Socially Phobic

April 13, 2007

The wedding

Filed under: Good Days,Life in General — iambrave @ 4:07 pm

is four weeks from today. My to-do list is daunting. It’s mostly school-related. We leave for our out-of-town wedding three weeks from tomorrow, and somehow in that time I will have written four papers, taken four exams, and done other miscellaneous homeworks. Have I already posted about this? I am having a sense of deja vu right now. Maybe it’s because I having been telling anyone and everyone who will listen the exact same thing. I have two research papers due in approximately a week and a half. I don’t even have all of the references for them yet. And yet, they will get done. I may have to revert to some late-night cramming sessions. Luckily one thing that I can do is write. In an attempt to make myself feel better about the whole process, I copied and pasted my last post before this one into Word to see how long it was: 3 1/2 double-spaced pages. And that maybe took me an hour, if that. Granted, there’s no references and I’m a hell of a lot better with stream of consciousness. I could probably literally write nonstop as long as there was no specific topic needed. The blessings and the curses of a brain that never stops running.

And yet, with so much to do, I am taking a quiet day today. The dog is bored as hell but I can and have been amusing myself for the past 5 hours just lying on the couch and reading random things online. I rarely get bored anymore. Time in general just flies by, and it’s almost 3:00 now and then it will be time to go to bed again before I know it.  I suppose that such is the way when you have so much to do and so little time to do it…

What was I talking about? I put this down for around an hour to talk on the phone amongst other things. Such is the nature of this lazy, lazy day. We are not living at our highest level of functioning. That is not a metaphor. Pretty much every dish in the house is dirty, save for maybe the baking ware. We have no food in the house. This is not in a literal, I am starving to death sort of way; what it really means is that I just made oatmeal for lunch which had been sitting in the cabinet for about 6 months. I don’t really like oatmeal. I can’t recall the last time that we went grocery shopping. I guess that for now we are just trying to get by, to get through, to conserve energy.

I feel almost like I’m stoned. It’s rather pleasant. The wind is blowing way too harshly outside for April, but the dog and I are safe on the couch. At this very second, I am the calm at the eye of the storm.

April 10, 2007

I can’t

Filed under: Drugs,Good Days,Insomnia,Life in General — iambrave @ 2:29 am

sleep. Now, there’s a surprise. Not! (I watched Borat this weekend.) I had been doing better for the past couple of nights because I have gone up again to 2 mg of my Xanax XR. This time, I think it’s because I’m sunburned. Can you call it “sun”burned if it came from a tanning bed? Talk about cognitive dissonance – the concept in social psychology that states that you feel intense mental discomfort when you do things that are in opposition to your beliefs. The relief from cognitive dissonance comes from either 1. changing your beliefs to match your behaviors or I guess 2. stopping doing whatever it is that’s making you feel bad. The point is that I have always thought that tanning was bad, am now going tanning to look better in my wedding gown (never thought I’d wear a wedding gown either, for that matter), and am frankly not changing my mind about it given that 1 minute longer in the tanning machine than the previous time had a massive impact on how much my skin burned. Please don’t lecture me, if that’s your inclination. There’s nothing that you can tell me about tanning that I haven’t thought a million times already. The plan was to quit smoking when I started tanning so that I wouldn’t be engaging in two blatantly carcinogenic activities at the same time, but, well. Not to mention the fact that I have eaten McDonalds and Papa Johns and…gross.

4 more weeks, just 4 more weeks. Although the hot tub won’t be much fun with a sunburn.

At least I have gotten enough done over the past couple of days so that I don’t have to feel too guilty if I sleep in a little tomorrow. I’ve been making lists and crossing things off of lists. In actuality, I have only crossed one thing off of my list so far, but one is better than none. Actually, I think that going to work and going to class should count as massive accomplishments so cross those off of the list too. I would have been able to cross a second thing off of my list if I hadn’t put each and every stamp on the wrong side of the envelopes that I was sending out…you know, where the return address is supposed to go. Duh. ehow.com has informed me that it is, in fact possible to unstick a stamp from an envelope but I have made the executive decision that the $10 or so spent on wasted stamps and the 20 minutes it will take to readdress envelopes is a small price to pay for Getting Things Done.

Anyway, the drug update is that I have not started the Effexor, though the irritability that I have felt all day has made me start questioning my mood state again. I hate questioning myself. I want to be able to make a decision and trust myself. I guess that part of that is learning to be adaptable and trust that I can make new decisions as circumstances change. But I also know that there is a distinct possibility that the mood issues are related to my upping the Xanax XR. It’s an interesting drug. Apparently I am the only person in the world that takes it, because any pharmacy where I go to fill it has yet to have it in stock. My psychiatrist told me that it is rare because they don’t even stock it on the psych ward where he works. It is also the most ridiculously expensive generic medication that I have ever purchased. Unromantic reason to want to get married #612: the glory that is health insurance and a drug plan. I like the XR because it keeps me from wanting to pop pills in stressful situations – guess that cuts back on the issue of psychological dependence. And I have been feeling less anxious in the two days that I upped it. I had cut back because I thought it was making me depressed – it makes me sleep 10 hour nights and want to sleep a whole lot of the rest of the time. And now I’m wondering if it’s the reason that I’m so irritable, too, though that could be stress, I suppose. Negative thought – is my entire life going to involve developing a strategy to use one medication (an antidepressant) to offset the side effects of another (the benzo)?

So, the entire front of my body is bright red (should be wearing a bra, perhaps, ’cause those puppies have never seen a UV ray before) and prickly and itchy (doesn’t itching mean that it’s healing?). I put some lotion on, and it helped a little, but…my goodness, this is a ridiculous discussion.

In general, I’m doing all right. I just keep telling myself this quote, over and over again in my head, when I am worried about how things are going to go when I get somewhere:

“90% of life is just showing up”. – Woody Allen

It really helps me, for some reason.

April 4, 2007

My fiance

Filed under: Good Days,Insomnia,Life in General,PMS — iambrave @ 3:51 am

(There’s that obnoxious word again, but, knock on wood, I will never have to use it again in 38 days. I’m sorry, that’s 37 days. 37 days! Can you believe that I am getting married in 37 days? And can you imagine the anxiety-related implications of a reasonably large wedding for a person with social phobia?) and I are on very different schedules. Which is why he needs to be asleep right now and, while it is perhaps not overly respectable behavior for a 28-year-old woman, I am reverting to the sleeping schedules of my college years (well, I am in college again, to be fair), or perhaps the sleep schedule that my body intends for me to have. That is, staying up until the later hours of the night and sleeping until the later hours of the morning, if not the early afternoon. I’m a night person. It’s slightly torturous to him, I know, given that he has to get up at 6:30 so that he can take the dog to daycare and still get to work on time and I keep him up way later than he should be kept up simply for the selfish reason that I want to hang out with him. Even if our hanging out consists of me forcing him to watch American Idol and us staring at the screens of our respective laptops. I don’t know what he’s doing exactly; I suppose that he’s checking out the latest happenings on the internet and spending countless hours organizing our digital music collection. (I do know what I’m doing: writing here, reading random other blogs on assorted topics which when I’m relatively cheerful include large amounts of celebrity gossip, and obsessively playing the latest version of Diner Dash to obtain an expert score on all of the levels to unlock the new, secret levels.)

Anyway, it’s 3:08:19 right now according to the WordPress clock and yes, I’m still awake. I have tried to go to bed twice already and then gotten up again, which is also disruptive to his sleeping process, I’m sure. I freaked out a second ago because I looked at my cell phone and it said that it was 4 a.m. but now I realize that it erroneously updated itself for the old Daylight Savings this past weekend and I haven’t bothered to fix it yet so it’s really just 3 (like that’s so much better).

So, yeah, I’m feeling a lot better. I am probably going to hell, or at least to Jewish hell (which luckily may not be as bad as the hell of other religions and may not even exist because I went to a Jewish elementary school and they never once, to my recollection, mentioned hell to me), because I told my professor that I was missing class for the Passover holiday and then proceeded to spend the evening not only doing what I described above but also eating [non-matzah] ravioli for dinner which is SO not kosher for Passover. But, eternal damnation notwithstanding, I am in fact feeling quite cheerful right now and also quite confident that I will be able to 1) leave the house tomorrow; 2) take an exam; and 3) complete a homework assignment that I have been putting off for a couple of weeks now.

How to explain the recent bout of cheerfulness? Who knows? I should really just stop speculating on the root causes of my mood swings because it really seems to be an unanswerable question. I do have one speculation: that contrary to the PRE-menstrual disorder (I can’t believe that I am forgetting what PMS actually stands for, but I am) that seems to be described as the worst time of the month for many women I actually get most depressed immediately following the start of my cycle. Maybe this is, in fact, common. I haven’t done the research.

Now that I am in a good mood, I am experiencing a bit of a blogging dilemma. I started this blog approximately one week ago and I stated a specific purpose related to the fact that I want to talk specifically about mental illness and stigma and related issues but the truth is that I do think about other things too and have the desire to ramble on about other things as well such as the fact that I have other hobbies which include watching reality television, reading celebrity gossip and playing video games and sometimes I do other smart stuff real good too.

However, I suppose that I REALLY started this blog as a personal journal so I can talk about whatever I want. I am, of course, worried about alienating the few readers that I seem to have managed to pick up over the past week so this is totally relevant because worrying about the opinions of other people is a symptom of social phobia. See, it’s all related.

And I think it’s good anyway, because I think that it’s important to put it out there that I am a person above and beyond my health issues and that it is possible for me to have a life beyond these issues (although the intellectual quality of that life, given the interests mentioned above, is questionable at times). So, that’s how I’m rationalizing it. If you are reading, keep reading or don’t. It’s up to you. I just may need to change the tagline: “a journal of mental illness, and other random stuff too”. Changing the tagline right now requires me to do a little design work, and I’m not feeling that right this second. But, the point is, maybe what that “random stuff” all adds up to is mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still one million percent devoted to the cause. Just to make things clear, when I refer to “the cause” I am speaking about the issue of the stigmatization of mental illness in society. But, if I spend all of my waking hours obsessing on the cause, I don’t think that I will ever get better. I am multi-faceted, and so are all of the other mental health bloggers out there. Therefore, it’s all totally relevant.

Okay, I feel a little better now that I have explained myself. On other topics, I plan on slapping on that nicotine patch tomorrow even if it’s a fairly ridiculous plan because a) I really may not need the added stress of trying to quit smoking again over the next month; b) I am fully aware that there is a large likelihood that I will start smoking again the week of the wedding if not before thus requiring me to quit YET AGAIN after the wedding and go through the hell that is nicotine withdrawal; and c) I’m not really doing it for health reasons (even though the little anxious, or in this case incredibly smart, part of my brain is reminded of the reality of death every time I light another cigarette). I am doing it because I can’t seem to bring myself to work out while I am smoking and while I am naturally concerned with the mental and physical health benefits associated with working out the real reason that I want to work out over the next month is because I want my arms to look less flabby in my strapless wedding dress.

And now I must try to go to bed again, because it really is approaching 4:00 now and I need to get up and study prior to the aforementioned exam and also try to complete my incredibly late assignment.

March 31, 2007

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.

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