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

A Day In The Life Of A Not-So-Normal Alien

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I have never spent longer looking for a bag in my life.

Never.

Today I stalled. I stalled because the anxiety is still there sitting its skinny ass near my nerves and having a nice nibble on them. I knew I needed to get a medium sized gift bag and I knew in order to do that I must step into the human’s world.

Humans are weird. They’re frantic and very inconsiderate of personal space. I’m sure glad I’m not one.

Their arms are flimsy too. And their faces are stupid. But all of that is beside the point.

My cover to go into Rite Aid and look for one is that I’m really going to look for facial products. There are a lot of people in line, I peeked through the doors before I entered, so I ignored the entire front of the room to avoid their eerie human stares (I heard they can turn our brains into mush if we make direct eye contact) and headed straight for the face 41mzhy5jz5l-_sl500_aa280_-jpgproducts. Of course, everything on the shelves of chain drug stores have millions of human chemicals in them, so I had no real interest in them. I got some Tea Tree oil.

You see, rather than spend forty five dollars on a “mostly natural” moisturizer for my alien facial skin that reacts very badly to man-made chemicals, I harvest Aloe Vera Leaves with a special alien utensil humans would call a “knife”, squeeze the inner goop out, drop a bit of Tea Tree oil in it, mix it all together, and refrigerate it into a gel. Scar treatment/Moisturizer for under ten human dollars. I’m a clever little alien.

Rite Aid had no gift bags. So at risk of looking like a not-so-clever little alien, or a thieving alien (I have not-so-light alien skin so you know what that means), I also bought some Honest tea.

The humans walk around with their physical head on their shoulders, but their mental head up their ass. Deep, deep up their ass. So deep, they very well may break their neck in the process of lodging it up there. They take a flashlight with them and lose it on the way because the flashlight comes to its senses and gets the hell out of there. They enjoy being up their ass too, because they never willingly come out.

A side effect is blindness. Total blindness. They stand centimeters from your body and think it’s okay to breathe in your ear . . . which honestly is an achievement given the fact their head is lodged in their small intestine now that I think about it.

I went into a store called Palace Arts. Their gift bags were about as attractive as the inside of someone’s ass.

I went to good old trusty Walgreens and avoided the acid stares of humans in line yet again. Their gift bags were nice. I grabbed one and some decorative tissue paper. And an ice cream cone.

Humans may have their heads up their asses but somehow they still manage to make some decent icy treats.

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It’s making me think twice about getting the chocolate flavor, though.

I sat in my car hoping for a moment of peace. It had been an hour already. An hour of bobbing and weaving between frantic husbands and boyfriends shopping last minute for the perfect decorations and bags of candy. Everyone seemed like they wanted to touch me today, like they wanted to be close and personal and loud, like they wanted to see me drop everything and rush from the store or crouch to the tile and cover my hands over my ears like an overwhelmed Autistic child.

Honestly, those children have the right idea. What else are you going to do? Sit there and let the noise bother you? I’d rather cover my ears too.

Everything was loud. The mothers screaming at their children were loud. The children screaming at their mothers were loud. The employees were loud, the customers were loud, the floor was loud, the packages on the shelves were loud, the hair products were loud (and sassy girlfriend), the candy was loud, even the gift bag I was holding was red and loud and I felt like it attracted more acid stares.

Anyway, I always park my car beside the green Hybrid car charging station reserved spot no one ever uses because  it’s right by the door and who the fuck wants to charge their hybrid at Walgreens?

Some motherfucker, that’s who. 

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No, he didn’t even charge his huge ass Toyota 4Runner-looking partial Hybrid S.U.V. He just parked there for the privilege.

The worst part is I didn’t even hear him park next to me.

I just glanced over and flinched in my seat at the gray wall with windows that had appeared beside me.

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News flash, ass-hat; there are seven other parking spots right by the door. You have no damn privilege. Fuck your hybrid.

Love you, Tesla. 

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I Wouldn’t Mind THIS Parked Next To Me. Tesla Is Love; Tesla Is Life

Then another wall appeared beside me. This one I heard. It was twice the size of the ass-hat hybrid and they could spear their acid stares through my passenger window and into my private (messy) den without my permission. The man’s wife stayed in the car and kept staring at me. She should have put her head back in her ass.

So I left. I left with my red gift bag shouting at me all the way home.

I was very overstimulated today. But I survived.

I’d like to switch lives with someone without anxiety, just to see what they say life is supposed to feel like. The funny thing is, I’m 110% sure I’d ask for my anxiety back after a couple hours.

I’m very easily bored. 

 

 

My Best Friend, Anxiety

Something otherworldy has bombarded my system.

Something sinister and evil, disguised as a saint with golden tipped wings and the voice of a thousand Adele’s. When he flares, I shudder, and when I smother him with blankets he burns red hot. When I move he shakes the earth beneath my intestines and a bubble of bile reaches the tip of my esophagus before flowing back down into hell, taking all the moisture in my mouth with it.

In other words, I’m never eating Jack In The Box again.

My boyfriend and I decided to . . .

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This is the next day. At the end of that ellipse I had paused. I paused and I slammed the chromebook down and I announced I was having a panic attack: one of the big ones. It came out of no where. I did what I always do: I start breathing slowly and wandering outside in my white and pink pajama pants, an exercise shirt, and a silver Raiders jacket. I try to talk myself through the reasons why I would be panicking.

  1. I’ve been stressed for the past two and a half weeks, non-stop, and haven’t done anything as a way of lowering that stress.
  2. I got food poisoning or something from the deep fried tacos the other night and awoke nauseated and with a slight fever. Knowing my heath anxiety, I made it out to be more than it was.
  3. I’m extremely dehydrated.

No matter how much I walked or breathed my heart rate would not fall and I felt the tingling in the tips of my fingers and the world distancing itself from me. I’ve been here too many times before and I know my limits.

1ef6c5e253aef0d264de3c803f213d35So I went to the hospital. They gave me two ativan and waited for my heart rate to go down. It decreased a little. My blood pressure went back down to normal.

But I’m still stressed. My heart rate is still high this afternoon, I can feel it and I can catch senses of small palpitations; drugs can only do so much. I got a prescription for 6 more ativan and I may take one or two later today.

I haven’t eaten in over 24 hours, which also probably contributes.

My fever seems to have gone away. I never got to finish telling you all: my boyfriend and I went to jack in the box and after eating one of their munchie meals I woke up with nausea and fever and chills.

When I got home from the hospital, I passed out. I woke up at 10 p.m still in an ativan haze and drank some water and puked it up. I’ve been drinking water for the last hour and a half and it’s staying down. I’m also going to try and eat some fruit and some crackers and somehow make it through math this morning.

I know there’s still too much built up cortisol in my system. So I’m trying not to sleep. I’m trying to move throughout the day as much as I can; it’s the only way this rate is going to decrease.

I went into math a half an hour late and basically let my hand record all of the notes and I disconnected from the world and slept.

emergencyThe thing I don’t like about going into an emergency room for something like a panic attack is the lack of service. Last time I went in I said I was having trouble breathing, and instantly they took me in the back and set me up in a bed and did an EKG. Then intravenously gave me ativan.

This time the nurse took forever to even see me, even though I was walking around the hospital floor slapping my hands on my thighs and talking to myself and struggling to breathe through the constriction of my throat, my blood rushing, and my finger tips tingling. We went into a different waiting room where a doctor came in and asked me what was going on. I said I was pretty sure I was having a panic attack. He asked me, in the most condescending voice possible, “who usually takes care of these panic attacks?”

I glared and said I do.

He said “Well it doesn’t look like that’s working, does it?”

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He asked if I had anyone to help me with this. I told him I have a psychologist. He asked “well hmm are you going to tell them about this”

I said yes.

He said “smart choice.”

I said no shit.

He got me an ativan. We waited thirty minutes and they took my heart rate and blood pressure, both of which were a little high, but not horrible, not like the last time.

They gave me a second Ativan and continuously asked me if I was doing Meth. No, I’m not doing meth, I”m a very stressed out college student with a slew of mental health issues and a build up of cortisol. Give me a break.

The second ativan lowered my blood pressure but my heart rate was a little high. They released me upon the belief it was just the anxiety. And I agree. It’s always my anxiety. I run, I work out, and I’ve never had a heart palpitation or a speeding heart rate beside when I’m anxious.

That condescending doctor was an asshole. He spoke to me like I was a baby. It wasn’t so much of his words, but more of his tone of voice, as if I were wasting his time because I can’t take care of myself.

That’s why I wish they handled panic attacks at the behavioral health place down the street, where all the 5150’s are sent to now. At least they’d have a little bit better understanding of what it means when you’re having a panic attack.

I’m thankful I do not get pain when I have a panic attack. My throat constricts and I start hyperventilating and I get the tingling in my finger tips, but I’ve never got Chest pain and that I am extremely thankful for. Or else I’d really, truly believe I’m dying.

Regardless, when this new insurance kicks in, I’m going to get a full physical. The fact that this anxiety makes me feel like I’m sick and dying when I’m not makes me want to confirm with real tests that I’m not. I want them to tell me my heart is health and my lungs are healthy and my entire body is healthy, so when I start freaking out I can repeat that mantra in my head : I’m healthy, I’m healthy, I’m healthy.

Anxiety is a bitch.

 

A Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed

There was one person in class tonight who didn’t talk.

. . .

. .

.

And it WASN’T ME, BITCHES!

I was pretty much forced to, but whatever, I did it and this time I had stuff written down and I probably still sounded ridiculous and you know what? I’m done caring how I sounded. The main focus is that I did it, I spoke, I gave my opinion, I did an analysis in words (partially) and even though I left out half of the analysis, I did something.

That’s an accomplishment for someone who rarely ever does so.

Even after I said my piece and the professor picked up another part of the story and said a few words that I didn’t cover, I kept thinking I was wrong in what I said just because he said something else about a different half of the story. That’s bad habit, you see? People think that’s their anxiety–it’s a result of being hyper-aware and anxious, yes, but it’s a bad habit. And bad habits can be broken with good habits. These are good things to recognize. Once I realized it, I kept telling myself in my head that yo, just because he also found something else in the story doesn’t mean you’re wrong and doesn’t mean you should be embarrassed that you didn’t say every little detail in the book. I mean, hell, I don’t even remember what I said: my memory is that blank when I’m talking in front of people. Basically my words have less than a tenth of a millisecond to form and get out of my mouth or else anxiety pounces on them and they never escape. So I talk fast and about whatever the fuck until I feel my mouth is dry enough to stop. Don’t know what I said, don’t know if it made sense, don’t know how many times I repeated myself; whatever. I talked, didn’t I? One step at a time, what do you people want from me?

Do you want me to talk or do you want me to analyze? Choose one, damnit.

So tonight was a major success. I’ve been worried about it since last week when I learned we’d be doing a Socratic seminar.

The reason I hated the ones in high school was because they gave each of us two note cards and said you were only allowed to talk twice. Each time you spoke, you had to toss a card in the middle of the circle and once both of your cards were in the circle, you were out. It was a way to try and force people into talking. Did I ever talk? Nope, not once. Another big middle finger to people who think quietness and introvertedness is a bad thing. It’s not. Fuck you.

Even this spellcheck thinks introvertedness means “disinterestedness”. I get “introvertedness” isn’t a word, but an introvert isn’t someone disinterested in things, it’s someone who is focused in their head and thinks quite a lot, perhaps better and longer than people who can’t seem to ever shut their fucking mouth.

So many anxiety plays a major part in my life and I think to an extent it always will. But I’m learning a lot. I’m learning I am the master, not he. Like I’ve mentioned in a past post: don’t play the victim card. I could blame every issue in my life on my mental health and I could blame all of my mental health on my past, and I could get away with it too, and people would feel sympathetic and look upon me with pity.They’d also probably get pretty annoyed. But I don’t want their pity and I don’t want their scrutiny. I want them to see how hard I have to fight  so they can see the struggle that exists. Once they see the struggle for what it is, terms like “lazy” won’t ever again describe a depressive disorder and people won’t confuse “shy” with social anxiety disorder.

The physical symptoms piss me off sometimes though. I get an insatiable urge to yawn. Does anyone else, or am I cast alone on a banana leaf raft in a raging ocean with that? I just keep yawning and yawning . . . people probably think wow, does she not sleep? Is she bored? Or I’ll get some weird air bubbles trapped in my throat muscles (I’m assuming because they spasm so much) and they kind of ricochet off my windpipe and make some weird internal gurgling noise, like your stomach is rumbling . . . but in your throat. Then I get the customary shakes, although they come off more like violent, brief Tourettes-type twitches. My face flushes, but not as often as it used too, and I break out in a cold sweat. It’s all a nasty experience that quits instantaneously once I’ve bypassed the anxious situation.

That level of heightened awareness is what causes my memory lapses. It’s surging through my brain and surging through my body and sometimes I feel like I can’t control it. You know, the common “your amygdala gets hijacked” sensation.

Everyone feels like they can’t control it but you know, like I said, honesty is the best policy and if you tell yourself that every day than you’ve been lying to yourself, my friend. There will always be ways for you to control your body. Even people with neurological disorders who learn coping mechanisms that ease their tension, their anxiety, and their stress gain better control over their disorders.

Don’t ever lie to yourself because you’ll start believing it.

I’ve been lying to myself before I even knew what lying meant.

Now I have to learn how not to lie.

I know that I read facial expressions differently than people. Hell, I thought an axe murderer was following me on his bike in the woods: it’s an understatement to say I exaggerate things. But I do. I exaggerate people and I exaggerate faces. I always see them negatively. I’ve known this for awhile now and I tend not to believe everything I see. If my brain tells me “that person is giving you a dirty look, they hate you”, well then I’m more inclined to believe it’s the opposite.

Maybe they are giving me a dirty look. But the point here is not everyone is. And that’s what I fail to see.

Not everyone has a sarcastic or disapproving tone in their voice, not everyone thinks what I say is stupid. And if my brain tells me that, well then liar, liar pants on fire, shut the fuck up; you’re not my sire.

Like my Rhyme? Yeah I made that shit up. *Brushes off shoulders*

And it’s not my sire, it’s not my king; my thoughts are independent of how my brain makes me feel. That’s one of the most important lesson I’ve learned so far in my short life. Once you can separate who you are and what you want from that evil thing that wants your soul for hire, than you’re on the right path. No one’s going to give you your life back, no one’s going to give you happiness, and a pill sure as hell ain’t going to do it, not to the extent you want it to. Take responsibility for who you are and what you think and admit that you have a problem.

Don’t admit that you’re helpless, admit that you have a problem.

Two very different things.

As for now, here’s a picture I took of a candle flame.

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You Are The Light In The Darkness Of Your Own Mind

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.

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.