Back in the Habit

A few weeks ago, I fell into a massive black hole of suck. I’ve had down days here and there, but this was the first time in really long time that I was scraping the bottom of the emotional barrel for no discernible reason. It was the kind of bad that made me bribe myself with take away coffee and overpriced pastries in order to get myself to go work. And once I got home, I could not pry myself off the couch. Continue reading “Back in the Habit”

Don’t be dick to yourself – and other New Year resolutions

On New Year’s Eve, our group started talking about resolutions. My friend Michael asked me about mine. I proudly said, “I resolve not to have any resolutions.” to which he said, “but that is a resolution.” and I was all “Well, shit.”

As I’ve said before, me making a list of resolutions is like me making a list of things I’ll only get worse at/not do. But this doesn’t stop me from thinking about them. And they’re always the same goals/desires:

  • spend more time pursuing dreams, less time worrying about day job
  • eat better so my arteries won’t crap out by the time I’m 50
  • move more so I don’t go into cardiac arrest when I’m climbing stairs; also so pants will stop not fitting
  • take better care of my skin so I won’t look like I’m still in puberty
  • read more so I don’t rot my brain
  • do more so I don’t one day die with regrets (spoiler alert: likely to happen no matter what I do)
  • make a billion dollars so I can stay home and not have to worry about putting on real pants

2016 was, for the most part, an extremely hard year. Going into January, I was super confident. I thought, “this is going to be a good year. I have my new, awesome job where I get to contribute creatively and work with great people, my hair is growing out (this is important), my office is organised, I have a writing plan, and everything will be gravy. I’m happy, I’m content, and I feel like I’m on the right track.”

And then, it hit me. I woke up on the last day of my Christmas holiday with an unshakable sense of impending doom. And on January 4 I woke up in an anxiety attack that didn’t dissolve for almost a week. So I went back to the doctor for a benzo script, after close to two years of not needing xanax. And that sucked.

I thought I was just anxious because we had a big month at work coming up – there was a lot at stake, so I was nervous/excited to be a part of it. But January blurred into February and February blurred into March. March blurred into April. April into May. It never got easier. I wasn’t sleeping without having nightmares. I dreaded every single day. And at some point I came to and realised that all my savings had been burned through, the apartment was constantly a mess, our bills were late, and I found myself paralysed without my phone, jumping at every notification as if someone’s life depended on it. It was easier to count the days that didn’t end in some form of panic. Every weekend included some sort of sobbing breakdown, either to Joel or to my Mom or in text messages to my friends. I just couldn’t control myself.

It was hard to admit to myself that I was back in a shit place. I spent so much of 2015 in denial that I was so homesick it spun me into depression, and there I was, robbed of 6 months because I refused to admit defeat. I mean, I knew I was good at standing in my own way, but it turns out I’m really good at putting myself in harm’s way to prove a point to no one.

After I quit my job and took some time off, I realised my two rough patches were the result of me pushing myself for a career that I knew I wasn’t suited for, but that I felt I needed to be suited for, and thusly wouldn’t let myself quit.  I realised I have to listen to my own red flags – it doesn’t matter how cool your job is, how awesome the people you work with are, if the stress makes you go back on medication and back into therapy, it’s not a good fit.

So this year, I would like to focus on one things only:

do not be a passive aggressive asshole to self

And really, that’s it. I don’t think of this as a resolution, because it’s not like losing 20lbs or drinking less alcohol. It’s the “be kind to yourself” bullshit that’s not actually bullshit but a really important life skill.

Naturally, I want to develop better habits and achieve things, too. But I’m not going to make a giant posted list, because I’ll feel like I have to achieve them all RIGHT NOW or I’ll be a failure. So I’m going to take it one step at a time and you know – not be an asshole to myself about it. I need to get myself to a place of stability and consistency before I can stack myself full of expectations and plans.

I’m taking this year one month at a time. For January, my goal was to find a more interactive writer’s group and a class of some sort. I got the Master Class for Christmas and I’ve already started it, so now all I need to do is find an additional group to join. I don’t know what my goal is for February, because I haven’t gotten there yet. That’s February’s problem.

See? I’m already applying my resolution. (ha)

ALL THAT BEING SAID – here are things that Joel and I plan to make happen and that I’m REALLY EXCITED ABOUT for 2017:

  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Taking driver’s safety course and getting more experience on the road so that we can
  • Go on non-staycation holiday! (although Joel and I had 4 uninterrupted days together for the first time in 2 years and it was fabulous. I’d rather have the time in the Blue Mountains or on a beach somewhere tho)
  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Upgrading to a queen size bed
  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Becoming an Australian resident and finally putting all the visa jibba jabba behind us (fingers crossed this happens around July)
  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Investing more time in myself
  • ADOPTING A DOG (my biological clock is barking)
  • make a billion dollars so I can stay home and not have to worry about putting on real pants

I mean, not having to put real pants on every day is the dream.

Set the bar high, folks. And be nice to yourself.

Happy 2017!

 

 

Poor Tolerance to Minor Disruptions

A few weeks ago, I got Medicare – and universal health care is pretty sexy. Lately, I’ve been seen at a private hospital. So I pay 100% up front, and then I get an immediate rebate. If I went to a bulk billing hospital, I would pay exactly $0. And I don’t have to pay $600/month either. In fact, I pay nothing apart from what I give in taxes. And I’m ok with that. And now I can get assistance with my upcoming therapy. Which is hip hip hooray because that shit is expensive.

As I was setting up my therapy appointment, I was told I would need to get a “mental health plan” from Medicare before they would pay for my sessions. It’s like the referral/in-network authorisation that I had with my insurance back in the States. So tonight I sat down with my general practitioner to get my mental health plan squared away. He called Medicare, gave them my name, a code, and in 45 seconds, I was approved for 10 sessions (admittedly I was a bit shocked at only 10 sessions – even in the States you get 20). Then, my doc had a bunch of questions for me to answer, which I’m sure I’ve answered before in a “Are you Sad” online questionnaire. Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy? Do you experience feelings of dread and worry? Do you think it would be easier if you were hit by a bus? And so on.

And then he filled out a background profile on me to take to my therapist. Which was about half an hour of me over-answering every question he asked while crying. As he was typing, I looked over and saw one of his notes under the “Explain Patient’s Current State” and there was one sentence. It said:

poor tolerance to minor disruptions

And I was all, “Wow.”

I felt like shit, oversharing and crying in the office of a GP who has seen me 4 times in the last 3 weeks and who scheduled my assessment but still asked me “What brings you in tonight” – but seeing that little sentence gave me a morbid chuckle. Shit seems so easy when it’s broken down into it’s medical terms. Poor tolerance to minor disruptions* sounds like a kitchen appliance that doesn’t work when connected to a low power source. Like it’s a physical condition with an easy fix. I just need a tune up. Or a connection to a stronger voltage. It doesn’t sound like racing thoughts, elevated body temperature, stomach and muscles tightening so fast and so hard you almost double over, fuzzy eyes, constricted throat, desires to run away so strong you want leap out the nearest window but you can’t because your legs are simultaneously numb and weak. It doesn’t sound like waking up every morning feeling like you were punched in the gut. It doesn’t sound like lapsed memory, slurred speech. It sure doesn’t sound like sometimes I hate myself.

I used to be well above average at taking things as they came – I used to be the person calming down those with poor tolerance to minor disruptions. I’m wondering what happened. Did I abuse my high tolerance? Did I roll with the punches so hard and fast that now I can’t roll at all? Is my tolerance gland crapped up with cirrhosis?

Time will tell – and to that end, therapy starts tomorrow. I’m crossing every crossable appendage that it’s a good match. I’ve had a much better week this time around, with a few uncomfortable moments that didn’t last long. But I still feel like I could fall off the balance beam at any second.

*side note – I finally have a title for my autobiography.

Enough.

If you’re anything like me, you reach that point. You know, when your inner turmoil gets so twisted and knotted up that you can’t hide it from anyone anymore. When you walk around with a look of permanent panic. When asked “Are you ok?” you can only shrug and try to answer. When you’re so panicked about making one mistake that you make fifteen. When your thoughts are so obsessive and singular that you’re paralysed to think about anything else – like laundry. Or whether you’ve paid your bills. Or if you got home from work and slept for 3 hours and then got up and went straight to bed. Or if this is the third day in a row without a shower.

But yeah. Yesterday I got to that point where I literally couldn’t hold it in anymore, and I had a meltdown about how hard it’s been lately just to make it through the days. In my efforts to not “feed the beast” and be “mind over matter”, I told myself this is just a phase, and it’ll pass. As soon as January is over. As soon as February is over. As soon as March is over. As soon as April ends. Now it’s May. And so far it’s been one hell of a phase.

The thing is – I don’t feel depressed. But I do feel overwhelmed. And terrified. I feel exhausted, but it’s not from working too hard. It’s from maintaining a constant state of worry. It’s all new to me, and it’s been made abundantly clear that I don’t really know how to react.  So I’ve made the decision to get professional help again. It’s hard to live in dread. I need coping mechanisms and life skills. Like implementing a schedule that would hopefully keep me more in line and manage my day to day expectations a bit more. And learning how to draw a line under certain things and acknowledging that I need my own time to do the things that are important.

Just getting it out there and acknowledging that I’m out of control helped, though. I woke up today with markedly less dread, I took a shower and put on make up, and I had a good day at work, and time to do things for myself. My mom always says “where you are now is not where you’ll always be.” And I’m going to bear this in mind as I go forward.

So yeah. Welcome to my journey out of the woods.

Again.