Friday, October 28, 2016

I Am Mentally Ill

This is not a surprise, or shouldn't be. Those that have seen me in the last 20 years have probably noticed the scars on my arms and legs. That's a pretty big clue. Prior to that, people in high school may remember me as a pathological liar, very dramatic, or just awkward.

While some of those scars (which are OLD - like, at least 10 years old) are from the typical instances of self-harm, some (a lot) came about because of a psychotic break around fifteen years ago where I was convinced if I dug through enough skin I'd find my actual exoskeleton because there was NO WAY I could be the same species as the rest of the people walking around, whom I didn't understand.

But that's not actually my mental illness, because it was a temporary delusion caused by a extreme external stress and abandonment. I got better.

What's really wrong with me is depression. And anxiety.

My depression is actually under control. It was such a relief that Welbutrin worked for me. It meant that I was actually suffering from a chemical issue. It wasn't just me being stubbornly sad or (worse yet) right about everything.

My anxiety is more insidious. Unlike my husband, who has generalized anxiety that's pretty much always around, mine will sneak up on me. I can see trends behind what might cause a panic attack, but not the exact formula, because I'm not some kind of mathematician or something.

I can experience a new place if I have enough familiar people around. Or if It's a business transaction where I'm not expected/required to chat with anyone I'm not paying.

I can experience new people if I'm in a familiar place.

But, if the ratios are wrong, my stupid brain refuses. I can't force myself to go, can't breath, can't forgive myself for not being able to JUST BE A NORMAL PERSON.

Once upon a time, drugs acted as a crutch, but I let them control my life and depended on them to function like a normal human. People who knew me about 11-12 years ago probably have trouble conceptualizing me as someone with social anxiety. I used to throw huge parties (familiar place, speed/alcohol/ecstasy/acid/etc. acting as a buffer). I used to hop into any environment ready to have fun.

Today, I'm so shy and awkward until I'm comfortable with people that it takes someone exceptionally kind to put up with me until I warm up.

Last weekend, I was actually (sort of) able to beat my issues. I went to a party for someone I'd like to call a friend, but I think is actually just putting up with me because she's exceptionally kind and being nice doesn't cost her anything. For the first half, I couldn't talk. I sat in my seat, clutching my purse, clutching my husband, gulping drinks. After that, I was able to chat people up, but was more annoying than charming because I was drunk.

Tonight, I missed out on attending a huge party of some acquaintances because, when I drove by, the number of strangers sitting outside of a house I'd never been in caused me to tell Jon that I couldn't do it. Then, I cried on the way home because I was so disappointed with myself while he tried to cheer me up by playing fun music and giving me affection, because he's a good husband.

Unlike my depression, which was pervasive and all-consuming, anxiety doesn't rule my world. And I wasn't always this way. As a child, I was incredibly outgoing. Somewhere along the way, I began falling behind my peers in emotional maturity and was fat - neither of which really invoked friendships with other kids. As a result, every interaction I had straddled the line between hopeful and fearful, which is exactly what my anxiety today feels like (except MORE). Even though I can see how it happened, I can't see a way out of it.

I can go days without it impacting me. I'll confidently make plans, and end up having to flake, which makes people want to make less of an effort with me. 

I guess this is just a venting session because I was really upset with myself tonight. I also guess it's time to make another appointment with my therapist.