Living and Breathing with Social Anxiety

If there’s one thing I sometimes wish I didn’t exist because of it, it would be social anxiety. For me, it’s more than the occasional nervous butterflies in the stomach when you get near a crowd, it’s more like the crippling can’t-do-anything-in-your-life kind of anxiety. Let me give an example from this very moment.

My new apartment is about 15 minutes from the main library branch in town, which is wonderful for someone like me, who is an avid reader. The problem is, I’ve been missing my library card since I was about 15 or 16. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except in order to get it reinstated, or get a new one, I have to talk to the librarian.

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Talk.

To.

The.

Librarian.

And some of you might be thinking–wait a second, you’re a peer worker. Isn’t talking kind of your job? And you’d be right. And I’d feel like an idiot, as usual. But you see, being a peer worker is quite different, I’m among my own people and the conversation is more of others talking than me hogging up the space. I can handle that. I can’t handle small talk. And speaking to a librarian about a lost library card is considered small talk to my brain.

So, instead I’m sitting in the library writing this post.

I brought a few dollars with me in case I do decide to get a new card, but with the way my head is spinning and my stomach is feeling, I most likely will not be doing that today. It’s not urgent, but I would like some free reading material.

So how do people live with this? There are some people who aren’t able to step foot outside of their door, and I was one of those people until a couple years ago. What has worked for me may not work for others, but I figured I’d share some things anyway.

add090525_1_560One thing that has helped me was getting to the root of my social anxiety. What makes me most anxious, what makes me least anxious, and where could this have started? For me, what makes me most anxious is crowds. All of the eyes and voices are overstimulating to me, and can aggravate my own voices, and I don’t like the idea of all of those eyes judging every ounce of me. Eyes bother me because I don’t want to be seen. I’ve never been seen before, not truly. When I was a kid I was taught not to be seen or heard by the actions of my parents. Therefore, when I am seen, physically or metaphysically, I am wholly uncomfortable.

What makes me least anxious is one-on-one communication. There is a lot less stimulation. There is still the risk of judgement, but there is always a risk for judgement and that is something I need to get comfortable with, not something other people need to fix. Judgement is within human nature, unfortunately, and some people don’t have the capacity to not judge. Therefore, I need to have the capacity to not care. And I’m working on that.

What fuels my social anxiety is my childhood, and perhaps a predisposition towards anxiety as well. I was yelled at a lot, chased, around a lot of drugs, alcohol, and anger. I wasn’t allowed to speak unless I was being spoken to directly, and not even then sometimes. Silence became my comfort because I knew I wouldn’t get attacked if I stayed silent.

In learning the truth behind my social anxiety I have been better able to manage it. I realize that that trauma is not everywhere. I am allowed to speak if I wish to, and allowed not to speak if I don’t wish to.

58809653-man-at-desk-overwhelmed-hard-work-stress-at-work-fatigue-at-work-vector-illustration-flat-designIt’s easier to say than do. It’s taken a few years of practice, a lot of tears, a lot of frustration, self-harm, suicide threats, hospitalizations–not all related to social anxiety, but in one way or another those experiences have pushed me further towards being less socially anxious, particularly being in the hospital where I have no choice but to “live” with other people.

What has also helped me has been telling people about my social anxiety. I tell people about my paranoia, about delusions, and my mild hallucinations and in doing that I’ve learned to really, really, REALLY not care what people think, because I’m forcing them to judge me. And if you tell someone that when a celebrity dies, their spirit lives with you, they are going to judge you, trust me.

But telling people about my social anxiety has helped them also become aware of what makes me uncomfortable and what makes me comfortable, and that has been really helpful for me. There are some people who don’t care, and there will always be people who don’t care. But of the few that do, it’s been really helpful.

Everyone is at a different level of their anxiety. Mine was severe, to the point where I didn’t leave my house and if I did I would cry, shake, and have a panic attack. It’s now to the point where I can pick and choose some days to step outside, have some fun, and explore my limits. It takes work and dedication. But severity can be reduced. And that’s today’s Mental Truth

Functionality Isn’t Easy

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If you have a short attention span, first of all welcome to group. There are quite a few of us, and you kind of arrived a little late, but help yourself to what’s left of the potluck table. Oh, you don’t like chocolate? Well you can get the fuck out.

Anyway, as I was saying, if you have a short attention span, you know when your limits have been reached. You also know that you make tons of tiny (but ultimately large mistakes), particularly when you’re made to focus for an extended period of time on something. Like school work or paper work at your job.

I have done both several times in the last three days and it’s frustrating knowing I overlook the simple things without knowing I do.

I am taking a break from straining my mind through math and even though I’m a little behind on homework, if I have to integrate by parts and partially fractionate (that’s not a word) and substitute and strain my memory for trigonometric identities one more time, I’m going to blow a gasket.

17mu8lzn0thhrjpgWe all know I do not handle stress well.

When presented with stress, I do two things:

1). Storm around cursing at everyone and everything, including myself.

2). Search frantically for a way to drop one of the stressful aspects of my routine.

Because of fun fact number two, I often make rash decisions, like drop two classes because I failed a quiz and feel inferior to every other human on earth.

I haven’t ever done that, but it’s something I would do.

Work is stressful for  me. There’s a lot of memorizing specific procedures and routes and I learn slower when it comes to memorizing twenty two different routes through a maze. I’m also a perfectionist and hate when I make mistakes, even when I have to in order to learn.

It makes me feel as if I don’t have what it takes to be a functional member of society. I can last a day or two before completely crumbling.

Those of us who struggle mentally know we are very sensitive to stress and it’s usually a good idea to come up with healthy tactics to handle that stress.

It’s a good idea to come up with healthy tactics to handle the stress.

It’s a GOOD IDEA TO COME UP WITH HEALTHY TACTICS TO HANDLE THE STRESS.

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I tell myself that all the time and it never happens. As you can see. I’ve told myself three times and I’m still not going to do it. Maybe I don’t know where to start. Maybe I don’t want to start. Maybe I want to start and have an idea of where to start but are procrastinating until I know it works for sure: I’m the perfectionist procrastinator, remember?

Whatever the reason, I’m suffering in the mean time. My anxiety is at an all time high and the depression is slowly creeping its way through all my safe guards and positive pep-talks. I have defenses against these things, but they’re fragile and severely underdeveloped. It’s like launching a basketball at a premature baby and expecting it to catch it.

To top it all off, I left my hot sauce and my water in the refrigerator at work, and my social anxiety is keeping me from high tailing my ass over there and grabbing it before they toss everything out this Friday. I only work Saturday and Sunday this month.

I put hot sauce on fucking everything. Fish, chicken, beef, rice, beans, whatever.

cb45e6e2ab8acbc0e6b464e3dec79370I put A1 steak sauce on my fish as well. People find that strange. That’s because they don’t know how to eat.

Anyway, what I realized today, which set my head spiraling downward, was the fact that I’d need to tell the director, my main boss and scheduler, about my psychologist appointments so he knows not to schedule me at my regular time on Wednesdays when I start working on the weekdays.

I’ve never told any superiors, except one professor in an essay, about what I struggle with on a daily basis because I understand the stigma around any and all mental health issues. Just the thought makes my digestive system churn.

Because, as much as you want to hope for an understanding attitude, there’s always a chance they won’t be capable of it.

21-adhd_sensory-overloadThese people I work with seem really genuine. I know they’ve probably noticed when the phone rings, when the door bell rings, and when there’s a conversation going on in another area of the room all at the same time it’s hard for me to focus on the task I’m supposed to be learning. Sometimes my trainer has had to repeat three times to me what I’m supposed to be doing because my brain is being tugged in so many different directions at once.

Am I good fit for this position? I don’t know. Sure, it’s a matter of getting used to a new environment but it’s also about what I can handle and what I can’t. I’m dealing with a lot of numbers, a lot of precision, and I can’t afford to be making mistakes all over the place because of my brain.

I split my Ativan pills in half and took three halves during my eight hour shift just to keep my nerves at a relatively low level. I have a very high tolerance, they barely effected me. It was probably more a placebo effect than anything.

the-hottest-question-in-europe-did-the-ecb-just-pull-off-a-back-door-bailout-that-will-end-the-crisisI had to sneak into the bathroom with them stuffed in a gum packet because they have cameras on our department’s staff at all times.

There’s a lot of stigma around people with depression and anxiety, just like every other mental health issues. We’re lazy. We’re too timid; we won’t be able to handle anything. We need to be treated differently. We’re, perhaps, untrustworthy in terms of unpredictability. We can’t handle what the others can. We’re too emotional. We’re mentally “less able”.

The good thing is if he doesn’t believe any of that and is willing to ask me questions and accommodate and we can come to a sort of consensus that works for the both of us, I might feel more comfortable. The bad thing is, if he suddenly deems me unfit I might be out of a job.

I would hate for them to be short one more person. They need 24 employees before march 11. They’ve been looking since mid 2015. They’ve gotten four. That’s including me and my friend.

These people are genuine. They’re kind and patient for the most part, and were heartbroken when one of their long time employees stole thousands from them. He now ha1s a felony on his record, as an accounting major. Life = ruined.

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They put a lot of trust in us. They have no choice. With the stuff we deal with, it’s entirely based on procedure and trust. And communication. And the ability to handle ridiculous over time hours because we’re understaffed because fucking people can’t subtract 16.29 from 20.00.

Seriously. That’s the type of math test you receive, and that’s what everyone is failing. That’s why they’re understaffed.

Just for the record, you must be 18 + to work this particular department.

I don’t like feeling as if I’m failing people who put in a lot of effort and time into their employees and into their job. It’s not just a job to them, it really is what they do with their life. I’m among business degree holders and accountants.

Maybe I need to give it more time. Or maybe I’ve bit off more than I can chew.

 

From Another World

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As you’re all horribly aware, as I’ve made you all horribly aware per my own personal insistence, I am not human.

At least, I don’t consider myself as such. I’m pretty sure my anatomy is of the human variety (two arms, two legs, two eyes, one brain, one heart, a liver, two lungs, a large intestine, small intestine, and so on ) and other humans seem to regard me as human in most instances. They talk to me and invite me to human gatherings where a bunch of other humans get together and do human things like eat, dance, and drink. I live in a human-based society where they’ve put their value of their humanity above all other animals, plants, and forms of life and deem themselves “rational” (against their own better judgement half the time) and “intelligent” (also against their own better judgement), then spend the majority of their lives finding a way to create a hierarchy of intelligence and rationality until they start considering other humans irrational and unintelligent based on the biased hierarchies they’ve created.

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They create definitions of abstract concepts and argue over them, then conclude “to each his own”.

What was the point in arguing in the first place, then?

There are reasons I consider myself the most confident self doubter I have ever met; I’m confident within my self-doubt. When we’re getting mixed signals as a society, we define ourselves through those contradictions and I have done this long enough and well enough to see fully the damage it’s caused.

writing-passionI have a passion . . . well, a few passions, and see it fit to follow each of them through. To what extent I will follow them I couldn’t say, but I will follow them. Some require school, others require experience, and the majority of them require some level of socialization.

I am both nervous about socialization and horrible at it. Because I did not talk through some crucial development years, I never learned how to establish crucial social skills either, to the point where I am generally clueless on how to assert myself in anything other than written word, my saving grace.

People often mix up assertion and conversation. Once I get used to someone I can carry on a reasonable conversation; but even when I’ve known someone for seven years, I find it difficult to assert my feelings and thoughts into particular conversations.

As a result, I’ve met with enough people and studied enough people through observation (and some experimentation of my own–shhhh don’t tell anyone) to know that my silence is viewed as ignorance, stupidity, weakness. When you have those labels slapped upon you before you even have a chance to prove them wrong, you get a little nervous in making an attempt to prove them wrong at all.

hwyf7I’ve never doubted my intelligence, I think I have a decent enough level of it to get me through my life. I’m by no means a sparkling, haughty-taughty genius, as much as I wish I could be, and I won’t lie, there are some things I learn much, much slower than others. There are other things I learn quicker than other and retain better than others. That’s pretty normal functioning as a human in a human society.

If I were human. I’m not, I swear. I came from halfway across the Galaxy from a little ice planet. Our beings are strictly in a form of consciousness, so the concept of physical bodies took a little getting used to.

My social anxiety and general ignorance of proper social customs makes it difficult to learn in groups and/or ask professors for help. What I learn I learn on my own accord, and for that I am proud.  But it brings in a lot of self doubt about how far I can go. Today in class, as I always do, I observed others raising their hands and blurting words freely from their tongue I couldn’t have. I try to think of something to say to contribute, but verbal, academic words are hard to come by. I can manage easier in casual conversation because no one expects a standard from you, not an academic standard at least. I can say “what the fuck: that stupid fucking piece of shit car just sprayed fucking mud all over my door!” without someone saying (to my face) that I’m stupid.

I cannot, however, contribute to a philosophical conversation with a bunch of “um, well, I think that that concept is fucking stupid.”

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*Cough* Utilitarianism *Cough*

Because then I’d have to explain why. And in explaining why, I’d sound like “well, it’s just . . . it’s stupid because of all the reasons everyone else already said”.

Because the only words that will come to my mind will be unoriginal. I’ve lived long enough with this self to know the first words that will come to my mind to speak verbally will be a rip off of someone else’s.

There’s some kind of eloquence gene for verbal speech I missed out on. If I’m aware I need to speak in class, I always write down my blurb before speaking a word of anything. It’s the only way I can manage.

42441-26750It’s impossible to ever be 100% original, you’re always standing on the shoulders of someone else in the world of academia, but there’s a level of originality you’re expected to achieve, one I know I can in my writing that I know I struggle immensely with in my speech. It gets worse the more nervous I am, but even when my anxiety is low I struggle in forming words.

I say low because there’s never a moment I’m not anxious.

So, my thoughts for this week.

Will I be able to handle this new job which requires my communication to be pristine, which requires I report to authority in a professional way, one that doesn’t reveal how intimidated I am mentally? I was the only new employee who needed to get a “back exam” so they could see if i could carry 45 pounds. I was the only new employee to be called into the director’s office for the third time and asked how I was doing, how I was liking the job, if I had any questions, and what my thoughts were.

When someone constantly pesters you to inform them on your thoughts, you know one of two things:

1). You haven’t been speaking up.

2). Because you haven’t been talking, they’re nervous about you.

There’s not yet a moment in time I feel comfortable telling the director, manager, leads, or my trainer about my mental health issues. There’s a possibility they’d understand, but there’s also a possibility I’ll be seen as even weaker. I’m already only one of three women in a department of all men.

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All of the information I received this weekend was really overwhelming. I’m hoping I can keep up to the level they expect. It only serves further to remind me that I’m not mentally at the level of a 20 year old. I’m stuck in the mind of a nervous thirteen year old, unsure of how to take on responsibility or how to approach people in the real world.

This will be my second job and I was psychotic enough to take a leap from regular line employee at a retail toy store to a cash worker balancing big vaults and mini vaults, processing money, fixing machines, making runs, answering phone calls . . . it’s so intense they have you carry around a note book to take notes on all of the processes like a class. Training lasts for weeks. Months, in some cases.

My problem is I always tell myself I’m not prepared. When logically, how could I ever be prepared? All jobs are different, there are always going to be challenges you have to face and new skills you have to learn.

My second problem is, when I convince myself I’m not prepared, I drop out and say “I’ll work on myself first”.

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And then I never do.

Because you can’t work on yourself by staying in your room and bathing in comfort.

If I drop out of this, I’ll fall into that endless cycle again, and I can’t spend another year of my life feeling like a thirteen year old. I want to gain the skills I should have developed years ago when I wasn’t aware of them.

Will I ever be comfortable around people? Mostly likely not. It’s not in my nature; I prefer being by myself and feel like I’m invading people’s privacy when I’m near them. Will I ever perfect my speech in the same way I’ve been improving my writing?

Hell no.

As long as I can gather enough skill to pass as a human being, I will be satisfied. But that’s a long journey from now.

What Do I Have To Prove?

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Hello Lovelies.

Why the fuck did I say that?

You’re all lovely, don’t even trip.

Tomorrow is that interview.

Surprisingly, I’m not nervous for it. Why? Because this anxiety is the normal “before interview” jitters. I can handle healthy anxiety, that’s a piece of cake.

5yqak3hcIt’s the “oh shit, I got the job and now I have to commit to something where I can’t predict every single move within the day” that makes me nervous. It’s the “oh shit, I have coworkers who will undoubtedly judge my appearance and capability from the moment I meet them (because everyone does it, don’t even lie)” and the “oh shit, I have to work and collaborate with these people.”

Mostly, it’s the “fuck, I have to adult again”.

I’ve adulted before. It fucking sucks.

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That feeds my addiction to my depression and anxiety and all the other fun, weird set backs my brain puts into place.

You know, like the times I pick up a cup from the cabinets and there’s some kind of white stain on it and the first thought that pops into my head is cyanide. So I have to get a different cup and I never touch that one again. Believe me, I remember it.

The fact that I can’t ever walk the same way twice down the apartment hill to my car. In the dark, particularly. There are always people waiting to stab me–at least that’s what it feels like–or coyotes ready to rip my arm off, which is completely relevant given there’s a pack of wild coyotes living behind one of the fences. We hear them howl all the time.

Honestly, sometimes all the Raccoons scare me more than anything. I might be able to make a loud noise and make myself appear bigger to a Coyote. I can run away from a stabber–you never know, he might trip over the horribly tall, concrete colored speed bump. But a raccoon? Naw, fuck that, straight up. They’re all suicidal, they don’t give a damn. They’ll charge you whether you have a sandwich in your hand or not.

I forgot what I was talking about again.

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Oh the weird habits. If I get a bad feeling I have to cut through the lobby and go down the stairs. Then on my way through the lobby I’m wondering “shit, what if that decision I made butterfly effected across the whole universe and now someone is going to get hit by a car, or I’m going to get hit by a plane in the next five seconds because of that decision?”, or “shit, what if that feeling was a diversion and the actual danger is the route I’m going right now?”

I don’t feel any better when I come out of the situation alive, either. It’s there festering, waiting until I come home and park and go through the whole process again. If it’s late at night I usually run up the hill and crash into the door. The faster I run the worse the feeling gets. Go figure.

The people in Ross were talking about me today, and laughing. I don’t know about what, but I was the only person in the store. It was 10:30pm. They started talking in Spanish first, but the closer they got to me the more they started speaking in English.

It’s sounds ridiculous but when I first heard them speaking Spanish I thought perhaps they were talking about how dumb it was to walk into a store a half hour before it closes, then I thought maybe they thought I was trying to steal something. They kept sending workers to go up and down the aisles by me. As soon as I thought “they’re speaking in Spanish so I won’t understand”, they started speaking in English.

Maybe people can read minds.

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Maybe I fly off the hinges at coincidences.

Maybe both are true and the world is an illusion.

Sometimes I think I was put here on Earth by whoever to go down a very specific path and I find signs to validate that belief. Deja Vu is one of them. You know, that feeling you get randomly, like you’ve done the very thing you’re doing currently, before? Some people have tried researching it and says its some kind of electrical overlap in the brain but hey . . . they were wrong about too little serotonin in social anxiety, weren’t they?

If you don’t know about the serotonin thing, it’s a pretty recently published finding. Google it. There are a lot more articles on it past the Finnish study I read.

When I think about something, and happen to see or hear about that thing a day later or whatever, that’s a sign I’m on the right path too. It means whatever layers of reality are out there in the universe have lined up for one specific moment just to link two of my thoughts together. That’s an honest belief. I’m not trying to sound like a loon.

What do I think I was put here for? I don’t know. But it’s something amazing, something world-changing. In high school I was convinced I would be the President of the U.S, but the signs were never there now that I think about it. Politics are too stressful anyway.

Then there’s my normal social anxiety. The “Oh God they’re staring at me, they hate me” or the “shit, what do I say now? I can’t hold a conversation”. And all the other ruminating thoughts that keep me awake and alert of my own existence at night.

There’s the fact that I’m an introvert.

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Then there’s my health anxiety. The “I’m going to have a heart attack or blot clot or stroke at any moment because I haven’t moved from my bed in the last few hours” or the “shit I got a cut, I got Ebola” or the “this butter knife was used in the butter and is still in the butter because it was meant for the butter but . . . how long has it been out here? What if someone put something on it? By accident? On purpose?

See! Deja Vu right now. I’ve written that line before, I know I have. But not this one. I’m telling you all the right things, that’s what it means.

Anyway, what if a fly landed on the knife or something? What if it laid some kind of infected larvae? Ebola. 

If I’m depressed, lying in my bed, hoping a plane will crash on the complex and kill me, I don’t have to think about trying to “better myself” in this world (whatever that means anymore), I don’t have to think about responsibility or life or people.

I never use my mental health to get out of things, not purposefully, not in a manipulative stand-point. I’ve only used it where applicable. It keeps me from doing things I want to do and it keeps me from doing things I don’t want to do. 

So, you know, 50/50 there.

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What I hate are people who make me feel I need to prove the problems I have. You know, the people who ride off how hard it is for me when I tell them, the people who don’t believe me or simply don’t give a shit and think I’m some moocher making up a thousand excuses just to hide from responsibility.

Well, getting this job will be a big poke in the eye and a kick in the groin to them. I am trying.

Will that help my mental health?

I don’t know. It might make it worse. It might make it better. It might do both.

I don’t have anything to prove. It’s going to be infinitely harder for me to work this job than it would be for my boyfriend to do it. It’ll be infinitely harder for me to work this job than it would be any of my “friends”.

I’m just using them as an example.

I know what’s hard for me. If they don’t believe me, that’s their problem. If they laugh when I tell them about the creepy people hiding in the shadows when I run up the hill then that’s their choice. Regardless, it’s still real for me in the moment.

If that’s funny than I’m missing the joke.

And I’m the fucking queen of bad jokes.

Unmasking The Enemy

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It’s rarely a time where I can say I’ve had great success.

But tonight, I’ve made great strides.

I TALKED.

That’s right, I sat my ass down in a group of two and I fucking talked and I had a conversation and my anxiety was at an all time low!

I shared ideas like your average Joe!

I know the two people I sat with usually sit with another girl, so at first I felt I was invading. I reveled in humiliation for the first ten or fifteen minutes of class but when we all turned inward to share the quotes we’d collected from this weeks book, I ignored the pounding of my heart and the flushing of my face and jumped over the first hurdle by saying one of the quotes I liked and explaining my idea behind it. It sparked a conversation between the three of us and the flushing got worse and the heart beat palpitated and I ignored it all because I was determined to make this night a success and dethrone my anxiety.

A little tiny piece of my personality shone tonight and that’s a huge accomplishment. They laughed with me and I could tell they were surprised I spoke more than five words and backed up my idea with concrete facts.

At the end of it all, I sat there in my chair and found myself thinking: It’s this easy? Are you fucking kidding me?

That’s right, I called talking with people EASY.

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I don’t know what’s sparked this confidence. I’ve been reading so much about my native ancestor’s culture, I’ve been learning more about who I am, and I’ve been so amazed at how all the native traditional ideas  I’ve been learning in this class were things I was taught as a child from my father that my father probably never knew were native traditions. They were always loose ideas, general rules for life I was taught, and I’m certainly not like the natives on the reservation, but I identify more with this culture than I do the others in my family lineage.

Coming to these realizations, identifying with a people who base themselves on community and giving myself a reason for my social anxieties other than “family troubles” or “genes” or “chemical imbalance”, and realizing that I can heal has given me this confidence, I think. I didn’t even have that much trouble forming the words in my brain as I usually do. They just came and I said them and I stumbled a bit at the beginning, but once I got going I couldn’t stop.

o-success-facebookThis is the first step of a very, very long healing process. I told you all at the beginning of this semester that this class was going to change my life and I wasn’t lying. It has. Tremendously. It’s reminded me of myself and my spirit. I thought I lost them in the hustle and bustle of puberty and homelessness, and addiction, and the transfer into adult life and the depression, but I didn’t. They’ve been with me this whole time, just hidden, covered, blanketed.

I remember watching documentaries on “gifted” children as a teenager. I was always amazed at these toddlers doing calculus and growing into teenagers who graduated college and worked in laboratories and were sensations in their scientific and professional communities. And I followed some of them into their young adult life and I wondered why, if they had such a large “IQ” and so many opportunities, why they didn’t tackle politics. Why they didn’t tackle government or worldly affairs. Why they huddled in isolated in labs in a corner of the earth.

I don’t think it’s because they realized tackling the world was too arduous of a task. There are many ways you can effect the world without being some magic savior.

I wondered all this because many claimed their gifted children sat in front of the news and cried over wars and poverty and all the sad things in life. They’d cry for hours. The documentaries had specialists claim that feelings for the whole of humanity were indicative of spectacular genius.

Is that another way to separate a love for humanity from the average population? As a child I was always sensitive to such things. I didn’t cry over these events because I was sad for the world, I didn’t cry because I should be sad for the world, I didn’t cry because of the horrors, I cried because I could feel the pain of those people. Not in a shallow way, not in the way we feel pain for others everyday. Not the way you sympathize with someone when they fall and break their leg and you recognize that hurt. No, this was a special way. This was a spirit to spirit, human to human connection, I knew this at age 5. If I told the average psychologist growing up that I was feeling others pain through the television, that I was connected to those people in a way they didn’t understand, they’d get wary of my mental state.

WATCH OUT, IT’S ATTENUATED PSYCHOSIS SYNDROME, QUICK A MILLION MILLIGRAMS OF THORAZINE, STAT! GO, GO, GO!!!

Doctors Running down Hallway

Anyway, my professor and guest speakers often speak on this type of feeling and that’s how I learned I wasn’t alone.

In this way I am different from the people around me. I say it’s different because when I feel these things I don’t ever forget. I don’t move on with my life and forget. I don’t set out an annual day to take a moment and remember and “respect” what happened; I’m always aware of them. I’m always aware of the grief others feel because I feel it beside them. I believe it disrespect to think you can take horrible events, traumatic events, set a day aside or a moment in time to mourn them, then go on with your life like nothing ever happened. That’s not recovery; that’s the shallowest form of sympathy.

To me that’s barbaric. You learn to carry those horrible events with you and you remember them because in remembering them, you remember yourself. Those events that happen around you, that happen to you, are apart of you and your community and this giant spinning ball we all inhabit. If you act like they don’t happen then you’re ignoring part of yourself.

I choose not to ignore the pain in my life or the pain of my ancestors. I’m not going to “let it go”. I’m going to learn to carry it properly and I’m never going to forget what it’s taught me.

No wonder we can absentmindedly start wars and absentmindedly put ads 2-army-strong-adon television for you to join an army that fights for a purpose it doesn’t even understand.

Don’t be blind. If you can’t see with your eyes, feel with your spirit. It never lies. Your eyes can deceive you; they only see what people want them to see. With what I’ve experienced, your spirit is connected to the Earth and the universe, two things humans will never be able to manipulate as well as they do Google Ad Sense.

Do I sound like a loon to you? To some of you I might. And that’s okay. Just remember that science and math and western philosophy and all that fancy stuff has spent the last few hundred years proving native beliefs right. We’re all in the same boat here, we just have different grasps on the same concepts.

Some sooner than others.

Sorry math/science geeks. I’m one of you as well, but I can’t deny the facts. You were all a little late.

But anyway, while you’re reading about the latest Celebrity Botox and Butt-Lift and watching the latest music video of Taylor Swift singing about some dude no one gives a shit about, or video of rappers telling you to fuck bitches and get money, take a little moment out of your day to think about this:

One in three native women are raped on reservations today.

Ninety three percent of those abusers are non-native.

There’s a court case underway right now that you know nothing about because Nicki Minaj’s ass is blocking your vision. You want the full explanation, you can read it here.

But basically it goes like this: Dollar General is a chain on a Choctaw Reservation. Reservations are outside of federal court jurisdiction. People within Dollar General have been abusing workers. The story in that article is of a boy who, when he was thirteen, signed up to get work experience and ended up being sexually abused. His parents sued Dollar General in a tribal court because their son had been violated sexually by a grown man. Dollar General said fuck you, you can’t sent up a civil case against us for sexually abusing your son, we’re not part of this reservation, we’re within federal jurisdiction. Dollar General then took the family to federal court and sued the family for trying to sue Dollar General in a tribal court because their son was sexually assaulted several times by the store manager.

Why the emphasis you ask? Because a kid was sexually assaulted! And what does Dollar General care about? JURISDICTION.

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People there are afraid of the U.S court ruling in favor of the corporation (and they have historical evidence for reason to be afraid) and allowing any non-native operations inside the reservation to never be tried in a tribal court.

So if you want to commit a heinous crime, go work for a non-native corporation on a reservation and you’ll never see the walls of a prison in your life or the sting of a punishment on your wrist.

Or become a priest and snatch you some young boys.

People adore blindness. Nicki Minaj is much easier on the eyes than men of God dicking and breeding and bleeding innocent asses of young, crying, flailing, alter boys and corporate retail staff shoving their grimy, fat, sausage fingers into the virgin holes of little girls, don’t you think?

nicki-minaj-ass
Look At All The Pretty Glitter

 

So go ahead and forget what I just told you. It’s okay, it’ll be easier for you.

This class has not only given me a few tools to take away the power of my anxiety, but it’s helped me realize there’s a cause for my anxiety. It’s historical and generational and environmental and biological and genetic, it’s everything you want to call it. And I don’t want it to leave me. I want to embrace it and live with it side by side.

I’ve never complained over my depression or my anxiety or any other mental health issue. I’ve grieved over it and I’ve felt the pain and it’s sucked some royal ass, but I’ve never cursed it or wished it away because where the fuck would it go? Where am I supposed to wish it away to? It’s got no where to go. It’s part of me; am I going to rip myself in half and throw myself into the atmosphere?

What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do other than learn and live?

 

Cookies Will Take Down Corporate

I woke up this morning craving cookies so I got a bag of cookies.

Just stuffed 650 calories down my throat in five minutes. New record.

If I wasn’t already bouncing in my seat, now I’m super-ultra-mega bouncing in my seat.

Fuck yeah!

Went to Rite Aid this morning with my mother, grabbed a bag of cookies and hugged them as I followed her to the back counter where the pharmacist stood. He gave us one of my dad’s new blood pressure medications, but someone had scribbled on the prescription note that the insurance wouldn’t pay for the blood pressure cuff.

Hm.

So let’s analyze this: if it’s one thing I get when I’m full on energy and full on cookies is Anti-Establishment. And usually for good reason. Sometimes I just like poking fun at idiots.

He gets his prescriptions free because he has no income. Hm . . . no income . . . hmmmmmmm . . . so you don’t have to pay for the three hundred dollar pills, but you will need to pay for the one hundred dollar blood pressure monitor out of your 0$ salary.

I guess there’s really nothing to analyze there. I’ll just say . . . there’s a whole other level of stupidity insurance companies are on that there’s no point in ever trying to get to their level. You don’t want to catch their stupid. It’s like the flu. Well, more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I love that movie.

Anyway, I’m just going to go on Amazon and pay for it. I mean, really. Amazon is going to take over the world one day, if they haven’t already. If I were google, I’d be worried. Amazon is going to start selling google online. You’ll be getting pieces of google delivered to you by drones via two-day Amazon prime. You just wait.

You hear about the guy who got bricks of heroin delivered to the prison yard with a drone? Yep, it’s starting.

That being said, if you want to make some good money really, really fast, I’d say work as an advertiser for a pharmaceutical company. I guess they call them “investigators”.

See, Big Bar Mean Good Happen. Yeah.  Yes Drug=Good. No Drug=Bad.

If you join their advisory board and educate other doctors on some specific drug you could make 1,000-2,000 dollars per talk. Do two a week and you can move out your mom’s basement in a month.

Not to mention you get to go to resorts and get “trained” on how to promote the drug. They give you pre-made powerpoint slides so you don’t ever forget what to talk about. Not to mention you get paid for that as well.

I wonder what happens if you do forget. What if you mention some of the fucked up things about the medication. I bet they have snipers pointed at your forehead from a far and as soon as a word slips out your mouth they make sure no other word will ever again come from your mouth. Then they Men-In-Black the group of doctors in the room with a little silver memory flash thing and it’s like it never happened.

Now, if you’re struggling for grant money, join as an investigator and they’ll sponsor you so the government doesn’t have to. The only catch is that somewhere in your little research you better show their drug works and that the side effects are minimal.

You better.

Could you imagine the kind of hit-men those companies can hire? They’d find you even if you decided to live in a hole in the ground under area 51 with all the alien hostages. You’ll be eating some nice hot Gorbagalogan soup made by Sir FlippyFlop from Pluto and some big pharma jerk will come and blow your head off.

I’m sure Sir FlippyFlop would spit his acid saliva all over the hit-man’s face but who cares, you’re already dead, that won’t make a difference.

You’re better off just performing the TWO CLINICAL TRIALS the FDA requires you do to show the drug is more effective than a placebo. Just grab thirty people or so and, you know, make sure the new antidepressant stops them from killing themselves in the few weeks or so you observe them. That means it works. Legally, it works.

I agree with the M.D who wrote this article: Big Pharma sponsoring their own clinical trials for their own drug is more ignorant than chucking a fish at an oak tree and then shouting over it’s flopping body to climb up the trunk. These people are making BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. They aren’t going to stop just because one of their drugs show unsightly and possibly fatal side effects.

If you don’t have insurance and you go and try and pay for an anti-psychotic, I’m sure you’ll stagger from the price. Now just imagine a thousand of those being sold. A hundred thousand. A million. Think of that profit.

We all know the Paxil studies are being retracted right as you read this, we all know Risperdal has also been under fire for years, but if it’s happening to these two I’d say it’s fair to say it’ll happen to many others in the future.

Yes, I talk a lot of shit about these people because they deserve it. I have nothing against their medications, I have everything against them. If you’re a psych student and want to do a case study on Anti-Social Personality, start doing some research on corporate leaders, you’ll get everything you need. Their charismatic, charming, most often good looking (the young ones) but they won’t show remorse for the people’s lives they’ve screwed over, they won’t think about it either. Their goal will be selfish and they certainly won’t see a problem with it. You’ll swear up and down they’re one of the best people you’ve ever met in your life until you find out how many attempted murder charges they should have on their record.

It doesn’t have to be Big Pharma corporate leaders, pick any corporate leader! They’re all crazy! If the world is going to stigmatize anyone under the label “insane” it needs to be them, not the rest of us.

I’m not focusing on a lot of the good aspects of some companies because there’s no need to romanticize this shit. If you don’t like reading the truth then don’t read it.

It’s never the medication, it’s always the companies. I know when I talk so much shit about all of this people tend to feel attacked, as if I’m looking down at them for ingesting the little money making pills these companies shit out, but it really has nothing to do with the people who take them either. The people who take them are doing so for a reason; either they feel better taking them or their doctors believe they should, or it keeps them in contact with reality. And that’s a good thing.

Doesn’t mean people aren’t lied to about their effectiveness.

Doesn’t mean they don’t use medication withdrawal as an excuse to keep people on the medication. No shit you’re going to feel more depressed (the majority of the time) after you get off an anti-depressant. That doesn’t mean you need the medication to not be depressed. No shit you’re going to (the majority of the time) dive right back into psychosis after an Anti-psychotic. That has to do with your brain readjusting itself. (Doesn’t mean go off your medication, either. I’m just saying, it’s not a surprise these things happen).

Doesn’t mean doctors aren’t brainwashed into selling them. I don’t call them recommendations, I call them sales because that’s what has happened to this industry. Doctors are salesmen.

It doesn’t make any of this your fault. I don’t blame anyone who takes them. I blame the people who make them. I blame the researchers so desperate for grant money that they’re kissing the ass of these companies and putting out bullshit data. And I blame the companies for thinking they could get away with ruining people’s lives and never having to pay for it.

I could sue them for a billion dollars and win the case and not be satisfied. If I had enough power through the courts to expose one of them and utterly destroy their livelihood, I’d be high for months off my own self-satisfaction.

And you know what? I wouldn’t regret a thing.

And don’t give me that “oh, they have families too” bullshit.

Yeah, they also have 30 billion dollars. You won’t be seeing them in the welfare line any time soon.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the cookies talking.

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.

Suicide Awareness

I know it’s towards the end of the month and all, but honestly I’d feel like a complete douche if I didn’t make an attempt at a post about Suicide Awareness Month.

I find it ironic; September is a pretty depressing month with school starting and summer being over. I guess if you work in a tourist town, the ending of summer signifies less stress on you, but in my opinion September just sucks. It sucks. That should be a name of a band: September Sucks.

If someone uses that, I get a portion of your earnings, remember that. I will hunt you down, don’t think I wont. I’m fucking crazy.

On a more serious note, we’ve lost many people to suicide and a lot of families will forever hurt because of it. The good news is, suicide is highly preventable, it just takes patience, understanding, and the ability to recognize possible signs. There are classic signs–someone giving away valuable belongings, talking often about wanting to die even in a joking manner and especially if they’ve got a history of depression/depressive symptoms, withdrawing into isolation, or talking about being trapped in a situation without any sign of hope for the future–and then there are not so obvious signs. Those aren’t easy to spot because, well, they aren’t in your face. You’d have to be a trained professional for about thirty years to recognize them and even then you might not.

I don’t know how many of you are into “Let’s Play’s” on YouTube or whatever, but I learned of them through my boyfriend when we first started dating. He, his brother, and his sister watch a guy called Markiplier. I didn’t really get it at first, I mean it’s some dude playing a video game and making comments while he’s doing it. Couldn’t I just play the game for myself? But he was funny some times. I mean, I guess I was aware of PewDiePie, I remember when he started his channel, but I’d never watched him as obsessively as they watched this guy. Eventually I subscribed just because he entertained me sometimes, especially when I wasn’t feeling my best. I also didn’t know my subscription helps pay his salary.

I think as a subscriber I should get a portion of that money. I mean, it’s a lot of work searching the name on YouTube and having to put my aching hand on the mouse and click the button and . . . ugh, it’s so much work that I’d like a little compensation for my labor.

Anyway, I was shocked and devastated to find out last week one of the members of the group Cyndago that worked closely with Markiplier committed suicide. Last night before class I got a text from my boyfriend saying his uncle was contemplating suicide. So it’s all around us, every day, every hour, across the globe, and it hurts to think we’re losing so many to an invisible fight. I don’t think anyone has captured the depth depression plagues people’s souls better than this man on Facebook:

Alex Sunny Hur On Daniel Kyre of Cyndago: I’ve experienced suicide in my life and battle with major clinical depression personally, and have helped with many support groups over the years. Your burning question is “Why”. Why, when everything seems so great or promising in the individual’s life? Why, when they were loved? Why didn’t they feel happy, glad or grateful? Listen. Depression does not mean feeling sad all the time. 90% of the time, they feel nothing at all, a blank void where other emotions should be. The remaining 10%, the rough parts healthy people would brush off as inconsequential, are devastating to someone with depression. They have no buffers, no barriers to protect their soul from the day-to-day ills of life. It’s as if they have no immune system, so a common cold can be deadly. That’s what depression really is.

I also have brain cancer. When I die, it will be from cardiovascular failure or pulmonary failure or shock, but when people talk about it they will say the truth: I died of cancer. This young man, Daniel, did not die of suicide. Suicide by definition blames the victim. He died of depression, and don’t you forget it. There is your “why”. There is no greater truth. He had a physical disease, and though he battled it no doubt for years, he eventually succumbed, just like many cancer victims. Those who succumb are not at fault and are not to blame. They are not weak. There was no lack of love. After all, they’ve been fighting an invisible war all while smiling for you, and wanting to see you smile.

My heart goes out to all affected, most especially his friends and family who loved him. May you find strength and peace to your souls, and comfort envelop you like a warm quilt on a cold day.

He died of depression, and don’t you forget it.

A man with a terminal illness he knows will kill him, confirms that yes, those of us suffering through/with our mentality day after day are fighting for our lives just the same as those with Cancer are fighting for theirs. We’re all fighting together, there’s no need to stigmatize either fight.

It seems unless something horrible has happened, we don’t address how dangerous depression is. No one talks about it, we just shove you some drugs and say yo, you got this. Telling someone “they got this” when they’re gripping on the edge of a hundred foot cliff with their finger tips is not exactly helpful.

I won’t even get into the discussion of how much harder it is for men in western society to express their feelings against our psychotic requirements of masculinity. All I’ll say is admitting you need help is not a weakness in the eyes of reality like it is in the eyes of society, it’s a survival tactic.

I’ve spent half of my life battling depression demons . I’ve talked myself out of suicide multiple times because no one else would, and my first thoughts always go towards my parents, my boyfriend, his siblings, and even the people in my classes I never speak to. It’s a traumatizing experience to know the person you sat next to everyday just blew their brains all over the wall. I couldn’t knowingly induce that sense of guilt on anyone. In reality, it’s an issue I can’t think of one reason not to kill myself besides everyone else, and I know I need to learn to care more for myself, but right now it’s the only way I can think of keeping myself in this world. Sometimes that’s just enough.

Sometimes it’s helpful to contact crisis intervention services. If you have severe depression, and other disorders that cause this kind of thinking, and you also have social anxiety, try the chat websites and texting websites, I’ve used them more than once. If you’re not in the U.S, I’m sure google will have similar things in your country.

Learn to recognize the signs and be someone’s reason to live. Be your own reason to live. Every moment of eye contact is a moment you’ve made an impact on someone’s life and they’ve made an impact on yours. Remember, we’re all fighting this war for this odd thing we call life and your existence on this planet thus far is worth just as much as the rest of us. Not only are you loved, but you’re needed and wanted. We can’t fight this war without you.

And to all those who have lost the fight, they were not weak, they may have been the strongest out of us all. I don’t hear about even a thousandth of the people who commit suicide and yet I feel connected to them. I know their pain and I know how much courage it must have taken to lose every ounce of hope. They are our bothers and sisters and they died in the name of depression, hopelessness, active psychosis, and agony. And they will never be forgotten.

Yo, Let Me Hit That Apple Real Quick

I woke up this morning, sat at my desk, set my fingers on the proper keys, turned on my sub-woofer, blasted the playlist on my computer, and still couldn’t think of a clever opening line for this post.

I thought of talking about some fancy neuroscience articles on psychiatrists and neuro-scientists attempting to quantify consciousness and then blast them for thinking they could explain something as mystifying as consciousness in terms of man-made mathematical equations that, if you really want to get technical, still don’t explain consciousness itself. I’ll give them props for their Integrated Information Theory, but even that thought process kind of, well, falls short of explaining how we feel the information our brain integrates. They understand the biology, not the result, and that’s not very invigorating to me. If quantum particles can change their state and “teleport” information between each other than how can consciousness be as simple as integrated information? They have a lot of work to do if they think they can understand our perception of life to the degree they understand the transportation of a neurochemical. Which, judging by the psychotropic medication out today, there’s not a lot of understanding. So I guess we’ll never know.

Instead, I’d like to address a disturbing incident I witnessed last night.

I’d like to personally accuse the American public school systems, particularly in my area, of attempted murder. Yes, you read right, attempted murder.

Attempted murder of the human soul, spirit, and creativity. I don’t give a shit if I sound like some weed smoking, slap happy hippie.

Really, bro? 

The robots they’ve turned these college students into reminds me how lucky I am to have suffered Social Anxiety Disorder through elementary school. Being inside of your own head has its advantages.

As some of you know, I’m taking a Native American Literature class, one of the most tranquil courses I’ve taken thus far in my college career. What you may not know is that I’m a very spiritual person. Not religious by any means, but spiritual yes. I enjoy the connections humans share with other humans, animals, seasons, the self, and nature in general. After all, we are all made up of the same material if you want to look at this at a micro-level. If I could embrace it as much as I’d like, I probably wouldn’t have this rampant anger management issue.

I don’t know as much about my own Cherokee ancestral history as I should, but I know every time I walk into that class there’s an aura about it that serves as a pungent reminder this class will be forever life changing.

We just finished a memoir entitled “The Morning The Sun Went Down” by Darryl Babe Wilson, an extraordinary autobiography of a man of the Achumawi and Atusgew tribes from Northern California. When abrupt tragedy strikes, Darryl experiences the reality of how desecrated and disrespected his people have been by the ever expanding American government.

Wilson possesses an extraordinary talent for describing feelings and incidents in relation to nature, as most natives are, and I felt honored in having read this summary of the first part of his life. His words don’t need analysis to be appreciated. They don’t need to have some crazy symbolism and motif attached to them to make them have substance.

I can’t blame these students for not understanding that, but they better learn quickly. In this class we don’t receive grades on any of our work and when we read texts we are supposed to write the responses in terms of how the text made us feel whilst simultaneously providing an analysis without trivializing or being a kiss-ass. When we had a discussion in class last night, hand after hand raised and mouth after mouth made my ears bleed.

I say this because what most of them said was the result of a very one-track mindset, a program. And that mindset is “I’m in a Native American class, so I should talk really good about the Native Americans and bash the Christians in the book that made the Native guy feel bad.”

I’m not a Christian. Or a Catholic. I’m more inclined to read science fiction than The Bible and in all honesty I can’t stand science fiction most of the time. The problem with these students is that they contrast and compare everything. That’s a mindset we learn early in school. Analyze this side, analyze that side, state the facts, and who gives a shit how you feel about it. It’s easy for a kid to realize if you argue with the side that has the most positive points, you’ll get an easy A and you’ll sound so smart.

More like intellectually stunted.

Why not just accept what that particular group of Christians did to that particular group of natives, understand how that relates to the underlying feeling of inadequacy and self loathing in natives today, bask in how that makes you feel, and put some thought into it? Why do we have to spend time in discussion labeling all Christians as murdering freaks and why do we have to spend time labeling natives as victims? State facts without judging who is in the wrong and who is in the right because wrong and right is very subjective. Natives were a victim of settlers, yes. Does that make the settlers horrible human beings? I don’t know, I can only judge of their past actions and I don’t think actions are an entire representation of the self.

That being said, I also call this compare and contrast/over analytical mindset the kiss-ass syndrome. That’s what they were doing last night, kissing the professors ass to make it sound like they actually understand the depths of sorrow in these people’s hearts. But none of their words held any substance or feeling and one guy spoke for five minutes straight. He spoke empty words. I almost fell asleep.

There’s a time for analysis and there’s a time for simple appreciation; they can be combined, cleverly, but they’re not the same.

For this I love my anxiety disorders. These students may be amazing at socializing and vocalizing, but they have no sense of self and no sense of how to relate the outside world to their self. They can only relate to each other, and on a shockingly shallow level. I’ve spent so many years inside of my head that I’m in the head of each emotion I’ve ever felt. #Headception. It’s why I can write a paper consisting of analysis of thought and understanding of feeling on a personal and external level, and have the professor thank me twice for writing the paper I did.

You know you did well when the professor thanks you for your work.

I’ve only spoken in class maybe a hundred times from Pre-School to College, so my thoughts and answers never got shot down by teachers. I was never molded, not to the extent these students have been.

I don’t want to make it sound like these students are horrible students, I think many of them are brilliant. I just don’t think they know how brilliant, yet. I don’t think they were ever allowed to exercise that brilliance.

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.