Realistic Change

day by day, i’m peeling off layer after layer of my most basic assumptions about myself. i feel like what little i used to have in the way of a personality or a sense of “wholeness” has completely disintegrated. but maybe it’s for the best?

when i look in the mirror, i don’t see the same person i was last August. furthermore, it’s hard for me to think back to a time when i was drug-naive. because the meds opened my eyes to things i would otherwise never have realized on my own — but once i have, there’s no going back to how things were.

before, i was just impulsive. now, i can see the potential for healthy spontaneity and deliberation — even if i can’t yet execute them perfectly. before, my eating pattern was the problem. now, i see it for what it is: just one among many expressions of my impulsivity, and an attempt to ground myself firmly in the present instead of dealing with my problems.

i know i keep talking about drugs. but that’s only because of how transformative they have been to my self-perception. in ways not always positive, but mostly productive. ive been on medication for so long, it’s become my new normal. i’ve adjusted, more or less returned to baseline, and started taking this peace of mind for granted. but things will never be the same, even after i taper off.

i honestly can’t begin to comprehend how so many people can be so matter-of-fact about taking medication. it’s like, no, you don’t understand, i now feel like a whole new person! not because i behave differently, but because i perceive my own behavior in a different light. and im less attached to it; i see more potential for flexibility. it would not be an overstatement to say that i will probably forever see my life as divided into the pre- and post-ssri eras.

the first day was a revelation, in the most literal sense possible. it was like waking up in somebody else’s body. i’ll freely admit that i might not be thinking clearly right now. but it’s nothing compared to the thick, opaque, syrupy fog that i had lived in all my life. i was a child stuck in a young adult’s body.

you could argue that i might have achieved some self-awareness without pharmacological treatment, because i was simply ready to be honest with myself. even if that’s true, the meds make it that much easier and less painful & scary. but i highly doubt i could have.

the medication isn’t the only thing though. even just seeing somebody and talking about myself, just myself, sort of in the third person, where i can be concerned about my own wellbeing and kind of own all my fears, but also hopes. even just being open right here. validating my own existence. it has all made a world of difference.

the pills don’t have magical powers; they don’t alter your personality, making you into something you’re not. ha! i wish that were possible. but there’s no pill in this world that could make me into what i think i “should” be. and besides, therapy doesn’t have to be about “change”; it can be about acceptance through understanding, and about learning to play the hand that you’ve been dealt.

what the meds do is they make you … notice. because of the contrast. what i’m saying is, i always knew i was anxious, for example. but i had absolutely no idea just how anxious i was truly am. and this is not a value judgment, by the way, im not saying that anxiety is inherently bad, necessarily. but it can be a pain in the ass.

yes, the first words that come to mind when i try to describe the effect that antidepressants have on me are still “numb” / “dull”. but a certain degree of numbness can be invaluable to someone who has thus far felt everything, all the time, and they didn’t even know it.

i have a limited vocabulary for describing my internal states, but at least now i know when something is happening. it may sound odd, but i used to be completely oblivious to my emotions, how, or that they affected my behavior.

i had a general idea of some of my problems (though it is a bit intimidating to consider what i might still not know that i dont yet know about myself lol). but i couldn’t point to specific instances of when they tended to crop up. i had no clue the extent to which they permeated all areas of my life.

but in order to combat a problem, you need to be able to identify it. that in and of itself seemed unfathomable to me. firstly, i was too caught up in my own feelings, and secondly, i was too insecure. it made it impossible for me to admit to my weaknesses, never mind analyze & try to overcome them.

what’s a bit overwhelming about having more clarity is that i’m more aware of how i’m acting in the moment, and all the other ways i could theoretically act instead. i say theoretically because just realizing that other people in your situation would act differently doesn’t automatically mean that you can actually act any different. you are, after all, still you. i am indeed still me, and i still have trouble translating knowledge into action.

im also kind of confused as to what approach i should adopt. i can (sometimes) tell when im being defensive, or impulsive, or even lazy. but because i have a very narrow repertoire of communicative strategies, i will usually stick to what i know best. i simply don’t know what would work best, or even what “best” means for me; what would help me accomplish my goals, because i don’t have any (or if i do, i dunno what they are!).

one thing that truly bothers me is that i feel “normal, only better”, and at the same time i can’t recognize myself. and the longer i stay in this inbetween state without anyone to guide me through genuine, lasting change, the more likely it is that my newly developed yet equally unhealthy patterns will once again crystallize, and for good this time. and what’s going to happen when i eventually do go off the medication? it was supposed to be a stepping stone. something to help me during a particularly tough transitional period. but what if, in a month, or half a year, or two years, still nothing has changed?

i may be numb, but i’m still apprehensive :/

s c a t t e r brained

it’s been difficult to finish a post lately. you have no idea the number of drafts that are piling up on my account (and in my head). but its hard to maintain the internal logic and continuity of individual sentences, never mind the essays that i usually write. and its not for lack of trying… it’s more like there is so so much id like to discuss, it’s overwhelming. not because i cant decide between topics, but because they are so interconnected.

if i were to eloquently express my feelings on any one topic, that would lead to more digressions than i have time for, each calling for an elaborate backstory, disclaimer, footnote, parenthesis, and reference.

i don’t know how to prioritize.

but i think that the theme of all the changes ive been noticing is that im becoming increasingly… self-aware i think is the word. in an odd, detached, emotionless way. but my problem is, you can only get so meta — especially on your own. though of course it just seems like im in the same place i was when i started out. this time around,

i’m painfully aware of the emptiness i feel when im alone. this is why it takes me ages to string together a single complete sentence: when i start to think, really think, about my thoughts, behaviors, motivations — when i break my self down to a bunch of psychological constructs and analyze them (to the best of my ability, of course) — it seems abundantly clear that i have very few inherent qualities.

meaning, there are few things i could say about myself that i could have any degree of certainty would remain relatively constant over time & place. does that make sense? but these statements can’t both be true simultaneously: i cant be stubborn & narrow-minded and also mimic the beliefs and opinions of everyone around me at the same time … can i ?

im kind of angry. i had this conversation a while back with a friend of mine, and he compared my making someone else gain a level of insight about their poor mental health to giving a blind person a knife for them to slice some bread with. i came up with an analogy that to me seemed better suited to the situation: explaining to a short-sighted person unsuccessfully trying to slice bread with a spoon … that they need to get a pair of glasses.

lets move away from the analogies because neither of them works perfectly well, but that’s not the point. they are both pretty pessimistic. and ye. what i tried to do to (for?) someone else, i also did to myself: i thought. i thought, and i thought, and i guess i myself realized after a while that i must be doing something wrong. except i can’t just have my bread sliced for me, nor can i have my eye defect fixed with a simple prescription from the opthalmologist.

i went down the rabbit hole hoping to find some answers, or at least reassurance. what i got instead was more questions that only further fueled my self-doubt.

this is the first time i have ever lived not just with a suspicion but with the knowledge that i’m not fully well. and what happened was, it became just one more thing to build my identity around: living from appointment to appointment, reading books and articles on the subject, putting my life on hold until i “recover”. and explaining away all my flaws and mistakes with a single resonant acronym.

but in all honesty, it is too much.

because before, i could, in a way, live in the moment. life seemed unpredictable and at times even satisfying. but now… in retrospect, everything that happened seems much less random. and if that inevitability is true of the past, it must be equally true of the present & future.

i’m angry because,,,

the truth about me would have remained true whether i found it out or not. i could have just lived in blissful ignorance and enjoyed my life (wrongly) believing myself to have some say in it. but naaah, i had to go and find things out that i cant change anyway.

now i can see myself for the terrible, messed-up person i am, and im gonna have to live the rest of my life trying to work on the few things that i can, just so i can kinda sorta compensate for the countless things that i can’t. and stay frustrated about wanting things i know i cant have. and of course i can’t unlearn stuff about myself, so im left with no hope, even.

i can feel myself aging. i can feel myself pushing people away. i can tell im wasting time and opportunities and potential. i know, now, when i’m being weird and generally off-putting. and yet there’s nothing i can do about it. because i’m just so lost and aimless. so… fragmented. empty. my mood and self-perception shift from moment to moment, but no corresponding change ever occurs in my life, which stubbornly remains just the way i (non)arranged it years ago. i’m 25, but i could be 15, could be 45.

I genuinely hope that IF i learn enough about myself and develop healthy coping skills and set some goals and learn some basic life skills, i might be able to actually DO something and not just THINK.

i have always needed somebody else to get me out of my comfort zone. but people like that are hard to come by when you let yourself go & isolate yourself. here’s something you may not know about me: even though i dont believe in a god, i have always kind of considered becoming a nun. anything just to have some external structure in which im never going to get rejected so long as i abide by the rules.

i’m not crying for help anymore…

because i no longer believe that i can be helped.

but maybe “help” simply looks different than i thought.

themes to discuss in therapy | open for submissions lmao

LENISTWO, PASYWNOŚĆ

  • psychiczne krwawienie — paraliż w obliczu kryzysów, ospałość, skłonność do rezygnacji
  • aktywna bierność — brak zaangażowania w rozwiązywanie własnych problemów życiowych, próby uzyskania pomocy z zewnątrz, wyuczona bezradność, poczucie beznadziejności
  • health anxiety
  • and yet avoiding doctors
  • ogólne zamartwianie się

INFANTYLNA OSOBOWOŚĆ

  • splitting (rozszczepienie); sudden and dramatic shifts in my view of others; i will sometimes share intimate details early on, but if the other person doesn’t care enough / give enough / isn’t “there” enough, i will devalue them; i CAN empathize and nurture, but i expect the same thing in return
  • nie dążymy do zrównoważenia idealizacji i deprecjacji, tylko do zarzucenia osądów i skupienia się na dostosowywaniu zachowania do pożądanych / niepożądanych konsekwencji <– skuteczność — robienie tego co jest potrzebne / wymagane dla osiągnięcia celów, zamiast przejmować się tym co jest “słuszne”
  • features of NPD (DSM-5 p. 669) 1-9
  • Avoidant (p. 672) 1-7
  • Dependent (2, 3, 5, 6, 9) 4!
  • OCPD (4, 6) 2!!, 1, 8

“HOW TO ADULT”

  • practical, goal-oriented communication skills
  • become okay with being feminine
  • negative body image
  • learn self-care & moderation

WEWNĘTRZNA PUSTKA

  • tendencja do przyswajania sobie przymiotów innej osoby jako sposób zatrzymania miłości; brak tożsamości, poszukiwanie w otoczeniu wskazówek jak postępować, co myśleć i czuć, nadmierna zależność dotycząca preferencji, poglądów, opinii
  • intense fear of “abandonment” — it implies I’m “bad” ; lack of relationship / nurturing / support –> feel that I don’t exist at all; worse performance in unstructured work & school situations
  • the perception of impending separation / rejection / loss of external structure leads to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition & behavior
  • shifting goals, values, vocational aspirations, changes in opinions & plans about career, sexual identity, values, types of friends

SAMOUNIEWAŻNIENIE

  • “rodzina doskonała” (rodzice nie tolerują negatywnych emocji) –> unieważnienie lub niedostrzeganie własnych reakcji emocjonalnych, myśli, przekonań, zachowań; nie ufam sobie; niedostrzeganie –> chciałabym nauczyć się rozpoznawać i nazywać zachowania, zdarzenia, własne emocje i doświadczenia — etykiety potrzebne do komunikacji i do samokontroli
  • nadwrażliwość na krytykę i odrzucenie, niezdolność do znoszenia stresu, powstrzymywana żałoba — nadmierne kontrolowanie żalu, straty, smutku, złości, poczucia winy, wstydu, lęku, paniki; próbuję regulować emocje wydając sobie polecenia żeby nie czuć tego co aktualnie czuję — nierealistyczne wyobrażenia prowadzą do nierealistycznych standardów prowadzą do wstydu, nienawiści, złości na siebie
  • problemy z podtrzymaniem własnego punktu widzenia w obliczu krytyki lub braku zgody; “samoociosanie” — zmieniam własne doświadczenie, żeby dopasować się do innych

BECOME LESS ENTITLED

  • asertywność?
  • cognitive empathy; “reading people”
  • more realistic expectations of people, relationships, myself, & life
  • i don’t want to take advantage of people or be emotionally manipulative

RESILIENCE?

  • affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, anxiety); basic dysphoric mood often disrupted by periods of anger, panic, despair; rarely relieved by periods of well-being or satisfaction
  • chciałabym uniezależnić swój <<dobrostan>> od czynników zewnętrznych
  • wypracować dobre strategie biernej samoregulacjinauczyć się kontrolować strukturę środowiska — umowy, terminy, listy, rozkłady zajęć, PRZEBYWANIE WŚRÓD LUDZI; zrozumieć CO mi przekazują –> CRITICAL THINKING
  • i don’t want emotions to “happen to me” & i don’t want to dwell on them –> samoregulacja bierna i CZYNNA
  • difficulty controlling anger — I’m passive-aggressive when i feel attacked; self-image based on being bad or evil: caregiver seen as neglectful / withholding / uncaring / abandoning leads to sarcasm, bitterness, verbal outbursts lead to shame, guilt, feeling evil (ties back to “abandonment” implying im “bad”)
  • impulsywność; undermining self the moment a goal is about to be realized, e.g. dropping out of school just before graduation, destroying good relationships –> brak kontroli poznawczej nad jawnym zachowaniem, trudność z przełożeniem decyzji i wyborów na zgodne zachowania — no congruence between thoughts & behavior
  • pozorna kompetencjanieumiejętność generalizacji kompetencji na przyszłe nastroje i sytuacje; nieumiejętność okazywania oznak cierpienia emocjonalnego lub rozpoznania i przyznania że nie daję sobie z czymś rady
  • KONIECZNE JEST ODDZIELENIE AKTUALNEGO NASTROJU OD AKTUALNEGO ZACHOWANIA!!! <– ból i dolegliwości psychiczne są częścią życia; nie mieszać zdarzeń z moimi reakcjami na nie; nie traktować myśli i emocji jako dosłownego odzwierciedlenia rzeczywistości

permission to think

there is so much i’d like to discuss, but i just can’t get the words out, can’t find the right words, can’t collect my thoughts. just as it used to with journalling, it feels like im going in circles. like im using repetition & redundancy, unnecessarily complex syntax & vocabulary, and elaborate digressions to obscure my own thought process and distract from the utter vacuity of my underlying assumptions & motivations. in short, i’m playing for time.

but, who am i really playing with? aren’t i supposed to want to gain insight, get out of my own way, and learn how to get better, how to change? but the idea seems both terrifying and overwhelming, if not downright impossible, so i steer clear of the topic altogether.

You wanna know the truth? I was in denial about this for quite some time: I never intended to change. I did hate myself for the way I behaved, and i wanted to change… i just wouldn’t accept that i actually had any control over how things turned out. in a weird way blaming myself for virtually everything … absolved me of any real responsibility for my actions.

I’ve always found it hard to operate on the assumption that something so seemingly foundational to my personality as I understood it wasn’t, in fact, integral to it. So realistically, there was nothing i could do, because i was just inherently worthless and powerless. Nice cop-out. But even if my personality was shaped by things outside of my control — my genes, my upbringing, adverse childhood experiences — that’s an explanation, not a justification. And it’s a lousy excuse to continue to do nothing about it in the future.

i’m somewhat less angry about being in the place that i am right now. it’s not ideal, but it actually makes perfect sense in the context of my life. i’m working through whatever issues i need to work through and taking things at my own pace, and if parts of my personality include laziness and procrastination, i might as well embrace them.

any pressure i have ever felt to achieve achieve achieve was always external. i took it at face value, as i take everything, never once stopping to think, why? what for?

so if i feel guilty now about 1) “not making the best of my life” and 2) leading a parasitic lifestyle and perhaps even 3) just generally being bone idle… even though i never had the motivation to do or be anything else in the first place… tell me how that makes sense.

this is not to say that i dont have the internal motivation to do/be anything; just that the standard i was holding myself to was entirely based on cues i was taking from my environment. parents, church, school, friends, media. always without, never within. again, it’s not that i didn’t want to think for myself… i just didn’t think it was an option. i never trusted my own judgment enough to know what i liked, what i wanted, what was good for me. i couldn’t believe that voice, so i stopped listening. and silenced it. and eventually, i guess it shut up.

truth is, i could be a teacher translator working on my Ph.D. and fuck knows what else right this very moment, and my life would be just as empty because i would still be doing it for the wrong reasons. it makes me think of this:

a tweet by @yellowcardigan that perfectly describes what drives 99% of my behavior
my attitude to life, basically

I’m grateful for my job. It gives me a sense of stability and a reason to get up in the morning. That’s all it ever was; all i ever needed.

I’m grateful that my parents don’t put any pressure on me to grow up too soon, that they’re patient and supportive in their own way… and that they’re responding to my clumsy attempts at open communication.

I’m grateful for the people in my life who chose to stick by me when i wouldn’t have.

and, i dunno. somebody very special once told me i was easy to please… or something along those lines. it was meant as a compliment, but i took it to mean i was complacent / an underachiever / that i settled. that, and that they were plain wrong, because i knew myself to be greedy and perfectionistic.

but maybe they had a point. maybe the only reason i think i want / need so much more than what i have or can possibly get … is because i want things that seem to work for others. but when i stop & listen to that inner voice of mine for a little while, quiet as it is at this point, i can find a way for a brief moment to be content with those things that i do have.

because that standard i was talking about, it isn’t real. it’s a sort of composite of every idea i have ever encountered in my life, filtered through my uncritical, clueless and confused mind, compounded by my natural inclination to generalize and catastrophize.

but the truth is, im happy now. things could be better, but they could also be worse. and nobody’s rushing me, and there is no final exam, and i can just do whatever i want & need.

wow. …what a relief.

now that's what i call _free_writing

song for today

do you believe in free will? i know it’s a complex topic, and (as per usual) i’m not equipped to do it justice. but you don’t need that much intellectual sophistication to be able to tell whether you, personally, on an emotional level, find the concept convincing.

i know i don’t.

for the sake of clarity: i’m not talking about your freedom to choose how you take your coffee or the friends you keep. i’m talking about something… larger. not just how you choose to live out your true nature, but your true nature itself: your personality, intellect, interests, inclinations; the very way you interact with the world.

you might have some influence over the environments / situations / contexts you find yourself in, or put yourself in, but you don’t have as much of a say in how exactly you respond to them. you can try to “curate” your repertoire of behaviors, but even then you’re limited to the pitifully small range of possibilities that occur to you.

similarly, no matter the particular details of the circumstances you’re under — no matter what, exactly, is happening — you can react in a number of ways, but they will always have YOU written all over them. i suppose this is less true the more self-control and discipline you have. then you can feign emotions, flirt, manipulate people, make jokes, act more like somebody else, do all sorts of things. but they will still be specific to YOU.

true free will would mean having access to an infinitely vast pool of possibilities. in reality, however, our freedom has very real physical limitations. how can you speak of free will if you can’t even will your own brain into approaching life with a sense of humor instead of the earnestness and fatalism that you know to be so unhelpful? you can teach (train?) yourself to always look on the bright side of life, but it will always be an uphill battle.

what if you’re emotionally unstable by nature, and the thing you want most in the entire world is to achieve a sense of balance at last? or — do you think I like being stuck up and condescending? Do you think I wouldn’t rather be spontaneous and generous?

I don’t intentionally act in ways that make me more miserable, any more than those of you with healthier personality profiles intentionally act otherwise; we kind of just… do. Most people probably don’t have to have their well-being at heart at all times, not explicitly, anyway; it’s more like an assumption on which they operate; a given, not a variable. and then they can fully commit to also factoring other people into their decisions.

My laziness and selfishness are patterns of behavior, individual instances of which i can rarely recognize for what they are in the moment im exhibiting them. and even if i were able to recognize them, i wouldnt know the first thing about how to change them.

a sense of self that is predicated on identifying as anything is bound to be unstable. why must i insist that people are monoliths… archetypes, or emblems, of such human concepts as kindness or cruelty? yes, some people better fit what we understand to be the definition of “kind”. but words themselves have their limits. i know that that’s kind of the point, but more than just limited, they end up also being limiting.

even constructs such as personality profiles, traits, etc., are only helpful to the extent that they give us a general idea of qualities otherwise nebulous & elusive, so that we can communicate & assume that we mean more or less the same thing. neither words nor images, nor our minds themselves, can comprehend or convey the entirety of the thing were trying to describe.

but if not with labels, how else (if at all) do you define yourself…?

and sure, some people are more creative, open-minded, flexible. by extension theyll have more free will, because they can act more freely, more spontaneously. it’s not that the options aren’t there for some people. (well, sometimes they aren’t. but lets not get into that whole mess right now.) potentially everything can be turned into an opportunity. it’s just that some of us see the opportunities more often than others.

who’s there to tell any one of us that we can’t start a career as singers? whether we’re any good at it or are lucky enough to get discovered is a whole different question. i could build my whole identity around being a singer, but that self-perception wouldn’t at all correspond to reality.

so, what if you want to see yourself as a “good person”, but some of your behaviors could be construed as evidence to the contrary? well, then you’re fucked & my previous post happens. you’re selfish, evil, and you’re facing a grim future of suffering imposed on self & others.

but yeah, never mind that a large portion of your choices is actually dictated by external factors. Even controlling for those outside influences, you’re still little more than a statistic, happening to fall some place on that goddamned bell curve at some point in time.

sound familiar? “Where am I going with this????” Fuck knows. i think it’s just my roundabout way of saying that im not happy with the fact that significant chunks of life go way over my head, and there’s not much i can do about it.

and that overwhelming feeling that free will is an illusion and my story has been written for me, long, long, long ago and it doesn’t really matter what i choose, because while the stage design might change, and i might deviate from the plot somewhat, im still destined to repeat those same tropes & mistakes & dilemmas that my ancestors struggled with.

regardless of what i do and how i get there, i’m still going to end up in pretty much the same place. Sometimes it feels like I’m already there, and i cant change the outcome because it’s sort of imprinted on my genes. everything feels pointless because try as i might to get better, i will always go back to my old ways and my original outlook on life, which is… not good.

i’m kind of all over the place today, sorry about that.

today was my first appointment with a therapist. my last post was the one she read when i showed her my blog, and it’s actually an accurate representation of my state of mind pre-psych meds. i’ve come to the conclusion that, among other things, they allow me to compartmentalize in a way i never thought possible. the day i wrote that post I was feeling kind of shitty, so i vented, and proceeded to go about my day as if nothing had happened. i smiled, i laughed, i joked around.

normally if my mood is shitty, my whole day ends up being shitty as well. right now, though, i can set my own feelings aside for a while and focus on the task at hand. not always, and not to the same extent as others around me usually do, but more than typical for me. also just because i can do it doesn’t mean i always choose to, but still. 😀 which is to say that i can now feel like shit and be in a great mood at the same time??

so anyway, because i feel like i could go on forever and somehow manage to still not say anything of substance, ill end here and hope i haven’t bored some of you to death by now.

i’m off to do my therapy.. homework.. assignment.. thingy 😀

wait… so most people don't feel this much? or, emotions i didn't know i had

i’d like to explore the idea i brought up in my previous posts of being annoyed, offended, or otherwise hurt by the smallest things people do… also known as being “oversensitive”. and i’d like to connect that to underdeveloped emotional intelligence, lack of self-awareness, and being too reticent for your own good.

One time in psych class, I had to make a presentation in front of the entire auditorium. it freaked me out so bad, i went past nervousness all the way to zoning out. i’m told it went well, but i have no way of knowing because i don’t remember any of it. at the time i thought i had pulled myself together; in fact i completely fell apart, just… differently.

I fall apart a lot; usually in very unremarkable ways. I don’t even suffer from panic attacks or anything like that. Most of the time, my reactions to stress are more… spread out over a period of time. More inconspicuous, more… sneaky.

They have masqueraded as my personality for so long, they’ve been integrated into it. I didn’t do my growing up when i still had the time, so now i’m cranky and bitter at 24.

I admire people who are always kind and generous, regardless of how they’re feeling or even whether they like you. i hate it about myself that i’m only nice when it suits me. when i’m in a good mood, when it’s easy. it tells me that i’m fake and superficial. it means that what ultimately drives my behavior isn’t kindness at all, but a sort of short-sighted self-interest.

if i feel at all threatened, i’ll snap at you. if you say the wrong thing, i’ll become passive-aggressive. It doesn’t even happen on any conscious level, it’s just my natural response, which somehow only makes it worse.

it’s not like i’m rude to you on purpose. but when i’m feeling particularly insecure — exactly when i would logically need people most — something takes over me and makes me push them away.

i constantly switch between feeling for people — an intense, visceral kind of affective empathy — and objectifying them — where cognitively i can comprehend their mental states, i just don’t seem to care; or rather, i seem to derive some sadistic pleasure from causing them psychological suffering. i have to admit, it can be satisfying.

but these are usually people i’m uncharacteristically close to in the first place. like i need to test the limits of their love.

The thing that would have helped me at my worst? Somebody calling me out on my bullshit. Somebody who was close enough, who cared enough, to do what was painful but what was right. But I had no such friend. And I don’t know that it would have solved all my problems or anything. But it would have made a difference.

My motivations are still a mystery to me. I can know I’m being self-destructive, or hostile, but as long as I don’t know why, I can’t do anything about it. and I can’t know why if im so immature and i refuse to talk about my feelings or so much as think about them. i can’t act rationally unless i can understand and accept that my instincts are sometimes wrong.

Back when Mom and I fought about everything, as soon as she started yelling I would withdraw to my room and pout. I would give her the silent treatment… and then, after a while, she would usually apologize for acting out.

That’s the level on which I operate, emotionally: I don’t process what happens or my role in it, I just passively wait it out or find quick fixes that, when applied over the long term, come back to bite me in the ass.

But I didn’t realize all this. I didn’t know that not only do I need better coping skills, but I also need to know what I’m coping with, in the first place. I thought my reactions were normal, and I never gave them much thought.

Only recently did it start to dawn on me that not everyone is so sensitive to external stimuli. That not everyone’s nervous system is so responsive to criticism, rejection, shame. Or if it is, at least they know it and can take steps to counteract it.

My behavior right now might very well be caused by something that happened a week ago.

On a more positive note, the medication has been indescribably helpful in realizing this, and identifying at least some of the feelings and emotions behind my behaviors. dissociation isn’t a positive feeling overall, but some aspects of it can be very… illuminating.

I’ve only accepted that my unhealthy habits are actually maladaptive coping skills because I tend to do them less the less stress I experience in my daily life. But I still can’t seem to make the connection between unproductive / harmful actions I take and the events that precipitate them; I just don’t understand the causal relationship between trigger and behavior.

I hope i can learn to identify more of my emotions and not let them get the best of me all the time. But i doubt it’s something i can do on my own, if it’s at all possible.

it wouldn’t be so bad if i could limit my acting out to, well, acting in. but no, i have to get everyone else involved in my shitty mood even though they’ve done nothing wrong. damn, it sounds like i’m making excuses for treating people like shit. i believe there is no excuse for that kind of behavior, which is exactly why i feel shit about it.

how i wish i could be gentle and kind. actually im neurotic and irritable.

yay neurodiversity.

clingy

Numbed out by the meds though I am, there’s one fear that I still can’t let go of. It’s that my entire life has been a hoax, each friendship a deception, everyone going along with my exaggerated ideas of intimacy where there was none.

My closest friendship turned out to be like that, and since then I have met so many people who are so good at pretending to enjoy your company, I feel like I can trust no-one. I don’t know if they’re just being nice, or they specifically want you to think they like you… or if it’s just easier.

I fear that people can put up a facade but maintain emotional distance. Endure your verbal diarrhea, smile and nod politely, while screaming internally. Or worse, act like they’re bonding with you, but they’re not actually being vulnerable at all and you’re the only one exposing yourself. I fear I lack the capacity to understand people enough for them to want to confide in me or share anything real.

Either that, or they’re like that with everyone, and it’s the “norm”, and I’m the one who expects or needs too much. Too much closeness, too much exclusivity, too much intensity.

I know I don’t seem intense. Disengaged, more like. But once I open up to someone, I latch onto that friendship with all I’ve got. And maybe it comes off as needy, and it’s more than most people can handle.

I wish people would just be honest. If they find me shallow and unlikeable, I’d rather know where I stand than keep living a lie and be disappointed.

The other option is for me to become even more emotionally detached. I don’t care about getting hurt; what I want to avoid is being the butt of the gigantic practical joke that is my life. Would be embarrassing to find out you were fooled into believing someone actually liked you.

Ah I hate this! Why must I think like a 12 yr old???

how do i feel back

Do you find that regardless of how you feel at any given moment, in that moment it’s hard to remember or imagine what it might be like to feel any other way?

Or if you try to think back to a time when you did feel differently, you end up projecting your current mental state onto those memories, coloring nostalgia with regretfulness or grief with gratitude.

This makes relating to your own past experiences much harder, and pulling yourself out of a dark place — next to impossible.

Whereas the former makes your memories seem abstract, foreign, somehow scattered, or even “fake”, the latter suffocates you with a sense of utter hopelessness. Losing positive associations is bad enough, but it’s the incredulity about any chance of future happiness that slowly but surely chips away at your will to live. Not because living hurts — that in and of itself might be manageable — but because being numb isn’t much better.

That’s what happened to me: I was tired of the extremes, the neverending cycle of hopefulness and motivation inevitably followed by anxiety and inertia. The shame that comes from disappointing yourself once again is draining. The frustration and worthlessness are debilitating. So… I eventually settled for feeling nothing. Hoping for nothing, striving for nothing… doing nothing.

And I have felt nothing for so long, I can’t imagine ever feeling anything different.

Maybe my life only ever had any semblance of cohesion back when I had no self-awareness to speak of, and others were doing all my dirty work for me. My parents, expecting me to do well in school. My best friend, getting me to try new things. Religion, telling me the difference between good and evil.

The moment I start trying to think for myself, I get lost and indecisive. I’m overwhelmed by the mutitude of options, and by how much whatever decision I end up making is going to affect my life. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of change; I’d like to change, if only i could know the outcome of my efforts beforehand. What I cannot handle is uncertainty. Knowing that I might choose wrong.

All my attempts at happiness so far have backfired. Admittedly they were few and far between, but the result was always poor at best. Even things that on the face of it make me “happy”, I have a complicated relationship with. It’s as if I don’t think I deserve to do things I enjoy, so I come up with ways to make them less fun. Or prevent myself from reaping the benefits of the things that I do.

I gave up on running when I was in the best shape of my life. After three years at uni, I didn’t get a degree simply because I failed to write my goddamned thesis, even though I helped some of my friends write theirs (and loved it). No matter what I do, it feels like I’m playing pretend. Like I’m faking a life.

Eventually I got tired of faking.

But if I truly want things to change, it’s up to me to start making decisions for myself. Where do I begin, when it’s something I’ve never done before? And being as detached from my emotions as I am — past, future and present — how do I know how high I should be aiming and how much I can manage?

I’m gonna need to start small.

first do no harm

cw: blood; self-harm

i wanna talk to you about self-care. no, not the insta-worthy kind. (i did say, not all my posts are going to be serious.)

i’m not talking about hot baths and candles and wine, or about meditation.

i mean more like, brushing your teeth in the evening, not just when youre going outside.

i mean like, sleeping in your bed instead of on the spongy mattress on the floor.

i mean not drawing the blinds at 4 pm.

im writing this post with two pairs of gloves on, as im trying to do something about this:

this is my hand today.

now, you may wonder, why is she posting a photo of her awful-looking hand for everyone to see? that’s not attractive content. well, no it is not. but this is my blog, and that over there is my hand, unnecessary as it may seem.

(and yes, ive decided to cover everything on this blog, and be as open as possible. because why the fuck not. i hope you don’t think im trying to be edgy or anything… though if you do i don’t really care either way. i used to worry about being perceived as doing things “for attention” or whatever. idk, maybe i am. but you know what? that’s a valid reason. people need attention. and maybe i can normalize something somebody feels uncomfortable about in the process?)

so anyway. ive been on a different ssri for a couple of weeks, and it’s been great.

except… ive been getting these strange side effects. i now have the memory of a goldfish, but i think i could adjust, if that were it.

now… i never used to hurt myself, even if i “wanted to”, if you know what i mean. but a week ago i messed up at work pretty badly. and afterwards, i was closing the cash register drawer, and i kind of slammed it with the back of my hand, and it didnt close properly, so i hit it again and it did close, but then i… continued hitting it?? and then i punched a hole in the wall with my elbow because i thought it was brick but it was actually plasterboard! :/

and then i forgot all about it and it hasn’t happened since, so i thought it was fine.

but my hands have been getting drier and drier, and i was like, pssshhh it’s nothing, i can handle it if it means feeling this good. and i kind of didn’t really think about it. people would point it out to me, oops your hand is bleeding and i would go haha yeah it does that 🙂

but then today, two different customers recommended good dermatologists without me bringing it up. and a security guard at this beauty supply store i go to stared at me as if i were a leper. and that… made me think.

what it made me think about was how these are all just extreme cases of something i do pretty regularly: ignoring my own discomfort, or even making myself suffer, for no discernible reason.

the things i brought up at the beginning of this post — not brushing my teeth sometimes (disgusting i know), sleeping on the floor, depriving myself of sunlight — i dismissed as bad habits stemming from my laziness. same reason i don’t moisturize, same reason i overeat. MY. FAULT. nobody else’s problem.

but this… this was different. mutilating your own hand, or refusing to see a doctor when your hands look like mine do rn, is not laziness.

it’s self-neglect at best.

i have several hypotheses as to why i behave in this way. i had no good role model for taking care of myself. i expect somebody else to take care of me. i don’t think i deserve to feel good. or i do believe that i deserve to suffer. who the fuck knows. not important (right now).

what’s important is how … normal … it starts to feel after a while. which makes me think of what i said in the previous post about adjusting to the negatives. it was like that for me with taking care of myself: i did very little to begin with, but then over time my expectations of myself in that regard grew less and less.

i’m not counting on anyone to come and rescue me. but i am gonna need to find a way to save me from myself (at the risk of sounding angsty). and i am gonna have to figure out what those reasons are for me.

friends have asked me, begged me almost, to go see a doctor about those hands of mine… i think i might listen.

but for now — do you struggle with something similar in some respect? have you found a way to deal with it?

and this — also directed at myself — please take care of yourselves. even if it means just doing no harm. that’s a start. even if it’s just wearing gloves when it’s cold.

we all deserve it.

I didn't mean to yell at you

Life has a way of making everything seem normal after a while. It’s an adaptive mechanism. Regardless of how weird it would seem to someone else, if you experience something often enough, you will start assuming that that’s the way it’s “supposed to” be (even if it feels wrong).

A friend was talking on the phone yesterday. He raised his voice, ever so slightly, and after a pause he said, I’m not yelling! And i thought to myself, obviously he isn’t… is he? Now, granted, the person at the other end of the line was joking; nevertheless, they made a valid point, and I didn’t notice.

Because the pitch he adopted didn’t seem at all unusual to me; I had heard it too many times before, always followed by, “I’M NOT YELLING!”. What was communicated was incompatible with how I perceived the way it was communicated. I couldn’t hold two conflicting beliefs about reality at the same time, so being the trusting kid that i was, I dismissed my own feelings and went with what Mommy told me, because she knows best, right?

I’d like to qualify this whole post by once again pointing out that I do not intend to blame anybody for anything. If i seem to talk a lot about how i was wronged by other people, that’s because that may have been how I experienced it at the time, not because I believe that they intentionally hurt me or that they are bad people. I love my family and friends dearly, and I can absolutely accept that there is more wrong with me than there is with them.

Furthermore, let me just acknowledge the absurdity of what I’m doing: at any point in time, there are people in the world going through indescribable suffering, and here I am indulging my first-world sadness about Mom losing her temper sometimes… as if I was perfect.

Some hypothesize that mental illness is a natural extension of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In other words, (some) humans will always find something to be miserable about. I certainly will always find something to hold a grudge for. Not because I want to, and believe you me, I feel shit about it. But I can’t help feeling hurt.

Even if i did hate or resent anyone — and I don’t, but let’s just pretend for the sake of argument — you can be sure that I would still hate myself thousandfold worse.

Wait… what was i talking about again? Ah, yes, Mom yelling. …is one of those things I feel bad about feeling bad about. But then again, denying feelings I think are “trivial” only gives them more power over my life.

It may not seem obvious from the few posts I’ve published so far, but you don’t realize the extent of my self-loathing. Right now I’m in limbo, suspended in this strange state halfway between counterproductive, defensive self-hatred, and realizing my actual flaws/shortcomings and possible ways of fixing them. But I’m gonna have to get through piles and piles of garbage before i can see the important stuff.

I’m selfish. Impatient. Manipulative. Lazy. Entitled. Sometimes I can even be mean for no apparent reason. I could go on endlessly. That’s been more or less my internal monologue since… forever, basically. And I want to change. But I believe that my feelings and irrational beliefs are preventing me from accepting these qualities in myself enough to be able to change.

Antidepressants are weird… I don’t recognize myself anymore. The sheer idea of getting a blog and practically broadcasting all my thoughts as they occur to me (never mind starting a facebook page, which is the very thing i said i wouldnt do) runs counter to everything i believed about myself. Yet for some strange reason drawing attention to myself in this way feels… right, and i feel more true to myself than ever before.

I can’t wait to find out which of my flaws are integral aspects of my personality, and which ones are amenable to… therapy, for instance.

I hope I can learn empathy, most of all.