Thursday, February 20, 2014

Travel anxiety

When I get out of a funk (read as: some kind of depressed state), I often find that I swing back with a near unmanageable amount of energy. I can't call it optimism because optimism seems like something that should be totally good and pleasant. What I experience is nearly as overwhelming as the depression I just recovered from, in that I feel like there are too many oysters in my world and which one should I open first and I don't know why can't it be the future yet? It's probably normal and I am just not used to it because it is just so different from how I felt just 24 hrs prior, when I was half-asleep in this chair and fighting back tears.

Right now, my brain is two weeks away, anxiously packing for our trip to London. What am I going to wear? What coat should I bring? Should I pack an umbrella? How many pairs of shoes? Which ones? What if I forget something? What if customs holds us up? What if our flights get delayed?

Sometimes, my brain shoots farther ahead. When will we be able to afford a house? If it has multiple bedrooms, how many should be guest rooms? Can we have an office? What kind of curtains will I want? Should I try and DIY these things or just buy them? What if I waste money trying to make my own curtains and I don't like them? What if our roof leaks? I know it seems so silly to worry about things that are not a reality for us yet, but it's hard to stop once I get started. These are things I want so badly to worry about! I want to have our own house! I want to have a garage! Maybe a snowblower (if necessary)! So I worry about the potential issues we'll run into because apparently that's the way I process the future. I don't like it, but it's all I know how to do.

Someone reminded me today that it's okay to be excited! The conscious effort required to create a semblance of living in a depressed state is the same one I have to apply to my every day life. Take one step at a time, don't forget to exhale before turning that corner in case someone surprises you, wash your hands, get off that website if it upsets you. Sometimes I feel like it's hard to live when I am constantly reminding myself of how to function as a human being. Nothing feels like habit.

Right now, I am consciously stilling my legs from bouncing, taking deep breaths, blinking slowly. I find it hard to exist in the present. When I am depressed, I mostly worry about the past. When I am anxious, I mostly worry about the future. When I am both, I am miserable, and when I am neither, I feel lost. I try to find things to worry about. I am not sure how to be content.

Time for some hot chocolate.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Journal Prompt: Crossroads

In an effort to get my brain moving, I'll likely be participating in Sometimes Sweet's weekly journal prompts.

This week's prompt:

Everyone has a time in their life they view as a crossroad. Sometimes you can see it as it's happening, and you're able to choose one way or another. Other times you may not realize you're there until you look back, and see what a turning point it really was. This week, write about a time you view as a marker in your life; a distinct place where things changed, for better or worse. 

  • The obvious response is my suicide attempt. At that time, I was determined to turn my life around. I thought I would never self-harm again. I still struggled with self-harm, depression, and anxiety after that event, but it definitely marks a turning point in how I understood my problems. Had I not had the attempt, I don't think I would have gotten the opportunity to reassess my life and my friendships for a long time. I don't think I would have started getting the help I needed, even though it was still many years until I really felt like I was "getting better". It was a start.
  • Meeting Hulky again is probably the biggest crossroads in my life so far. How often do you run into people who get a chance to meet again? We knew each other in high school, but not well. We were just friends of a mutual friend, who sometimes hung out in the vicinity of each other, but barely spoke. I know he made an impact on me, seeing as I had him at my 18th birthday party and went out for IHOP with him and others before he left for Basic. Our paths crossed at an odd time, with both of us in odd places with other relationships in our lives. We were both scared of the risk of rebound. It's been over four years so I'm pretty sure we don't have to be afraid of that anymore. Being with Hulky has enabled me to really fight for myself, both in a social and physical sense. I am fighting hard to understand my health problems, to manage my depression and anxiety, and to stand up for myself in ways that I have never felt anyone else would bother. Without him, I do not think I would be as strong as I am today, though I have a long ways to go still.
  • Getting married is another part of my journey and definitely a crossroads. Marriage is not for everyone, but that doesn't mean they people in relationships don't commit to each other even if they don't go through with the ceremonial/legal parts. For us, marriage was what we wanted to cement our commitment to the future. Taking a literal plunge (into a pool) at the end of our wedding ceremony was a fun symbolic way for me to cross over into a new life with my new family. I didn't think I'd feel that different after the wedding and in many ways I don't. When co-workers ask me "how's married life", I tend to say it's good, it's fine, it's not really any different, but it is. There is a deeper sense of security, knowing that my partner has committed himself to our relationship in front of friends and loved ones. We wear rings to carry a visual reminder of that every day. Had we not gotten married last year... I don't know. Maybe our relationship would still be fine. We'd be planning a wedding and stressing out about it, realizing around now that we would not be able to afford all that we wanted, even if we waited another year. I'm glad we made the decision to go with the surprise wedding.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The healing power of feminine company

I had a few toxic friendships with girls growing. The first most notable was the girl across the street with the vegetarian cats (I hope this makes you cringe). She seemed to have it out for me, though none of us are sure hwy. She went out of her way to try and get me to leave whenever a playdate was arranged for the three of us: my sister, the girl, and me. I remember going home crying on more than one occasion. I remember she doted on my sister a lot. I wonder now why she acted that way, what was missing in her life. I don't think it occurred to me to speak up about how upset this made me at the time.

Later, I had some Muskateer friendships, that is, three people who are all very close and play together and in pairs. It's hard to hang out when there's three of you, esp. when the members of the group are inclined to jealousy. If the other two played without me, I would often get pranked by them. Even when we were all together, I felt like I was picked on. Again, it didn't occur to me that this wasn't okay and I don't think I talked about it much. I just thought I had to try harder for them to like me, to see me as an equal. There were several rocky periods with those two girls, including a time when I shut both of them out. We grew apart over time. Even when I had girl friends and it was just the two of us, I often felt over-shadowed by my playmates. I think I have always been attracted to very passionate personalities. I see this now in most of my friendships and relationships.

In high school, the next Muskateer friendship I had ended when I felt abandoned by one of them during a very difficult time in my life. I attempted suicide and it seemed like she was avoiding me. In retrospect, it was probably difficult for her as well. I'm sure no one has any idea how to help a friend in that kind of situation. I don't think anyone saw it coming. Over the years, I've forgiven her, but I know now that we would have little in common so I don't see a point in trying to reconnect. There's also a lot in that period of my life that I just can't remember anymore, so trying to reminisce would be very difficult for me. It seems unfair to put someone else through that.

This past weekend, some of the "girls" in my group of friends has a Girly Night. Specifically, it was meant to be a Girly As F*ck Girly Night, but it didn't really end up going that route. I had a really nice time just chatting and relaxing with these women, getting to know them better and sharing stories. I felt heard. Most of my life, I've felt like no one listens to me, that I don't know how to speak up in a group, but in this fem group, there was no difficulty. I felt like they cared about what I had to say. It may sound silly, but it was a very healing experience for me.

I have shied away from specific feminine characteristics over the years, being very careful about how I identify myself outwardly as a woman. Pink hair is okay, but pink clothes are not. Painting nails should be done only with dark colors. I tend to wear earthy tones and fear floral patterns. Maybe that will not change, but I feel a little more adventurous now. There are people in my life now who I feel like I can talk to about all of that.

For a long time, I've said that it's easier for me to get along with dudes than chicks. I think I got turned off by a path that had been hurtful for me and went for the easier option. Masculine personalities in our culture are generally defined by being blunt, straight-forward, and simple in many ways. I felt too stupid to try and get to know feminine people, not because femininity is defined by things like trickery and subversive behavior (stereotypes like that really piss me off), but because I was so afraid of getting it wrong and being bullied again. I'm less afraid now. I know I have people in my life that will back me up and I am self-aware enough that I am comfortable cutting off contact with toxic people.