Socially Phobic

June 1, 2007

I feel like

Filed under: Anxiety,Bad Days,Drugs,Mood Swings — iambrave @ 4:20 pm

total and utter crap right now. Here’s a story behind it: Last week, I went to the psychiatrist to discuss going off of my meds. There are many things to be said about this visit that I’m sure I will get to at some point, but one of the things he told me was that it was okay to stop taking Lithium cold turkey because I’m on the lowest dosage (300 mg). So, I did, on Monday, I think. I did not anticipate feeling this bad!!!!!!!!!!! I am attributing this to Lithium withdrawal even though I haven’t done any research to see if this kind of thing happens to other people. Maybe I just have the flu. I don’t really know what the hell is wrong with me.

The first couple of days were god awful. I haven’t really been sleeping all that well but I have been sleeping SOME, so I don’t think that insomnia was the reason for my feeling exactly the same way that I do if I, say, literally don’t sleep at all one night after drinking heavily. I did acid in high school and this is kind of what I remember coming down felt like. I apologize for the lack of better description but my head feels, in a word, trippy. My head is tingling. Like if I take cold medicine. I am just trying to equate this feeling to something that maybe other people can understand. And then there’s the nausea – a kind of pit-of-the-stomach hollow feeling. I have barely any appetite. Or, I am hungry but food seems repulsive. And my heart is racing. Oh – this is also the same way that I would feel in my younger days on SSRIs and was really irresponsible about taking them – I wouldn’t take a Paxil or something for a couple of days and then feel like this. Serotonin withdrawal or something along those lines.

I feel cracked out.

The first two days were worse than yesterday and today, thank god. My brain feels a little better but I still feel like I am going to throw up. I was out doing errands and it’s 90 degrees out which doesn’t help and I was sweating and dizzy and I had to come home. Maybe it is partially the flu or something. My husband has been sick and I was feeling sick to my stomach last week before this all started. I dunno.

Mood-wise, I’ve been…hyper. My husband said that I was acting slightly manic, but that he likes me better this way. Probably a little more cheerful and outgoing, wanting to throw that extra joke into an email I’m writing when it may or may not be appropriate (I’m erring on the side of trying to be less silly, because I do not trust my judgment 100% this week). I’ve also been anxious. But not really dreading things anxious. More like I feel like I’m buzzing with too much energy. And yet I simultaneously want to pass out. I told you, I’m not right.

That’s what’s going on with me. Don’t worry, I am not going to try going off of anything else until I start feeling better physically.

Now I am going to lie on the couch in the air conditioning. Happy Friday and Happy June to all.

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April 28, 2007

It’s 4 a.m.

Filed under: Anxiety,Life in General — iambrave @ 4:40 am

and I can’t sleep because I am so nauseous. I ate WAY too much for dinner including rich dessert and I feel awful for it. I can’t believe that I used to binge like that so regularly. I have lost 62 pounds as of today in around a year and a half and I guess my stomach has shrunk or something. Maybe I should feel lucky that I’m just not physically capable of eating that much anymore. I don’t feel particularly lucky right now, however; it’s hard for me to feel lucky when I literally feel like I could throw up at any second. Poor me. All right, self pity ends now.

Stress levels feel somewhat manageable, I suppose. I was really super happy a day or two ago on the high of having gotten 2 out of 3 research papers done. I had the whole day off today and I really should’ve spent it working on the third, but I didn’t. I feel cranky and out of it and laid on the couch for hours and if I weren’t under so much actual stress I would say that I was having some sort of episode of random anxiety but I am learning that there are in fact times when real life is stressful and I can’t attribute everything to my Illness. I still have all weekend to complete my third paper, and then a fourth paper which is a vocational evaluation of myself (hard emotionally, because it feels sort of shitty to have to look back on my less than stellar work history, but easy because clearly my self is my favorite topic to expound upon).

And then I have four finals next week, three in-class and one take home, and then I WILL BE DONE WITH SCHOOL FOR THE SEMESTER!!!! Wow. I seriously can’t believe it.

And then, the Wedding is in less than two weeks now. Craziness. It is in a different city from the one that I live in so we have to travel for it. Traveling always makes me really anxious. I used to think of myself as someone who loved to travel and in a way I do because I am so fascinated by what there is to see and how people are living in other places, etc. (though this doesn’t really count for that because I’m going back to my home town and I pretty much already know the deal there). I panic, though, when a trip is coming up and for a lot of the time that I am actually gone. It’s like the anxiety I get when I have to leave the house (Is the stove turned off? Did I feed the fish? Did the house explode while I was gone?) but worse because there’s no way to go back and check. I’m not a compulsive checker but at least when I’m in town I know that the option is there. I worry about the dog even though he will be boarded at a place that I trust…I think. Hopefully I will be able to get through it and have a little faith. At least all of the pets will be out of the house so if it does explode or something they will be safe from that. Minus the fish…I don’t mean to sound cold hearted; I will worry about them, too, but the emotional attachment just isn’t as strong. No offense, little guys. I didn’t cry when the two eels that we bought didn’t make it which is actually kind of good given my overly intense emotional attachments to pretty much EVERYTHING. Not to mention the stress of the actual traveling portions. A nine hour car ride doesn’t make me happy. Hopefully it will not be raining and thus decrease my constant worries about crashing and dying at every single moment of the drive.

To top it all off, I randomly have a job interview this Monday so I am stressing about that. I had applied for the job online over a month ago and then they got their system up and running and I had a phone interview on Wednesday and they’re bringing me in. I think I did well on the phone interview because it so wasn’t the first thing on my mind at the time so the pressure was off. In a way, it still is…I wasn’t expecting to get this job because I hadn’t heard anything for so long so I don’t feel pressure in the same way that I would if I were in the process of a full-time job search. But then again, I put that pressure on myself for everything so I am still stressed and the main focus of my obsessions for the past couple days has been how to answer the interview questions. I want the job, on the one hand, because it looks like a really good company and it would be really good experience and I would be making positive contributions to the world. On the other hand, if I were to start working this summer it would cancel out my plans to just chill and get my shit together and have a lot of time to focus on getting off meds. Well, I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. It’s not officially an opportunity yet because I have by no means received an offer but on the topic of opportunities, maybe it is true that things happen just when you’re looking for them the least.

I guess life is good on the whole. I have sort of just gotten to the point of stress where I am almost beyond feeling the stress. Like, unnaturally calm when I should have hyper energy to get things done. I guess that’s a good sign. I will take it as a good sign instead of viewing it as a sign that I am totally shutting down emotionally. Finals week? No big deal. Wedding in two weeks? No problem. Job interview DURING finals week? Sure, why not? Either I’m at a good point or I’m losing it entirely. You be the judge.

The good news is that I am feeling a lot less nauseous. Maybe it wasn’t all of the cheese and cake and…bleh. I don’t even want to write it. Maybe it was just Blog Withdrawal Syndrome (BWS). I need to go to bed now so that I can get up in 4 hours and go shopping for a corset bustier to wear under my wedding dress and some ribbons to tie around some freaking napkins, because apparently that’s what’s done. Yay for weddings. But like it or not, it will all be over in 2 weeks. I have had temptations to take incompletes in a class or two but I really don’t want to put things off and have things hanging over my head after it’s all said and done. So I suppose that I will just soldier on and push on through.

April 20, 2007

Anxiety

Filed under: Anxiety,Social Phobia — iambrave @ 12:48 am

is a funny thing. I got to thinking about this when I was writing last night about the events of this week; I had read this post that is partially about HSP’s need to avoid certain stimuli/topics of conversation that cause her to panic, and I was struck by the fact that on Tuesday, the day after the shootings, I was absolutely TERRIFIED to go onto a college campus not because of my fear of getting shot, but because I was scared of what people would think of me at a party. It seems incredibly trivial in the grand scheme of things, but the fear was 100% real.

Last year, on the other hand, I was convinced that I was surrounded by death. I’m not in the right frame of mind to get into the reasons why right now, because I am irrationally afraid that it will take me back to that place, or maybe it actually would, but I constantly felt like I was in mortal danger. I remember being on a train in late summer by myself, convinced that a massive disaster was going to strike at any second. Those were the days, the weeks, the months, that I could barely leave the house. The social aspects were there, too: I started a new job and then quit after three days after spending the previous afternoon panicking for four straight hours because I had made a little mistake.

I am so much better now than I was a year ago. By late summer 2006, the real-life stressors were maybe more intense than they are right now, though I do have a lot on my plate. But as for what precipitated the initial breakdown a year and a half ago? I don’t really have an answer for that. I wish that I could say that I knew, because if I knew then I would be able to trust that it wouldn’t happen again. I wish that I could believe that it was within my control, and that my feeling better was a direct result of changing the way that I think and act, because then I would be able to trust myself.

I have been taught several times in my psych classes that people with an external locus of control are more prone to depression and I have been pondering how to relate this to myself because I take on way more personal responsibility for things than I should so much of the time and blame myself for things way too often, implying an internal locus of control, but when I just wrote that I realized that I do see my brain as this external entity that is prone to fucking me over a lot of the time.

Where do I draw the line between blaming myself for all of my problems/feeling guilty all of the time and taking responsibility for my mental health?

April 4, 2007

I seriously don’t have time

Filed under: Anxiety,Things that help — iambrave @ 1:29 pm

to be writing right now, because I need to be studying, but I am feeling incredibly anxious and I need to take a couple of minutes to try to talk myself through it. I need to figure out what exactly it is that I’m so anxious about and then address these thoughts to hopefully make myself feel a little bit better so that I am actually able to study.

I am anxious about the test itself. My mind is full of negative thoughts, like, “I should’ve started studying earlier” and “There’s no way that I can absorb all of this information in the next couple of hours”. Too bad. I’m here, it’s now, and I’m not going to get caught up in all of the things that I should have done better. I can only do my best from this point forward.

What’s the worst that could happen? The worst case scenario would be that I failed the test entirely and that it brought down my grade for the semester. Okay, if I fail the test it wouldn’t be great, but I got a 90 on the first test and have gotten 100s on both homeworks so far. I’m at an A. Failing the test does not necessarily equal failing the course. What if I did end up failing the course? Life would go on. Maybe I would be able to retake it. Failing at one thing does not equate to the end of my career as a whole. This is not a do or die situation. Besides, I’m not going to fail the test. We get to bring in some study materials, and I understand at least some of them at this point. So, what if I don’t get an A on the test? It’s okay. I don’t have to be totally perfect at everything I do. See above.

I am anxious about leaving the house, because I haven’t been out by myself in a week and I haven’t been to school or work since Thursday. Sometimes, the act of leaving can generate its own degree of anxiety. It seems so insurmountable to take a shower, get dressed, get in the car, drive my car, etc.

What’s the worst that could happen? I can’t do it. I go out, it feels unbearable, I come back home, and I deal with the consequences. I send out more emails, in this case to my professors, similar to the ones that I sent on Monday. I tell the truth about what’s going on, and I hope for the best. Besides, if it came down to it I could probably get a doctor’s note making this an excused absence. I also know, from past experience, that while sometimes I feel worse when I actually do get out and do something, a whole lot of the time I end up feeling better and realize that I spent way too much time dreading something that isn’t really that bad.

I am anxious about seeing other people. I don’t want to see the people in my classes, because I don’t think they like me. I am worried about seeing the people who know that I have been missing classes, because I think that they now think that I am incompetent and may ask me where I’ve been. I think that they can tell that I am mentally ill and weird and dysfunctional and judge me for that.

What’s the worst that could happen? The people actually don’t like me and are judging me. Seriously, what effect does this have on my life? These specific people do not have any impact on me and my future career. I don’t need everyone in the world on my side; I just need a few people there. And I HAVE a few people who are there for me and don’t judge me and do love me and will help me to get through. Screw their opinions. Besides, the people who I am referring to are barely acquaintances and probably have no opinion of me whatsoever. I guarantee that they are not obsessing about me in particular right. If someone does ask me where I have been, it is probably out of concern as opposed to contempt. And, I have answers at my disposal. They are partially lying answers, but that’s okay because I am under no obligation to disclose the entire truth about my personal life to anyone that I don’t want to. I can say that it was Passover. (True). I can say that I was sick without getting into the details of it. (Also true). I have options. Besides, chances are that a lot of other people are really anxious about the test and aren’t going to be paying me one bit of attention. The universe does not revolve around me, and in this case, that’s a good thing.

Gotta go.

April 2, 2007

If everyone swept their own doorstep,

Filed under: Anxiety,Depression,Disclosure,Social Phobia,Stigma — iambrave @ 10:50 am

the whole world would be kept clean. This is a quote that my 8th grade history teacher taught us, and it has stuck in my mind all of these years.

In this spirit, I just sent the following email to the people that I am working for (I have two graduate assistantships, and two bosses, so I had to send it twice):

Dear _________,

This is a very difficult email for me to write, because it is very hard for me to talk about these things. However, I have decided to be honest with you about what is going on with me right now.

I have been diagnosed with social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. I am under the care of doctors for these conditions, and have been working on these issues for several years. I go through good times, when I am relatively symptom free, and I go through bad times, where it is virtually impossible for me to leave the house.

I am going through a very hard time right now and I don’t think that it is going to be possible for me to come into work, at least for today. I have every intention of making up the hours that I owe you, and I am very sorry for any inconvenience that this may be causing you.

Please feel free to contact me about this; I will be happy to discuss this with you further.

Thanks,
Julia

This counts among the hardest things that I have ever done. I have suffered with all of these things for so many years, but the only occasions in which I have been honest with someone that I am working for have been when it is already too late: I have already gone on medical disability or quit the job.

The doorstep thing means this: I have expressed how important it has become for me to work on reducing the stigma of mental illness in society. I did not feel like I could actually say in good faith that I was doing this if I didn’t have the strength to be honest with people in my own life.  I wanted to try something different, and I don’t know what is going to happen from here. I was scared, and I am scared to see the response that I get. But, as my dad said, “If they don’t respond well they aren’t the kind of people that you want to be working for anyway.”

I am truly blessed to have the support of my family right now; I know that not everyone is that lucky.

I don’t know what else to say. I guess that it’s time now to just sit back and wait for a response and to know, deep down, as hard as it may be, that ultimately it all boils down to the fact that I told the truth.

April 1, 2007

I thought that I would try

Filed under: Anxiety — iambrave @ 4:32 am

writing before I got into bed tonight, so that I wouldn’t have posts running through my head while trying to sleep. We’ll see if it works.

Tonight, I’m feeling anxious in general. My fiance asked me what I was feeling anxious about, and I tried briefly to explain the way that anxiety can float around. My thoughts can rapidly shift from one thing to another: I hate my new blog and I should delete it. I wrote an email that may have sounded stupid. I have so much homework to do. I’m so behind on the job that I do from home. I’m dreading tomorrow because I have so much work to do. I’ve been smoking too many cigarettes (even one is too many, but I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t smoke a whole pack today). I don’t know what to do with my life. I feel guilty about nothing in particular or all of the above. I’m staying up too late. I haven’t been working out enough. I ate too much today. I’m going to look fat at the wedding. I’m letting everyone down. The world scares me. Something bad is going to happen. I just know it.

What to do, what to do. I feel like crying. No, really, what to do? Let’s try a list:

1. I need to take better care of myself. I’m going to rephrase that, because it’s negative. I want to take better care of myself, and I know that I feel better when I do certain things. It seems like I do one of two things: smoke or exercise. I was doing yoga every day and I loved it and I was getting toned and I looked better and I felt better and then I started smoking again and I stopped doing yoga. For me, it’s like a first thing in the morning decision. How am I going to wake up today? When there’s a pack of cigarettes sitting on the table, it’s the easy choice. I deliberately smoked the last one tonight so that I wouldn’t have any when I woke up tomorrow. I will probably regret this in the morning. But one option will be to try slapping on a patch and doing my yoga tape. It’s something to keep in mind. We need to go to the grocery store, so that there are healthy things to eat in the house and do not persist in having food delivered that doesn’t taste all that good anyway.

2. I will feel better tomorrow if I get up and do some work. Procrastination has a disastrous effect on my anxiety levels. If only I had a time machine and could spend all of the hours that I have wasted in my life worrying about the work I have to do actually working, um….I would have saved myself a lot of negative energy.

3. I need to stop making this list right now. I’m not really feeling any better because I feel like I am focusing on all of the things that I’m doing wrong. I am going to make a new list.

List #2 – Positive things to think about:

1. I didn’t hurt anyone today.

2. I have been writing a lot lately.

3. I am safe, at home, with my family, and I get to sleep in a big bed with someone who loves me and a dog and some cats and, well, thankfully that’s it, because it is a very large bed but we barely fit as is.

4. I’m not doing anything wrong. I am doing the best that I can. It’s okay for me not to be perfect.

I crossed out all of the “I need to”s and “If only”s because I am trying to eliminate this sort of thinking from my life.

This post is a disaster. This is my blog and I can write about whatever I want and it’s okay to sound confused if I am confused and it’s okay if its only purpose is to make me feel better. This blog can be my personal therapy if that’s what I need tonight or even every night, forever.

I stopped writing for about 10 minutes because I wanted to look at some pictures that reminded me of good things. These are some of the pictures that I was looking at:

These are pictures from when we moved across the country last year. Before we made that trip, I never knew that it was possible to move so far, so fast; I never knew that the earth itself came in so many colors.

I am constantly in motion – I am not stuck in this place of darkness. There are blues and greens and even oranges out there if I can look beyond the gray of smoke.

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