Holy shit. Do you ever have those revelations that, once you think them, they can never be unthought? Like everything else afterward will either conform to the notion or be so completely absurd that it wouldn’t matter if it conformed anyway? I just had one of those. I was driving to work, which I always do this time on a Friday afternoon, and I realized. I never dream anything happy. I remembered last night’s dream, something about the parking lot at my elementary school and borrowing my former boss’s truck. Why? I have no idea. But, I could see stupid details when I was dreaming it. The color of his hair, his daughter’s voice. And suddenly recalling it, I passed a truck that looked like his. It was the wrong make and the wrong color, really it was just a truck and that was coincidence enough, when I realized, my uncle Joe had a truck. A truck I loved actually, and was very sorry to hear was passed to someone else upon his death. But do I ever dream of that truck? No. Do I ever dream of my uncle Joe? No. And then I started to recall other dreams I’ve had. The ones that were impactful enough to stick around, to survive the decay of time, and I realized, none of them are pleasant. I cannot conjure up a single dream where I was happy and everything was okay. Why is that? Other people have dreams like that, right? Or they’re benign. Where there aren’t emotions behind them at all, it’s just a sequence of events that a bunch of overlaid fatty tissue composes through the firing of several million neurons. I don’t have those either. The most benign of my dreams are filled with such a primal terror, that I wake up, drenched in sweat, with no recollection of what was just taking place behind my eyelids. Or, it’ll occur to me later, when I’m doing something else, and the event triggers the memory of the dream. Ultimately though, that same fear and terror comes back and I’m fucked all over again. It’s not like I don’t have happy memories. It takes a moment to drum any up, and I’m never sure if they’re genuine or just rethought as being happy, sort of to fill in any emptiness I might’ve felt at the time, but what the hell? Does that make me a sociopath instead? Isn’t that so much worse? I like drugs. A lot. But is it because they allow my brain to really think and feel the way it wants to? They lower my inhibitions enough that I can truly be free, be myself? Is it because they sort of un-numb me? Where other people long to escape their emotions, I seek them out. Heroin addicts shoot up to escape and I would do it to feel. Feel anything, really. Is that why I hate horror movies and scary rides and stuff so much? Because I’m living in one as it is? Those are the basic emotions that I usually feel, not that I would admit that to most people. But is that my problem? Is this some higher form of evolution where I’m forced to feel things so primally that I can’t function in today’s society? That’s why I can’t watch shows like Black Mirror. That’s why I have to listen to music to be in the mood for something. None of this makes sense and all of it does at the same time. I don’t understand but I do. Whenever I was in the hospital, I used to complain that superhuman existed, they were the ones that truly felt, people like Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath. They really felt things, and for that, they couldn’t hang around. They had to take their own lives. No one else could genuinely understand what they felt, at such a basic level. I get it. And I hate it. I would love for it to stop. Or for myself to be brave enough to do the things I really want to do in order to feel. Find some drugs, smoke some weed, stuff like that. Social convention stops me. Is there a mental disorder when you aren’t completely sociopathic but you can feel fear and terror and stuff like that? There has to be something along those lines, right? Joy does not come to me…at least, not easily. And I don’t know how much longer I can handle it not coming to me. There’s a reason human beings are programmed to feel this stuff. Right?
Don’t worry, this post isn’t all about a “new year, new me.” I don’t believe in that kind of stuff. You can choose to change whenever you want; the new year only signifies the rotation of the Earth around the sun, not a rotation to your personality, bad behaviors or habits. Whew, ok, got that out of my system. So if this post isn’t about that, then what is it about? Well…
Work still sucks. I’m the kind of person that gives 110% to whatever I’m doing, even if I don’t like what I’m doing. I’ve basically been demoted to a bartender and only do supervisory things when it’s convenient for the other managers. Frustrating, much? My parents are laying it on thick about me getting a new job, finding a path for my life, stopping the aimless wandering that I’ve been doing basically for the last ten years. Craig wants me to get myself together and find a hobby (gag). One of the traits of Borderline Personality Disorder is the inability to engage in activities for long periods of time. Basically, I get bored super easily. So no matter what I’m doing, my attention can’t be held for long and I return to that wary, unsure place where my mind drifts around and idles on things left undone or unsaid.
Now, I know my parents are “serious” about their pressures in a way that they weren’t before. My father called me and we had a 45 minute conversation about how I was better than this, and I’m his daughter and my last name means that we don’t break for anything. It was quite inspiring, actually. The thing is, my father only does that when he’s serious. Like, really, genuinely worried about me. It sorta freaks me out. He’s an easy peg, my father. I know his rhythms, his mannerisms, his intonations, all of it. I mean, I’ve lived with him my whole life. And to see him switch into that mode, of coach and leader, is definitely a big deal.
My mother is more the gentle one. She nudges me in certain directions as encouragement to get my life back on track. I sit here and listen to neither of them. And it amazes me that I can be so stupid sometimes. Like, I know this job is detrimental to my health, my well-being, but I stick around. I like the people, and I’ve grown fond of the business itself. But, for some reason, I can’t shake it.
I don’t make enough money to make rent. I don’t make enough money to have savings. I don’t have career goals. But, I think all the nudging is finally getting inside my thick skull. I think I’m ready to move on, to figure something else out. Because I’m doing the type of thing I never wanted to do. This is the pinnacle of what I don’t want to be doing for the rest of my life. Am I making a rash decision? I can’t afford to straight up quit, but I have to figure something out. Being an adult is one of the hardest things ever.
I’m easily traumatized. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but the smallest things hit me like a punch in the face and I reel for days. I try to steady myself on work, on my feet and sticking with routine, but as of now, it’s failing me.
And I’m stuck in this awkward tennis match where I have to be okay for everyone else, to function at work, to exist with my partner, but when it boils down to it, the other side almost always wins.
“Uh, yea, hi, I can’t come into work today because I’m having a nihilistic crisis.”
Not really a good excuse, is it? Channeling the entire weight of the universe through a single human being feels so impossible. I’m being crushed under the sadness and pointlessness of the world. But how do I explain that to someone? How do I tell my partner that I don’t want to have sex because the endorphins from the orgasm will only last so long, I’ll drift back down from the clouds, and be right where I started?
I have nightmares every night, but can’t describe them to other people. They aren’t nightmares filled with killer clowns or zombies trying to eat my brain. They’re feelings, not fear. I wake up, sweaty and disoriented. And the rock in my chest that I thought, for a while, had been dissolved, returns. I feel the weight of the world once again and can’t escape the downpour of emotions my brain is creating.
Is it because I’m weak? Is feeling things so deeply and powerfully a bad thing? The trend right now is drifting back towards spiritualism and Eastern, sort of zen healing. But right now, being connected to Mother Gaia, feeling what I’m feeling, fucking sucks. There’s no other way around it. It fucking sucks.
I want to disengage. I want to pull the plug, extract myself from the Matrix that we live in and just…breathe. I want to cry. I want to scream and break things. I want to cry some more. I want to sleep for eternity.
There is no way for me to outwardly express what the hell is happening in my head. I can’t explain it to anyone, and that isolation is not helping. I’ve always been better with writing my thoughts than expressing them. But even now, I feel as though I’m rambling, that none of this makes sense and sounds outrageously manic. I can assure you, mania is not the hole in the bell jar, keeping me from taking that deep breath of relaxation and relief I so desperately yearn for. No, this is depression.
Full swing, back at it again, depression. Seasonal? Probably. Not worth exploring? Probably. But the trauma. The heart-stopping, gut-wrenching terror I feel when I see anything related to my former employer? Most likely. The agony and sadness felt if I stare too long into the middle distance and allow my brain to derail any safe thoughts I may have? I would say so.
It doesn’t make sense. I never pegged myself as a traumatic person. But even writing this, thinking about what happened, where my life is right now and where I imagined it would be, makes my chest hurt. Listening to my brother censor himself on the phone while we’re talking about work (he works at my former job), is painful. I am wildly proud of him. There’s no reason my sensitivity should keep him from living his life and doing the things he needs to do.
At work? Glassware hitting the floor makes me panic. The servers think it’s funny, because I play it off as a concern for the lack of glassware and the subsequent cost it takes to replace said glassware. It’s not though. It’s truly panic, zipping through my veins and making my hands sweat.
Why am I like this? Why did my personality split off into so many little pieces, so many little factions, that like to rear their heads at terrible times? They like to remind me that I don’t matter, that nothing matters, that we’re playing a game we won’t, we can’t, win. And sometimes, like right now, I think they’re right. What’s the point in all this? Why even care why I’m like this? It spirals so fast and so spontaneously that I’m left screaming and attempting to cling to something solid, something real. My hands find nothing and I’m left to fall.
Self-destruction seems obvious. I broke my record a few weeks ago, but struggle to find the opportunity to do it now. I struggle to do anything now. Even writing this post has taken me an hour. I pause, try to collect my thoughts into coherent sentences, stare at the scars on my hand, and wonder where my blade is. Then, I refocus my energy, and start again, pecking away, returning to the struggle.
Round and round this merry-go-round goes, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be off it.
Two weeks strong. It doesn’t seem like much compared to my old method of posting multiple times a day, but I guess there’s a thin line between obsession and passion. I didn’t sleep last night (a cuppa tea too late in the afternoon is to blame) so I woke up, had an extra shot in my latte and have been on the move ever since. I know when I crash, I’m going down hard so I don’t want to commit to it yet. Brendan and I made plans earlier this morning to go see a movie tonight (since we both have off Mondays, I suggested we make it a regular date night). He isn’t feeling well which sucks but he’s willing to go…if I can stay awake. So, having cleaned the bathroom and vehemently avoiding the laundry, I am here, completely my weekly goal of blogging to the fabulousness that is the Internet. I’ve been struggling with a lot of intense anxiety lately, usually a result of my OCD. I have dermatillomania, also known as compulsive skin picking as one of my compulsions. It makes my fingers bloody and swollen and generally awful looking. It’s been harder to hide this week because of the extent of the damage. Every finger is raw and red. This got me thinking about self-image. I’ve never been one to love myself…like, ever. I’ve always been too something, too fat, too stout, too this, too that. Or, if I found myself lacking in a particular quality, it wasn’t a slight deficit. It was like a huge, gaping hole. You know, the typical thought distortion of someone with low self esteem. Well, on a drive out with Brendan, a song by Kendrick Lamar called “No Makeup” came on and it stirred up some thoughts.
In the song he’s saying his significant other puts on makeup, though she’s beautiful with or without it. I have always admired the level of skill it takes to apply makeup in basically any capacity. I can do the basics: eyeliner and mascara. I think my eyelids are too fat (see, there I go again) for eye shadow; it just never looks right. Anyway, with makeup being the biggest trend right now for everyone and anyone, you would think finding a tutorial online would be easy. Learning how to contour and highlight should be as simple as opening a new window on the web browser. The thing is, my self-image is distorted to the point that I don’t think even makeup will save me from myself. It might make me more appealing to other people. I am ashamed to admit that that does play a factor here, but I can’t deny that I would still find myself unattractive. Which led me further down the rabbit hole…
There’s a certain point when someone with major depression is recovering that professionals worry. Once they’ve managed to pull themselves from the bottom of the bottom, their energy picks up just slightly, they suddenly can do what they could only imagine doing before: taking their own lives. When you’re severely depressed, you feel it physically. But once you start down recovery, you get some of your energy back. And that newfound life may still be distorted by depression and exerted…unhealthily. Okay, where am I going with all this? Self-image can be like that. Once you think absolutely nothing of yourself: wake up, go through the motions and pretend that you’re some sort of gray, blobbish thing that doesn’t have distinguishing features so that people won’t see you, you’ve hardened yourself against opinions other than your own. When you open that door, believe that you can improve, you can change your perception of yourself, don’t you run the risk of feeling that sleight? Don’t you leave your freshly uncovered wounds open to criticism and others’ opinions, which will, undoubtedly, lead those wounds to reopen and you to retreat even further into your cocoon of self-loathing? Personally, I don’t know which is worse. Subjecting yourself to the psychological torture of needing others’ approval of your appearance, or not giving a single fuck what you look like and still knowing that people don’t approve of you. It’s easy to pretend you don’t care but it’s not always the truth. I see myself in pictures and regret my particular choice of sweatpants that day. Or my constant need to choose function over form, and ending up looking like a bag lady that’s visited every clothing drive she possibly could.
I guess that’s sort of what recovery is, though. Coming to grips with yourself, in whatever manner you may want to, and rising above the experience of others’ in favor of your own. I’ve always envied people that knew exactly who they were for that very reason. Other people’s opinions of them didn’t matter. They liked what they liked and they lived their lives. I, on the other hand, would loathe those people for being so comfortable in their own skin, for never going through the dynamic of change. But really, I was jealous. It wasn’t about their lack of change or the development of their character. It was about the fact that they were comfortable enough to not give a hoot what someone else said. I feel like I can circle back around to bullying right here, but for argument’s sake, I’m going to leave it alone. That’s another bag of worms that I’m pretty sure I’ve unleashed on here a few times before.
The point of this exercise is not to tell you to love yourself (although that should probably be what I take away from this whole thing). My point is that maybe society’s standards don’t matter. Maybe we all care way too much or way too little but for no reason at all. I need to stop picking my fingers for my own health; I don’t want to lose fingers or even hands to infection or sepsis. Who gives a damn what other people think? I sure as hell don’t! But maybe that’s my very problem…
PSA: If you enjoy makeup, if you know you’re fierce with/without it, you rock! I’m just venting my own personal problems. It’s not with the makeup, it’s my perception of myself…and my fear.
*TRIGGER WARNING- body image and self-harm discussion*
This is going to be a regular thing. I have to make it a regular thing or I will lose my fingers…and my sanity. I’ve been picking the skin on my fingers to the point that friends, coworkers, people that didn’t know I picked are suddenly aware of this disgusting compulsion. My fingers are bleeding, catching on fabrics and I’m sure, grossing out people at work. I need to stop but I can’t. Why?
Anxiety has been a big part of this whole process called “recovery”. I think mental illness is a lot like lightning and I’m a firebender (pardon the Avatar: The Last Airbender analogy…it’s an awesome show, though! Haven’t watched it? You should!). Rather than control, possess and master mental illness, I’ve simply learned to redirect its energy. Now, that being said, that redirection is not always positive (haha, electricity pun!). My depression was overcome through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That was overcome by focusing on Borderline Personality Disorder. While that one, is arguably, insurmountable, my manifestation has presented itself once again in OCD and anxiety.
The lack of control I feel (not true to what I actually have) is so extreme that I’ve taken to obsessively cleaning, destroying my fingers, spending money in insane amounts (I’ll explain this one) and generally just hating myself, my journey and who I’ve become (and who I was, frankly. It’s not good either way).
Despite what I know, logically, are accomplishments, I feel nothing positive towards myself. I hate my body: my weight, size, uncooperative hair, general build, my bloody fingers, my voice. I hate that any progress I’ve made has come to a complete halt. I am simply existing in my dirty apartment, my dead-end job and my self-loathing. How do we fix this? I have the tools. I know what I’m supposed to do but struggle on a daily basis to do something about it. And any time I do manage to pull something off, other monsters come and plague my brain, unraveling the progress I made that day. I’m stuck.
I’ve started leaving the house in actual clothes, rather than sweatpants and leggings, in an effort to improve my body image. I wear earrings to work and I accessorize when I go out. While it doesn’t help my fingers, it sometimes does help me…tolerate…myself. Ugh, that word rolls off the tongue like a nasty pill. Are you supposed to tolerate yourself? Or are you supposed to love yourself unconditionally? If you can only tolerate yourself, is that the cap? Is unconditional love now impossible because you’ve set your own limit? I have sex with my clothes on. I count calories and worry about what I put my mouth and how it will affect my hips. I see other people, plus size or not, and am jealous of the effortlessness in which they carry themselves. How they know they’re gorgeous and it doesn’t take the slightest ounce of effort to be that way. They glow with self-confidence while I have shrunk so far into the shadows of self-doubt, I’m not sure I was ever in the light.
Another problem is that I don’t have an outlet for this…jumble of panicked emotion. Any sort of hobby I may have once had has become boring or uninteresting. My days consist of household chores and watching Netflix, or working. That’s all I do. I want to do so much more but I get stuck. The thought of reading a book, or learning how to play the ukulele is thrilling, in theory, but the second there may be some reality to it, I lose interest. Maybe this fear is what’s driving everything. Maybe this deep, unseated fear that I have that things will never be up to expectations is what is causing so much anxiety and intense emotion.
My life will never be what I wanted it to be, so why try to make it something else? Re-frame my future, and things might improve. But I would have to forgive myself for making those egregious mistakes, allow myself to move past them, and embrace the intense dread I feel whenever I start something new. So, you know, no big deal.