Socially Phobic

March 31, 2007

I changed my

Filed under: Things that help — iambrave @ 3:12 pm

name from iamscared to iambrave. Aren’t those just two sides of the same coin, anyway? Don’t you have to be doing something scary to be considered brave in the first place? I don’t care for this particular definition of courage, courtesy of Dictionary.com:

cour·age [kur-ij, kuhr] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation –noun

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery…

What I don’t like about it is the “without fear” part – fuck that. If I had to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear in order to consider myself courageous I would have to think of myself as the weakest person on the planet. In my book, facing anything IN THE MIDST OF FEAR is the definition of bravery.

I have spent (wasted, really) a lot of time in my life beating up on myself for being afraid of everything all the time. And then I was able to reframe my thoughts in the way described above – I honestly don’t know if I read it or heard it somewhere or what so I won’t claim that this is mine, originally, but the idea seemingly just came to me – and I felt a lot better. It made me able to be proud of myself for the things that I have done, given how scared I was the whole time.

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This blog is

Filed under: Drugs,Good Days,Insomnia,Life in General,PMS,Social Phobia — iambrave @ 2:36 am

keeping me up at night. Okay, I am up at night a lot anyway. But, I was so tired around 40 minutes ago that I thought for sure that I would fall right asleep. Not so. As soon as I laid down, I started thinking of things to write about. Ultimately, I needed to just get up and write. Here I am.

We ended up coming to a compromise tonight about what to do. We didn’t end up going to the concert, but I was told that I needed to get out of the house anyway and avoid getting stuck in my little bubble of safety. The things that we did were not scary at all. Actually, we had a lovely night out. A perfect little date of dinner and a movie. It was fun, and I was happy and not anxious. We saw Blades of Glory and it was ridiculous and it made me laugh. I even felt like I could’ve gone to the concert (maybe) but we didn’t push it. It seems to me that there are surprisingly few movie theaters close to where we live, only having lived in this city for around eight months now, but we found one and I thought it was just perfect. It was old and rundown and although that I am assuming that the movie we saw probably opened fairly largely tonight given the crap that’s out right now there were only maybe ten people in the theater. I am all for stadium seating and digital what have you but I am more than happy to trade not having to share an armrest with a stranger for a dirty little place with a hole in the middle of the screen. And afterwards we got our pictures taken in a photo booth and played arcade-style video games and it was totally silly and I had a great time. The only thing that’s missing right now is my dog – we have to board him when we go out because of his mental health problems (one of the reasons that we have barely left the house together in months) and so he’s not here tonight to sleep under the covers with me.

So, we didn’t go to the show. We also didn’t go to a concert back in September that we had bought tickets for. Note to self: stop buying concert tickets for the time being. But, I’m going to frame this in a positive way. We went out, and this is such a vast improvement over a couple of incredibly low times last year when I couldn’t leave the house at all. I was doing straight-up CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) early in 2006 and one of the things that the therapist had me do was construct my hierarchy of fear. I remember that the first thing that I was supposed to work on, i.e. the thing that I was least afraid of, was taking the dog out, not even for extended walks, but just to let him out in the apartment complex that we lived in at the time because I was terrified of even seeing one of my neighbors. It’s progress. MAJOR progress. I have neighbors that I actively dislike right now for various reasons but I am able to leave the house and risk running into them. In California, I didn’t even know any of these people. Here, I have legitimate issues with people that I could very well see on the street at any time and I am still able to leave my house. It’s a big deal.

My period started today in the very light way that it starts and I do feel significantly different than I did yesterday in that, even though I had trouble falling asleep a few minutes ago, I am not feeling totally wired. I am specifically trying to document my cycle right now because I am looking for patterns that will hopefully prove helpful. For example, if I come to the realization that when I have PMS I will not be able to sleep, I will have this knowledge ahead of time and, when it comes to being able to deal with the ways that your brain may be playing tricks on you, this knowledge is key. If I can establish that this insomnia is a monthly pattern I will be able to anticipate it and plan around it and not descend into the downward spiral of “I don’t know what the hell is happening to me, therefore this must be a sign of my final descent into madness”. The same thing applies if I can realize that I do get more anxious when I have PMS. I had been very physically depressed prior to the past week, and needing to sleep 10 or so hours a night, and then the insomnia hit.

I have so much to say right now and I am feeling sleepy but I would like to continue for just a little bit further and talk about the ways that picking up writing again is changing my life for the better. I have never really been consistent with pen-and-paper diaries throughout my life and I have been known to destroy my written words (regrettably) in the past because it made me sick to see what I had been writing about. I started my other blog in December, and I like that one too, to some extent, but the more that I wrote on that one I felt a need to entertain and try maybe a little too hard and conceal too much and ultimately came to the realization this week that these things were the things that I really needed to express. I can’t believe that I went for so much time without writing at all. I believe that I was born to write and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way because the amazing (and intimidating) thing that I am finding out as I learn more and more about the world of blogging is that there are probably literally millions of wonderful writers in the world and there is so much reading that I need to do and so much that I can learn from the stories of other people. I wish that I had figured out what a blog was sooner – I was one of those people that didn’t know even know what the term meant until it was used in the popular media regarding the immense influence that bloggers were starting to have on society, politics, etc. I can’t remember when exactly that was – if it was during a time not so long ago when I spent all of my waking hours getting stoned all the time it may not have been personally helpful. The excessive self-medication that I used as a coping mechanism for several years – as a side note, thank god I was just smoking weed and, while intensely psychologically addicted and perhaps even physically as it related to my sleep cycle and maybe even my depression and anxiety it could’ve turned out way worse – was not conducive to coherent writing. I will talk more about my views on my drug use at another time. And although I am currently using drugs which, I believe, are potentially a lot more dangerous given their physically addictive profiles, they are not inhibiting my writing. So, that’s something at least.

I feel like I am becoming more and more incoherent right now – that’s a GOOD sign, given that it’s 2:30 a.m. – so I believe that I will attempt to sleep again. Believe it or not, I am actually looking forward to the horrendous day 2 of my menstrual cycle that should come tomorrow in all of its crampy agony because I am physically exhausted and I hope that the ability to sleep will return to me.

So, good night internet. Good night to my dog as well – I wish that I could go break you out of captivity to come snuggle with me. I am sure that I will see you both tomorrow.

March 30, 2007

Today, on the other hand,

Filed under: Social Phobia — iambrave @ 1:43 pm

I woke up in a state of total panic. The reason may sound so silly, but it’s this: we are supposed to go to a concert tonight. And my fiance’s car is in the shop, so I may have to drive fairly far, in the dark, to get there. But really it’s the event itself that’s freaking me out. When I am in a crowd of people, I don’t feel like a state of physical harm is going to come to me, like I’m going to be attacked or something. I feel – and as I write this, I know that this is ridiculous – like everyone is staring at me. This is true of concerts in particular. I think it’s the dancing. I feel really stupid when I dance and when everyone else “seems” to be able to dance so easily (“seems” because there is probably at least one other person there who feels the same way that I do), I feel like everyone else in the crowd is wondering what is wrong with me. Anxiety is a maladaptive fear response, so what that means is this: I don’t believe that there is a whole lot, if anything, that is emotionally different in my reaction than if I were afraid of physical harm.

The last time that we went out (it was a comedy show), which we don’t have the chance to do a lot right now (am I secretly happy about that?) for various reasons, I was anxious but was able to combat it by pounding tequila shots (okay, well, a couple shots and a couple beers: I’m enough of a lightweight that it was enough to do the trick for me). I’m not saying that it was a particularly adaptive coping strategy, particularly given all of the medications that I am on, but it did the trick. I ended up being able to lose myself and actually had a great time. But if I have to drive tonight, I can’t drink like that.

I have known that I have had this problem with concerts for a long time, and I think that this is the first time that I have ever been able to articulate it. I just cried to my fiance about it and I believe that it was the first time that I’ve ever tried to explain this particular feeling to another person. So let me go ahead and just come right out and say it: I HATE CONCERTS. I love music, and I love the group that we are supposed to see, but I HATE CONCERTS. Amazing now, looking back on it, that I suffered through so many (it’s been a while, but particularly in college), without ever expressing to the people around me (my best friends, say, or a past boyfriend) that I was going through this extremely intense and unpleasant emotional reaction. Panicking. And there were substances to get me through. But the panic response was still there, at least in the anticipation.

I feel the “spotlight effect” in other places, too, like every time I sit in class. Even if I look around and no one is looking at me, I know that they are thinking about me. I’m not delusional. I know that it’s not rational. But it’s the emotional response that I have. I first distinctly remember having this type of feeling at The Care Bears Movie. I just looked it up, and that was 1985, so I would’ve been six or seven. I was there with my mom. There was music in the movie, and the audience started clapping along. How do people do that so easily? How do they know when to start clapping? How does the first person to start clapping do it? (Clapping to music irritates me, but it’s largely due to the fact that (a) I don’t understand it and (b) I am profoundly jealous of people who can do things without being self-conscious. And it’s a little annoying. But okay, I won’t be snarky. It’s a little annoying TO ME. And it’s probably also because of the noise and the heightened state that my senses are frequently in.) As a side note, my mom didn’t clap either. Was I uncomfortable because I was modeling myself after her and could sense her anxiety because there’s a good chance, given her personality, that she felt the exact same way; i.e., is my anxiety learned? Was I uncomfortable because of my genetic predisposition to anxiety? Both are viable theories, and neither is mutually exclusive. I’ve clearly been taking too many psych classes.

I feel really bad right now. We have spent a lot of money on this and my fiance (so unrelated but I hate that word so I need to come up with something better to call him but then again he will be my husband six weeks from today so maybe I can hang in with the f-word until then) was probably looking forward to going. His first response, when he saw how upset I was, was “Okay, then we shouldn’t go.” He is trying to protect me when he says that. In all honesty, it’s probably not that huge of a deal to him whether we go or not. It’s impossible for me to judge in this state how disappointed he really is. But I feel like he is upset, whether he is or not, so that upsets me. It also upsets me because I have told friends and family that I am going and I think that they will think that I am stupid if I tell them that I didn’t go. I would never have considered telling them the real reason before this, but I think that some people might understand. So, that’s progress.

But what do I do? A standard treatment for anxiety is exposure, which means that I should go and put myself in the very situation that I am afraid of. The standard question of my last two therapists would be, “What’s the worst that could happen?” And barring some horrific disaster and I’m not even going to go down that mental road, I suppose that I would say that the very worst that could actually happen is that strangers would, in fact, look at me and think that I was stupid…but in reality that’s not the worst that could happen because even if people are actually doing that there is no way for me to be a mind reader. So the worst that could happen is that I would feel uncomfortable for a couple of hours and then I would go home. It’s standard cognitive-behavioral stuff, and it all seems so simple on paper. But, am I really in the mood to do therapy on myself tonight? I don’t know.

This is the way my mind works. This is what having social phobia means to me.

As a side note,

Filed under: Things that help — iambrave @ 4:40 am

I am becoming completely obsessed with this blog. This is somewhat unrelated to all that has been posted here before. What is related is the fact that since I started this blog, I have been able to make myself feel better simply by posting here. I will not share the technical issues that I am currently working on to improve the site, but let’s just say that it’s a work in progress. I mean, even if the blog is devoted to mental health issues, doesn’t presentation count just a little? Besides, creative therapy comes in forms other than writing. For example (okay, now I am sharing), I am trying to figure out how to create a link to the homepage of the site that is in an acceptable location which doesn’t involve changing my theme, because I just created that new custom header. I find that all creative endeavors help. You should try it, if you haven’t already.

I am working

Filed under: Stigma — iambrave @ 3:22 am

on a new project. It is a personal project driven by issues that keep coming up in my mind as I sit through my classes this semester. I can’t sleep (again, naturally, but that should go without saying), but this time I am driven by positive thoughts of what my role in the world needs to be. This semester, what I have been experiencing time and time again as we discuss issues of so-called “abnormal psychology” is an intense personal need to share my own story. When we talk about anxiety, for example, I have the urge to jump out of my seat and tell everyone what my experiences have been like. Is this terrifying? Absolutely. Have I done it? Absolutely not.

I just started this blog a few days ago, and it may be changing already. It’s ironic, perhaps, given the fact that one of my main issues is social anxiety. But what I want to do, at this moment of positivity, at least, is post my picture up there and put my full name up there and be part of a movement. I’m late to the blogging game and I am just starting to learn the ins and outs of the various online communities. What I don’t know is whether there is a blogging community that is dedicated to the de-stigmatization of mental illness. I would like to find out.

I was talking to my fiance about this today after a brief email exchange with Scott, and he (my fiance, that is) said something similar to the following to me: “Maybe your calling isn’t to be a therapist. Maybe your calling is to work on telling your own story; to work on the stigma of mental health in society.” And you know what? It just might be. I’m not sure how yet. Of course, coming out of hiding would be a good first start. And, I might be in the wrong field. I might need to take a more public health approach to my education.

I am in such complete and utter admiration of people who come out and tell their stories, with photos, names and all. More examples can be found on crazymeds.org. I’m still in the early stages of my internet research and my academic research. But I am looking forward to seeing what I can find and figuring out what I can do.

I haven’t been writing on this site long enough to have been able to share my whole story. I am willing to do so in time, from childhood forward. I will tell you about each and every medication that I have been on and each and every therapist I have seen, at least the ones that I can remember (read: there have been a lot of both). I will tell you about each and every diagnosis that has been given to me. I will tell you about the good doctors and the bad ones. All in time.

But for tonight, as it is rather late and I have had my usual bedtime cocktail, already described in detail, I would just like to tell you about one particular experience that was incredibly formative for me. When I was a child, and already dealing with these issues, my mother stressed to me that it was bad to let people know that you were dealing with mental health problems. This was the ’80s, and I believe or at least would like to hope that things have improved since then. At the time, however, we were lucky enough to have health insurance. But what my mother told me was that we should not file our mental health claims. The insurance company would know, and your employer could find out (pre-HIPAA, and while I am not clear enough yet on this law I believe that this is no longer the case), and so whatever mental conditions you might be treated for should be hidden at all costs. This has stuck in my mind for all of these years, and I believe that there was truth in her words and that she spoke in what she believed to be our best interest. However, the downside to all of this is that I have felt bad for all of these years for feeling bad. I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL BAD ABOUT FEELING BAD ANYMORE. I do not want to carry the burden of shame, and I don’t want anyone else to, either.

I will admit that I am slightly obsessed with Scott’s site today, and my fiance also pointed out the following quote that I will share here:

“I want FindingYourMarbles.com to serve as an inspiration to anyone who is suffering from mental illness. You can do anything. Don’t let the world convince you that there is something wrong with you just because you are different. The world is wrong. You are perfectly normal and you can do anything.”

I couldn’t say it better, so I didn’t try.

But thank you to Scott and everyone else out there who is brave and I can think of many other examples right now and hope to find many other examples to share in the future. I am getting braver because of all of you.

I am also going to keep updating my blogroll as I continue to find sites which I believe share this philosophy and this mission. I am starting to notice that blogs that I am linking are linking to each other as well, which is encouraging to my desire to find the online community that I am looking for. (The socially anxious part of me hates blogrolling people that I don’t know, because, you know, what if they hate me? But I’m doing it anyway.)

March 29, 2007

Feeling a little better

Filed under: Insomnia,Social Phobia — iambrave @ 3:46 pm

today. On Tuesday, I sent an email to my adviser telling her that I wasn’t planning on taking any classes this summer and she responded very nicely – telling me that she had a feeling that I might tell her that. Apparently, it’s a bit obvious to the outside world that I’m overwhelmed right now. But more than that, it was validating and it made me feel it was a choice within the reasonable boundaries of healthy human behavior, and that other people can see that there are actual, physical reasons for me to feel stressed right now. I wish that I didn’t need so much external validation and that I could trust my own emotions when it comes to making decisions. But, I’ll take good feelings where I can get them for the time being.

I called in sick to work today. My sleep cycle has been all whacked out – Tuesday night, I guess, I ended up not being able to fall asleep until 7 a.m. and then I slept in fits until about 1 p.m. I think that it’s because I took a Tramadol for a headache and despite the fact that narcotics or faux-narcotics or whatever the hell kind of drug it is are supposed to make you sleepy those little babies can keep me up all night. It’s funny. Not funny ha ha, but a little scary that I can take my Xanax XR, my Restoril, my beta blocker which I can’t spell, another regular Xanax on top of that, and STILL NOT SLEEP. My brain is not super healthy, and I’m on too many drugs.

After I got up yesterday, I did my best to function. But I had a raging headache which abated for a while with yet another Tramadol and then got progressively worse until I had to just walk out of my second class of the day at around 8:00 p.m. I ended up going to bed at around 10:30-11:00, but was wide awake at 5:00 this morning. I was feeling sort of okay – my stomach has been messed up, very nauseous, but at least that headache was gone, thanks to the Tylenol/Aleve combo recommended by a neurologist a couple years back (IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite how this reads, I am in no way affiliated with any drug companies. I might, in fact, hate drug companies. I guess that it’s a love/hate thing. But when it comes to the drugs that I take, I’m just telling it like it is.). But then I ended up going back to sleep at 8:00 or so this morning (having to be at work at noon) and when the alarm went off I just couldn’t get out of bed. I told my boss it was a stomach bug, because I have been really nauseous. Maybe I was just groggy and I should have tried to make it through. Those guilty thoughts are always there when I skip something because of my lifetime record of poor attendance. But I’m not going to dwell on that. I can’t dwell on guilt.

(Do you know how paranoid writing this is making me right now? Despite its anonymity? I feel like my boss is totally going to find this and read this and be mad at me. What can I say about it? I’m either going to post it or I’m not, and I am, so screw it, I guess.)

I’ve never been a good sleeper, even as a baby. And I just never outgrew it. My dad has a theory that it’s because I had fairly major surgery right after I was born and that the first things babies learn is the difference between sleep/wake and that somehow that anesthesia through off my sleep/wake cycle for the next…28 years now? I don’t know if that’s true. Show me a clinical study. But it is true that I have always been an insomniac. And I’m not some powerhouse that can get by on 4 hours. I need me some sleep to feel all right and not get migraines and stuff. Well, I don’t need a clinical study right in front of me to understand the links between insomnia and depression and anxiety and migraines, not to mention PMS. It doesn’t help that I think that stress has been throwing off my menstrual cycle so who even knows what state my hormones are in right now. Either that or it has to do with my theory that my body is conspiring to make me get my period on my wedding day. (That’s a joke. Sort of. But see, I can make jokes. Sometimes.)

Anyway, I don’t currently have any plans for the summer. Well, I have one that I haven’t shared with anyone yet. My plan is to try to go off all of my medications and see what happens. Lord knows that will be a process that requires a sabbatical. But I have a reason, other than the fact that I don’t like the idea of dependence. And it is this: we want to have a baby. Not necessarily this summer, but sometime in the relatively near future. Honestly, we can’t do it on the one income that we have right now. But in order to do that at any time, I will need to not be on any drugs. And I need to see if I can do it. I don’t even think I’ve talked about this plan with the fiance yet (the going off drugs this summer, that is, not the baby part). I canceled my psychiatrist appointment yesterday, because it occurred during the time that I was needing to sleep in the morning daylight hours. But I’m going to tell him as soon as I get in to see him. I have an appointment with my therapist in about an hour, and I’m going to tell him then.

I also want to talk to my therapist about my current fears about the field of psychology as a whole. This is also related to my summer plans. One thing that I could do is try to find an entry-level human services job. But I’m scared – I don’t know if (a) all of that negative priming that I talked about before is really good for me – I was reminded that my issues are legit when I read this post yesterday – and if (b) I can really handle being in charge of other people’s lives. That scares me a whole lot, too. I couldn’t even really handle tech support at the time that I was doing it, specifically the fact that other people were depending on me to solve their problems and I was terrified of letting them down. So, what if it’s not someone’s computer that’s broken? What if I’m a therapist and my client is suicidal or a child is being abused and I’m the one who needs to deal with it? That’s way worse than a crashing computer or lost data or a server that’s down. Shit. I’m starting to feel like I’m repeating myself over and over again in this blog, which I guess is okay because it’s kinda sorta my personal diary and I think about the same things over and over again. In any case, I think I need career counseling. Maybe I need to work from home or something. Maybe I need to train dogs. I’m not joking about that, either. I believe that you can rank types of job pressure. At certain points, I haven’t been able to handle any pressure at all. Well, serving is definitely pressure. But what I really couldn’t handle at my last restaurant job were the ever-pervasive thoughts about how all of my coworkers hated me (they might have, but I think that’s not really the point. The obsession is the problem.). What kind of job can you do where there’s absolutely no pressure, you do it on your own time frame, and if you can’t get out of bed on some days it’s no big deal? So far, all that I can think of are (a) becoming an heiress and (b) winning the lottery. (That’s ANOTHER joke – I must be in a better mood today.)

March 27, 2007

I am

Filed under: Uncategorized — iambrave @ 3:00 pm

very lucky in a lot of ways. I am lucky because there are people in my life who understand what I am going through and right now they are all saying the same thing to me – I need to take the summer off from school. Forget that I told my counselor yesterday that I am going to register for such and such classes and will be a graduate assistant again. I need this time off to figure out if I truly hate what I am doing or if I am just ridiculously stressed out right now. I just need to get through the next few weeks. How hard can that be? Well, it might be quite hard. I think I can do it, though, with the promise of freedom on the other side. May 12 is going to be one of the most liberated days of my entire life. Now, I just need to tell my adviser what my plans are. That makes me anxious, of course, but I can try to figure out what the right thing is to say. Or, not even worry about the right thing. Just get through.

There will be time to deal with things on the other end. Things like my profound unhappiness on being dependent on so many medications, particularly Xanax and sleeping pills, to get through my days and nights. When I see shit like the autopsy of a certain blonde that came out yesterday, I don’t want to be heading down the road to overdose on prescription meds at age 39. But the truth is, right this very second, trying to change all that up isn’t the best idea if I am going to function for the next few weeks.

There will also be time to figure out if this is what I want to do with my life, or if I can be creative somehow and think of another way to live, another way to make money that doesn’t make me so miserable. I’m marrying for love, not for cash here, so while I wish we could be a one-income family that doesn’t seem to be in the books right now. But there has to be something that I can do that doesn’t make me want to lose my mind.

These are all things that can be determined this summer. There is time. And I am lucky.

March 26, 2007

Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — iambrave @ 11:33 pm

I’m not sure if I can handle it anymore. I wonder if I am being primed to feel depressed and anxious when we spend so much time in my classes talking about depression and anxiety. The class that I had tonight made me feel really shitty. The girl who was doing her presentation brought in a quiz for us to take regarding the frequency of our automatic negative thoughts. I didn’t want to take the quiz and I didn’t. I got up and went to the bathroom instead. It’s all just too personal for me sometimes. I think that the things that could potentially make me a good therapist are also the same things that could be my downfall. I understand it all so well because I have been through it. I am living it.

And still, I go on. I made plans today for the classes that I am going to take this summer, even though I don’t know if I am going to make it or not. All that I can do right now is try to get through the semester and the wedding and I will hopefully have a clearer head after that. I hope.

Goddamn it, I don’t want to quit something again. I graduated from college six years ago now and in that time I have gotten fired from a job, started and not finished a different graduate degree, and then left my last job because of serious anxiety problems. It’s not exactly an impressive record. I have quit a lot of things in my life, and I’m not proud of it. I don’t think that I’m a lost soul, exactly. I think that my soul is in the right place. I have love in my life and I am caring and empathic and I feel passionately about a lot of things. It’s my career that’s not so impressive.

Well, I see my doctors this week. The psychiatrist I’m not so crazy about. I don’t really feel like he listens all that well. I have been putting up with it so far because I really was feeling a lot better, so I thought that maybe he had some magical medication answers that no one else had found so far. Anyway, I’m thinking about going off of Lithium. I think it’s possible that it’s making me depressed. Maybe I am looking for external answers and I’m really just very stressed out. I don’t know if Lithium is ever known to depress people. I guess I should do more research before Wednesday. It makes sense, logically, if it’s used to treat manic episodes and I don’t have manic episodes, that it could make me swing too far in the opposite direction.  But logic isn’t always the way that these things work. And then I see my therapist on Thursday. I need to talk to him about this stuff. I like him all right. I think we have a good relationship and that he’s a smart man. What I don’t know is whether he’s helping me or not. I do want to ask him about this career shit. If I’m going to quit what I’m doing, I want to do it now rather than later. I don’t know how that makes it better. Less money invested, I guess.

My happy place

Filed under: Social Phobia — iambrave @ 6:01 am

seems somewhat ironic to me right now, as it existed at one of the lowest of all of the low points in my life. I’ve had problems for a while, for my whole life, maybe, but last year was the first time that I had my first real nervous breakdown. Well, my second, to be fair. But that can be another story for another time.

Things started getting bad in the fall of ’05, I guess it was. I was working at a fairly stressful tech support job, but maybe it wasn’t that stressful after all. I mean, it was for me, and others were surely stressed, but everyone else seemed to be handling it all right. What I mean to say is that, to date, I am the only person that I know of who had a certifiable nervous breakdown and ended up having to quit entirely.

Before I quit, there are a few things that stand out in my memory. I remember crying in the shower every morning before work because the urge to not have to go and face all of the pressure was just so goddamn strong. I remember never being able to relax on the weekends because I was just so terrified of the week to come. As a side note, let me just say that I am scared right now because I am starting to feel that way again. I have to get up tomorrow, and I have to go to work, and I have to go to class, and the thought scares the shit out of me. I can’t really put the reasons that I am so scared into words right this second. I know that anxiety is maladaptive fear, and that fear is a primal instinct, so maybe its true description is something that predates language and is unspeakable.

But back to my happy place. I went on for months with the crying and the terror and then one morning Mr. IAmScared and I were leaving for work together and I was sobbing and he knew that I couldn’t make it and he told me to just fuck it. He asked if he should take me to the hospital, and I said no, because I knew that it wasn’t that kind of problem. But I went back home that day, and I never went back to that job again. That’s a long story, of doctor’s notes and potential disability, and I will talk about that someday, too. But damnit, if I keep getting lost in the details I will never get to my happy place. Maybe I shouldn’t go there, because it’s the closest goddamn analogy I can think of to the descriptions that people give of dying and walking into the light and when I say that I mean that it is a warm, golden place and it will suck me in if I can find it again and the problem with my happy place is that if I stay there, I will never get to live the life that I want to live. At least on some level.

So, after the job was over and done with and I had made the personally brutal decision not to go back to my job my days of solitude began. It was such a relief. It was safety after months and years and decades of trying to be something that I knew in my heart that I wasn’t meant to be – a functioning person. You have to picture it for yourself – an apartment where the sunny, southern California streamed in just right in the afternoon. Palm trees outside the window. A dog. A couch. A Xanax prescription and a nap. Nothing to do but sleep the day away and maybe drag myself out to therapy once a week and the psychiatrist every so often.

I don’t think that I am lazy, unless laziness can be defined as relief from profound anxiety. I think that it is probably the dream of a lot of people to be able to nap the day away and that most people will never have that luxury. It probably isn’t as luxurious as it sounds. The guilt was harsh. I hadn’t earned my break from life, and I usually didn’t let myself forget it.

Except…I could forget on those sunny afternoons. The drugs and that perfect sun. Those early days in which I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything except trying to heal, according to professional opinion. I want to go back to my happy place. But I can’t, not tomorrow. I need to go try to sleep now because it is my plan that I will be getting up tomorrow and going to work and going to class and all that I can hope for the time being is that the tears in the shower will elude me, at least for the time being.

I have

Filed under: Social Phobia — iambrave @ 5:11 am

another blog. The problem with that blog is that people know about it. People that I know. I don’t want them to know about this blog. At least not yet. I got brutally honest one day on my other blog and then I panicked about it for quite a while. The post is still there. It made me feel good to be honest, but it also made me feel really, really bad. If you don’t have social phobia, which is really just a clever name for saying that your brain spins constantly with the insane pressure of wondering constantly what the rest of the world is thinking about you, you may not understand.

I’m in school. For psychology, ironically enough. I’m just getting started, but I’ve learned enough to realize that mental illness is comparatively rare. Rare enough that when you think that there’s a good chance that the people sitting next to you may not understand what you’re going through, you’re probably right.

Why another blog? Why not take secret thoughts to pen and paper? Well, my writing muscles have devolved to the point that when I try to write instead of type it hurts like hell. So, then, why not just type pages on my computer and save them to the hard drive and let them lie there like the secrets that they are? I guess there’s something intoxicating about publication. Even if no one ever reads this shit. Not that so many people read my other shit. But enough do that I need another, secret blog. I don’t know if I’ll ever tell anyone about this. I don’t know if I will even tell my best friend in the whole world who is really the only one who knows in real life how fucking scared I am all the time. The only people that I know for sure right now that I want to read this are people who may happen to be searching for things in the middle of the night because they are scared too and if someone types in social phobia they may happen across me. You people, there, in the middle of the night, this is for you. You are not alone.

Well, hell, I was lying in bed and I felt the unmistakable urge to write and I know enough about writing to know that if you want to be a writer, like me and millions of other people out there, you need to get up right then and there and make it happen. The thoughts, the ways that the words come together, may only strike once. But now, for all of my bitching about how much it hurts when I try to put an actual pen to actual paper, my wrists are starting to ache. Ironic, isn’t it?

But at least I know, now, that this is here. I have a secret right now, and as stupid a secret as it might be, I know that I have this outlet and it will be here when I need it.  Socially Phobic, my new best friend. I’m glad that you are here.

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