To You And To Me

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It’s 2016.

How many New Year Resolution posts will there be? I’m predicting 38,298,438,247 of them. 

Yes, I just pressed random numbers. Sue me.

I rarely do resolutions because I’m always reinventing plans as the year goes on. If I made a goal right now, chances are tomorrow I’m going to tweak it into something more manageable until it gets to the point where the original goal has been obliterated.

I will say the best thing 2015 brought me was this blog. It’s shed a lot of light on myself for myself and I’ve made connections with people who experience similar things to me–that’s a first. I’ve never had anyone be able to say “I understand” and actually mean it. So thank you to all of those people. You’ve been good to me and even though I may never know you in person, or ever talk to you again in my life, I’ll be eternally grateful. In just these last six months you’ve all helped me learn to accept my weirdness as a strength, as part of me, rather than an external weakness in need of evisceration.

And of course, thank you to all the people who just read and/or press the like button. I can’t forget about all of you, either. It’s nice knowing someone somewhere gains something from what I write, whether it’s “wow, I never thought of it that way” or  “that shit was hilarious” or “what the fuck is she on?” or “that was a waste of time” or “hey, I can relate to her!“. Haters are welcome, lovers are welcome, and everyone who may have trouble processing emotions are welcome.

Haters are especially welcome. In fact, there’s a V.I.P section for you right over here. Right by the edge of that cliff, right there.

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I’m just playin’. Ya’ll know I play.

Ya’ll know.

This blog grew pretty rapidly, much more rapidly than I predicted, but honestly I don’t care about numbers. I think this era has ushered in an incredible way to communicate and reach out to others. Our computer screens and phone screens may be taxing our eyes, and the internet might be ruining our attention span but it’s almost worth it. I . . . I think?

Anyway, I have another Thank You. Screw talking about myself, I just did that in a different post. Thanks to everyone who comes on here and shares their experiences with me and the rest of the web. It takes courage to put out a part of you that you might not let others see very often, even when it’s just through a webpage. But it connects us all, it heals us all, and if you come from a place where negativity has always been a ruling factor in your life like I have, it shows us there are people who have come from that same place and made a positive out of it. It requires you have an open mind and are willing to listen to others opinions. That’s a great trait to develop if you haven’t already. I’m still working on mine. This blog has helped with that tremendously.

One of the thoughts that ran through my mind when I created this blog was if I want to work in the psychology industry later on down the line, I better understand people’s opinions of it from the outside. Real opinions, not textbook opinions. I better see people have had better experiences than me in the industry, and worst experiences than me in the industry. I wanted other’s opinions on what they have to live with, how they do it, and how they interpret their lives. I wanted to know if the term “mental illness” bogged people down, cut into their self-esteem.

I quickly learned with some people it does. It really, really does. 

'You're not alone...most worthless losers like you have low self-esteem.'

I learned some people prefer the term “disorder.”

Some people take “chemical imbalance” really seriously. Others see it from a psychological perspective rather than a biological one.

I also learned some people don’t give two shits about labels. I learned both of those opinions and feelings are valid and that in order to really understand the thoughts of others I have to place my opinion on the back-burner and just listen.

I learned some people feel they need medication. Some people feel they don’t. Some people were mistreated in hospitals, others are thankful that it saved their lives.

b16a7e86-142c-401a-abf3-d80126d082c1I learned some people feel intimidated by their doctors and their psychiatrists. I learned some people fall prey to believing because they’re doctors they have some inhuman ability to know exactly what’s right for you.

I learned some people can’t stand their doctors and argue with them all the time.

I learned these blogs are something I wished psychology professionals–particularly psychiatrists–skimmed through occasionally, especially if they’d never dealt with psychological problems within themselves. I wish they took the time to see how much suffering is actually there. It might make them more empathetic and understanding towards their own clients.

I learned there’s a lot of humanity empty from the industry compared to what I see people pour out of their hearts into these websites. 

Anyone ever download the NAMI AIR app? It was a prototype and a clusterfuck. If you weren’t aware, “anti-psych” people talk a lot of shit about NAMI because of their affiliation with pharmaceutical companies. But the app was for chatting and getting immediate advice from your peers. It might still be in the app stores, I don’t know. I just thought I’d mention it because it’s another way to connect with people who go through the same things we do.

So I learned a lot these last six months and that’s the best thing about collaboration, right? You learn things. You develop a new understanding for your life and others lives and that’s invaluable.

'I have no idea what you are saying.'That being said, I’ll probably make a few changes to this website. I feel like I’ve been drifting lately from my original goal of creating a place to both vent and provide information. It’s been a clusterfuck of rambles, rants, and weird shit.

I like the word clusterfuck, can you tell? That’s a good song by Tech N9ne, in case anyone was wondering. You probably weren’t. But whatever.

*MentalTruths: Giving You Unnecessary Factoids Since 2015*

You see what I’m talking about? My attention span man, it’s fucking terrible.

Anyway, changes . . . changes . . .

I read a lot of psychology articles and books and personal accounts and I love bringing them to people who may not follow them. I’ll probably have a separate page for the more informative-type posts. Because I want to bring them back, they’re important. I’ll always provide original sources in case you don’t want my sarcastic touch on the summaries. But these types of things are important for me and for you; how do you expect to be in charge of your recovery if you’re not educated at least a tiny bit about it? About the industry? About the types of therapy there are? About the different types of services you can receive? Sure you can google it yourself, but why not just skim past my blog and get a laugh at it while you do it?

tumblr_inline_nynt1qivqm1slrtzn_500I can’t market myself.

 

I . . .

 

I’m . . .

I’m horrible at that. Just read the shit.

Shit.

I’ll probably add some photography, too. Because why have only one subject? That’s boring. I have to spice it up a bit. Pictures are nice to look at and maybe they’ll make one gloomy person crack a bit of a smile.

I don’t know. Half of this blog is for me, half of it is for you, and that’s just how I run my life.

I try to live for others as much as I live for myself. I’m part of the world, after all.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope through the struggles you encounter this year that you learn from them as much as you suffer from them. That’s the only way the pain will be worthwhile. There’s a lesson in everything. You just have to find it.

Life isn’t a fucking college classroom, okay? There ain’t no professor, there ain’t no “look at the board, students, this is why I’m making you solve those hard ass problems” kind of teacher with a lesson plan waiting to show you the step-by-step ropes to life in a three month long course.

How boring would that be, anyway?

Put The Executive In Charge

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I won’t say that today has changed my perspective on holidays.

But I will say I enjoyed wrapping gifts and buying last minute ones. Wrapping paper on boxes requires a certain level of logical, structural thinking, kind of like building houses out of legos, and I think that’s what makes me enjoy it so much. It’s something concrete to do with my hands that makes me focus.

Then again, I see patterns in everything.

Here’s a tip: If you’re ever panicking or in the middle of a panic attack or anxiety attack, whip out the old math book and get to doing some problems. Works every time.

If you know a little bit about psychology, it makes sense.

If you don’t, this is how I developed this little trick:

When you’re panicking or you have high anxiety, where are your thoughts focused? What’s hijacked the entirety of your brain and body? Your amygdala, right? That old bean shaped geezer in the middle of your brain that you’ve had since your chimp-like ancestors birthed into existence.

We’re all monkeys. I don’t care if chimps aren’t monkeys or apes aren’t monkeys, they’re chimp-monkeys and ape-monkeys to me. They’re monkeys. Get out of here, anthropologists, I’ll believe what I want! Viva La Free Thought About Monkeys!!!!

My favorite are the Bonobos. Google them and you’ll know why.

Anyway, it takes control of your frontal lobe and therefore your rationality and suddenly your arms are going numb and your having a heart attack and you know you’re going to die so you just wait with your pulse throbbing behind your eyes for death to sneak up behind your back and crack his scythe against the back of your skull.

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Or He’s A Mouse

Did you know death played dirty like that? Everyone assumes he’s a skeleton but he’s really a pudgy middle aged, uni-sex being with soft skin and a nervous giggle. He never actually slices anyone’s soul out with that thing, he just sharpens it to be intimidating. He actually has a lot of social anxiety and hates meeting people face to face, especially when he has to, you know, take their life, so he wears black to blend into the shadows and bangs you on the back of the head. Why do you think people rarely see him coming?

Your frontal lobe is the executive. It’s the man–or woman–in the blueAfrican American Businesswoman Sitting On Office Chair - Isolate suit with his arms folded and a computer chip installed in his eye so he can make calculations near the speed of light or . . . or whatever. I don’t know. The dude–or chick–just makes decisions for you, alright? It’s good at judgement and problem solving and it’s supposedly highly evolved although . . . I don’t think many people use it to its full potential. I mean, if we are than . . . than shit.

I guess if you compare it to monkeys it’s highly evolved.

Although monkeys are some smart little bastards. So are dolphins. I’m pretty sure dolphins are smarter than us.

I was talking about the amygdala.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

21578Anyone ever try that “Cram” brain supplement they sell in natural food stores? It’s supposed to help you focus and “Cram” for finals. I saw them in an aisle once and grew perturbed. I’m pretty sure it’s either a stimulant prescription drug crushed up into little crystals you’re supposed to dissolve in water and definitely not snort, or it’s straight up crack cocaine that you are definitely supposed to snort.

I’ll probably become a victim of it in Medical school. I’m pretty sure all my peers will too. People be selling Ritalin left and right up in those joints.

Let me go to medical school to learn how to save lives while simultaneously putting a substance in my body that probably isn’t very good for me just so I can get an A on this test because that’s the kind of smarts that got me into Harvard Med.

Oops, did I say smarts? I meant thousands upon thousands of dollars for donation and a long history of family attendance.

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THE AMYGDALA.

I apologize. I talk to myself all the time and I’m starting to wonder if the conversations I have are completely incoherent.

The amygdala is your worst friend–so far. So far, according to biased research. So, you know, take it with a grain of salt here. It could be your best friend and we just don’t know it yet. It could kill you maybe, somehow, what the hell do we know?

But from what we know, yes, it has a lot to do with anxiety in an evolutionary standpoint and a current standpoint. So what do you need to do when it takes over?

article-2117722-0cf4a92000000578-69_468x399Think of it as a screaming toddler. You don’t curl on the floor and let the toddler scream at you. You don’t give up and let the toddler run your house. Some days you might be tired and be a little more lenient when the toddler screams but you know you can’t condition yourself to let the toddler do what it wants. It’s YOUR toddler.

You’re not going to stuff pill after pill into your toddler until it’s woozy and sick and puking in the bathroom and expect the magic pills to do all the work, are you?

No, you gain some control over the toddler. You enlist the executive for some help.

How do you enlist the executive? Why, simple math of course! Tasks,normal_angel_doing_math structural things, things that make your hands work. Take apart an electronic and put it back together. Do some algebra or trig or maybe first semester calculus. Something that doesn’t tax your entire brain, but makes you focus a little.

That’s putting the executive back in charge.

So you’re not punishing the toddler. You’re not fighting the toddler. You’re not screaming back at the toddler or physically subduing the toddler. You’re just showing the toddler that you’re not going to feed into it’s tantrum.

It’s a coping mechanism. One that doesn’t involve substances or physical pain or mental pain (unless you really, really hate math in which case, uh, stick to building legos or something, drawing patterns, taking things apart) or a meltdown. Once your executive is in charge you stop crying and your heart rate slows and you realize . . . what the fuck is going on?

And then you have clearer vision.  And then maybe you identify what caused the anxiety. Maybe you see nothing caused it. Maybe you see something large caused it. But you rationalize your reaction wasn’t right. Does it cure your anxiety? No. But it’s better than being up all night rocking yourself to sleep in a pool of your own tears or stumbling into the emergency room just so they can shoot some Ativan into your veins and send you home.

Don’t be a victim–there’s no need to be.

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Rely more so on yourself to control your life than something outside of yourself. Use all your resources. Use medication, use therapy, use coping mechanisms, use family and friends, use supportive programs, use blogging, use books, use art, use them all and use them well.

DO NOT use only one of them and expect your life to change. Do not use one of them and sit on your bed and cry about how horrible your life is. That’s being a victim. If you don’t put your all into your recovery what makes you think you’re going to recover? Magic? This weird, infectious idea that there are quick fixes for everything? What world do you live in? Obviously not planet earth.

That’s like giving you a computer monitor with no desktop and saying here, Photoshop my photos please.

That’s like expecting life on earth to proliferate with only an atmosphere of oxygen. No spinning rock, no O-Zone, no nothing, just . . . just oxygen.

You think your brain only uses one neurotransmitter to do all the amazing things it does for you?

Do you see how effected people are when they have a stroke and their left size is incapacitated?

By choosing one method for recovery and moping over it’s ineffectiveness, you’re incapacitating yourself in the same way.

I could just go to therapy once every two weeks and never step outside of my house or practice controlling my anxiety or combating depression or changing the way I think or socializing or speaking up. I could think that’s going to do something and I could lay on my bed and think, and think, and think about it and you know what? I’d probably kill myself.

That’s how you get stuck in a rut. You think more than you actually do.

So when you feel the urge to give up or you think a little pill or a couple sessions of therapy will solve your problems, remind yourself how much you appreciate your left side.

You can choose to be your biggest advocate or you can choose to be your biggest opposition. Doctors aren’t choosing it for you. Your friends aren’t, your family isn’t, your medication isn’t, your psychologist isn’t, your cat isn’t, your dog isn’t–you are. Those are catalysts for you, not cures.

That doesn’t mean don’t not struggle–that means embrace the struggle and understand it. Because you’re going to struggle. I do every day, you’ve heard me whine about it all the time.

But I’m still here, aren’t I?

Remember:

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DO WORK.

 

 

Socialization Stings

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Alright everyone, roll up your fucking sleeves, slap that hat on backwards, put on some Ice Cube and lay your car low on the ground with the white walls because I got a long weekend ahead of me, and if I have a long weekend ahead all of you have a long weekend ahead.

Why?

Because you’re going to have to listen to my shit.

The good thing is I feel alright about it.

I believe one of the major things that increases my anxiety around people is societal expectation. People expect you to laugh at their shitty jokes; they expect you to smile when you greet them; they expect you to contribute to their conversation as if you have nothing better to do in your life; they expect you not to stand there like a creeper with your eyes on the scenery behind them thinking about all the stories and ideas you could be writing about right now instead of sitting here listening to idiots talk.

So therefore, from this day on, I have decided to accept that I don’t give a shit.

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Obviously I’ve been talking about this for about a week now, about the fact that underneath the piles of crud and depression and anger and anxiety I don’t really have the desire to be the extrovert everyone expects me to be. I don’t have the desire to have friendships like your average person with social anxiety disorder. I’ve been talking about it, but I haven’t really accepted it.

Tonight I have accepted it.

I have a weird thing I do. Well, maybe it’s not weird, it’s actually part of why I spent three years being in charge of my own recovery without medication or therapy. I have the tendency to test myself and I have the tendency to constantly question why. So when I panic, when I’m anxious, when I’m around large groups of people, I don’t immediately shut down. Sometimes I revert into my head and I ask myself why. At 17 I had decided the only way I was going to get answers was ask. I couldn’t ask a therapist–I’d just fired one, and she wouldn’t know anyway. I couldn’t ask my parents–I don’t have that kind of relationship with them. I couldn’t ask my friends because hell, they can’t tell the difference between social anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. I had no one else to ask but myself. I spent three years doing that.

Why isn’t my anxiety gone? Because life gets in the way and it took me twenty years to get like this, it’s going to take some time to get where I want to be.

I was going somewhere with this, and I’ve lost it.

evil-brain-pumpkin-large-msg-128771807182Damnit brain.

I’m tellin’ you, he’s been fucking with me for a few days now. Tonight he tried to tell me I didn’t have a mouth and I laughed my ass off and I said dude, I have a mouth, it’s right here.

If you didn’t know, I talk to myself. It’s usually random and in relation to a memory but it happens often in the shower and I’ll remember something embarrassing and blurt out an insult to myself and then I shake my head and remind myself I can’t be doing that shit in public.

I do it in public often. But I whisper. If I’m in class, holly hell, I pray to God no one hears me and I ain’t the tad bit religious–I’m already that one weird girl in the front of the class who never says a word but aces all the tests, I don’t need to be that one weird girl in the front of the class who never says a word except when she’s saying random shit to herself but aces all the tests. I just . . . I don’t need that.

But sometimes the phrases are random. And tonight, I said “I don’t have a mouth.”

I laughed. Glad my boyfriend was passed out. Or else he would have given me that look he gives me when my brain does weird shit.

I also forget to eat sometimes. Anyone else do that?

Then when I do eat, I scarf it down like I’m in the army and ISIS is about to bomb the shit out of our headquarters.

Anyway, I already knew a lot of my anxiety was irrational–that’s a hallmark of anxiety. I just now remembered what I was going to talk about. Anyway, it’s a hallmark of anxiety to know your fears are fucking stupid. So when I started going out places, I’d just ask myself “why” every moment I felt anxious. A lot of the time I found no reason and it actually surprised me. Even though I knew beforehand that there was no real reason, it was a whole different story feeling that there was no real reason. Sometimes my brain would argue back and we’d get stuck in loops of conversations about all the things I had to be anxious over, but we’d always end up at the realization, and feeling, that there was no reason, illogical or logical, to be anxious.

So when I say I test myself, I mean when I’m in social situations where there’s really no pressure on me to pay attention (A.k.a, NOT class) I tend to drift up in the rafters of my mind. Tonight while I was listening to people talk in an arcade I separated my anxiety from whether or not I really wanted to enter the conversation. I stood there and stared into space and listened and really thought about this, people!

My conclusion?

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My anxiety was over whether or not I looked weird standing there not saying anything. It was whether or not I seemed or appeared normal because I don’t think I know how to do that. If I would have talked, I probably would have wondered if I sounded stupid and I’d probably feel my face get hot.

I laughed at their jokes because they were genuinely funny. I also laughed at their jokes because it would seem weird not to.

But then I dug deeper and didn’t take the anxiety into account. Did I really want to join in? Was it necessary? What as the point if I did?

And I found, in this particular conversation, I did not care to join in. I did not care if these people thought I was friendly or smart or funny.

Weird thing is some of the anxiety left. So I reverted into my own space in my head until we left.

I’m pretty good at feigning emotion; I’ve said this and I’ll keep saying it because it’s a new and exciting development minus the excitement.

So I was laughing and smiling and nodding and I think maybe I did say something, but honestly I don’t remember any of the conversation because I wasn’t on earth with them.

There are times where I do like conversation. If there’s one or two people I’ve known for a while than I can converse with an average level of emotion and I’m usually the clown of the group–I have to be; humor is the only thing I can relate to people with. If I wasn’t funny I’d be fucked. With those people I have a loud mouth and I’ll voice my opinion and I’ll be part of the group.

But do I crave that?

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I think very rarely I do. There are times I want to just chat with someone, anyone, about anything. I don’t want a friendship, I DO NOT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD want to add another person to my fucking Christmas list, I just want to talk, throw around ideas, get myself out of my head so I can prepare to dive back in it.

I spent two hours in my bed reading today and then another 8 hours working on writing projects. And I didn’t feel the need to call someone or go outside or party or anything.

I will party. I will do that, if it’s with a small amount of people and if I know the small amount of people. I can get wild.

But all in all, I really do think I’m an introvert. I used to think I was an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s body but . . . the more I think about it, the more I know I’m not.

You know how when it’s really cold outside and you have to get into a pool but you don’t want to dive in like all the freaks who just suddenly grow ten pound balls and submerge themselves in it and freeze to death, so you slowly dip your big toe in and wait to feel the temperature paralyze you and then you yank it out and wait another five minutes?

That’s how I socialize.

There really are two kinds of people:

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I’m on the edge of the pool, where I like to be, and every once in a while I’ll dip myself in the water until I feel the sting and then I hop back out.

Socializing is chore I do just to keep myself sane. Humans are social creatures and I respect that about myself. So for my health’s sake, I surround myself with other humans.

But: I’m never going to be satisfied submerged in the water.

I’ll never have ten pound balls.

That’s probably a good thing.

If you like to take things literal.