Total Pageviews

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Day In the Life of a Social Phobic

I was relaxed all day today. My better half and I spent the day, chatting, having our coffee. He was studying and so was I.

The day wore on and it was time for me to run to class. I tried to make sense of my hair...not an easy task, let me tell you. I got dressed and drove off to the college. I was enjoying music on the way, keeping my eye on the clock-I may be about 5 or 10 minutes late for class I thought, but I wasn't that stressed about it.

I found a space to park upon arrival. I rolled up my windows, grabbed my keys and handbags and started off to the building where class was to be held. I walked at a quick pace not wanting to be any later than I was and climbed the staircase and rushed down the hall to my room. My chest was burning from the quick walk.I was a bit breathless but I took a few deep breaths to settle myself as I opened the classroom door.

I noticed all the back row seats were taken and so I would have to walk past my whole class and find a seat up front. It was quiz time so I hurriedly got my paper and pen and started writing my answers to the questions on the board. I did well I thought. I was done just after everyone else and I turned in the paper.

By this time, I was feeling my social anxiety beginning to opress me. I felt as if everyone's eyes were somehow, for some reason, drawn to me. I tried to ignore the feeling. I listen to my professor, I decide to try for an answer to his question. I do answer...somehow though, the feeling of anxiety persists.

As I listen, the feeling of being watched begins to overpower me. I try to move around and make myself more comfortable but my heart is racing now and I feel breathless. I am trying to conceal it. I continue to watch the professor and listen to the discussion.

By the end of the class, I am shaky and I feel weak. I fumble with my books and papers then make a rush for the door.The voices in my head begin to persuade me that I am not good enough. I don't have what it takes to make the grade. I push the thoughts away and turn on my radio. I am home!

When I park my car in the yard, I slowly get up out of my seat and on shaky legs step into my house. I am still disrupted, I am still trembling and having trouble breathing without sighing. I wonder to myself....why am I feeling like this? Is it my brain? Heredity? I have no definite answers. All I can do is ride the wave.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Own Worst Enemy

  I have always been a very sensitive person. Over the years, experience has toughened me but deep down, I feel pain more exquisitly than most healthy, non-depressed people. During my lifetime, I have learned to go from suffering silently to the extreme of being overly aggressive with my words. Now, as I am 'mellowing' with age, I would say that I am learning to choose my battles and preserve valuable energy for other problems. I still feel pain but I know to wait until my emotions die down a bit before I decide how to handle what I feel.

I wish I knew if my hyper-sensitivity started with my conception. Am I simply a product of biology? Was there one particular traumatic experience that triggered my growing brain to stop developing some important survival structures that would help me to bounce back? The questions are endless. I have no answers.

I remember so many instances of painful experiences growing up. Was that the majority of what I experienced or did I just set aside good memories and hang on to the sadder ones?

 I can remember feeling that I had trouble 'fitting in' when growing up. Yet, I wanted to so badly. I would parrot popular sayings, behaviors...anything, as long as I felt acceptance. I became ultra-agreeable. Whatever it took to be part of the flock-that's what I did.

I hate that about myself now. How pathetic! If only I had the courage to be an individual - unafraid to express myself! Of course, that was many years ago and I have forgiven myself those weaknesses, however, thinking about those times makes me feel so shallow.

The bottom of it was that I would not give myself permission to express negative emotions until finally, the toxins in my mind were violently pushing themselves out through my skin and through various physical ailments. I began to break out on my face, vomit in the middle of the night and get caught up in horrible panic attacks that made my heart race and left me gasping for breath. Agorophobia had me in it's clutches until I finally forced myself out, little-by-little. Before that, I could barely walk around the block without feeling incapacitating anxiety.

That was when I began to learn about myself and accepted the fact that I needed help. I kept looking for answers in books, magazines, herbal remedies, exercise-anything that might help me get emotionally stable.
I also started to express my anger. I was the 'yes man' to whoever seemed most dominant. I knew that was not the best way to go, so I began to disagree, to give myself permission to say no. That was definitely the hardest lesson to learn.

When I look back on all those many years when I made choices to be accepted rather than think things through and decide on what I really wanted, I still get angry with myself.

 Even in my adult life, when I should have known better, I still took the path of least resistance...just to keep the peace. I would swallow my dreams. I put all of my desires, my needs , aside so that my children and ex-husband could have their dreams, their desires fulfilled. I threw myself on the ground and became the #1 doormat in town.

How does this behavior fit in with being overly sensitive? It's the realization that all I did until very recently, all I said and had become was due to the fear of being rejected. I devised a way to short-circuit the trip-wire in my mind that made me feel too much. I turned my hurts into depression and tried hard to mask what I felt. I turned the dissapointments inward and stifled them.

Not knowing positively if my depression is biologically or emotionally-based, I can only guess why it follows me around all day. I assume much of it is environmental and some is hereditary, (both sides of the family had anxiety and depressive illness.) All I know is that my medications have helped me to stay steadier and have lessened the all too familiar attacks I sometimes encounter.

My overly-sensitive mind brings me to paranoid ideation. I obsess, I over-think and drive myself crazy. A word or lack of one can send me spiraling down, second guessing myself and trying to resist the temptation to aggressively fight back somehow, yet I ponder : Is my hurt really justified or am I paranoid once again?

One day I hope to be sure.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I have these moments where a new revelation about my past comes to light. It's one of those times when everything you have been thinking about just makes sense and you fit another piece to the puzzle of "Who Am I Today?"
There are days that I feel like Rip Van Winkle. I open my eyes, I yawn and stretch and then ask myself how is it that the world changed so much while I was sleeping.

I hadn't slowed down until recently. For many years, I was what I coined as "Terminally Busy." If I wasn't restlessly cleaning, having one child and then another and a another....I was busy trying to research my interests. Mostly I'd be in church, thinking that would be a 'safe haven.' I was always avoiding facing my problems though. If I kept constantly busy, my mind would be occupied and I wouldn't have to realize how really bad things were getting in my life.
Now I understand : I was in survival mode.

At some point, I had to stop running. I had to learn honesty-first, with myself than with those around me.That was when I had started waking up and realized that I had been sleep-walking through my life and not engaging in time for myself or any of the people that I loved.

My children would ask if I remembered a particular event, something that really stood out in their minds and on more than one occasion, I had to admit that no...I could not. Somehow, my mind kept drifting elsewhere and babies would cry and dinners needed cooking and I had nothing left to give including my attention.

Suffering with depression and an anxiety disorder, kept me in a hyper-vigilant state. I would become  paranoid, obsess about every little thing my partner said and did because I didn't trust him. I felt no self worth and so I couldn't understand why anyone else would want me either, (I still battle with that everyday.)

I think that having been on medication for my disorders for the better part of a year, has allowed me to see how crazed I was. It's as if another person was living my life. She still tries to break through every now and then.

Overcoming negative thought is and always has been a hard value for me to learn. Unfortunately,  I am self-defeating in many areas. I've been overcome with mistrust and suspicion and when my depression strikes, I feel like any complement I receive, any 'pat-on-the-back', is merely someone being kind and patronizing. It is difficult for me to find value in myself although others seem to.

I am careful now to protect myself from spiritual vampires. People who want to argue about whether or not God is real. Is there such a thing as mental illness or is it all just Satanic oppression rather than a brain chemistry problem? I have come to a place where I am not up to proving my ideas or research. I simply say, "Everyone has a right to their own beliefs" and end it there. To the spiritual vampire however, often this is not enough and they try to bait me into a discussion.

I'm done. I have nothing to prove. I am who the Creator has made me and there seems to always be room for improvement. That's between me and God. One good thing about this realization is that my faith in God grows deeper.

In hindsight, what could I have done differently? Could I have somehow prevented my mind from affecting me the way it has? Am I deficient in some way that life is something I just don't get? There are way too many what-ifs. There is no possibility of renting a time-machine for the night and re-doing the trouble spots in my life. I can only accept who I was, who I used to be. I can take responsibility for today, minute-by-minute but the past is gone. Only the effects, like endless ripples in a pond, can still be felt.

Sometimes I can rise above the feelings of remorsefulness for the past, the false guilt that whispers to me, telling me I will never be good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, or happy. Those times are brief yet they are there and the past fits the edges of a puzzle that makes a full portrait of who I am.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Guilts

  One of the problems with Depression is a gnawing self-blame. You get that 'guilty' feeling in the pit of your stomache and it is hard to put it aside.
What do I feel guilty about? A lot of things!
I feel guilty about not being a good enough mother. I agonize about my relationship with my husband. I hate that I gained so much weight, that I don't clean the house as well as I should, that I don't go to bed at the same time my husband does. If I buy things that are needed, I feel terrible about having just a little money left.

In my my 'rational' self, I can believe that I am not a monster. I can say to myself, as I would a friend, "Hey, nobody's perfect. Be easy on yourself. You are no worse than anyone else." Yes but, Depression is irrational. It tunnels through the brain like a mole in the dirt and tears up the roots as it goes.  Thoughts ambush you and you get that sinking feeling that tells you how really small and dumb and ugly you are.

My adult children are in varying degrees of dysfunction. Some are progressing past our bad times and are actually doing quite well. Some are still growing and maturing. One is in the throes of mental illness, addiction and anger. She has to hit her bottom just as the others did and then climb out of the cesspool to take in fresh air. Yet, you see, eventhough I can no longer control her actions as when she was a small child, I still feel guilty for her dysfunctionality somehow.

Is the very bottom of what I feel within, the guilt, the distrust, the it something that in time may ebb and I put behind me? I look to the future with some hope. I am careful, of not wanting to seem too exhuberant,...I may lose everything tomorrow. If I half expect that to happen, than maybe if and when it happens, I'll be able to go on somehow...