How it is

I am writing instead of crying. Again. I suppose that’s a good thing? It’s better than being mired in the emotion, right? Silver lining or something. In any case I have gotten to a weird place in my mind. I am actually starting to think I should go back to the hospital.

Of course, other parts of my mind immediately counter this suggestion.

I’m not sick enough.

I don’t need my meds changed that drastically.

Other people need it more.

It won’t help.

It will make me miserable.

But hey, hey! Wait a minute, brain, you didn’t even give me the chance to say why I was thinking of it in the first place.

I think there is a possibility that being in the hospital might help me redirect my behavior. Put me “on track” in a way that I am finding it hard to do on my own.

I am really quite sunk. I am not taking care of myself very well and I am finding it very hard. Most of the time, I keep it on the periphery of my mind where it won’t hurt me. When I let myself think about it, I get upset at myself and at how things are. Sometimes I get angry, sometimes very depressed… and other times anxious.

I’ve been starting to have some very poisonous thoughts. I think about how it’s hard to like myself anymore. I think about how I don’t really like my life.

Did I say I was writing this instead of crying? Ok, well damn, make that writing this and crying. Still it feels like something I need to write. It needs to get expressed.

Earlier my mind kept doing these loops where it would survey all the bad things about what I’m doing and not doing… and it kept demanding an answer.

Why? Why are you doing this to yourself? Why don’t you fix this? Why are you letting your supports slip? Why is this so hard for you? Why?

I can’t answer. Not because I don’t have answers, but because they don’t feel like they’re good enough.

What I am swallowing is this: I have shame. And regret. And guilt. And all of these things are heavy and when I feel them it is too much. I have learned to fear these feelings. To dread them. I don’t want to be afraid but I am. My one motivation becomes soothing that fear. So I don’t manage the things I should. I turn to distractions and I avoid the pressure. And all it does is feed the very feelings I am afraid of.

I used to think that going back to the hospital would be awful. That it would mean I was a failure. Maybe I still think that, to a certain extent. All I could think of was how mind-numbing it was to be there. How badly I wanted to leave when I was there. Even so, I am looking at it with a slightly different perspective. I see that it is a resource. It contains tools and guidance. I am wondering now if they aren’t tools I could use. If maybe some time under their guidance would help.

Still I have my doubts. Mostly that they would consider admitting me. I am still holding together to a certain extent, aren’t I? I have enough clarity on my condition to verbalize it. I haven’t hurt myself and I won’t try to kill myself… and to the Health Care industry that makes me a weak priority, now doesn’t it? Besides that, if I can see that I need to change; doesn’t that mean I can take the steps myself?

Well, I can also see that I am on a loop. One that usually manifests in the evening. I get upset, I try to calm down, I convince myself that I will take some positive action… and then I wake up in the morning mostly soothed and ready to push the whole episode into the background. It is fairly easy to push it there at this point, but it is never gone for good. It can be that very night, or a few nights later; the start of the despair all over again.

Maybe tomorrow morning will be different. Maybe not. At this point I am long overdue to see Dr. R… that is the step I should try the hardest to take. Get his perspective.

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Version Error

A couple of days ago, I woke up and didn’t feel like myself. It was strange, to say the least. Something had happened to my personality. It had detached itself from my body. I felt like an actor playing the part of me, or a doppelganger here to replace me. It is hard to explain how I felt like some non-me and yet I still knew who “I” was supposed to be. But I was the clone. I was the imposter that you ultimately end up destroying to save the real person.

“She’s not feeling quite herself.” It sounds like a phrase from a movie, doesn’t it? I’ve never heard someone say they weren’t feeling like themselves in real life. And usually when they say it in the movies there is some sort of extra significance… “I’m not feeling like myself this morning,” says the imposter on the other side of the door, trying to delay discovery.

I didn’t know what to do with it. I was surrounded by things that weren’t mine and all the memories that didn’t matter. I could sit at my computer, but what could I say? There were no honest words in me, only things I could lie about to continue my disguise. I couldn’t call my mom for the same reason.

Feeling utterly defective, I did what you naturally do when some machine is giving you trouble. I tried turning it off and turning it on again. In this instance meaning I got back into bed and went to sleep. It worked. I woke up a few hours later and I was the right version of myself again. I was the original.

When this happened to me I was severely weirded out. Now that it is over, though, I am a bit fascinated. What was that about? Where did it come from? Will it happen again? At this point I have no way of knowing.

Plan of Distraction

So my intention was to create journal entries and poems… but sometimes I can’t get in the groove for either one. And yet I am still itching for self-expression. My solution to this problem is a new category. It is called “tidbits”… because I really didn’t know what else to call it. It isn’t prose exactly, but these entries won’t have the same deliberate nature of my poems. Nor will they necessarily be insights into my current feelings, like the journal entries. They are raw transcriptions from the notebook I have with me at all times.

I don’t know if I’m actually shooting myself in the foot by doing this, but at the moment it seems like a decent plan. This gives me a chance to make entries under less pressure. That is ideal, right? How ridiculous would it be for me to return to my blog, called “Coping Method”, and allow it to stress me out because I am not creating posts the way one is “supposed” to? That sounds outrageous.

lonely and what it means

I am alone right now. I often am.  Am I lonely? What exactly is loneliness? I am struggling with this so I am turning to my dictionary for help. The entry for lonely is as follows:

1. feeling alone – feeling sad through being without friends or company
2. Isolated – isolated and rarely visited
3. Without companionship or support – done or lived through without companionship or support from other people.

Reading this explanation I believe I have hit on something significant. The fluidity of language has created some interesting nuances here. Some of which resonate with me.

Am I lonely in the first sense? Is that truly the case? I have some serious doubts. I am starting to suspect that for the most part I am lonely in the second sense. I am inclined to think that when I am sad and mostly isolated, I am not sad because I am mostly isolated.

But something is off, isn’t it?

Trying to scratch this surface brings me to some tricky territory. I am asking myself why I prefer isolation. What is it about the idea of friends that mostly makes me sad? Why is a room full of people a place I don’t want to be?

The answer seems to be “connection.” A scary, upsetting word. I have trouble with my connections. A lot of trouble. To the extent that I would rather not face it.

Mostly I am disconnected. I am disconnected from so many people that it is overwhelming. Only a few remain on threads that I can tug on… and usually the tugging is from a distance. Some people I feel are lost to me that I would rather not have lost. But I don’t have the strength to reconnect. I am wrapped up in guilt and anxiety from the state I have brought myself to.

Where does this floundering with connections come from? And what about the people I never connected to in the first place? This brings me to my sincerity trap. I hate to feel disingenuous… and the idea that I might seem that way fills me with dread. This dread is a trap. It makes me afraid to speak and afraid to act. I don’t want to risk saying something I don’t mean or doing something I don’t feel. That is why I am most comfortable alone. Everything about socializing needs to come in miniscule doses or I can’t handle it.

But I am sad that those connections I make falter. So maybe I am lonely type 1 after all. Still I think the conventional number of connections is too many for me… and ultimately it is the quality that needs to fit. The idea of being able to forge connections on my own terms seems like an impossible task. It also feels too demanding. Why should I dictate the dynamics of a relationship? What makes me more important? To make matters even more nebulous I have only a vague amount of awareness when it comes to what I want. What is the perfect scenario? What would make me happy?

It all seems to come down obstacles I have put in my own way, which is very frustrating. The way I see it, I have sadness that has isolated me… and I guess isolation that saddens me as well. They are feeding each other. It is daunting because interrupting the loop is not a simple task. I can’t just tack on new acquaintances and “break” isolation. If something inside me is pulling me away, then the connections will falter just the same.

I guess that answers my question, though. My loneliness exists… and it is a sinister loop.

Bad Thoughts Diatribe

As far as my current state, I am not sure what I want to explain, so instead I am going to try a brief exercise. I am going to put down some of the incriminations that have been running through my mind lately. I don’t know if this is a good idea, but I am inclined to think that exposing the negativity in my mind can help to weaken it. If I put it down somewhere maybe I can steal some of its power?

You are weak.

You are disgusting.

You are lazy.

You are pathetic.

You are selfish.

You are alone.

You are trapped.

Even just looking at these words… after a while, it feels strange. I suppose initially they sting because I often feel them. I can recall piling the evidence on myself to support these words. They are volatile, and I am certain I risk triggering myself or others by putting them on the page.

But there is something else. Ultimately, those bad, cruel thoughts are so…. mundane. They are boring! As a person who values creative expression above nearly everything, I am actually turned off by how uninspired the negative voices are. It’s almost laughable. There is a defense mechanism in my mind that sneers at how typical those insults are.

Come on! Is that all you can manage? Talk about lowest common denominator!

I realize this creates a dialogue between me and myself… which might seem a little crazy. But no, I don’t think that is accurate. It is not me in the sense of true identity. What I am talking back to is the poison. I am refuting the corrosive thoughts that are spawned by depression.

Whether you accept that or simply think I have begun talking to myself, I have to advocate for this activity. It seems to be helping. Last night I was flooded with the bad thoughts and they held sway. This morning, by compartmentalizing, I find I can fend them off.

The negativity is petty. I can see that when I look at all those words. It isn’t going for truth or accuracy. Just the rawest of attacks. Anything and everything that might generate more bad thoughts.

And then I quietly fell apart

I am writing this instead of lying in bed and crying. That was not working for me. Somehow I made the choice to come back to the living room and get back on the computer.

Back on the computer and back on the blog.

It’s been at least six months.

I kept seeing notifications from the site popping up in my inbox. And I would feel conflicted and uncomfortable. Now I think it’s a good thing, because I didn’t completely forget.

I have slid down from wherever I was six months ago. It’s not good.

I am fighting wars with myself. Battles between shame and avoidance. Introspective campaigns of guilt and fear. There is so much of it and it has dragged me down to dark places. I have woken up tired too many days. I have resented living my life because it demands that I cope with myself… something I can’t seem to manage.

And yet, while sinking, one hand has found a grip on a lifeline. This blog. Even these words. A voice. My voice.

I am rusty, I barely remember how to use the site. Still I want to. There are other outlets I could reach for but this is the one that I think is the most constructive. I am going to review my old posts and see if I can teach myself anything.

I am hoping this is the first of a resurgence in posts. If I can brave it, I may expand on what exactly is going on.

Research for Nanowrimo

It’s a grey, overcast day out there. I like it. I’m not quite in focus as to what I want to be doing today, but it is early. Hopefully today I will start to dig into the new book I’m reading. It’s a book about Zen Buddhism. I bought two yesterday. One of them is introductory and written by an American, the other is a collection of two classic Zen texts translated by a Japanese man. I figured I would try this approach because a “Western” author might help make the concepts more initially relatable while an Asian author will be able to translate according to a more in-tuned perspective. That’s the hope, anyway.

I don’t plan on becoming a Buddhist, for the record. I am interested in Zen as a philosophy, as an outlook and primarily as an element in the story that I am planning for Nanowrimo. I am setting those gears in motion, with the hope that they don’t come to screeching halt before November even gets here. It may seem early to start, but I want room to maneuver. I want the chance to explore a couple of topics that will flesh out the theme of the story.

Incidentally, if anyone reading has a recommendation for good texts related to metaphysics, I’d love to hear it. I figure Kant is one person to investigate, but I don’t know if I’m smart enough to digest his material. I’ve only ever taken two courses on philosophy: Philosophy of Religion (I did quite well) and Philosophy of Mind (I struggled with this one).

I like to look at things from many different angles, so all the thoughts in my head take their time becoming something I can put to paper with any satisfaction. I think that’s a concentration/attention issue as well. I also like to start simple with a story and then add complexities bit by bit. Last year when I did Nanowrimo I used a similar approach, but found that I hadn’t planned enough of the intricacies ahead of time. When my word flow started to freeze up from the pressure I didn’t have enough material to work with. I fizzled out very quickly after that.

I am quite obviously a planner and not pantser, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a pantser. The more power to you! I’ve heard that some pantsers are “discovery writing” when they do Nano, which is a way of figuring out the plot as you go. With that style of writing, one might write whole passages that don’t make sense down the line, because of a change in direction. The results can be a really long, intricate plan for a story more than a first draft… sort of a pre-draft draft. Still, that means they have material to continue molding, and they’ve gotten over the first hurdle towards a finished product. Whatever the style, planning, pantsing, discovery writing… the editing process is going to be important.

This is especially true of works done during Nano, as they emphasize quantity over quality. It’s not a bad concept, though I find it hard to adhere to. I suppose it’s like sculpting, in a sense. The first draft is the raw materials, roughly made into a shape. Editing is where the chisel really comes into play.

A Plan for Fall

I’m feeling conflicted but at the same time it seems my feelings are slipping away from me. Right now I am in a weird limbo. I have some sort of energy but I can’t seem to do much with it. There’s a barrier. I think this has to do with the dose of medication I took today? The higher dose of the newer prescription? It gave me a boost but something is still holding me back. It might be stress. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

I don’t want to lapse too many days but I also haven’t got a solid idea what I want to talk about. I suppose one thing I could mention is that I am leaning towards the idea of participating in Nanowrimo this November. (That’s National Novel Writing Month.) I have tried it seriously two or three times in the past and I have yet to succeed. The goal is to write 50,000 words over the course of the month. I have a hard time getting more than halfway into the month before I run out of steam. Even thinking about it right now I am filled with doubt. It might be that it is the wrong time of day to be thinking about it though, as I am getting weary in general.

Still I find that I want to try. I want to see if I can improve. I feel like trying to challenge myself this way is important, especially since I have not succeeded in the past. If I can muster the will to try again where I have failed, then I am helping to reinforce that idea in other areas of my life. I need to hone my determination and my perseverance in many ways, so I feel like starting with this way is good practice. After all, this is about storytelling. This is the thing nearest and dearest to my heart.

It won’t be easy. I have a story I would like to work on…. But it is only a very vague concept in my head thus far. Barely more than a theme, a premise and a couple of flimsy characters. Nevertheless, it is the one I have wanted to flesh out for quite some time. I want to give it attention because I think it has potential. So for the next two months I am hoping to do some research and some brainstorming and get a better idea of what I will be writing come November.

Some people have a much easier time getting words down than I do. I have to try my best not to let that bother me. I think it isn’t even so much other people’s ease that frustrates me, but rather the fact that I used to have a much easier time of it myself. When I was younger I wrote out a story using every spare bit of time I had. I would write my school notes out, and then switch to my story while I waited for the next projector slide. That I used to be able to let the words fill page after page is a point that irks me.

The conundrum is that I know overthinking things in my writing is slowing me down, but at the same time I don’t want to put thoughtless words to paper either. I am also aware that my confidence sinks far too easily when I am devoted to a project. I know I tear myself down in my head but it so damn hard to keep those thoughts out.

Despite Myself

I had a feeling I might get up way too early, but that’s what happens when you go to bed early and you’re feeling antsy. I spent a busy weekend working on my apartment. Purge, purge, purge. So many things have been thrown out. I wanted to do this before I found out and then after I found out it became a necessity. Found out what? This is hard to admit, but there are bugs in my apartment. I feel just about as awful and ashamed of this fact as I have ever been about anything, no exaggeration. I can tell myself that I’ve been sick and that this is a result of that but it doesn’t do a lot to make me feel better. I feel like a disgusting failure.

Dealing with this, and having to suddenly find the motivation to work through everything that has to be done has been very stressful. I wasn’t doing a lot, barely anything. I believe I mentioned I have next to no stamina? So that’s pitiful reserves of energy, almost zero functioning work ethic and bouts of apathy that suck all my drive to do things, no matter how important they may be.

And it doesn’t matter. Things still have to get done, despite myself. They have, I’ve come a long way in this cleaning process, but I’ve had a lot of help. If I hadn’t had my mom and my boyfriend (Jeremy) to help me with this purge I would have been screwed.

The frustrating part currently is that they were due to come in and treat for the bugs on Monday, so I plowed through the preparation with Jeremy here over the weekend to help, Mom coming in on Sunday, and a final push by myself to be ready Monday morning. Monday I left before they were due to arrive and didn’t show up again until well after the treatment was supposed to be done. I thought I was going to get home Monday night and find that things were well on their way to being normal again. No such luck. They didn’t come. They left me a note stating that they won’t be here until the 5th.

This might sound like I get more time to prepare, but really I was ready. Everything was thrown out that needed to be, everything else was bagged and the furniture was moved. Somehow, even with help, I had managed to do a lot of work myself. And now? Now I have to undo some of the prep in order to live here, without undoing all the prep that was so hard to achieve. And I have to be here, with a problem I barely see but I know is still there. I have to stew with this stress-triggering problem for a week.

So it spills over onto other areas, as things tend to do with depression and anxiety. I am cranky, sleeping a bit oddly (obviously, it’s almost 4:30 am as I write this) and feeling my creative energies are floundering. I am trying not to be completely pessimistic but it is certainly weighing me down.

I guess it’s a good thing that I am seeking out counseling. I’m looking to bridge the gap between me and what Dr. R can offer me as my psychiatrist. He is there to listen, in a sense, but on the whole he is there to establish my current condition, prescribe medication accordingly and guide me towards any other necessary steps. Counseling is not really his domain. I started to look for help for myself but if I can’t find what I need he is prepared to refer me to someone I can talk to.

This all has to do with that problem I mentioned before, the one I cried over for a while and then sort of calmed down about. It’s still relevant, and I’d like a counselor’s help in having to deal with it. I don’t mean to tease with this mention of an ambiguous “problem” but it’s still sensitive. I want to share it when I am ready but at this point I am still not ready. I think I would be more comfortable with it if the larger portion of it were resolved.

In any case, I am hoping to get in touch with a counselor in the next few weeks. There’s always the option to go to a walk-in if I can’t stand the wait, but I feel like I can hold out for now. Part of this may be that I don’t want to juggle the bug problem and the other problem at the same time. I feel like I need to compartmentalize in order to preserve myself.

Praise for my Sister

Grace is a super-hero. She saves lives. No, she really does. She works in 911 dispatch. She’s a supervisor and in her time working there she has coached people through many emergency situations, including women who have gone into labor. She could tell you more accurately what she’s gone through on a daily basis, but some of it she isn’t able to because of confidentiality and some things, well… people die while she’s on the job, too, that’s not the cheeriest of subjects.

[My immediate family consists of Mom, Dad, older sister (Grace), younger brother (Louis) and middle child (that’s me, Peg).  Grace is two years older than me, while Louis is two years younger.]

Grace is extremely resilient and an awe-inspiringly capable person. Her job involves incredible amounts of focus, quick-thinking and a cool head. She has all this going for her and it really impresses me.

We’ve gone through phases of closeness and separation as sisters. When we were little we were very close and played together all the time. We were the well-behaved girls while my brother was the one getting into trouble. We had separate circles of friends growing up but we had each other’s backs. Still, we had divergent personalities. We do even now, really. I have always been more abstract and less practical than Grace. This helps my creativity but leaves me lacking in functionality.

That’s the thing: Grace is high-functioning, but I’m certain she has her own mental illness that she deals with on a daily basis. At times this has been hard for me to sympathize with, as she used to make me feel like I was weak for needing help, and especially for taking medication. She has a way of plowing through life that I have never managed, but she used to make me feel like there was something wrong with not being able to cope the way she did.

I don’t get that sense from her anymore. I believe she has grown more accepting of our differences. It’s hard to know for sure, though, as most of her feelings she keeps very guarded. We were close as children, distant as teens and now as adults we have bridged the gap with a lukewarm friendship. I think we both wish it were better than it is, which is promising, but then again our lives and personalities are still vastly different.

This doesn’t stop me from admiring all of my sister’s strength. She has lived through some harsh experiences and I hope she continues to heal from them. She is a super-hero.