Public Meltdown & Ready For Downtime

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January has been really busy and quite intense. I know it’s only the beginning of the year, but I’m ready for another break. I had a week off in December but that doesn’t feel like enough. For me, time off doesn’t count if it involves family gatherings and having to be social the whole time. The first few days were glorious, but the rest were just too busy.

I met up with both old and new friends, a current client and a potential one, so have had a lot of social interaction this month. This is a good thing for a lot of people, but as an introvert, it’s been draining for me.

There’s also been a lot of stressors. But that’s a part of life and something we all deal with often, so it’s nothing new. I had a few days where I was in my high energy, hyperactive, feeling on top of the world and invincible mode. But then I fell back down to earth with a thud. The depression just hit me. This past weekend and week has been hard. I feel like I’m heading towards burn out. This is the part where I make things worse for myself by beating myself up for getting overwhelmed so quickly and easily. It’s just frustrating.

Sometime during the weekend I went to the store to get some stuff I needed. I know better by now. Never go to the shops on a weekend. But I needed one item that couldn’t wait. Already anxious, it was made worse when a guy stood in the queue behind me. He was so close I could feel his breath on my neck! I moved forward only to have him do the same. This overwhelming fear and panic gripped me but then in the next instant something in my head just snapped. I can’t remember what I said, but I remember his words “I’ll fuck you up”. Instead of my usual reaction in a seemingly threatening situation of getting the hell out of there and getting myself to the bathroom or quiet place, I challenged him. I was so angry in that moment that I felt I wanted to fight him, to hurt him. I was ready. And he was a big guy! I just wasn’t thinking. Then one of the most embarrassing things for me happened. I had a panic attack right there! With a whole bunch of people around and staring. Throughout this whole thing, not one person stepped in, not with the confrontation, and not with the panic attack (bystander effect?). By that point, and for a while (no idea how long), I felt trapped. I couldn’t think of a way to get away or out of there, it’s like I was just stuck and my brain couldn’t function. But somehow, and with very blurred and vague memories I found myself in my car. I wasn’t in a state to drive so I just sat there for a while, both freezing cold and hot at the same time. It was a horrible experience and one I don’t ever want a repeat of. I’ve dealt with similar things plenty of times in the past, but like I said, none where I was in the “fight” mode, just the “run/get out of here” one.

Since then I’ve had raging PTSD symptoms (my usual flashbacks with a couple new ones for good measure, increasing hyper-vigilance, etc) and am terrified to go to the shops again. I haven’t been since. My stepbrother has a bike now and loves driving around, so doesn’t mind going to buy stuff for us, so I’m grateful for that. The only place I felt safe this week was sitting with my therapist in her office.

I was incapable of working on Monday. I have a deadline on the website I’m working on (the one from last year where the guy made me wait for everything and only contacted me back the week before last and now suddenly I must jump), and that usually puts me in hyper-focused mode, but I just couldn’t do any work on it that day. I also had my assignment due, and I love my course, but I couldn’t even do that. So it’s not just things I don’t enjoy that suffer during times like these, it’s even those things I love. I couldn’t even talk on Monday. It’s as if the communication channels in my brain had shut down. Even my dad asked me what was going on, and all I managed was, “tired”.

At the dentist today, I started panicking at a certain point while she was working on one of my teeth, and she had to stop for a while. They usually have those heavy “vests” that they put on you when they take x-rays, so I asked her whether I could have that on me while she was working, but said she didn’t have one in her office right then. I thought to myself “don’t lie, you just don’t want me to use it right now” (paranoid/irrational thought).

The more I go into work when I’m feeling like this, the more it builds up and my coping skills start failing… that’s where I am right now. But I don’t feel like I can take time off again. When I asked for an extra day or two in December after Christmas, he said no. That they have to work (they don’t, they could have closed the shop as it was quiet over this period anyway), so it’s only fair that I also do.

I have something to look forward to tomorrow at least. I promised the owner of the dog shelter that I’d start leash training two new Husky puppies they got in this week. Dogs I can deal with when I’m not feeling good. Humans… Not so much.

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Death Raises So Many Questions

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My grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. She’s been sick for many years and confined to a wheelchair, but no one ever heard her complain. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away about two years ago. He was a bastard. The things he used to do to his children and wife are horrific. Yet, she stayed with him until he died. They were catholic, so she didn’t believe in divorce. This is something that has frustrated and angered me for a long time. She lived in Portugal, so I didn’t get to see her very often. But she had a special place in my heart.

She was always smiling and laughing, even when she was in pain. She’d ask me tons of questions, and was always interested in my life and what I was saying. Her English wasn’t great, so communicating with her wasn’t easy. I didn’t always understand what she was asking or saying, but she was so patient and never got annoyed. My mom told me that when I was a kid, I was convinced my grandmother was an angel. I was shy around her and didn’t speak to her, but would stare at her in fascination.

Two of my uncles lived with her. She took care of them because they were unable to take care of themselves. One of my uncles was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and has a brain injury apparently caused by my mom’s father. The other is Autistic. They aren’t young anymore either. So I don’t know what’s going to happen to them now that she’s gone. I have another uncle in Portugal who can help them (he’s independent), but I’m not sure whether he’ll be able to take care of them the way they need. He’s also autistic, on the “high functioning” end apparently, but has a lot of his own struggles to deal with.

Since I got the news about my grandmother on Saturday, I’ve had a lot of questions running through my mind. About life. About death. One that I’m really curious about is how does someone who has been through so much and has hardly ever had a “break” from shit, make it to that age? What makes these people so strong and resilient? Was it that she became stronger through the years and bounced back over and over again, is it genetic, or is it (and this is what I suspect) that she had all those people to take care of, and that’s what kept her hanging on? I don’t think there’s a simple answer, or that I’ll ever really know.

I can’t see myself living for that long. Most days I feel like my days are already numbered and coming to an end soon. My mom feels the same way I do. Throughout the years she has mentioned how she feels she won’t be around much longer. Whenever she makes it to another birthday she’s genuinely surprised. This has caused a lot of distress in me when she’d talk this way, but on the other hand I also understand.

We’re still alive though, we made it through so far. We don’t get to know when our time will end. But we can continue putting one foot in front of the other and do what we can to make the most of the life we’ve got.

Of course, I’m sad that we lost my grandmother, one of the strongest woman I’ve ever known. But I’m mostly grateful that she’s no longer in pain. That she’s at peace. The angel can finally rest.

heartscape

Life & Road Trips

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A comment by one of my blogger friends reminded me of this post. It was one of the first I published on this blog so most of you wouldn’t have read it. I’m also reblogging it because I needed that message today.

Journey Toward Healing

Being in a contemplative mood tonight, I want to write a post regarding a few things from my recent experience, as I wrote about in my first post Goodbye’s.

I was going to be driving approximately 1321 km (820 mi) over the course of 3 days. No one thought my car would be able to make it over 2 days. I’m certainly glad I didn’t attempt to. I had a few problems and had to stop at each and every gas station, but nothing major. The car wasn’t the problem.

Instead of taking the usual highway, I was advised to take a back road instead. I have Google Maps, so we were sure it wouldn’t be a problem.

Oh, but it was.

That first day driving, I spent the majority of the trip crying like a starving baby, and wondering what the hell I was doing. So it certainly didn’t help matters much…

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Getting There

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Yesterday was a better day.

This roller coaster I’ve been on seems to be slowing down. I’m not off the ride just yet, but the slower speed is a relief.

I’m proud of myself for one thing at least. Instead of doing what I would usually do, which is self-medicate with my benzo’s (more than what’s prescribed), I used the DBT Distress Tolerance skill of Urge Surfing and Riding The Wave. Just allowing myself to fully experience the urges for self-harm, medication, and alcohol, and feel the emotions that I so desperately wanted to numb.

I managed to cope with those intense feelings and urges by doing some physical activity right in my room, such as push ups. Something I find really soothing is lying stomach down on my fitness/exercise ball and slowly rolling back and forth, stopping for about 30 seconds every now and then to just breathe and feel the pressure and support against my stomach and upper body. It may sound weird, but it helps. I had to use a lot of my coping skills and tools, and I realized again just how important it is to have those.

Another urge I’ve had is to quit therapy (next session and the first of this year is next week Wednesday). Not because of my therapist, but because I’ve been wondering whether therapy in general is still worth it for me. Feeling like I’m sick of doing the work and still having these bad mental health days, to this extent. But I managed to avoid sending those emails and messages.

My main goal during times like these is to get through these moments in less destructive ways as far as possible. And I think I’ve managed that quite well so far.

Up In The Air

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Happy new year everyone. I know I’m a little late to the party but my mind has just been messed up. I’m feeling a lot of confusion over so many things, and haven’t been feeling quite like myself. I feel like I’m a different person. Me, but different somehow. Everything around me feels different. People look different. Sound different. There have been a couple of moments where I’m not even fully sure where I am, even though it’s my own room or another familiar place. It takes a few minutes for my brain to adjust and realize where I am. It’s almost similar to what I experience with dissociation but with an added element of not even recognizing the place at all, not just feeling distant from it. Like the one day, I was reading, and the next minute I was looking around my room aware of being two different ages at once, one under the surface, and panicking because I wasn’t in my room. It turns out that “my room” was the one we lived in when I was in my early teens. Thankfully, this state doesn’t last very long and has only happened a couple of times.

It could be due to stress. My dad told me that we’re going to be moving in February so I must start packing. He doesn’t know where. Just that we have to be out. They’re looking for a smaller and cheaper place (the business is still not doing well). I asked him whether I’ll still be able to have my own room and he said he doesn’t know. So it’s all just up in the air. And when I say all I mean all (work, relationships, etc). Nothing makes much sense. Nothing feels stable.

I’ve been trying to hold onto little things to feel some sense of normality and stability.

Will it end?

Love, You’re Still Here

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Slowly making its way into my consciousness
The feelings came first, then the memories
And I saw you everywhere that night
As the old year started fading away
I knew I’d have to face the new year without you
But your shadow wouldn’t let go of me
It felt like just yesterday you were by my side

Remembering the previous December…
The restaurant where we had our last meal
The sandy beach we sat on that night
Welcoming in the new year together
The way you clung to me when you got scared
As if I alone could keep you safe

I’ve tried to forget you, erase you from my life
Removing all traces of you from my world
But the heart has a harder time letting go
I’m not sorry for loving you
But I am sorry that love wasn’t enough
To keep you with me, to keep you close

I had thought you were my whole world
But I realize you were just the center of it
Now, even without that center
The grass still grows, the sun still shines
Everything looks pretty much the same
But the atmosphere has changed somewhat

I loved you like no other, I adored you
I had felt safe and content in your love for a while
When you told me you don’t feel the same anymore
It tore me apart, down to my core
How could love fade so fast?
And I wonder, did you ever really love me?

I avoided talking about you, thinking about you
But I didn’t know I’d have to pay attention soon
I had to feel it, open up to the pain again
In order to finally let go fully and completely
It’s been a few days and you’re fading once more
I’ll always love you, but we were only meant
For a season, for a while, and that’s okay