Sweating the Small Stuff

I’ve always considered myself to be very flexible to change, I go with the flow and just get on with life as things around me change. But occasionally there are small things, that in reality have nothing to do with me, but I become so used to their presence that I actually experience anxiety when they aren’t there.

Some years ago when I was studying, I used to park in a multi level carpark, and 3 levels up was some kind of coupe under a protective cover parked in the same place, every day. One day, I’d miscounted how many levels I was on, and thought that the car wasn’t there. I felt a rush of panic coursing through me that this incongruity could destabilise my world and all that I knew. It only subsided as I rounded the next corner and saw it still parked there.

I have no idea who the owner of the car was, or the circumstances surrounding it being parked in a public carpark with a car cover on it. But the thought of it not being there had a terrifying effect. It had no bearing on my life at all, but I became used to things being just so, and it was a constant in my ever changing world.

There are lots of little things like this that make me panic and anxious, and yet I seem to cruise through massive upheavals with little trouble. It’s kind of odd isn’t it?

All Tapped Out

As much as I have enjoyed all of the social events that I have been to over the past month, I think I have well and truly exceeded my exhaustion limits for face to face socialisation. I am utterly drained and feel like I could spend an eternity alone and in silence. My mum always talks about how being around people and socialising energises her. It does the exact opposite to me. It completely drains my energy and it takes a lot of time to recharge.

I’m not sorry I’ve been out, not at all. I’m just going to be paying for it some time with emotional (and physical) exhaustion. I’m all tapped out and just need to be alone to rebuild my strength, and reset my conversational limits.

Am I just weird or does this make sense to someone?

Emotional Abuse & Low Self Esteem

I have issues with self esteem, it’s been something I’ve struggled with for most of my life. Thinking back, I think it initially began with my ballet teacher. She taught the R.A.D (Royal Academy of Dance) classical ballet – and was known for being strict and disciplined. In terms of classical ballet – her school was one of the best around, because of the high standards associated with the R.A.D.

However she was a horrible person. If I were more spiritual I’d venture to say she had a very dark and nasty soul. Logically though I think she was mentally disturbed.

She treated people either with general indifference, or sheer nastiness. I was one of the people she singled out to mistreat. Nothing I ever did was good enough – right from the beginning she picked on me. I was only 6 years old – and preparing for my primary ballet exams. All grades were gathered and taking turns to rehearse their solo dance for the examination. Others made mistakes, big mistakes, and she’d get them to start again. If I did something minor – like not look up at the introduction, or not smile, I was sent to the back of the line, no second chance. This went on all night, it got late, well and truly beyond my bed time – and I’d not even been given the chance to do a full run through of my dance. Each time I was sent to the back of the line for a minor infraction.

It got worse as I got older. When I started a growth spurt at about 10, one leg grew faster than the other. So I had 1 leg a little longer than the other. As a result, my hips didn’t sit straight. My teacher would yell at me for not standing straight and hit my hip. Sometimes she’d grab me round the neck and pull me upwards.

One time, one of the girls in my class asked me what I got for my exams and I’d received honours, and told her so – and I never ever boasted, just quietly stated my grading. My teacher yelled at me and told me I had no right to brag about my grading, and never to talk about how I did in the exams. She never told anyone else off for talking about their results, only me. I wasn’t allowed to be happy that I got high marks.

Because of her devaluing me at every chance, I learned to believe that I was worthless. I tried so hard to gain her approval, but never could. And I suffered emotionally & physically at her hands. And yet, year after year I kept going back. Like a sick little puppet on a string I tried to bend to her every whim. It wasn’t until I was 12 that my mother finally had enough of her behaviour towards me and pulled me out of the school, 2 weeks before the end of year concert.

But by then the damage had been done. I hated myself, and in my eyes I couldn’t measure up to anyones expectations. I was a loser. And I was lost, without my tormentor. Without her poison to drag me down I turned to poisoning myself. I started the emotional abuse, perpetuating all the things about myself she made me believe. It’s sick, I know. But I was young, impressionable and because I couldn’t gain her acceptance I believed that something was wrong with me.

She planted the seeds of abuse, but I’m the one who took a steel pipe and bashed the living hell out of my self esteem.  She was just a bully, but because of her I learned exactly how to torment myself.

Illness and Depression

One of the things I struggle with when I’m physically sick is depression. Right now I’m fighting off a sinus & chest infection and I’m taking up a lot of my energy to not spiral down into the mental dumps. The thing that bothers me the most is that I’m forced to take time off work. I hate having to take time off work for illness, it’s just something that wracks me with guilt even though I legitimately shouldn’t be at work.

Here is how it’s going in my mind – “It’s only a little cold, man up and go to work”. But in reality it’s not just a “little cold” in reality I’ve been up half the night coughing and gasping for air. I can’t talk for any period of time without descending into a painful coughing fit. My lungs and stomach ache from all the coughing. The doctor has prescribed me antibiotics, and ordered me to have bed rest at least until Friday.

And yet, I still dragged myself into work today because I hate taking a “sick day”. I’m not a workaholic, I’m really really not. I just have an impossibly high personal work ethic that doesn’t include sick leave. But apparently it doesn’t matter what I think I can do – my boss has (and I’d say rightly so if it were anyone else but me) sent me home. And while my body is glad for it – my soul-eater aspect is starting to needle it’s way into my consciousness and attempt to convince me that the people at work think I’m just slacking off, and are talking about me behind my back. That all I’m going to be remembered for is the girl who faked being sick.

Yes I know it’s ridiculous, but I know myself well enough to know that the thoughts I have aren’t always logical and definitely not necessarily healthy. But I also know how powerful my mind is, and how it can make me believe practically anything it wants me to. It’s really quite annoying on one hand, knowing one thing but on the other still persisting in believing something totally different. This is where the fracturing of my mind into different aspects is really stressful.

Please excuse this abrupt ending, I need to lie down.

Finding The Right Kind Of Help

One of the things I’ve found the most helpful in my road to living with mental illness is the importance of finding the right mental health professional. Over the years on and off I’ve seen numerous counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and sought help in many other ways. It started with a counsellor in high school and went from there.

Until the last 5 or so years ago, my attempts at getting help were sporadic and short lived. Previously I’d go through a really bad time – see my GP, get prescribed anti depressants and get referred to a counsellor or psychologist. I’d see the therapist for a few weeks, and get fed up with the way it was going, make excuses and stop going.

It was always the same thing that did it. These people all wanted to delve into my past – find some childhood or adolescent trauma that made me the way I am. Was I abused? Did I have a loving childhood? They always wanted to try and find the point of origin. And they always has some kind of condescending advice to give to help me “snap out of it” and tell me that things “will get better” all the usual bullshit people think you want to hear.

It wasn’t until I was at the end of my rope that I finally found my current psychiatrist. And my word has she been the best for me. She has helped me to see that there is no beginning cause to my mental illness to speak of and it’s pointless to try to look for one. I don’t need a why or a when – none of those are helpful. I just need a how and a what. How can I manage my mental illness? What can I do to make my life easier?

She doesn’t give me shitty useless advice – she helps me to unlock the answers I hold in my own mind. She asks me questions that help me draw my own conclusions. I have the control to change my life. She puts me firmly in the drivers seat, and just offers me a road map every now and again.

What I want to say to anyone who needs help coping with their mental illness is this: don’t give up on looking for the right person to help you. It mights take 5, 10, 15 different practitioners over as many years until you find the mental health professional that helps you in the way you need help. But don’t give up looking. If one doesn’t suit, move on to the next one, and the next, and the next, until you find the one that you click with and that genuinely helps you to help yourself.

Don’t stick with someone who doesn’t take a proper interest in your health, or you don’t feel comfortable with, or who gives you condescending advice, or you just don’t gel with. Keep looking until you find the one. It’s like a relationship – don’t settle for second best. Likewise with your mental health don’t settle for a sub par therapist.

I know costs can make finding the perfect help prohibitive, but keep looking until you find the one that is right for you and doesn’t make you bankrupt. Don’t give up. You are important, your mental wellbeing is important. You deserve to have a balanced and happy life.

Don’t ever give up.

Picking Up Good Vibrations

I’m feeling a little bit loved today. A few of my colleagues at work were making a very impressive joint effort to get me to say yes to attending our works Christmas party next month. One of my teammates even said he’d give me a ride there and back! That is a big deal for an introvert like me.

A lot of my introversion stems from my severe lack of self esteem. I am constantly terrified that people don’t like me. Even at work though I get along with people, I have this part of me that still believes that none of them would really want to engage with me in a social situation. So because of this fear I tend to avoid social functions at work. Ironically, this probably makes people think I’m stuck up and not really want to socialise with me.

For people to genuinely try to convince me to come (not just a half hearted “oh you should go” and leave it at that) makes me actually want to go. And gives me warm feelings of actually being accepted. This is fantastic because my mind is evil to me and constantly gives me an irrational nagging worry that I’m only tolerated and not accepted.

The burning question now is – can I actually bite the bullet and make myself go?

I Choose This Life (But I Don’t Approve)

I often write my blog sitting alone on my bed. Tonight it occurred to me that though I’m drawn to spending all my spare time in bed, it’s a place haunted by misery and pain. It holds the painful memories of sharing it with the person I loved more than anything. It is a constant reminder of the emptiness both in my bed and in my heart.

I am lonely. I hate admitting that because I consciously choose to make my life this way. I choose to exile myself from the world. But even though I choose this path, it doesn’t exactly make me happy. It’s so difficult to explain. I don’t like being around people – they don’t understand me. They don’t think the way that I do or feel the way that I do. So I withdraw from the world. I lock myself away, thereby creating my loneliness.

Why would I choose loneliness? I think it’s because reality doesn’t compare with my imagination. I know it sounds like I have incredibly high expectations, impossible ideals, but why would I settle for harsh reality? Why would I settle when my inner life has so much more to offer me? If I can lose myself in my imaginary world for long enough I can conjure up peace: both of mind and soul.

It gets harder to leave the sanctuary of my imaginary world. The disappointment of reality burdens my heart. When I’m in the real world I am painfully aware of my loneliness and heartache. I’m aware that I don’t have a connection to someone special, that my heart isn’t entwined with another. So it’s too easy to retreat into my fantasy world, where I can dream up perfect love and perfect acceptance.

This loneliness always goes the same way. I’m (half heartedly) trying to convince myself that I am in love with someone who … ugh I don’t even want to explain this because it’s too embarrassing to admit even to myself. He is a person who exists on earth. But he doesn’t know me, I don’t even really know him. We’ve not actually met, not actually spoken to each other – but I’m infatuated with his voice, his eyes, his crooked grin. Honestly he may as well be imaginary because he is just so out of my reach.

And it’s even more hilarious (in the most self insulting way possible) that I’m acknowledging this train of thought. Clearly I’m not in love with him. I’m just lonely, so I imagine and project these false feelings onto him because he is unattainable. And by falling in love with the impossible I’m protecting my vulnerability. Because in my warped mind it’s better to be hurt by loving someone who doesn’t even know you exist, than it is to entrust your heart to a real person and risk them breaking it.

Thus I am in a perpetual circle of hurt and loneliness. I justify my self-imposed exile with the belief that if I put myself in reality I’d only end up hurt and lonely anyway. This circular “reasoning” is so draining. I put the word reasoning in quotation marks – because clearly the turmoil inside my head doesn’t have even a single iota of reason about it. Nothing about what I have typed is reasonable – except maybe my admission that this entire post is unreasonable.

Friday Night Freak Out

Apparently Friday night I had a freak out. I don’t actually remember it, but I’m told that the kids dad (my ex) actually took a detour on his way to a job to come over and do a health check on me.

I remember sending him a message telling him that the kids were doing my head in and I couldn’t take it anymore. They weren’t listening to me when I told them to clean up their toys, and they made more mess, and it sent me over the edge. I don’t recall much after that. But my phone shows he called me seven times and I kept hanging up. And it prompted him to come over and make sure I was ok.

I also must have taken 3 days worth of my meds the same night, sometime after my freak out – because I woke up the next morning and noticed my pill box had 3 days missing when I only filled it up the night before. He says that it showed in my change of mood – I suddenly went from highly agitated and angry to calm and tranquil and very sleepy.

But sometime before before the calm set in I must have started writing a post, because I found it earlier today when I was doing some maintenance on my blog. It’s interesting what I think and feel when I’m off my rocker. I usually don’t remember so when I have something I wrote in that state I’m pretty fascinated.

Oh shit the cracks are starting to show. My carefully constructed veneer is chipping at the edges. I thought I had it together enough to get by. I thought I was in a place to be ok. Two and a half fucking years. It’s been two and a half fucking years and I should be able to cope now.

But I can’t. It’s getting worse. I’m getting less and less able to deal. Fuck I don’t love him. I don’t fucking love him. But without him I can’t fucking function. I can’t breathe without him. Fuck I hate him so fucking much. He fucking ruined me. Tore out my heart and crushed it. He didn’t fucking care that it broke me. He broke me.

And the fucking joke of it all. I’m still so fucking weak for him. The need for him is clawing me apart. I keep waiting for something to give. My heart most likely. I guess.

That is definitely the deluded rantings of a crazy girl. I am living and breathing without him. I’m doing just fine thank you very much. If some else had written this and I read it, I’d be like “wake up and smell the coffee you still love him”. But I don’t. I really really don’t. And I know that I am better off without him. I definitely can’t feel any chemistry between us. Absolutely not.

Alright so maybe I feel just a little. But I’m going to keep on ignoring it. It’s better that way.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me.

I’m really quite funny about my personal space and how much proximity and actual physical contact affects me. About 15 minutes ago I had one of my moments where I became immensely aware of how uncomfortable a situation, especially ones involving strangers, can be.

I’d just finished my appointment with my Psych and I was at the counter paying and making my next appointment. An older lady came up to the counter and stood right next to me because she wanted to speak to the receptionist. And to make matters worse another older lady came up on the other side of me to take up a free magazine they have on offer at the offices. But instead of picking it up and walking away, she stood there flicking through it.

So now I have these 2 complete strangers flanking me, practically standing at my shoulders. I could almost feel them breathing. I couldn’t shake the ominous feeling that came over me – even though logically I knew I could take down both of these old birds if for some insane reason they started to attack me. I am not kidding when I say it actually physically felt threatening to have strangers standing shoulder to shoulder with me like that. My baser instincts of fight or flight started winding me up, and I was starting to get angry with them for standing too close.

There was absolutely no reason why the lady wanting to talk to the receptionist couldn’t wait in line behind me – it was quite rude and impatient of her to stand there as if she was going to butt in. And as for the other lady: take the freaking magazine and read it elsewhere. Don’t stand there at my shoulder reading it. I know it sounds really odd, but things like that make me so uncomfortable, and a whole influx of crazy thoughts go through my head – from staging a “freak out”, to aggressively pushing them out the way, to planning what I will do when they start to attack. My mind goes into defensive overdrive when people stand too close to me like that, and it takes so much self control to not take it to the nth degree and go mental.

Ugh My Meds are Killing my Creativity.

I’m 2 weeks into my increase in meds and one of the things I’m hating is how dopey they make me. They make me so sleepy, and tired during the day. It was really difficult waking up this morning to get the kids to school and me to work. In fact I overslept because I couldn’t open my eyes long enough. I’m never a morning person really, but the higher dosage makes me even more groggy.

The other thing it’s done, and I hate this the most – it’s put a block on my creativity. I can’t think properly now. I feel like my thoughts are just wandering aimlessly through a thick cloud of cotton wool. I can’t write creatively. This has put a serious hamper on my story I was working on for NaNoWriMo. All attempts at writing have failed miserably. I can’t write, I can’t draw, I can’t create and if this keeps up it’s going to send me into a tailspin of misery.

I do like the fact that I’m so chilled out right now, like really chilled. Nothing gets to me – I’m Sunday Morning. In that respect it’s awesome, it’s like smoking weed without the munchies (thank fuck!). But I just hate that it totally blocks any creative thoughts. I want to get into my brain and find that place, the one where I can create again.

Instead there is nothing. Nothing but the calm. I’d say fuck this, but seriously I’m way too chill to do that right now.