August 21, 2016 § 1 Comment
One of the things that’s haunted me most about living with mental illness is my inability to explain or account for it–to myself or to others. My earliest internal experiences of anxiety, for instance, was of being strange to myself, having thoughts and feelings that not only overwhelmed me but that didn’t make sense, thoughts and feelings that felt somehow other to myself. Part of me but different from me at the same time. I had no language for what I experienced, which caused secondary trauma when I could not communicate my distress to anyone–or when I tried, later, and was met with confusion, skepticism or inadvertent invalidation. After all, the things I felt and thought didn’t make sense to me–why should they make sense to others? It didn’t make sense: that I would fear vomiting so much, for instance, that the arrival of a letter in the mail after school one day in 4th grade, stating that I had been randomly selected to audition for a kids’ game show, would make me ball up on the couch crying. To do that I would have to travel out of town! And if I traveled away from home I might get sick! I knew it didn’t make sense, and I was embarrassed. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone the real reason I was scared. It was too weird. But I was filled with dread and despair and a desperate feeling of being unsafe nonetheless. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 6, 2014 § 1 Comment
today i wake up not wanting to go to work because i have been going at it so hard that i deserve time off. don’t i? no, today i wake up vowing that i’ll go in early but i’ll leave early. this time. past two days i have been working compulsively, unable to go home, unable to turn off, when i get the internal signal that i’ve should–or even when i’ve made very deliberate decisions for myself that i need to leave at a certain time. my overall goal is to work at something less than full capacity, and much less than over capacity, so that i have something on reserve. so that i am not always rushing, frantic, manic, driven, taken over, swept away. today, today is the day when i leave at 4:30 or 4 instead of 5:30 or 6 or 6:30 or 6:45 like yesterday. g was supposed to call 5:30 from ft worth to check in, to make sure i was out of work like i wanted…but he has been sick with depression and texted saying he did not want to talk, that as company he was no good. to punish myself, to punish him for abandoning me, i worked too much when i’m already at a deficit; i didn’t bother to leave 5:30 as intended. if no one cares about me, if no one is around to object, then why should i bother caring for myself. of course i know that doesn’t work, is self violence and subtle terrorism, but it is so much easier somehow to run roughshod over my own boundaries than to listen to my body and follow through. than to open the wound of, i was depending on you. i needed you. where were you.
today i wake up turning over in my mind a dream i had in the early morning hours, of almost vomiting from the smell of raw chicken that i had stashed beneath the rickety particleboard floorboards of a garage apartment i had inherited from miguel. trying to clean the space, not knowing where to begin. and then floorboards began to buckle and cave and collaspe, revealing a plastic container with rotting raw chicken from a year earlier stinking in a soup of rainwater. i found a plastic bag, i dumped chicken and water into the bag and tied if off to throw away, but caught a whiff unexpectedly and gagged. i sat in the doorway of the garage, struggling with the spasms seizing my throat and gut, tasting the contents of my stomach at the back of my throat. finally it passed and i kept cleaning. but that was the dream, so real and intense it felt like really vomiting. and when i wake i have a sense of dread because of it, as though it is premonitory, and i google “vomiting dream” to read the standard stuff, return of the repressed and etc. something i didn’t want to deal with or discard properly suddenly revealed, returned to me in a neglected form that was repulsive. there are only two anxiety dreams that i have recurrently–that i am watching others vomit, that i am vomiting–so this was one of them.
the lingering question for me though: why is it we cannot do the things we know we need to do? from where comes an impulse to self-jeopardize that is so strong it cannot be resisted? i know i know i know i need to do certain things to stay healthy and stable: i need to not work at full capacity. i need to allow time for meditation and exercise and just time to do nothing in particular, to have an ordinary evening where i just come home. i need to have enough time to take the supplements i need to take as replacement for SSRI. i need to i need to i need to but i don’t. and i witness others doing the same. are you going to the gym like you said, are you going for bike rides, meditating? if not, why not, when you know that these things keep you stable?
December 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
UPDATE 2016: ice cream. ice cream is the best throat lube in town. thick and sticky enough to coat even the biggest pills, tasty enough to mask any pill odors or flavors that might make swallowing additionally difficult. it’s the only thing i use anymore.
i’ve developed osteoporosis in my mid-30s from a lifetime of underweight caused by mental intensity of various kinds. not eating has been the go-to compulsive ritual historically triggered by decades of otherwise unmanaged anxiety, and it’s had profound consequences for my bone density. i was informed by a traditional doctor recently that i should take one of the osteoporosis drugs they market for older women – boniva or fosamax or similar. i didn’t want to do this as the drugs have not been tested on or evaluated for effectiveness in pre-menopausal women, yet have some gnarly side effects (remember phossy jaw, from 19th century working conditions in match factories? hell naw). so i visited a naturopath for a second opinion.
she ran a test that measured my bone metabolism (which is the ratio of bone building to bone destroying chemicals, which gives a better picture of where your bones are at than the DEXA scan normally used) and then prescribed a shit ton of bone building nutritional supplements, and also brain supplements to treat the underlying anxiety/depression issues. which is all cool in that i have an alternative to the boniva stuff but also presents its own challenge, in that i am a terrible pill swallower. terrible. and i’m now supposed to take about 15-20 pills a day. it doesn’t help that my anxiety and depression has historically manifested as issues around swallowing, eating, and vomiting–fears of things entering and exiting my stomach. but as i am now trying to heal the physical results of this underlying mental history, it’s a challenge i’m determined to deal with.
one of the upsides is that i’ve compiled a short list of unlikely tips for others in my boat. so, here are some pill swallowing tips for those who have a hard time swallowing pills: « Read the rest of this entry »
December 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
what really marked my recovery, I think
was when I was able to move from
“I’m so scared to sit in this room/go to class/travel/eat: what if I get sick? What if everyone sees how anxious I am?”
“I see that I’m feeling a lot of anxiety right now. What can I do to change that?”
In other words, I stopped identifying totally with a transient physical/emotional state.
(: the feeling-response, the experience, is not the same as what is.)
“what does this feeling want from me?”