left on read

Healing is not what you expect it to be. I had this idea of what was wrong and what needed to change in order for me to “finally be happy,” but along the way i embraced the simple truth that the lower my expectations, the happier I am. Letting go of such a narrow definition of happiness has allowed me to find joy where i would never have anticipated it.

I AM SO SORRY to all of you who I recently texted only to stop replying to your messages.

i withdraw. it’s a problem. i know i can’t expect people to always reach out and put up with being ghosted all the time, but i, i genuinely don’t mean to act so entitled. I’ll do better in future, i promise…

If it makes you feel any better, I’m not talking to anybody right now, not even my therapist, not even about myself. In fact that’s the last thing i wanna talk about, since it’s pretty much all i think about. I’ve actually decided to suspend therapy for the time being, in part because sessions via WhatsApp just don’t seem like enough. I need face to face.

i confess … mostly its because we reached a point where i needed to actually start working on myself, and I… couldn’t. funny how that’s the exact problem i came to therapy with: i can talk and complain and blame-shift until the cows come home, and i can berate myself for being a shitty human being, but i won’t do anything about it.

But we agreed that i have made some progress. less than i would have hoped for, but i’ll resume therapy when im ready. for now, i need some time alone. to live my life instead of dissecting it all over again.

Not much is going to change, but that’s the beautiful part: i don’t have this need to change every aspect of my being anymore. it was never going to happen. best thing i can do is to adjust.

stupid as it may sound, it had gotten to the point where i felt like i wasn’t going to make any progress unless i left therapy and focused on other things for a while, because, like,,, two things I struggle with are talking things to death, and leaning on other people too much. and now that i understand it, i have this — perhaps misguided — need to talk less and be less needy, which I KNOW isn’t supposed to be about ignoring your friends who care about you but also you know how im introverted and also pretty dumb??? But yeah, I felt that I was becoming too dependent on my therapist, and also that i really shouldn’t be talking about myself so much rn.

Anyway. I know i’m not going to suddenly become driven and ambitious overnight. but i’m trying to frame my responsibility for my life in positive terms instead of forcing things or blaming myself for being lazy & things like that.

EVERYTHING used to seem overwhelming. most things still do. but now i try to focus not on the pressure of obligation, but on how it’s going to feel when Im done. that, or on, like, … what I want to do. because my “laziness” is just one more thing i needed to take to the extreme in order to realize that it’s not infinite.

And that sometimes even I am struck by a spontaneous need to be productive. creative. sociable. physically active. affectionate. whatever. That when an action is genuine, I’m not so worried about whether I’m “up to it”, i can just … do it.

the best thing about therapy was how it made everything click. in a way i can’t fully grasp just yet, but which was a revelation nonetheless, because it makes intuitive sense.

and that was that I AM SO SELF-OBSESSED. you’ve probably known it all along, as have I, but the thing i didn’t realize was that it was at the root of most of my problems. which doesn’t make them any less valid, nor any more easily fixable, nor even more “my fault”. It’s just a fact: there is a road to recovery, and it involves directing my attention to things other than myself, as hard as that may be for such a shameless narcissist as myself.

Also, if I don’t respond to your text, … please remind me. Pretty please. It’s not that I don’t care; I just need to be reminded that you do.

take care.

Paxil™ is bae

This post is emphatically not brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline! 😀

cw: suicidal ideation … physiological functions? sorry, i’m not good at TWs

youll know by now that i dont have that many opinions. and even when i do, they’re rarely some firmly held beliefs. the controversial statement above, i’m not particularly attached to, either. but it is the way i feel, at least for now.

antidepressants can cause weight gain. true. also? irrelevant. they can increase blood pressure + sugar. the list of possible side effects goes on and on. for me right now, it’s memory problems and dry skin. oh, well.

now weigh that against the deepest, most profound and absolute sense of hopelessness and worthlessness you have ever felt in your entire life. a loneliness and insecurity so severe, for the first time in your life you start vaguely contemplating suicide not because you want to die, but because the thought of going on like this indefinitely simply feels unimaginable.

I shudder to think about the depths of depression people have descended to who are physically incapable of getting out of bed. That they live to see another day is an achievement in and of itself. I didn’t have it that bad, but it was still getting too much for me.

and i didn’t see a way out.

I remember going to Open’er Festival last year, excited to stay at the campsite for the first time ever and to see The Strokes, Interpol, LP, The 1975, Tom Walker… Vampire Weekend, who are one of my favorite bands of all time… I was going alone, but that was normal for me, I usually travel & go to concerts alone.

but when I arrived, I immediately wanted to leave. not go back home, but bury myself in a deep dark hole and never get out. i was surrounded by people who were all happy to be alive, enjoying their time together with their friends, and i felt like the loneliest person on earth.

and there was no way out.

obviously I couldnt leave. so i stayed. i stayed, and i forced myself to get out of my pitch black tent… sometimes. i had to summon all the willpower i could just to put one foot in front of the other, and there were times i almost stopped in my tracks and lay down on the grass. i had to keep going though, because if i stopped, it felt like i might never ever get up again.

at times i found myself going through the motions of “having fun”. i’d be standing close to the stage, mouthing the lyrics to my favorite song, and then a minute later it’d be like i wasn’t even there.

i was completely isolated and detached from what was happening around me. i ended up only seeing parts of the acts i wanted, and none of the “fillers”, even though i usually go from one artist to another and try to experience as much as i can possibly cram into one short day.

this time, though, I lay motionless in my sleeping bag, hardly registering Kylie Minogue and Swedish House Mafia performing at the main stage. To me they were just background; just noise, cancelling out my own thoughts.

and still no way out.

I came back home, and I… immediately asked my Grandma to get me a psych appointment. i couldn’t go on pretending any longer.

My doctor first prescribed duloxetine. It’s a strong SNRI, and it took the edge off. …across the board.

On my third day on the drug, I went to Berlin, to see AnnenMayKantereit live: a concert I’d been waiting forever to go to. The concert itself was great, though I would have enjoyed it much more fully sober. But at least that poignant feeling of loneliness wasn’t quite as bad.

Adjusting to the medication took a while. I would sweat like a pig, have heart palpitations and anxiety attacks, wake up very early in the morning. I would get dizzy just standing up, and have unpredictable mood swings. I also had really bad constipation. (Sorry!)

But…

god, the clarity.

it didn’t come on immediately. I was in Berlin for four days, and I spent most of that at a nearby Starbucks, reading research papers on antidepressants for seven hours at a time. i was in some sort of hypnotic trance where that seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to spend your time. And anyway, I also got tired easily, so i liked the not moving part.

But I was starting to see a way out.

Cymbalta wasn’t perfect for me. In the end it made me impulsive and sort of crazy. But in a way it saved me; it did exactly what it was supposed to do: it dulled the pain. It alleviated many of my physical symptoms, and there was a short period of time where it gave me some insight into my mental states.

Because i was so bad at expressing myself, I accidentally offended my psychiatrist when trying to tell him that I wanted to try something else. I stayed on it for two more months, and then, after hearing some of my symptoms, he complied with my wishes…agreed that duloxetine wasn’t good for me, and switched me to something else.

and that something was paroxetine, and it made a world of difference. it’s not perfect either. perfection doesn’t exist, you see. but its pretty fucking great.

it made me gain weight… and those hands, ugh, i need to moisturize like 24/7.

but it is so worth it.

Because now, I can see a way out.

and for the first time in my life, i can understand that the road to recovery is long and bumpy and far from linear… and be okay with it.

I owe it to Cymbalta that I was able to tell my doctor that I wanted to go off Cymbalta. It started to happen often, me recognizing my needs and not being afraid to tell people about them. I owe it to Paxil that I finally did what I should have done years and years ago, meaning starting this blog.

Continued use of antidepressants over several years may or may not be harmful, as anyone in certain facebook groups and some professionals disillusioned with their own field will tell you.

Moreover, I myself don’t believe that they’re the solution to the underlying problem. I would gladly stay on them forever, if not for the side effects and certain health concerns. Not because they solve the problem, but because they help. Simple as that.

Because there is a way out.

and now i can see how good life could be. and it’s like the negative experiences in my life hadn’t affected me. and i feel less anxiety. less shame. less dependency on other people. and things aren’t as black and white anymore.

i had absolutely no idea how many of my most basic assumptions about the world where wildly inaccurate. it’s kind of insane how one small pill a day can change your perception of everything that happens to you (or not even to you, but just in general). in very subtle ways it reduces the feeling of being inadequate, a burden, incompetent, that sort of thing. finally i can take criticism and not be tormented by it, or by whatever mistakes i make, for days afterwards.

i feel it’s important to keep in mind that the meds have changed my personality in some small but significant ways. contrary to what some of you may believe, though, it’s mostly been positive, and im far from the medicated zombie that some might make me out to be.

i feel as though i’d been deprived of an inner life before, and it’s now that i can finally process all my negative feelings. take a step back and assess them more rationally, because it doesn’t hurt as much.

What’s more, I’m not afraid of being vulnerable. coming off as silly. making a fool of myself. because i just. don’t care. and i know this kind of disregard for your own … dignity? migh be dangerous for someone who’s naturally more open about their feelings, idk, but for me it was eye-opening.

it’s now — on Paxil — that I wrote those notes to my family. it’s now that i started the blog. it’s now that i’m affectionate towards my loved ones, i sometimes joke around with friends from work, and i occasionally giggle (out loud!) when i read something funny. all of these seemed impossible just last July.

I can still (genuinely) laugh. I do still cry. And, to my own surprise, i find it easier, not harder, to empathize with people; possibly because I’m not burdened by my own emotions all the damned time.

and i can finally see how far up my ass my head has been all this time — and, importantly, still is. you have to be comfortable acknowledging your flaws if you’re ever going to change. damn right i’m narcissistic. and lazy. i can work on it.

Lastly, I would like to point out that initially, being prescribed antidepressants felt incredibly validating. i thought i wasn’t “sick enough” to seek help, but that prescription was proof that what i was going through wasn’t normal. i didn’t hide the fact that i was on them, but i didn’t overshare, either.

well, now i’m all about oversharing, haha. neither bragging, nor complaining, but simply stating the fact: antidepressants can help. they have helped me, and my only hope is that the withdrawal symptoms aren’t too bad and i can keep at least some of that positive outlook when i stop taking them.

i hope a similar peace of mind can be achieved naturally, if you know what you’re going for. that it is within your reach. in this way it’s a helpful therapeutic excercise that can teach you by how much your own perspective can change depending on the circumstances.

i believe the above is true for me. if you feel that you’re always going to need antidepressants, i can see where you’re coming from. they’re more than just a crutch, and i hope with time there’s less and less stigma surrounding them.

you take care of you, and do whatever you need to do. ❤

mask falls off?

I’d like to make something extra clear. I have explained this before, but I want it to really sink in. It’s this: the last thing I want is for this blog to turn into a smear campaign against everyone who has ever slighted me in the most insignificant way.

I would also like to take back what i said before about having to forgive people who inadvertently hurt me. i’ve thought about it, and i don’t think it’s a healthy way to live.

one prominent feature of narcissism is a lack of insight. i thought that part didn’t apply to me: i’m well aware that i’m self-absorbed. i also didn’t think i had the inflated ego that i always associated with that trait; on the contrary, my self-esteem is practically non-existent. (i’m self-righteous, but that’s different; im compensating.)

but i was missing the point.

perhaps on the most basic level i mightve had an inkling that its not normal to be this self-referential. but i had not the faintest idea how deep it went.

i attribute bad intentions where there are none.

i take everything personally.

and ive come to realize that “a grandiose sense of self-importance” doesn’t necessarily have to be positive. i don’t mean for others, it obviously isn’t that. but you can be very open about hating yourself and still be narcissistic.

because hating yourself kind of implies that you think you deserve to be something more than what you are. smarter, prettier, more likeable. something that would make you stand out.

and perhaps i wouldn’t be so petty and thin-skinned if i didn’t think i or my shortcomings mattered that much to other people.

i’ve lived in fear of being discovered as the awful human being that i actually am. but that’s because i couldnt accept my own flaws. i thought having bad thoughts or behavior patterns made me a terrible person. but there’s a certain way in which it can help me grow:

if i can recognize and truly own the parts of myself that i don’t like, i can start working on changing them. instead of shifting the blame for being the way that i am onto my genes, or my mom, or being hit in the head in gym class one too many times, i can change my behavior to whatever extent possible. my thoughts and assumptions may remain the same, but i can acknowledge that theyre not all correct. and i can remind myself that not everything people do is always about me.

as for being easily offended: it’s not an adaptive trait. but the upside is that it doesn’t exclusively apply to criticism; i just have a low threshold for being affected by any kind of feedback, or anything you say or do, really. all compliments, all favors, are a treat.

it bothers me when people make sweeping statements about personality disorders not being curable. i’m not saying they are; but i desperately want them to be. because i truly feel awful about my sense of entitlement. my lack of empathy. my arrogance, callousness, materialism. and here you’re telling me that i can never truly love another person?

is it really so black and white?

there are times when my concern for others feels genuine (to me). if i can turn it off and on at will, does that mean it isn’t real?

i hate the thought of finding out that… the only reason i want to change is because the way i am rn negatively affects my quality of life, so i want to fake my way to a more fulfilling one. i hate to think that i could get into a friendship for my own gratification, but lack the emotional depth to sustain it. that i could abuse the other person without being able to give anything in return.

and i hate myself for certain things ive done. things ive said to people because i wanted to see them suffer. does it bring me pleasure? i’m not sure… maybe what it gives me is a sense of power. safety. superiority in knowing how to push their buttons, and in that moment being immune to anything they can do to me. … Is that the same as being malicious?

People have been so kind to me. Patient, generous. And me? I wouldn’t want a friend like me. And yet … I have to live with me.

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.