I am currently sitting in my bedroom, high on Ativan, at 3:30 in the afternoon. I mean, it wouldn’t be less weird if I was high on Ativan at a different time, but my point is this is where I find myself.
“How did you end up here, Sarah?”
Let me tell you, friend. Take your coat off. Stay a while. There’s a lot of information to cover.
A more proximal reason why I am here is that I wanted to leave campus. This is because I wanted to wear jammies and snuggle my cat and write about my feelings, and these things can’t happen on campus.
Why did I feel the need to wear jammies and snuggle my cat and write about my feelings? Well, I took a half milligram of Ativan, and it hit me pretty hard. I knew I was done functioning for the day and my priorities turned to being cozy.
Now why did I take the Ativan?
This is when the causal relationships start to get fuzzy for me, but I’ll try to figure out my thinking, while I explain it simultaneously.
I took the Ativan because I was anxious.
Why was I anxious?
I have an intake appointment tomorrow for potential trauma therapy, I’ve been feeling weird since yesterday afternoon, and my girlfriend is having a bad day.
Let’s dive into these feelings, shall we?
- Why do I have an intake appointment for trauma therapy?
The first part of this answer is that something happened in 2014. I’ve mentioned that something happened around that time because it’s relevant to my eating disorder story, but I’ve never spoken about it. It’s just the bad thing that happened. I put this bad thing in a box and put this box on a shelf a long time ago. Every once in a while (once a month maybe?), something would remind me of what happened and I would be briefly upset, but ultimately fine. Recently, this has changed. There are a few events which I think may have contributed to this, and after some brief fact-checking to establish chronology, I will explain them.
First, September 30th. I was having a meltdown about something, and I started rebelling against my anxiety by doing things that would trigger it. One of those things was writing out an account of what happened. I took the box off the shelf and opened it. I didn’t feel that bad initially afterwards, but I suspect at least part of what I am experiencing is long-term consequences of this event.
Next, October 15th. S (my girlfriend) had a night terror while I was over. They ended up telling me some things about their trauma, and I remember feeling triggered at one point, but I don’t remember specifically what caused this. My main focus at the time was helping S. I didn’t think this event would have any effect on me, and maybe it didn’t. But I think there’s a possibility that this made me think about what happened to me and made me draw an association between a certain kind of trauma and terror. So this may have contributed to my current issues.
Finally, October 22nd. This was the day I had training to be a peer support volunteer. During this training, I learned that something else that happened to me (with the same person involved in the original event) was a lot worse than I thought it was. I knew I felt very uncomfortable about it, but I thought I was being overly sensitive and dramatic. And for some reason, framing this experience in a different way created so much terror in me. I even saw the original event differently, as I realized the person involved was a much worse person than I realized at the time. And since this day, my life has become increasingly filled with intrusive thoughts about what happened.
For a few days, I carefully policed my thoughts all day in an effort to keep these thoughts away. I took a lot of Ativan, which helped in the moment, but isn’t a great long-term strategy. I was terrified to talk about what happened with a therapist, so decided to wait for these thoughts to go away. Then there was an episode at S’s one night where I was high and having graphic flashbacks that left me hyperventilating and crying. After that happened, I figured it would be a good idea to get help with this. The counsellor I was seeing was actually so useless that I skipped my appointment and am now ghosting him. I also quit CBT for social anxiety, because why not? More recently, I e-mailed a counsellor whom my girlfriend (and others) say is great for trauma-related things. This is the one I will be speaking with tomorrow. I’m currently having intrusive thoughts about the event all day which get worse at night when I have no distractions. I have been taking Ativan most nights so I can calm down and fall sleep, and even then it’s hard.
2. I have been feeling weird since yesterday.
This story will be much shorter, don’t worry.
Yesterday afternoon, while taking the bus to my mom’s for lunch, I started feeling very weird. At first, I really couldn’t tell what was wrong, and thought I might just be looking for things to mope about. But then I realized I felt pretty dissociated. I experience derealization (thinking the world isn’t real or I’m in a dream) fairly often, but its severity fluctuates between days. It was pretty bad yesterday. I tried so hard to feel present, but I just couldn’t. I barely remember the bus trip to my mom’s. When I got home from my mom’s, I had a beer in hopes of keeping intrusive thoughts at bay. This just made the dissociation worse. When I headed to S’s for dinner, I was feeling terrible. But it’s always something with me; I always have something wrong. And I recognize how annoying this can get. For just one day, I wanted to answer “How was your day?” with “Good.” Just once, I didn’t want to make everything about me. So I acted like I was fine. This is leading into the next story, but the point here is that I was feeling shitty independent of recent/upcoming events.
3. S is having a rough time. This started when I was over last night, and once I knew they were having a hard time, I knew I couldn’t talk about how I was feeling. That would make me a dick and someone who needs to constantly be the centre of attention. So since then, S hasn’t been doing well, and neither have I, but I have been saying nothing. I’m sure that isn’t helping.
But I always have a very difficult time when the people around me struggle. It makes me extremely anxious, and I have never fully figured out why. I think part of it is that I have some deeply-rooted, incorrect beliefs. For example, I feel very strongly that everybody’s attention should 100% be on the person suffering the most, and everybody else needs to shut up about their problems. This is true to some extent, in that you wouldn’t complain about your coffee being made wrong to somebody who just lost a loved one. But I have been told that I take this idea too far. I believe this causes part of my distress, as I start feeling like I have to be perfect and take care of the other person and have no problems of my own. I also think a lot about whether I do need to be the centre of attention to some degree. I’m not sure whether this is a factor, but it’s possible. Another theory is that I’m hyper-empathic, to the point where someone else’s pain makes me suffer enough that I can’t even support them. I definitely think this is true about me, and that this contributes to this issue. But I’ve never fully put the pieces together, or thought of a way to work on this. But there’s that.
Anyways, the heap of text above explains why I was feeling anxious, which explains why I took the Ativan, which explains why I couldn’t function, which explains why I decided to come home and sit in my room high on Ativan. And now, we’re all caught up.
My thoughts currently are all over the place. To be honest, it was triggering just mentioning the thing that happened, and that’s making me feel weird. The Ativan is still impacting me greatly. I’m unsure how much compassion to have for myself, because I’m scared my only problem is that I need attention. I don’t know whether I really am allowed to be upset right now. I don’t know who I’m allowed to tell. I don’t know if S would be mad if I told them I am feeling bad. And I just REALLY fear that I only feel bad because S feels bad. I have other reasons to feel bad, but I was trying not to bring them up because I didn’t want to be a bummer, but now I feel like we’re allowed to be bummers? I meant to explore my current thoughts in more depth, but I am getting very tired, to be honest. I think I will just reschedule everything I need to reschedule from today and tomorrow, and go to bed early. That’s all for now.