Socially Phobic

May 22, 2007

Welcome to my first post

Filed under: Depression,Drugs,Life in General — iambrave @ 9:14 am

as a Married Person. Thank you all for your kind wishes!!! Today is actually my 11-day anniversary, which is weird because of how long it means I’ve been away from here. So far, being married is a lot like living in sin except with a lot more stuff for the kitchen. I don’t really cook. I think we should return it and get a Wii.

I believe that I’ve actually been sort of depressed. I don’t know if I have ever really expressed here the massive amounts of time and energy that it took to pull this thing off.  The wedding was my baby for several months. Although it was frequently unpleasant to deal with and often seemed to take far more work than it was worth, I still had to take care of it. That was my job. I pulled it off, I suppose. I knew abstractly that the event itself would go by quickly, but it was seriously just one big blur. I don’t really remember too much. It’s just flashes of images and conversations. I guess it went all right. I think that if I stretch my mind as far as I can and try to be objective about it, I could say that it was nice. There are a lot of pictures. They look pretty nice. You can see them if you ask. But, yeah, I spent all these months planning this big party and now it is over. I feel deflated. I feel bad because I think that my husband thinks that I am depressed because I am having second thoughts about having gotten married, and that is so not it at all. I have sort of tried to explain but I haven’t had the easiest time speaking for the past couple of days.

I guess everything is okay. A couple of my friends (maid of honor and bridesmaid) are really mad at me, and I don’t quite understand why. Either this means that they have lost it or that I am so self-centered right now that I have no idea about the terrible way that I am treating people. Plus I’m mad at my mom, but so what else is new? I need to stay away from my home town for a little bit. I haven’t lived there in 2.5 years but I have attempted and succeeded in maintaining friendships with several people (which is good) and every time I go back it is so busy and intense and I am out constantly and never without plans and it is completely different from the way that my life has become. I get tired. I can’t party that hard anymore. I feel old.

The one thing that made me feel worst about the wedding was that there were so many people there and I wanted to spend five hours with all of them individually. See, the thing is that I guess that I used to be really social and maybe I didn’t really realize it until I moved away from home and didn’t have the accumulated product of living in the same place for 26 years anymore. Plus all of my family was there and I don’t get to see a lot of them very often. It was a melancholy feeling.

I have also gained around 10 pounds in the past couple of weeks. Fun.

So, I’m sitting on the couch with nothing to do. There is a lot that I could and possibly even should be doing, but I keep telling myself that I just need one more day off…Don’t worry about me, though. I have plans. I see both the psychiatrist and the GP this week and I am going to ask them what I need to do to get my body in shape to get pregnant (which means, of course, going off of my medications). How freaky weird is that??? I would like to add the disclaimer that I am NOT, in fact, trying to get pregnant. I just like to talk about it a lot with certain people. I am only discussing this here because 1. it is actually happening and it feels very strange to even be at the point of talking about it and 2. it relates to my Fun Summer Adventure plan of going off benzodiazepines.

On the topic of meds, I received a comment in which someone expressed concern regarding the fact that I have stated my intentions to go off my medication this summer. The thing is that I am not doing it because I feel great and don’t think I need them anymore. First, I don’t really feel that great. Well, I guess I feel pretty good for me. But I am terrified that I need them! The primary reason for doing this is, of course, related to procreation as mentioned above. I also, however, don’t necessarily think that it is the best thing to be on medications designated on-label for short-term usage for years and years and years. Temazepam, I am specifically looking at you right now. The only mood stabilizer that I am on is Lithium of which I only take 300 mg. a day. I have never had bloodwork done but I don’t even know if I ever hit the therapeutic range. And other than that, it’s all for anxiety. And migraines. Well, I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen or make up horror stories about how bad it’s going to be. It could be fine. And it always has the potential of being short-term.

I just ate half a cake.

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May 6, 2007

In a strange turn of events,

Filed under: Life in General — iambrave @ 2:50 am

I am writing to stay awake instead of writing because I can’t fall asleep. Tomorrow we travel, making an approximately nine hour drive. Have I mentioned that I hate traveling? Well, I do. I am trying to stay awake right now to do laundry, because leaving every single thing until the very last minute is just the (highly inefficient) way that I roll. To be fair, I have barely done any of the chores associated with this massively important trip. I have basically been lying on the couch paralyzed by either intense anxiety or intense laziness for the past couple of days. Plus, I have a cold. I haven’t had a cold in years, but of course I got one this week.

I have been shamefully neglectful of my blog. But, if it’s any sort of excuse, I am getting married on Friday.

I AM GETTING MARRIED ON FRIDAY. What a strange sentence to write.

It was finals week. I finished three out of four classes, and took an incomplete in one because I couldn’t write my papers. I couldn’t think. My brain has been totally blank. And I am really, really tired.

I can’t really write now, either. It hurts to think. I will be bringing my computer with me, but I don’t know if I’m going to have internet access. We’re staying at a hotel because I think that staying with my mother this week might truly drive me out of my mind. So, this might be the last time that I post for a couple weeks. Sorry that it’s so lame. But the truth is that I am really proud of myself right now. I feel like I did the best that I could this semester and I have worked my ass off planning this wedding and dammit, my socially phobic self is going to be the star of the show in 5 1/2 days AND I’M GOING TO LIKE IT.

If my brain doesn’t explode first, that is.

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 19, 2007

My head is spinning

Filed under: Life in General — iambrave @ 2:36 am

so I thought I would try writing a little to try to calm myself down and get some sleep. This wasn’t even what I was obsessing about, but every time that I have started up Firefox all night this is what I see on my (Yahoo) homepage:

[update: removed image from video manifesto because I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore]

My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy this week…I have read all sorts of commentary on the issue which has ranged from gun control to poor university response, etc. and also what I am about to say, as well. I CAN’T STAND THE WAY THAT THE MEDIA IS HANDLING THIS. I can’t think of any other reason for publishing his manifesto than to fulfill the public’s desire (or at least, perceived desire) for blood and gore. It’s giving this young man the attention that he obviously craved so desperately by sending the information to NBC. As my professor pointed out tonight in class, people are going to start seeing him as a cult hero and while I know that the story needs to be told, there are people who will think, “He killed 34 people? I can top that and be on the front page of everything too”. I would like to see more thoughtful mourning of the people who were lost and less about all the “warning signs” that everyone apparently should have picked up on and the photographs of him pointing a gun into the camera.

I do not think that the manifesto should have been publicized. I think that it is an example of the worst kind of media sensationalism. There are clearly factors contributing to the rage of the young people who are committing these acts and maybe being able to walk into WalMart and walk out with a shotgun is a contributing issue but I don’t think that showing millions if not billions of people this video is helping our society to understand a damn thing. The event itself is inspiring a lot of debate and rhetoric, which could turn out to be good in the long run (although Columbine was 8 years ago and I can’t see how we’ve made any progress since that time), but I don’t see how publishing the video and photos is contributing to that.

I wish that I had something more insightful to say along the lines of mental illness or what have you but I don’t right now. I am just sick of seeing this damn picture every time I go online and I am scared of what the long terms implications may be for this sort of publicity. As for myself, seeing the picture is not helping me to think rationally about the issue and what can be done to help or to emotionally identify with those who have suffered such great losses. All that it does is make me feel scared and voyeuristic and frankly, I believe that is the goal of its publication. Sure, it makes for “great news”. But the media, including my most respected sources, needs to think more seriously about the fact that it is not just a passive observer of what is happening.

At its least harmful, I think that this is distracting to people who want to be able to think clearly about the problem and encouraging to troubled people who may view this awful act as inspirational. It’s making me feel about as smart as if I were watching a horror movie. What does it tell us? The guy was pretty messed up. Is that not completely obvious already FROM WHAT HE DID IN THE FIRST PLACE?

So, that is my rant. And now I will have this on my page as a constant reminder of all that I am condemning here. Am I part of the problem by even posting it? Ironic, to say the least.

April 14, 2007

Note to self:

Filed under: Life in General,Social Phobia — iambrave @ 9:33 pm

drink more caffeine. I usually avoid caffeine completely because it makes me so anxious. I was having a craving today for iced coffee, however, so I got one…I have been told before that some anxiety is adaptive, because it is what propels us to get things done. So if that’s what’s responsible for my crazy awesome idea to get all of my references for one of my papers and write the entire thing tonight, bring it on! The fiance and the dog have been asleep on the couch for around 3 and a half 4 hours now, but I’m trying to hang in there and actually get some work done.

It was sort of a rough morning. I had a small anxiety attack because I had to go get a facial at my salon.  I know, I had to get a facial at a salon (cue violins.) It didn’t make a whole lot of sense then, and I still can’t explain it now. My anxiety is like that sometimes, though. Sometimes I just freak and I don’t want to do anything at all and I feel like there is no way that I can go out into the world and face people for no reason in particular; it’s a completely emotional and physical reaction and there don’t seem to be any ways to use my CBT skills because it’s so hard to identify whether or not there was even a thought that triggered my panic in the first place. I seem to lose the ability to play the “What’s the worst that could happen?” game, and I just plain don’t want to go.

I’ve been trying to use this as a place to keep track of my triggers, and I will note that I often get a lot worse on weekends. People have offered up the theory that maybe it’s just because I can. I fight through it to the best of my ability all week and then as soon as I have a little bit of unstructured time, I crash. I can actually remember this being the case for a very long time, whether it’s symptoms of anxiety or depression or both. It’s not the happiest way to live: looking forward to the weekend all week long and then feeling like shit when it actually gets here. I’m working on it.

I ended up having my fiance drive me and he had to wait for around an hour and a half. I feel really guilty a lot of the time because I feel like I need to be taken care of so often. I am so grateful to be in this relationship but it’s hard to remember anymore what it was like for all the years that I was single, facing the world alone and somehow getting by. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, I guess. Every time I go to school or work I am doing it alone. It would probably be a better strategy to focus on feeling grateful instead of feeling guilty. To be happy to have the support that I do and to know that I can and will and do try to pay it back when I am able. I will be an optimist someday, dammit!

I guess I should try to get back to work. Do other people put off writing by writing something else? Can I turn in my blog for extra credit?

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 6, 2007

Now surely

Filed under: Life in General — iambrave @ 5:44 pm

it must a sign of the mental illness that is pervasive in modern society in order for somebody who is relatively smart to be convinced to:

1. Stand in a little box while UV rays, the very things that I have been warned so directly and severely to avoid at all costs, are directed at my skin.

2. Lie compliantly on a table while hot wax is poured on unmentionable regions of my body and then RIPPED OFF.

I can’t blame society for this one. It would be a cop out to blame anyone but myself for these behaviors. And these things are generally considered sane!

I can’t wait until I get to stop being a Bride and get to start being a “normal” human being again. The good news is that 36 days from tomorrow we get to head off to a secluded cabin in the middle of very beautiful nowhere (with a hot tub, no less) to recover from this ridiculous clusterfuck the happiest day of my life.

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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