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?

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?

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.

Like Sunday Morning.

I used to be an easily agitated person. I’d fly off the handle and lose my temper very easily. I remember as a teenager my mum started saying I needed anger management classes because I’d suddenly lose my shit and yell and shout over the littlest of things. And I could physically feel it within me. I had days where I had this darkness inside me, this negative energy and I’d actually want to blow a fuse and lose it. I’d wake up and know that all it would take was something insignificant and I’d be gone. In those black moods I wanted to hurt and upset those I cared about.

I wasn’t a physically violent person, but definitely threatening and verbally abusive. It was a very ugly thing, and I am ashamed to admit that I was like this. Because it wasn’t me, not really who I am inside. I mean I did those things, I take responsibility for my actions and feel bad for them. But it was to some extent something that was out my control until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started having the appropriate therapy and medication.

One of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve been on my medication is that situations where I would have melted down just fly right over my head and I keep my cool. In general, when it comes to potentially upsetting scenarios mostly I am very chill.

I’m like Sunday Morning. Easy.

I don’t get as bothered about people or things as I used to. Once upon a time my fuse was so short I would sometimes snap if my ex breathed loudly at night (poor guy has a deviated septum it’s very difficult for him to breath through his nose at all let alone when trying to sleep!).

These days most little things don’t bug me, and many big things barely affect me. I still have my moments when I get angry. From time to time I get a little irritable, I might be a teensy bit short or snappish. And I still have anxiety issues, but I normally clam up and internalise rather than externalise. I don’t shout and scream and rant and rave like I used to. When I’m off kilter nowadays I am far more likely get either super happy or super sad. There are far fewer phases of rage. Most days I have an unfazed, laid back attitude.

If anyone remembers Lucas from E

If anyone remembers Lucas from Empire Records, sometimes I think I’m almost as Zen as he is!

A Life in Perpetual Limbo

At the moment I feel as though my life is in limbo. I’m existing, but I’m not really living. I’m biding my time waiting. What exactly am I putting my life on hold waiting for?

Well there is a rather huge event coming up that has me excited about, impatient for, anxious over, frightened of, and a whole bunch of other positive and negative emotions rolled into a general feeling of unease.

My children and I will soon be moving into our very own home.

After a decade of renting, I will finally have my very own place. It’s currently still being built, almost but not quite finished. I don’t have a completion date yet, but it’s so close I can almost smell it. Mentally, I’ve already moved out of my existing place of residence. But I can’t motivate myself to start packing things up when there is no fixed date for settlement. And so I’m stuck in this limbo between a rental property I’ve come to hate (echoes of him have permanently tainted this once happy place) and the fear of embarking on the unknown at my new home. As a result, I’ve become somewhat lazy about keeping this place spick-and-span and of course that just depresses me.

The second thing keeping me in this limbo is my sons ADHD & ASD diagnosis. Now that we have a diagnosis, I have to wait until the next appointment (later this month) to start looking at treatment. It’s stressing me out no end, but at least thanks to the dosage increase to my meds I’m getting sleep at night. I know it’s a long road ahead, but I just want to actually step onto the path, not stand watching it from a distance.

Of course these are just a couple of things grounded in reality that keep me in limbo. Without them I still have the mental shackles that stop me from living my life. One of those is my indecision about my future. I’m 35 and I still haven’t decided “what I want to be when I grow up”. Well actually I have some idea, but I feel like I’m too old to be embarking on that path. Ok, so maybe I’m not too old as such. However financially I have to worry about my children, so I have to be careful of starting over so to speak.

And then there is just the whole notion in my head that I’m simply waiting for something. For what I am waiting, I have no idea. But I live half my life waiting, vaguely convinced that I’ll know it (what I’m waiting for) when I see it. I’ve always lived my life that way, and obviously “it” is never going to come. I have to decide for myself what “it” is and make it happen. But the most difficult part is deciding what “it” is.

I’m restless. I have all this unchannelled energy coursing through me. I’m wandering aimlessly. I have no idea what I want it is I really want to do. I’m like a bored child who wants to scream and kick up the leaves. And I’m paralysed by the fact that I don’t know what I want. I’m frightened because I have no passion, no desire, nothing to drive me, I don’t feel like I have any purpose. I’m terrified of making a decision, and so waste time and my life doing nothing.

I’ve been fearful my entire life, not taking any risks for fear of losing. And so I’ve led a life that I classify as boring and unfulfilling. You’d think I’d get sick of that, grow a pair, and get out there. But no. I wait. Time ticks on. I wait. I still don’t take any risks. I still don’t really live. I’m afraid to really live.

I tell myself that if I don’t risk a little in the game of life, then I’ll get to the end of it full of regret. But I can’t quite make myself believe that it’s better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. I can’t quite convince myself that a life without any risks is no life at all.

I still wait. For what? For a life filled with “what if’s”. That’s what.

Round and Round the Carousel of Hell.

I’ve been a lot more anxious recently. So much so that my psych has temporarily increased my meds dosage to help me get by and sleep at night. At least this time I know and understand what my trigger is – my 8 year old son. I mentioned a few posts ago that he’s recently been diagnosed with an overlap of ASD & ADHD, and that at least I know what I am working with now.

However recently his behaviour has been going backwards at home and most noticeably at school. He’s been devolving into very toddler like temper tantrums of crying and shouting and banging his head. He’d not done these things to this extent since the first half of the year. It coincides with his finishing up at a program held at another school last term. He spent 2 days a week for 2 school terms at the other school where they focussed on behaviour and social and emotional skills. It was a small group of six kids. There were 2 teachers plus a handful of helpers, so he had lots of one on one attention on those days.

During that time he’d really matured, and stopped having these ‘meltdowns’. But since the program ended he’s started to slip. I think it’s because at his school he doesn’t have someone dedicated to bringing back his focus when he loses it. It’s not possible for the teacher to give her undivided attention to him. So his excessive energy gets him out of control, he can’t come back down and it’s hell for him, his teacher and the rest of the class. And it’s showing at home too.

We go back to the paediatrician in 3 weeks time, and hopefully she will have a strategy in place to help him deal with the ADHD (and as an extension hopefully also the ASD). But until then, having a diagnosis isn’t helping as much as I imagined it would.

I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been anxious, and stressed, losing my temper quickly. Unable to think straight. I’m exhausted. I’m snappy. I’ve been digging my fingernails into my palms, leaving them bruised and sore. The rubber band on my wrist hasn’t been helping me much. My wrist has dark shadows of bruising mixed with angry red welts where I’ve snapped the band so hard. But it’s not bringing the relief that it should. I’m one or two steps away from playing with knives … and I don’t want to go down that blackhole.

Hopefully the med increase will help me out. It had better because I’m getting closer and closer to the edge. I’ve told my ex that if he doesn’t help me more with the kids and what’s going on it will come to a point where I dump them on him and take off and never come back … or I end up in hospital, or dead. I love my kids with all my heart, but I can’t sustain the stress of raising them all on my own, of coping with the problems they have in addition to my own illness.

I hate that my threshold for coping under duress is so much lower than other people. But it’s just the way that I’m wired. I can’t change it, no matter how guilty I may feel about it. And I judge myself more harshly than anyone could ever judge me. And I’d never ever presume to judge anyone to the same degree of harshness I apply to myself.

And the stress of what’s going on with my kids, coupled with my inability to cope – triggers my guilt over my inability to cope. And round and round the carousel of hell goes. A never ending cycle of anxiety and self blame, triggering more anxiety and self blame.

et cetera. ad nauseam.

I Went Out Last Night.

I haven’t been feeling so great lately. I’ve been in a bit of a depression, and haven’t wanted to do a whole lot. It’s been hard enough to get up and go to work the past two days. I’ve just wanted to be a hermit and sleep my life away.

But last night, I did something different. I went out to dinner. It was a sort of work function – one of the companies that my work partners with (they are underwriters for the general insurance we sell) wanted to thank us for meeting our sales targets over the past financial year. So they treated the insurance team (including a few people who are now in different departments) to a celebratory dinner. Normally, I would make up an excuse and avoid this kind of outing like the plague. Especially when feeling the way I’ve been feeling. However, I didn’t make up an excuse, not even at the last minute, not even when it meant sticking around town by myself for an hour & 1/2 after I’ve finished work, waiting for the rest of the team to finish so we could have this dinner.

I went. And I talked. I made conversation and I listened to conversation. I stayed until the end. And I even enjoyed myself! It was a very pleasant evening, and I am glad I went. I am very proud of myself for not avoiding this evening when it would have been so easy to just find an excuse not to go.

Sitting around a table with eleven other people in a social context isn’t usually a situation I am comfortable with. At work, even though we do chit chat a little between calls, it’s a very different experience to sitting around a table socialising. It’s difficult to explain, but when it’s work related I can deal because there are parameters for the conversations I have. There is a work context – I am conversing about work matters so it’s clear and straightforward. I have a purpose for speaking, I don’t have to try to maintain or participate in idle chatter. In work related conversation you know what the boundaries are – I don’t have to wonder if they’ll be bored with what I am saying, or whether they will laugh at my joke or think it stupid.

When it’s a social situation there aren’t those parameters – communication relies on organic flow of conversation. It is unscripted, and purposeless, and requires instantaneous reactions to words being spoken. Because I always have to think (or maybe overthink) things through – I can end up either making the conversation stilted and uncomfortable while I think of a response, or in a group situation I remain silent and possibly seem aloof or disinterested.

But last night, I muddled through. Mostly listening to everyone else but I did talk too! Of course me being me, today I need the entire day of solitude to unwind, gather my thoughts, reenergise, etc. So I am lucky I have today off work. But even though I am feeling wrung out, I have to say it was still worth it. I managed to relax a little bit and simply be, just for a moment.

Like a Broken Record.

I have a tendency to obsess over things. Clearly, I obsess over my thought as I spend way too much time inside my head. But I obsess over little things too. Things that should have little to no relevance in my life.

When I visit my parents, sometimes I help my mum with hanging out the washing. I obsess over her peg basket – how it is filled with pegs of all different shapes, sizes, colours and different stages of bleaching by the sun. When I hang up an article of washing, I have to search for two pegs that match. They have to be identical – right down to how much they have faded by exposure to the weather. When we both lived at home, my brother used to deliberately use two pegs that were completely different. I’d have to spend time going around the washing line, fixing each piece of washing so that identical pegs were used.

If I get my hand “dirty” because I had to use it to touch a railing, or elevator button, or something else that is public access – my hand is effectively rendered useless until I have scrubbed it clean, or at the very least smothered it in antibacterial gel. Help me if I have to wait longer than a minute before I can do one or the other. By that time, I fancy I can actually feel the germs crawling over my skin, spreading up my arm.

All of the times I’ve had an intravenous drip in my hand/arm – within minutes of it being inserted I am fixated on it. Something in my mind snaps, and I have a singular focus on the drip, panic floods me and all I do is mutter repeatedly how it needs to come out, needs to come out now. It is as if I can simply will it out if I repeat the mantra enough times. I get hung up on the needle under my skin, and like a dog with a bone I just can’t let the obsession go.

I have been listening to the same 7 songs on repeat for the past 6 or so weeks. That should have driven me mad (maybe it has and I just don’t realise it!) But apparently my fixation on this band’s music has left no room for any other music in my life right now. I’m very familiar with this type of obsession, getting well keen into a band, or an actor, or something and saturating myself in nothing but said fixation. Eventually I’ll lose interest, but for now it’s like being in love – I can’t imagine not feeling so passionately and strongly as I do about said band right now.

If I have had even the tiniest most insignificant unpleasant or embarrassing interaction with a person – the event plays over and over in my mind like a broken record. There are several stages to this. The first 50,000+ mental replays are the embarrassment/anger phase – where I’m repeatedly reviewing the interaction trying to make sense of what happened. Stage 2 is the beating myself up about it – another 50,000+ replays chiding myself for not reacting appropriately, or saying the wrong thing, or not saying the right thing. Basically it’s about abusing myself relentlessly because I didn’t handle the situation in the “best” way. The final stage is trying to change the past in my head – recreating the scenario and imagining all the alternative outcomes that could have occurred. Inserting the snappiest comeback, or not reacting, or reacting differently. In my mind I am rewriting what happened in a manner that creates the best possible outcome for me. All in all, I will be hung up about a particular interaction for days and even weeks at a time, unable to move past it until I’ve played it out enough times in my head.

I have a ritual when I get in to work in the morning – I open my desk drawer to pull out my notebook, pen, highlighter, calculator and ruler and I have to line them all up on my desk parallel to the edge of the desk. My coworkers sometimes tease me by nudging things out of place when I leave my desk. Of course I notice, I always notice, and I have to realign them when I get back.

These are just a handful of things I obsess over. I kind of find them funny when I look at them through the eyes of “the scientist” because logically none of those things matter. The world won’t end if I use 2 different pegs, or don’t line up my pen to my notebook and make sure they are parallel to the desk edge. I won’t die if I don’t wash my hands immediately after pressing the elevator button, and the drip in my hand won’t kill me. But, for whatever silly reason in my head, if I don’t comply with these rules I’ve created for myself, it all seems to come crashing down around me and I can’t “keep calm and carry on”.

I put it down to my need for control. When my mind is running riot, at least I have these little things that I can control. I suppose they allow me to make sense of my strange and sometimes scary world.