasing sense of dread.

Haikus with Dani: In Which There Is No Room.

It’s been a full year since I broke up with my spouse. A very hard year, if you recall. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to process things as best as I can, and that often looks like distilling emotions into haikus. Something about the structure and limitation seems to lend itself well to expressing myself in succinct and powerful ways (much like how Twitter’s character limit can help focus one’s thoughts).

I don’t really want to offer commentary on this. There is so much I am still processing. But it feels important to share it, and to share it now. And one of my goals is to listen to my intuition far more than I’ve been able to in the past.

One thing I will say is this: it’s a terrifying time in our country right now. To be a woman, not white, not straight, not healthy in body and mind. Most of my friend group — myself included — are fighting the creeping despair as we watch this new administration work so hard to make our lives at best uncomfortable and at worst nonexistent. It’s easy to not take care of yourself in an effort to remain informed, to know what fresh hell awaits every morning.

But the little things matter. Little things like remembering to eat. Checking in with friends. Asking people to check in on you. Kissing your loved ones. Snuggling your pets. Or even daring to simply take up space.

Cognitive distortion and taking up space.

My brain is spinning with thoughts and conversations over the past weeks, the culmination of almost a year’s worth of introspection and mourning. “I looked through the journal section of your blog and noticed you haven’t really written lately,” a friend noted. No. I haven’t. I’ve been afraid, frankly. With some good reason and probably with some over-reaction. But sharing…

Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

There’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve deactivated my Twitter for a little bit. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it’s easier to be vulnerable to an amorphous mass of people than talk to anyone in particular about what’s been happening, even the things that are only happening inside my own head. Therefore, you’re getting more of my depressing fragments of dialogue, this time brought to you by my very own JerkBrain.

All you can do is survive

The final product: calligraphy and hand-lettering by me (with help from Showcase Sans for the smaller text). 2016.

It’s been a rough year so far. There’s been a lot of life changes and personal crises and accomplishments. Lots of good, lots of bad, lots of change.

As a creature of habit, change doesn’t usually bode well with me.

I’ve taken time away from 99% of freelancing work, aside from the occasional lettering commission that I take on only because I want to. I’ve cut out every single thing from my life that isn’t necessary for me to survive — because right now, all I can ever guarantee out of any particular day is that I will survive it.

The circumstances of my life aren’t shameful. And if all I can do is survive, I’ve done more than enough.

Want a free print-ready poster file?

Support me on Patreon by the end of the week, and I’ll upload Saturday morning!

On being kind to myself.

It’s New Year’s Eve, so of course I must write.

Y’all, this year has been hard.

I started the year planning to write more, letter more, draw more, do more. Instead, I started the year barely being able to breathe, and it’s honestly been one health crisis after another.

On the one hand, I’m getting medical care. I have access to good care. That’s amazing.

On the other hand, I’ve been cycling through new meds AT LEAST monthly since the summer, almost ALL of which have had drastic affects on my life. (At least 2 of them made me suicidal, and this latest one has helped my depression but increased the intensity of my migraines. I haven’t been able to be present in a fully-lit room for weeks.)

I feel like I can’t complain. After all, I am getting help. I’m doing a lot better than I was a year ago or two years ago.

But I feel like a failure, honestly.

I haven’t written the way that I want to, because I’ve just been emotionally incapable. I haven’t created nearly as much art as I’ve wanted to, and I’ve only been able to do it in spurts. Most of my days look like me barely making it through the work day before I come home and collapse.

I’m a writer. I need to write. I’m an artist. I need to art. I’m a designer, I’m our only source of income, I’m dealing with a lot of personal life things that are so, so draining.

And it’s December. December is terrible, and historically the month when I am the most hopeless.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself. I’m trying to be kind. But it’s hard. I look and sound healthy, but I’m not. I’m just not. And I don’t know how to manage being kind to myself without driving myself sick with worry over how others will perceive my inactivity and sporadic creation of words and art.

In the words of wise old Bilbo Baggins, “I feel old. Thin. Like butter scraped over too much bread.”

So maybe, in 2016, I can work on beating myself up less for things that aren’t my fault in the first place.

I have chronic migraines. I’m allowed to ask for less noise and fewer lights.

I probably have fibromyalgia. I’m allowed to say that I can’t do activities that require I put myself in a position of being bed-ridden the next day.

I have anxiety, depression, PTSD. I’m allowed to care for myself when these problems arise.

I’m allowed to ask for help, like when I texted Paige at midnight the night I realized one of my medications was driving me to suicide, and when I called my parents the next day telling them something was horribly wrong and they and Paige both took care of me.

I’m allowed to be alone, for my introverted sanity.

I’m allowed to cry when things hurt or are scary. I’m allowed to laugh when things are funny. I’m allowed to not participate in activities I don’t want to do, and I’m allowed to give myself time and space to just be and breathe and recover.

May 2016 be a year in which I choose to be kind and gentle with myself, and therefore give others like me permission to love themselves, as well.

I love you all, so very much. My online communities breathe health and care and love into my life. Your presence, your words, you care and love…they all keep me going. I’m so grateful for you, and I hope to grow closer to you all in this new year as well.