Apologies for the off-topic, non-knitting-related post. Will return to regularly scheduled nonsense soon.
I’m sorry if I’ve been unresponsive or entirely absent the past few days. Normally, this is the point where I would make excuses for why I’ve been MIA – I’ve been tired, or busy, or life has been nuts. When I was younger, I might even have concocted a story about why I’d been out of touch… Though, to be fair, when I was younger, we weren’t expected to be available for IMs and emails almost 24/7, so a “stomachache” could feasibly cut you off for at least a day or two – not that I didn’t have more than my fair share of those, but that’s a whole other issue.
Anyways, I think it’s time I finally shared the truth about what goes on in this screwed-up head of mine. This isn’t easy for me to share – I’ve been going over how I wanted to say it over and over again for days now. There’s so much I want to share, but at the same time, I’m worried that, when people know just how nuts I really am, it’s going to make things worse. But, at the same time, it doesn’t help anything when people think I’m ignoring them, and having to answer a whole bunch of questions about why I’ve been so quiet just makes it harder to go back to how things were. Hopefully, this will help with that a bit.
I have anxiety issues – that much is known to just about everyone I know. It comes out in everyday interactions, I’m sure, talking about the neighbors, or my mom, or sometimes even Cheyenne. Or certain situations that involve going out in public that make me really nervous. Or answering phones – god, I hate the phone. But it’s much more, much deeper than that.
The best way I’ve come up with to explain it is like this… I’ve got this little, metaphorical bucket that I carry around with me. Every time I interact with people, whether it’s in person, online, on the phone, etc, a weight or a rock or something goes into that bucket. How big it is depends on the situation – who it is, where it is, what happens. Some things, like one on one online chats, don’t add too much. Others, like phone calls, or going out in public, add much bigger pieces. If something is really humiliating – if I unknowingly do or say something wrong – or negative in some way, it’s like adding an entire brick. It can add up quickly or slowly, but eventually, that bucket becomes full. As it fills, it gets harder and harder to keep up the “normal” charade, and once it’s to the point where I can’t carry anymore… Well, that’s when the real fun begins.
Now, this isn’t something new for me. I can remember many, many times where I’ve gotten to this point over the years. Even as a child, I would try to get out of school – I spent a lot of time sitting in the principal’s office, crying, wanting my mom to pick me up and take me home, but not really knowing why, except that I did not want to be in school. When I did manage to stay home for a few days, I’d always dread going back, because there would be all those questions – where was I, was I ok, etc etc… Sometimes they came, sometimes they didn’t, but the utter dread, that knot deep in my stomach and swelling in the back of my throat was there. I never had perfect attendance. Ever. I quit two jobs because of it – I just couldn’t handle dealing with customers. And the longest I ever held a job, there were a few times where, even though I was great at it, my attendance sucked, and was in jeopardy of losing it a few times. Even when I went to ITT, had a 4.0 GPA for all but 1 quarter, I was disqualified from honors things because of my attendance record – because there were some days, some weeks, where I just couldn’t do it.
I’ve described it as panic attacks in the past, but after my research over the past few years, that’s not really what it is. I don’t think that I have the physical symptoms… It’s more like, well… Sheer terror. It’s like my fight or flight response goes off all the time, except I’m pretty sure that I’m lacking the “fight” part, so every inch of me wants to flee – to hide in some safe place until the danger is gone. Except, there’s no physical danger – it’s all in my crazy, crazy head. If I’m pushed – really pushed – I can usually manage to get through whatever I need to, but each thing that happens when I’m going through one of these rough spots is like piling on the bricks in that tiny little bucket. It gets to the point where I just can’t do it anymore.
That’s what it’s been like the past few days – I just haven’t been able to do it. The thought of talking to anyone – online or off – has been wrecking my nerves. Even dealing with Cheyenne and my mom has had me at the end of my rope. It’s not their fault, it’s not anyone’s fault, and I’ve been trying hard to hang on to some semblance of normalcy, at least for Cheyenne’s sake, and dealing with the bare minimum on SL so I don’t have the added pressure of having no money, but pushing myself there has left me completely drained and unable to deal with much else. A facebook comment here and there is just about all I’ve been able to handle – and even then, responding to any comments has been out of the question.
Now, the good thing is, I’ve been through this before, and I know that, given time and somewhere, mentally or physically, that I feel “safe”, I can get through it, and get back to “normal” – but that’s another part of the issue – I haven’t felt that safety anywhere lately. If I’m in my room, I’ve got the neighbor’s music blaring half the time, or Cheyenne wanting to come in, or my mom’s voice running through my head, telling me all the things I need to get done now – or I’m worried about money, or dealing with this or that, or whether I’m going to be able to come up with an animation to make money… The list goes on and on. And, really, I have nowhere else to go. The only time it really quiets down is when I’m either curled up in bed with my earplugs in, or when I have my music blaring on my headphones and a game pulled up on the computer, and am essentially drowning the entire world out with noise and mindless activity (and my own bad singing if nobody else is home or awake.) Neither one is foolproof – I’ll wind up worrying that I’m wasting time when I should be doing xxx or yyy, or I won’t be able to shut my mind up enough for it to make a difference. Eventually, though, I manage to work it out, and get through it, and come out the other side… And deal with all of the questions, and negativity from people who think I’m ignoring them or have abandoned them or that I’m just not as good of a friend as they thought I was because I wasn’t there.
Sadly, I’ve lost a lot of good friends over this. Especially if my current “safe place” is being lost in conversation with a single person. It’s happened before – there have been times where I’ve lost whole groups of friends because I went through a bad point, and there was one person who helped me through it, but I couldn’t deal with any more socialization than that. I’ve never felt comfortable saying that it was because I’m nuts – it feels like an excuse, even though I know it’s not. Though, I guess, it was only recently that I came to realize that maybe it’s not just an excuse, that maybe I really do have a type of crazy that most people don’t have, and just don’t understand. Doesn’t mean I get a free pass from trying, but…
Anyways, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m not sure if I’m totally out of the woods yet this time around, but I’m working on it. And, honestly, I think writing this out has helped a lot. Takes away a lot of the fears about what’s going to happen when it finally blows over – if someone’s going to get upset because I’m screwed up in the head, going to take my mental issues personally…. Then they’re probably not so healthy to deal with anyways.
And I really am sorry if I’ve ignored someone, or not been there when I was needed the past few days. I’m trying my best.
Thanks for listening, and for not judging too harshly.