What mental illness feels like

My left hand in particular is wrong. It is heavy, each slight movement of the hand is slow and foriegn. My legs resist the impluse from my brain to move. My right arm lays still. Only my thumb is poking the keys on my phone as my only means of expression. If you spoke to me, I could not reply, it as through my mind is screaming but my vocal cords are severed. I don’t understand.. and my eyes are tearing up as I look upon the sleeping face of my child who is laying on my lap. I  don’t understand why this has to just hit me when I was doing okay. It started as this heavy weight on my chest last night. I thought it was because I didnt do the dishes, so I did the dishes. But it stayed with me. I believe my dreams were stressful- although I could not tell you what they were. Today I know it.. the feeling. It is depression weighing me down..  Suddenly and frustratingly… and it hit me. I desire to get up and vote as there is a polling station just down the street right now. A part of me is screaming into a big black vast of emptyness and saying “stop it you sick fucking twisted ill-ly timed soul sucking thing, you are RUINING MY LIFE!” I have class tonight and I need to go. I need to organize and prepare food to leave my baby but.. I cannot move. It is like I am screaming “hurry your ass up!” and  yet calmly saying “no.” at the same time. I care more than I can say and yet I care not at all. Fuck you, mental illness, fuck you.

Anxiety, how I DID NOT miss you.

After enjoying a blissful many months with my new baby, and actually thriving despite all the demands she brings…

I find myself haulted by a simple resume I am writing for someone for a measly forty dollars. Initially, it was great. But after spending four hours on it (trying to organize all the cuttered info given to me with no clue where things stop and start due to improper grammer), only to find I did indeed interpret info wrong. The simple request for a phone call to sort it all out for me, three times requested, seems to have brought out the anxiety angels.

You know.. the ones that usually sit on my shoulder.

There is the “go for it” anxiety angel that tells me I am almost done, I already did most of the work, and a phone call is nothing bad nor hard.

And then there is the “quit now” anxiety angel that tells me I cannot get it right, that I should feel guilty for it not being perfect, that the phone call would be awkward, and that 40 dollars is not worth this misery.

“Go for it” anxiety angel: But you need that forty dollars.

“Quit now” anxiety angel: No, you don’t. It is only 40 dollars.

“Go for it” anxiety angel: Come on.. almost there… you are almost done. It feels good to complete a task.

“Quit now” anxiety angel: Yeah… but the task felt finished last night and it felt good for a bit… then you worried it was no good… so you didnt get to sleep for hours.. and then in the morning you found out you did not do it correctly and now they want you to fix it up again and that could take you another few hours. By the time you are done it will prob be a 6hr project for a weird $6.66 dollars an hour. Might as well go flip some burgers. If you could, you know, manage to even MAKE it to a job.

Suddenly the “Go for it” anxiety angel looks pale and is oddly silent.

The Embarassing Addiction

It began with the act of chewing gum. My mother used to buy multiple Costco sized packages of gum to keep up with demand. I chewed gum constantly, once one piece was out- another was in. I was so good at it that I often fell asleep chewing gum, and woke up still chewing it. This went on for years.

At 15, I got a job where gum chewing was not allowed. I noticed some of my co-workers had lip chap/balm and somewhere in there I started buying lip chap while phasing out my gum usuage.

I kept buying lip chap, then blistix, then nivea, sometimes even an all natural type. I had different preferences at different times.

I carried lip chap with me through many jobs, college, home life. I became so good at it, I could open, apply, close the lid all with one hand AND in less than a few seconds. It became so automatic that I only became aware of my actions after repeated reapplying gained me strange looks from others.

One summer, I got a job at a certain fast food place and the pants did not have pockets; nor did the shirts. I was desperate to find a way to carry my lip chap. I bought a tiny cheap pocket knife that came with a belt holder, and used the holder for my lip chap while at work.

Whenever I run low I start to lick my lips more than usual and run through what is left very quickly. I often cannot think straight nor about anything else until I get more. It has caused many innconviences and a great deal of money at 1-3 dollars a tube. At the worst part of my addiction, I emptied two tubes a day. If I take the average of 2 dollars a tube, and use a conservative 1 a day, times 7 days a week, times four weeks in a month (28 days a month is innacurate but you get the point) that is $56 dollars of lip chap a month. If I times that by 12 months of  the year, that is $672 on lip chap. Now that may not seem much, but I turned 25 this year. That is right, I may have spent around $6,720 dollars on lip chap in 10 years. Granted, this is not very accurate due to sales, varriations in my addiction at different points, days of the month, leap year, etc.. you get the picture.

I am finally done. I do not want this anymore. I am currently sipping water everytime the urge to use has come up. Maybe I will learn to subsitute water sipping for lip chap, as I did gum all those years ago. Day 2. The advantage of water is it will help hydrate my lips, when my body reacts in shock to having no artificial barrier it has been provided for 10 years. I am doing well not licking my lips. It is difficult to find automatic tendiencies. But I am trying.

Wish me luck.

Oh, I never chew gum anymore. Makes my jaw sore now.

Parenting 101

Over the last many months with my new baby, and even somewhat through my pregnancy, I have been given so much parenting advice that my head has been overflowing with confusion.

One person says “do this”. And another says “never do that”. I’ve had some awesome advice, and even scary advice. I have had positive critics and negative ones, including a relative who disaproved of my unwillingness to stand on chairs while pregnant as quote “I shingled while pregnant with my third child… people fall all the time..”, no big deal basically. I think I am good with not putting the crock-pot on top of the cupboard until my husband got home, thanks.

The biggest debate among everyone has been the thumb vs. soother debate. We (my husband and I) understand the many advantages of both. The thumb is always attached and available, the baby can choose when it is needed, it is natural and not made of plastic. Downside: it can be tough to break in some kids and it can cause teeth damage. Soothers on the other hand can be helpful in preventing SIDs (due to not allowing baby to fall into a deep sleep?), and they can be taken away to break the habit. Downside: they get lost/need cleaning a lot, it is a piece of plastic that while said to be safe is still made of unnatural chemicals, they make marks on the face sometimes/redness and they mess up the baby’s ability to choose when they want to be soothed via sucking (parents often keep stuffing it back in their mouths when they spit them out). Plus, they look plan goofy to me.

We chose the thumb route as parents.

But people have a difficult time respecting this. We have had friends and relatives pop soother’s in our baby’s mouth even after we already told them we do not do soothers. Right infront of us. Gentle “okay that is enough” often is not enough to stop them until a “I am serious, stop” comes out of my mouth.

I am a non confrontational person, mostly as I find I have difficulty managing my anger. I feel as though when I am angry, if I speak, I will say something incredibly nasty. I normally go very silent, sometimes unable to find calm words for the moment.

I am working on being more assertive, for my baby. I am trying to remind myself that I am not in the wrong to parent my way. I may not have years of parenting experience, but I do have years of psychology training. I understand the concept of how to break thumb sucking in a child, and why some keep doing it long after the toddler years. One reason is, they have not found an alternative self-soothing coping strategy and must find one to break the habit (preferably something healthy). I successfully transitioned from thumb sucking to other coping techniques, my baby can too.

I have a plan. So please, stop sticking soothers in my baby’s mouth.

Daily hell.

I have been more forward in recent years about the anxiety I’ve felt.

I do not often talk about the particular anxiety that has hurt my life from a very young age.

I fear losing things. People. Animals. Possessions. Memories.

When the fear starts I fight the urge to cling onto everything that I can. My mind creates connections between objects and their represented meanings towards something that is important to me.

I have tried writing journals/diaries in the past. And if you look at them, you will be shocked at what is written. It is a day to day, minute by minute, insignificant detail by detail account of a day. Often along with a detailed time stamp on the entry. Not just day, month and year; but also day of the week and time. Depending on my level of anxiety I may include the time down to the second. It caused me so much anxiety being unable to record everything in a day that I had to stop trying.

I used to love photography. I had to stop because I got so anxious about getting the right shot, that I would take so many shots and miss out on life. I would get so per-occupied and stressed about missing moments that I would actually miss everything staring through the lens. So if you see me not taking photos, it is because I know I cannot.

Sometimes I know there is something in the garbage or recycling that has been tossed that I have associated as important to a memory. I often fight the urge to dig through.

My hubby has been trying to get rid of mountains of clothes that do not fit us anymore, and I know there are clothes in the box that hold memories for me. I am trying to just let them go but the boxes have been sitting there for weeks and I am just hoping we will keep “forgetting” to get rid of them.

I no longer acquire or want flowers as in my attempt to keep them forever, I have gathered a bouquet of dried flowers that serve no purpose other than to stress me out when I have to throw them out.

My house is cluttered because I cannot do the healthy thing and purge my place of items I no longer use, or do not need.

My fear is that I will pass this unhealthy attachment to items onto this tiny baby I am growing. I fear I will want to keep every single drawing, piece of homework, and the 1000s of artwork my child will make. I fear this because I used to try and keep mine, going through my schoolwork at the end of every year was always so difficult for me.

I hesitate to throw out old shoes, broken dishes, clothes with rips, unfix-able items, papers, ect. Today I hesitated throwing out a used ziplock bag because my mother gave it to me. It actually took effort to throw it out.

This is my little hell, I struggle with it daily. I do not want my baby too as well.

Letter to my future teen

Hi there,

Truth is, I won’t be able to stop you from doing drugs or experimenting with drugs if that is what you want to do. I won’t be able to stop you from drinking in a dangerous manner either.

It is a personal choice we all have to make.

My parents, your grandparents, did not approve of drug use. They hoped their children would not make that choice. Perhaps my mom was a bit over-protective, as you may find me to be in comparison to your father.

But the choice not to do drugs was ultimately left up to me.

To tell you the truth, it never interested me. I like being in control of my own actions, and as you will know by now, your parents only drink occasionally.

I was considered unusual in school for my lack of interest in alcohol, mainly because drinking is what one is expected to do in high school parties.

Why didn’t I join in? I had respect for my parents. I listened when my mom said I could have one drink, and that was it. But mostly I had respect for myself.

For you see, drunk people and high people act like morons.

I watched my friends puke all over themselves. They injured themselves from falling or doing tricks while drunk. If I intervened in the interest of their safety, I was considered uncool. I eventually stopped going to the parties.

But I still heard the stories. As you will too.

I just hope you will not have to live with something you will regret.

As I said, it is your choice. I cannot be there all the time, nor would I want to be. Please call me if you are under the influence and need to get home. We won’t yell. We will discuss the situation in a calm manner when you are sober.

Just please, do not drive while under the influence. Please do not get in a vehicle with someone under the influence. Nobody wins in these instances.

The news is full of stories of people making desperate decisions due to their dependency on drugs or alcohol. Truly saddens me.

I just hope you will make good decisions for you, because you want more for yourself.

I love you,

Mom

Why?

I did not understand why I couldn’t ask the nice couple about the car we were trying to buy off them.

I did not understand why I couldn’t talk to the sales associate when I had questions about the item my family was interested in.

I did not understand why I should not trust this person or that person, but just don’t.

I didn’t understand why I could not go here nor there.

My dad used to tell me not to do “this” or “that”, but never why.

I learned not to ask why, as often my questions were met with a scowl.

Eventually I just learned to nod and stay quiet.

It took me a long time to understand why he said those things.

I often said the wrong thing, as children innocently do.

I often talked non-stop and dad could never get a word in.

Dad had been hurt by some people, and was warning me not to get too close.

It was not safe over here nor over there, but I was unaware of the danger.

For my dad was protecting me in his own way- in the best way- he knew how.

Even if he was unable to explain it to me.

Later to be translated by my mother.