*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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This is certainly a trying time. Mentally ill or not, the world seems to have turned on its head and retreated into one of the darkest times in human history. While rife with the triumph of the human spirit, it wasn’t always that way and we have to face that as a nation, as a world. But we’ll come back to the inner turmoils that may rip the world to shreds in our lifetime. I want to talk about something else.

I’m a psychology major. I hope to get into a school in Pennsylvania to get my Master’s so I can become a counselor. I’ve been on this side of the trench and want to let people know that there are ways out. There are ways to climb through the mud to get to the other side and enjoy life. It might not be the life you’d thought you would have (mine certainly isn’t) but I’m here. Self-care is a very important aspect of all of this; it’s the only buffer we have that keeps us from other people’s demons. But what are you supposed to do if the demons are already inside?

I have Bipolar Disorder and I struggle more with obsessive, irritable mania than depression. I also have Borderline Personality Disorder so the minor discrepancies between my actual personality and the illness are quite hard to detect, even for me. I’m a cynical person so finding the irritability as a symptom takes some skill. My psychiatrist recently classified my illness as “treatment resistant,” meaning there might be something wrong with the way my brain uses amino acids. I may take them in and store them (thanks to the medication I’m on) but I don’t necessarily use the stores I have. Which explains the severe dips I’ve been experiencing. While it’s kind of comforting to know it might be a physiological problem, and not some subconscious resistance, I still have to handle the symptoms. The people in my life still have to deal with the negativity, the irritability and the depressed thoughts and actions that I have. Being a psychology major, I can easily analyze and diagnose others. I have an unbiased perspective (usually) of their behavior and actions and can make an assessment. With myself, I’m too personally invested. I am like a child that needs constant supervision. That’s what that boils down to. I have to be constantly monitored with everything related to my treatment plan. If I’m not, I implode.

Right now, I’m living with my boyfriend. He is, by no means, an expert on mental illness. He tries his hardest to understand and empathize with what I go through but there’s only so much empathy can do. My symptoms definitely affect my relationship, usually in a negative way. It’s impossible to constantly explain what I’m thinking or what’s going through my brain when I struggle to grip reality myself. How could I possibly explain it to someone else? Explain that small, inconsequential thoughts fly through my mind at a million miles an hour and turn into these existential crises, each one greater and harsher than the last. They all end horribly and I can’t ever recenter the image. I can’t focus on the now and what I’m specifically doing. Suddenly, I’m a speck of dust in the cosmos that has no control over what happens. None of us do. Alright, it feels like I’m getting a little too far off the track. Let’s regroup.

When I’m having problems, I know what I’m supposed to do. Exercise, eat (my typical inclination when depressed is to restrict), leave the bedroom, socialize, be in nature, all of that. I know that’s what I’m supposed to do but it never works. Amongst the grand thoughts of our purpose in this universe, I become glued to my thoughts. I physically can’t break the cycle until someone breaks it for me. Today, it was Brendan coming home from work. I’d been wrapped up in the blankets, with my dog, watching Criminal Minds. Usually, these types of shows give me emotional excitement. It’s not the crimes that gets my blood rushing, it’s usually the relationships on the show that I admire. I want cohesion like that. Anyway, unemotionally watching an episode (spoiler alert) where a girl gets her head bashed in by her best friends, Brendan walks in the door. He’s flustered from work and muttering his grievances to himself. Suddenly, I’m caught! The realization that so much time has passed without me doing a damn thing, with me drowning in my thoughts, I jumped to my feet and threw myself in the shower. Wandering around for another hour or so, I finally left and attempted to do one task today. Just one. Get my laptop to the shop. And guess what? Through various dawdling, it wasn’t done. I missed my appointment. I’m actually sitting in the library now, thinking I should get some books or a movie or two to occupy my time instead of sitting on my ass when I get home. I have essays to write but the thought is too overwhelming. Plus, in my current state, I don’t think I would have anything positive to say about myself.

It just seems so ridiculous that I know the treatments, I know the science behind them, I know how this system runs and yet, I fall into the same trap, over and over again. I’m an eternal child that will always need someone to make sure she’s doing what she’s supposed to. I had two major fears when I was first hospitalized for this: that others would find out (it has served as my ultimate shame since) and that I would get stuck in this pattern. Others did find out, usually within my control so it wasn’t so horrible, but getting stuck was not in my control. And I’m definitely stuck. The parts of my brain that hold the should do information can’t connect to the actually do information. Like, I know I need to take my medications and keep my appointments on a regular basis. So what do I do? Stop taking my medications completely and miss two appointments in a row. That makes no sense. I had to download several apps to remember to take my medications and I still struggle with it. It’s shameful. I already feel like I’m living life the wrong way (we’ve talked about that before). To add the shame of needing a babysitter, to make sure I’m taking care of myself is so, so shameful. I can’t even think about it right now. I’m logging off to regroup.

I had therapy today. I wanted it to be meaningful, as some of my latest sessions have simply been voicing my complaints about daily life: the droll and dribble of work, my home life with Brendan, paying bills, etc. This session was certainly meaningful but not quite in the way I’d hoped. I follow someone on Instagram (I know, stories that start with social media never end well) that was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. They disagree with their diagnosis. Watching this person everyday has been like staring into a very clear mirror. As they explain the inner mechanisms of their mind, I can hear my own thoughts, my own words spilling out of their mouth. It’s completely terrifying. I am forcing myself to watch their story, to feel what they’re feeling because in truth, what I do is simply mask. I slide into this character that I think everyone wants me to be, but it’s not who I am. The truth is, I don’t know who I am. When I was first starting recovery, that was always a big question for me. Who are you, as an individual? What are your interests? I could never answer that question, and I still can’t. Borderlines usually describe feelings of emptiness and boredom. That’s exactly what my entire life is. Any semblance of pure enjoyment I got out of things was sucked out of me at a young age. I sort of think that’s why I can’t remember 99% of my childhood. I’ve blanked it out to make more space for anything else people might need me to be. I’m a hollow husk of an individual, waiting for someone to come along and suggest a new obsession. When I first starting working again, that was it. I poured all of my energy and time into my job. When I become friends with someone, I pour myself into a mold of that individual. I like what they like, I dislike what they dislike. I know all about the movies they enjoy, I’ve been to the same places, even if none of it is true, until they stick around. Once they’re stuck, the lie is forced to continue until a different husk comes along for me to mold myself against. I’m a pod person. The worst thing about it too, is that when I’m alone, as I am right now, there is no one to mold myself to. That’s why my free time is spent doing mindless activities like cleaning, or sleeping. It takes the reality away. I don’t want to know that I’m just the sum of an endless string of traits that are not my own. Being an individual is so important to me because I have no sense of self-identity. Most of the time, what comes out of my mouth when I’m talking to someone is a lie. Trying to explain to people that I can’t enjoy certain things because it will send my brain into a spiral of existentialism that I may never come back from is very difficult. I have to adapt, quickly and on the spot, and confirm that I know what they’re talking about. I’m the mysterious world traveler that has experienced everything and anything, because if I’m not, they’ll know that I’m a rock. And we don’t want that. That leads me to wonder if my relationship with Brendan is the only genuine one I have? And if it is, why is he still here? What makes him want to stick around with this Ditto of a girlfriend, that is so fake and cold? And he knows that. He’s called me out on it. He’s told me the absorption/regurgitation of facts picked selectively from conversations won’t work on him. He knows when I’m lying. I know when I’m lying and those obsessive thoughts, the worry behind the exposure is so terrifying it’s almost crippling. How do I convert from pod person to actual person? Is that even possible? Am I going to have to sit on the sidelines of social interaction forever, because you can’t retrain a person’s personality to understand the dynamics of friendship? This is why I think about death so much. Before, admittedly, I was depressed and wanted to die to end the pain I was feeling. A lot of the time though, the thought of death is sort of relaxing, as weird as that sounds. Almost like, I’m tired of being who I am and death would provide me the exit I need. It almost seems like the only escape. Sitting on the sidelines can be torturous, especially because life is a full-contact sport. Death is the only sport I’ll be able to fully participate in. My brain will finally stop. I will finally experience quiet, calm and the nothingness I feel. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suicidal. My brain is like a beehive, constantly teeming with thoughts, urges and insatiable questioning. My body is the tree, holding the beehive. It’s completely independent of the beehive but if it falls, so do the bees. While my body may be young and semi-functional, my mind is ancient, heavy and exhausted. Death seems to be the only reprieve to that. Scary, but true.

**TRIGGER WARNING**

I’m being used as a pillow by Brendan, which I don’t really mind. We’re all (we, as in Poco, Czar and Brendan) cuddled up and ready for bed but only the animals are sleeping. I’m wide awake, with my mind racing at about 10 lightyears a minute. It’s impossible to get anything out coherently but I’ll try my best. It has been quite a while since I last blogged and a lot has happened. We moved into our new apartment, a swanky building with rude leasing managers in the city. I love the neighborhood and I’m quite proud of us for achieving such a nice residence. However, maintaining this residence has pushed me almost to the edge of sanity. I work nights now so I don’t want to accomplish much during the day. It’s in an effort to reserve my energy and limit the pain aftershock after work but it also means that I accomplish literally nothing. The bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, all of it is just scrambled with stuff and lacking any organization. We’ve been here since November and the only real proof that we’ve made any kind of effort was when Brendan put the coffee table together, assembled the lamps, and mounted a mail holder thingy per my request by the door. It’s frustrating. My mom maintained a very clean house and after Sparks, which needed 24/7 maintenance and cleaning (something my stay-at-home grandmother was more than willing to provide!), I thought I would be better at maintaining this space. But I’m not. And it’s definitely throwing off my chi. Speaking of work, it pretty much sucks. I come in everyday and I’m constantly thrown off track by a million missing things. We don’t have what we should for each shift and because I’m the shift leader, I’m the one that has to deal with everything. Plus, my Spanish isn’t all that and when Mama, one of the cooks, gets frustrated she only speaks Spanish. Not being able to communicate is much more frustrated than not having things. Because it limits my ability to fix the problem. I hate it. My pain and depression are also on another. I’m stuck in this limbo of insurance approval for the spinal cord stimulator trial. My doctor is willing to work through the process but I’m stuck waiting for it, waiting for approval for something that means I won’t have to be on opioids, or treated with drug therapy long term. Really, the only logical decision is to approve me but insurance companies don’t work like that. They don’t always do the logical thing and they are definitely not interested in providing patients with the care they need. That’s what the woe of the world has become. It has become a devastating mess of not caring for thy fellow man, and treating everyone like shit so you can get higher up in the chain. Alright, see, this is where my depression becomes a problem…

Last night, I was watching a video about the death of Emmett Till (I will not go into detail here, but please, please, please Google his name if you don’t know who this is! Warning! There are GRAPHIC pictures in the search results). Afterwards, I became so overwhelmed with the problems and circumstances of the world that I wanted to do nothing more than throw a blanket over my head and cry. And that’s exactly what I did. My heart was swollen with pain for what the United States has become, for the racial struggles so many Americans are facing, the poor, the hungry, the refugees being refused asylum in every part of the globe. Tears brimmed my eyes and spilled over. I couldn’t take the hand squeezing my heart, manically laughing and watching me struggle in pain. Even now, as I type this, I want to cry for the horrible, horrible things that are happening in this world right now. And last night, the only reasonable solution was the Cave of Sadness (that’s what my blanket fort/escape has been dubbed under these circumstances). The Cave of Sadness did not help as much as I would have liked, even while searching for pictures of baby goats, dachshunds and owls on Pinterest. Coping skills, right? Well, it wasn’t working. I was playing with my cat earlier, a frequent source of my contentedness, with his purring and passive-aggressive nature, and he scratched my wrist. We were playing, it didn’t hurt, and I’m used to his claws but he scratched me horizontally across my wrist. It blends in perfectly well with my scars and makes me want to cut so f***ing bad (sometimes, bleeping a curse word has more effect than actually saying it). This crushing, overwhelming….betrayal. I feel like I’ve been betrayed by my fellow man. And I know I constantly talk about my hatred for the human race but I think what makes all of this more intense is the fact that I fundamentally don’t hate the human race. Humans, as individuals are not evil. They may not always make decisions in the name of what is good, but they are not fundamentally evil. And knowing that someone could hurt another human being in such a horrible and radically bad way is literally, physically painful to me. My chest hurts and my eyes are pressed with tears, my throat closes and I feel as though all the light in this world has suddenly died all at once. We are left in this piercing blackness, holding closely to the ones we love, linking hands and freezing. We can’t move for fear that there is no ground except what is underneath our feet. And in the dark, lurking, stalking and waiting for us to make a mistake, to let go, to sever the connection, is the evil that is slowly ripping the world apart. We cannot fathom the deepness that is rooted in this evil but we know, we inherently know, that it will systematically destroy the core at which we are all connected. And once that is destroyed, none of us will ever recover. We will never be the same. And that is horrible. There is no word for that deep sadness, at least not to my knowledge, and we need one. Work is pressing on the back of my head, while the world’s woes are slowly crushing me. Rather than futilely pushing the rock back up the hill, only to have it roll down, I’ve been pushing and pushing but am being run over like a bug. I am Indiana Jones, constantly running from the large boulder that is meant to end my life, rather than achieving splendor in the successful moment the boulder makes it up the hill. It sucks. There was a Greek dude (I know I reference the Greeks in this blog, a lot, but they were on to something!) that had his intestines eaten by an eagle and as soon as the eagle was finished, rather than being granted the mercy of death, his intestines grow back and he is subjected to the eagle’s beak again and again. That’s who I am right now. Helpless to stop anything, helpless to end the world’s tumultuous turning, but able to feel it all. Empathy can be a blessing, but when the world is so utterly….sad, empathy is the enemy. I don’t know how long I can stand this and I hate that I have to.

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.