It’s Enough

I’m done reaching out. There’s really no point, and I see that clearly now. I’m done being certain people’s emotional punching bag. I’m done putting myself out there. At the end of the day, I’m alone. And that’s okay.

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Longing For The Feeling Of Comfort

I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, and even though I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open, I feel unsettled and unable to drift off. Usually my night-time meds have me fast asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow, so this is quite unusual. I struggled with insomnia for as long as I can remember, but since being on this medication, it’s no longer been a problem.

“Experts” say that we shouldn’t expose ourselves to electronics before we go to sleep, and I did everything right prior to going to bed. I couldn’t sleep, so decided to rather get up and write. Maybe it will help.

Life feels off-kilter. A lot has changed and I’m struggling. It’s not just the therapy change, but things here at home as well. My uncle who used to live with us then moved out, moved back in again. Then my step-brother who had run away to go live with his girlfriend and her uncle, also came back. So for a while it was a full house. Then last month my uncle moved back out again just when I had gotten used to having him around.

I’m back at group again, but it’s all new faces. I don’t know why this affects me so much, but it does. It also doesn’t help knowing that I can only attend a few more before I’m done with the program again. So I don’t want to become used to it. Every time I go I question whether I really should be going. It’s confusing. So many things are confusing and unsettling me these days.

Even having Jasmine back in my life feels strange. Things are different. So is she. But I know that’s normal. People change. Relationships change.

I can’t get rid of this longing for the feeling of comfort. I’ve tried all my usual self-soothing and comforting tricks, but nothing is working. Instead it just seems to be getting worse. I don’t know what more to do. I just want things to feel “normal” again. I want to feel normal.

Anyway, I’m going to try going to sleep again. I’ve been having a lot of disturbing dreams the past while, and a recurring dream from my childhood has also popped up again. I’ll write about that one sometime. In the meantime I’m hoping tonight will just be 8-9 hours of blissful nothingness.

Goodnight.

Where’s The Rain? The Cold?

It’s autumn this side of the world, yet most days it feels like the middle of summer. Like today. It irritates me.

For as long as I can remember, summer has been my worst, and winter has been my favourite season. There’s something magical about it for me. The shorter days. Waking up in the morning when it’s still dark, as opposed to the blaring sun on summer mornings, that even my blackout curtains can’t contain enough to my liking. The world just feels different during winter. I don’t think I’m fit for the South African climate. But this is where I am, where I always have been, so I deal with it as I can. It helps that I love the city I’m living in. We’re currently in the middle of a drought that seems to have no end in sight. But earth has a way of righting herself, so I know it will come to an end at some point. I just wish it would be sooner rather than later. I miss the rain.

My mom once joked that since I was born in summer, it might explain why I was such a fussy and unhappy baby and child. That idea doesn’t seem too implausible. Maybe if I explain a few of my little quirks, you’ll gain a better understanding of why I say this, and the reason for me preferring the colder months.

I have an extreme dislike of the sun in summer. It seems way too bright and makes me feel nauseous if I’m in it for longer than 20 minutes without a cap and sunglasses. When I’m in the sun for an extended period of time I become moody and irritable. Shade is my best friend. I can’t handle getting hot. I don’t like getting too cold either, but I prefer that to the heat. I’d rather be shivering and wishing for some extra warmth, than actually having the sun blaring down on my skin. I don’t do the whole tanning thing either. I don’t get how people can enjoy that. To each their own I guess.

I don’t like walking around in summer clothes. I don’t like having my arms and legs exposed to the elements. But of course, I have little choice in the matter. I can’t walk around in the blistering heat with winter clothes on. That would just be silly. In case you’re wondering… Yes, I wear bikini’s when I go to on a beach holiday, but I stay in the shade as much as possible. I love those little beach tents. So it’s not a body image thing. I don’t go into the ocean much. The whole “not being able to see what’s in the water” thing. I most certainly don’t want any sea weed touching me either. One of my friends once suggested I get or rent a wet-suit. That seems like a great idea. I’m definitely going to invest in one of those when I can afford it. I won’t ever rent one though… to me that’s the equivalent of sharing underwear.

Being bundled up in layers is glorious. Sipping hot chocolate, reading, watching a movie. It’s so cozy. And I like cozy. I can’t sleep without at least a sheet covering me, which makes it difficult to sleep on those exceptionally hot nights where I wish I could sleep naked and without anything covering me. But even sleeping under just a sheet isn’t comfortable… I like more weight… Which is why I love my weighted blanket. It’s Egyptian cotton and can be used in all seasons. But even that can be a little too warm in very hot weather. It’s worth it though. I love how I feel under that blanket. It’s so comfy. Definitely the best investment I’ve ever made.

Something one of my best friends finds particularly weird, is how I walk around in socks at any opportunity I get. Even during the summer months. I don’t like my feet exposed either. Unless I’m on a bed or a couch. Somewhere my feet aren’t touching the ground. The thought of something crawling on them freaks me out (yes, a lot of things do). My feet are also very sensitive to sensation, and I hate most sensations. The only exceptions are fresh green grass and the softest beach sand. If the sand isn’t a certain texture, my shoes stay on. I don’t like wearing shoes either, but I’d rather wear sneakers all the time than open-toed shoes. When I was in the clinic I was always walking around in just my socks. I went to meals, groups, and even sessions with my psych and therapist, that way. Can’t do that out in the real world unfortunately. Oh, but I don’t sleep with those things on. Winter makes my sock wearing more comfortable and provides a better excuse, “I need to keep my feet warm”.

Only those who know me well know some of the weirder quirks I’ve written about here. So that makes you part of the “inner circle”. I try to act “normal” out in the world. Which is probably why I like being alone and away from the outside world as often as possible. There’s more I could write about this, but it will be too long of a post, so I’ll end this here.

I don’t completely hate the sun though. The winter sun seems less harsh, so even though I still can’t spend too much time in it, I can handle more, and I don’t get as moody as during summer. The sun is glorious when it’s a cold day and I’m wrapped up in layers. On those days, the sun isn’t overpowering. It’s gentle. Warm. Not hot. Now that I can take pleasure in.

Winter… I can’t wait to see you again. Autumn… you must be confused. Bring on the cooler weather please.

A Sense Of Loss

Things have felt strange for a while now. I’ve been a bit detached, but not to the point of dissociation or complete isolation.

My days have been filled with work, both the work I do for the dad and stepmom, and my own design business. When I’m not working, I’m doing things for myself. Things I enjoy. Like losing myself in a book. I’m currently reading three books (it’s a regular thing for me). A memoir, self-help book, and a crime thriller. I never read more than one book of the same genre at a time. I haven’t read this much since I was a teenager and my days outside of school hours were spent reading. I’m relishing it.

I’m also doing Yoga a few times a week, and make sure to engage in at least one mindful activity a day (those adult colouring-in books are a gem). When I’m working, reading, or doing any activity that consumes my mind, I’m right there, in it. But as soon as I just sit and do nothing, drive somewhere, or do anything else that doesn’t occupy my mind, I feel detached. I don’t quite feel like me. The me I knew at least.

I had a session with my new therapist, C, yesterday and told her this. I also told her that I have no desire to go out with friends or see people, but it’s not that I feel I don’t want to spend time with them. I just don’t mind whether I see them or not, and aren’t making plans to see them. If they contact me though and ask to meet up, I’m up for it. I’m enjoying my me-time. I feel content alone.

At the same time, I have this sense of loss hanging over me, but not a feeling. I don’t know how this makes sense, yet it does.

A few weeks ago I told Elizabeth that even though we agreed to stay friends, I need some time without any contact. When I think about her, I don’t feel much at all. Just that sense of loss again. I’m not consciously pushing any feelings down. My emotions just seem to be very muted. They’re there, but not with the intensity I’m used to. Which is maybe part of why I don’t quite feel like myself.

I have gone out with friends since I left the clinic. The most recent being on Saturday. Jasmine and I are friends again, and we met up for a few hours. I had a lovely time. I had just as nice a time when I was alone again afterward though.

Therapy with C is going well. It all still feels new though. C said that even though I know it’s a safe space, it’s still an adjustment, and will take time. I’m still getting to know her and dealing with the fact that I’m not seeing A for therapy anymore, so it’s normal that I’m feeling a bit detached. I do find it easy to open up to her (even though it’s slow going), so that’s good at least.

Let’s see what happens. Right now I’m just taking things as they come.

Not Going To Happen This Year Either

This was going to be the year where I finally start my Psychology degree.

For the past couple of years, from the beginning, I kept coming up against roadblocks. Even so, every semester, and each year, I’ve tried to make it work.

Last Saturday I was able to finally start the registration process. I really thought this was it. I was so excited. After hitting “submit”, I got a message telling me that my registration couldn’t be processed due to outstanding documents.

I know what documents they were talking about. Only, here’s the thing. I had already sent those documents through in early December, and had a generic confirmation of my email having been received. In early January I had sent through another email to confirm that the documents were in order, but haven’t received a reply as yet. I tried calling a few times too, but, as I’ve learned (both from personal experience and talking with others about this specific university), they never answer their phones.

Their admin is crap. I’ve also heard of other unacceptable issues by people who have studied there, or are busy studying, but wanting to continue at another institution.

Do I really want to study with such an institution? One that’s in any case on its way down? They’ve apparently already lost some accreditation for certain subjects. Their fees are very low for a university, so I guess you get what you pay for. I’ve been looking into other universities, and found one that I have my heart set on now. It’s more expensive, but everything looks good. I’ll just have to save up more and wait longer. But it will be worth it.

I know I’m doing the right thing. But it still sucks, and is highly disappointing. The situation sucks, and it doesn’t feel good. But it’s not as discouraging as it would have been in the past. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. Or even a few months ago. I find I can handle situations in a more mature way.

Maybe the time wasn’t right. Maybe this wasn’t where I was supposed to study. So I’m willing to wait and continue doing what I can to make my dream come true.

Sometimes we have to let go of one thing, to make way for something even better.

It’s not the end.

Impermanence

Last night I was deeply aware of the impermanence of life, and everything it represents.

I was sitting with a sadness that can be described as bittersweet, instead of dark and heavy.

The event that precipitated that mood and experience was what took place during group on Tuesday evening. It was the last meeting for the year, and one I had been looking forward to from the beginning of the week. Little did I know it would be the worst one I’ve attended.

The psychologist who was leading the group opened up with an announcement that they’re changing the way the program runs. It will now only be a 12 week program. Those of us who have been attending for longer than 12 weeks, would be having our last session at the beginning of February. So much for “you can attend for as long as you want.” Such a let down. There are about five of us regulars who are immediately affected by this decision. And needless to say, none of us were happy about it.

This announcement was poorly executed in my opinion. I feel it would have been better had he told us this closer to the end of group, and allowed us to discuss it then. Going into skills training after that announcement wasn’t the wisest decision. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Another thing. Telling us this at the end of the year? During a month that a lot of people struggle with as it is? Perhaps waiting for the new year would have been the safest option.

Two of us left about halfway through. Staying just felt pointless. I had a lot of confusing emotions bubbling under the surface, and I just wanted to get out of there. That safe space suddenly felt unstable. For most of that evening, I was cycling so fast between different emotions, I couldn’t pinpoint just one to deal with.

It was only late that night, while talking to Elizabeth about all of this, that I realized the subconscious driver of these emotions. That of abandonment. I have felt rejected by the OT I had been seeing for a while for individual sessions, and now by the entire team. But this time, I’m not the only one who was being abandoned. There are others involved as well. Some of them more in need of these regular group sessions than others.

Before talking to Elizabeth there were a lot emotions and underlying thoughts that I wasn’t fully conscious of. So when I was speaking with her, and these things were just flowing out of me, I was surprised by some of them. I found I was having a lot of paranoid thoughts. She validated them, and told me that she can see how I made those connections, but that it doesn’t mean they’re true. I was surprised when she told me that in a situation and time like this, we need to look at what we know. Look at the facts. So she helped me with that exercise. I didn’t even know she knew about this. And it’s one my therapist used a lot with me. So it was actually very helpful and soothing having Elizabeth do this with me as well. She also helped me put things in perspective.

One of the fears I discussed with her, was that of losing my therapist. After all, I had just experienced how something that can feel so stable and predictable can so suddenly end. What if my therapist decides our time is up… that I’m ready to end therapy? I told Elizabeth some of the things my therapist had told me over the course of working with her. She told me that she doesn’t think my therapist would go back on her word. That from everything I’ve told her about Therapist, she sounds ethical and professional, and that her care for me is genuine. These days, deep down inside, even when these fears of my therapist abandoning me come to mind, I can still (if only minimally sometimes) feel the secure, stable base we’ve built, and trust in that. Trust in her, and our relationship.

All of this made me sit up and take note of the impermanence of things. I thought of some of the people I’ve lost. I missed some of them so much. But I also felt a great sense of gratitude for these people. Even for those who had hurt me, and abandoned me in horrible ways. The truth is, not everything was bad. There were good moments too. And those are the moments I focused on and felt grateful for.

Nothing in life ever hurt me so badly that I could not survive. I made it through. I’m alive. The good might not have lasted. But the bad also came to an end. None of it was permanent. This is why it’s so important to appreciate those souls we have in our lives, and let them know from time to time how much you value and love them. You never know when you won’t get that chance again. There’s so much I wish I could have said to my grandmother, things I wish I had done differently during her final days, for example. I didn’t get a second chance. But I have the chance now, with those still in my life.

I sent Elizabeth a voice note (I wanted her to be able to listen to it whenever she needs it), telling her how much she means to me and how deeply I love her. I did the same with a few other people I value. By doing this, you’re giving these people a beautiful gift. One that money just can’t buy. So I encourage you, go ahead and tell someone how precious they are to you. How their very existence brings light into your life. Don’t wait. Things can change and end in an instant. Tomorrow may not come.

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What I Want Now Vs. What’s Best For Me

It’s been a long and busy week, full of stress and pressure. Not all of it external, some of it was self-inflicted. But here’s the thing. Most of it was at a healthy and reasonable level. When I think back to the stress, anxiety, and the pressure I felt to perform at all of my previous jobs, I notice the difference to how I’m experiencing these feelings now. I’m doing work I enjoy, and I’m my own boss. This makes such a huge difference.

I’ve also learned a surprising thing this week. I’m much more passionate about web and graphic design than I am about photography. I’m also so much more confident in myself in this field. There have been a couple of times where I surprised myself this week in doing something in record time, pulling off “the impossible”, or having just figured something out on my own. When that happened, I felt a gentle sense of pride in myself, and gave myself a pat on the back. With my photography I hardly ever felt proud of myself, just like a failure.

There were a couple of moments while working on my design projects where I felt so overwhelmed and just wanted to scream and bury my head under some pillows. But, instead of panicking, I got up, stepped away from what I was doing, took some deep breaths, and started speaking out loud to myself. Telling myself that I’m in control. The work doesn’t control me. The clients (or my dad) don’t control me. I am in control, and I don’t have to give my power away. These conversations with myself really helped a lot. I feel good about what I accomplished this week. Sure, I wish I didn’t get tired and overwhelmed so easily, but I do, and I need to accept that and be kind to myself. I need to know and respect my limits. Know when I need to push myself just a little bit more, and when to step back and take a break. I’m trying to learn how to balance things.

Since waking up this morning I’ve felt low on energy and depressed. There were a few things I wanted to get done on one of the websites I’m building, and starting feeling some pressure to do it. So I decided that I’m not going to work on anything today. I’m taking a break. I’m photographing a newborn tomorrow, and those sessions can last up to three hours, so I want to give myself some time off. I’ve worked hard and long hours this week, and I deserve a break.

All I want to do right now is stay in my room. I don’t want to do anything. Usually when I’m feeling low on energy I enjoy just reading, writing, and maybe watching a movie or episodes of a series I like. But with this depression, I don’t even feel like doing that.

Elizabeth and I have plans tonight. We’re meeting up with one of her friends who’s visiting South Africa from Europe, and one of his other friends. I’m not in the mood. Like I said, I just want to stay home. I know I can tell Elizabeth that I’m not coming, and stay at home instead, but I also know that would not be the best thing for me. If it were just tiredness, and I wanted some time to myself to “re-set” or refresh, I might have cancelled. But I know myself. If I stay here, the depression will just grow, I’ll get bored, and go down a very slippery slope. I just have to look at past experiences to see how good it had been for me to go out when I had felt this way, versus how I had felt when I had stayed at home in this current state I find myself in.

What I want right now, isn’t what’s best for me. Staying here won’t serve any good purpose. Sometimes we have to do what we don’t feel like doing, if we know it’s the best thing for us in the medium to long-term, and for our well-being. So I’m going out.

It might be just what I need.