Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dinner Drama

Even the simplest everyday interactions or decisions can send me into full blown crisis. Panic, dread and major depressive outbursts are the result of me making a decision that involves others, like choosing dinner.


I have only been interacting with my boyfriend, my doctors, insurance reps (UGH) and everyone else (bus drivers, cashiers) were by consequence only and required no engaged interaction. This has been going on for 6 months. I have isolated myself. This is not only unhealthy but is counteractive to my progress through social anxiety and major depression. As per my last blog post I am done hiding. As much of a struggle as I find it to go out into the world and have worldly connections and relationships  I MUST if I am to regain a healthy and fulfilled life. My first quest is to visit my Papa and my Sister who live a few hours away. I am staying with them now, in fact. Intense.

It Starts

I was sitting on the back deck enjoying a bit of sun, crocheting and tweeting when my father very casually came out and asked if I still like Chinese food. Which I do, very much. Great! We chat briefly. As he goes to step inside he says he's thinking of going out to the restaurant together for the buffet meal. Unable to retract my interest (at that moment) everything inside me dies at once while I squeak out an "ok" as he goes back inside.

Now, I have been to this buffet before. Its great food. Friends family owns the place, always fresh and good food. So whats the problem?

Depression & Social Anxiety ATTACK!

Problem #1 Sitting at a table with other people being forced into possible conversation for upwards of 40 minutes. I cannot sit still that long. I at this point in my recovery hold conversations lasting 5 minutes and feel like Ive conquered quite a beast. 40 minutes in a restaurant with all those people surrounding my family all sitting staring at each other for convo with all the clinking and noises.... sensory overload! ..... YIKES! I know the likelihood of a panic attack ruining the meal was minimal. Especially with the Ativan I carry so close like a shield and armour. Regardless, I could not shake impending FEELINGS of being trapped, and doomed to be forced through awkward conversation and interactions. I don't know where my authentic self is but once she's back from fucking me over we'll go out in a crowd. Right now the prospect sends me into fits of tears. More on the tears later.

Problem #2 Seeing people from my past, old friends I have pushed away, while at this restaurant was a distinct possibility. Especially since I know the owners and I'm in a pretty small town. I am not ready to talk about "whats up with you". That question invariably sends me into a wailing panic of tear shed, guilt, shame and disgust. I realize I could have dismissed any running into old pals by saying I was with my family, retreating to our table but this would not stop the tears (I have tears even thinking about it). I'm not really into crying in restaurants and ruining my families meal time. Even if I did somehow manage to avoid "friendly" convo and avoid tears, the extreme tension I felt from just THINKING out the possibility and my possible exit routes was enough to spur vomit and diarrhea..

Problem #3 Vomit and Diarrhea do no blend well in restaurants

Problem #4 I could not stop crying long enough to get ready to go out. I just needed to change and wash up but the closer I came to doing something to get myself ready the most hostile the tears became. *SIGH*

Depression & Anxiety RETREAT!

I remained on the deck a bit longer trying desperately to "get a grip" when my baby sister and her boyfriend came out to join me. She mentions going out for supper. I blatantly say, I don't want to go, can you tell dad. She says she will, calling me a party pooper. She must of noticed the tension on my face and the glistening tips of tears brimming my eyes because she immediately apologized and went to tell dad. Eventually she came back to tell her boyfriend to leave me alone and get off the deck.

Sometimes I think my baby sister is my big sister.

She asked me why I didn't want to go and I shrugged as the lump ion the throat was too big to squeeze any words around. She asked me what was wrong and then tears took their opportunity to show face streaming relentlessly. Sobbing and trying to breathe with whimpering gasps I started to laugh. If I knew what was wrong Id fix it in a hurry. I'm depressed and have a lot of anxiety I told her. I don't know why I'm like this I realize my emotional reaction is greater than the situation warrants.  I said I was sorry. She said she understood and gave me a  hug. I'm an awfully lucky person.

Getting Past the Problem 

Collecting my cool on the deck was going well until my Papa came out to ask if I was okay. Tears streaming down my face, my typically self assured loud voice squeaked a yes. He said he hated seeing me like this and wished he could help. I told him he was helping and that this would pass. It always does. I believe that. These episodes come, they conquer, they leave but each time I have one of these fits I become stronger. I don't let them take *ALL* my self worth anymore. I face them proudly saying okay, you're sad? Be sad. And so I was.

My Papa is not a big talker nor is he really all that emotionally available. He's learning how as he gets older and he's getting real good at it. In the end a 3 minute convo with him lifted my spirits enough that I started feeling like me again. He says he'll bring me back food and if I want to come for the drive I don't even have to get out of the car. But it might be good for me he says in his "I really think you should" voice.

I sat on the deck for at least a couple hours crocheting, writing, crying, tweeting while this was all going on. Papa got ready to go, called in out order and asked again:

"C'mon out for the drive. You never know. You might see something that changes your life."
Mooping & broody I reply "Okay, lets go change my life".
His response was priceless. " I didn't say it was likely I just said it was possible."

He might not realize in what measure but going out with him for the drive did in fact change my life, even if only slightly, for the better.

Lets Get Real

If I am completely honest with you all (more importantly myself) I was having some pretty intense flashbacks from some tulmultuous experiences with my mother. I love my mom but she took psychiological abuse to a whole new level . The things she led me to believe or feel are just insane now that I *know* better. As a child many of these trauamatic experiences I have no memory of and when the memories come back they come in sweeping fists of fury and emotion. This house is filled with haunted memories of my childhood/teenage years and yes, one of those forgotten memories is of all of us going out to "celebrate" at this chinese buffet place. I won't go into all the details of that experience here today but know I am dedicated to finding the route causes of my emotive instability. I WILL GET BETTER. This simply cannot be sustained, this depression and extreme anxiety. I will get better godamnit, if I have to re-live every shitty experience I have ever had I will get better. I have the best support I could ask for. I love my Papa and sisters more than ANY words could ever even begin to describe. I am a very lucky fortunate mess. Yes I am.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Be Nice, I'm Coming Out.

Sexually Self Assured

I've never had ANY desire to "come out" regarding my sexual orientation. I am open about my sexuality but I don't want to be all up in your face about it... I'm 'bi sexual'. I've been with women and men. People who take the time to get to know me will know that. Its no state secret.

I have profound gratitude for those who bravely fight for equality. I appreciate the many journalists/writers, protesters, activists, teachers, celebrities, moms, dads, ANYONE who speaks out to make being bi, gay, trans, pans, whatever sexual as okay as I currently enjoy.

Mentally Not-So-Self Assured

Why then do I cower in complete horror when in the position of wanting to offer an explanation for my emotional instability as associated with my mental illness? It is just as much a part of me as my sexuality. I have inappropriate emotional reactions that are part of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder et al. I am aware of this.

I can have any inappropriate response there is, be aware of it and express my ACTUAL thoughts or feelings upon reflection. Often times this is coupled with an apology for not being more "authentically myself" with my initial reactions. This constant damage control leaves me on edge and with extreme social anxiety.

For now, I can control my inappropriate response by regressing and isolation, never expressing my authentic self. This prevents exposing potential victims to another emotive hedge maze thrust upon them by yours truly. This leaves me running circles around myself.

Mentally Self Assured

I refuse to isolate myself anymore. It is hurting my heart and soul. I am a great person with my own unique flaws. So are you. After years of slowly isolating myself from the world of friends, connections, acquaintances. I here in this moment declare myself FREE of the restraint I have placed on myself for not being "normal". I've seen how big society runs. I don't even want to be "normal" anymore.

It should be mentioned, I am aware:

1./ No one cares how I act, what I think, what I do. They're busy worrying about themselves. If they are busy being caught up in me maybe THEY are the one with a problem.

2./ I owe no one an explanation as to why I am emotionally different than many others just like I owe no one an explanation as to why I find women sexy and men sexy too.

3./ If someone needs clarification they can ask. I can answer. Language is nice and simple like that.

That said, I really feel the desperate need to come out of the closet with my mental illness. LOUDLY and PROUDLY I need to scream it from the rooftops, stick my head out the window and yell:

1./ I am ME first, my illness is only one PART of me.

2./ What I say, what I do, how I act singularly does not define me!


I know that dealing with someone who does not function mentally the same as people who are not mentally ill can be confusing. It can even be alarming at times. WE ARE PEOPLE TOO. It's not hard though and with a little effort you may even learn to ENJOY our many flaws as a deviance from the "norm".

There is a guy walking down the street mumbling to himself, disheveled looking, maybe not wearing any shoes. Does that scare you? Do you cross the street? If he tries to make eye contact to you look away?

Righting Wrongs

Don't look away. Don't stare. Don't wait for him to pass then whisper to your friend "DID YOU HEAR THAT GUY??!!!".

No more than a lesbian couple holding hands would a mentally ill PERSON like to be made a spectacle for something THEY HAVE NO CHOICE OVER. Don't point and whisper. Just accept it for what it is and MOVE ALONG.

I didn't choose to be bi. It's just what I am.

I didn't choose to be ill. It's just what I am.

You don't "suddenly" become gay (though not being aware that's what you were feeling until later in life is normal for many).
Show some respect.
Be the best person you know how.
Love, live, AND LET BE.

At the end of the day we're all people deserving of love, respect and inclusion. You don't have to befriend Mr. Mumbles and encourage him to get some shoes but you do have to ACCEPT him as part of our society. If anything in this messed up world is ever going to work we MUST accept our differences.

Our society is sick right now too. You don't have to look far to see human suffering due to war, famine, ecological disasters... Do your part to help end suffering and inspire kindness. It really does not take much at all to change the tone of our culture. Random acts of kindness inspire more kindness. A friendly hello may save someone from a lonely suicide. A smile can go around the world simply and easily spreading kindness everywhere it goes.

And after all, smiles are free.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Undelivered Letter

One night a couple weeks ago I was incredibly depressed... well, more than usual. My symptoms were MUCH worse than usual. I couldn't sleep because I couldn't stop crying. CBT would have me try to pinpoint the thoughts causing the tearful reaction but I'll tell you now that was a practice in futility. I got out of bed, lit a candle and sitting in the flickering light I sobbed silently and relentlessly from deep inside my soul.

Drying my eyes and sniffling I thought I had myself calmed enough but nope. No way. I still wasn't ready for bed. There was that lump in my throat and burning sensation behind my eyes forcing me to acknowledge the water pressure building up behind the floodgate. Thinking to myself "Okay, brain. You wanna play? You wanna be sad?". And so I began to write one of those really long winded, pour your heart out, would never deliver in a million years sort of letters.

It was a good one. The kind of letter where the ink looks all splotchy because I was writing so furiously and there were so many tears. Its hard to tell in some places what is water smudged and what is a rushed hand. In the end I was smiling. I guess I have a few demons inside that bubble up unidentified until I put the pen to paper. It was sad stuff I was writing about. Regret, apologies, and grief stained the pages I filled in the darkest hours of the night. I had something to be sad about, a real issue in my life, and hacked out all my emotions surrounding it. I felt accomplished- no- present. I was very much aware of my 5 senses and all my emotional ill was temporarily transferred to the paper so that I could neatly slide it in a drawer and put it all away for the night. It was enough relief that at the very least I managed to get to sleep shortly after.

The best or most startlingly beauitful bit of this whole experience came several days later. The person I had written the letter to contacted me out of the blue to express regret for lost time and offer sincere support, hearing of my mental health struggles. No words need describe my profound gratitude for her kindness in reaching out. I love her so much.

I love this universe and all its little affirmations.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Papa, I'm broken.


I haven't been writing much but you had best believe this has been a month jam packed of mental health learning, growing, regressing and moving forward again. I wanted to write more, share more of this experience with the interwebs but I needed all that courage and energy for me. Over the last couple months my biggest challenge and greatest reward was coming clean with my family.

In my family I like to consider myself the one who has it together. When things fall apart I'm really good at picking up the pieces, dusting them off and trying to find a good spot for them. I am in control. If I can apply logic to the situation I'm okay. If I can figure it out & understand something I'll be okay.

I stopped being okay months ago and simply blocked everyone out. Honestly, its been years in the making. I have managed to push away all of my friends. Its been YEARS since I was truly connected or engaged in any project I was proud to be part of... I was in a slow but steady isolation process that eventually left me no one to push away but my family.

Finally the guilt of avoiding the phone calls, voicemails and text messages was too much. If anything happened to me while I am "this way" (mentally unfit) I decided it simply wasn't fair to those I loved. As much as it hurt to admit there was something wrong that I couldn't fix I called my Papa, ready to get this monster off my chest.

Our conversation was short but impressive. In just a couple of minutes he was able to remind me that any diagnosis didn't matter, I'm still me. He loves me (a lot) and will always be there for me, no matter what. [note: I did just now, upon typing that, have to get up to blow my nose and compose myself. I really do love my Papa] All the guilt, SHAME, disappointment and embarrassment was breifly lifted.

It might have taken my stubbornly egotistical self a long time to let my Papa know how I am REALLY doing but doing so has really shifted my mentality into a new kind of healing; to a more accepting healing process at the very least.

I remembered it really IS okay to be me, broken pieces and all.