In Transition

Today, a lot of things changed.

I moved out of a place I shared with my toxic best friend (whose best friend status is currently under evaluation). I moved in with 4 strangers whom I will live with during my final year of undergrad. Both my Summer courses began (I attended neither due to the move). I guess that’s not very many things, but it feels like everything.

I need my routines. My routines comfort me. My routines ground me in reality. But I’m in a new house now, and I’m taking different classes, so things will be different. My routines have to change.

This might sound bizarre, but I simultaneously feel like life isn’t real and that I’m falling off the edge of a cliff. I don’t know what to do with myself. What do I do tomorrow morning for breakfast? When do I shower? Do I need to prepare more for Wednesday’s classes? I just want to lie in bed on my laptop forever.

I was excited to use this Summer to fight my social anxiety, so I could be a happier person by Fall. And I still plan to do that. But everything feels so scary right now.

I can’t explain it. But I just feel so afraid. I’m afraid to socialize with the people in my house. I’m afraid of how my social situation will change as I rethink my closest friendship. I’m scared my Summer courses will be terrible, and that I’ll be miserable all Summer. I’m afraid to get a part-time job, and then have to do it. I’m afraid of finishing my undergrad next year. I’m scared to go to grad school, which will probably be in Germany. I’m scared to get a real job after that. I’m afraid of everything I’ll ever have to do for the rest of my life. And I thought facing my fears would feel liberating, but I’m remembering all these times I was forced to face them repeatedly and my anxiety did not improve. That’s where the depression sets in, where life starts feeling like a long list of things I don’t want to do. Usually, my efforts to avoid anxiety (like isolation) cause depression, so it’s a bummer when it’s caused by the anxiety itself. Like what am I supposed to do to live a full, happy life?

Clearly, my thoughts are now devolving into chaos, so I will take this opportunity to politely excuse myself from the internet.

Sarah

Recovery from Social Anxiety Disorder

Today was my last session with a counselor I’ve seen for over a year and a half. So that’s a bummer. But it was actually a really good session, and it helped me focus my goals as I continue my mental health treatment.

I have been aware for a while, albeit to varying degrees, that social anxiety is among my most pressing mental health concerns. I was only diagnosed with SAD around a year ago. Until that point, I attributed my social avoidance to not liking people. And the times I knew I was anxious, I assumed my Generalized Anxiety was to blame. But when I was finally diagnosed with social anxiety , it shed some light on my struggles, and on what I can do to overcome them.

I believe that my Social Anxiety Disorder is currently contributing to around 85% of my mental health problems. And I have many diagnoses among which I must distribute these 100 percentage points. So that says a lot. But my social anxiety causes me to isolate, which makes me incredibly depressed, and which can make it difficult to succeed in my life. It is also difficult for me to find employment, as customer service roles are currently out of the question, and the thought of ANY job greatly heightens my anxiety. But I think that SAD’s contribution to my depression is the most damaging.

The thought of conquering my social anxiety fears makes me want to retreat into a hole forever. It feels so impossible to face these situations over and over until they no longer scare me.

But there was a time when recovery from an eating disorder felt impossible. An age when I could not imagine ever loving my body at a healthy weight. And I accomplished both of those things. I took risks that terrified me and that felt horribly wrong, with the hope that I would eventually find something resembling happiness. So I need to do that again.

I am completely terrified, and I don’t remotely have the support I did when recovering from my eating disorder. But I need my life to be different, so I need to do the work. Here goes nothing.

Sarah

Fuck it- Let’s do something exciting

I remember being an anxious person as early as I have memories at all. Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of excitement.

I enjoy math because, for the most part, there’s only one correct answer. I enjoy knitting because it’s repetitive and straightforward. I like crosswords and Sudoku and basically anything you can do in bed while wearing pajamas. I love cats, because they’re as happy as I am to be a homebody. I like to do safe, predictable things, with my anxious thoughts providing more than enough excitement on their own.

But avoiding anxiety isn’t living. It’s cowering inside my tiny comfort zone, waiting for nothing to happen, but why? I don’t want to spend my life knitting and doing math and petting cats. Okay, that actually sounds amazing, but that’s not all I want to do. I want to be adventurous. I want to take risks. I want to be an exciting person.

So tonight, I’m going to do that. And I have to announce it, or I will 100% change my mind. I have been meaning to go to a gay bar in Toronto for months- possibly over a year. But my ex was no fun and my best friend always has some reason she can’t go. So I’m going to go alone. The bus ride will be 1.5 hours both ways at best, and I’ll be out at least 4-5 hours past my bed time, and I might have to dance, and holy shit my heart is beating so quickly.

But what’s the worst that could happen? I could get kidnapped or assaulted, or I could get too drunk to find my way home, or I could be so horrifically rejected that I fall into a deep(er) depression and never recover. Deep breath. Okay.

What’s the best that could happen? I make cool friends and find the love of my life and learn that I enjoy club dancing and say “fuck you” to my GAD, OCD, and SAD all at once. That’s pretty cool.

I won’t know which of these will happen unless I try. And I have handled some pretty shitty things… I think I can handle this. My heart is currently beating out of my chest… not sure when I became so terrified of living. But anyways, I will update you guys later. Still over 12 hours until this even happens, but the emotional preparation must begin now.

Sarah

UPDATE: GOT TOO SCARED OF GETTING KIDNAPPED AND/OR NOT BEING ABLE TO NAVIGATE HOME FROM TORONTO DRUNK. GOING TO LOCAL GAY BAR. SAME THING BASICALLY THOUGH.

Today will be Rough

I promise I’m not sad all the time. I have been having a lot of mood swings lately, so I’ve actually been finding myself incredibly happy at times. But when I’m happy, I am less motivated to share the tortured thoughts of my blackened heart with the world for catharsis.

Anyways, as the title suggests, today will be a difficult day. The morning has been fine; I slept in until 7 and went to Algebra for 10:30, and now I’m home to have lunch. But now the shit begins.

I know I bitch about my roommate on here all the time. I have Social Anxiety Disorder, and thus cannot handle confrontation, so I can’t tell people directly when I’m mad at them. This leads to me silently raging all the time, with no real outlet or effective coping methods. I bitch about most people to my roommate because she’s my best friend, but when I’m mad at her, I don’t have many options. Even my therapist used to be her therapist, so I feel uncomfortable bashing her in that setting.

But today, I feel like my roommate is being horrible. And I don’t know if I am allowed to feel this way, or if I am being a dick about it. She suffers from depression (as do I), and it has worsened over the past week for no external reason. I understand that depression does that, and that isn’t my issue. But she keeps threatening to kill herself, and she must know that she’s upsetting me. Obviously she needs support, but I don’t have the emotional energy to talk somebody out of suicide every day. She sees a doctor today, so maybe that will help. But she keeps making jokes about how today is the day, and she’ll probably end up either in the hospital or dead. What am I supposed to do with that?

She might be trying to reach out for support without actually talking about her feelings, but I am starting to feel like she is looking for attention.

I know that’s a horrible thing to think about somebody with Depression. I know how it feels for somebody to assume that when you’re in that much pain, but I don’t understand why she is doing this. If she is serious about hurting herself, she should be on her way to the hospital. She is smart; she knows how to access those resources. There seems to be no reason to constantly joke about this if not for attention. And I think it is highly inconsiderate, given she knows that this is difficult for me to hear.

I also know that I tend to automatically convert anxiety into anger, probably because anger is easier to deal with. And I experience my emotions very strongly, so when people make me feel negative things, I am furious. To me, it feels like torture, so why would I not feel angry with my torturer? And today the one selfishly torturing me is my roommate. I know she is sick and I know she is suffering, but so am I. And I would like to think I try not to hurt people when I am at my worst.

I probably did that a little after my breakup, but at least that was in response to an event, and I haven’t done it since. My roommate has these crises a lot, and it’s frankly becoming exhausting and hindering my own mental health. I think this relationship might be getting destructive. I don’t know.

Again, I have been having mood swings lately, so maybe I’ll be feeling differently in a little while. I might make a crisis counselling appointment on campus instead of attending my DBT group. I am not considering hurting myself in any way, but I am extremely distressed and need advice on how to deal with this today.

I could never say these things to my roommate. And I probably shouldn’t. So these feelings will probably never go away.

I don’t know. Those are all my thoughts for now.

Sarah

UPDATE: I made a crisis appointment and found it extremely helpful. I wrote an assertive-ish (while still being gentle) letter to my roommate about how I can’t handle certain things, but that I still really care and can help in other ways. I took an Ativan at one point, so I’m a little hazy right now, but I think things are okay.

Reasons why my breakup was a positive thing

I met with my therapist today, and we spent the session discussing various negative thoughts and emotions I have been having with regards to my breakup. I mentioned that I have been increasingly considering it in a positive light, but that I often forget my reasons for thinking this way, and return to feelings of sadness and regret. She suggested that I write out the reasons why I am ultimately happy the breakup occurred, so that’s what this post is.

Behold, the various reasons why my breakup was a positive thing:

  1. My relationship had a lot of problems, many of which were not clear to me until recently, when I finally had enough distance from it to gain perspective. For example, my girlfriend and I had a hard time communicating, and this lead to many arguments. Additionally, I often felt like my girlfriend didn’t care about me. At the time, I attributed this to my own insecurities, but in retrospect, there are things I need in order to feel cared for in a relationship, and she was unable to provide those things. However, I was very comfortable in this relationship, and very uncomfortable with the prospect of being alone. I don’t think I would have left the relationship myself, meaning I wouldn’t have the opportunity to find something better. I have that now.
  2. I have learned a lot about myself during the past month-and-a-half. I have been through absolute hell, and am now beginning to emerge out the other side. I did not think I would be able to cope with this, but I was. Not only that, but I have been actively seeking out help and working tremendously hard in order to feel better. I see my doctor and counselor weekly, as well as my psychiatrist every 2-3 weeks. I have begun to exercise again, despite the lack of motivation that accompanies severe depression. I am currently fighting my lack of appetite (and the Anorexic thoughts that resurfaced when this lack of appetite lead to weight loss) to nourish my body and mind. I have attended counseling groups I wanted to skip, used DBT skills I thought were stupid, and done therapy “homework” I didn’t want to do. I have learned that I am much stronger than I thought, and that’s really cool.
  3. This breakup has forced me to better myself. I didn’t notice at the time, but I largely neglected my personal development when I was in a relationship. I didn’t challenge my social anxiety and meet new people, because most of my time was spent with my girlfriend. I didn’t put much effort into counselling, because I felt “fine” a lot of the time. I even neglected schoolwork to spend more time with my girlfriend. This year, everything is different. I am expanding my social circle, working hard to recover from ALL of my mental health concerns, and spending my time and effort keeping up in my classes and taking care of myself.
  4. I am currently facing my biggest fear: being alone. A lot of my mental health concerns stem from this fear. Loneliness is a huge trigger for my depression,my eating disorder was both a friend in itself and a way to make people care about me, and my social anxiety likely developed (at least partially) from a fear of driving people away. I should note that I am by no means completely alone. I have family members who love me (in their own ways), and who keep trying to spend time with me. I have an INCREDIBLE best friend/ roommate, who visits me in the hospital every time I end up there (despite the fact that hospitals trigger her PTSD), who goes to social events and the gym with me so I actually go, and who is always ready to listen in the rare event that I choose to actually talk about my feelings like a grownup. I have amazing healthcare providers, who miraculously fit me into their schedules every 1-2 weeks. And I have a number of more peripheral friends, who have certainly made a difference as well. Nevertheless, I feel much more alone than I did when I was in a relationship, and that has been hell, but I am surviving it. I think that in the future, I will be less dependent on my significant other, and will not be as afraid to leave a relationship that isn’t working.
  5. Everything is about me right now. I spend my time the way I want to spend it, consider post-graduation plans that fulfill my dreams, and run errands when I feel like running them. My ex certainly did not control these aspects of my life, but I felt like I needed to consider her in every decision, so I did. I no longer feel that obligation, and it is incredibly freeing. I could cut all my hair off tomorrow and not give a fuck about anybody’s opinion of it. I can try new things and make new experiences without fear of a significant other’s disapproval. I can figure out who I am, after having this process stifled for years by the church and by illnesses.

So yes, I have experienced a tremendous amount of pain recently. And more than once, I took actions that could have ended the life I am now excited to live. I still deal with sadness and depression on a daily basis. But I believe that this experience has been worth it, for the reasons I have listed. I’m glad that the worst is over and hope I don’t experience anything like this again for a little while, but I feel grateful for everything I have gained from this experience, and I would not take it back if I had the chance. If you had told me even two weeks ago that I would be saying these things, I wouldn’t believe it. But I am. And that is everything.

This Stupid Morning

Warning: I am currently feeling marginally less like the ray of sunshine and force of positivity I normally am.

This morning sucks. I am in an awful mood. I have an awful day ahead of me. I have an awful week ahead of me.

I woke up at 5am to shower and eat breakfast before going to yoga at 7. Yoga was supposed to start my day in a positive way by releasing endorphins and providing a sense of accomplishment. Yoga was cancelled. I then found out that my best friend might be moving to BC in a year, so that’s super great. I am currently waiting for my 9:30am appointment with my counsellor, hoping she fixes my entire life.

Later this evening, I have an interview for a full-time position that begins next week. I don’t want to do the interview. I don’t want to do the job. I want nothing to do with any of it, but I need money to survive so I really don’t have much of a choice.

Tomorrow, I have an interview. Friday, I have an interview. Maybe I should feel relieved and excited in these job prospects, but instead I am filled with misery and dread. And it feels like things will be this way for the rest of my life. I will work and I will hate it. Forever.

Further, I have no fucking clue what I want to do with my life. What even do you do with a math degree other than become an actuary, which I do not want to do in a million years? I am currently thinking mathematician, math technician, or policy advisor… which are all very different things from one another. I am aware that these are the desperate rambles of a madwoman. This is why I do not wake up at 5am.

I am still living at home until July, which is A+. My step mom keeps the house extremely cold despite everybody else’s discomfort because fuck everybody who isn’t her.

Anyways, this post is derailing in a massive way, so I need to stop typing and put my head between my knees for a while. I might delete this later, because it presents a bleak picture of the world at large and of me as a person. We’ll see.

Sarah

Summer Anxiety

Yesterday, I wrote my last exam for the term. It is officially “Summer” for me. I should be thrilled, right? Or at least relieved. I am neither of these things.

I am no longer anxious about school, but I now have much more to worry about. Firstly, I will be moving back in with my dad for the months of May and June, a situation which hasn’t been great for my mental health in the past. I am dreading the loss of independence and the constant hyper vigilance I will feel living in a place that doesn’t feel emotionally safe.

Next, I need to get a full-time job this Summer, and I have yet to find one. I have sent out dozens of applications, leading me to believe that I am fundamentally undesirable as a candidate for employment. I have hardly paid any of my tuition for the previous school year, and I need to balance my student account before I can register for Fall classes. I need to make enough money to pay off $4700 in tuition, plus pay rent in July and August. Asking my parents for money is an option, but it is an absolute last resort. My mom was not happy when I quit my part-time job in October to focus on school and my mental health, and I do not want that decision to be thrown in my face.

Ironically, while the prospect of not finding a job is terrifying, so is the idea of finding one is just as scary. Working makes me incredibly anxious. I worry about whether I am doing a good job, whether my coworkers like me, what clients/customers think of me, and how long I will be able to cope. Anticipating a Summer of feeling this way makes my heart race. I hate it so much.

So I am on Summer “break”, and while my classmates and roommates seem ecstatic, I am filled with dread. As much as I love the warm weather and bright evenings that lie ahead, I already miss the security and predictability of the school year. September can’t come soon enough.

 

Sarah