Public Meltdown & Ready For Downtime

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.

Letter To The 14 Year Old

Every now and then I go through my computer and delete everything I don’t want or need anymore. Those things that I won’t need soon, but still want access to, I put on my external HDD. I don’t like clutter. Not even on my computer. Everything needs to be named properly and be in neat folders.

Today was my clearing day. I came across a letter I had written in December. I don’t want it on my computer anymore, neither on my external. So I’m posting it here instead.

This is the letter I referred to in my post “The Inner Child & Teen“.

Letter To The 14 Year Old

Dear (Me),

Today I heard you.
I heard your silent screams.
Today I felt your pain.
I cried your tears.
I’ve never allowed you in before.
But today I stayed with you.
And I was you back there again.

Disorientated and confused as you lay your head down.
Not sure what had just happened. Nothing seeming real.
“Help me”, those words spinning round and round your head.
Could anyone hear you? Did anyone know? Could anyone see?

Even within the darkness, unable to see everything…
I feel. I feel your pain and despair. The hopelessness.
The all consuming loneliness.
You just wanted someone to hold you, didn’t you?
The soothing sound of a heart beat, not yours.

Fear. Confusion. Shame. Pain. So much pain.

I wish I could tell you it all works out.
I wish I could tell you the wounds fade quickly.
But I can’t tell you this. You wouldn’t believe me anyway.

It hurts to listen to you. It hurts to be you.
But I’ll try to not leave you alone again.

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Insecurity, Hot On The Heels Of Vulnerability

Therapy is hard sometimes.

And yesterdays session was one of those.

I’m always open during my sessions, and trust my therapist with things I can’t ever speak to anyone else about. She holds my secrets.

But this one was particularly difficult for me. For some reason it felt like I was more exposed than ever before. I’ve told her lots of things, some worse than what I revealed to her yesterday, I think. Yet, this just felt different. It was the hardest thing I’ve told her so far, and I don’t know why that was the case. But she was amazing, and made me feel safe and comforted in those moments.

I can’t even remember what brought it on, but at some point during the session I had a damn panic attack. It was horrible. She was with me every step of the way though, something I’ve never had anyone do for me before. So I’m glad she was there, and not somebody else. She knew how to handle it, and she was gentle and kind, and I got through it.

It was a hard session, but I felt cared for during most of it. But then at one point it went horribly wrong. I took everything as an attack, a judgement. And all I wanted to do was shut down. Disappear.

I felt so fragile. I just wanted her to understand where I was coming from. But it felt like we were on opposite ends of a mountain. I was (metaphorically) yelling things at her, wanting her to really see and understand where I was coming from. And she was yelling things at me from the other side of the mountain, and I felt like she couldn’t really hear me. I felt invisible.

She was pushing me. She told me I need to be pushed sometimes. That she was trying to motivate and encourage me. Whenever she’d tell me that in the past, I would agree. But I realized yesterday that the truth is… I actually don’t need to be pushed. How could I expect her to know that, when even I didn’t realize it until yesterday? I can’t. I need a gentle touch. I’ve had enough “tough love” in my life, and it’s never worked. While it may work for others, for me it has the opposite effect. It makes me feel really low, invisible and even worse about myself. When someone is gentle with me, that encourages me. That motivates me. That pushes me.

I’m not blaming her at all. I’m not attacking or criticizing her. She’s still a hero in my eyes. She’s still up on the pedestal, and in my opinion the best damn therapist there is. I just think we’re both still learning how to work with one another. Every relationship is like that. Figuring out how best to deal with each other.

Seeing that the time was running out, as usual made me feel horrible. I hate it when the session is over. I always wish it could go on a little bit longer. I hate goodbyes. I felt angry, and expressed it in a crappy way. My therapist rightly pointed out that ending sessions makes me anxious, and that I was trying to push her away. I don’t want to push her away, so I don’t know why I still do.

As the session was drawing to a close, we discussed how we felt about it. I realized that I can’t really express my feelings when she asks me my thoughts on the session, and I stumble over my words, because I usually only truly know how it felt to me a little while afterward. My mind seems to work that way… Slow. I need to analyze for a while first. I was happy to hear that she thought it had been a good session. That was reassuring and comforting.

I was going to carry that with me until our next session. Knowing that I have nothing to worry about. Then, this morning, I sent her a text, setting up our next session. And that’s when it went downhill for me. Reading things into every omission. Most of the time she ends a message the same way, by telling me to have a good morning or afternoon. But something was different today. Something so simple. Like also not asking how I was. Ending the next text with something that just felt so impersonal. Small little things that shouldn’t affect me. But those small things brought the insecurity out in full force and I felt so incredibly hurt and confused. And that intensified with the email she sent a little while ago. Most of the time our communication feels warm and soothing. This time it felt so impersonal and distant. Clinical. As if we were strangers. I keep telling myself that she’s just really busy or tired, which is the most likely scenario. I think this insecurity was caused by the after effects of being so revealing yesterday. I always tell her about things that she said that upset me, and most of the time I had just read the situation wrong. She handles it so well. So I’m hoping that once again this is the case.

But still, I can’t shake the feeling that she’s disappointed in me. I hate being so damn sensitive.

I still feel vulnerable and ashamed from yesterday. The remnants of the shame I’ve always felt about that specific event but that I would quickly push down? Because it’s one of those things that I barely ever wanted to admit to myself, and pushed away whenever it would surface. But I feel like maybe I shouldn’t have told her that after all. I’m feeling very insecure about it. Insecure in myself. And most of all… Embarrassed. Exposed. Vulnerable.

And then the thought came: What if she didn’t believe me? What if she doesn’t like me anymore?” Where is all this insecurity coming from? And why do I still feel so fragile? Like the tiniest thing will just rip me into pieces.

It seems that for me, being vulnerable opens the door for insecurity to enter. Sharing something very personal and difficult is a major risk. Even when it’s sharing it with someone you trust very much, it’s still daunting.

I so desperately want her to believe in me, but how can I expect her to when I don’t even believe in myself? As she pointed out, I have a habit of giving up too soon, of quitting. Which is the truth. I’m surprised I’ve managed to keep this blog up for so long. I’ve only had one person in my life who believed in me, and would tell me that often. And knowing that, I always did my best. One positive voice drowned out all the negative voices that kept telling me that I’ll never amount to anything. That I couldn’t do something. But her belief in me, pushed me to do and be my best and not give up no matter how hard something was. That person was my grandmother. My best friend in the whole world. The world that crashed down around me when she went away. After that, something changed. No longer did I have her encouraging voice, and the negative voices gained a powerful foothold. And I let it.

Scared. Insecure. Did I share too much? And why does it feel like my heart is breaking?

I feel this incredible need to beg her to stay. Like a child holding onto her parents legs, begging them not to leave.

Maybe she should walk away. She’ll have to do it though, because I won’t be able to.

I just don’t feel worth it anymore.

Am I still worth it to her?