Trust Issues

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My therapist went on leave at the end of May, and we resumed our sessions the week before last. I’ve always had issues with therapy breaks, but this one was particularly hard. I wasn’t in a good place so the timing just made me feel that much worse. But I got through it.

The first day back, while waiting for the session, I saw my therapist talking to one of the receptionists. A doctor came up to her and welcomed her back. They were soon joined by someone else. Hearing everyone welcome her back sent a wave of relief washing over me. But not just because she was back.

For some reason I had been battling paranoid thoughts while she was gone. Thoughts that she wasn’t really on leave, but just needed a break from me. I told her this last week, and as often happens, felt so silly that I had entertained those thoughts. But it was real for me during that time, and I had a lot going on, so I tried not to judge myself too harshly.

Due to this, and other recent experiences, I’ve realized that I have deep trust issues. And looking back over my life I can see this so clearly. I struggle to believe that what people say and how they are around me, is genuine. The other thing I struggle with is understanding that what someone has said one day might still be true the next. For example, if someone tells me that they care about me, I might believe them in the moment, only to feel anxiety a little while later. Do they still care about me? What if their feelings have changed? A lot of the time, nothing needs to have happened in order for these thoughts and anxieties to arise.

The one I’m struggling with at the moment is the situation with M. My services are still on hold with the company I was freelancing with, and I don’t have another client, so haven’t been able to contribute to the rates and taxes these past two months. When I first moved in, M didn’t want me to pay rent or any of those things. But I felt better at least contributing something, so I did. Now I can’t do that. I still buy things we need for the house, such as groceries or cleaning suppliers as and when I’m able to, but still not as much as I’d like to.

I’ve told M that I feel like I’m a burden to her these days. She doesn’t see it that way. Her husband passed away last year, and she says she likes having another body in the house. She also enjoys my company, and sees me as a daughter. That I’m far from a burden. When I first moved in, we agreed to always be honest with one another, and if there are any concerns or issues on either side, to raise it as soon as possible. So even knowing all this, I’m struggling to believe that what she says is how she really feels. I’m worried that she’s just saying all of this because she doesn’t want to hurt me or something. I know I need to look at the facts in order to overcome this way of thinking, but sometimes I’m just not sure what the facts are, or whether they really exist. It’s frustrating and confusing. I don’t like questioning people’s words or their motives. But yet it feels like such a deep thing and not something I can just instantly stop doing by making the decision to do so.

I also know it comes from my experiences with people and situations throughout my life. I’ll share a few of these.

My first stepmom (of 13 years) would be so nice to me in front of my dad. I would think that maybe she had started to like me or even love me. But then when my dad wasn’t around, she would continue treating me badly and bullying me. She’d say something in front of my dad, but then say the opposite to me the next time. So I never quite knew where I stood with her. With my dad too. He would say one thing, but then the next day he would deny having said that, or telling me (or us) that he didn’t mean it that way or we heard wrong. It was all very confusing.

There was also the situation with my mother. I would see her two weekends a month. My dad and stepmom would tell me that my mother didn’t want me, which was why I was living with them and not with her, and try to discourage me from going to her. They would tell me things about her and things she apparently did or had done. There was never a good word toward her. But when I was with her, even though I didn’t feel that motherly bond or connection, the things I saw her do and how she treated others and me, didn’t fit into the picture of what I’d hear from my dad and step-mom about her.

Then there were the countless other women my dad dated and those we moved in with. When the women (and children) weren’t around, my dad would tell me all sorts of things about their relationship that I didn’t need or want to know. He would also tell me all the problems that these people had with me. I hated this, because they never told me these things to my face. With each new woman I tried to go in cynical. But they would be so nice to me and deep down inside I would think that maybe this time, this woman, would be that mother figure I had always wanted. That would all go out the window when my dad would start with his gossip. I would switch between believing him, and being confused when these women seemed to be nothing but nice to me. When they eventually broke up, my dad would tell me it’s because they couldn’t accept me and had a problem with me. Never mind the fact that he was very irrational and a bully toward them. He would never mention that. It was always just about me.

My dad seems to be the common thread in all of these, but there are other people and situations that he had no part in. So yes, it makes sense that I have these trust issues. I just wish I could get over them and that they didn’t have an influence on my relationships. But at least I’m fully aware of this now and can do the work necessary to start to fix this. And that’s where therapy can help. My dad once asked why I’m still in therapy. It’s been more than 2 years already. I’ve asked myself that same question. But just as our environment and experiences form our personality over many years, it makes sense that it can take years to heal and change.

Trusting someone is difficult. But so is not trusting them. I hope that one day I won’t have that little voice constantly throwing doubt at everything people say.

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But I’m Not Like You

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Two Thursday’s ago I went out for dinner with my best friends’ Megan and Ethan. We had a lovely time. Ethan invited me to a pizza evening that Saturday, and Megan, knowing me really well by now, told him that it might be too much for me. There were going to be 4 other people there. People I’ve never met. But I told them I’d let them know, and decided on the Saturday morning that I was going to be brave and go for it. After all, I don’t see them very often as they live quite far away.

I don’t like driving that way. The area they live in is scary, and the last 15 minutes of that road is anxiety-inducing, especially with the traffic lights every 500m or so. I always make sure I have my taser within easy reach and ready to go. Thankfully I got there safely, relieved but still on high alert. I made sure to get there an hour before everyone else was due to arrive so I could prepare mentally and relax a little with my friends. I had to sleep over as Ethan wouldn’t let me drive that road at night.

It was an insane evening, and the instant I met Megan’s cousin, I didn’t like her one bit. The rest of the evening only intensified that dislike. Megan doesn’t like having her around either (she saw her last 2 years ago). This girl was out of control, over-the-top, obnoxious and vulgar, and way too loud. Throughout the evening I disappeared for 20-30 minutes to the room with my noise-cancelling headphones. I had come prepared, although in hindsight I should have followed my instincts that morning and not gone at all. But the thing with me is I’m never sure what’s instinct and what’s just plain fear or anxiety.

By 1:30am I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to go to bed. All I actually wanted to do was go home. Megan had also had enough by then and we sat in the room chatting. She was regretting the whole evening and also wanted it to be over. We both went to bed. But the music and people continued on. I would just doze off and then wake with a start.

The party was still going on by 5am. I realized I wasn’t going to get any sleep and went to make coffee. Megan came out of her room as well, and told a very drunk Ethan that it’s time to end the party and go to sleep. Ethan is a teddy bear even when drunk out of his mind (which is something he’s only been twice before – we’ve known him for over 20 years now).

With total silence now, but my body still buzzing on the inside (I hate this feeling), I sat in bed reading for about 30 minutes and then figured it was safe to try to sleep again. As I was dozing off, my room door opened, and in walked Ethan, with a “it’s okay Meg, go back to sleep” and stumbled over to the bed. He crashed down next to me, proceeding to pull all the blankets away from me. I lay there in shock for a few seconds. Then came the snoring. That was me. Done. I jumped up and decided that it was time for me to go. There was no way I would be getting any sleep with a snoring guy next to me, thinking I’m Megan. I wasn’t irritated, but more amused at what had just happened. Ethan was very embarrassed and apologetic when I told him this, but now we can laugh about it.

When I got home I only managed a 3 hour nap. But it was something at least. Since then, I’ve still been trying to recover. Yes, it’s taking a long time. The biggest reason for this is that I haven’t given myself the rest I need. Sure, I’ve slept 8+ hours for most nights, with a few exceptions thanks to nightmares, but the problem is during the day. My way of recuperating from social, sensory, physical and emotional/mental overload and tiredness is to hide from the world for a while.

That’s something a lot of people don’t understand. I’ve been struggling with depression for a while now, and it only seemed to get worse the days after the party. M (the lady I stay with) knows how I’ve been feeling, and encourages me to go out and do things. For example, wants to take me out for coffee or says I should go to the library or bookstores (both places I like). She believes that spending too much time at home makes depression worse. And it does. For her. But not for me. Not when I feel overwhelmed. When I feel overwhelmed and I leave the house, things don’t go well for me. When I’m already overwhelmed, it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge. In other words, panic attacks/meltdowns/breakdowns. I need quiet, and as little sensory stimuli and socializing as possible, or my depression gets worse.

There have been so many times in my life where I didn’t leave the house for days, and emerged feeling refreshed and so much better. That’s how I cope with life and the world. When I was still living with my dad, I would sometimes take an entire week “away from the world”. They would often argue with me that it’s not healthy. Well, it’s not healthy for me to always be going out and doing things. It’s the same with M. Her friend came over the one day, it was almost 12pm and I was still in bed (reading). She told me “up, up, you can’t stay in bed all day, that’s why you’re not feeling well”. Just for the record, I don’t stay in bed all day. I still do things like washing my dishes, cleaning my room (if I’m up to the task that day), having a cup of coffee in the morning with M, but I just don’t want to go anywhere.

I understand that for a lot of people going out with friends and doing things help them fight their depression. And I know those telling me to do these things have good intentions, but it doesn’t help me. I feel like yelling “but I’m not like you!” I feel this pressure to conform, scared to upset anyone. But much more than that, scared to be seen as “lazy”.

I’ve told M how I recover and start feeling better, and she says she understands, but I don’t think she truly gets it. After all, we’re individuals with different experiences and views of the world. Can we ever truly understand someone else?

Caught In The Grip Of Anxiety

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My anxiety levels over the past few weeks have been worse than they have been in a long time. I deal with anxiety nearly every day, but the last time I remember it being this bad for such a long period of time was when I was still in my 4-year toxic relationship. It’s got to the point where just thinking about leaving the house causes overwhelm and panic. Not to mention the chest pain and the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply enough.

Nightmares have been a nightly occurrence, often many times a night, and it can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half to settle down enough to go back to sleep. In my therapy session last week, my therapist reminded me about a plan we had put in place where I would take a week off from all work every 3 months, a sort of mini-holiday (she wants me to do stuff for myself during this time that make me feel relaxed and happy) and suggested this might be the right time to do that. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind and when she mentioned it, I felt relief at the thought.

So that’s what I’ve done. I didn’t go into the office this week, although I didn’t exactly follow the plan properly as I have a current client for my design work who has been a major pain (a 4 month project that should have been finished long ago, but he’s been dawdling and suddenly rushed me and wanted some stuff done by Tuesday). I finished it in time, and now suddenly he’s vanished again. He’s been doing this since we started. I’ve started rewriting my contract to account for clients like this as I’m not going to go through this kind of situation again. Going to let my dad’s lawyer have a look at it when I’m done. They’ll have 8 business days during which to review and comment or I start charging extra, instead of 3 months with no additional charges, as in the case of this guy! A positive is that I’m learning how to run my business from having difficult clients in the early years.

I’ve had two therapy sessions this week because I just feel I need extra support right now. On Tuesday we walked down to the park/duck pond close by and sat on the swings, which was really nice. I adore swings, and wish I had one of my own! Never had a therapy session outside before. It feels very different, but a good different. The weather was perfect. Cloudy and cool, my type of weather.

I’m not sure what’s happening with our moving situation. Went to go look at a place a few weekends ago, which I loved, since my room would be downstairs and on the opposite side of the house, far from the family. With my own bathroom. But the parents didn’t like it. There are also apparently complications with the owner of the house we’re currently in, and no one can tell me what’s actually going on. One minute my dad is telling me to start packing, and the next it’s a case of “it’s complicated”.

Yesterday was the first day in a while that I felt able to meet up with a friend, M. I was supposed to meet with her last week Friday and then again on Wednesday, but didn’t feel up to leaving the house. I really wanted (needed) to see her yesterday. I absolutely love spending time with her, so me not meeting up with her sooner wasn’t because of her or because I didn’t want to spend time with her, but just due to my anxiety. It’s a bitch. M wanted to take me to the clinic when we met up (I couldn’t stop crying), but instead, we spoke about something that might help me even more than going back in (because I don’t want to go there again). I’ll write about that soon, just first want to speak to my therapist about it before I make a decision.

I don’t feel ready to go back to the office on Monday. But I’m going to make the most of this weekend by switching my phone off, and even if I have to force myself (and take anxiety meds), go down to the beach if only for half an hour. There’s nothing quite as healing as nature.

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.

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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Food and Mood

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I’m so sick of this.

When I’m in a stable or good mood, I enjoy eating. I’m very fussy when it comes to food, and can’t eat breakfast before 10am, but other than that, I have a healthy appetite.

Then along comes depression, stress, or anxiety, and my appetite goes out the window. I have to force myself to eat, and feel like crying every time I have to do that. But if I don’t eat, I feel sick, dizzy, and light-headed. It’s extremely frustrating. I’ve survived on the bare minimum of food today and I hate myself for how much I struggle to get anything in.

During these times I’m even more fussy, and don’t have the energy or motivation to even make a slice of toast. Food that I usually like makes me feel nauseous just thinking about. I never know what to eat. This can go on for weeks sometimes, and that’s not healthy.

Most of the people I know have the opposite problem… They eat more when they’re in a low or anxious state of mind. Comfort eating they call it. Well, I need to find myself a “comfort” food that I can stomach during these times.

Anyone else struggle with this? And if so, is there anything that helps you?

Relationship Confusion

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I’ve been confused, anxious, and depressed lately, and just wanted some opinions, and other’s perspectives on a situation.

For the past few weeks things have felt very unstable in my relationship with Elizabeth. Late last week, I thought we had worked through everything. But the past few days it seems nothing has really changed, and is maybe becoming worse.

There have been a few good moments, but they don’t seem to last, and feel like they’re coming fewer and further between.

I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around her. Even over text and on the phone. I’m almost constantly scared that I say or do the wrong thing, and she’ll be upset. It seems she’s becoming more and more irritated and sensitive to everything I say and do… Even my facial expressions. I’ve explained that sometimes what she thinks she sees in my expression isn’t actually what I’m thinking. She assumes the negative quickly.

I don’t need much in a relationship to be happy. I just want to feel secure, loved, and like I matter. Isn’t that what everyone needs from a relationship? I thrive on intimacy. Meaningful conversation and physical affection (as simple as holding my hand or a hug) is important to me.

Lately, I’ve been feeling insecure in the relationship. I don’t know where I stand with Elizabeth. Just when I think everything is fine, one small thing can shatter that “illusion” and I’m left feeling confused.

Elizabeth has GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), so she gets overwhelmed easily. I can understand that to a certain extent. I also get overwhelmed easily. But I don’t let that interfere too much with the relationship. I don’t let it change the way I treat her. I’ve been wondering whether I’m too much for her. I try not to be. I give her space when she needs it. We see one another once, sometimes twice a week, and I try to limit my texts to her.

She seems cold towards me sometimes. And it feels as though I can’t do anything right. That so many things irritate her and I never know whether something I say, do, or even a facial expression, is going to make her get irritated with me and pull away. I’m scared to ask for a hug when I feel I could really use one, because she might not be “feeling it”, and she told me that when she’s anxious or in a bad space, she doesn’t want to feel obligated to give me something I need, because when she does that, then it feels like she’s not being true to herself. She needs to take care of herself. I get that. I told her last week that when she pulls away from me it feels like I’m being punished, but she said that’s not what she’s doing… She just needs me to respect her need for space then.

I’m even too scared to hold her hand when we’re walking, or cuddle up to her when we’re watching a movie, because she’s made it clear that when she’s not “feeling it” she doesn’t want to show or accept affection… And it feels like she’s at that place most of the time lately. It seems like affection is only okay when she feels it’s okay. It’s not about me… Her needs and wants come first. If she’s going through a hard time, I try to be as supportive as possible, and am willing to put aside my own struggles for a while in order to be there for her. But she told me she can’t do that for me. That it overwhelms her and makes her resentful.

The worst thing is that the more she pulls away, the more insecure I get. But I’m going to try not to make that known, so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed and miserable in the relationship. But how do you know when you get to the point where you’re giving up your own needs and wants just to make sure that your partner is happy in the relationship? Or whether you really are the problem and your needs/wants are just unrealistic? Maybe I’ll get used to things this way and won’t feel as insecure, because she’ll be more affectionate again? Maybe I’m just too sensitive, and by just going with “the flow” I’ll become less sensitive over time?

If I don’t do or say anything that day that irritates her, or makes her feel “bad”, then she’s affectionate. I’m scared every time I have a quick reaction to something she did or didn’t do, or something she said, that she’ll see it on my face, and I know that pisses her off. Even if I don’t say anything. Just the look on my face is enough for her. And then for the rest of the day she seems cold towards me. Is this normal? It doesn’t feel normal, but then again, I’m not too sure what’s normal in a relationship and what’s not.

I’m doubting myself a lot lately. Wondering whether the problems in the relationship is all just me. That maybe I’m just too much. Maybe I just need to change? I’ve made some changes already, and she’s acknowledged that I’m trying and have been doing better. But it still seems as though I mess up more than I should, and that now she’s even more hyper aware of every little thing.

The last evening I spent with her was on Monday, and usually we always say goodnight with a kiss. That night she didn’t. I wanted to kiss her, but I could sense she didn’t want that, as she had already said goodnight and turned around. When we were saying goodbye on Tuesday morning, she gave me a hug (again, no kiss), but the hug felt distant and cold. I have no idea what I did wrong. The rest of the day (yesterday) she seemed cold over text as well. It still doesn’t feel right today. But maybe it’s just my imagination.

I’m going to try to be better. I think that maybe if I just hide it better when I feel overlooked, hurt, or upset, that maybe things will be better. That I need to be more considerate maybe.

I don’t talk about this to my friends because I don’t want them to treat her any differently (they like her), and I feel a bit of shame for how I’m feeling only 6 months into the relationship. So I thought I’d post this here and see what you guys think?

Please keep in mind that these are my feelings, thoughts, and perspective on the relationship. So you won’t know how things are from her perspective. There are probably other factors involved as well.