Monthly Archives: January 2012

Oh, *Insert Expletive*

This is going to be quite a sensitive and personal, perhaps even disturbing, post, as the title should indicate. I like responding to comments in a timely manner, but I haven’t done that lately. I’ll get to it when I feel better. Sorry.

I had one of my near-suicidal intense depression attacks yesterday. I’m going to try to tell the psychiatrist about it when I see him tomorrow (unless I chicken out). For now, I’ll try sorting through the trajectory as briefly and impersonally as I can. In public. Which means I probably won’t share everything.

I would say the attack began two weeks ago, though I didn’t know it at the time. I feel like it’s tricked me. Usually it stays around for a week until I feel forced to act on it. Since my mood lasted over a week, I thought it was just a heightened version of my typical melancholy self.

But then I peaked yesterday. In the daytime, I was feeling more anxiety than usual. My jaw has been clenched for over a week, and it was irking me. My neck was also tense and stiff. I decided I needed something to soothe my nerves. I hit on the perfect idea, one that I occasionally pursue: go to the liquor store after work and buy some beer. This is not behavior I normally engage in. I am in no way a frequent consumer of alcohol; I have a beer or a glass of one about once a month.

My anger and depression grew. I could scarcely pay attention to what I was doing. I thought about cutting myself after work. But then I hit on what seemed like such a brilliantly self-destructive idea: I would buy some hard liquor and consume as much of it as I could. This was something I’d never done before, so my brain seized on it as an exciting possibility. I thought that I would drink enough so that I was exceedingly ill and then couldn’t go to work today.

I settled on a 750 mL bottle of rum. I thought about attempting to consume all of its contents, but I didn’t want to die. Some Internet searching and I found that could be lethal, so I settled on drinking merely as much of it as I could.

I skipped dinner and commenced drinking at eight. Firstly, I drank a sizable portion straight. I thought, God, that’s strong, and I wanted to put it away and quit. But then this voice in me taunted me, told me I was a coward if I didn’t finish the contents I’d poured into a cup. I perversely relished the pain as I felt it course through my body. I thought, this is the punishment you deserve, you wretch.

I then decided I should try it when combined with every drink in the kitchen. I didn’t get that far.

In total, I drank about a-fourth to a-third of the bottle, which I would guess is a lot, especially for someone who rarely drinks.

A couple of other things happened, but I’m not going to elaborate on them.

Throughout this whole incident, I dissociated to an extent. I also kept feeling this wooziness in my head.

These weird attacks happen only sporadically, perhaps every three months or so. When these moments happen, I feel like I don’t have control over them. Yet I believe that I do; I just cave in instead of standing my ground. There were several points yesterday when I paused and thought about the idiocy of what I was doing. But if I backed down, I was a coward. Plus, I deserved the punishment.

My mind gets a ludicrous idea and, instead of squashing it like I would as my rational self, I let my brain run with it. My actions feel deliberate, planned, even somewhat precise. There’s a part of me that’s somewhat calm, and there’s another part that laughs derisively as I continue.

This morning, I woke up and threw up. Second part of my plan: have a hangover and be unable to go to work. But I remembered I promised this student I’d be there at a certain time. For one fleeting second, I thought about just going about my day normally, but then I realized that I couldn’t handle going to work quite yet. I called and said I would come in late. Which probably seemed fishy; why wouldn’t I take the whole day off if I were sick?

At work, time ticked by much more slowly than usual. A co-worker asked if I had a cold. Well, I wasn’t sneezing or anything, so I just said, “I don’t know; I just feel sick.” Way to be even more suspicious; I should’ve seized the opportunity for an excuse. I periodically coughed all day to bolster the sickness claim. Actually, I wasn’t faking it; I really did need to cough quite a bit. It still felt disingenuous, though.

For now, I’m just exhausted.

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100 Word Challenge Week 28–Heart’s Bane

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve begun participating in the 100-word writing challenge at Julia’s Place. This week’s challenge is to include the phrase, “you bought her what,” in the story, which means it can be 104 words. Here’s my entry:

Heart’s Bane

Like diamonds, tears fell from Tessa’s eyes. Lena turned to Graham. “What did you do to her?!” she seethed.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought it was the perfect birthday present. A charm bracelet. With horseshoes and–”

“You bought her what?!” Lena exclaimed.

“A charm bracelet. It also had–”

Lena crept closer toward him; he could feel danger radiating from her. “Are you an insensitive imbecile?!”

“What?”

Lena’s eyes widened. “You mean she never told you?”

“Told me what?”

“Her sister was trampled to death by a horse,” she whispered.

“My God,” he breathed. His eyes grew wet. Tessa’s pain seared his heart.

P.S. Here’s a message from Julia’s page:

“Many of you know about the 100 Word Challenge that is run from 100wc.net. It is the original 100 word project and is for children under 16. We desperately need some more folks to comment on these brilliant pieces of work. I would be really grateful if you could ad a note and a link on your blogs to encourage your readers to get involved. Many thanks!”

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It Still Stings

When I encounter reminders of my past life, I feel a pang in my heart for what could’ve been. If only. If only I didn’t have these mental health issues to deal with, I could be living a life that I love.

I’ve just realized that the roots of the big break started sprouting four and a half years ago, yet my mind is still fixated on it as if it happened yesterday. Almost two years have passed since I received my Master’s, yet I’m still pining for that previous life. Over the past couple of years, I’ve become more absent-minded than usual. Half the time my brain still thinks it’s 2008 as if it’s been arrested in that year.

I go on Facebook and see posts from graduate school friends. Lovely nerdy posts that let me know that they are the sort of people I would hang out with if they were here. I haven’t talked to most of them since I left, which probably means I’m a meager remnant in their memory, yet I’m so pathetic that I still think upon them as they were a major part of my life. Probably because I’ve never had many friends in my life and graduate school was the first time I felt a sense of belonging. But then my mental health issues had to interfere, marginalizing me, pulling me out of the circle and once again placing me where I’ve always been: alone.

I think my problems at the moment partially stem from this secret aloneness. I constantly feel like I need to pretend like I have more of a life than I do. I constantly keep a lock on my true self, doing my best to try to fit in on a superficial level. Putting up this front is wearying me. I’m tired of pretending like I’m a perfectly okay, normal human being when I’m not. A part of me wants to admit to co-workers and bosses that these problems exist. I don’t want to discuss my mental health with them, just finally have myself unburdened of the secret and relieved of this subterfuge.

I recognize the state I’ve been in for the past few weeks. It’s when I’m on the verge of doing something incredibly foolish, something I don’t even know is going to happen until it does. And then my life, or at least my relationship with someone else, is ruined.

I fear that my next act of incredible foolishness might be telling one of my bosses about my problems. While I’m at work, I contemplate it. Any time I’m around one of them, I want to explain my issues and whisper, “help me.”

But I cannot make that mistake. My life is actually somewhat decent right now, and I don’t want to ruin it by an admission I’ll later regret, one that could make people doubt my ability to perform my job.

While at work, I occasionally decide to skim some scholarship related to my current vocation. My sorrow about the what-could-have-been old graduate school life intensifies. I remember reading scholarly articles about literature, and though it was a stressful life, I could’ve been passionate about it if not for certain barriers.

I know that I could return to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D if I’m really interested. But after the big break, I experienced a subtle change. Somehow I know that the full-fledged scholarly life is no longer for me. Some people can maintain hobbies while in graduate school, but I cannot. My life becomes consumed with my work, and while I enjoy the work, I’ve learned that I cannot sustain a life where I focus too much on one thing. To function optimally, I need a little variety in my life.

Besides, it’s not just any graduate school experience I want. It’s that one, that exact situation I was in before the mental health issues took over. Those same colleagues at the same level in the same school. If only I could remove my issues and travel back in time to relive it differently.

I know that this speculation is fruitless, but my mind keeps dwelling on the past. It doesn’t seem capable of moving on. Part of it is fear. I have no idea where to go from here, and I haven’t known for two years. I don’t want to have to worry about it. Moving on from the past and looking toward the future would mean that I have to.

The past isn’t what’s important. It can’t be changed. I can only influence the present and the future. But the past still stings. Somehow I need to get used to the stinging wound and put it in the background rather than the foreground.

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More Fool I

If my week continues the way it’s gone during these past two days, it’s going to be an emotionally long ride. There’s nothing unusual going on, so I don’t know why my nerves are so on edge. It started yesterday while I was teaching. I had difficulty getting my voice to work, and I hoped no one would notice. Of course then I had to be absent-minded and lead two of my students to the wrong area when taking them to the location of the workshop I was giving afterward. I zoned out for a minute, and when I realized where I was, I was on the second floor in the wrong building! I told them I’d accidentally gone the wrong way and proceeded to the right location. That probably wasn’t reassuring to them, I thought.

Toward the middle of today, I began to feel intense self-hatred. Because of my social anxiety, I thought, I don’t have the wherewithal to ever achieve more than my current state in life. I have the potential to do so, but my anxiety holds me back. But does my anxiety really hold me back, I wondered, or is that an excuse for laziness? Half the time when I’m at work, I’m filled with panic about how I can’t be there amongst all these people. But is it something my mind circulates merely because I would rather not work ?

I went home during my lunch break and toyed with the thought of cutting. At one point, I pressed the razor to my lip and thought about it. It was just a slight brush, but it hurt, and I abruptly pulled it away. Just a tiny cut, but it bled. An accidental cut. I kept fearing that the bleeding wouldn’t stop before I went back to work, but luckily, it did. The puncture is not even noticeable, and for that I’m relieved. As I tried to staunch the blood, I thought, this is stupid, what if it’s still bleeding when I go to work? How am I going to explain that? The best excuse I could come up with was that I’d somehow cut my lip on the lid of a soda can.

This afternoon, I visited my therapist. One of my biggest fears is that I won’t ever achieve the goal of getting a full-time job. As my therapist pointed out to me, this is how I measure my level of competence. Right now, I have a couple of part-time jobs. The idea of looking for another job frightens me. All that job searching and, worst of all, interviewing, fills me with paralyzing panic. When I got this job, I’d only interviewed for a couple of other ones, so I was lucky. (In that respect at least. Not overall, though. I spent months applying for positions and hearing nothing back.) If I don’t find another job, my other option is to obtain a higher position at my main part-time job. Except I’m inept when it comes to networking. During events where all employees are gathered, I stand around awkwardly and silently. The only people I have conversed with are those who work in my immediate vicinity. I’m afraid that if another opening became available and I applied for it, I’d be turned down because, say, “she’s been here for two years and we don’t even know her. She keeps to herself.” During the session, I told my therapist that my fear about changing the way  I think is that it would mean sugarcoating things to make me feel better about myself. She didn’t sugarcoat her words this time and told me that I was definitely limited and it would be quite difficult for me to engage in all that employment politicking and whatnot. But there’s nothing wrong with doing several jobs to get by, she said.

Perhaps. But there are two aspects that show such a life for me would be weakness. One, because I did well in school, people always thought I would succeed in life. If I don’t, I’m not living up to my full potential or trying hard enough. Two, there are people with worse problems than mine who somehow manage to achieve financial stability in a respectable full-time job. If I don’t do it, again, I’m not trying hard enough.

Not doing these things doesn’t make someone a failure. But if I’m capable of doing them, try, and fall short, then I am a failure.

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30 Days of Truth: Day 6–Death

There are a lot of things I don’t want to happen. I don’t want to be homeless. I don’t want to be completely and utterly alone. I don’t want to be a massive failure. But here’s what I’ve chosen to talk about–death. Since this is obviously a morbid topic, some people might find it upsetting.

Something You Hope You Never Have to Do

My desire isn’t so much that I will never die. I know everything and everyone eventually dies. But there are some aspects of death I don’t want to deal with. Abstractly, I know that I will have to deal with these aspects one day, but I also hope that I never have to. The rules don’t say the hope has to be realistic, do they?

I am not afraid of death so much as what comes afterward. I do believe in God and an afterlife, though since there’s no surefire proof of them, chinks of doubt pierce my faith. What if there’s nothing after death? What if, when we die, we cease to be? My brain can’t comprehend the possibility of nonexistence, but rationally, I know that it is a real one. Any time I dwell on the idea of my existence completely ending, I start to panic. If I will no longer exist when I die, I don’t ever want to die. As someone who deals with depression, I have had serious suicidal thoughts in the past. But even when I’ve almost acted on them, I didn’t want to stop existing; rather, I wanted to pass from this plane of existence to another one. (Or I felt like I deserved to die because I’m a terrible human being, but that’s not apropos to the topic at hand.)

I don’t like the idea that death may come for me at any time. I want to be fully prepared for it when it happens. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, I always like to know about important events in advance. I want to mentally prepare myself and get my affairs in order. But the bigger reason is that I don’t like the idea that my time of death is not within my control. I want to determine it myself. I even want to choose the cause of death. At least, there are a slew of ways in which I don’t want to die.  And states. But I won’t go into detail about that.

So, I guess what I hope I never have to do is die without being prepared for it.

I originally wrote more here, but posting it made me feel uneasy, so I deleted it.

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Thoughts on “The Celebrity”

I’ve started participating in the weekly 100-word challenges for grown-ups, which is run by Julia’s Place. This week’s challenge was to write a critique of someone’s entry from last week. I found this one to be a difficult task, and it took me forever to form a draft I was comfortable with posting. I’ve decided to critique Healthful Momma’s “The Celebrity,” which is a cute and highly enjoyable piece. Without further ado, here’s my contribution:

I must admit that, during the first two sentences, this piece bored me. Why would a celebrity want everyone to notice her cute luggage? I wondered. The unexpected twist at the end clears up readers’ confusion. Of course, the celebrity’s identity made her thought process seem quite natural. This realization stemmed from an adorable conclusion that brought a smile to my face. One wonders if TSA agents gave this passenger special consideration because of her celebrity status. Would she be allowed on the plane amongst regular folks after all? Would her plans endear her to fellow fliers or irritate them?

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Little Debbie Caramel Bars

I have a problem called I get addicted to things way too easily.  And by “things,” I mean certain food items. This seems like such a trivial matter to be seriously concerned about, but I think there’s potential for something catastrophic.

My current addiction is to Little Debbie Caramel Bars. I first bought them a few months ago. I was walking through Wal-Mart and while picking up a few groceries, I happened to spot them in the snack aisle. These caramel bars used to be my favorite snacks when I was a kid, but I hadn’t seen them for sale in years. When I noticed them, I decided that I must buy them and relive my childhood.

I treasured this first box, savoring every one of the eight bars. When I ran out of them, I searched Wal-Mart for some more. There were none to be had. I started making it a point to hunt for them during every trip I took to Wal-Mart. A few weeks went by, but I found nothing. It was odd, I thought, that they only seemed to be available during that one time.

Then, to my surprise, I saw them again one day. The packaging was different (more in line with a fall theme), but the box was unmistakably what I wanted. On my next couple of trips to Wal-Mart, I looked for them, but to no avail. Then once again, there they were! I bought two boxes to take advantage of this serendipitous moment. Not long after that trip, the caramel bars became a regular staple in the Little Debbie snack area.

A holiday occurrence prompted me to muse about my new food addiction. There are two other items that I’ve been addicted to before, and I mean seriously addicted. First were the Icebreaker mints. I got tired of gum, so I bought them one day. I started popping them all the time. I felt wild cravings for the mints and experienced withdrawal if I didn’t indulge. During one summer I had to pinch pennies, so Icebreaker mints had to go. It was difficult at first, but I don’t miss them. To this day, I will not allow myself to buy those mints.

I also was addicted to/am addicted to Rice Krispies Treats. If I buy a box, I will eat at least four a day. I can’t help it. I’ll feel the pull of them and try to resist only to have the craving overpower me. Therefore, I also don’t buy Rice Krispies treats.

But my family does. When I go visit them, I will find myself drawn to the Rice Krispies treats. And this is where the holiday happening comes in.

I am overweight, probably hideously fat. When I see my family, they sometimes feel the need to point this out and admonish me to watch my eating habits. This time, it was my brother. He told me that I should be more careful about what I eat and that he saw how, in the past, I’d devour Rice Krispies Treats. I was embarrassed that someone had noticed, so the fear of further embarrassment kept me away from them during that visit.

One day, I realized that I gravitated toward the Caramel Bars as I had toward the Rice Krispies Treats. I would eat one to four of them a day, and they added up. I resolved not to buy them anymore when I returned home. I finished the box I had, but I didn’t purchase a new one. I was successful for about two weeks. Then yesterday while I was at Wal-Mart, I felt such a persistent craving for them that I directed my steps toward the Little Debbie area and picked up a box. I tried to resist, but shamefully, I caved in.

I ate two caramel bars as soon as I got home. I ate two this morning. That means I’ve already eaten half of the stupid box.

I feel like when I eat one, I can’t just eat one. There’s this little trigger of intense pleasure somewhere in my brain, and to keep that switch on, I will eat more.

My hypothesis is that there’s some chemical explanation for these food addictions. That perhaps these foods will release some chemical that gives me pleasure. Maybe even with the caramel bars, it resonates somewhere in my brain that causes a pleasant childhood experience to repay itself. I have no scientific basis for these theories; they are merely my conjectures based off of what I’ve observed. If someone has an idea about any real science behind the phenomenon, I would love to hear it.

This current food addiction is just one of several reasons why I struggle with my weight. I believe that the main reason for my addiction, though, lies with depression. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve turned to food to soothe me when I’ve been my most depressed. And then there’s the defiance of my family and societal standards. I will think, so what if I’m fat? Why should it matter what I look like? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. I think that I might also use fatness as a shield. I will sometimes feel that no one likes me because they see this grossly humongous person ambling around. I can fall back on that as an excuse for failing at social interaction. The truth is, however, that it’s my social anxiety that makes me socially inept. Still, I sometimes can’t help feeling that more people might approach me if I were more pleasing to the eye. But the failure doesn’t lie with my appearance, it lies with who I am.

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