Socially Phobic

June 5, 2007

It might be

Filed under: Drugs,Insomnia,Mood Swings,PMS — iambrave @ 3:23 am

a couch night tonight. I am actually supposed to go in to work tomorrow to make up hours that I didn’t complete this semester. I am not supposed to be there until 11 (late, right?) but it’s already 20 till 3 and I am awake. Well, I might not really be. Sometimes I have to go upstairs, lie in bed until I can’t take it anymore, come back downstairs, and then it finally hits me that my sleeping pills are starting to kick in. And then I can sleep. Or not. Who knows?

I used to sleep on the couch a lot last year. It wasn’t that we were having problems in our relationship; it was more that the couch was a safe place for me and I didn’t get anxious there the same way that I did when I was trying to fall asleep in bed. Psyching yourself out of insomnia is not easy, people. I should be better at it given my lifetime history. (Insert parental joke: “She didn’t sleep through the night until she was 10!” Ha ha. Joke’s on me. And all of the people whom I have bitterly harassed for being able to sleep so damn well or just being asleep at a given moment when I am AWAKE AWAKE AWAKE!!!)

I think I’ve maybe slept on the couch here once. Maybe it’s just not as comfortable as the old couch that we left behind. Or maybe I have just come to appreciate the presence of other warm creatures in the bed. You don’t need a human partner for this kind of comfort. A dog works just as well. Before I got my dog a couple of years ago and I was single, I have to say that the cats just weren’t that reliable as sleeping buddies. I think they do end up in the bed every night anyway but it’s sporadic and often irritating, what with the head-walking episodes and random EXTREMELY LOUD meowing (girl cat is 9 years old, has been fixed for the vast majority of that time, and yet still acts pretty much like she’s in heat on a daily basis. I think it’s getting worse, and actually was thinking that she might be losing it a little. She has always meowed for attention a LOT, but I don’t remember the waking up part from before. A former roommate once told me that she thought that I was the human version of this cat. I love my cat from the bottom of my heart, but I did not take this as a compliment. As far as I know, I do not act like I am in heat on a daily basis. At least not since I got married. Ba da bum!).

What was I talking about, anyway? How did this turn into a pet post? Moving on, the ironic part is that right when we got back from the honeymoon a couple of weeks ago I was experiencing a miraculous sleep revival. I was even mind-writing a post about the way that my bed had magically transformed itself into the most glorious, comfortable place in the universe. No more. But it was nice while it lasted.

Revisiting the psychiatrist appointment last week: this pertains to the way that he told me to get off of sleeping pills. I currently take Temazepam for sleep and I’m wanting off of it. His instructions: try going without one night. If you sleep without the pill, try not taking it again the next night. If you don’t sleep, take it the next night. This has all fallen by the wayside since last week’s Lithium fiasco and I’ve been taking it nightly again. It went all right for a couple of nights, but I’m taking things slow. In any case, I have no idea if this is good advice for going off of sleeping pills. Plus, I can’t get into this right now without bringing up other issues that I have with my doctor right now and I really just don’t want to go there. It’s coming, don’t worry.

On other fronts, I am feeling infinitely better physically. Thank god. I have had a couple search hits on “lithium withdrawal” and things of that nature, and while I can’t say for certain that what I was going through was caused by the Lithium I will say this: be careful. Maybe take it slower rather than faster. But I seem to have gotten through, at least the horrendous physical symptoms (mood swings: not so hot. A lot of tears. I think I have PMS, though, too).

Well, this may be a crappy post but at least I am writing again. I will leave you with this, because if this doesn’t make you want to go to sleep right now, I don’t know what will:

sleep2.jpg

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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