Private Pity Party

Bad panic attack at work tonight.

Very bad one.

Two of them, actually.

I’m still at the edge of one of them. Lorazepam is starting to kick in. I took 4. I’m going to be out for the count.

I know what this means though.

I have to take time off from work. There’s no way around it. My body is physically unable to handle it. My mind is incapable of dealing with the stress. It’s a wonderful job. It’s just that I’m at high-risk time, my sleep schedule is irregular, my baseline anxiety level is extremely high, and the list of stressors is overwhelming.

Time off work in some ways is relieving to think about but also anxiety producing. I’ll be letting my coworkers down. I’ll be hurting financially. I’ll be letting myself down for once again letting my anxiety take control of my life.

This is my private, whining, pity section:

I want to be normal. I want to be stressed out and not have my body react to it in such a violent way. I want my brain to not think so negatively. I want it to stop repeating such obsessively destructive things. I want the dizziness, nausea, and shaking to end. I want to take control of my life. I want to be able to handle things like the strong person I am. Like the strong person others make me out to be. I want to be able to handle life.

Right now, I’m watching it all spiral out of control. I’m so much better than I used to be, but I still have such a long ways to go. I don’t think this journey ever stops. 

All I know right now is that my head is pounding and I’ll do anything to make all this stop.

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The Depression Assignment

Depression touches our lives in many ways. Based on a newspaper or magazine article, book, movie, or personal contact with a depressed relative or friend, describe in some detail the effects of a depressive episode on a real person. Select one area of his or her life and describe it based on what you were able to find out. Was the individual similar to the individuals described in the text? In what ways? 

 

This is my prompt for my next assignment.

How in the hell am I supposed to do this?

This is how I’m going to do it. I’m going to sort out my thoughts here. I’m going to breakdown this prompt then go. I will also vent my frustrations with this prompt so I can simply answer the questions as to what my instructor would actually want to read. Sorry if none of you want to read this, but some insight would be great. Input from you would be most beneficial so please – comment. I would appreciate your words, but I understand if this topic is too difficult to touch upon or you would not like me to use your words. I will of course give credit if you wish.

…describe in some detail the effects of a depressive episode on a real person.

A depressive episode is like a jar of rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. The rocks, pebbles, and sand are all the things in your life. Rocks represent the big things, like family, friends, your health, faith (if it applies) – the important things. Pebbles are the smaller but still important things  – your job, school, finances, etc.. The sand is all the everyday little things that fill up time and energy. Even with all of that in a jar, there is still room. Room for a liquid that seeps into every single thing in your life. Big and small. It touches every part of your being and effects everything in some way, shape, or form. Water is mental illness. Water, for some, is depression. 

I know this metaphor has been used before and I’m not that incredibly original, but this is how I have been able to explain it to some. 

The water can be drained and everything in the jar can be left in place if you place a cloth over the mouth of the jar. The cloth is help – medications, therapy, support systems. Not every cloth does a good job of keeping things in tact. Some fabrics works better than other materials. It depends on the jar. It depends on a lot of factors. However, even when the water has been drained, some still remains. Dampness stays on the rocks, pebbles, and sand. It can become dry again. It can also become filled with water just as easily. It can also drown everything.

This is my metaphor to depressive episodes. Depression affects every aspect of your life. Even when a particular episode is over, it never really leaves you. The feelings, emotions, thoughts… everything stays with you, just to a less intense degree. You still remember. You still feel. You still think. Things can get better, but depression can also drown you. Suicide is very real. Remission is also real. It just depends.

I’m honestly having a hard time keeping my thoughts together. Forgive me – I’m running on little sleep, an abnormal sleep schedule, and at a high-risk period. My doctors are being super cautious with me. It feels like they think that one wrong step will completely shatter me and I’ll end up where I was a year ago.

Whoop.

Back to topic. The effects of a depressive episode… I mean, I could rattle off symptoms, but that’s just a load of bull and regurgitation. The symptoms enhance the feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and despair. Lack of sleep… energy decreases… you’re unable to focus in class when the professor is going over questions for the next exam. But why does it matter anyway? You’re so fucking stupid that it’s not like studying for this exam would help. You don’t care what you look like. You go to class without any makeup on. Maybe you showered that day, maybe it was a miracle that you were able to coax yourself out of bed to even go to class. People around you begin to complain that you’re not paying attention to them. Why do they care? Who knows. None of it makes sense. Friends remark how great you look from weight loss. Then they question why you’re not eating as much. Food tastes bland and eating makes you feel more fatigued. Why do it? It’s only going to make you fatter and therefore “less attractive” to the public eye. Fuck the public eye, your own eyes see it just as clearly. Doing things you would normally do like play a musical instrument, go out with friends, reading… it’s meaningless. You sit in bed all day and have a private pity party. It seems never ending. The thoughts numb you. Maybe you take a razor apart just to feel something. Then you don’t feel so numb. You feel almost calm. Relaxed even dare I say it. You begin to fantasize how much better off the world would be without you. It’s easy. People would cry. But life has a way of moving forward. Besides, the buildup of everyday agony becomes too much to bear. What else are you supposed to do?

I’m trying really hard not to lose my shit at Java House right now.

This is hard. This is really hard.

Select one area of his or her life and describe it based on what you were able to find out.

… How the fuck am I supposed to pick one area. Bull. Shit.

Typically, people don’t understand when you first tell them that you have depression. At least, that was my experience. Hell, I didn’t believe it at first when I was diagnosed. My father, who was a doctoral candidate for psychology straight up told me that I did not have depression. Some of the first friends that I opened up to about my situation shunned me. Most simply pretended that I was still fine. They didn’t know how to treat me. They especially didn’t know if they should treat me any differently. We’re all very stupid and naive. 

I became a recluse. I shut myself in my room and only left for class and rehearsals. I left my job for a time. I started drinking heavily. My social life ceased to exist. 

Even though I was still attending class and rehearsals most of the time, the quality of my work suffered. My ability to concentrate was poor and motivation to complete tasks was nonexistent. You can only imagine what it was like going into weekly lessons with one of the best classical saxophonists of our time when maybe once a week you would have a good practice session. 

…. We now have a very complicated relationship.

My self-esteem took the greatest hit. I was unable to look at myself in the mirror without complete disgust. My weight changed constantly and radically. I felt worthless. I couldn’t do anything right in my mind. I lost my faith due to feeling so unclean. How could someone that wanted to die every day set foot in a place where only love and acceptance is preached? Suicide is still murder so of course I was going to hell. My impending damnation and personal issues with religion created complications that to this day have not been fixed. I don’t think they ever will be either. 

No one listened. No one cared. I stopped caring. And this cycle was on and off for over a year. I had 3 major depressive episodes in the span of 14 months. 2 of those episodes landed me in the hospital. Both were forced hospitalizations. 

I don’t think this is something that can be simplified. At least, it impacted me so much that I can’t simplify it. My brain can’t. Or perhaps I’m too attached to this topic and refuse to let someone simplify my life. It has forever changed me and it still changes me to this day.

Was the individual similar to the individuals described in the text? In what ways? 

Yes and no. The text gave some samples of people that seemed to have extraordinary circumstances that it seems so logical that these people would have depression. Lucy had to take donations from the local food center in order to feed her family even though her husband got a promotion at his job. She feels so inadequate and that she is a failure of a mother. I mean, it seems pretty logical to me that she has depression. Life events are causes of depression. It has been researched (according to my textbook) that more people have their first depressive episode after a significant life event. I have problems with this though. 

Yes, I have had some significant life events that would make it seem so incredibly logical that I have depression. My mother passed away at a very young age, I had my whole future planned out since I was 13-years-old only to change my major during my first semester of college, and I have a family history of mood disorders. Logical, right?

At the same time, my first depressive episode that I can really pinpoint having significant symptoms of depression would be during my sophomore year of college, a year after a “significant life event”. It could have been present before then, but it didn’t seem to impact my life as much. 

There are always exceptions to general rules. I can accept to be one of them. I just don’t enjoy agreeing to generalizations. 

To me, my depression has always seemed so illogical. I have a difficult time understanding and making sense of my own feelings and interpreting them. They aren’t rational and it bothers me. It doesn’t change the thoughts though.

Alright, I either have to start drinking now or go for a run because all of this writing on such a heavy topic is both draining and anxiety-producing. Thoughts? Comments?

 

Faith Dreams

It’s morning. I’m still awake. It’s getting lighter outside.

Calvin’s questioning my sanity. 

I’m right there with him.

These night shifts really know how to fuck me up. 

And fuck me they do.

I’ve been going through some weirdness as well. Mostly, I’m disturbed by a particular dream I’ve had.

Over a year ago, I… decided for lack of better words that the faith life is not my life. Faith and religion isn’t and hasn’t ever been something incredibly dear to me. I’ve never had the conviction. I can’t. 

I saw… or should I say “saw” people in my life that held God deep within their hearts. It was all around me. Then again, so was this distant faith that I found to be much more like my own beliefs. 

My mother was the root of everything. She would wake up at around this hour (instead of staying up all night…) to read the bible. I used to curl up next to her as she’d read me a story when I was little. Through all her struggles, she put her faith in God to help her. I was taught to do that at a young age.

Taught.

It was learned but not on my own.

I never felt that I had developed some sort of relationship with God. Or Jesus. Or any deity. When I had struggles, I prayed. Nothing happened. I never heard a voice. Nothing was leading me. I tried reading scripture. The connection was never made. 

“You have to make the connection.” 

I’m not denying that God is real. It may be. He or She may be. I don’t know. I just don’t like my eternal damnation being shoved down my throat every day. 

Why is one religion “more right” than another? Why does believing in one save you whereas another one damns you?

I’ve been surrounded by people of extreme faith. My mother. My mother’s family. My elementary school. My middle school. My high school. My first boyfriend. My roommate. It follows me. 

And in all honesty, I’m jealous. 

I’m jealous that they have faith. I’m jealous that when they feel all alone, they feel like they have something they can turn to. I’m jealous that they have a community. I’m jealous that they have this connection.

Or that they’re able to convince me of their connection. 

My dream… was bizarre. I had died. Heaven was this ice palace. Those who did not believe were unconscious outside in the icy tundra until they renewed their faith. Obviously, all the proof I needed was there. My faith “restored”, I entered. Heaven had a system. You were first sectioned into the things that you most valued. I value knowledge and philosophy. Then, you were again separated by age and gender. I was then assigned a room. They were large rooms with several beds scattered throughout. It was like church camp all over again. A bunch of girls already comfortable in their bunks… I was the newbie. I found my bed, which again girls were sectioned off by their zodiac sign (um…. ?????) and was told to go and get my clothes. More dividing. More so, each section had specific kinds of clothing they wore. Every thing always came back to God and Jesus. All thanks and praise. It gets weirder.

Love was a special topic. You meet your true soulmate in Heaven. When they arrive and the time is “right”, you are called upon. It’s a very special thing. God himself tells you that this is it and you are reassigned together. 

Time was a very relative thing. 

It was a weird crossover between Divergent, Orange is the New Black, and years of Catholic education bundled into one, twisted dream.

It makes me almost hate faith.

I Will Be Okay

I honestly don’t know what’s wrong right now.

Oh, probably that I’m about to go in to work because they called me in, I’ve had a bit to drink, haven’t been able to work out in the past 3 days, and I just all around feel awful and overwhelmed.

It’s times like these though that I see how much I have grown.

Right now, this is the very beginning of a panic attack. Honestly, panic attacks are the worst. I would never wish this upon anyone. To question yourself due to the world around you crashing about you is a horrible feeling. 

I’m overwhelmed by the number of things I need to do. I remind myself though that I am not alone.

Right now, I feel pretty alone.

I’ve become dependent. It has taught me a lot. Help is okay. Asking for help is okay. 

I will be okay.

I will be okay.

I just need to repeat that mantra. 

I will be okay.

Elusive Folly

I’m trying to decide if I like myself today. 

It’s a very hard decision to make, but it’s very important.

I’ve been taking my medicine like I should. I’m just so exhausted. 

This is a recovery day. I just want to curl up and hide.

Why have I attached myself to others? Why have I created those bonds that usually just wear on their own? Why have I given myself that extra guilt?

Happiness is an elusive folly. 

I’m just tired of chasing it endlessly. 

I can already feel it. The desperation from some for me to be there for them. It creates guilt in my mind. They need me they say. To help fulfill their own happiness agenda. Usually having to do with their significant other. I can feel the pull from them, lulling me into a trap with binds of steel and harnesses of “safety”. 

The push from others is what breaks my resolve. I feel the pull from some, then it rotates to a push from the others. This continues in a cyclical fashion. One pushes, the other pulls, then they switch roles. I can’t seem to be there in the way that people want me to be. 

I’m not one to obey what doesn’t make sense in my mind. You can’t push me then expect me to be there when you need me to pull. 

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. Why do I do this?

I can’t do this.

A Late Night Shift to Love

A very interesting shift tonight at the good ol’ Perkins…

I have been a server there since summer of 2011. I was fresh out of high school and had just moved out of my parents’ house. The pay (in tips) is good. But I work hard for those tips.

Recently, I’d been having with a coworker sexually harassing me. Mostly verbal stuff. I pulled him aside not too long ago though and told him I would have him written up and reported to HR if it continued. 

He’s been pretty good since then. 

But tonight, I got a rowdy crowd. It was a very late bar rush. It was a group of 7 truckers. They were fun, don’t get me wrong. One of them was convinced that he was in love with me. It was all fun. But man… this guy tried with all his might to get my number. Hell, a lot of them did. I don’t mind though. I don’t give out my number, but they meant no harm. I’d seen them in the restaurant before and knew they were just drunk. A few times I had to be stern, but usually when one would say something that crossed the line, they others would back me up saying not to talk to a lady like that. 

I just know that it would bother Calvin to no end. 

The first thing those men did is asked to see my left hand. When they saw I had no ring, they didn’t care if I had a boyfriend. I was fair game.

There is a lot of truth to that. I mean, I will remain faithful to Calvin because he is my world, but I am technically “single” in a way. 

Calvin and I have had a very serious talk recently. Another argument. I think that makes 4 serious talks/arguments for the duration of our 8-month relationship. I think that’s pretty good. 

Anyway, back on track. I’m scared. I’m scared to commit to a 2-year long-distance relationship without any promises or even an idea if he can see himself with me in the future. All he said before he left was that he saw us together through his masters. Beyond that was up in the air. Especially since I can see us going beyond that. A lot beyond that. 

This is a guy I have been in love with for 2 years already. More than that. 

He told me that he was upset that I pushed him for an answer because he was going to tell me all that soon. When I was drunk a few days ago, I wrote him this long message on Facebook just about all the reasons why I loved him and how I did and how I keep falling for him every day. Hell, he’s not perfect, but I love him. 

And he wanted to reciprocate that. Just later. I don’t know when later is, but he had his own agenda I guess. 

So, his reply was that he does see us together in the future. Into the long future. Much beyond his Masters and into his DMA, and possibly later than that too. We’ll see. 

But all of this talk of love makes me wonder how we find that “special someone”. Calvin is from Hong Kong. I’m from Iowa. How in the hell did that happen? 

Is it destiny? Is it choice? Is it fate? Is it random chance?

I don’t know, but he is my choice. He will always be my choice. I don’t care how, I just know how I’m going to try my damnedest to make it work. 

The Hole

You’re selfish.

I’m trying to get over that.

It’s in your veins, in every fiber of your being. You’re considerate, but that’s not the same.

Everything points back to you in your mind.

I’m hallow. I’m numb. I’m empty. I’m doing all of this for you.

I’m working everyday to make myself better. Doing you extreme favors. Working insane shifts so I can give you an amazing gift. Doing well in what I should be to make you proud.

My own happiness is a side effect of yours. I do this all to see you smile.

In a way, I’m feeding your selfish ways.

All I need is for you to return my love.

Tell me I’m a person of worth. Tell me that I’m a person that deserves happiness. Tell me I exist not just for others but for myself.

Otherwise I will drown in this hole. You hold the rope. It’s your choice to throw it to me or to panic and let me die.

Uncomfortable

We cannot numb ourselves to the things that make us feel uncomfortable. 

We also cannot simply say that we are just going to change what makes us feel uncomfortable to makes us feel comfortable.

There are things in life that are meant to be uncomfortable. We are human and we are made to experience pain and suffering. Without that, we do not know that which makes us comfortable.

I have learned the hard way how numbing yourself changes you. It makes your mind feel that failure is okay. It lets you drone on in your mind the endless thoughts that plague your sleep. 

We have to process this pain. We have to grieve properly. 

If we don’t, we let it fester within us. We hold onto it. We let it control our daily lives. 

I’m not asking you to change me. I’m asking you to help me. There’s a difference. 

Validate my feelings. Validate my happiness. Validate my sadness. 

Let me feel like any other human being. 

I have emotions. Let me feel them and embrace them.

Otherwise you’re controlling how I feel. Let me tell you that’s where I draw the line. If you cross that, it will be the hardest thing to let you back over. I have yet to let people do that. 

And trust me, people have crossed that line. 

I don’t want to loose you to the other side.

Just Dandy

I’ve tried to think of different ways to start this.

Okay, I’m just gonna go for it.

The last few days have been absolutely crazy. July 1st signifies the anniversary to Hong Kong’s return to China rule. Each year, they have a protest. This year was huge. Some say over 500,000 people attended. Calvin and his parents were among them. 

Calvin’s dad was also among the 500 or so that were arrested later that day. 

Read the news articles. It’s not too hard to find.

But Calvin has been a bit of a mess since the march. He’s a bundle of anger and frustration and he’s started isolating himself from me. 

Some girls might cry, “I don’t know what to do! What do I do to help him?”

Well, I’ve been educating myself on the matter. I mean, as much as I have time for between school, working full time, working out, and moving the two of us out. 

Right now, I just need him to talk to me. I need him to let me in if he so chooses. 

I guess his choice is to not include me though. I’m not too offended as it’s not my home, not my country, I didn’t know anything on the matter until honestly when we began dating. I find it a lot harder to relate to his situation when the freedom he desires is a luxury I’ve had my entire life. I can sympathize, but not empathize as well. Maybe he senses that and doesn’t want it or possibly he just wants to be alone.

Well, that sucks.

That really sucks for me.

Because this is a time I desperately need him. I desperately need him.

I’ve witnessed a horrendous break-up from one of my best friends who has since the incident stopped talking to anyone, I’ve been working nonstop to raise funds to go to Hong Kong and keep myself afloat financially, I’ve been working on my psychology class that takes a lot more out of me due to the nature of the topic, I’m headed into the 4th of July – my favorite holiday that is also tainted by the memory of my first love and by the fact that I’m working all day/night and don’t get to actually celebrate, and I’m trying to figure out how to move both Calvin and I out of our apartments completely in 20 days. 

Oh, I’m also working out almost every day. It has been helping, but it’s also rather time consuming. 

The 4th though… it was the last time I ever saw Ben. It’s been 5 years now. He’s still the person I’ve had the longest relationship with. Granted, we were young, but it still stings. It stings even more that I know he’s been in town since he’s left but doesn’t want to bother with seeing me. He was much more bitter about our break-up than I ever realized.

I see every now and then him pop up on my Facebook news feed. He seems to be doing very well for himself and I’m glad. He’s a great guy with a very bright future ahead of him. 

I just wonder what people will think of me.

I wonder if he wonders how I’m doing.

I don’t know what I would say. I’m 21, have a cat named Leo, work at a restaurant, have a boyfriend from Hong Kong that I met in the studio at Iowa, I’m studying music therapy, oh, and that asthma we thought I had right before you left? Yeah, it wasn’t asthma at all. It was the beginning of a horrible and long diagnostic process I went through to official become “mentally ill”. Yeah, I have generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Since been hospitalized twice for suicidal ideation and self-harm. But don’t worry, I’ve seen 5 doctors for this and 3 psychologists not including the hospital people and I think I’ve finally found some keepers! Life’s been dandy.

Just dandy. 

 

Accountability

Well, today has been… interesting.

I worked. I went home. Ate. Got my stuff together. Stayed in bed and petted Leo for a good amount of time. Realized I should go study. Left my apartment to go study. Had a 15-minute long conversation with an absolute stranger on my way to my car. Came here. Finished two assignments. Kept getting distracted. Liked my ice tea but not my hot tea. Started journaling.

Yo.

I made more money last night working than I did this morning. I was just really on my game – joking with guests, talking, remembering everything when I needed to. This morning, I was tired, forgetful, and kept getting harassed by my coworkers. They were teasing me at every opportunity. Little playful things, but it got very obnoxious very fast. A coworker of mine wanted to trade shifts tomorrow – his morning shift for my evening shift.

I declined.

I used to really like working the morning shifts because that’s where the money is. But the stress is right there with it and I’m not particularly fond of the people that work weekday mornings anymore.

After everything I’ve been through in the last year, I know my bounds and limits. While I have the experience to work those day shifts, I hate working them now. They’re stressful, annoying, and all together not worth the money.

It also doesn’t help that I made more money last night than I did this morning.

But my strange encounter with a stranger…

He’s from Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t know why he chose to move here to Iowa of all places. Probably in graduate school. Every time I tried to leave to go study, he’d drag me back in with some question about me. I’m used to this tactic as a server. I’m used to being rung into awkward, one-sided conversations with people that just want some company. I’m still not an expert at leaving those situations, but let me tell you, I’ve improved.

The entire time we talked, I could only think of the dangerous aspects. He commented on my “pristine” look (mind you, my hair is in a bun, I’m wearing a ball cap, sweats are on, tennis shoes.) Every few minutes, he’d shift and move a little closer to me. His body language was very open, arms down by his side, feet facing towards me, eyes always on me. Mine was not inviting. My arms were crossed, feet pointed in a different direction than him, constantly observing the surroundings looking for an out. He pointed me in the direction of his home which we were right next to. He never invited me in, but I will never be sure if he intended to invite me in had our conversation progressed or not.

Every fiber in my being was at alarm. I was ready to punch my keys into his eye if he so much as tried to touch me. Then I was alarmed with myself.

At what point did I come to fear this stranger?

Stranger danger has been instilled upon our generation and for a valid reason. My mother and elementary school shoved “stranger danger” down our throats. It’s also a natural human instinct. But what with our campus having 7 or 8 reported sexual assaults in a span of 5 months and the news these days. You only hear the bad about people or the outstanding in people.

When did we as a society begin to question and suspect the ordinary?

Because I did not know this man, I immediately presumed him to be a threat. Even though I have a few good inches on him and I was wearing stuff that would have been easy to fight or fly, I was skeptical of his intentions.

What his intentions were, I’ll never know. Maybe he just wanted a casual conversation. Maybe he wanted to drug me and take advantage of me.

Is this assumption of the bad what has brought about my negative thoughts? The deeper I get into abnormal psychology, the more I find the little aspects of my life that effect my thinking in ways I never considered before.

It’s a nature via nurture.

It’s made me much more cautious of myself, but also much more hopeful.

Part of the reason why I feel like I don’t want to have kids is because of my own life experiences. It’s selfish, but I can’t go through the pain of seeing them go through the kind of pain I have experienced. My family has a history of mood and anxiety disorders. With everything I’ve gone through, how could I create a human being that could very well experience the same things if not worse things than I have?

But nature via nurture. Genes are important, yes, but so is the environment. Life experiences effect how and if genes are expressed. Of course, this also worries me. I can’t set up realistic expectations for myself to create the perfect environment for my children nor the expectation that they will have a perfect life. That would only destroy me and my family.

Who knows though. Maybe my current conviction to not have kids will stay with me. Maybe my *unsure if it will actually happen* husband won’t want to have kids of our own either. I know I would like to be a mother some day. But I’ve considered adoption or foster care.

I just don’t think I could bring potential harm to my own flesh and blood. The impact would feel less. I wouldn’t be as accountable.

Accountability is something I’ve been struggling with a lot.