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.

Advertisements

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.

Work and Mental Health Issues

I’ve had yet another shit day at work.

Over the past month, I’ve felt this incredible desire to just walk out. It happens at least two times a day. My record was six times, which I reached today. This overwhelming need to just throw everything down and quit. Every morning when I wake up, I have to talk myself into getting out of bed and get to work. I tell myself that I’ll get through it, and that maybe today will be the day where everything will be better.

But I realized I’m not cut out for a full time job. It’s agony. By 12:30pm (after lunch) I just can’t handle it anymore, and have to take a tranqualizer. It used to help a lot, but these days it seems to only have a 50% effectiveness rate. I’ve even considered taking two at a time, which I might still do.

All I want to do the whole time is scream and cry. What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I find it so difficult to deal with such long hours? With the constant stress? It shouldn’t be this way. Other people seem to manage, even if they hate their jobs. So why the hell can’t I? It constantly feels like I’m on the verge of a panic or heart attack. I can’t handle pressure. My brain goes into meltdown mode and then I hit a blank. I was shouted at the other day because the woman training me asked me a question and I felt so pressured in that moment, that my brain just shut down. I couldn’t think of the answer. I told her I need to think about it for a minute or two, and she wasn’t happy with that. She asked me that if a customer calls, will I say to them that I can’t think right then and will call them back in an hour? I found that incredibly insulting.

If it wasn’t for the amazing new lady in my life, and my therapist, I would have hurled myself off the highest mountain weeks ago.

On that note… A few weeks ago, I phoned a suicide crisis line, because I was so damn close. I had had too much to drink, which is something I don’t do anymore, but that evening I just had to have copius amounts of alcohol. One or two just didn’t cut it. I’m terrified of talking on the phone, it raises my anxiety to a level of 10/10. So you must know just how desperate I was to call a complete stranger and tell them that I’m considering killing myself. I have lost my fear of medication over the past couple of months, and I had them all neatly laid out on my bed in preparation that night. So I phoned. I was desperate. I knew if I didn’t get help, I would go through with my plan. So I phoned. A guy answered. I was crying so much, he kept asking me to repeat myself. I told him how I was feeling, and what I was planning. You know what he said to me? “Go to our website and read up on Depression. Suicide isn’t the answer”. I’ll never forget those words. I wanted to yell at him and tell him that I already know all about depression, and how would going to read about it solve my immediate crisis? But I just managed “okay”. Then he told me that he has to cut me off, because there’s another call coming through. It felt like a stab to my already fragile heart. A sign from the universe that I really shouldn’t be here anymore. And he told me to have a good evening. Seriously? Have a fucking good evening? He hung up. Never again will I be calling a crisis line. I tried to get hold of some hospitals I could go to, but all of them were closed at night. This country is useless! The only thing that stopped me that night, was a sudden thought that popped into my head at just the right time. The thought that my therapist had written me a letter, and I was now just waiting for it. I wanted to read it. It seemed to snap me out of my suicidal thoughts.

Back to my work situation. My boss changed my working hours, so now it’s even longer. I hate that she did that. But she’s the boss, so I just have to deal with it. I was also informed that I’m currently only doing half of what they hired me to do, which they only told me about last week. I thought they were teaching me everything they wanted me to do. I was wrong. The workload is already crazy for me, and I’m struggling to cope. So how on this green earth am I going to handle even more? I’m at breaking point. I feel like an elastic band being stretched, that’s on the verge of snapping.

I was also told in the interview that I wouldn’t have to answer the phone, except for a few of the accounts queries, which were mostly dealt with through email. The past week though, I’ve had to play receptionist. And the damn phone is constantly ringing. The boss is supposed to hire a receptionist, but she says it costs too much. What the hell? She goes and does her nails every week, along with massages and goes overseas three times a year. She drives a car that would pay for two brand new cars for me, and she lives in a 5 bedroom house, alone. But it’s too expensive to hire someone? What’s that about?

My work hasn’t been up to standard. I admit that. But how can I fully concentrate when I have to answer phone calls all the time (remember those anxiety levels?), and deal with requests from the boss that seem to have no relation to my job description. The one day she asked me something, and I told her I don’t know. Her words directly after that… “You don’t know anything.” Ouch! She scrutinizes everything I do, and looks for things to use as ammo against me.

Then there’s the constant talking behind my back by boss and training lady. They think I don’t hear what they’re saying, but oh, I do. My boss even makes some comments, in a loud voice, directed at me, about me, that make me feel so embarrassed. Why must everyone in the office hear about my ‘faults’? I just can’t do this anymore.

My focus is on the work I’m doing. I’m concentrating my hardest so I don’t make mistakes. I’m triple checking everything. I’m trying my best. But it seems my best just isn’t good enough. I feel stupid and useless.

I phoned my employment agent today who had gotten me this job (she tried to call me the whole of last week, but we kept missing each other). I was crying so much, I could barely speak. She asked me whether she should send me a bottle of wine. I told her “yes please, as long as I can drink it at work”, and we both laughed. That made me feel a little better. She said that she’d keep an eye out for a half time position for me.

In the meantime I’m going to start up my photography business and see what happens there. If I can get a part time position, I can do my photography after work. Photography is something I enjoy, so it won’t feel like ‘just another job’. That I’ll be able to handle.

But until then… I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I feel stuck. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

What happened to perfect? I really thought that this was the perfect job for me. How wrong I was.

The Body And Trauma

I was in my room reading, when I heard my dad’s voice coming from downstairs. He sounded angry. I froze. Fear washing over me. Heart pounding in my chest. Senses on high alert.

Waiting…

Then…

Nothing.

Still, I waited. A flashback. Then another one. Panic hitting me in full force. The worse thing about these flashbacks is being in the past all over again. Reliving it. It feels so real. And then there’s the confusion when coming out of it. It feels like I’m not sure exactly where I am sometimes. What’s the present, what’s the past? What’s real, what’s not? Sometimes that confusion lasts a few seconds, other times minutes.

I don’t know how long this all lasted. It seems like an alternative version of time exists in these moments.

But some time later, I heard them all laughing downstairs, and I realized that his ‘loud’ voice had just been part of some story or joke he had been telling.

No, he wasn’t mad.

My mind was still all over the place, but a little more rational.

However, my body was slow in getting the message that there was no threat.

Almost 2 hours later, and I was still feeling the effects on my body. I felt tense and on high alert… As if waiting for something to happen. Or like something IS happening.

“Why did I have such an intense reaction to something so silly?” I asked myself.

I could never admit to myself that some things I had experienced were traumatic. I hated the word ‘trauma’. Which, as my therapist commented one day… There are a lot of words I don’t like or don’t want to say out loud. I have no idea why that is. But now I say, screw it. By continuing to run from it and avoid accepting that I have indeed experienced trauma in my life, I’ll continue to deny myself proper healing.

I have felt the effects of it my entire life. So giving it a name isn’t going to make it any more real. It’s already real.

I tried to do a body awareness mindfulness meditation a little while after this, thinking it will help me relax both my mind and my body. But that backfired. It brought flashbacks of a different kind. So I won’t be doing that one again. I don’t want to ‘experience’ my body.

I spent most of last week crying, and this week I had no tears left. But after this little ‘incident’ tonight, it came back. Along with physical pain (which I think is just a stress response). I felt anxious, depressed, terrified and like I just wanted to hide in my closet.

I used to do that a lot. Hide away. When I was a child, I would curl up under my bed. Under tables. Anywhere. When I couldn’t use my spaces, I resorted to wrapping my blanket or duvet tightly around my body and cover my head as well. Most nights I slept like that. My favourite place though was in a closet. I felt the safest there. It was a dark and small space, which seemed comforting. Which is strange, considering I’ve always been afraid of the dark. But the confined space made the darkness feel like a friend.

I even used to look for ‘safe spaces’ when I was in high school. I would lie under my bed, either reading with a flashlight, or daydreaming. I would do that for hours at a time. Once I had finished school, there were moments where I still wanted those spaces, but being an adult, I felt stupid about that desire. For the past 2 months now, I’ve had this same desire to just empty out my closet and sit there in the dark when I’m feeling anxious, fearful or overwhelmed. But there’s no space for that. And it’s just not appropriate anymore, I guess. Hell, it’s embarrassing admitting this here. But it is what it is.

I constantly feel trapped. Caged in. A lot of times I feel like I’m being cornered. That as long as I’m alive, I’m not safe. So I guess this desire to hide away is my way of trying to cope with these feelings.

The mind is powerful. It tries to protect us, even though it’s not always very good at it. Writing this post, I don’t feel real. The world around me doesn’t feel real. I’m floating somewhere between this world and a vast ‘nothingness’. I’m aware that it’s a defense mechanism.

Maybe tomorrow everything will feel real again. But I don’t know if I want it to feel real.

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?