Monthly Archives: February 2012

30 Days of Truth: Day 10–A Rant

Someone You Need to Let Go, or Wish You Didn’t Know

I can’t think of anyone I need to let go, although my answer might’ve been different even as recently as a year ago. I still strongly wished that I could revive old friendships. But now, I’m fine with the current state of affairs. I don’t know very many people, either, so it’s hard to say that there’s anyone I wish I didn’t know. Sure, there are people that annoy me, but I don’t much mind them. Therefore, I’ve decided to rant about my step-relations. I don’t dislike them, exactly, but they are not the type of people I would associate with on my own. They have traits that irk me.

Firstly, let me put this in context. I’m originally from the South, and my step-relations live there. It’s mostly the stereotypical southern bigotry that angers me. I don’t talk much when I’m around them, though, and they think that my ideas are weird. If I were to try to correct their misconceptions, they’d just brush me off as someone who’s probably spent too much time with stuck-up, intelligent liberals. They seem to think I’m this amazingly intelligent person (well, to some degree, they view my dad and all of his children like that). Therefore, they would probably see me as someone who’s “too smart for my own good.”

Here are some of their stereotypical southern behaviors: They’re racist. They don’t think they are, but they are. The older ones even still use the n-word. They see homosexuality as a sin, and they think that anyone who would support equal rights regardless of sexual orientation must be gay. Obviously. Otherwise, why would they care? Of course, Christianity is the only one true religion. (There’s a contradiction in this attitude, but I’m paranoid and think further explanation would require too many identifying personal characteristics.)

Their belief in traditional gender roles pops up in many conversations. They’re not so extreme that they think women shouldn’t have jobs. But of course all women want to be wives and mothers one day. It’s only natural. If a woman doesn’t want to have children, there’s something wrong with her. Women are supposed to do all the cooking and cleaning. I really need to learn how to cook because I’m a woman. When I become a wife, I’m going to have to cook for my husband. When I reply that he can cook for himself if he really wants that food, or suggest that he can do the cooking for us, they’re mortified. Cooking is women’s work!

And of course men have to be true to their manhood.

And why would anyone want to watch a movie that was made before they were born? Who does that? Well, I enjoy classic films, but I don’t want to dwell on the topic.

I’m pretty sure they’d be ignorant about anything relating to mental health. Obviously, I’m not going to bring that topic up with them.

I don’t see these people that often, just during holidays (excepting my stepmother’s children and their families–but I see them only some time during a visit my own family.) Those holiday gatherings are awkward for my siblings and I because we don’t know the step-relations that well and have nothing in common with them. We sit there for hours, bored. I can tolerate the step-relations and their inanities, and I wouldn’t go so far as to say I wish they weren’t in my life. I see them for only a handful of times a year anyway. On the whole, they’re not bad people, but they can get on my nerves.

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Out of Sorts

For the past few weeks, even before I started taking the Seroquel, I’ve been having vivid dreams. I keep remembering the one I had last night. Some of the details would be confusing to explain. I just know that I was somehow part of a group of thieves, and the cops were after us. We kept hiding behind houses. Finally, one person went to hide in an apartment complex, but the rest of us were caught. Though I’d been one of the masterminds, I broke down when the police started interrogating me and told them everything. I said I’d been coerced into taking part. And at that moment in the dream, that somehow became the truth. I gave them a false name, something like “Victoria Flatley,” but I’m not sure. Whatever it was, the initials were V.F. Somehow the police station was where I work, and we passed by my boss as the cops escorted me to one of the classrooms. His eyes widened, and he was like, why are you under arrest, but we just kept walking. When I gave the cops my V.F. name, they responded with, “That’s not what your boss told us.” They then played a cassette. In it, they asked him to look at a picture of me and tell them my name. And he, not knowing anything of my alias, told them my real name. After that I confessed that it was so.

But I’m skirting the issue here. There’s one particular moment that keeps flashing through my mind. As we walked by my boss, the visual focused on my wrists, which were encased in gleaming handcuffs. But directly under those handcuffs, on each of my wrists, there was quite a sizable scab, as if I’d seriously injured myself. Weird thing was, no one in the dream seemed to find it noteworthy. I don’t know why that image sticks in my mind.

In more news, my nerves have been especially on edge during the past two days. My social anxiety in particular is heightened. I find myself being completely passive and just wanting to hide. I feel as if I can’t handle being around people. Yesterday, all day I felt as if I had barely enough energy to move myself around, but somehow I went through my day normally. At one point, I was giving a workshop, and I suddenly thought I really was about to throw up. Luckily, I didn’t. It wasn’t the social anxiety that made me feel nauseated; I don’t know what it was.

Today, I felt annoyed every time someone approached me. I usually don’t have a problem with tutoring, but I felt so nervous that my thoughts were a jumble. I was annoyed because I was nervous and didn’t want to have to endure the encounter. After work, I went to the therapist and told her about my recent mindset. It wasn’t much help. Then, because we had nothing else to talk about, she mentioned that I once said I felt like I had no one I was close to, which is true. After bringing that up, she asked, “How does that feel?” Such a cliched therapist question. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to answer it, so I said I didn’t want to talk about that. Then I said I thought that was a dumb question. (Well, it is. How would anyone feel?) I felt my usual restraint in that I didn’t want to be rude to her, but I also felt this overwhelming desire to be vicious. But the latter didn’t win, at least not today.

This is where I reveal how I’m a bad person. I’m feeling malicious. I want to hurt someone’s feelings, preferably if that person is content all of the time. I think it’s because I want to bring them down to my level.  That’s wrong; why should I wish that anguish on anybody?

Here’s what it comes down to: I feel out of sorts. Like I’m in a general state of malaise. I feel this frantic desire to harm myself, do something that will put me in a hospital. Yet, it’s really not that bad. I’ve had tons of spells that were much worse than this. But I feel especially frayed. Sometimes I wish that I could go to a psychiatric hospital but somehow keep my job. Occasionally, I feel like I might need hospital time. But my life would be in shambles when I came out. No job, few friends, nothing to start building a life with.

I just want to quit. Quit life. No, I don’t want to die. I just want to quit all of my activities and sit around. I do the minimum to get by, but I want to do less. Funny, isn’t it? I used to have quite the work ethic, but now I want nothing more than to just do nothing.

I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. Today, I had thoughts of making myself ill (i.e., consuming copious amounts of alcohol) or injuring myself in some other way merely to give myself an excuse to stay home tomorrow. But I teach tomorrow, and I don’t want to get the class behind, especially because of something personal like that. I decided I would wait until tomorrow or Thursday to try that. There’s no need to worry; I probably won’t feel like doing it anymore by then.

Do these raging thoughts mean the Seroquel isn’t working very well? They are muted in a way. The thoughts are there, but my mind feels more calm than frantic.

Ultimately, I feel that the world just doesn’t need me. There’s nothing I can do, though, but continue in indefinite stasis.

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Phone Anxiety

My workplace has recently received new phones. I work as a tutor in the study center of a community college. My desk is in the back, but almost everyone else’s spot is at the front.

The department had terribly old phones. They were all located in the front area, so I hardly ever answered them.

The new phones included one for me at my desk. Apparently I was supposed to find this exciting, and it is nice not to have to go borrow a phone from the front when I need to make a phone call.

But I have a problem with answering phones. (Making phone calls is also difficult, but usually I have a little time to prepare myself for that.) Unless my friend or a family member is calling, I get paralyzed with fear. I have to give myself a pep talk to be able to answer the phone. Sometimes, that doesn’t even help. I just let it ring and ring.

Before, I had the perfect excuse for not answering the phone. I wasn’t anywhere near one.

Not anymore. If the phone rings and I notice no one else is grabbing it, I should answer it.

For the past few days, I’ve glanced at the front every time the phone has rung. Usually someone answered right away, but sometimes no one did. I would deliberate about whether I should answer the phone, and it seems just as soon as I’d finally get the courage to do so, someone else would pick it up. I reached out for the phone as if to grab it, but my hand would never actually touch it.

Irrational as it sounds, I can’t help but think that perhaps my coworkers are watching me when the phone rings. Timing how slow I am and concluding that I’m too lazy to bother. Most likely this is not happening at all because if they’re not answering the phone they’re probably busy. But maybe, like me, they’re glancing around to see if anyone else attends to it. Maybe they notice me sitting there doing nothing and not even reaching for the phone.

But it’s not because I’m lazy. It’s worse than that. My anxiety levels rise, and I freeze. The longer the phone rings, the more anxious I get. I even started trembling at one point and ran to the bathroom so that I could simmer down.

There are a few things that never fail to provoke anxiety. Answering the phone is one of them. Even though I logically know that answering the phone is a harmless task, I get incredibly nervous.

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30 Days of Truth: Day 9–Bygone Relationships

There hasn’t been an installment of my 30 Days of Truth in over a week. I suppose it’s time to present part 9. As frequently occurs, this edition will take the form of a list. Apparently, I like to operate methodically.

Someone You Didn’t Want to Let Go, But Just Drifted

In Day 8, I mentioned a few friendships that ended abruptly after an outburst of mine. In other instances, they slowly faded away.

1) I drifted from my high school friends when I went away to college. All of my friends went to different colleges, so everyone moved on and developed new relationships. I thought attending a university where I knew no one might make me come out of my shell. It would be a fresh start where I had no reputation. I could reinvent myself. That didn’t turn out to be the case, but I’m getting off-track here.

At first, my group of high school friends would meet with each other over holidays when we were all in town. But after a while, we began spending school vacations in our college towns or taking trips elsewhere with our college friends. When we did visit our hometown, we were seldom there at the same time.

2) When I was an undergraduate, I visited a couple of forums dedicated to classic films. I became a regular. I enjoyed discussing movies with the other board members. Much of the conversation would hinge on our impressions of what we’d seen recently. When I went to graduate school, I had less time to watch movies, so I found that I increasingly had little to contribute. I didn’t have my own viewings to discuss, and I hadn’t seen much of what other people were talking about. Eventually, I stopped checking the forums, not just because I had little to say, but also because I was kept busy by graduate school.

3) During the big break, I combed the Internet looking for anything that would help me. I joined a mental health forum. After a few months of constant posting, I was a regular. I periodically dropped into the chatroom and formed some friendships. Some of those relationships ended abruptly after the incident explained in Day 8. Eventually, I drifted away from the friends that I still had after that. It began the first time I did NaNoWriMo. I neglected visiting the chatroom since I spent all of my free time writing. I’d warned the others in advance that I might disappear during NaNoWriMo, so it wasn’t unexpected. But after that month-long absence, it was hard to integrate myself into the community again. There’d been so much that’d happened while I was gone that I was totally out of the loop. Then there was some other unpleasant drama that resulted in the group’s dispersal.

4) When I left graduate school, my relationships with old graduate school comrades grew distant. Now, they mostly consist of sporadic Facebook interaction.

Even though I’m not glad that all of these relationships atrophied, since they ended so gradually, I didn’t always notice that they were fading away. Only upon reflection did I observe the pattern. Sometimes, I did reach a point during which I felt indifferent to the chain of events. I am probably more isolated now than I’ve ever been before. There are times when I don’t mind, and there are times when I despair.

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Stalemate

Stalemate

Envelop me in amber

The scars of my soul

Need a salve.

Rub it in so that it disappears into the scars,

Into me.

The wounds consume the ointment.

I alone

You alone

Alone, Together

In our loneliness.

Envelop us in amber

Cool the burns, melt the ice

Putrefaction

Rot

The serum blankets the welts

The welts devour the serum

An ongoing battle.

**********************************************************************

Well, look at that. I wrote another poem. Two poems within a week of each other–that’s got to be a record for me. The majority of this came to me as I was working today. I just had one phrase, and instead of doing my job, I jotted it down and then a few more lines flowed out.

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I Feel Like Gumby

That’s what I realized yesterday. “I feel like Gumby” encapsulates what manipulating my body feels like with this Seroquel. I have difficulty moving my muscles. It’s not that I find them heavy or anything like that; it’s just that they’re very slow. It’s like they’ve become too relaxed. They’re in a perpetual state of languor. (Yet, despite this, I noticed something lately. I know it sounds ridiculous, and it gave me a chuckle. My butt seems to clench a lot. That probably has something to do with anxiety, like my ever-present need to chew something.)

When I take Seroquel, I fall asleep within the next 30-45 minutes. I literally can’t keep my eyes open anymore. (I am not abusing the word “literally,” as is common these days. I do mean “literally.”)  It’s hard for me to get up because I have to force my eyes open. They keep closing involuntarily.

Because of this, I’ve been late to work at least three times in the past two weeks. I have been on time on my teaching days, though, which makes me wonder if I am using Seroquel as a scapegoat on the other days. My timeliness on those days shows that I can exert myself if I make myself do it. But then I think, on mornings like today, that’s not true. It took an enormous effort to make my eyes stay open this morning.

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Beautiful/Ugly

Beautiful/Ugly

You observe yourself in the mirror as you brush your hair, attempting to wrangle out the knots that seem ever-present, trying to fix the part that will never be completely straight,

The mirror wobbles, your image flickering,

Unstable, Disorienting,

 

And you recall: What’s more jarring than when you’re in a bathroom with two different mirrors,

You glance in one and then the other,

Your perspective changing slightly.

 

Ever notice how you might look wonderful in one mirror but

ugly in the one beside it?

 

And you focus on this mirror once again, still swaying,

Rivulets of blood flow down your cheeks

Tears–

The Blood of the Soul.

 

This person studying you.

alien yet familiar

Trapped in glass.

**********************************************

I’m not a poet. I hardly ever write poetry. But this flashed into my mind, and for some reason I felt like writing it down.

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