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Anxiety

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I don’t know why I am suddenly feeling so anxious all the time. I never had anxiety issues before. Or maybe I did but didn’t realize it because of all my other issues.

I know it is mostly the PTSD, but lately I have been having mini panic attacks. It feels so stupid to be feeling this way. I am actually ashamed of myself for not being able to handle things.

I look back on all I have been through and I think: I went through all that and now I am afraid to answer my door? Or go grocery shopping at night? Or talk to another human being?

It feels idiotic and paranoid and silly. So silly.

I know I am just being hard on myself. The truth is, I’ve always felt this way. It’s just that now I have resolved so many issues, this is one of the last few left. It seems to stand out.

I am embarrassed to mention it to my therapist. I am afraid she thinks I am making all this up. I am afraid she will think I am just trying to get medication. I am afraid that she thinks I am self diagnosing myself. I don’t want medication. I just want to stop feeling so anxious.

It has been so bad a few times that I can’t sleep all night. Every noise has me jumping. Exaggerated response and all that. I have been sleeping with my baseball bat again.

I’m not sure where it is coming from. Except, that is a lie. I do know.

One year ago this month I was battling my ex in court. Getting a restraining order. It was difficult and scary. The things he said and did…

And I have recently ended a casual relationship with a man. I am worried he will take it poorly. I am worried he will retaliate. I am worried that every relationship I end from now on will be a trigger. I am worried I will never truly know someone or truly trust ever again.

I am so tired of having so many problems. Some days I just want to wallow in self pity and wonder why it all happened to me. But that is pretty useless. It doesn’t help me. And it never makes me feel better.

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Depression

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I don’t know if anyone has noticed that I haven’t been around as much lately. I have been extremely depressed. I know everyone’s depression is different. We all experience it differently.

Mine has been so bad. And when I am in the middle of a depressive spell, I can’t tell anyone. I don’t even recognize it as depression. I think that I am just awful and miserable because my life is terrible and I have no friends. I think I just suddenly hate my job and myself. I think that everyone would be better off if I wasn’t around.

I have had a really bad two weeks. I keep thinking that this blog is pointless and that my life is pointless. And that I really shouldn’t even be alive anymore. I don’t want to kill myself, but if I could just stop breathing or stop living, I would.

I have been doing so well for so long, I almost forgot what it looked like to be in the middle of a depressive spell. And the forgetting, made it so bad. I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy.

My life is actually going really well. Which made it even more confusing. Why was I thinking about killing myself when I had finally met someone I liked? Why was I wanting to call out sick and sit at home alone all day? Why wasn’t I writing?

And I haven’t been sleeping. Which makes me feel terrible physically too. I’ve been having horrible anxiety at night. I’ve been sitting awake in my bed with a baseball bat for hours instead of sleeping.

Last night, I kept jumping at every noise. I thought there was someone in my apartment (even though I logically knew there wasn’t). And this next part I feel ashamed to admit. But it’s the truth and this is all anonymous anyway.

I thought someone was whispering in my ear. A man’s voice was saying something. It was rhyming words over and over. They were nonsense sounds. Like ooh, boo, woo, too. That has never happened to me before. It really upset me and freaked me out. I also felt like something was crawling up my back. Like a hand sliding over me. But I was alone. That has also never happened before.

Maybe I was dreaming and just thought it was happening. Sometimes my dreams really like to mess with my mind. But if I wasn’t…

I don’t know what it means. It might sound funny or silly. But it really upset me. Am I having auditory hallucinations? I never have before. What does it means? I don’t know.

There is no need for anyone to worry at this point. The very fact that I can write about it is proof that I am feeling better. And I’ll be back to my cheerful self in no time.

Visualization

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I recently finished reading a book about PTSD. This book had many visualization techniques for working through issues, calming yourself down, and dealing with anxiety. I have been in therapy for a little over a year now and I have never tried a visualization technique before.

I have tried to do guided meditations before but I found them to be both annoying and distracting. And I kind of assumed visualization exercises were similar. At best ineffective and hokey and dumb at worst.

But I was really upset a few weeks ago at something a friend had done. I was so upset I tried to call my therapist and book an emergency appointment. But she wasn’t answering.

So I decided to do the least hokey visualization to try to calm down. And that was imagining that my emotions were on a dial from 1-10. First you decide where you are on the dial and why. Then you decide if that’s an appropriate emotional response. And if it isn’t, you try to figure out how to change or lower it.

I decided I was a 5 mad at my friend for what he did and I was an 8 mad at myself for allowing him to do what he had done.

But then I started thinking about all he has been through lately. And I decided being a 5 mad at him was a little too harsh. He has had a tough time. So I lowered it to a 3. And I imagined physically rotating the dial from a 5 to a 3.

So then I started wondering how much sense it made to be so mad at myself when I didn’t even actually do anything wrong. Except give someone a chance. So I decided I couldn’t be MORE mad at myself than I was at him. So I imagined physically rotating the second dial from an 8 to a 3.

I was shocked at how much better I immediately felt. I don’t know if it was because I was logically picking apart my feelings which helped to calm me down, or if it was the visualization.

But it was one of those things I also didn’t want to try to examine too closely. If there was magic involved I didn’t want to see the explanations behind it. It worked and that’s all that mattered.

I’ve used this technique a few times to calm myself down when I am upset. It has actually worked every time so far. It’s making me start to realize how useful visualization can be in recovery. Maybe I should give one of those other ones a try…

Not Sleeping

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I’ve found that the more I work on my issues, the better I feel, the safer I feel, the less anxious I feel, the better I sleep.

Growing up I was like a giant knot twisted in on myself. At first, it seemed impossible to untangle. At first, it WAS impossible to untangle. But it has slowly progressed and gotten easier.

I don’t get the insomnia as often now. And when I do, I can generally point to something to cause it. Nowadays there isn’t any pressing danger to my safety. It is mostly all in my mind.

But back then, I never knew when one of my parents would come into my room in the night. Sometimes they just wanted to talk. Other times I would wake up to them screaming over me.

If my mother found one dirty dish in the dish drainer, she would wake us up and make us wash every dish in the house. Even if it was a school night. Even if it was 2am. I remember this happening beginning in elementary school.

I hated being surprised that way by them. I hate surprises in general. I hated opening my eyes to find them in my room. Sometimes hitting me. Sometimes being so frighteningly angry or verbally abusive. But I shouldn’t say just towards me. Because they did it all to my siblings too.

I used to sleep fully clothed; shirt, shorts, bra (when I finally needed one). I even kept a few dollars in the pocket of my shorts. Being dressed made me feel safer. I became a lighter and lighter sleeper over the years.

I was functioning on a heightened awareness. I was constantly on guard. Waiting for the next incident to get through. It was like being in a war zone. It was hard to know what would set them off.

I suspected my brother of intentionally misbehaving to give them an excuse sometimes. Let a little steam out of the pressure cooker before it exploded.

I wasn’t like that. I was quiet. Shy. I grew more and more removed from them and from my life. I was like a shadow. Always in my room. Hidden away in a book. Quick to please, always trying to keep the peace. But there was never peace.

I remember times when there was no pretense of an excuse. They just needed someone to take their anger and abuse. The violence was always there. A numbing dullness that pervaded my life. I never thought I would escape from it.

And I almost didn’t. I almost re-created my childhood with someone else. With several someone else’s. But I got away from them too.

I don’t generally post specific stories about my past. For a long time I didn’t think I could talk about them. But now I am beginning to wonder if I can keep NOT talking about it. I feel like this blog is so much about how I feel about what happened to me. Maybe I should also be talking about what actually happened. I don’t know.

Expansion Set

I feel like, growing up in the throes of my anxieties and eating disorder, and borderline compulsive behavior; my world was so small.

The vast majority of my time was spent thinking about the small things. My attention was hyper-focused on the tiniest details of myself.

I spent hours exercising, tidying my room, making my bed, cleaning the house, cooking. I would cook for my sister or my family. Not for me. I still don’t cook much for me. I didn’t have many hobbies at that time. Reading, writing, cleaning, exercising, not eating.

It surprising how much time, energy, and thought went into not eating. And also into not thinking about not eating. Every fiber of my being, every ounce of my spare concentration was so narrowly focused.

And for what? I have nothing to show for all that effort. Years of my life that I could have spent on other things are gone. I could have gotten better before now if I had had the room in my brain to think about it. But I didn’t.

And maybe that is the point. Maybe my eating disorder saved me in a way. Maybe it saved me from being destroyed by what was happening to me. I couldn’t focus on all the abuse because I was too busy not eating.

It has taken me 20 years to stop thinking about not eating and start thinking about all that other stuff. 20 years later. Now that I am safe and emotionally mature enough to deal with all that.

It’s so strange to have the space in my head available to start thinking about other things. I feel like my own mind was confining me for so long.

And now I feel like I’ve let myself get away. Sometimes my brain comes back to that confinement. My mind is kind of obsessed with tying itself up.

But now that my mind has opened up wider than it ever has been before; I suddenly have room to consider the strangest thoughts that never occurred to me before.

I feel like my life is expanding. And it feels so good.

Making a point

Today was suddenly more than I can handle. I feel like I am barely in control. Like I want to go ahead and have a nervous breakdown, but I won’t let myself.

I feel like attempting to deal with my emotional problems is making it much harder to handle my normal daily issues. I was a totally energetic, responsible adult. I was getting shit done in my life.

I was cleaning, exercising, cooking, making art, writing, going to work, hanging out with my friends, dating. Now, I’m not even bathing every day let alone doing those other things.

Maybe this is what depression feels like. Apathy, insomnia, and inability to handle mundane shit going on in my life. I feel like I was doing better when I wasn’t dealing with things. It was easier in many ways. And I was more productive.

In some ways I was even more satisfied because I felt I had more to show for my life. But I didn’t have the things that really matters. Emotions, friendship, love, a sense of purpose or fulfillment. I still don’t have the love. But the rest are starting to come along.

Is it more important than creativity, motivation, fitness? I don’t know. I feel like I should be able to have all of that at the same time. I guess I’m just not there yet.

I suppose I expected it to be more of an uphill battle but that I would make progress every week. And that isn’t happening.

I have been working on my problems. I’m trying to get through this. Things just feel so bleak right now. It’s like I’m waiting for a breakthrough that isn’t coming. And I’m starting to wonder what the point is…

Hospitals

Visiting the hospital today…

I was not as ready to be there as I thought I was. That was tough. I felt really funny going up to the room. Like I couldn’t take a deep breath, but there was also this strange, dreamlike quality to it. It was hard to not think about my surgeries. There are still a lot of things involving those surgeries that I haven’t been dealing with or thinking about. Seeing all those people visiting my friend made me really start to pity myself.

I was alone for the vast majority of the time that I was in the hospital. None of my friends visited. None of my co-workers visited. Most of my immediate family didn’t visit. My boyfriend wasn’t even there for the last surgery I had while I was with him.

None of those people ever called or texted me to see if I was okay. And I can’t tell if it’s because they are shitty people or if it’s because I am a shitty person. It seems almost impossible that there are that many shitty people in my life. But I also can’t help but think that I would visit someone. I have visited people at work that I wasn’t very close to.

I can’t help but think that things are my fault. I guess because I usually think most things are my fault. Maybe if I were nicer people would like me more. If I opened up more then people would care about me more.

But I’m afraid that if I open up more to the people around me that I will either turn into some obnoxious drama queen that always has to make everything about me, or that I will be the sad sack of the group that brings everyone else down.

I don’t know how to tell if I am having a legitimate issue that deserves consideration and when I should just keep it to myself. I don’t even know who I am trying to be strong for. Myself or everyone else?

I don’t even know what I think would happen if I did start talking to my friends. That they’d be disgusted? That they’d dump me the second I showed emotions or needed them for anything?

I already know what not opening up to people gets me. Bursting into tears at inappropriate times and having to start going to therapy. I hate how afraid I am of needing. I hate being so afraid of rejection. I hate being afraid of being vulnerable. I hate being afraid to ask for help, or commiseration or even a hug.

I hate being this way. I wish I could just stop. I feel like everything inside me is tied up into a knot. All my emotions and memories are balled up in there. And the more I try to unravel shit, the more I see how bad that knot really is.

I couldn’t see how bad it was when I was ignoring it. I just kind of knew it was there, in the back of my mind. Since I wasn’t using those emotions and feelings I don’t think I really missed or needed them. But now I guess I have decided that I actually need them and I don’t have access to them because they are knotted up inside me.

I’m starting to feel more angry at what was done to me than hating myself and that is pretty huge. I just don’t know where that anger goes. I feel like there is no room inside me for it. At least not anymore.