Dreams Were Made To Be Broken

I’m not clear on when it started. Earliest memories indicate sometime during my childhood. It was a feeling inside, a driving force behind. Everything. It was how I perceived the world. It was my reality. It still is.

I’ve been apart. I’ve been in a different time frame. Occupying a different space. My reality is other. My mind is saturated with imagery of frigid, rainy autumn days, perpetually. I saw through the lens of jaded before I was even grown. Underlying my actions is the persistent, nagging reminder the edges of the world are occupied by constant misery and I teeter where the edge comes together with the rest.

It is easy to succumb, to stop fighting and to allow the fall. To inhale the existential crisis – it’s born by the very air we breath- and embody it forever. I’ve been occupying one, prolonged existential crisis since I knew what it felt like to cry. I’ve been in a world full of risk, full of inevitable suffering and this is the world I have to choose.

I remember when I believed in dreams. I remember the brevity, the silent touch that propelled me through years. The moment at which I realized dreams are something adults tell you to keep you moving is elusive. It was gradual. A transition that occurred over the course of years, knowing the life I envisioned for myself was just as much a dream as it was an illusion.

I know now. I’ve always felt a little bit weary, but now more than never. I woke up a few weeks ago and the lump in my throat told me I was coming to terms with something. I am living a life I never dreamt of. I am living a life where I am trapped, propelled forward by inertia, not desire.

I am living the expectations of somebody else. I am forcing myself to exist and to take steps that feel like punches because I’d rather move forward, painfully, than remain in indecision. I move forward, living somebody else’s dream because home no longer exists.

I am untethered. I am free. Free to lose every part of myself that made me feel alive, once. I spent years listening to the pressure placed on me by those who claimed to love, increasingly losing site of. Me. Today, I awake and I am scattered and I face a decision. Do I change with what remnants are here or do I search for the pieces that have long since departed? If I find the pieces, will I even recognize them? Will I be able to pick them up?

People talk about strength too much. It’s how we praise those who win their fights. It’s how we avoid talking about the essence of what happened. It’s the thoughts and prayers of personal evaluation. I’ve heard it before, that I am strong. It always sounds like such a lie, such pacifism. I am strong to wage a war with myself every day? Isn’t that a facet of insanity. At some point, the fight becomes superfluous and all you are doing is wasting your precious hours.

I am weary. I want answers, but the more I breath, the more I know there are none. I take in with rabid succession and pretty soon I feel like I will lose consciousness from the effort. I’m livid. I grew up believing the lies our parents told us. I’ve always wanted to believe. In anything. In the possibility there may be magic somewhere. That beauty can exist in an unadulterated form. In myself. With each passing year, I am grasping at a non-renewable resource.

Is it possible to suffer the weight of the world, feel it reach its arms into your chest taking hold of your heart, reach your mind with a dizzying efficiency and not collapse? This is an undertaking. I’ve survived this far and the shock of that reality almost makes me want to believe.

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Words and the impact to the heart

We all know somebody in our lives who is just not fazed by anything. The words of others do not bother them. Job stress does not bother them. Conflicts with family do not bother them. Small slights with acquaintances do not bother them. Friends failing to invite them to events does not bother them. A messy house does not bother them. Their own perceived shortcomings either don’t seem to be perceived in the first place or they don’t bother them. Physical flaws do not penetrate the barrier they have placed inside their mind. Whether this is a positive coping mechanism or a negative one is up for debate, but I wanted to touch on the power of words, specifically.

I obsess about words. I carefully choose the words I speak in social situations. I carefully choose the words I use in text messages. I carefully choose words in my writing on here. After my words are sent out into the ether, I obsess about them and the impact they potentially have. I do this because I know the impact others’ words have had on me over the years. I know it’s important to let go of the trespasses of others and I understand original intention of words is often not the same as the message I end up interpreting in my head. One of the more unsavory aspects of anxiety and depression is how they morph sensory input. Your brain sees harm, risk, and insult where there is none. Thus, I spend many days reality sorting–that is, sorting out what I can take as truth and what I need to remember is my mind coercing me into a negative state. Further, being prone to rumination makes it easy to obsess about the words and actions of others.

Even so, I wanted to note a few sentences others have said that have never left me and that come up at sometimes unusual and unfortunate times. I would like to be able to let these phrases go that perpetually remind me of my own fragility, but I find the process difficult. How do you let go? Through meditation? Destruction of a symbolic nature? Equal and opposite reaction? Writing the words down, thus expelling them from your mind? Hurting somebody else instead? This is an answer I do not have. Some of these relate to being a woman, a subject I want to touch on at some point, but which is not the express purpose of this particular post. I want to just note that I’m somewhat paraphrasing these quotes, but the essence of what was said is the same. Some of these quotes are from 10+ years ago and I don’t remember exact wording.

Fellow teacher trainee from my yoga teacher training when I came to her for support as I was trying to get off of my anti-depressants while maintaining my mental health:

“People who are depressed are inherently selfish.”

One of my favorite nursing school instructors, teaching us about mental health nursing:

“People who self-harm will always engage in self-injurious behavior. They will likely self-harm in some way their entire lives.”

Classmate in high school who I considered to be a friend of mine:

“You have a body made for fucking.”

Friend from college:

“If I told my dad I was dating a girl who had scars from cutting, he would tell me to run.”

Gentleman (I use this term loosely) I dated casually:

“You’re not fat, but you’re not really skinny.”

“You keep your body in pretty good shape for your age. You’re very muscular. But it would be more impressive if you were in your 30’s, because a lot of women stop maintaining their bodies then.”

(After he video taped us having sex without asking my permission) “I would never sleep with a fat woman, but a lot of my friends have and they say it’s great because they actually move during sex. I know what they mean now. You’re not fat, but you move like somebody who is fat.”

Boyfriend from college who I dated for a year when we were breaking up:

“I never loved you.”

Boyfriend from nursing school who I thought I was going to marry after I asked him if our relationship mattered to him:

“I don’t know.”

Friend from North Carolina after we got into a tiff:

“You take everything personally. Nothing is a safe topic with you.”

My first boyfriend when I told him I had been cutting:

“That’s really fucked up. You need to get help.”

Nursing school classmates talking about how many people they’d slept with after our male classmate noted he’d slept with eight or nine people (I’ve slept with more):

“That’s so many people. What a slut!”

These messages have stuck with me and I think why they remain in my mind so many years later is because they highlight my deepest insecurities. The quotes from former boyfriends exemplify a lack of support, love, and intimacy. I fear these elements being absent from a relationship and they are what I most crave and search for in another human being. For these elements to be missing from relationships with some of the most important people in my life crushes me.

The commentary about mental health is frightening to me. I don’t want to be perceived as selfish and to be honest, I don’t want to be a burden to anybody because I am so consumed with the symptoms in my mind. I don’t want to consume somebody else’s life because of my mental illness. I also fear I will never go into a remission with my illness and likely will never be cured. The quote from my professor was especially upsetting. At that point, I hadn’t really cut in years. I think four or five at that point? In my mind, it was almost as if she was saying, “You will never escape this because the potential is always there.” Even though I felt, at the time, it was a success to be free from cutting for years, it made me feel vulnerable to my own impulses.

The commentary from friends/lovers about my body and sex exacerbated my already tempestuous sense of self-worth. It made me feel like people could comment on the choices I make with my body without my permission. They could invade my clothing, my sense of self, the health of my flesh and pass judgment. It expressed non-acceptance of my body, something that though I wish to sometimes, I cannot escape. It made me feel trapped in a society where I am subjected to invasion of the self, not just through media, but everybody around me. It made me feel unsafe.

I want to let go. If anybody else experiences these profound effects from things people have said to you over the years, I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with it. How do you keep yourself safe and whole in a world that seeks to fragment?

 

 

Why I’m a bad friend

I used to consider myself extroverted. This was when I was younger, in high school, and before I acknowledged within myself that my brain experienced altered emotions. Especially in the past few years, I’ve been more honest about my nature and I am one of those people who needs time away from other humans more commonly known as an introvert. While true connection and shared experiences make me feel whole, I also need to decompress. I need solitude to contend with myself. This is why I consider myself an extroverted introvert. My threshold for the energy required to sustain me through social interactions is low. My threshold for stress is low. Time by myself is crucial. This leads to me being a bad friend.

What do I mean by that? When I struggle with my mental health, when I don’t have optimum time to decompress and sort through my emotions, I crumble. When I crumble I engage in bad social behavior. If I’m feeling drained, I will flake on plans. I will “forget” to respond to text messages. I will fail to reach out and do my part in a friendship to keep it going. I become irritated to the point of anger with the idiosyncrasies of people around me. I will become paranoid about everybody around me, even people I’ve been friends with for the better part of the last decade. In my head, I will convince myself they do not truly value my friendship and that they have little desire to see or speak to me. I isolate. I imagine myself as an ostrich sticking my head in the sand.

Interestingly enough, I looked up this phenomenon and learned that ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand per say. They are actually checking on their eggs they carefully bury just below the surface of the sand. To an onlooker, it may appear they are having a rough day and coping in an unusual way, but the reality is entirely different. I worry that when I disappear from my social world, my friends have all sorts of terrible ideas about where I’ve gone, or, worse: they don’t even realize it at all. While I feel anxiety avoiding my relationships, the worst part is the return.

After you’ve been somewhat absent from somebody’s life for a while, it’s an eery and uncertain experience returning to it. There is risk. The risk is that they have become accustomed to your absence and do not want you there anymore. The best case scenario is they welcome you back with understanding that sometimes you need to take care of yourself for the good of everybody around you. These are the kinds of friendships I strive for these days.

What I think about on any given day

(In percentages)

65% food (what I can eat to satisfy my sweet tooth, what I will eat for the next meal, tacos, carbs, cheese, tacos, and mostly carbs)

10% What the fuck. Things that make provoke the internal dialogue, “What the fuck?” Like that guy who murdered another guy on the bus in Canada and decapitated him and ate his cheek or something like that. WHAT THE FUCK. General what-the-fuckery. Have you read the news lately? It’s FULL of WHAT THE FUCK.

10% Ennui. Always. I have perpetual wanderlust of the person.

5% Slugs and the slug blog I will one day create.

5% Pugs and how glorious it feels to rub my skin on their face whiskers.

2% If I can pull myself together for a few hours so I can get on a plane and go on vacation to a faraway place.

1% How much I can possibly sleep in a day before I won’t be able to sleep that night. Like, what is the maximum quantity of nap I can have before I fuck my sleep schedule going forward?

1% Jesus H. what was that weird sensation in my stomach? Is it a parasite? I wonder if I’ve ever had a parasite. I wonder if I’d ever be cool with the realization I have a parasite. I think I’d lose it if I had a botfly. Forget that.

1% Sex and mostly how lazy I can possibly be to get the job done. Sex is no longer thrilling once you’ve removed all of your favorite vices from your life. Approaching a sexual situation makes me feel like a slug these days. Hence my excitement for a slug blog! We’ve come full circle, folks.

Sorry for being so bleak

I realize as winter inched closer and closer and my mental state declined, my posts on here became a bit bleak. Not unlike the weather outside! (Badum bum!) While I detest, on some level, that persistent message you read on many websites and in many news articles to “be positive”, as if it’s proper to force oneself to feel a certain way (it’s not), I do believe it’s good to regularly check in with yourself and remind yourself of what joy means to you. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of emotional turmoil and it’s nice to have a list to refer back to. This list is not all inclusive and each person’s List O’ Joy will look different, just like everybody’s recipe for a good cookie. My list is below and I’d love to hear what others find joyful in the bleakest of seasons.

 

  1. Pugs
  2. Hikes through any terrain
  3. A good rainstorm
  4. A hot bath
  5. A mug of tea
  6. Writing a poem
  7. Rabbits
  8. Riding horses
  9. Smelling essential oils
  10. Weighted blankets
  11. Making a new recipe and hoping it will turn out, but not knowing what the ultimate outcome will be
  12. Treating oneself to a delicious latte at the coffeeshop
  13. Large, warm blankets. Of the fuzzy variety.
  14. Looking at pictures of faraway places
  15. Catching up with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  16. Cleaning up clutter (this may be more of a manifestation of OCD tendencies than actual joy. I’m still undecided.)
  17. Watching a subtitled movie
  18. Seeing my plants grow or blossom
  19. Grocery shopping. I love looking through the aisles and finding unusual items
  20. Cultivating the perfect playlist for a certain mood
  21. Making my own, whether that’s candles, soap, or bath salts.
  22. Long walks through the neighborhood
  23. A firm hug from somebody I’m comfortable with
  24. Quirky paintings
  25. Taking pictures of slugs and snails
  26. A good HIIT workout
  27. Doing yin yoga
  28. Deep conversations
  29. Long road trips across the country
  30. Arriving in a hotel after a long day of driving
  31. Reading and dreaming about burlesque
  32. Taking the longest, hottest shower
  33. Watching nature documentaries
  34. Looking at pictures of wounds/dressing wounds
  35. Listening to true crime podcasts
  36. Listening to storytelling podcasts
  37. Trying new restaurants
  38. Exploring the city I live in
  39. Daydreaming about moving somewhere else
  40. A nourishing bowl of oatmeal or cream of rice
  41. Dancing
  42. Epiphanies
  43. Popping pimples
  44. Animals, animals, animals
  45. The mountains of North Carolina
  46. Smells that you cannot adequately describe, just feel
  47. Genuine connection with another human being, that feeling of being on the same page
  48. Autumn
  49. Being on a continuous quest to find the best horror movies
  50. Happy tears

Today was a pile of garbage

No stranger to bad days. Today was a bad day. They come unpredictably, insidiously. Often, they come when I wake up feeling fresh and ready. Other times, they come on days that start ominous and progressively get worse as the minutes pass. It’s impossible to know when the walls will come crashing down. I don’t want to discuss the details of why today was a flaming hot pile of garbage, but it was provoked by finances and general holiday ennui. It felt oppressive to be alive today, like I was every step I took was weighted, like traversing through the sludge of modern existence. By 4:00 p.m. I just felt like giving up on the day and couldn’t wait until I go lie down and make the day end. It’s in moments like these therapists and friends alike will encourage you to be grateful and think positively. This is the best I can do today:

My pug blows snot bubbles in my face. It could be worse. I could be getting puked on at work (I’m a nurse).

It’s no longer -30 degrees this week. Just completely overcast, dreary and like I’m living in a fucking sepia-toned photograph of 1930’s London.

I’m off from work for another month (yay!). I have no money for leisure activities or the vacation from life I desperately need.

I have a refrigerator full of food. It’s all made with butter and horrible for you.

It’s Christmas! That time of year where there’s pressure to get along with family and the need to buy presents thus stressing your already tight budget. That time where there’s abundant food, but it’s all garbage food and CAN I JUST TAP OUT FROM DECEMBER 23rd THROUGH JANUARY 2ND????

The house is clean. Yeah. No complaints there. I love a clean house.

I’ve stopped having stress dreams. I instead have broken dreams!!!!!!

If I don’t want to leave the house the next month, I don’t have to. My dream of being a hermit can finally come true.

My bangs don’t look like shit. That’s pretty okay.

Not all my plants have died. Just some of them.

I’m not a special snowflake and I DON’T WANT TO BE A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE.

I can convey yelling through strategically placed capitalization.

I still hate humans, but at least I can talk to them without panicking inside my head now that I’m on medication.

This is an exhaustive list. What I mean by that is I’m completely exhausted and there is nothing else I can bring myself to add at the moment.

 

All Aboard the Pharmaceutical Train

This fall left me feeling wrung out. I don’t know that I ever really feel stable and like I have a hold on the various pieces of my life. What I do know is when adverse symptoms grow in severity I feel like I cannot get my head above water. My perception of the world changes so that I am an animal trapped in a cage. I look around me and see everything, everyone as a reason for fear. I become irritable to the point I avoid leaving the house and speaking to anybody. The way somebody talks, the way they close the door, the way they chew, the very essence they exude feels abrasive. I am overstimulated by noises, sensations. A loud truck passing by sends my heart rate upward into the realm of abnormal. The feeling of a certain sweater makes me feel like I am covered in bugs. I rip it off in disgust. Another day this sweater may just feel like any other article of clothing. I cry easily. I tear up sometimes for no reason. The normally manageable feels completely unmanageable. There is a level of stressors I am equipped to handle and the threshold at which I break is exceedingly low. One stressful situation a day is all I can withstand. I constantly feel like the world is falling apart, like I am falling apart and despite my attempts to hold myself together I am in a thousand different pieces drifting away in divergent directions and I cannot possibly hold it together. This was my fall.

For years, I hated being on medication. I hated how it made me feel. As a somewhat granola-loving individual in my early 20’s, I hated myself for taking medication. The people I surrounded myself with told me how worthless I was for succumbing to chemical assistance. I felt like I didn’t belong and to some extent, I’ve always felt this way, but I didn’t belong with the people I actually cared to belong with for the first time in my life. People I thought I find that ever-elusive sense of belonging with. So, after much struggle, I took myself off medication after three attempts. I was free from medication for around four years and I officially went back on medication last spring. I decided to take buspirone to take the edge off my anxiety, but ultimately it was not effective. This fall, I was so unbelievably miserable, I decided to take an SNRI with open arms. I ran towards it.

You know what? I don’t regret it. As a medical professional, I do believe medications are overprescribed. However, I also believe they can be incredibly helpful for throngs of people. They give quality of life. While I am a firm believer in preventative medicine, there’s a point you reach where you need medical advances to complete the process. To provide some perspective, I was doing everything people tell you to do to keep your mental health in check. I was regularly seeing a therapist. I spent time with my pet rabbit. I worked out every single day of the week. I integrated yoga into my life again after a long hiatus. I avoided gluten. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables. I kept a regular schedule, going to sleep at 9:30-10:00 p.m. every night and waking around 6:00-7:00 a.m. every morning. I forced myself to leave the houses, even to run to the grocery store. I started meditating. I put lavender and vanilla oil in my oil diffuser every night. I talked to loved ones. I wrote out my feelings. I started worked towards changing major stressors, mainly, looking for a different job and choosing to hold off moving out of state for the time being. I took vitamins. I avoided alcohol. I cut out caffeine. I avoided scary movies and negative news. I did everything I was supposed to and I was floundering.

When I took the medication, it was the day after a particularly difficult work shift that left me feeling like a shell. The effect was almost immediate. I felt like a stopped had been placed in the bottom of me and all of my everything–my emotions, my energy, my resolve–was no longer rapidly leaving me. I felt like I could, albeit shakily, stand on my own two feet. I felt the emotions simmering underneath the surface and I had the side effect of feeling slightly numb and repressed, but as the days passed, I’ve started to just feel relieved. I have a break from the confusion, the fear, the identity crisis, that feeling of drowning in my own mind.

I know that there is still work to do and I intend to do it. I want to be better to myself. I’m quick to feel like I am worthless, to tell myself I am worthless over and over again. I want to be present in my friendships. I want to be a loving partner. I want to contribute to my community and create that sense of belonging through positive participation.

Choices

This week was one of the most emotionally draining weeks I can remember ever having. If you’re like me, you know that keeping as many parts of your life as stable as possible helps you feel stable. This means going to bed at the usual time. Eating healthy. Sleeping enough. Avoiding alcohol and excessive caffeine. Working out consistently. Making sure you only have one stressor to deal with at any given time. Avoiding fights and conflicts with those you care about and those you don’t. Staying on top of your self-care rituals (and everybody should cultivate these). Then, life throws you into the abyss and nothing seems manageable.

This past week, the candidate I voted for lost the election for the presidency. While I was upset and afraid myself (and still am), I felt millions of hearts strain under the weight of our country’s decision. I was also sick the day after the election and not just with a cold; I had a high fever and severe body aches all day long. I’m also in the midst of some career turmoil and struggling to make some decisions regarding my next steps. On top of this, I got into a discussion with both my parents on separate occasions about their choice for the presidency (which was not my choice). Having a conversation with your family about why they voted for a candidate you find repulsive and how it’s all going to be okay from their perspective is extremely frustrating and I didn’t have the energy to find common ground. Additionally, I was set to go back to work on Friday after taking a leave of absence to try to better take care of my mental health, which has been declining recently. After all of this swirling around in my brain, making it hard to function, I decided to go back on anti-depressants after being off of them for close to four years.

I will be the first person to tell my friends and loved ones there is no shame in saying you suffer from an illness, which is what anxiety and depression are. They are a chronic condition that can wax and wane and often in an unpredictable trajectory. I also believe that medication can be helpful for many people and is often one piece of the treatment puzzle in addition to lifestyle changes, therapy, and support systems. However, I have a hard time being okay with my decision to go back on medication. I feel ashamed. I think this comes from a lot of the people around me and experiences I had in my early 20’s.

I’m a certified yoga instructor and spending time in that community, I found it to ultimately be an extremely judgmental community and one I did not feel accepted in. If you weren’t eating vegetarian, you weren’t living right. If you did not engage in the practice of putting teachers on a pedestal, you were being disrespectful. If you were eating mushrooms, you were dead inside just like them. If you had depression, you were a fundamentally selfish person (I actually had another teacher tell me this once when I sought her support and advice during another time in my life where my depression was impacting my functionality). I felt like if I were to take medication, I was not worthy, not good enough. Even outside of the yoga community there is a huge stigma towards people who suffer from the invisible illnesses.

I tried to take Buspirone this past spring to alleviate my anxiety that was rapidly building as I worked my first nursing job on a chaotic, inner-city medical/surgical floor. I felt it helped initially, but as six months passed, I found myself sinking deeper. Why do we have such a hard time with vulnerability? With perceived weakness? I was afraid to tell my boyfriend, who I had just started dating last spring, that I was on a medication for anxiety. I thought his reaction would be disgust and that he would want to leave me immediately (he didn’t). Perhaps this is because I know this is likely to be a lifelong condition for me and some days it feels like a burden. It feels hopeless. I know the struggle intimately and it’s hard for me to imagine somebody else accepting this as a fact of life when I would do anything to rid myself of it. It’s a lot to ask of somebody, to remain by your side through inevitable extremely dark moments. I am in one of those dark moments right now and every day I think about my boyfriend and how it affects him. I worry about him and whether he’s doing okay. While I have an obligation to myself to be well, I also have an obligation to him. So, here I am.

I am taking medication again and I’m going to try to avoid being ashamed. When it gets to the point I can’t bring myself to work, I keep isolating myself from people around me, I keep having suicidal thoughts and urges to self-harm, I can’t bring myself to eat, and nothing seems enjoyable anymore, it’s time to accept the help available. When I am worried about my life and whether I will survive this bout of sickness, it’s time. I’ve realized, and it’s hard to remember this when you’re in a shame spiral, but people who are quick to judge you for your choices and treat you with condemnation are insecure in their own lives and probably not worth listening to anyway. You are the person who hears every thought inside your head, endures every panic attack, and feels every physical manifestation of your illness. You decide what will help you, in conjunction with your treatment team. Nobody else.

The perpetual half empty glass

I’m extremely negative. Let me explain.

I’m negative in that I assume the worst of any situation. I assume people do not like me. I assume I’m doing a terrible job. I assume my relationships will end. I assume I’m going to get sick. I assume any happiness I have will come crashing down and soon. Somewhere along the way, as I was occupied with various traumatic experiences, I convinced myself that if this was how life would treat me, I should expect nothing different. So, I set myself up to be pleasantly surprised. “Oh, man! I just assumed this experience would be awful. HOW LOVELY. It turned out to be OK.”

It’s fucked up. I know. There are so many interpretations of this mindset. I set myself up to be disappointed because I’m already thinking negatively. I am dwelling on my traumatic past. I’m making it impossible to enjoy life. I’m spending time making myself anxious for something that may never come to fruition (wasted time).

I know this is a problem and I am trying to work on it. However, it’s hard to know where to start. I know somebody who did a challenge for some arbitrary amount of days to refrain from complaining with the belief that complaining sets you up to be a miserable human being. I think about this sometimes, but I wake up complaining. I wake up seeing fault in the world, others, and most of all, myself. How do you stop this with out cultivating more self-esteem?

I talked about self-loathing in my last post. I spent the past day or so thinking about where that comes from. I think, like most phenomenons it is a combination of factors, namely, my hyper-critical upbringing, the media I was exposed to as a young girl, commentary I’ve heard all my life about my value and appearance, underlying mental illness, lack of strong and secure role models, sexual assault, and unstable romantic relationships. That’s a lot to unpack. Some of it deals with self-awareness while a lot of it deals with letting go of past trauma.

There are various theories on how to let go of past traumas. There’s the opposite and equal reaction: giving of yourself to others. There’s openness, specifically talking about it and advocating for healing despite it. There is EMDR therapy. There’s talk therapy. There’s having experiences that give you evidence to the contrary. There’s small, daily efforts done by the survivor to, over time, rebuild something new (I don’t believe you can regain exactly what you had before the trauma). I’ve dabbled in a lot of these efforts over the years, but I feel like I keep being re-traumatized. A lot of people, quick to judge, would see this as my choice. I don’t choose this. It happens like lightening. I hardly have time to react.

I sit in a bar, sipping a cider. Everything is fine. I’m talking to my boyfriend. We are chatting about loved ones in my life and struggles they face. All of a sudden, I am acutely aware there are men and women on either side of us loudly ordering. Somebody elbows me in the back. I think it’s a woman. Another person brushes against my sweater. The bartender is standing right across from me and she’s not talking to me, but everything I say or do is going to be noticed by her because of positioning. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t focus on my conversation. I can’t tune it out. I can’t help but feel surrounded. I don’t feel safe. Like that, my boyfriend perceives this change in my behavior as I am upset with him and he starts asking me to talk to him and tell him why I’m upset. I am no longer sipping on cider and enjoying the conversation. I am now paralyzed and searching inside my head for ways to escape. I’m angry. I’m angry I am having this reaction to something so mundane. We leave. Of course we leave. I have to make my escape to feel more comfortable. This stimuli is not just an annoyance. It’s painful.

What is this? Is it, like some theorists posit a fight or flight response in absence of any real threat. Is it PTSD? Is it anxiety? Is it agoraphobia? Am I losing it? Am I this weak? What is wrong with me?

I am browsing through Facebook, images of cats, videos of cuddly donkeys flash by. There’s pictures of people doing what they love to do flying past. Then, I see it. It’s an article posted by somebody I know is conservative. It’s from a conservative website. It’s an article explaining some PEW Research Center statistics and interpreting them to say that Hillary Clinton supporters are less tolerant than Donald Trump supporters. My heart starts pounding. I’m offended and upset by this. First of all, it’s a complete bastardization of the statistics (the actual research looked at how supporters of each candidate viewed each other, not other demographics such as race, religion, etc.). It’s frustrating because it’s somebody I’d like to find common ground with, but there’s this immediate judgment I have a hard time getting past and it’s a silent judgment. It’s a judgment with an audience without a face. I am a democrat. I do my best to seek to understand other people. I try to be gentle in my approaches to discourse. The country is inarguably devolving into a divided populous, interested in who can make the most biting, insensitive critique of somebody they do not agree with. It’s hard to not feel negative when this is the atmosphere during an impending election. It is the atmosphere of any comments page of any article.

I don’t know how to block it out. It’s so much easier to notice the negative. It feels like a flood versus the trickle of positivity. I’m committed to changing my mentality. I cannot change the world and I cannot carry the weight of it on my shoulders. I believe in having plans. Something tangible with which you can confront the difficult parts of existence. I am mulling over a plan and will hopefully have more to discuss in the coming days.

This is not a happy post

Does anybody else hate themselves as a habit? Like the self-loathing runs as deep as the scar on your knee from falling off your bike when you were seven years old? Like it’s just become part of your nature to despise everything you do? I don’t know how I got to this place, but some days I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I knew I was relatively critical of myself from an early age. I was definitely a perfectionist. I remember arranging my hair ties by color and size and alphabetizing my CD’s, early indications I would pursue perfection my whole life. I would rearrange furniture every couple of months to try to make my surroundings perfect. There’s something therapeutic to me about everything in the right place. I wonder if I did it then to quiet the thoughts in my head as I do now.

I feel overstimulated constantly. Too much noise. Too much of the wrong kind of touch. Too many negative thoughts. Too many hateful people voicing their opinions freely. Too much clutter in my house. Too many ways to be personally offended. Too many ways in which we are all falling apart as a civilization. Too many thoughts in my mind. If everything is perfect, then maybe my thoughts will slow down. Maybe I won’t have any reason to think negatively. It’s an unbelievably futile pursuit; nothing in the world is perfect and everything is subject to interpretation. One day, one person can view a situation as overwhelmingly positive and a different person on a different day may view it as terrible. There’s also the element of time; the longer time goes on the less perfect that which initially seemed perfect becomes. I can’t decide if that’s the luster wearing off or if my idea of perfection changes so rapidly. Ex: I finally found that arrangement of houseplants on my T.V. table that feels aesthetically perfect, yet four months later it seems wrong. From perfect to far from it in such a short amount of time.

Not unlike my home decor proclivities, I can turn a decision I made a few months ago in good conscience and contentment the worst decision I could have made. I look back at my past. All I see is mistakes and my future is saturated with objects of fear. Everything I look ahead to feels full of risk and consequence. My past serves as an example of how I cannot trust myself to embody forward motion. One step forward, three ways in which it was a terrible choice. Three consequences to suffer. How do we break out of this noise? How do we look at the past traumas and perceived mistakes and trust in our ability to be good despite all of it? How, at 28 years old, do I build confidence in myself? Where do you find strength?

There is no magical recipe that applies to everybody. It’s a personal journey to find that ideal combination of what works. It’s difficult to find that combination because it’s all trial and error, and like many parts of life, sometimes what once worked does no longer. This is the place where I am. Most things I thought worked and I cultivated over years (walks, physical activity, tea, yoga, journaling, meditation, time apart, time with others, gardening, decorating, shopping, eating, watching too much t.v., bubble baths, looking at pictures of faraway places, reading inspirational quotes, etc.) do work still, but they feel less profound in their effect. It’s hard to know what to do.

Especially when you’re in a truly dark place, the answer is even harder to visualize. You stab around in the dark without knowing what you will touch. Because you’re operating without one of your senses, the exhaustion sets in. You become unable to fight for long periods of time. It ends up feeling futile and hopeless. You keep trying to pick yourself up off the floor, but as soon as you are up, you fall again. It seems like time is the only variable that changes this situation at all and in the meantime you are destined to remain in darkness.

I know I’m miserable when it feels like this, but I worry about how it is for loved ones. I want to be better than I was last year, ten years ago. I want to be a person I can be proud of. I want to be impenetrable to fear, to stress. I want my loved ones to know it won’t always be this way. I want to, with confidence be able to guarantee them that. I think what kills me is feeling like there’s no way I can make that promise and that I can’t even make that promise to myself. I don’t even believe it will be better right now.

I feel alone. I feel invisible. It’s times like these I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if I disappeared. I wonder if I will reach a breaking point where this seems like the best solution. I increasingly feel I am too old for this shit. I remember I had a therapist when I was in my early 20’s who would tell me parents she thought I would grow out of it. I was waiting for that to happen for years, but at this point I’m done waiting for something that seems like it was a solution for somebody else. All I am left with is escape.

I find escape in pretending I don’t exist. Staying indoors. Refusing to live. I find escape in sleep, even though my sleep is filled with nightmares. When can I stop running from myself?