I Wonder . . .

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One of humankind’s greatest assets: our ability to wonder.

The best thing about wonderment is that it’s free. It’s free and anyone can utilize it. All you need is a little curiosity, a little motivation. The best thing about curiosity is you don’t have to be the brightest mind in the history of bright minds to embrace it.

There’s this odd phenomena across the globe causing people to think intelligence is truly quantifiable. It’s leaking into neuroscience as well, as they attempt to quantify consciousness.

How do you see yourself, anyway? Do you see yourself as someone who is curious? Who is playful? Who is open-minded? Smart? Unfortunate? Disturbed? Dumb? How much of how you see yourself does the world see?

I didn’t know I was smart until I knew I was smart. And I knew I was smart when I gave myself a chance to show myself what I could do.

shutterstock_56110372It’s a shame, I think, that we often get caught up in the idea of competition. It fuels our ego when we win and (for some) motivates better from us when we lose. Sometimes it motivates us to the point of self destruction. Sometimes we get so busy scrambling up a ladder that we don’t realize the top disappears into the clouds. And then we pause our thoughts and see the others climbing up their ladders ahead of us, all around us, and we see their success as a reflection of our failure. Then we start climbing down and we hide. We hide and we look up at the others and we remind ourselves we’re not them.

We get the sense that our struggle is also a reflection of failure. We get the sense that because we can’t compete with them, we have no right to compete at all. We miss the fact that we haven’t been competing with anyone but ourselves.

I speak on this as a smart person, formally labeled dumb. I speak on this as a person with so many ideas, so much curiosity, who wasted so much time ignoring both of those things trying to find a logical reason for why I failed in so many areas of life. Putting an algorithm on life is like trying to capture a wasp in flight on the tip of a sewing needle.

About 50 people, online and in the real world, have asked me over these last few months why in the peanuts-lucy-psychiatristworld I would ever want to go into something like Psychiatry. Some people call it a pseudoscience, some people call it corruption, some people say it kills, some people say it saves, some people call it medicine. I disagree with no one and I agree with no one. It’s whatever you want it to be.

It’s man attempting to fix what doesn’t need to be fixed.

It’s, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “the sad confession, and continual exemplification of the short-comings of the composite man–the spirit burthened with clay and working in matter–and of the despair that assails the higher nature, at finding itself so miserably thwarted by the earthly part”.

It’s this consistent belief that we can one day have a power over nature that nature could never fathom to have over us. It’s the idea that because we have this incredible gift to wonder, to be curious, to create, to calculate, to consider, that we should separate ourselves from something as simple as natural simplicity. It’s a portion of the arrogance of man.

If anyone was wondering, that’s my definition of Psychiatry.

You don’t have to be smart to be a psychiatrist. It would help, but it’s not necessary. Hell, you don’t even have to know anything about neuroscience or psychology to be a psychiatrist.

We have this weird impression in society that because someone obtains something like a medical degree, they are smart. Because we have this impression of them, we trust their advice more often than we would trust the advice of someone off the street. Sometimes we even refrain from asking questions because we might feel stupid, or because we’re not sure if it’s the “right” thing to ask.

That disturbs me. It disturbs me because that’s squandering curiosity. And to squander curiosity, especially when it involves your own health, your own body, your own mind, and your own future, should be a hate crime.

I would hate to perpetuate fear and suspiciousness. But I would hate more so to perpetuate submissiveness. 

quantum_mechanicsLittle known fact: before I chose this career path, I had my eyes set on a doctorate in physics. Theoretical and particle physics blew my mind; they always will. I spent countless hours in high school reading books about entanglement, and dark matter, and light, and gravity, and multiverse theory, and string theory, and although I hadn’t the slightly clue what the math equations in the quantum mechanics books meant, I knew it was something generations of curious people had been working on for some time now and that, to me, was something to admire much more than Justin Beiber, Bieber, Beaver, whatever.

I recognized that much of the math was only proving what hundreds of Native and indigenous people all over the place, including China, had been saying since they had the ability to tell stories. That, to me, was something else to admire: the merge between spiritual and scientific.

There are so many things in this world and so many more things outside of this world. It’s a crime to lock yourself inside of a box in your mind and focus so much on hurt, and pain, and struggle, that you keep yourself from looking up at the sky at night. It’s a shame that we trap our minds on Earth with our bodies.

Wonder! Create! Be curious! If someone calls you crazy for it, take it as a compliment: it seems only the crazy ones find meaning in the meaningless, and that’s pretty impressive.

Why psychiatry then? To remind people there are so many things in life to wonder about, to worry about, to obsessive about, and your sanity shouldn’t be one of them. 

 

The Willingness To Change

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Here’s a challenge for you all:

Name one person who has never been nervous or skeptical of change.

Take a few seconds, I’ll wait.

.

.

.

Done? Alright, that was a trick question, of course you can’t come up with an answer. It was a joke. We have fun here. We. . . . we have fun.

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The point is when we go through moments of change our entire lives flash before our eyes: our current, comfortable lives, that is. It’s like a death or a near death experience. Change can be good or bad, but it is always traumatizing because one thing is for certain: you won’t be the same afterwards.

That alone is a terrifying thought: where will the old you go? You were so fond of that guy/girl, they always bought you chocolate when you were down, you don’t want them to leave you all alone in some unnamed territory with no fucking chocolate, that’s just rude.

But we’re rational beings and whether you have a religious/spiritual background, a secular background, or are just not quite sure whether your background exists at all, (it could or it couldn’t, who could really know anyway?), we all agree that humans have no other option on this planet than to adapt. Those who don’t . . . well, they don’t really live to argue against me, do they?

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Because we’re rational beings, we also have the ability to make choices. You’re not forced to take a promotion at work. When you have your first newborn, you’re not forced to tend to it’s needs. When that one guy with one pair of sunglasses over his eyes and one pair of sunglasses hanging from his V-neck cuts you off in traffic, you’re not forced to stifle your anger and allow him and his worn out fashion statement to live, you could just as easily murder him. I mean, good deed of the day right?

When you realize your mental health affects your functionality, you’re not forced to put the work into gaining that functionality back.

But you can.

So what we choose is just as important to the way we change and why we change as the change itself is.

What does that mean? That means we have a lot more creative freedom in this life than we think we do. Sometimes we have chains on our mind and we tell ourselves we “can’t” do this, we “can’t” do that, but those are just ways we convince ourselves to choose comfort over change.

We don’t choose to struggle mentally, but we do choose how we react to the struggle. Either it smothers us or we adapt and maneuver and find the advantages hidden underneath all the horror.

If it weren’t for the struggles I’ve been through, I wouldn’t have the interview I do on Friday.

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I’ll be an “On-Call counselor” at a local Respite house for people who have voluntarily signed themselves up for the program. There are six beds in the house run by peer staffing (the counselors), meaning everyone who works there has struggled with their own mental health, whether it be a mood disorder, a psychotic disorder, or a very, very serious or “all consuming fear” (think Severe GAD, OCD, or Agoraphobia). In the cover letter I was required to explain my mental health, as they only hire people with disorders.

The peer counselors need only a high school diploma, a disorder/mental health issue that lasted at least 3 months, and some training of which they provide. I think my degree helped me get a call back within a few hours of me applying.

This is a terrifying situation. On one hand I’ll be working one on one, or one on six depending on how hard they want to push my buttons, with the very people I want to work with once I get my degree: those with heavy psychiatric diagnosis. And I’ll be honest, I could have had the diagnoses they did had I gone to different psychologists in the past and didn’t keep to myself what I keep to myself. They could interpret a lot of things as paranoia, as mood swings, as hallucinations (well, I’ve had a few, but they are audio, far and few in between, and not harmful, so leave them alone #hallucinationlivesmatter). And it’s not as if “Cyclothymia” hasn’t been discussed. It’s not as if “Schizotypal PD” hasn’t been discussed, they all have at one point. 

Maybe I am them, maybe I’m not.

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The difference between me and the people who try and slap their diagnoses where I don’t want them, is that the things I describe I’ve lived with all my life.

I’ve always felt things watching me.

I’ve always felt I was put here with a power no one else has. I have plenty examples I won’t bore you with.

I’ve tried to contact aliens through meditation, in fact I spent months trying it, because I know I have a connection outside of this earth, I’ve felt it since I was a toddler. I was aware of things before people told me about them.

There are personalized messages for me in online ads (well, that’s true, Google tracks the shit out of you), in songs, in commercials, in simple street scenes. They let me know I’m heading in the right direction.

I’m anxious of people judging me as my social anxiety dictates, yet I’m paranoid that they create a coalition against me and lie to my face every day because people are untrustworthy and ruthless.

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I could go on for ages. The thing is, because I’ve always thought these ways, and because I’m one of the lucky few who haven’t disconnected with reality, I can accept these parts of me. I live with them. They are my normality and whether or not anyone else considers them such is irrelevant to me.

My job as one of the peer counselors is to share my story and my experience with those who will share their stories and their experience. Through active listening the goal is to teach each other and learn from each other. And I think that’s a big thing missing from the psychiatric world: there isn’t a lot of time taken to listen anymore.

Those who live in the house have freedom in the kitchen, freedom in the outdoors, and people are thankful they’re treated like adults rather than lab mice in a jail cell.

But this position will be live changing for me. It will force me to be uncomfortable. It will force me to connect with people through the feelings of inadequacy, judgement, and distrust. I know I won’t be the same person sitting at this desk after my first day there. And that’s a good thing. I’m ready for this version of myself to, well  . . .  breathe it’s last breath.

I refuse to accept my lifestyle because it’s familiar. What worked five years ago isn’t going to work today. If I’m going to be successful, I need to be willing to change.

This part of my life will always be in my memory. But it’s time to move on.

 

Limitless

 

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Never limit yourself. 

People say “don’t let your obstacles limit you” or perhaps more specifically to the majority of people who read my content “don’t let your mental health limit you” but in reality, that’s just code for don’t put limits on yourself. Because those two abstract things, your supposed obstacles and your supposed ‘disordered’ mental health have never limited you, the majority of the time you just believe they have.

I’ve been searching for some motivation to get me out of my most recent pit and via the other night’s post and the last few days re-reading Nietzsche, I believe I’ve found it. But all of my excitement over future prospects, over my realization, doesn’t belittle the fact that my mental health will indeed, along this path, get in the way.

That’s what it does best: get in the way. 

I’ve spent the last two days planning the equipment that I want to start filming. I’ve received a letter from my college where the judges of the “Literary Criticism Category” considered one of my essays ‘masterful writing that successfully and with poetic insight weaves a critical analysis of the two novels . . . insightful and compelling’, gave me first place, and $100. For an essay I procrastinated on (due to many things) and wrote in a few hours. It was ten pages.

To be fair, who knows who my competition was or if I even had any. 

51bpisjndtl-_sx299_bo1204203200_I’ve also spent the last few weeks gathering books that I plan to read, one of which is called “The Life and Loves of a She-Devil” by Fay Weldon, another by the name of “Man Gone down” by Michael Thomas and of course “The Psychopath Whisperer” by Kent Kiehl, Ph.D because why not. I mean, I forgive him for using the age old term “Psychopath” when, as a psychological professional, he should know the term ‘sociopath’ or ‘antisocial’ is more properly used for those who have been convicted of a crime already since the majority of his book discusses his time in interviewing prison inmates. But I’ll let him slide.

While I enjoy all the ideas I generate for my filming, while I generally enjoy the award I’ve received, while I enjoy spending hours writing, while I enjoy reading multiple books at the same time (my mother can’t stand doing that) all of it is often thwarted by my beliefs of what I can and can’t do, by my mood, and by my thought pattern. 

For example, earlier this morning, about 4:30 a.m, I woke up my boyfriend so he could take me home. We both always fall asleep, we really need to stop doing that because I hate driving that early in the morning and I know he hates driving (if he’s picked me up) too. But because of my anxiety and my obsessive fear of some demonic entity always watching me while I sleep, I sleep better if I’m in the bed with someone other than just myself. It takes me approximately twenty minutes to fall asleep in his room, it takes me an hour and a half in mine.

He falls asleep immediately anywhere, as a comparison.

At any rate, I woke him and he went to the bathroom. I was already awake, sitting up, playing on my phone when I noticed ten minutes had passed. Then fifteen. I started to get worried. First, I thought perhaps he’d fallen asleep in the bathroom. Twenty minutes passed. My social anxiety kicked in: what if I have to walk up there and knock on the door and ask if he was alright and wake up his parents and explain why I’m there at 4:30 a.m knocking on the bathroom door in their hall (they’d came home at 2:40 a.m).

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Then came what I guess people would consider “Abnormal thought”. It’s dark in this house, it’s an older house, I’ve heard stories about entities in this house before (although I believe it had been blessed out of it) but what if something else was back? What if it had possessed him?

I’m not religious nor is my family. This isn’t a random fear or a mock of Paranormal Activity for me, it’s a reoccurring paranoid fear. My heart rate rises in my throat, I start sweating, and I’m paralyzed because I fear if I move, I’ll be found out. Think Jurassic Park and the T-Rex’s eye sight.

paranormalactivity31I believe he’s standing in the middle of the living room, possessed, absent minded, waiting for me to crack open the door so the demonic forces can attack me. So, in the midst of my sweating and paralyzation, I must come up with a way to outsmart them.

I see the dog. I want to wake her as well, but when you move in his bed the wooden frame creaks. I feared if it creaked, the possessed body would barge through the door, wrap it’s hands around my neck and choke me before anyone could hear my screech.

Perhaps I could reach my hand through the bed frame and poke her and get her to go into the living room? No, my arm won’t reach. Damnit.

I’ve heard stories about animals and the supposed paranormal: she would bark for certain if she felt something was wrong with her family. She’s good at barking. If she didn’t bark I would know he’s either generally approachable, or I can have her distract the entity within him while I get the fuck out of the house.

As you read this I’m sure you can see the rational fault within it or at least the unlikely hood of my belief. At this time, I did not. By now a half an hour had passed. I thought about texting him–I couldn’t find his phone so I assumed he took it after all.

Now I’m hearing light footsteps in the kitchen and a clank of something. Am I imagining it? I’m not sure. I waited for him to come through the door. He did not.

3373992-little-child-looking-through-a-crack-between-wooden-planksAfter thirty five minutes I essentially leaped from the bed. I peered through the crack in the door into the dark and saw a sleeve of an arm on the couch–turned out to be a jacket. I took a deep breath and closed the door. I texted him “are you alive?”

He responded instantly. He was having stomach issues–the food we’d eaten had left an abnormal feeling in his stomach.

That was relief to hear. I still refused to move or open the door, but when I heard his footsteps for sure this time and he entered without the look of possession, I felt generally comfortable.

For me this type of thing is a constant. I fear of this for many people I’m around, I don’t trust people’s outwardly appearance or what they say to me or who they claim they are. Not because of an underlying fear of possession necessarily, but that can come into play if it’s night time and I’m in a dark house or dark street by myself.

So what does this drawn out story have to do with anything? Even with all the plans I have, with all the things I’m excited to do, I’m very well aware of what I’m going to have to work through to do what I enjoy. As I’ve stated, College has become my Hobby, work (whenever I find it) has become my survival and monetary means to fuel my career. My career is what I can create whether that’s in my studies (medicine and philosophy) or my art (photography, film, writing). I still want to study. I still want to film, do photography, and keep up my writing path.

There are a lot of things I want to do. And lot of reasons why I could tell myself I can’t do them: I’m tired all the time, I’m anxious all the time, I’m uncomfortable all the time, I’m paranoid, I can’t handle noises or conversation and when I least need depression, it strikes me.

Am I ever going to not be those things? I don’t know, none of it seems abnormal to me, it’s always been there. But whether I will or I won’t, there’s one thing I knowwon’t be: stuck in a place in my life I despise because I was too afraid to take or create an opportunity for myself.

Success speaks many languages. You have to find the one you understand the best.

 

 

 

A Slave To The Rhythm.

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As I sit in philosophy this moment, I’m watching a girl in front of me on Twitch or something watching someone play Dark Souls 3 online on her laptop. Professors always say “don’t watch videos while in class, you’ll distract other students” and I never believed them. But I must say, I’ve been pretty well distracted.

The other girl stopped writing notes after we started talking about God, Nietzsche, and how “God is dead” and doesn’t play a role in the development of values. Then we started talking about how man has created values and rules to live by and slave morality in terms of Christianity, religion, and politics, and I think she got offended. As I speak, after a royal argument for reason in terms of asking people “why does God dislike gays?” (in which their best argument is ‘because it’s in the bible’)and “why is murder wrong?”(in which people respond ‘because it is’ or ‘it’s taking a life’), she’s packed up her belongings.

She didn’t laugh when my professor said Beelzebub gets a bad rap. I did. Because it’s true. My professors reasoning is that he’s bold, and chooses what he wants to believe, versus simply complying underneath a slave morality.

The chick just left.

I love it when this professors reminds us how she doesn’t believe premeditated murder is wrong, or that babies aren’t born innocent, or that democracy is a ridiculous concept that is nice in theory but horrendous when implemented by us.

Another guy left too.

A third person just left.

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Even if you don’t believe what’s being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to think about it. That flares my “brainwashed” sonar.

Or I’m overthinking this and they had an emergency or a child in which they needed to take care of.

Again, I’ve taken an unannounced absence from this blog on account of an existential crisis. I thought I’d lost my interest in life, my drive for my future, and for a few months there I did–a few months wasted spent wallowing in depression and swallowing self-pity for that fact.

I have not been cured.

But I have realized where I’ve been going wrong and I think when we find ourselves in this situation the best thing to do is take a break from all the things we’ve been trying to force upon ourselves (career related, school related, family related, social-gathering related) and instead engage in perhaps an excessive amount of introspection. So much of our lives are spent wondering where we belong among everyone else, how we can influence others, how we can impress others, how we can fit with others, that it’s easy to lose who we are.

My face has been buried in books, I’ve gone through more jobs than I have friends (not a very stiff competition), and I’m unsatisfied with all of it.

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Some people might suggest I leave college–it’s just not for me.

Some people might suggest finding a job online or finding a night position working by myself.

Some people might suggest I need to suck up my anxiety and depression.

Some people might call me lazy.

But all of that is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is there are several paths to success. There are several definitions of originality. There are several definitions of creativity. There are several million interpretations of it all.

And yours matters not to me.

I’m not someone who has trouble with authority because I’m an anarchist, antisocial personality disordered ‘sociopath’, I’m someone who has trouble with authority because I have trouble with accepting what I’m told is all I’m allowed to accept.

I don’t want power, I want freedom of choice, interpretation, and direction. And as long as my reasons are my own within myself, than I know I’ve broken the title of “slave”.

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I know how often people are iffy of Nietzsche, but I like his non-conventional take on ethics, I always have, and it seems somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten all about it.

College is my hobby. Creativity is my career. It’s always been. Ever since I’ve had to put the majority of my attention on school and leave behind my passions like photo/video editing, writing, and photography, I’ve been more depressed than usual. Even my fantasy world has been dulled. My grades have suffered as a result, which only adds fuel to the fire.

That is why introspection is imperative to success in ourselves. It may have taken me a few months to put my finger on it, but eventually my finger landed there and that’s what’s important.

I now declare college the “eh, might as well” part of my day. That’s where it’s always belonged.

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I now declare the things that make me who I am, the things that embrace my personality, that make me the happiest, that make me aware of how far I can really go in this life if I so choose, will be my main focus. As long as that is in my life, I can make the grades I want, I can focus on what society feels I need to and do so content knowing after I finish this page of homework I can go back to what really matters to me.

No one can decide what is right for you and what isn’t. Values, virtues, vices, rights, and wrongs, they change with time and tide just as our perception of them does because we created them. To tell me “college is the right way to go” could be irrelevant and petty within the next few years. Sure, Nietzsche came to the same conclusion, but pshhh, I knew that when I was 8 years old.

Okay, maybe 11. The point is, I understood that from my position on the tree branch above this world where I spent countless upon countless of silent hours watching you all mosey about your day satisfied on the outside, unsatisfied on the inside, and sitting in the alleyways with the needles and the booze and the pipes and the 9-5’s and the families and all the things you use to distract yourself from yourself.

4414218To be original, to be creative, isn’t going against the grain. It isn’t being an anarchist. It isn’t being racist, it isn’t throwing a bottle at the KKK screaming “it’s 2016!“. It isn’t blindly coming up with an idea no one else has and thinking that’s your best selling point. It isn’t being a toy creator who actually has to think about a selling point. It isn’t about music or art or tattoos because everyone shares the ideas of others.

Being original is taking those ideas, interpreting them, coming to a conclusion, and executing your conclusion. Whether or not you agree with the crowd or you don’t agree with the crowd is irrelevant: what matters is you made the decision.

It’s not about “doing what you want” like a rebel. It’s about having solid reason for what you do and the choices you make.

That being said, expect some photographs.

Expect some samples of writing and daily content again.

And most of all, within the next few months, expect a YouTube channel. It’s about time I make use of 2016, don’t you think?

 

 

 

Give It A Pat

If you are still recovering from a stressful holiday season, pat yourself on the back.

If you had a bad day at work today, pat yourself on the back.

If you’ve been arguing with your brain all day like I have, pat yourself on the back.

If you’ve been struggling with negativity, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re a recovering addict and you’ve been struggling with that recovery extra hard lately, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re a rageaholic who managed to not yell at that stupid piece of shit fucker that cut you off in traffic today . . . definitely pat yourself on the back. And maybe drink some tea. And do some Tai Chi.

If you’ve been feeling hopeless but you’ve been pushing onward, pat yourself on the back.

If you’ve been working on yourself and your life, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re doing well for yourself and happy for once in your life, you can pat yourself on the back too.

If you don’t feel like you have a reason to pat yourself on the back, do it anyway. You deserve it.

Greater Than A Label And Smarter Than One Too

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I received messages from people yesterday who were shocked that I wasn’t celebrating New Years, that I didn’t go to a party or celebrate 12:00am by screaming, hugging people, and saying Happy New Year to everyone I came across.

I responded with shock at their shock. This was one of the best New Years Eve’s I’ve had in a long while. And I spent the majority of it alone. 

 

2015 was not a satisfying year. Probably because I can’t remember half of it.

I forget a lot, remember?

I don’t know what 2016 will be like. Prediction is not a science. Science isn’t even good at being science half the time, so if prediction was science it would be one and a half times worse than science originally was. Like my bullshit numbers there? It’s okay, just breathe, your brain will recover from my awesomeness in a moment.

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Recovered? Good.

2015 unearthed a lot of issues in America we’ve left swept under the rug. Racism is the big one. Healthcare is another. Mental healthcare and mental health is right up there with them. All those shooters, all the stigma, all the panic, all the politicians sticking their little rat noses into business that isn’t theirs to control, issues they don’t even understand. The day a neuroscientist runs for presidency without the slightest bit of knowledge of politics is the day we need to rethink our healthcare system in this country. The day money dictates the kind of mental health treatment you get is the day we need to rethink our entire lives as human beings.

Oh, what’s that? Hold on, I’m getting some word from my producers right now. We . . . we have all that already? Hmm. Well . . . shit. 

Then we need to rethink the entirety of our lives.

That’s a lot to process and it’ll never happen, so let’s just rethink the healthcare system for starters.

 

If 2015 unearthed all this, 2016 better come along and flip it to the top of the soil before it gets buried again.

I believe one of the major issues we’re having in this country is lack of involvement.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaauhaaaajgy4mte4ntizlwjkmtutndk2oc04mzbmlwzknmqynjlizwyzmgI think that’s one of the major reasons people like Alex Gorsky a.k.a “America’s most admired Law Breaker” got awarded that “man of integrity” bullshit in September. You all remember him right? Responsible for the marketing scheme of Risperdal? The one who snuck through FDA loopholes to get Risperdal marketed to children and elders? The C.E.O of Johnson and Johnson? The one who got caught and had to pay back 2 billion dollars as “punishment”? The one whose team wanted to put lollipops and candy in “trial” packages of Risperdal for kids? The one I had so much fun talking shit about here and the one who is described in a little more proper detail by The New York Times here?

There’s a prime example of the main issue not being the drug, but a corporation embracing their typical sociopathic selves. 

I could never write articles on people like that for big time news websites. How are those writers able to keep their composure? I’d have to slander some names and point out some stupidity with harsh sarcasm. That’s how my brain operates.

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People learn from the emotions they feel, from their reactions. If I get a disgusted feeling or a laugh or some anger out of someone, they’re more likely to remember the subject than if I just rambled off some facts like a school girl know it all.

People like Gorsky get away with things because citizens like us are misinformed and uneducated.

It’s why there are published articles about how published research findings are often false. Don’t believe me? Read it here.

It’s why the figure of speech known as “chemical imbalance” has been so widely accepted as a proper way to describe a mental disorder. Hey, I didn’t come up with that on my own, that’s from Harvard Med.

I also agree that “much of the general public seems to have accepted the chemical imbalance hypothesis uncritically”.

trust-me-doc It’s all accepted because people often don’t take charge of their own recovery. Obviously some need more help than others and obviously some respond to certain kinds of treatment better than others–there’s never a black and white, the entire world is a grey area. Everyone is different.

That’s not an excuse to be completely clueless. 

If you’re going to do anything in 2016, get involved. Don’t just be part of your own mental health recovery, advocate for others as well, and that means becoming active in your recovery. That means learning a little more about psychology and the psychological system and not letting those rude doctors we’ve all come across at some point drop bombs in your lap like you’re some disordered freak.

Reevaluate what an “illness” is to you. Reevaluate what a “disorder” or “brain disease” is to you. I know quite a bit about depression from experience and from schooling knowledge and I’ll tell you one fucking thing it isn’t: disease. So if people could kindly stop saying that, it would really, really drop my blood pressure a few points.

stop-being-ashamedStigma is a good way of keeping us ashamed of ourselves. You probably don’t feel comfortable blurting a diagnosis in your work place or to certain friends or maybe even to family members. But remember, your diagnosis is only as harmful as you let it be. A word is a word. It’s up to others to see you differently because of it. And if they do . . . Will. That. Kill. You? Be logical here. Is it Ebola? 

When we cower in the shadows behind what other people tell us we are, when we let ourselves be drowned out by several different labels–talking about the people who say “yeah, I’ve got ADHD, depression, Bipolar 2, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Borderline Personality, Narcissistic tendencies, and Schizoid tendencies”–our recovery will be inexplicably harder.

I didn’t make that diagnosis up by the way, I’ve talked with people who gave me that exact line up. It confused me greatly.

You must have one interesting psychologist or psychiatrist to give you that many diagnoses. Or many.

Or your self-diagnosing.

I’m a psych student with a copy of the DSM-V and a lot of criterion memorized. By that account, I’m more qualified than the average citizen to diagnose myself. But I don’t.

4c128dd9169c5db3c7dcf90905137ae4Feeding the thoughts of being “sick” and “ill” and having something “Wrong” with you because you struggle with your mental health is called “self-stigmatizing”. Believe it or not, that contributes to public stigmatizing too–you’re acting exactly how they expect you to.

Meanwhile, Gorsky is up in his Country Club Prison suite rolling in the rest of his billions of dollars and jacking it to pictures of kids with Risperdal lollipops in their hands and uncontrollable drool dripping from their mouths.

Why do I focus on the negative things?

Why not? Why should I focus on the positive things?

Those things are already positive, they don’t need to be changed or rearranged; they’re good how they are.

If your right leg is broken, you want me to examine your left leg? Want me to put a cast on it and send you out the door?

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Focusing on the positive things in your life to make you hopeful? Good.

Focusing on the positive things in the industry to distract you from the major areas that are cracked and going to hell? Bad.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, these are things you need to know about it because you’re involved in it.

We have the power to walk into a doctor’s office and demand the treatment we want.

We have the right to be educated.

We have the right to be seen in better light.

We have the right to never be ashamed to mention “oh yeah, I suffer from depression” or anxiety, or anorexia, or bipolar, or schizophrenia, or “covert narcissistic tendencies with a hint of borderline” if you really want to fucking get that technical. 

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We have the right to be informed mental disorders are much more complicated than a “chemical imbalance”.

We have the right to be informed mental disorders are much more complicated than merely “psychological factors”.

We have the right to be informed on other treatment options with as much emphasis as is given to medication treatment options.

We are not merely test subjects. We’re also human. Be truthful to us. Say, “this drug works on serotonin and a few studies involving about twenty people, some of whom dropped out because of side effects, showed significant improvement”.

We have the right to depend on medication if we need to without being seen in a negative light.

We have the right to stand up for ourselves.

We’re not sick or abnormal or ill or disordered or diseased or incapable of anything. We’re not a label or a diagnostic criteria. We struggle and we survive just like every person, plant, or organism does on this planet.

We’re unique, we’re individual, but we’re not so different from everyone else.

This year make strides in your own life to improve your mental health and the world’s mental health. Misconceptions will be the death of us all.

Stare At ‘Em Till Their Head Pops

I’ll start this post off with a yawn.

I don’t exercise as often as I should, so sometimes just a constant stream of movement is like ten hours of cardio. Today I spent two and a half hours at the car wash.

I didn’t grow up with the money or the mind set to have someone else thoroughly clean my car. I drive past Whalers Car Wash all the time (I wonder if it’s owned by Japanese people, that’d be ironic) watching the all-male workers (*cough* BULLSHIT) wipe down people’s scuffed up Cadillacs and Jaguars and . . . Hondas. They look miserable in the heat. Some of them really don’t know how to clean windows because I see streaks across them all the time. They probably don’t get tipped very well.

This Isn’t Whalers, But It Is In My Town. B.S These Guys Are Even Half That Happy. Nice Try, Advertiser.

No, I go out and buy my wheel spray, my tire spray, my paste wax, my window cleaner, my interior cleaner and then I drive my ass to the little “do it yourself” car wash, hose it down, scrub it with some bubbles, and I sit in the parking lot wiping down every inch. Then I pull out the paste and wax on-wax off until I get the shine I want. Then I spray the tires so they have that wet, black look, then I spray the wheels so they shine like chrome is supposed to.

I can’t do this at home. The landlord would throw a bitch fit, then I’d shove some wax up her ass and we’d get evicted. So I drive the mile or so to the carwash.

I have an affinity for cars, I’ve been around them all my life. I must say, I’ve watched and learned a lot about a lot of engines from my childhood but I’ve never seen anything as quite as strange as what’s under the hood of a Dodge Stratus. It’s just . . . I’ve never had a car I had to use coolant for instead of water (It’s a 99), and I’ve never had a car where the battery is about the size of half your Ipad mini and the positive charge is towards the front of the hood and the negative charge is towards the back. It’s split up into three pieces–what the fuck is that shit?

It’s got some nice subwoofers though, a nice tint so you can spy on bitches when you catch them staring.

Just Like This. Perfect.

Everyone needs their “me-time”. A time where you focus on one thing and one thing only, for a certain stretch of time, and just let your mind wander. You don’t linger on any thoughts that come, you just let them come and you acknowledge them, and you wait for the next one. And unless you have to swat away some ferocious bees like I had to at the car wash, it’s usually a very relaxing experience. That’s what washing and waxing my car is for me. It lets me focus on taking care of something I love and if I feel the need to think, I do–but it tends to get brushed aside if I’m focused enough.

For someone who feels they’re constantly thinking, constantly worrying, those two and a half hours are sacred to me.

You know, we discussed medication in therapy last week and I’m still on the edge about it. I’m not against it for myself because I had one really bad experience. I’m not against it for myself because of all the shit I talk about Big Pharma. I’m not even really against it at all. But I can’t put Ivory soap on my skin without it breaking out. I have to use Tea Tree soap. Shampoo that doesn’t have Olive Oil/Aloe Vera as the majority ingredient just dries my hair out. Me and chemicals don’t mix. My body knows what it likes and it told me through my medicated phase that it didn’t agree with what I was doing. And I respect that.

I also feel like the struggles I go through are more than a chemical can tackle. We talked about the medication as just a temporary dose that could help me along but I don’t really need something to calm my anxiety if I can learn how to calm it myself. I don’t really need something to make me less depressed if I can learn how to make myself less depressed. And I don’t really need something to make me react less strongly to things, or keep my moods in check, if I can learn to cope with them myself. Medication is a last resort, not a first one.

Unless the person is hardcore suicidal and about to jump out your office window. Then I hope you have a bag of antidepressants in your purse you can toss them.

But anyway, that’s my preference. I’ve never really been someone willing to let something else or someone else do something for me before I’ve given it my all. And I’m at the breaking point, I really am. Things are falling apart rapidly. But things do that. The cookies will eventually crumble if you leave them out long enough. That’s life. I’m not going to be scared of something that happens naturally.

I have to keep reminding myself to be patient. I come out of my literature class all excited and I come out of my psychologist appointments feeling all excited and then the weight of what I’m up against slaps me across the face and stamps “idiot” across my forehead and sometimes I let it crush my high. I’m learning not to. I’m learning that yes, I have a right to feel good, positivity is good and yes, I’m up against a lot but It’s going to take time to weed through. I can’t just expect one good class to cure my social anxiety. I can’t expect one good psychologist appointment to lift all of my depression. Patience is key.

If you’re not feeling good even after being on medication for a yea, two years even, and you’re in therapy, don’t get discouraged. This stuff takes more time than you’re going to be willing to accept. So instead, just accept that it takes time. Everything is a work-in-progress. You’ll never be finished. Even if you don’t live with mental health struggles, your life is a constant work-in-progress.

Now if you have trouble accepting that, well, there’s your problem.

The more I connect issues from my past to issues in my present, and the more I identify issues in my present, the more excited I get. Because now I know why I act that way I do. It’s not because of anxiety or bipolar or avoidant personality or borderline personality or paranoia or whatever they want to call me. Like I said, diagnosis is for clinical and insurance purposes, don’t read into it as your identity.

So what my emotions are crazy haywire. So what I can jump from one level to another in a matter of seconds. So what I’m on the brink of hospitalization for suicidal issues every couple of months or so. Sue me. I grew up in a tiny household, with a large amount of drugs and alcohol, I’ve seen seizures since I was six years old and had to deal with it on my own before I even knew what a seizure was. Talking to that particular parent is like walking on fucking glass and it has been all my life. How was I supposed to come out with steady emotions if I couldn’t even predict the ones in my own household? It went from smiles and laughter to physical altercations in a matter of seconds.

Kids internalize things.

Before you think you’re just another sick person, take a look at what you’ve been through and appreciate the fact that you were strong enough to get through it.

I’m not just talking about people with depression or anxiety. I know there are a lot of genetics with bipolar and schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders but you guys are in this too. Trauma can make them worse. Stress can make them worse. Stigma from society in general can enhance paranoia. It’s not always the disorder causing behavior.

I think a lot of doctors have this stored in their subconscious but don’t think much about it. Sometimes they don’t think much about anything, they just do. I’ll try my hardest not to be one of those arrogant people. If I had to take an oath in front of the entire student body to get my M.D, that would be my oath.

If they won’t think about it or pay attention to it, that means we have to.

Your body and brain really are on your side. You guys just need to come to a consensus.

Don’t hate your brain. It’s just as scared and confused as you are. 

By the way, It cost me $5 to wash my car. It cost those people at Whalers $20+

Power To The People

Neurons reaching out to learn
Neurons Reaching Out To Learn. Credit: Dr. Victor Anggono at Queensland Brain Institute

Do you believe in free will?

Or are you more of a deterministic personality?

Do you think you are your neurons or that your neurons are you? Do you think you have a say or would you prefer to be helpless to the scientific process that is “thought”?

Deep questions man, deep questions. Better slip yourself an adderall for this post. Or at least your thinking cap. Maybe adderall is your thinking cap.

Arguably the biggest debate in biological sciences is nature versus nurture and most people meet somewhere in the middle–nature plays a part but you can manipulate it depending on how you live your life. I’d say that’s a fair argument. Exercise, for example, has been known for years to help your body through biological processes. The Lipoprotiens that carry good cholesterol through your blood to your liver where it is needed is increased the more you exercise and the better your diet, which reduces the amount of bad cholesterol that builds up in your arteries. You can never get rid of the bad stuff, so you might as well increase the good stuff, it’s your only hope. Shouldn’t have ate all those Burger King triple cheese bacon Whoppers in your younger years.

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Since When Do Their Burgers Look Half As Good As This?

And now they think they’ve found proof of Alcoholism neurons and anxiety neurons. We’ll go after the addiction first, I think it’s more interesting.

Your neurons change with you, it’s evident. When you’re born there’s millions of millions of them all struggling to see who will live and who will die. It’s like the Hunger Games up there except everyone participates. So I guess it’s not like the Hunger Games. I don’t know, I’ve never read the book. Or seen the movie. Whatever.

Anyway, there’s millions and millions and millions and millions of them (shit, I’m starting to sound like Carl Sagen) and by the time you’re three, half of them are gone. So yes, those younger years are vital. That’s why if you’re tortured when you’re an infant and a toddler, you’re more likely to display Antisocial Personality tendencies. You’ll start killing the dogs and learning how to manipulate and not feeling an ounce of guilt for it because, shit, no one displayed what that’s supposed to be, there is no distinguishable difference between right and wrong, and you didn’t get hugged. Yes, hugging is just as important as teaching your children right from wrong.

I don’t think anyone will argue that drugs change the structure of your brain, even the ones you are prescribed. Anti-psychotics most often change the amount of dopamine in your brain and if you’re taking an anti-psychotic (especially if it’s actually to suppress active psychosis) you already have a sensitivity to dopamine. Anti-psychotics increase that sensitivity by no fault of anyone and when you forget your medication for a day or two or three, what happens? Most often a psychotic episode. It’s not your fault, it’s not the drugs fault, it’s just the way nature responds to our attempt at thwarting it.

Alcohol does kind of the same thing. It even effects the D1 and D2 receptors the same as some anti-psychotics. Have they done extensive research on what damage or benefit anti-psychotics have on these neurons as they’ve done for alcohol? Most likely not (proof of irreversible damage isn’t exactly a good selling point), at least not to the extent they’ve researched these “addiction neurons”.

We all know what a neuron looks like:

Now picture that but mushroom shaped. That’s what alcohol does to your neurons, most likely if you have addiction and alcoholism already in your family. They get excited, start action-potential-ling all over the place, and they want to keep that level of excitement going, so you drink more. They grow more dendrites and have more access to communicate with other neurons. That’s why you now need five drinks instead of two drinks to even get a buzz. Guess what? It even increases your Long-Term memory.

Sound odd? It shouldn’t, not in this context. Because that’s all your memory gains–context based information. You’ll remember the bar’s specific location better than your buddy who has only been there a few times versus your escapade every other night.

Even more interesting is when they introduced an agonist to thwart the neuron’s excitability level directly to the D1 receptor, the poor drunken animals that were so used to getting drunk in this lab with all these strange men and women in white coats standing around, reduced their amount of consumption.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered here: why do some people become addicted and others do not? What kind of genetic sequences are there where some D1 receptors in people’s brains get mushroomed and others do not? But for now, just take the information as it is and know if you have alcoholism in your family, it could be your future.

But it also could not. That’s the catch.

As for my fellow anxiety suffers, including those with PTSD, I see GABA re-uptake-inhibitors in our future. Or at least something with GABA. If you don’t know already, the GABA neurotransmitter has a very tranquilizing effect. These anxiety neurons they found in the central amygdala have receptors for GABA and as soon as the amount of GABA receptors is decreased, the tranquilizing effect is reduced and suddenly you’re both fearful and anxious. Traumatic experiences can cause reduced GABA receptors.

So, are you powerless over your anxiety? Over your addiction? In a sense, yes. But think about it for a moment–you’re not born with these differences, they’re eventually created. You ever see a baby on the curb downing a 40oz?

And if you can create them, or if they can be created (in terms of PTSD), then you can decommission them. If you have alcoholism in your family, don’t go out and get hammered every night; it’s best to stay away from alcohol and benzo’s and painkillers entirely. If you have anxiety, know that you weren’t born with GABA deficient neurons, as much as you feel like you were. Maybe a predisposition to it, genetically, but even genes have on and off switches.

As out of control as you feel, you can manipulate your brain in any way that you please. I think that’s what’s so fascinating about it. Drugs may change the chemicals temporarily, but chemicals don’t always change the shape like we see in alcoholism. Learning, however, does. Changing mindset, does. That’s been proven many times over.

It’s even harder to gain control over your brain when everyone keeps telling you that you have no control.

The second biggest argument in biological sciences, particularly for psychology, is in the relationship between correlation and causation. The decreased brain masses we see in people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder–are they a result of the onset of the disorder or the result of genetic differences from the moment of birth? A combination? Or are we wrong about everything entirely?

I’d summarize an article on that, but there aren’t many. We haven’t tracked anyone from birth into their adult hood because we can’t predict who will develop schizophrenia or bipolar and who won’t, regardless of their parents mental status.

Making things even more difficult is that fact that no two people with schizophrenia share the exact same symptoms. Similar perhaps, but it’s not as concrete as, say, two people with social anxiety disorder. Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most elusive disorders in the field. In other words, we don’t know jack shit. I think I’ve said that before.

You are simultaneously your brain and not your brain. It’s always going to be a power struggle between the two of you. That’s what makes life, life. You just have to believe it.

Invest In Yourself Like You Should Have Invested In Google In The 90’s

Wednesdays are always the days I moan in bed. Five straight hours of chemistry can drive anyone’s motivation into the ground. Unless you’re a chemist, I suppose.

But I always try to look at the day with a positive light and today was no different.

In our chemistry lab we work in groups and if you’ve ever read any of this blog, you know that’s not exactly my favorite thing to do, nor is it an easy thing for me to do. However, I’ve learned that before I have to deal with any sort of interaction with people on this personal of a level (you know, having to . . . ugh, talk with them) that if I’m able to convince myself to “Go with the flow” that “whatever happens, happens,” I’m a little less nervous. It helps to remind myself not to over think.

Anxiety is a lot like energy. Energy is defined as “the capacity to do work” and anxiety should be defined as “the incapacity to not think”. Both are rather vague and people argue over their validity every day. If you’re a quantum physicist or whatever, you probably have a way better understanding of the complexity of energy and if you have anxiety you have a way better understanding of the complexity of over-thinking. The Law of Conservation of Energy states energy cannot be destroyed nor created. It just changes forms. It can come in two common categories: Potential and Kinetic. A Before and During, if you will.

I would argue there’s a Law of Conservation of Anxiety when you’re in the midst of battling an untreated anxiety disorder. It’s always there in the back of your head no matter where you go, what you do, or what you tell yourself. You can’t destroy it and you’re so confused because you also didn’t create it. Even on my best days I’m highly anxious. Even when you think you’ve conquered or destroyed it, it rams your head into the wall like a wrecking ball (#MileyCyrusShit) and you come to the disheartening realization that it’s only been in hiding. These are the hardest days of your life, but they’re also the most important. If you can’t learn to deal with the downswings, the discontent of having “failed” against this thing in your head, then you’ll never learn to live with yourself. When you get that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach, that sensation of self-humiliation, of self-doubt, of depression, don’t fight it; analyze it. Understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, and see if you can rationalize it. You won’t be able to, and that should be a cue you’re over-thinking.

It’s one thing to be aware your thinking isn’t rational, it’s another thing to pick it apart and understand it.

I would also argue there is Potential Anxiety and Kinetic Anxiety. I’ll take a much more literal interpretation than science. When you know there’s an event or class coming up that’s particularly worrisome to you and you spend hours, days, maybe even weeks wrestling for sleep in your bed, fighting off nausea, and ruminating on what could go wrong or what could happen (You ever notice you never think about what could go right?) then you’re experiencing Potential Anxiety; you’re registering a potential threat to your sanity in your future that could happen. When you’re participating in the situation and you get those cold sweats and stuttered speech and red face and scattered thinking, that’s your Kinetic Anxiety taking over.

I give them names because it helps me separate myself from my symptoms. That changes my train of thought; I’m no longer the problem, it’s my anxiety, and I’m allowed to distance myself from it because I am not my anxiety.

If energy can change form, than I would argue Anxiety can as well. It’s highly malleable; you can shape it how you want once you get a good grip on it. You’re not destroying it, just fitting it in the back of the closet in your mind with all the other old things you don’t give a shit about like that one creepy porcelain doll with the satanic eyes that speaks words backwards when you pull the drawstring on its back that your grandmother gave you for your sixteenth birthday because she thought the devil music you listened to meant you were in a cult and she wants to show you that she’s supportive of any of your life choices.

Whatever. The point is to be aware and in control, not obsessively searching for a way to get rid of it and then never learning how to cope. There are two things you can focus on. 1) The anxiety. 2) Coping with the anxiety.

That being said, I only have one partner in Chemistry (Score!) and she already has a bachelors degree for something I forgot (watch her stumble across this post, that’s something that would happen to me). We work well together. That’s something I don’t say often. We both are equally lost in chemistry and our confusion brings us together. When I speak to her or ask a question there’s always that little voice in my head telling me how stupid I’m sounding, how dumb of a question that was, how the group next to us is laughing at how stupid I am, but honestly I’m so wrapped up in Cations and Anions and their fucking non-metal/metal rules and electrons and man-made elements that I don’t have the time for those voices to fuck with me. Therefore, I won’t give them the time.

When we pack up and get ready to leave I’m never sure if I should say “see you” or “bye” or ” see you next week” or “see you next Wednesday”; most of the time I greet or say bye to anyone who doesn’t do so to me first. There’s always the voice in my head saying it’s awkward when you speak first, your voice sounds weird, they’re going to think you’re weird and intrusive, just walk away.

Today I took the initiative to speak first on many things, and I helped her with proper naming and she helped me with proper formulas. I cracked jokes because that’s all I know how to do in conversation. We were a team. And although my anxiety sat on my shoulders from the moment I woke up this morning, I succeeded in forcing it to the back seat of the bus. It’s okay to discriminate against your anxiety, it’s an asshole to you all the time.

A girl walked up to the professor to ask her a question and she got incredibly frustrated because she’d done the entire page of work wrong. He said “Don’t beat yourself up about it, you’re learning, that’s what you’re here for.”

They were simple words, but they fueled a revelation in me. This time I could walk from the classroom and call that social situation, as awkward as I felt I was, a success. If we’re not supposed to beat ourselves up about learning new material in school, than why should I beat myself about learning how to interact with people? I’m learning, nothing more. I’ll make mistakes. I’ll get frustrated. I’ll have my bad days and by the time I’ve done a thousand of these types of interactions I should be 100 times better at squashing that anxiety.

Take it a day at a time. Give yourself a pat on the back when you have successes and give yourself a pat on the back when you don’t. Learning is a process.

Work = (Force) X (Distance) a.k.a, Social Anxiety Disorder Tips

If there’s one thing that haunted me most in my childhood, and still rears it’s ugly head often in my adulthood, is social anxiety disorder. It made it so I was mute in pre-school. It made it so I couldn’t go to a school bathroom until high school; I had several accidents in elementary because I couldn’t raise my hand and ask and was too nervous to go during breaks in general. When I got stung by a bee in class I sat there for an hour, unable to speak, until the pain urged tears down my cheeks and the teacher asked what was wrong. I couldn’t ask questions when I got confused in class, so I fell behind in Math especially. In middle school I did poorly in every subject besides literature, and in high school I failed chemistry, algebra three times, and skipped every other day to get high because I couldn’t stand being in a classroom where my normal level of anxiety, usually about the height of the clouds in the atmosphere, sky rocketed into space. In college old habits repeat themselves; I struggle, especially in math and science, because of my inability to ask for help as often as I should.

I was that weird kid in middle school who stands close to the larger groups of kids to pretend she has friends.The one friend I made in middle school went with me to high school and I sat with her group of friends. I have yet to make any new friends in college, partly because I don’t want to put in all the effort friendships take and partly because I wouldn’t know how if I tried.

Social anxiety disorder is bigger than being nervous. It dominates your life much like any other disordered thinking does. Social events to me are a lock and key situation where the key is an algorithm my brain can’t decipher. I’ve had this anxiety for so long there are cues and social developmental milestones I never reached. Speaking with me in person is like speaking to a nervous seven year old.

That being said, I’ve worked on my anxiety tremendously over the last few years and with maturity comes the ability to realize my thoughts aren’t rational and that people aren’t constantly laughing at me or chatting about me or calling me stupid.

But there’s a problem with just calling Social Anxiety Disorder “social anxiety” or “Shy”. That’s very vague. Shyness could mean anything: maybe you’re anxious speaking to a group of people or in front of a group of people, but do well regardless. Maybe you get a little nervous in class but you plow through it and it’s never impaired your life in any way, shape or form. You may have social anxiety, you may be shy, but you do not have Social Anxiety Disorder.

If you ruminate on every little thing every person has said to you today, last week, last month, maybe those few years ago and still get an overwhelming sensation of guilt and humiliation, as if those people are still laughing at you; and you avoid several social situations (including minor contact like having to walk through the doors at a grocery store) and instead stay in your house and argue with your brain over how stupid you’re being; and you feel overwhelmed in a large group of people because you have to focus on all their conversations to make sure they’re not making fun of you; and you feel inadequate in conversation because you’re not sure if what you said was stupid or that what you said is irrelevant all the time; and you constantly believe the expressions on people’s faces are contorted in disgust when you speak; and you have to mold your life around this monster in your head, live according to its needs, you may have Social Anxiety Disorder.

This could be Mild, Moderate, or Severe, but the key point is it impairs your life’s functionality in some way.

When I clicked on the this BuzzFeed Article about social anxiety in college, I was interested in whether or not they equated social anxiety as a mental disorder with shyness. I won’t go through all 25 tips, but I will talk about the most helpful and least helpful.

Least Helpful (assuming said person with social anxiety disorder has had little/no):

  1. Get Participation Points Through Asking Questions Rather That Answering Them: If I can’t answer a question because I feel like my answer is going to be judged, laughed at, and etched into stone in everyone’s fucking tombstone, how the hell am I going to rationalize asking them? This was my first hint that this article was most likely written for people suffering from some mild anxiety issues. If you can ask a question but not answer them, you’re probably not social anxious. We’re so wrapped up in other people’s opinions of us, asking or answering questions are equally as bad; either way you can be judged for being stupid.
  2. Practice Presentations during Office Hours Before You Have To Do Them In Front Of Classmates: I’m not denying this is an excellent tactic if you have trouble remembering what you’re going to say because you have trouble remembering things. From my experience, it doesn’t work. I practiced for two weeks memorizing a speech and recited it over and over again to people and still forget the entire thing in two seconds during the presentation. Instead, I stood stuttering until my embarrassment caused me to sit down. If you’ve had practice reducing your anxiety this doesn’t happen often (I don’t have this issue any longer with presentations) but it’s worth noting that anxiety causes some crazy fright in your brain and as a result, your memory is shot. But my opinion is biased.

Most Helpful (Also from my perspective):

  1. Write Down Talking Points Before Classes Where Participation Counts: Hell, I’d extend this to any class. When you have something to talk about it’s a lot easier, especially because you can look back at your paper and remind yourself why you were so passionate about whatever you wrote down. Seminars where participation is required is a pretty common thing in college, especially in graduate school, so it’s a good idea to start early if you’re a freshman. I do feel much more comfortable speaking in groups with people to this day and rarely have to write key points down anymore. I can almost fully count on my brain to store the thoughts and recall them when needed. I still struggle, but it’s remarkably less due to this tactic.
  2. Figure Out What Your Social Goals Are& Make some small ones to help you obtain your goals: This is a big one. Do you want a huge circle of friends or do you want one or two close ones? You don’t have to have either, and I think a lot of us with Social Anxiety Disorder (especially if you haven’t had much help overcoming it) think you have to be social because if you’re not, you’re weird. That’s our anxiety talking. You don’t have to do anything but die and pay damn taxes. I enjoy quick outings with groups every once in a while, but having a huge group of friends would kill me. That’s my preference, without my anxiety speaking for me. My only goals are to reduce my anxiety to the point where I can comfortably carry on daily life. Other than that, I’m content having only a few acquaintances.
  3. Understand that getting rid of your anxiety isn’t the goal: living with it is.
  4. Don’t avoid every single anxious situation: Slowly but surely I’ve been able to wake up in the morning with my heart pounding, my hands shaking, and my head telling me “stay home, stay home, stay home”, accept it, and do the exact opposite. As much as it pains you to think about leaving your comfort zone, it’s the only way you can learn. Don’t think about it as changing who you are and do not ever, ever, ever think it’s a way to fix you. There’s nothing wrong with you. If anything, these are just tactics to help you learn a new way of life. You don’t have to change into an extrovert to not be socially anxious (unless you want to); it’s entirely up to you. Either way takes work and Work is always equal to Force X Distance. In other words, Force yourself out of bed and Distance yourself from the house. #PhysicsIsLife.