Limbo

i’ve lost touch with the person i used to be. my past seems distant, abstract, and fragmented. all my behaviors seem vaguely justifiable yet completely unrelated, like there’s no continuity between individual events. I can only superficially connect back to the various ways I have felt in the past.

the closest i could come to figuring out why… was that all my life, hardly anything i ever did was genuine. that might be why it’s so easy to disconnect from my past: i was never actively living it the moment it was happening. that’s facile, of course, saying that it hasn’t been me all this time. obviously it has. only a very … smothered … version of myself.

I can intentionally do things for intellectual reasons. but I do most things for emotional reasons, and these are always unintentional. the reason being, if I get rejected or criticized, at least it’s not an authentic expression of my true self that’s getting criticized. in the same vein, it’s sort of comforting to know that i could be trying harder, putting in more effort… i simply choose not to, but there’s options. room for improvement.

because what if i did my best and still failed miserably?

i don’t think it’s as simple as a basic fear of failure though. there must be an element of confused identity. i always did whatever was expected of me, no more, no less; i followed instructions, i stubbornly stuck to the scenario that i had imagined for myself long ago based on what people told me. but a part of me must have remained non-committal about the whole thing, almost like i was only this compliant out of debilitating fear and self-doubt.

maybe it had to come to this: maybe i had to feel like the biggest disappointment on the face of the earth only to realize that I … don’t … actually … care. maybe that’s what it took for me to come into my own and develop some independence at last.

and maybe my memory is so resistant because it won’t accept anything less than ME. i remember happy times. i remember my friends, the trips i took, parts of high school and uni. I remember Canterbury. what i don’t remember is all the rest; life “happening to me”.

i’m not saying my life needs to be driven by some overarching goal or theme; quite the opposite, i want to be more spontaneous. but that’s the thing, whatever i do i want it to be my decision, dictated more by my needs than by external factors.

you don’t necessarily need a road map in order to develop a coherent narrative of your life. you just need to stop trying to go in all directions at once, and go instead where you really want to go.

i just need to figure out where that is…

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.

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.