Processing Things

In the shower this morning I found a piece of anger within me that I have yet to fully eradicate.

The thing about dealing with mental health problems is that you will always have days you feel like you can manage, and you will have days you feel like you can’t manage. Sometimes the days you can’t manage are consecutive and go on for months, maybe even years. And the shitty thing about that, other than the fact that you are struggling managing life, is that other people will not understand that.

Everyone has their own pain that they deal with and everyone deals with it differently. Some people can breeze through a truama and choose to put it out of their head while others develop Post Traumatic Stress and dissociation issues. I don’t think there’s a right way to deal with trauma, but generally what works is facing it and working through it. Sometimes when you do that, it takes a while and it takes a lot of pain. And that pain can shut you down for a while, maybe some weeks, months, years even.

For me, learning more about myself and what goes on in my head is proving to take some months, coming up on a year now. And for the past year it is true that I have been withdrawn and I have avoided other people, mainly because I’m struggling believing people have respectable motives towards me. I feel that they’re against me, and that if they say they aren’t, they’re lying.

Trying to explain this to someone who doesn’t experience it is almost impossible.

And I feel that since this was a part of the conditions of my recent breakup, that I should address this on this blog so I can also process it for myself.

Last November was a tough time for me going into the hospital and losing touch with a lot of reality. When I came out of the hospital, I didn’t really have anywhere to turn, at least that’s what it felt like. I still struggle with reaching out when I need some kind of support because it seems like whenever I do, it’s never enough. That’s my own issue I need to work on.

But knowing what I’ve been through, knowing what I’ve gone though, it should go without saying that It’s going to take me years to really get to a point where I feel comfortable “being outgoing” again. Unless I stop this infernal medication and go manic.

I just don’t feel like any part of me was understood in this break up. It was another trauma, because I’ve never had anyone so close to me misunderstand me so entirely.

And I respect his decision, and I respect that this has been an issue between us for a while. I don’t have any problem with someone making a decision that’s best for them. I just wish it wasn’t because of my mental health. I finally understand that saying: if someone can’t handle you at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best. 

And I will be back to my best, I will return to myself. And it hurts me that I couldn’t have someone I love walk that journey with me. I guess it’s something I need to walk by myself. Maybe that’s just how it’s meant to be, and that’s fine too. I can’t control everything.

I also know there are people out there who WOULD walk that journey with me, who would research what they don’t understand, who would offer support in a way that will help me grow and get back to myself. And those are the people I need to surround myself with. I’m not quite sure where or when I will find them, but I will find them and I will latch onto them.

It seems like it’s a lot to ask of someone, but I would do the same for them. If they suddenly woke up in the midst of psychosis and ended up in the hospital, I would learn all I could about their experiences. I would be with them in their experiences and I would support their confidence until their confidence could support itself. Sometimes we need someone to do that for us, and it seems like if you truly love someone, that wouldn’t be too hard of a thing to do.

I had a great four years in my relationship. It was great fun, and there were times where I was supported by no one else but him. I acknowledge that. And maybe that was too much of a burden. Maybe it’s difficult for some people to hold that kind of pain and confusion with someone else. I tend to think it’s a rather simple thing because that’s what I do at work at all the time. I also acknowledge it’s different when you’re around it 24/7, or at least more often than three days a week.

So, these are things to be aware of going into my next relationship, whenever that may be. But I never felt like I overburdened him with my problems. I never sat there and complained about myself all day and all night, and I never demanded support. I only talked about my problems when they became overwhelming and I really did try and get out and do things.

I’ve been told all my life I’m not outgoing enough. I’m sick of hearing it. And you know what? I don’t give a fuck anymore. I’m done giving a fuck. Don’t like it? Not my problem anymore. I was ready to put effort into saving the relationship and that was cut off. So I’m not going to try to put anymore effort. I’m not going to try to win you back. I’m not going to bother you all the time. I’m just going to do me. I’m going to move and I”m going to try starting over. This town, Santa Cruz, has nothing left for me. And that’s okay. Everyone has to move on some time.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

Comfort

I’m not quite sure how I feel today. My psychiatrist asked me how things were going, how my mood was, and I said neutral. I’m not depressed, I’m not joyful, I just am. I feel like I’m in the mode of just existing again. I know it’s the medication.

I also notice a lot of loneliness creeping in. When I’m home at night by myself, at least. It’s as if I constantly need to be around people, and I’m not a people person. In fact, people wear me down too quickly. I dissociate and distance myself from them. But lately I’ve been needing to be around good company, constantly, as if I’m distracting myself from something.

That’s what it feels like. As if all the old emotions that are being brought up in therapy for the first time are riding the waves and the tide is bringing them onto shore. Only the shore is not equipped to handle these kinds of wave breaks, nor what the waves drag in.

I feel that I’m having to relearn who I am, what I believe in, and a good friend pointed out to me that after such a fall, it’s like starting a new relationship with yourself. And in starting a new relationship you need patience, kindness, compassion, and many other things I need to learn to show to myself.

This is going to be a short post today. I just don’t feel like writing about myself tonight, or anyone else for that matter. I miss bits and pieces of the life I had before the psychosis. I miss the old relationship I had with myself, even though the old relationship I had with myself wasn’t healthy. But it was comfortable. And that’s the painful part: losing that comfort.

And that’s today’s mental truth.

 

The Unacceptable Apology

loneliness-wallpaper

It’s been very apparent to me, since the age my awareness of myself developed enough that I could form a better understanding of the world, that I don’t belong here.

I’m positive there’s another universe or galaxy or planet out there waiting for me to return.

I’m sure many introverts feel this.

The thing about having Social Anxiety disorder, in which I often want to engage with people but 1) don’t know how, 2) am usually thwarted by anxiety flooding my brain and hindering my usual witty comebacks and original ideas, and being an introvert in which I appreciate time by myself or with one or two other people and prefer to be away from most people, even the ones who I adore, is that neither of them are accepted or understood by other people.

I’m not the girl with social anxiety or the introvert, I’m the weirdo.

I’m the quiet weirdo.

I’m the quiet weirdo you should most likely ignore because, hey, you don’t talk anyway.

I’m the quiet weirdo you should most likely ignore and you should talk about after I leave whatever establishment I’ve accompanied you in.

I get it; I do. I’ve been in situations around people who have “stranger” behavior than myself and your first instinct is judge. We’re only human, after all.

However, I’ve noticed most of my mental pain caused by large social situations is never directed at myself intentionally. I call myself an idiot for not being able to be like them, I cuss myself out in my head, I cry for about two or three hours after I get home, but the reality of the situation is that I’m angry who I am isn’t someone people can easily accept.

My idea of fun is writing a short story or taking my camera out for the some one on one time with nature. My idea of fun is sitting right here at this computer in this room, contemplating whatever thought drills itself into my skull. That’s my idea of fun and it doesn’t seem to be anyone else’s.

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It’s not that I crave acceptance from everyone, because that’s a fairy tale lie. Id’ just like to, for once, sit in a room of people and feel welcomed. I’ve been the outcast my whole life and I can’t figure out if it’s my fault or everyone else’s.

It’s probably a little of both: their lack of understanding, my lack of social skills. That’s just a north pole and a north pole running towards each other.

I try my hardest in every situation I’m thrown into. I always go in with anxiety and I always try and make the best of it, no matter what my brain tells me–and people can’t see that. They take my silence as rudeness or idiocy and return the favor accordingly. But every moment I’m around someone, I’m trying hard. I have my few successes and I have my many failures.

Everything is a learning experience, I know this. I know that I get ridiculously emotional after any day where I’ve spent the majority of it in social situations and I ride that emotion because I know it’s healthy. I used to fight it because, shit, who likes feeling like a failure? But that only led to self-harm.

Now I cry and I let the wave of depression pass, the wave of feeling hopeless, and I let the little assholes in my head replay all the stupid things I did that night and I sit back and wait for it to stop because eventually it does stop. And when it does, I get a chance to see things clearly. I get a chance to breathe and tell myself I’m probably overreacting to a lot of things.

'Okay, I take it back, you don't over-react!'That’s the majority of my problem–overreacting. If you sit me in a room of people I’m never worried about them staring at me (unless I’m in a classroom), I’m only ever obsessed with whether or not they’re talking about me in their heads or talking about me in their whispers.

I take that back–it’s not a “Whether or not” type of situation, I’m 100% positive people talk about me when I leave or talk about me while I’m in their company, or think about me when I’m in their company, and I’m 100% positive it’s about how odd I am. I’ve heard my name whispered in countless situations and I hear people whispering and I know I’m being talked about. It’s not like I base these assumptions purely on my brain.

I see the expressions on their face plan as day. I see the awkwardness in their eyes and I see them look me up and down and I see them stare blankly when they say something and I don’t know what to say back because my conversation skills are often at the level of a one year old. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, it’s that I have no idea what’s appropriate to say where. I don’t know how to continue conversations and I don’t know how to start conversations. If you meet me in person you’ll notice that I jump around from subject to subject because those are the way thoughts run in my brain.

I put myself in situations that push me to my limit so I can hopefully, one day, get comfortable enough that I’m not up at one in the morning writing like this.

But I’m never going to change who I am. I love who I am. I love my hobbies, I love my likes and my goals and my personality.

I’m never going to be the person to get close to people. I’m not going to be the one to have six or seven close friends. I’m not going to be the one able to entertain a whole room. That’s just not me.

introvert2bproblems

For most things, it’s not a matter of “getting used to it”. That kind of thing applies to speaking in class. It applies to giving presentations and running experiments. It applies to asking questions when I need answers or forming friendly relationships with people in the workplace or school.

I’m not going to be the one who enjoys parties or mobs of people or socialization. I literally don’t enjoy it. 98% of the time.

Every once in a while I need some company, but that usually includes one or two people at the most. Any more than that and the anxiety and paranoia kicks in and I’m convinced everyone hates me, is ready to get rid of me, are talking shit about me and laughing about me in their head. I’m studying their expressions and their eyes and their tone of voice and I believe it accurate in the moment and I shrink into my shell because of all the hatred and disgust. The worst part is I can’t trust my eyes or my ears.

Even the people closest to me, who hear my mouth every day and laugh at my jokes and enjoy my company have no idea that I couldn’t tell them my true feelings if I tried. I can’t have conversation freely with even them. And I don’t have an explanation for why.

So I like being with myself. I know myself. I can talk to myself and listen to myself and know that I’m being truthful. I can retreat in the world in my head without worrying about someone snapping their fingers in my face asking if I spaced out.

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It Made Me Giggle So I had To Share It

My biggest fear? That all of this will ruin my relationship. I’m never going to be like everyone else and talkative and “fun” and bouncy and bubbly, and I’m never going to like to have a “girl’s night out” or whatever the fuck people say women do (trip to the salon, mani, pedi, whatever; all that shit, I hate it), I’m never going to look at my eventual coworkers as more than coworkers, and I’m never going to have a problem with any of that. I like myself.

But the real world isn’t built for introverts, it hardly even appreciates us.

It’s their loss.

It’s going to be my loss if all of this fucks up the first real connection I’ve ever had with someone of the opposite sex.

Am I even meant to be in a relationship?

Regardless, I’m an introvert and I have social anxiety and I’m not going to fucking apologize for it. I’d rather be an outcast crying in bed each night than ever pretend to be someone I’m not.

 

 

Keep It Tidy

It’s taken about a year, but I think I’ve finally made some progress in convincing my boyfriend that the socially anxious part of me, the one he sees most often and impedes my life most often, is one of the hardest parts of me to live with. I knew he didn’t understand when I first explained to him why I had issues answering calls, making calls, meeting new people, hanging out with new people, talking with people, going to job interviews, keeping jobs, or why I refused to take communication classes. He thought I hated people. Add in the bouts of depression and self harm and road rage and panic attacks and well, I must have looked like a mess. I still am, but I’m getting tidier.

Kind of.

Slowly.

Not really.

No, I’ll stay positive.

I’m getting tidier. My Tidy Monster has been in working extra hard lately.

At any rate, I’ve known him for a few years, kind of. It was a rocky start because of my tendency not to answer people’s text messages or phone calls when they start getting close to me; my anxiety made me ignore him at first and that pretty much destroyed the friendship we’d hardly began. Therefore I preferred to stay away from people; I’d either drive them away or force them to put up with my bullshit and I didn’t wish either hell on anyone.

He probably still doesn’t understand the self harming and suicidal ideation, I think that disturbs him, but after a year he’s starting to understand that when I get depressed I can’t just pull myself out of it. Instead, he just spends time with me if I ask. His humor most often takes my mind out of itself for at least a little bit. If I can’t pull myself out of bed he doesn’t make me feel like I’m acting ridiculous, although maybe he still thinks like that. But at least he doesn’t project any more negativity on me.

We’re complete opposites though, I think that’s what makes us so interesting. I’m an inch or so taller than him;  his family is from Mexico and I’m just your average African American, Polish, Danish, Irish, Native American (Cherokee) blood; I love rock music, he’s not a fan; he’s big into sports and absolutely adores football, and I can only handle watching one quarter on television; he’s a business major and I’m getting into the industry just to fuck shit up. We’re completely opposite. So we have miniature arguments often but we don’t let them ruin what we have. I know my personality is a little difficult to handle since I can go from being very cooperative to an arrogant, narcissistic jerk who knows she’s always right in a matter of seconds, so I’m not really sure how he even puts up with it half the time. I know it’s yet another thing I need to work on. I guess I also have to learn Spanish.

He thought I didn’t want to learn it because I was stubborn but I had to explain taking a class where the tests are oral is not the easiest thing for me right now. I wouldn’t learn anything.

I dove into this relationship head first, not even knowing I did it really. I remember getting out of the hospital E.R after a panic attack, recovering from all the Ativan and C.A.T scan contrast fluid they shot me up with (they checked for pulmonary embolism), and then a few weeks later waking up in his bed after staying the night. Our relationship started off more as a friends with benefits thing, which I wasn’t complaining about. I usually hate being this close to someone but somehow it didn’t bother me at the time and so when I started realizing the gravity of the situation I decided I could do one of two things: awkwardly lie about why I couldn’t continue with a more stable relationship, or give it a try. I gave it a try and I think it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

He told me this morning he decided to do his speech in his communications class on social anxiety disorder. I’m glad I don’t have to be a guest speaker, though.

I’d say that’s progress. Maybe through the process of writing his speech he’ll get an even better understanding that it really is hard for me to walk out of the door every morning. I’m hoping he can convey that feeling of dread to his class. I’ve never had my story told in such a large setting and even though I won’t be there to hear it, I will be dying in Calculus peacefully knowing across campus a group of students is learning the reason all the quiet kids seem “weird” is because they are exhausted from working up the courage to step out their door each morning.

He’s lucky I own the DSM-V and have a bunch of other articles on social anxiety disorder and anxiety in general; he doesn’t even have to do any research for the factual part of the speech.

That better not be why he chose this topic.

Don’t be afraid to tell your story, even if it’s only part of it. Every word counts.