Monthly Archives: November 2011

Diagnoses

I have way too much to say about this topic, so much that I don’t know where to begin.

Let’s start with what I’ve been diagnosed with then: depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

I’ve been told that I “probably” have a personality disorder, but the psychiatrist wouldn’t go beyond that. This is because I take things “way too personally, more personally than they were meant.”(I don’t think my behavior during the incident when he told me that was too unreasonable. I have a hard time opening up and knowing how to start talking. At one appointment, he asked me to start describing things, and I couldn’t and just sat there awkwardly. Basically he reprimanded me, acting all, well, I made extra time for you [which he had] and you’re late and blah blah blah and you won’t even tell me anything. Well, I hadn’t been late, and I objected most vehemently. He was disbelieving and called the front desk to ask them about it, and they said they couldn’t remember when I’d arrived. Ugh. I felt like he was personally attacking me. And this is probably “me taking things too personally. ”  I have done it in other settings, too, but more on that later.)

Sometimes, I suspect that I could have borderline personality disorder. There are some aspects of it that resonate with me. I think my psychiatrist might be rather old school. When I brought up this idea, his reply was essentially, “But people with borderline personality disorder manipulate people. You don’t do that.”

Let’s go through some of the criteria, shall we?

1) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.–Yes, I would say that I can even go so far as self-sabotage in this regard.

2) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.–I can go to feeling very affectionate about someone to feeling betrayed very quickly.

3) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.–I don’t know what this means. If it means that I don’t know who I am (like some angsty teenager, heh), then yes.

4) Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5–Binge eating might fit, as my entry Food as Comfort shows. Occasionally, when I’m most self-loathing, I will drive recklessly.

5) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.–Yes, although it is rather occasional and can even be seldom.

6) Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).–Sort of. I find that these moods stay with me until I act on them.

7) Chronic feelings of emptiness–Indeed.

8 ) Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).–I rarely get angry, but when I do, I can’t control it, and I’m told my anger is disproportionate to the situation. Usually when I get angry, I’ll cry, too.

9) Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms–No delusion, but there is dissociation–See Depersonalization and Despair and Intentionally Dissociating.

Another thing that struck me about borderline personality disorder involves transitional objects. I get attached to stuffed animals, and they make me feel better when I’m sad.

However, I do not display any of these behaviors in an extreme way, and I usually have some degree of self-control. In other words, I work hard to contain the crazy when I’m around others.

I think bipolar disorder has been mostly ruled out because I don’t have manic episodes. However, I do experience something akin to a mixed episode. I’ll have racing thoughts and intense depression at the same time. I’ll feel euphoric earlier in the day and then, two hours later, incredibly depressed. Both times I’ll have racing thoughts . . . I’ll think I’m having a lot of wonderful ideas during the euphoric stage, but then during the depressed stage my thoughts will involve self-hatred, self-punishment, suicide, etc. Usually I’ll reprimand myself for thinking I was having genius thoughts earlier.

As I’ve been told, my issues do stem from a combination of circumstances and genetics. I’ve always been prone to more anxiety than most people, and I still feel that social anxiety is at the root of my problems. But I think the way I experienced life combined with that social anxiety may’ve caused me to develop these other issues I have. Plus, when I was a kid, I was way more serious than everyone else.

Now I’ll say a few more words about anger. This is how my thought process works: I get irritated easily. I can usually ignore it and say, well, we’ve all got quirks. If I feel constantly hurt by someone’s words, I’ll laugh it off and pretend as if it were a joke. Then, there’ll be a tipping point when I explode and I get fiercely angry. This happened when I was on a vacation with a friend once. She kept mentioning how slow I was being, and yes, it was New York and I should’ve been quicker, but I can’t help being slow. I’d go along, and then when we were at the bus station, I suddenly exploded and got angry about all of the remarks, running away and crying. I’d been suppressing my feelings because I knew that this person didn’t feel comfortable with emotions, and then it all came out. I was afraid she would abandon me as a friend after that, but she didn’t. Ironic, huh? The people who I do think will stick with me abandon me, but she didn’t.

I don’t make friends easily, mostly because I’m awkward and socially anxious. Any time someone seems to want to spend time with me, I get excited that I finally have a “friend.” I try to cater to this friend’s wishes, always doing what they want and not objecting when they don’t like my ideas. After all, usually this is the only “friend” I have, and I don’t want to lose them. I’ll start to get irritated by their faults, but I accept them because I know no one’s perfect. I begin to think about all I’m sacrificing for this person, always doing what they want and making time for them. Usually the other person blows me off sometimes, but I’ll be just fine with it. I understand they’re busy. So one day, with the buildup of all of this, I get angry. It can be extreme, and it scares the other person away.  I’m not sure whether I’m intentionally sabotaging a friendship because this sometimes happens when we’re finally getting a bit closer. Or I might be “testing” the person to see if they’ll stick around. I do “test” people (usually they fail), and when I was in psychology in high school, avoidant personality disorder struck a cord because of the “testing” aspect.

I think my social anxiety led to social isolation. Social isolation led to people disliking me, making fun of me, or being indifferent toward me. When I was in middle school, I hated the world for this reason. Then one day I just hated myself. I’m always afraid people are laughing at me behind my back or wishing I would just disappear. My isolation made me depressed. (I actually like most people even though I’m a loner and get nervous around people.)

The only thing that gave me any confidence was success in school. Then when I was in graduate school, my grades became subpar for me. I don’t know if the depression triggered it or if the grades triggered the depression. I suddenly felt this mental block, and I knew I could do better, but it was like I couldn’t access the part of my brain I needed. Or maybe I just didn’t have what it takes to succeed and I like to blame the mental block.

One more thing I think is significant: When I was a kid, I wanted to know why the rules were the rules. If I were being punished, I would want to know the purpose of the rule I’d broken. I refused to obey a rule unless I could see the logic behind it. When I asked for the logic behind it, I genuinely wanted to know. But my parents thought I was being a smart-aleck and yelled at me. According to what I’ve been told by professionals, apparently this is not a normal thing for children to do. So they say that my parents had this smart child they didn’t  know how to treat appropriately.

A smart and sensitive child. I am way too sensitive. I was repeatedly reminded of this fact as I was growing up.

And for some reason I always felt guilty when I was a kid, and I always do still. I keep being afraid that I’ll get in trouble any minute now.

So, this post is a mess, and I’ve already babbled enough. Did I even say anything about diagnoses? Hmm.

Basically, the thing is that I apparently have prominent symptoms of multiple disorders, yet I don’t have enough symptoms of any one disorder to be categorized as having that disorder. Sometimes, I’m afraid this means I don’t have a real problem and am being melodramatic . . . but the professionals do tend to agree that I have issues; they just aren’t categorizable.

My therapist once told me that diagnoses were nonsense. (Though she used a different word, ha.) They’re just tools to try to help the professionals know how to deal with people. No one really fits neatly into any of the categories.

At any rate, I certainly don’t.

9 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

Food as Comfort

This topic has been on my mind for the past couple of days, and at the risk of making myself a laughingstock, I’ll jot down a few thoughts about it.

My weight is a touchy issue for me. I am a bit overweight, and I’ll admit it here despite my qualms. (I’m afraid that anyone who doesn’t know me in real life and reads that sentence will run away in disgust.)

My ambivalence about my weight is a long history that I don’t want to talk about in-depth right now. Suffice it to say that I’ve always been criticized for it, which makes me want to shed all of the weight. Then I get defiant and think, why should I do that just to fit in with their standards? If people are going to judge me by my weight, then they’re not people I want to associate with. Then again, since people do judge others by their weight, I’m always afraid that everyone is recoiling from the huge blob they see when I arrive. And I feel that, if I’m a candidate for a job and the other final candidate is thin, they’ll pick the other one because their weight is more “ideal.”

I have tried to exercise and work out, but I don’t get very far. It’s fine for the first few weeks, but then I start to feel disoriented and dizzy and nauseated when I’m working out. I feel so sick that I just give up. I have no idea why that would be so, as I’m still not even pushing myself that hard in that stage.

Anyway, the biggest issue I have concerning weight is that I can overeat when I’m depressed. I have quite a sweet tooth, and if I’m despondent, I’ll indulge it as much as I want. This happened during my “big break.” I’d get the urge to eat fast food or ice cream and allow myself to fulfill that urge by calling it a needed “pick-me-up.” I think I gained some weight during that time. Usually, my weight is stable.

For the past few days, it seems that I can’t stop myself from eating. I’m constantly snacking. And when I’m finally able to convince myself to put the food away, I crave more, and I eventually bring it out again. This pattern continues.

Occasionally, I will have urges to stuff myself with abandon during my most intense bouts of self-loathing. I’ll think, “Might as well, you *expletive*, you’re despicable.” I’ll want to make myself even fatter so that I can substantiate and increase my self-hatred.

After I eat food to comfort myself, I’ll have similar thoughts of self-loathing. I’ll revile myself for not having better self-control. I’ll want to punish myself for being so stupid.

But while it lasts, the period of overeating makes me feel better. It staves off the hollowness and despair.

(This may seem like a lie, but I have been told that I tend to exaggerate my weight . . . though of course people acknowledge that I am somewhat overweight. This seems like a pointless thing to include, but I feel compelled to mention it, so there you go.)

8 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

Intentionally Dissociating

It’s late, and I need to go to sleep soon, but first this lengthy postscript.

This is an addendum to my last post, Depersonalization and Despair. It turns out that I was probably talking about dissociation rather than depersonalization.

Anyway, some of the ideas I’ve seen floating around involve the being debilitating. But what if someone is intentionally dissociating? What does that mean?

I do intentionally dissociate when my anxiety is especially high. For some reason, making phone calls is one of my biggest anxiety triggers. This morning, I called an auto shop to inquire about something, and I had to sit there holding my phone for about ten minutes before I could get the courage to make the call. When I finally did press “call,” I had detached myself–my consciousness–from the act and just plunged in. And I realized that this is a pattern I follow when I find a task particularly daunting.

Intentional dissociation is a way of coping for me. If I disconnect myself from the act, then if something bad happens during that time period, it doesn’t affect me as much as it would if I were fully plugged in to myself.

I know that this is an unhealthy method of coping, but sometimes it’s the only way I can get myself to confront what’s triggering my anxiety.

And of course when dissociation occurs, it’s not always or even usually intentional. Sometimes, like on Wednesday, it happens when I feel like I need full access to myself. In any event, intentional or not, dissociation is always a disorienting experience. One of the weirdest parts, to me at least, involves touching things. Let’s say I’m having a dissociative spell, and I grab a pen. My nerves sense the touch, but I don’t fully experience the touch. I don’t know how else to describe it.

7 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

Depersonalization and Despair

I’ve been incredibly busy this week so far. All I do is go to work and write my NaNoWriMo novel. And yes, I did choose to participate in NaNoWriMo, but it’s a pressure. I can’t tolerate the idea of not meeting a goal. Also, NaNoWriMo forces me to write, and if I want to be a writer I need to, well, write. I write much more seldom than I should because I start freaking out and doubting myself so much that I can think of nothing to write. Anyway, it seems that every time I think I’m finally done with something, another thing pops up.

Don’t mind me if I’m incoherent right now . . . my brain feels woozy. I’m tired. I wish I wasn’t so absent-minded. It gives people the impression that I’m quite dumb even though I’m not.

Anyway, one thing I was thinking about today is depersonalization. I’m not sure if depersonalization requires that you physically feel like you’re watching myself. This is what I experience: I’m still in my own body, but it’s like my consciousness is in the back of my mind. It’s present but not doing anything; I’m on autopilot. I feel detached from everything I do. I am aware that I’m doing things, but it’s this other part of me that’s taken over while I’m . . . not exactly a spectator, just a participant who’s along for the ride. Sort of like reading, in a way. When I read a story, everything about it feels present, and there’s action going on, but I’m not involved in the action. Nevertheless, I’m experiencing the action. Or like being a passenger in a car. You’re not in control, you’re not driving, but you are riding in the car and therefore experiencing the car’s movement.

Is that depersonalization? I don’t know. It seems to be the word that comes closest to defining what I describe.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been feeling a bit forlorn. Like there’s no hope. Despairing. I feel so hollow inside, barren, empty. I keep fearing that I’m doing something wrong and about to get in trouble. I had a dream last night about the dry skin on my face peeling off. I don’t remember what else happened, just that I got in trouble. I think I was told that I would never be able to find a job again because I’d screwed up so much. I don’t know. It’s strange,  how these dreams can impact you. I barely remember what actually happened, but I do remember that I was doomed.

If I’m this out of it with only a part-time job, how will I ever survive in life with a full-time job? Granted, it’s practically like I work full-time when I add up everything I do in the week. But still. I feel that it’s hopeless.

And I feel that I’m making no sense. I just want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world and responsibilities. Freeze time for about a day so that I could do that without having a bunch of work pile up on me in the long run.

Well, I guess I should be off to sleep. I’m almost seeing double as I type. Yikes.

14 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

Anxiety Dissonance

Two events happened to me a little over a week ago:

1) I came home to find a bird in the house.

2) My car broke down on the highway in the middle of a long drive. I got stranded for almost two days while my car was being fixed.

Guess which of these gave me a panic attack?

The answer: #1

It strikes me as odd that I would remain calm and lucid in situation #2, but situation #1 would trigger my anxiety.

Situation #2 is something I always used to fear when I drove long distances on highways. I know nothing about cars, so it seemed a very real possibility that my car would malfunction in the middle of a long drive.

I didn’t have this fear during the trip in which Situation #2 occurred, so it caught me completely by surprise. My thoughts were basically, “That’s odd . . . what’s wrong with my car? Okay, I’ve pulled to the side of the road and turned on my emergency lights, so what should I do now?”

I proceeded to handle the situation in a logical and methodical manner. I did start to get a bit flustered when I couldn’t find something in my glove compartment, but that was relatively minor. For the most part, I handled the situation with aplomb (if I do say so myself).

On the other hand, Situation #1 was much different. This is not the first time I’ve had that occurrence happen to me, but the previous occurrence had been in another residence. I opened a door, and the bird flew right out.

Not this time. I propped open the door and attempted to try to shoo the bird out with a broom. I say “attempted to try” because I never got further than that. I spent half of the time standing outside gathering my courage and staring at the door, hoping that the bird would fly out without my prompting. Every time I went inside, I’d look around for a few minutes and not see it. Then it would pop out of nowhere and freak me out.

The last time I went inside with the broom, my hands were trembling so much that I probably wouldn’t have been able to manipulate it if I’d stumbled upon the bird. I realized I was in no state of mind to handle the situation and went back outside.

Luckily, the bird must’ve flown out in one of the rare instances when I wasn’t watching the door. Because after that, several hours later, it was nowhere to be found.

So, why would I be perfectly fine when one of my worst nightmares comes true but incapacitated by a more minor stressor? After the bird incident, I felt hopeless because I thought, well, if that’s how I handle that situation, how am I ever going to handle a more serious problem?

Turns out that I apparently can handle the serious problems. The smaller ones, not so much.

10 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

A Dilemma

I’m not sure how to follow up my last post. Almost anything I could possibly discuss seems trivial beside its content. Nevertheless, I’ll move forward with an obviously more trivial topic . . . .

I visited my therapist yesterday. As always, I found it somewhat helpful, but I still feel like I’m going around in circles. (And I told her that.) I’m not sure whether it’s possible for me to get out of the circle at all or if I just have to wait a very long time before I’m finally out of the circle.

But anyway. That’s not my dilemma at the moment–the dilemma is a timing matter.

After my appointment yesterday, I scheduled another one for next Friday at 11:10. Normally, I like to schedule my appointments approximately two weeks apart because I start to resent the visits if I’m going more often than that. I know that, in general, making an appointment every other week isn’t as productive as making one every week could be, and it might take me longer to work through my issues with that scheduling strategy. But then I’ve found that going too much also isn’t helpful, as I start to chafe at going.

So, I made this appointment for next Friday because Thanksgiving is in two weeks. My choice was to either make an appointment in a week or wait until December for one, which I didn’t want to do.

Problem is, in my absent-mindedness, I forgot what time I’m supposed to be at work on Friday. (This despite the fact that I hadn’t forgotten what time I was supposed to be at work yesterday, a Friday.) On Fridays, I go to work at 11:00. For some reason, at the time I thought that I went to work at 12:00, so I figured I’d merely be a few minutes late to work.

Alas, my workday begins at 11:00, not 12:00. What should I do? Reschedule the appointment? But then that wouldn’t be until December. Should I tell people at work that I have a doctor’s appointment? I could, but I think my vagueness about the matter would be suspicious. For my first visit to this facility, I actually said that I was going to a doctor’s appointment, and when I got to work, people asked me about it. (Of course, I had just gone to Urgent Care during the weekend before because I’d gotten sick . . . but they didn’t know that I’d had that appointment scheduled well in advance.)

I could tell the person in charge of the calendar that the nature of the appointment is private. But someone else did that once, and people wondered what it was for.

I could tell her the truth and ask her not to disclose the nature of the appointment to everyone. But that still raises the same problem as the strategy above.

The final option: letting people know the truth. Am I ready for that? My mind screams, hell no! Thinking about it triggers a panic attack.

I know that I am overthinking this matter, but I can’t help it. That’s what I do.

So what will I do? I don’t know. Most likely, go ahead and reschedule the appointment.

10 Comments

Filed under Mental Health

Hoo Boy

NaNoWriMo has started! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I refer you to this post.)

I went to a midnight kick-off last night, against my better judgment. I’m not comfortable socializing, but I’m trying to force myself to get out there. Surprisingly, I functioned rather well.

As I began typing, I thought, “hmm, not bad.” I launched into the first scene.

Then I ran out of steam. I moved on to the second scene and soon realized I had no earthly idea what I was writing about nor what was even supposed to go on. I can foresee it now. This doesn’t seem like a plot that’s going anywhere. I feel like I’ll soon be banging my head against a wall.

Still, 1,400 words isn’t bad, I suppose. Considering my brain was somewhat delirious in the middle of the night and everything. I’ve just got 48,600 to go.

Do I even have that many words left in me for this stupid plot?

Perhaps I should’ve chosen another idea.

Gah! What did I get myself into?!

I’ll keep on trucking even if I produce momentous amounts of crap.

There. My initial impressions upon beginning NaNoWriMo. I’m going to include this post in my word count. So there. Two more glaringly ineloquent words. (Nothing wrong with creating neologisms, right?)

7 Comments

Filed under Writing