Socially Phobic

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?

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April 17, 2007

I am unbelievably

Filed under: Social Phobia — iambrave @ 2:00 pm

anxious because I have to go to a small party tonight. It’s up at school, and my boss asked me to come up there early and be there. I am so dizzy right now that I can barely even write.

I want to be able to do this. I have class right after the party, and I have to go to that because there is a quiz and I have already missed one. I need to be able to do this. But my heart is racing and my head is spinning. I’m not really supposed to be doing this, but I think I need to take another Xanax. First of all, I hate that. I wish that I was able to do things without having to pop pills.  I want to be able to write my way through it, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible this time.

Why am I so afraid? Is it an unthinking, conditioned response? I don’t think so. I believe that there are cognitions behind it. Whenever I am in a work situation, and in this case school is my work, the emphasis that I place on what other people think of me is distorted way out of proportion. I guess part of it is fear of the unknown – I have never been in this particular situation before, so I don’t know what it’s going to be like. Parties are hard enough for me, let alone a party at work where I don’t really know anyone all that well or trust that they like me. I know that the worst that can happen is that I feel uncomfortable for a couple of hours and then it will be over, but in my head it stretches far beyond that. It feels like if I don’t perform well at this party, my entire career will be over.

That can’t be true, can it? Will this really be one of the things that I am still thinking about for years to come? I do still think about things that happened years ago and view them as failures that have all led up to this exact second. I know that I need to stop thinking that way, but it is so hard.

I feel like I am going to pass out.

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 11, 2007

We did something really cool

Filed under: OCD,Social Phobia,Things that help — iambrave @ 1:10 am

in class tonight. The professor had us all lie down on the floor and led us through a guided meditation. I have done some meditation in the past, but never in a group of people and never with guided imagery. He had us imagine ourselves three years from now, going through a day at work, and it was a really positive experience for me. I have had a very bad habit for a very long time of not letting myself imagine the future positively, as if even thinking good things would automatically make bad things happen. It’s like having to say “knock on wood” after you acknowledge that the traffic is light or the weather is good (which I do) except more extreme because it’s all based on my thoughts.

I am trying really hard to let go of my superstitions. People have been talking a lot lately about the power of positive thinking and how you can make good things happen just by thinking about them. However, for good or for bad, I do not want to believe anymore that my thoughts have power to influence the universe, regardless of what The Secret might say (although I have to admit that ever since I saw a piece about it on TV or possibly online, I have been imagining the perfect parking space magically appearing in front of my house and I have found good spots subsequently and apparently if I even let any doubt into my mind that it’s because I envisioned it there won’t be anywhere for me to park anymore. I haven’t actually read the book, just the hype). In fact, I would like to be able to believe that my thoughts have zero impact on the universe, and the reason is that it is way too much pressure to hold on to the belief that you are making things happen simply by thinking. A positive superstition is still a superstition and given my obsessive tendencies I think that I need try to let go of superstitions as a whole. I’m still knocking on wood, though. I do have one compulsion that comes readily to mind which is that I can’t wear socks that don’t match. I am having trouble letting go of it because if I did wear unmatching socks and something bad did happen it would probably just drive me out of my mind.

So, I really don’t want to believe that my thoughts/socks have extraordinary power.  On the other hand, I think that allowing myself to think positive thoughts has a positive impact on my life because it has a positive impact on the way that I think about myself and my own capabilities for success. I pretty much put the “O” in OCD, but just writing this has made me realize how far I have come.  I did strict CBT for a few months last year, and while I didn’t like some things about it, particularly that the therapist didn’t really give me much time to just talk and I am a firm believer in the fact that just being able to randomly vent to a paid professional can be helpful sometimes, it taught me a lot about managing my thoughts. I don’t know if you can ever change the fact that negative thoughts pop up, but you can become more aware of them and learn to refute them and I’m living proof of that. This post does a pretty good job of explaining what I’m trying to say.

I don’t really like my Tuesday class, and it’s embarrassing for me to try to articulate it but I’m going to try anyway. I guess that it kind of makes me feel like I’m in high school again because there’s a lot of pretty, young people in there and I waste a lot of energy feeling left out, even though I do rationally realize that it’s all in my head. Here’s a secret: people tend to congregate before the class and it makes me really anxious to walk up to a group of people that I don’t really know so I try to get there a little late, or RIGHT on time. I guess I do the same thing on Wednesdays, too. But I’m glad that I was able to relax enough to have the experience that I did tonight.

One other thing: I got to class really late tonight accidentally (I didn’t mean to be 15 minutes late or whatever it was) and apparently I missed some sad news. At the beginning of the semester, we saw a talk by a man named Jack with bipolar disorder who had become a peer counselor/public speaker and it blew my mind to hear him talk so openly about his illness in front of a group of people. That experience was one of the biggest inspirations for me to start focusing so much energy on disclosure issues in my own life and gave me a lot of strength and courage, one of the end results being my writing here. Well, it’s my understanding that he has since committed suicide. I didn’t know him personally, but I just wanted to put it out there that I think that Jack was an amazing person and that he had a huge impact on at least one person. I am sorry to hear that he was hurting so badly and I hope that he is at peace now.

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.

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.

March 30, 2007

Today, on the other hand,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 29, 2007

Feeling a little better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 26, 2007

My happy place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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