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 And for the past year it is true that I have been withdrawn and I have avoided other people, mainly because I’m struggling believing people have respectable motives towards me.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.

YouTube.

Something I’ve noticed about this world today, and maybe you’ve noticed it too, is that social media has become the main platform for not only giving news, but receiving news, updates, and connecting with people. You all know that I’ve got a Twitter (@Ipenned), and an Instagram (@Written_in_the_photo), as well as a Booksie account (@ImpulsivelyPenned) and this blog. One crucial element I feel that has been missing from my social media life (besides Facebook which I rarely ever go on) is a YouTube Account. I’ve been talking about making one for ages and I think I will finally follow through with my talk.

I will be starting it up in the next few days. What will I talk about it, you ask? What will it be about? I’m thinking of weaving some mental health stuff in, information about peer support, where to find it, how to find it and how to give it.  Maybe some gaming, some rants, a little bit of everything, and some shoots of the ocean to show you the life I live and the travels I go on.

If there is anything you would like to know about me for the first video, or about peer support most importantly, post your comments down below or email me some questions through my contact page. I will be answering questions in the first video. I would also like to collaborate with people who are also up-and-coming YouTubers, people who are just beginning, or who have begun and would like a new face on their channel. If you are any of those people, or any other people, contact me through my contact page and I’ll surely address you.

This is an exciting time for a millennial like me, all this new technology, and I figured I might as well take advantage of it, despite the hate I may get. I think one of the best ways to get a message out there is to try. And YouTube seems like a great way to connect with people I’ve never had the change to connect to before.

So again, have any questions or comments or maybe even concerns, shoot them in a comment below or send them to me through my contact page. We’ll see where this journey leads us.

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

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.