Rare long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness post

Update: I decided to republish this for two reasons:
1) It’s a great point of reference for me to reread when these issues rear their ugly heads again (reading a draft is hellannoying) and 2) Ana reminded me that it’s good to know others feel the same and know they’re not alone.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post for the first time, I hope it can help you in some small way.

It’s another one of those days. I’m at work, struggling with social anxiety yet again. I don’t normally ramble on my blog but I think everyone needs a vent post now and then. It’s not just about social anxiety but sort of a thought dump. It’ll likely be a long stream-of-consciousness vent post and may not make sense. I’m not editing it and it won’t have the best grammar. Expect run-on sentences. I don’t expect you to read it all; I have no attention span to reread it myself. It’ll just make me feel better. Deal.

WARNING: There is cussing in this post. If you are offended by that kind of language, I suggest you stop reading.

Was it only 2 weeks ago that I had a panic attack and had to bail early? If I remember correctly, it was a Tuesday because I had a counseling session that night. What is up with Tuesdays?

Two weeks ago, I’d intended to write a post about my panic attack but after speaking with my former pastor’s sister, I ended up writing about the difference between Nouthetic and Biblical counseling. The closest I got to an actual post like this was “Social anxiety and social awkwardness” the following day but I left it quite general in the hopes that it might help someone.

AnxietyToday, I woke up nearly panicking because I just get so anxious now about coworkers. I think I’m a bit traumatized by what happened at my last job and knowing that people were talking about me behind my back. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m suffering from PTSD but I have definitely become paranoid as to whether people like me, whether they’re talking about me behind my back, what they think of me, and whether I’m wanted around or not. I’m convinced that I’m not cut out for work environments because I know I’ll deal with this everywhere I go and I can’t escape it. It’ll drive me crazy. My father thought people were out to get him at work. He was right the first time and ended up being fired because the people who didn’t like him set him up. At the next job, he was pretty happy with his job and once the company merged with another one, the atmosphere wasn’t the same and some people were laid off and new ones were hired. My dad didn’t get along with some of the new people and his paranoia just increased tenfold to the point where he thought they were going to kidnap me or creep into my bedroom to try and kill me. On several occasions, my father tried to get me out of the house to keep me safe but I just knew something wasn’t right and I wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do so I did everything I could to thwart his plans.

At one point, I kept the car keys from him because I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He insisted that he didn’t want to hurt me and that I hand them over. My (at the time) 88-year-old grandmother was nearby so I tossed her the car keys and she grabbed them, ran into her room, and locked her door. (Yeah, imagine an 88-year-old woman running. She was pretty fast for her age.) He left me alone and sat in the living room in the dark until my mother came home at 2 am. When he came home, he expressed how upset and disappointed he was in me and that I — or maybe other people (in his mind) — had turned me against him. My mother scolded me and said I shouldn’t have done that to him. Right. This is the same father I had who walked from Long Island to upstate New York in 3 days, wandering as a homeless man. We feared he was dead.

This is the fear I live with. I don’t know how things began for him. Did he suffer from social anxiety? Did his coworkers really turn against him? Did no one like him? He was a very likable guy with a great sense of humor and a wonderful smile. (I’ve since noticed that I have his smile now. He lives on in me now, huh?) Am I on the same path of being schizophrenic eventually? Researchers have now discovered that the two illnesses are indeed genetically linked, which scares me.

I took a half-day today because of my panic attack. My husband was convinced it was because I only got 5 hours of sleep and was worried that I was in no condition to drive 13 miles away. (And it was kind of snowing.) I began to freak out and tell him that I called in sick last Monday and I couldn’t do that again because it would show I was unreliable and blah blah blah. He insisted that as a freelancer, I work at will — on their end and on mine. There are two other freelancers, I countered, and they are reliable and show up when they have to and blah blah blah. I was even having social anxiety about calling in and talking to them. I just didn’t want to deal with anyone other than my husband. I told him I’d stay home if he took a half-day with me; he said yes. He emailed his boss and I spoke to mine, telling her I’d be in around 1 pm due to a personal emergency. She said that was fine. I can’t imagine what people think of me since I’m always suffering from some kind of “crisis.” I just can’t get my shit together.

In the weirdest way though, I wasn’t suicidal but during my attack, I couldn’t breathe and kept gasping for air. My husband was very kind and put me to bed and made me sleep.

InsecureSo here I am, at work, and things are light. I have way too much admin time and can see them cutting me back to 2 days instead of 3. Maybe even put me on call. I sit in the corner, put on my headphones and listen to Pandora, and I haven’t really talked to anyone all day. I’m even struggling to keep up with my hygiene so I’m uber self-conscious right now. I don’t want to talk to people and no one’s talking to me. Which makes me feel doubly worse because now I think they don’t like me and don’t want to associate with me. When I walked in, everyone had gone to lunch with each other and when they came back, no one said hi to me. (To be fair, I didn’t say hi to them either.) It was kind of pointless for me to even come in since I figured work would be extremely light by then but I could really use the money since I’ve been out so many times. I didn’t mind going to work 3 months ago; now I dread it.

TypingI’m depressed about the freelance writing thing. I can’t get my ass in gear and have no motivation. I’ve declared 2009 as the year that I’ll try to be persistent but I’m not persistent about anything. I give up too easily. Why do you think I struggle with suicidal issues? Because I’m such a strong individual? NO. Because I’m a total coward and would rather check out of life than deal with this. My social anxiety isn’t going away. I’m going to be 27 in a few days and if my 98-year-old grandmother is a sign of anything, I’ll be around for a helluva long time. I DON’T feel like suffering from anxiety for the next 60+ years. Getting old doesn’t scare me as much as dealing with the same damn emotions and feelings year after year after year after year. This shit hasn’t changed since I was 6. 9. 12. 14. 16. 18. 22. 24. In fact, I can even remember being ridiculued in daycare as young as 4. It’s fuzzy but I remember it happening and what the environment kind of looked like. My memory for negative experiences is extremely sharp. If I could only learn from them instead of dwelling on them…

I’m pretty upset about the whole pregnancy thing too. I’m lazy and don’t want to come off of Lamictal. I don’t want to deal with the withdrawal effects that will crop up, including suicidal thoughts. (And that happened with a 50 mg drop.) Every time I’m around young children and their parents, I get frustrated sometimes at how often they misbehave and need to be reprimanded. I think of the things I’d need to sacrifice to take care of a child:

  • my privacy,
  • my need to be alone,
  • my sleep,
  • my ability to do whatever I want whenever I want,
  • doing things uninterrupted,
  • not having to constantly feed or change a diaper.

You could argue I’m not ready for a kid. It’s a valid argument. But I don’t know if I’d ever be willing to give any of those things up. If I accidentally had a child, I wouldn’t get rid of it but I don’t know if it’s worth trying for. Not only that, I’m convinced I’d be a lousy mom. If you’ve been following the show House recently, you’ll know that Cuddy is taking care of a foster baby and considering adopting her. However, Cuddy is at a loss of how to take care of her and what to do. I’d feel like Cuddy: crying along with my newborn yelling at it, “What’s wrong? What am I supposed to do with you? Tell me what you want, please!” Then there’s the whole issue of postpartum… Not guaranteed but something I’d like to avoid. Maybe I’m not meant to have a kid. A child doesn’t need a suicidal or bipolar mother. I give my husband enough grief as it is. The idea of not having a child now saddens me, though.

But then again, let’s say I wanted to try for a  kid, I’d want to be off of this medication before then. Hopefully my doc will cooperate with me and allow me to taper off this medication 3 months at a time: down to 150 mg for 3 months, 100 mg for 3 months (50 mg + 50 mg – there’s not actual 100), 75 mg for 3 months, 50 mg for 3 months, 25 mg for the last 3 months and see what happens. That’s about a year and a half for coming off of medication. (sigh) I’d like to come off of it faster but I want to take my time and do this right.

I’m also considering going back to college to get a M.A. in Publishing or a M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Considering that kids are unlikely for a year, why not? Now, for those elusive three letters of professional recommendation… (sigh)

OptimismLast but not least, I’m trying out the Optimism software from the site Finding Optimism named by PsychCentral’s Top Ten Depression Blogs in 2007. So far so good. It’s pretty basic but allows me to keep track of whether I took my meds, rate my mood (see left sidebar), rate how well I coped today, how many hours I slept, whether I exercised, and tick off my triggers, symptoms, and stay well strategies along with adding notes. It also has a chart that follows my habits. The software costs $29.95 but I think the software is worthwhile for me. I used to keep track of all this stuff in various day planners so to have it electronically in one place is great. It’d be great to see an online version of it if possible.

And I still get down about being anonymous. I feel like I could do so much more good if I wasn’t some random person with an avatar that looks NOTHING like me.

I also waver on whether I should stop blogging permanently. There are so many other blogs out there that are incredibly useful and much more knowledgeable than mine. (See Furious Seasons, Beyond Meds, and Soulful Sepulcher to name a few.) I haven’t experienced the trauma that many mental health bloggers have experienced with medication. I feel inadequate, uneducated, and unqualified to write many of the posts that I write regarding Effexor, Lamictal, Pristiq, Lexapro, and Paxil. I’m leaving Zyprexa to Mr. Dawdy. But I have been getting a lot of hits for my sole post on the allergy drug Xyzal lately, which indidcates there’s not enough information floating around about it. I don’t intend to write another Xyzal post other than what I’ve written, because there doesn’t appear to be any further information on its effect on mental health. Singulair, however, is a different story. There are many blogs that are of more use to the blogosphere and I get tired of realizing that I don’t really have much to contribute than to:

a) rehash my day
b) rehash my life
c) rehash my mundane experiences
d) rehash news that I’ve already read and that you could probably read and figure out for yourself

Again, I said I waver on this thought. I like the idea of feeling like I know what I’m talking about when in reality, I don’t. I feel like a fraud.

I think that’s it for today. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I don’t usually have long posts like this (hence the cut if you’re visiting the site and not reading this through a feed) but since this is a rare occurrence, I’m not feeling particularly guilty.

Oh and yeah, guilt complex. Expect a post on that one day. Guilt and codependency sound like great topics to explore one day. One of my friends and I have this running joke that we feel so guilty about everything that we blame ourselves for starting the war in Iraq. She made it a point to mention that she voted for Bush in 2000 so I think she was half-kidding.

I think I’ll be ranting on politics on my other blog but I haven’t touched it since before the election so I’m not sure that’ll come to fruition. I have a lot of thoughts on the topic and, well, neither here nor Facebook is the place for spilling them.

Mood rating: 3+

7 thoughts on “Rare long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness post

  1. This is my first time visiting your blog – you are an incredible writer. I found your site just today, and find your latest post really interesting. At 29-years-old, a project manager that has to speak publicly on a regular basis, I have become petrified of interacting with people. While you are uncomfortable in the workplace, it is work where I find my security. I find that if I am able to dive into a project, I can use it as an excuse for not going out with the office staff after work. I constantly feel that if I try to socialize, I will face rejection. Because of these feelings, I have developed a very “dry” personality. I never joke, nor do I crack a smile; and when someone tries to interact with me, I can think of so few words. People tell me too often to “lighten up” and that I am “way too serious.” But serious seems safe.
    For some time now, I have had the opportunity to work from home. I have almost become reclusive, becoming severely anxious about going to get a haircut, or even buying groceries. The friends I have stopped asking me to come out with them, because I never add anything to the conversation. My father, after leaving the workforce, never left his house again. And it really scares me that the same thing may be happening to me. I know you are not a doctor, but you have a really inspiring blog site. And I just wanted to say that I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

  2. honey,
    I don’t know what to say except I really wish you’d give yourself a break…
    Unfortunately beyond that I have no words of wisdom…I pretty much emotionally exhausted…BUT I do have faith that things will work out…
    I hope you can find that sort of faith…
    Life is hard for everyone…
    I wish I could give you a hug.
    and just so you know, you’ve had some really awesome informative pieces on this blog…you do not see yourself objectively.
    you are smart and talented.

  3. Why oh why must we beat ourselves up so consistently? One thing I’ve learned from being in the working world is that no matter what you do or don’t do, people will talk about you behind your back. It’s not just you or me — people talk about each other period. I finally learned to shrug it off and remind myself that everyone gets talked about. A wise co-worker once told me, “loyalties change from day to day.” Although from my experience, it sometimes seems to be hour to hour LOL.
    People are ambivalent about their feelings for others because it’s a reflection of the feelings they have for themselves.

  4. “My memory for negative experiences is extremely sharp.”
    I believe it’s part of human condition.
    Ten people say nice things about us but we only think about the one who said something bad.
    It has always amazed me.

  5. You are a journalist and have the ability to write about mental health issues and drugs like I can’t; I always admire how you can pull off an article and it’s so factual and not full of (my example of me here)emotional stuff.
    I think I should have told you that a long time ago.
    Keep writing here, and when your occasional ramble shows up here, it’s just enough to make you …well…human like everyone else! It’s easy to be hard on ourselves, but life is just too short.
    PS– and I did receive your card in the mail and have been terrible about replying! it made my day.Thank you for supporing me.

  6. Been there. Still am. But one thing I’m happy about is finding this community… blogs by people like Gianna, Stephany, Susan, Cheryl, Ana, Stan, Mark Kruzen, etc. These have been the most personal ones. And I’ve been in need of “community” for a long time. (I am simultaneously finding a support group I can go to nearby too.) I feel like I am finding making some strides, and doing something proactive.
    Thanks for re-sharing this rant.
    P.S. Before my daughter came into this world, I had almost the exact same list of reasons I didn’t think I wanted a child. I had very little instinct for it, partly because of my depression. But within a very short period of time, my “dad” instincts started coming out of no where, and I couldn’t believe how I ever considered not becoming one. My daughter is now 11.

  7. I am 53 and have suffered from chronic depression and related issues since childhood. In the last five years I have come across three descriptions/concepts that have greatly helped me to better understand and accept myself. Please study “The Highly Sensitive Person”, what it means to be an “Empath”, and a medical condition called Chronic Fatigue syndrome (living in a constant state of stress can cause severe “sensitization” of the central nervous system). Best wishes. Cindy

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