*TRIGGER WARNING- body image and self-harm discussion*acinq-launches-lightning-network-android-wallet-eclair

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.

 

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2f240ee700000578-0-image-a-53_1449501705474Okay, I know it’s totally a first-world problem but I need more Internet in my life. My mental health depends on it. I can’t stand not being able to write down what I’m saying for the world to see, even if it’s tucked within the megapixels and nonsense spouting out from every other computer on the face of the Earth. It makes me feel better to post it in the ether and walk away. It’s not on a piece of paper for someone to find, for prying eyes. The impersonal nature of the whole thing is enticing to the point that I’m becoming one of those people. I need the Internet again. I need it more than ever. I’ve been sitting in the library for an indeterminate amount of time, watching my future plans fall to ashes around me and I’m completely helpless to do anything about it. Well, at one point I wasn’t, but now I am. It’s too late. The world is turning and turning and I can’t find enough courage to jump off…or jump back on.

Physically, things are what they are. I’m getting monthly injections, waiting for enough time to pass for my doctor to declare that the spinal cord stimulator is our only option. My other CRPS friend had one put in and has thus had a rash of complications. But I remain undeterred. I need this to make my life semi-normal again. Granted, it won’t fix everything, i.e. the inner turmoil that is my brain, but it will sieve off some of the pressure to conform, to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator. To park in a normal parking spot instead of the handicapped one. And the pain will be over. God, that is what I look forward to the most.

I’m applying for University of Maryland, School of Social Work for the spring semester. Halfway down the application, they ask for three reference letters, none of which can be from family or friends. The problem with this situation? I’ve been so removed from the outside world, even in my academic pursuits that I have literally no one I can contact for these references. One of the professors I did attempt to speak with told me she would be hard-pressed to say anything positive about my work ethic. That’s what I mean when I say I can’t jump back on or jump back off. The world was spinning so damn fast that I lost it, got motion-sick and had to get off. And once I was off, getting back on was seemingly impossible. The hospitals, the medication, all of it threw me so far off the track that once I managed to reassemble a “normal” existence, it was too late. I didn’t make friends, I didn’t establish connections, I didn’t network, dine or have tea with the right people. I didn’t make acknowledgments the way I should have and now my future suffers because of it. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Part of me wants to blame myself; if I hadn’t completely lost my shit, this wouldn’t be an issue. The other part of me blames society as a whole. Why do we create these webs of connections that seemingly establish who we are as human beings? What we experience, how we live, what we do on a daily basis doesn’t matter a single bit. Who you know, how you communicate and your ability to manipulate both of those skills is what gets you through life. That’s how we ended up with George W. Bush as President of the United States. My inner turmoil, any sort of insight into human nature and the darkness that lurks in all of us doesn’t matter. What if you’re autistic and lack communication skills? What if you were sexually assaulted as a child and have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as an adult? What if you fought overseas and return to find your spouse in bed with another person? None of that matters if you can’t speak to your professors, if you can’t imagine yourself as a sexual creature or if you never developed a trade skill. That’s all your fault, according to society. The strength it took to survive those things, the courage, the determination, the struggle of bearing such a heavy burden doesn’t matter if you don’t have a white picket-fence, a dog, kids and are married. The American dream isn’t a dream at all. It’s a spoon-fed nightmare that all of us have been conditioned to want to experience. Despite the hoards of people that flock to fandoms, to conventions, to fetish chat rooms and underground parties themed with coffins and fangs, all of those people are considered abnormal. They’re considered to be the fringe of society. But if everyone is on the fringe, doesn’t that mean we’re all the majority? Doesn’t that push everyone closer, ever inward until the gap is closed and we are all united as a single group of people. Though we may look different, sound different, act different, we’re all the same. It’s like penguins. When the blizzards and snow storms hit the ice caps, adult emperor penguins, waiting for their mates to return from fishing, and waiting for the eggs nestled on their feet to hatch, huddle together in a huge mass of slick feathers. They rotate constantly, making sure that anyone getting hit with the impossibly cold winds on the outer edge of the cluster, experience the radiating warmth in the center. Everyone is cycled through the heat to make sure they all survive the storm, that their eggs survive and their mates return to happy spouses and little chicks covered in down. Why can’t we be like penguins? Why can’t we just wrap each other up and love each other? Instead, I am stuck questioning my very existence because I didn’t establish enough connections in college to receive recommendation letters from anyone. People suck.

“…Disappointment & Heartache Is All Part Of…Growing Up…”

I’m freaking out. That seems to be all I do lately. Sitting in Starbucks while Brendan is in his interview for the latest notch on the corporate ladder that is the massage world. The coffee I’m drinking probably isn’t helping my nerves (I’ve had 2 cups today) but I wanted some so badly that the bags under my eyes basically disappeared at the mere thought of enjoying a cup. But, back to why I’m freaking out.

I designed an Excel sheet for my church when I was still in high school for my Girl Scout Gold Award. They’d been using this archaic cataloging system for the food pantry they run. Since the Gold Award project has to be something that benefits the community, I took the 1500+ index cards with dates on them dating back into the 90’s and input them one by one into a spreadsheet. It took me about 2 months with hours of dedication to the task. Well, now that it’s been in use for years, I can step back and examine the problems with the initial system. Firstly, the computer we bought at the time (through donations, I do believe, because you aren’t allowed to fund your project. That’s part of the process) is starting to quit on us, though it isn’t used for anything else. I took it home one night to connect to the Internet and update it, to give you an idea of how old this is, and it took nearly 3 hours for the whole thing to complete. Ridiculous, right? I went to the people with power and convinced them that it was time for an upgrade. We did nicely with an HP. I chose the one with the number pad built in since we spend a lot of time inputting dates and phone numbers. Anyway, I wanted to move on from the Excel spreadsheet because it was almost as archaic as the computer, and frankly, did not meet our design needs. People were deleting things and saving them in the wrong files. This group of individuals is on the older side, leaving me the sole person with enough computer knowledge to navigate any program safely, even if it is as simple as Excel. Well, now, my computer savvy is failing me and this group of people is completely dependent on my knowledge to get this mess done. Since Microsoft likes to charge you a gazillion times for each program, we had to pay extra for Access, a database program I was repeatedly reassured would serve our needs best. The problem is, Access is a new program (as far as I know. How about we just say it’s new to me?) and I have absolutely no clue how to use it. I’m stuck in this position of knowing what the hell I’m doing in front of them and completely losing it when I’m working on the forms. I took the measly form I did have in for a test run and it was a complete disaster, not only because we have new paperwork we have to fill out, but also because one of the volunteers was complaining in my ear the entire hour about problems with this form. I tried to explain that this was a beta-test run, that I was still working out the kinks and had even volunteered my time for every opening for the rest of the month, but she wasn’t listening. I feel like a creditor that is secretly broke. Or like someone that owes a loan shark a lot of money and has to repeatedly reassure the loan shark that “I have the money, I swear. I’ll get you your money!”

Let’s see, why else am I panicking? Oh yea, Brendan’s car. He spent a lot of time and effort getting it painted, modified and decal-ed the way he wanted it. It looks good, although a bit flashy for something I would drive. He had fun doing it and everything but now the engine has completely failed. Failed as in it has to be completely replaced. He needs a totally new engine before his car will rule the road again. I mean, I wouldn’t be waiting for him if his car hadn’t died in the driveway when he tried to leave this morning. Now, it may seem a bit first-world to complain about not having two cars. With patience, we can make it work. Waiting for each other, splitting gas costs, stuff like that, is perfectly manageable. That’s not what I’m worried about though. He decided to replace the engine. Now, someone explained how much a new engine would cost and that he could buy a “used” engine for less money but it would already have miles on it. Great! He doesn’t have to give up his car! Except that, paying his regular bills on top of paying to replace this sucker is going to put him in the red. Like, way more than either of us is comfortable. And I’m not good financially but paying my own bills and fixing my own car has temporarily put me in the red as well. The house has had several showings this week, more than I ever thought would happen, but at this rate, we’ll be moving back in with our parents. I mean, last week, I literally burst into snotty, sobbing tears at the mere thought of paying for independent living. It makes me shake. And I can’t completely get mad at Brendan. It’s not his fault the engine puckered out. And it’s not his fault I spend my money the way I do. I mean, it’s mine. But this is getting harder way before I ever thought it would. Being an adult sucks.

Alright, let’s break this shit down really quick. I’ve been trying to pump out a blog entry for the past 2 weeks and have been unsuccessful (obviously) every single time. Therefore, I’m going to sit here and do this. Problems of the past 2 weeks that may be worth mentioning…hmm, might have to think of a way to narrow that one down. I guess we’ll start with…

Medications: I’m supposed to be on lithium (a low dose, for “maintenance”, my psychiatrist calls it) and Prozac for the depression. That’s all I take. It’s not a lot to remember. And yet somehow, I have managed not to take any of it for 2 weeks. Instead, I’ve happily been consuming Klonopin (I was prescribed that for something else and then started taking it for sleep), and liquor. Doesn’t matter what kind, doesn’t matter what it’s mixed with. I’m not a big drinker, I really only do it socially and when there is someone sober to drive. I know it’s a slippery slope with me and anything that could be cause for addiction. Alcohol is no different. I don’t have any clinically defined addicts in my family but I know my personality well enough to know that once I get hooked on something, it’s not going to stop. That’s why I binge eat certain foods for months at a time, or only watch particular TV shows until I run out of episodes. I go through withdrawal, even in those circumstances. This week was no different. I knew I was drinking too much. I would wake up and still be woozy from the drugs and the alcohol (because I was consuming them both at the same time, safe or not). I would think about going home from whatever I was out doing and drinking myself to sleep. It was my escape, it’s always been my escape, and this time was no different.

Them: I don’t know how else to refer to them, except as Them. It’s a collection of everyone imaginary that I wish was in my life but aren’t because they aren’t real. Leon, my imaginary friend from childhood. She’s my twin except that she’s the ideal of what I want to be: skinny, thick-flowing hair, confident, brave and magnetic. Then, I’ve got 2 empty slots that sort of fill up with anyone that I’m currently thinking about at the time. This week, because They made an appearance…sort of, was Sherlock. Brendan and I have been watching the BBC version with Benedict Cumberbatch and it’s wildly fantastic (I’ve seen it before but he hasn’t so we had to rewatch the whole thing, but totally worth it). Alright, let me break the scenario down for you. I was driving home from a visit with a girl I know from Girl Scouts (and social media) and haven’t seen in years and years. It was nice, fun, awkwardly polite. On the drive back to the farm though, my brain went all fuzzy. I don’t know if it’s from the previously mentioned issue, or if it’s the lack of medication, or a combination of both, but Leon was visible in my mind’s eye, lounging in the passenger seat, looking incredibly relaxed and at ease with herself and all the worries going on in my head. I could imagine her voice, telling me to relax, to ease up off the reins and have a little fun. She was ridiculously couth about the entire thing. Then, in the backseat, my mind’s eye saw Sherlock, sitting there, calmly cloaked in his winter coat and scarf, playing the devil’s advocate. He and Leon were having a cool, relaxed argument, the way two people that don’t have a personal interest in the matter do. The three of us went back and forth, silently, calmly and before I knew it I was pulling into the driveway of the house, trying to decide who was right in the situation. And for Leon to argue with Sherlock Holmes is mightily impressive, even if neither of them are real. While the conversation made me feel better, the actual thought of Them being there, and giving me comfort is sort of weird. Like, I can’t confide in anyone else right now so I have to make up my social circle. That’s a very strange concept. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, per se, because I’m not actually seeing physical beings but still…I’m 25 years old with imaginary friends. Which leads me into my next topic of conversation….why I need imaginary friends.

Relationship: Brendan and I are sort of in a rocky place. But literally, it’s all in my head. I’m holding things back, I’m not expressing myself to him the way I should be and it starts this snowball effect. I block him out and slam all the doors to myself emotionally. Then, he does the same thing in retaliation, or return, I don’t really know. And it continues like that until we’re pissed at each other for no particular reason. Everything he does upsets me, down to the way he breathes when he’s sleeping. And some part of my brain knows that most of this is the result of being off my medication. I know that the dips in my emotions, the inexplicable anger is the bipolar but it still bothers me. Like, what if that’s how I really feel underneath it all? I don’t think I do but that doesn’t stop the thought from popping up and buzzing in my ear like some annoying bee. And by his breaking point, Brendan will tell me that he doesn’t think he’s ready to handle all of my emotions, that he isn’t sure he knew what he was signed up for when he started dating me (though I told him straight out the gate). It stings when he says that because it makes me feel defective. It makes me feel like if he can’t love me, and I know he does, then who the hell could? If someone who was so willing to give me leeway when it comes to my emotions and crazy attitudes, can’t handle it, what the hell am I going to do if he leaves me? Conversely, I’m so pissed off and low when I stop taking the medications that I don’t care. I convince myself that things would be better off without him here, that I should take the advantage of us having to move to break out on my own. I want to blame all of my problems on him. My financial situation, my living situation, stuff like that all magically seems to be his fault, even when it really isn’t.

It’s easier to live in this world with Them. It’s easier to think that someone, anyone is on my side and completely and utterly understands me in every situation, in every standing and in every problem. Putting my own face over that is not possible though. Trying to explain to the emotional side of my brain that They are me, that Their voices are my own, just divided and situated into different faces and bodies, doesn’t work. If I say that sort of thing to myself, it means nothing. If They say it to me, it’s exactly what I need to hear. It’s the type of support I need to boost my mood enough to get me through the day, or the drive, or whatever I’m trying to get through. Coping skills should be involved somewhere but I feel like this is it. This is my only option and I’m left with nothing else. I’m left to invent friends since I have very few on my own and encourage myself through their words and mouth. It’s pathetic and completely ridiculous.

In other news, I graduated. I’m moving. I’m applying for jobs and organized to apply for the spring semester at University of Maryland. That’s all that’s happened recently. Besides the whole, hearing-voices-sort-of thing. But hey, what’s a girl to do?

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I’ve got a million things to do. I’ve already done a million things this morning. And I’m pretty sure my hair is falling out as a result. I don’t even know where to begin. My emotions have been all over the place, from elated to down right depressed. Brendan is suffering as a result. I’m suffering as a result. Like…can you tell that my brain is scattered to the farthest reaches of the wind?

Graduation: I’m trying to graduate this semester. I found out I only need one credit before I continue on my pathway to higher education but, as there are less than 6 weeks left in the semester, acquiring that last credit seems nearly impossible. After spending a day running around from different ends of campus, I found someone willing to adopt me into their independent study course, normally worth 3 credits but since it’s so late would actually amount to 1 credit. Great, right? No. Trying to cram even 1 credit’s worth of work into a 6-week period has turned into pure madness. Graduation is in May, and I have yet to purchase anything for it, let alone actually start the paper that I’m supposed to write. I’ve done a teensy bit of research but between writing a paper for an incomplete course last semester and trying to keep up with the class that I’m legitimately taking, I’m swamped. I even missed a meeting with the professor supervising me this morning while trying to do every other thing I had to do. Ugh. My mom wants me to graduate this semester, I want to graduate this semester, but trying to do all of this in such a short time sort of kills the vibe of graduation. It’s supposed to be a fun, exciting time and just like high school, this is turning into a desperate race to the finish line so I don’t have to deal with it anymore. Just like everything else in life. That’s sort of how I roll but I don’t like it. That’s the actual, underlying problem. I am so short-sighted that I end up doing everything like this. Sloppy and half-assed. I’m sick of it. I’m ashamed of my accomplishments because they aren’t accomplishments. They’re throwing myself across the finish line, despite having quit a million times before. It’s not overcoming an obstacle, it’s not accomplishing a goal, it’s being in the right place at the wrong time. I hate it. And I hate myself for doing it. Every. Single. Time.

Sparks: I’m currently residing in my grandmother’s house, that was previously occupied by a family for nearly 12 years. The patriarch of the family was an independent contractor who worked on estates and accumulated a lot of stuff through his job. Cabinets nobody wanted, furniture that didn’t have a home, that sort of thing. And it accumulated in the house. As we go through and get it ready to sell (it was built in the 30s so his lack of care and the fact that it’s old as dirt does not help anything), we find problem after problem. And most of it can’t be fixed cheaply. Painting, holes in the drywall, problems with the furnace, the (practically) toxic water in the well, it’s all horrible. It’s depressing since it’s my grandmother’s house. It’s got sentimental value, especially for my mom. Her siblings share ownership but don’t seem to share te same attachment to the property that she does. They haven’t helped a lick with the entire thing. It’s upsetting to hear her complain and stress about the house, being powerless to d anything. And then I keep finding problems. My mom is digging herself into this hole with this house and all I’m doing is reaping more dirt on her. It’s hard. So hard.

Body: I lost nearly 50 pounds over the course of the last year. I worked hard, ate clean and felt so empowered in my skin. There were still improvements to be made but it was the happiest I’d ever been with my weight. Well, guess what? I’ve gained it all back. I watch My 600-lb. Life and hate myself because I can relate to what the people are saying. I can understand eating as a stress-relief, eating to disappear, eating to make people stop looking at you, to hide behind food. I hate myself, even for typing it. It’s disgusting. And I’ve started picking my fingers again. My thumbs are bloody and scabbed, and every little piece of skin that tries to grow over gets pulled off. I get stuck, picking and pulling rather than doing homework or completing the task in front of me. I leave a trail of little white flecks behind me because I’m pulling so much skin off. It’s horrible. And as a result of all this hate, I want to cry. I want to cut. I want to express the hatred I have. But rather than change my habits, rather than fix things the way I did before, I’m taking it out on my corporeal form. I’m blaming my body for what I’ve done and it’s paying the price.

I can’t explain what else is going on because there isn’t a direct reason for it. Like I said, my emotions are all over the place. I feel stretched too thin and squished all at the same time. I’ve got lots of homework to do, lots of responsibilities that aren’t really my problem to deal with and finding a way to swim through it all.