Learning to Talk

Yesterday at 8.46am I received a phone call. I was not awake and I was extra shitty. It was from the reception of my psychiatrist’s office. And I was even more shitty. My appointment had to be rescheduled to next week. I was blindsided and totally unprepared for this eventuality.

My boyfriend, who was in bed next to me, took it better than I did. He had taken the day off work to come along with me – at the request of my doctor. And he has graciously agreed to take more time off to come to the rescheduled appointment. He is an important human.

I went sky high though. There were tears and frustration and quiet anger and deep sadness and finally, an incredible amount of denial of all the aforementioned. Because I was fine. Of course next week was okay. I just needed that appointment yesterday.

I really needed it.

The most galling thing about the workplace bullying incident was how much progress was stripped from me. Prior to that month, I hadn’t even thought about self harm in passing. Nor was I using suicide as an immediate solution or short-mid term solution for when things went slightly pear shaped. I was able to radically accept life as it came at me, to varying degrees, and not get bogged down and destroyed by various random things that I encountered.

But since that month? Suicide is my go to solution. I am consumed by my desire to draw blood. I think about all the problems that face me as I grow up and I’m honestly thinking ‘yeah, I’m going to shoot myself in the face as a medium term solution to having to grow up and age’.

It’s problematic.

My mood was dark after hearing that I was waiting anyway. I itched to cut myself all day. It was difficult not to do it. I was fixated. And even more difficult was turning to my boyfriend and telling him how I felt. Honestly, I had to text it to him while we were in bed together because the words just wouldn’t come.

‘I’m still thinking about cutting’.

It has been impressed on me by my mum that I should hold things back from him. ‘He won’t stay,’ she says, ‘you’re too much sometimes’. She says this with an incredible amount of love and concern. But because of how I am these things often sow seeds of doubt instead. This repeated teaching has made me jerky and has prevented the last plain of connection being crossed. For all that I love him, suicide and self harm are still things I can’t voice to him. I fear driving him away. Where there was no lasting consequence in hurting myself in the past, I feel I now have everything to lose.

It took me half an hour to press send on that message last night.

‘Thank you for telling me’.

 

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A Shark died in a puddle and I’m Sad

The news is basically just someone saying ‘Good evening’, then giving you a list of reasons it’s not – Helpimstuckinreddit

When I go for an evening walk with my parents, they invariably begin discussing and ruminating on the happenings of the world. If you’re not already aware, everything is going to shit and we’re all fucked.

But these walks leave me tired. Not just physically, but mentally. Discussions about moving to Proxima B, the state of unrest in the Middle East, what would happen if the super volcano beneath Yellowstone was to blow and wipe out the USA. It’s exhausting, and it leaves me feeling empty and hopeless.

It feels conceited you know. To feel these things when I’m not in war torn Syria, or living on an island suffering directly from the climate change our politicians are wilfully ignoring. I’m just depressed and anxious and feeling maladjusted in a world that is so, so wrong.

Every day I’m on Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter reading sad stories, angry stories, outrageous stories, stories that are beyond belief and I’m fatigued. Maintaining my feminist outrage and carrying my sense of social justice only goes so far before there’s no emotion left to form a response.

Earlier today I read a story about a Port Jackson shark that ended up in a puddle some 20km away from the nearest beach. I am weirdly passionate about sharks. They are beautifully designed, incredibly smart and brilliant apex predators. They are also spectacularly misunderstood and callously destroyed by the millions for fins. I downloaded Ocearch’s Shark Tracker App and studiously update people (who don’t care) about my favourite sharks (both of which have been silent for more than a month. Sad face).

I didn’t even need to open the story from my newsfeed to know it was going to have a terrible ending. Because of course it did. What other possible ending could there be in a world like this? The shark died. Of course.

And it was the kind of story that gutted me, to be honest. That this small shark – either through being by-catch or illegal kept until it outgrew it’s tank – was just left there. Left there to die. What other outcome could there be for a shark in a rainwater puddle?

And I’m tired. I’m so, so tired of bad people and bed news. This is not a world I want to live in.

 

 

If only I’d worked at McDonald’s

You know, I have never actually had a proper job interview. The last time I formerly read/practiced/did anything related to an official interview was in mid-high school. I’ve somehow managed to skate by in life – and I’ve had a myriad of jobs since even before we did that “employment” unit in school – without ever being interviewed.

So with an actual, real life interview coming at me this week, I find myself at a loss.

Nearly all of my job history has been horse related. These jobs don’t typically require a CV or resume, let alone a formal interview. The closest thing I’ve had to a job interview has been a meet and greet at which they’d already decided to give me the job – at least on probation.

With all this in mind, you can imagine my state of apprehension. I’ve found myself asking my parents what I should expect. Reading articles. Asking other family members. Talking to friends.

And suddenly I’m wishing I’d had the McDonald’s baptism of fire that so many other fifteen year old’s had. Because shit, those guys have been prepared for the life I am now – at long last – living.

And I’m wishing I’d paid attention to the teachers as they droned on about resumes and cover notes. Because I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time googling what I should write, how I should say it and what it all means.

And I’m wondering if I might be a little more relaxed if I’d taken on board the feedback I received from the mock job interviews we had that year. Because my mind is blank and my brain is laughing at me.

I understand that realistically, stuff from 2009 that we studied for roughly eight weeks is not something I’m going to have handy in memory. It was never reinforced, never dug out again in the months or years that followed. It’s simply gone. I also know that I would have hated working at Macca’s. No matter how enriching the experience of going through that process would have been.

It’s on me to be prepared. To be confident about myself and tell my anxiety to SHUT UP for the duration of the interview. I deserve this job just as much as any other candidate.

And if they’re still prepared to have me come in after the phone interview, then I must be in with a fighting chance.

An Ode to my Boredom

One of the biggest things that exacerbates my depression is lacking any and all direction in life. I can’t stand being bereft and rudderless. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a six month plan, I need to be doing something. Boredom is the enemy. It’s destructive, sometimes cruel.

As a borderline, destructive boredom is one of the biggest challenges I face. Without occupation my mind races away. Recently I’ve been re-living my last, hopeless few weeks at my last job. Re-enacting pivotal moments in my head, torturing myself with what could have been, what should have been and what simply is.

When I’ve finished with that scenario I panic that my boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore, that he may even start to hate me. My tiresome inability to snap out of my depression weighing both of us down. How many more times can I cry on him for little to no reason? Give him a withering glare after a perceived (though incredibly disputable) rejection?

And when that’s not enough self driven torture I imagine myself with no future. No reason to live. No discernible life. I sit on the couch every day doing nothing. No one cares. I am nothing, no one. Invisible. Things I know to be categorically untrue, but with a mind warped from illness, suddenly seem very plausible.

My rudderless state is hurting me, every single day. And people are talking to me and suggesting directions and I’m internally eye rolling. Apparently I’m not done being bitter and resentful. I’m not entirely ready for help.

But I am mindful that I can’t be like this forever. Damn my self awareness.

So I applied for a couple of jobs. I decided to have another go at university next year. I received an invitation to “express interest” (how fucking pretentious) in another. I spent 45 minutes drafting an application letter for another still, only to find that the listing had mysteriously disappeared. Disappointing. But also probably a sign. I felt uncommitted to each potential direction. If I didn’t apply convinced I wouldn’t get a call back anyway, I entered applications ripped apart by anxiety. Not knowing what was right. Second guessing myself. Convinced of my own stupidity and ineptitude.

In other words, I was still crushed by the weight of my disorders. Disbelieving and hopeless. Frustratingly bored and desperately sad. No idea what I ultimately want, or need.

My boyfriend came off night shift at 7am this morning. He crawled into bed next to me sometime after 8am and more or less promptly passed out. I was able to fall asleep peacefully shortly after. Today was different. It was soothing somehow, it felt new. Maybe it was just being cuddled up to someone who was happy to see me.

We were sitting in front of Netflix this afternoon, watching the FBI Files when my phone rang. It was a landline, a number I didn’t recognise. I nearly always let these calls go. Who has time for cold calls and telemarketers? Let alone the patience.

It was a callback, for a phone interview. For the job I was 100% certain I wouldn’t hear from. It went well and I have a proper interview next week.

There’s that little spark of hope. Enough to rouse me to fight another day.

 

 

Toilet Anxiety

Going to the toilet is not really an activity that you’d think would warrant anxiety. And yet I found myself sitting at a table for well over an hour tossing up whether or not I could just let my bladder stay full.

I’ve been increasingly emotional these past few days. Much of it will be PMS (and indeed PMDD for me) related, the rest of it just straight up depression and obvious anxiety. In short, I’m having trouble regulating what I’m feeling.

So I was looking forward to tonight. Going out to dinner with my boyfriend and one of his friends. There was no set plan. No stress. We always have a laugh together, mostly to my poor bloody boyfriend’s expense (I’m lucky he’s a good sport), and a good time. We decided on a beer and burger bar. The food was great and the laughs free.

And then I needed to pee.

I could see the sign for the restrooms from where I was sitting. It wasn’t a far walk. Yet I couldn’t make myself get up and go. Getting up from my seat was suddenly daunting. My anxiety began bubbling in earnest. I decided I could hold it.

And I kept holding it. Holding it, and holding it. I’m not even sure for how long because I didn’t check my phone once, but it was a long while.

I feel almost ashamed that I was paralysed by anxiety. And over needing to go to the bathroom, of all things. But that’s what it was. I’d never been to this bar before and the unfamiliarity rendered me useless. As it always does in new places, and with new experiences.

Just as hard is explaining it to others. Because they just don’t understand. It’s not an accessible experience for them. My boyfriend often tells me to ‘just come down to the station’ on a Sunday and I simply cannot. My heart skips a beat and and I reply ‘maybe’ knowing full well that I won’t. He comes to collect me instead and tells me that it’s okay.

But I think that explaining to him that just going to the bathroom in a new place was a genuinely terrifying experience for me was new ground for both of us. An incredibly stark example of how strangely I function at times and just how much work existing can be, for me.

I went to the bathroom in the end. A small but valid victory.

 

Horses for the Soul

Some days doing stuff is just really confronting. For me, at the moment, some days is definitely most days.

The last few days I’ve honestly just sat in front of the TV watching Doctor Who. And there’s been this event on the horizon, it’s sat in my peripheral vision haunting me for the duration. This event shouldn’t be a problem, it’s something that I love. Really, truly love. But I couldn’t muster an ounce of enthusiasm. Nor the energy to cancel it or re-book.

I have been having riding lessons (vaguely weekly) since February. The fifty minutes I have in the saddle are my reprieve from my head and my body. The tiresome stream of negativity, self doubt and self hatred is stopped. I no longer feel the aches and pains. I am focussed solely on working with the horse, achieving our best together. Problem solving our attitudes so that we work better together. It’s peaceful, it’s the best therapy I’ve ever had.

And it reminds me that I can be happy. And more recently, it reminds me of the wonderful things horses have given me in the wake of the bullying episode. It’s freeing, refreshing and a great teacher of perspective. Because a riding partnership can never be achieved without the help of others (the horse, the instructor) or by forcing control of the situation. It teaches resilience, acceptance, critical thinking, team work, kindness and love. Amongst other pertinent lessons.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to find myself not wanting to do this. Especially as my chest infection had seen me miss two weeks.

My alarm went off this morning and I snoozed it. Denial. I don’t set alarms anymore. The true privilege of unemployment. My mind and body were not ready to wake. It went off again and I grudgingly forced myself awake. And I lay there.

And lay there.

Eventually persuading myself to go through the motions.

My boyfriend asked me if I was excited about ponies. And I just wasn’t. I ‘couldn’t be bothered’. Going along only because I had paid and there would be no refund now. The day of.

But you know what? I got there, I checked in and collected my lesson horse’s gear. His bridle, saddle, saddle blanket and grooming box. I removed his rugs, picked out his hooves. Fitted his saddle and bridle. Got into the usual chat with my brilliant instructor. And I relaxed.

I didn’t regret going anymore. I was glad I was there. Settling in that saddle, high up on his back. Grabbing the reins and looking forward past his ears.

I felt the familiar calm deep in my soul.

It’s Okay for it to End

So I skipped a dinner tonight.

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did. And I’m not really that sorry. Because I’ve realised with some surer finality that I’ve closed that door.

I used to be very close with these two people who I was to meet tonight. We go back years and years. Just about every day in my Facebook memories I see posts from the three of us. One I fell out with a few years ago and while we later reconciled we’ve not been particularly close since. Even working in the same centre, we kept separate groups of friends.

The other I would have described as a best friend, almost brotherly. We talked daily – openly and honestly about everything. Even after he left the country we continued to be close. I told him my secrets and he told me his. Then we fell out over an issue with mutual friends. And that was the fracture point.

They say that a friendship is like glass; once shattered you’ll never be able to set it the same way again.

And it’s painfully true. We were not the same. Not when apologies were shared, nor after.

He recently returned to Australia and I vaguely hoped to see him. Though my expectations were low as in previous visits he’d not found the time to catch up. We’d had one conversation in this time. It was started by me and ended by him not responding mid chat on Facebook. If I didn’t feel before that it was over, I felt it then.

So yesterday when I heard from the other mutual friend that he was in town I was equal parts miffed and unsurprised. She invited me to dinner with them, he was staying at her house. Information that further triggered angry emotions and ultimately a bit of a split. I couldn’t go to this dinner. I left it at a maybe, gritting my teeth.

Early this morning he messaged me. And I said yes. Before regretting it. After talking it over with my boyfriend (who felt I should go), I knew that I wouldn’t. I ended up telling a lie and sat in front of Doctor Who instead, eating terrible Chinese takeout.

For many years I’ve struggled with being rejected and undervalued by people I thought were my friends. I sat uncomfortably with that rejection and it destroyed my self worth and self esteem. I endured brutal splitting episodes and ended up craving approval from the very people who left me to struggle. In DBT I learnt that it’s okay to leave these people behind. It’s okay to forgive myself for staying. And it’s okay to experience rejection (where valid).

And it’s helped. It’s helped me see with a great deal of clarity that this chapter has ended. I will probably always miss the closeness we experienced, but in life people drift apart. It just means you’ve made room for new people.

And that’s okay.

 

Surprise Kitty!

I had a terrible sleep last night.

It’s not usually difficult to sleep next to my boyfriend, but we’ve both been sick and it frankly sounds like he’s choking on every other snore. I could also hear my brother snoring through the bedroom wall (the disadvantage of an otherwise excellent room re-arranging experiment).

I slept in bursts of a few hours at a time. I’m choosing to chalk this up to alcohol consumption as well as our respective chest infections. And that was okay. Until just after 6am where my cat, Keira, took it upon herself to take up the role of my (non-existent) alarm.

She squeaked in my face and in my ear. For the entire fifteen minutes I tried to ignore her. My boyfriend, thinking to save me, tried to shove her off the bed. Only to instead smack me in the head.

Monday was not off to a good start.

After conceding defeat a short time later, I let our other cat outside (he was very agreeable) and tried to let Keira out too. I thought her insistence on leaving my bedroom had to do with a full bladder. But I was wrong. After physically putting her outside, she bolted back inside where I gave up on her and went back to bed.

Only to then feel guilty as she might wake my sleeping Mum up. So I got up again and found her (surprise!) sitting outside of Mum’s bedroom door. I attempted to pick her up, only to narrowly avoid being savaged by her sharp talons (or claws. Talons is much more dramatic though).

I gave up.

And went back to bed. Fuck her. Let her wake everyone up.

Then she came back to bed. Agreeably and quietly.

Bitch.