Category Archives: Depression

YouTube

I fully intend on continuing to write here, I’m just a bit burnt out on it for now.

In the meantime I have been making videos on YouTube regarding all the same stuff I write about here. I have a total of three videos posted as of this post.

Check them out if you like.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3KOi-Y0gQioRcQpG17hwGw

I have the videos set to 18+, so you will probably have to log in and/or “verify” your age.

It’s My Birthday, I can talk about what I want.

I have been going through quite a change the past few weeks. I feel like I’ve almost become a new person. In reality, I am just finally able to access things within myself I couldn’t before.

I started partaking of a certain herb and, boy, has it been good for me. The herb wipes my anxiety out, lessens my depression quite a bit, and gives me energy. It also keeps my physical pain to a minimum, even when I am physically active.

I have been able to do household chores without having to take a million energy and pain breaks. I am able to feel genuinely happy. I am able to concentrate on projects. I am able to concentrate on imaginative ideas for stories, etc..

I am building back muscle strength I haven’t had in years. I have lost a bit of weight, hopefully more to go soon.

I am getting so much done!

It took me a while to find the mixtures of strains to achieve these effects, but when I did, damn, things changed a lot.

I also found a good strain to help me turn off and get the best, most restful nights sleep, ever.

I am rested and ready!

No, I am not high all the time. These beneficial effects last much longer than the high that comes with partaking. I spread it out so the effects I need are there when I need them.

Something Slightly Related

First off, for some added information and context I recommend reading another post of mine, if you haven’t already, before reading this one. Click on the link. Something Slightly Related to Quarantine

I decided to write this post mainly because I promised one of my brothers I would explain to him the depth and details of my family issues (I’m sure you didn’t skip the post I asked you to read first for more detail and context, it really will help you to understand this post). I also decided to write it for my own therapeutic value. And, as my regular readers already know, I choose to bare my soul to the world via this blog to reach out to others going through similar or the same mental health and physical health issues I am, so we all can understand that we are not alone; and that chronic illness and mental illness are not to be shamed or stigmatized. We are stronger for our struggles, not less because of them. And, lastly, because it is easier, and better, I think to write to an unknown audience rather than speaking directly to my family members about this. Speaking directly to my family would mean having to use words such as “you” which can unintentionally bring up feelings of blame and defensiveness, which I completely do not intend to do here. I do not blame, fault, or feel harmed in any way toward or by my family.

No, I am not ashamed to let you all know I have family issues, virtually everybody does. Family is hard game.

Before I actually dive in, I must point out that by no means do I intend to be rude, mean, or anything malicious toward my family. This is an unavoidably emotional topic and, sadly, mostly negative emotions, so I can not avoid pain and heartache, I am sorry. I love my family, but love doesn’t erase pain here in reality; here in reality love tends to amplify pain. We wouldn’t hurt nearly as deeply if the pain came from someone we don’t care about.

Obviously this is all being told solely from my point of view and personal experience. I am sure some of the things I say here about how I feel and why, etc., will be all new information for my family. My siblings, I think, do not realize how little they actually know me. I have always felt that they do not value me and have little to no interest in really knowing me and have taken little effort to know me. I am not being cruel, this is my experience, but mostly just my feelings and intrusive thoughts (at least I hope so). Part of my mental illness includes self-loathing, self-harm, and unwanted intrusive thoughts: “I’m not worth loving.”, “No one cares about me.”, “No one wants me around.”, “I’d be better off dead.”.

Try living with those thoughts and beliefs in your head nearly 24/7 since virtually the day you were born.

I spend everyday in complete fear that I will be misunderstood. It has happened to me many, many times and lead to hurt and anger to all parties involved. There are two types of misunderstood I mean here. 1.) Someone just taking something I said in a way I did not intend. And 2.) The worse one for me. No one ever understanding me, at least not at the depth or level I need them to. I’ve spent my life feeling like a stranger in my own family. It seems they all either just can’t fathom who I am, or they just don’t even try to.

Again, no cruel speak here, The rational me knows these thoughts and feelings are untrue. But the monsters in my head beat into me that those thoughts are true.

Another reason I feel like a stranger among my family is that most of my family members are extremely opposite to me. They are conservative republican, christian, heterosexual. I am liberal democrat, atheist, bisexual. These are not the only differences that make waves, but the ones that tend to make the noisiest waves.

Growing up, sometimes I would be told straight forward that I was in the wrong for believing something I believed. But most of the time I felt like I was a bad person, or dumb, because I felt, believed or was something my family thought poorly about. I would hear conversations, comments, etc., on these topics.

When I was young I just stayed quiet about my differences. My family is the type of family (as many are) that dealt with conflict by avoidance. Just don’t talk about it, don’t acknowledge it, ignore it. Don’t make waves. So I did just that, I stayed quiet.

This is probably why I never felt known or truly seen in my family.

I even took it a step farther for most of my childhood. I tried to be what they were. I tried to think like they thought, believe what they believed. I wanted to be “good”. I love them and I wanted to get along with my family, be comfortable with them, and accepted by them.

That didn’t work out. I ended up with worse depression, anxiety, and impostor syndrome, and I’m sure all of this fed my rebellious nature that I had already developed due to my type 1 diabetes diagnosis (whole ‘nother story there). Of course, as a child I had no idea I suffered from any of these conditions, I just thought it was the way things were. This was life. No one in my family thought anything about my mental health, mental health was treated the same way as conflict, an avoided topic.

All throughout my twenties I slowly realized what individuality was, and that there wasn’t anything wrong with the real me, I am just different from my family, a different mindset, different values (not totally, but enough), I’m different from them in many ways and it doesn’t make me a bad or wrong person. They are each their own, and I am me. I stopped trying to be what I am not. But I didn’t stop being quiet around them, I still felt a sort of shame and wrongness about myself when I was around them; only when I was around them. I continued to feel like a stranger in my family. I continued to think they had no interest in knowing the real me.

In my early thirties I started to be much more comfortable with the real me. I was completely open and honest with my friends and acquaintances, and it felt super nice, it felt so right. And I was completely accepted, comforted, and even celebrated by them. And I happily returned the favor. With my family I started to slowly relax my quietness about myself. I felt no need for ceremony or “coming out” or anything like that, my attitude was more of a “when it happens it happens” kind of thinking.

From my early twenties through to now (cough, 41) I have kept my family at a distance, except for my mom, I could never live without my mommy nearby to see or to talk to. I rarely talk to her about avoided “conflict” subjects, I’m scared to death to hurt my mother. But the rest of the family I keep at a distance, I could only handle occasional and short interactions with them. My explanation for doing this summed up is because while visiting with family I am glad to see them, glad to be with them, I love them dearly, but soon the talk begins to smack of our differences. I see, hear, and am reminded of how much I do not fit in with these people. My feelings of strangeness, black sheepness, and the totally untrue shamefulness of me grow and grow. I feel tired and drained and I just want to go home to my safe place. Although I mostly have a wonderful time with my family, I almost always come home depressed, anxious, guilty, and terribly frustrated. All-in-all this keeping them at a distance and only interacting once in a while worked just fine for me for twenty years.

Now, however, with all the very loud, in-your-face political frustration going on, and the pandemic, and the racial inequality issues, and the LGBTQ issues all raging and raging and raging, My family issues have been stinging me right and left. I know my family has had no problems on their end, because they have each other and share mostly all the same beliefs and stances. I am over here standing alone among my family. It quickly begins to feel like me against all of them. I’ve never felt like I was against my family, just different from them, but now, with so many immensely important issues and choices we all have to face and make very soon if not right now, I can’t help but feel like it is me against them.

I profoundly dislike feeling this way.

So, over the past several months I have been feeling more and more extreme depression, anxiety, and frustration when I interact with my family members. It’s draining me and hurting me very, very much.

The other day it came to a head and I had an epiphany. I can’t stay quiet anymore. If I keep biting my tongue around my family I will end up biting it off. Considering they don’t want to hear my “shit”, and this is all tearing me to bits from the inside out, I decided to cut ties with many of them.

It’s broken my heart to do so, but another thing I’ve finally gotten through my head recently is that I am by no means required to harm, hide, or change myself for other people, no matter how much I love them. I am learning how, and starting, to put my needs and health first.

You may recall in the other post related to this one (the one I strongly recommended you read first) that I said I love my family and would never give them up. I do not want to give up my family, I truly hope this cutting of ties is not permanent. Maybe the work I am doing in therapy will heal me enough to ask to interact with them again. I love them dearly and already miss them.

On a last note, my intrusive thoughts are screaming that my family is very happy I have cut ties, they feel they can now relax and be truly happy without my shitty ass around to fuck up their good time.

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Since November 2019 I have been working especially hard on overcoming Social Anxiety and Agoraphobia, as well as the depression that comes with it.

All three of these illnesses have been super overwhelming and crippling ever since August 2019. I have been isolating, suffering a myriad of symptoms including both insomnia and hypersomnia, dissociation, and a strange inability to differentiate between dreams and reality (probably part of the dissociation). I had to quit my awesome job because of anxiety and not being able to leave my house. These are just the main symptoms I have to deal with daily, there are plenty of others that pop up here and there as well.

Needless to say, these illnesses have cost me a lot and have been an immense struggle to bring under control. I have yet to get enough control to live effectively.

I have been seeing a therapist once a month. I am on depression meds and anxiety meds. And I am attending a Dialectical Behavior Training (DBT) class once a week. I also have wonderful, essential, and indispensable support from my hubby, mother, and friends.

With all of these tools I have been able, slowly but surely, to make positive progress. In February I suddenly felt a large lift in depression. I felt good, I felt almost normal. My anxiety lifted noticeably as well, although not nearly as much as the depression. The only thing left unchanged was the agoraphobia. I still couldn’t leave my house more than twice in one week.

Normally in DBT class I do not actively participate in discussion. I listen, I study, but I do not talk. The past two weeks, with the improvements I felt in the depression and anxiety, I found myself participating in those class discussions. Everyone in class noticed and gave me positive reinforcement. You see, they are there for very similar reasons to me, they understand the struggle and they celebrate the accomplishments of others.

*Side note here. DBT class comes with homework. I always do the homework. And the point of DBT is to teach skills to help overcome anxiety and other issues and meet crisis with effective tools. The point is to use the tools that we learn in class in our lives. I have been using them, practicing, and trying to improve.

It is a lot of really hard work.*

Last week I came home from DBT class with the discussion on my mind. It kept rolling around in my thoughts because it was so close to me, my struggle, and my desire to help others. I have always wanted to be there for others in any way that I can. My social anxiety and agoraphobia have greatly affected my ability to do so. I decided to give myself an exercise to help me be more social and be able to be there for my friends as I’ve always wanted to be. So I posted the following on my Facebook.

“In DBT class today one thing we talked about is the importance of having someone you can talk to who wont judge you. Someone who will listen, validate, and empathize.

If you don’t have someone like that, just know I am here to listen.”

The post got many likes, loves, and positive comments.

Then one person posted something I didn’t quite understand, so I asked for clarification. The thread of hurtful posts and responses that followed from this person were a shock to both me and many of my friends who saw them as well. This person is close to me, we love each other.

Yes, my Facebook is private, only people on my friends list can see and post.

I couldn’t understand why this person was being so cruel. Why try to ruin my efforts to help both myself and others? I was trying to do something good and this person was tearing it all down. Why?!

We had a back and forth right there on my Facebook thread. We also had a back and forth through text, and that is where this person completely ripped my heart out and crushed it to smithereens.

It was very hurtful to do what they did on my post. But it was a million times worse to say what they said in text.

They told me I was more or less a cry baby, “Oh, poor me” about my physical and mental health struggles. They said all I wanted was sympathy and attention, etc.

I write this blog, and am such an open and honest book, in all places of my life, about my physical and mental health struggles for two reasons, and two reasons only.

1. Education – People who do not have to live day in and day out with any kind of chronic illness (and some who do have chronic illness) tend to not understand at all what it means to live this way. They tend to make assumptions that are totally wrong. They are ignorant to what these illnesses are, who the people that live with them are, and what it all means. I write my blog and live as an open book in order to reach out with information and education to these people. Ignorance tends to breed teasing, bullying, cruelty, heartlessness, etc.

2. Reaching out to others who struggle – I write this blog and live as an open book because I want to let others who struggle with chronic illnesses understand they are not alone. There are many, many of us out here and we understand what you are going through and we want to be there for you. You are not alone!

One of my biggest fears since I decided to open up and be an open book about all of my struggles is that people would misinterpret it as a cry for attention and sympathy, and a “Oh, woes me.” attitude of unhappiness.

I do not want attention like that, I never ask for sympathy, and I am not unhappy at all. I have major physical health issues, and I struggle with mental health, but I accept it all, this is my life and I make the best of it. I am happy despite it.

So, hopefully you can understand how the text from this person completely crushed me.

It hurt me so badly that all my hard work over the past several months was demolished, all my progress set back completely. I tried not to let it, but it did. Depression is raging out of control, anxiety so high I am having nightmares, and agoraphobia so bad even the simple thought of going onto the front porch to get the mail is frightening.

It is a huge setback, but I will get back to where I was, and I will continue to improve. I just keep trying.

Yes, I told them how they’d hurt me. I also told them I am cutting off correspondence with them until which time they can acknowledge what they’ve done and bring themselves to apologize. Is that too much to ask?

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can kill.

This Is Me

To whom it may concern,

My name is Tamra, I was born in California and have lived here all my life. I come from a large family and was loved and raised in as normal an environment as I can tell. That is to say, I was not abused or neglected.

I have had anxiety all my life. Truly, I’m pretty sure I was born anxious. This is not an exaggeration by any means. I constantly worried about what could happen; “what if…” was always on my mind. I consistently second guessed and doubted myself. I never had a positive thought about my abilities, looks, or anyone’s opinion of me. I always knew I was loathed and hated and not wanted around. My earliest memory of any of these kind of thoughts and ideas of myself was when I was five years old. I’m sure I had them earlier, I was just too young to remember. No one taught me to think or feel this way, I naturally did.

This anxiety was of the general variety, although as I grew it became more localized to social interactions. I did not like to be around people. I loathed school, church, shopping, parties, anything social at all. To be around people brought up worries that I was being judged, and judged negatively. I just knew people thought I was ugly, dumb, etc.. I also worried about making a fool of myself, what if I fell in front of everyone, what if I said something stupid and affirmed their belief in my low IQ. What if, what if, what if…

Since I was virtually born thinking I was ugly, dumb, worthless, and everything negative you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to completely believe it all. I developed a soul-deep self loathing and hatred.

I come from a family thick with type 1 diabetics. There are six of us that I know of, my father, an aunt, one of my brothers, two cousins, and myself. Type 1 diabetes does have a hereditary link, but not always, and it is extremely rare for it to be so prominent in one family as it is in mine. I was diagnosed at age eight. I felt frightened, I knew what this disease is, I knew how dangerous it is, I knew I would forever have to take shots, prick my fingers, eat carefully, and would probably lose a leg, go blind, and die young. It was the mid 1980’s and these were the possibilities at that time. I was scared, devastated, and I acted out in anger. These feelings and behaviors never lessened, I never faced them or dealt with them, and everyone around me took my anger as a symptom of my constantly high blood sugars rather than for what it really was, a cry for help, and need to properly deal with my fear and devastation.

I spent the next few years rebelling against my diabetes with a passion. I did not watch what I ate unless my parents were literally right there with me. I did not check my blood sugars unless I was forced to. I was always running sky high blood sugars. Over those years I heard from a couple of different people words to the effect that a diabetic who doesn’t keep their blood sugars under control are committing a kind of slow suicide. This struck me, and not in a good way.

I strongly believe at that young age, being as self-loathing as I was I didn’t develop a suicidal nature but a self-harm nature. I hate myself, I’m worthless, especially now that I am a type 1 diabetic, I’m worthless damaged goods. It only makes sense that my rebellion, my refusal to care for my diabetes has always been my way of self-harming. This has always been my way of punishing myself for being such a worthless piece of shit.

My diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and the fact that I already had anxiety (undiagnosed) is what, when, and how I developed agoraphobia. At least this is my theory. After my diagnosis of diabetes I stopped wanting to go outside the house as much. It wasn’t super bad, I would go out to places I knew well, and especially if a family member was with me. But I rarely would offer to go out or want to go out of my own choice. Obviously it wasn’t very severe since no one in the family picked up on any issue. I do not remember having any fear of the outside, but I was still young and children are often unable to articulate their thoughts and feelings very well.

For three years I lived in rebellion of type 1 diabetes, pure hatred of myself, anxiety, and mild agoraphobia. Then, when I was 11 years old, on a cold February Sunday afternoon, my dad had a massive stroke right in front of my brother and I. I was literally petrified in terror. Dad died the next day. I knew it was complications of his type 1 that had caused his death. I was traumatized. So was my brother. The two type 1 diabetic children watched their type 1 diabetic father die of type 1 diabetes. The trauma had opposite effects on us, my brother became militaristic in his extreme tight control of his blood sugars. I, on the other hand, decided it was worthless to even try, I rebelled even more. I hated diabetes for killing my dad. I hate diabetes! I have diabetes. I hate that I have diabetes! I hate myself.

So the self-hatred and self-harm worsened.

My 8th grade year my agoraphobia got so bad that I was ditching entire days of school. It got to where I was ditching about two days a week. At this time I was living with my mom and my brother closest in age to me. My brother was in high school so we were going to different schools, and my mom worked more than full-time so it was easy for me to get away with missing so much school. That was, until the school notified my mother of what was going on. I got caught and so I started back at school without the ditching.

No one ever suspected I had anxiety. No one ever suspected I had agoraphobia. No one asked me any questions, they just reprimanded my bad behavior and expected me to straighten up. When I followed the rules, that was it, no more thought about it.

So I went untreated.

My high school years weren’t much better. I hung in there pretty well although I did have a lot of anxiety. I hated school, I hated being around people, I hated teachers picking me out in class to answer questions, I hated having to give speeches and reports in front of the class, I hated being stuck in classrooms all day, I hated being told what to do and how to live, I hated having to be responsible. I dealt with the anxiety by playing sick as often as I could. My sophomore year I learned how to ditch the occasional class. My junior year I graduated to not just ditching the occasional class but also ditching entire days again, just like back in junior high. My senior year of high school I ditched so often that I almost didn’t graduate due to poor attendance.

In the end I did graduate. But the anxiety and agoraphobia were still unnoticed by anyone, including myself.

Agoraphobia is not my only symptom of anxiety, I scratch my scalp uncontrollably, it doesn’t itch, it’s just a ‘nervous’ habit. I also pick at my skin which leaves me with lots of cuts and scabs. I bite my nails and the skin on the sides of my fingers until they bleed. I crack my knuckles, rub my hands, bounce my legs, drum my fingers. Sometimes when it’s really bad I rock back and forth. I fidget a lot, I clench my jaw (I have TMJ from it). I am not prone to panic attacks, but I have had a few in my time.

After high school the anxiety didn’t get any better. I tried many times to go to college but I couldn’t stick with it. I couldn’t stand the classroom environment, the crowds of people. Add to that the freedom that comes with college and adulthood that you didn’t have in high school and childhood. I was able to miss class as often as I wanted, I was able to drop out whenever I wanted; that is, whenever the anxiety got to be too much to handle. I took as many online courses as I could, but I wasn’t able to stick with all of those, either, because it’s not just people and the outside world that I can’t handle. I also can’t handle responsibility, apparently.

I went through part time minimum wage jobs like a person with a cold goes through tissue. As soon as the anxiety of responsibility mixed with the anxiety of social environments and the outside world got too much, I would up and quit, take some time to recoup and then find a new job.

My twenties were especially tough. I got married at 20 and moved in with my hubby, his brother, and their mom. It was a 960 square foot house with virtually no privacy or quiet. I hadn’t realized it until I moved in there that I really, really need alone time and peace and quiet in order to handle my anxieties. I hung in there as well as I could but within five years I had a nervous breakdown. Think about it, I was working at social jobs with social anxiety, I had agoraphobia so it’s not like I can escape anywhere outside the home, but my home life was noisy, crowded, and provided no comfort or privacy. I was bound to breakdown, I’m just surprised it wasn’t much sooner.

I came home from a long, hard, anxious day of work. The TV was on, the housemates were arguing, one with me. I needed to make an important phone call but the phone battery was dead, again. Hubby got home and dug into me about something. I started crying, arguing, I needed him to understand how I felt, what I was going through. Hubby wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise. I exploded. I jumped on him and shook him, I was sobbing, “Just listen! Just listen to me!” I got off of him and I shoved everything off our dresser top, I threw a couple things across the room. Then I sat down and sobbed and hyperventilated. As I sat there heaving for breath I saw one of hubby’s swords and I wondered if I was strong enough to fall on it or shove it through my chest.

We got through that and things got better once we got our own place. One thing that came out of that nervous breakdown that was good, though, was that for the first time in my life I realized I have an anxiety issue.

Took long enough. But I didn’t think I needed help, I just needed to adjust a few things in my life.

It was in my thirties that I developed some really bad coping mechanisms, worse than I had already been using to cope. The economy was bad, finances were dire, everyone in our circle of friends was struggling. We would all get together every weekend and drink ourselves sick. I found that I have a few drinks of choice, vodka, Jager, IPAs, and sometimes rum. I have to stay away from tequila, though, it gets me real sick real fast. Drinking did what drinking does, it numbs the anxiety, it quiets the worry. We always smoked tons of hookah while we drank as well. Tobacco numbs the stress, too.

We did this for a few years. It was tons of fun. Myself and a couple friends went so far as to create a drinking card game tailored just for our group of friends. I named it Fuck Your Friends because that was the object of the game, to get your friends totally sloshed. It worked too well and eventually we had to shelve it because it was getting dangerous. Lot’s of people got so drunk they blacked out, threw up, or got out of hand. One night I got so drunk playing this game that I shattered a handle of vodka in my hand and cut it up.

Yeah…

Eventually these weekends tapered off. The economy improved, people were able to find jobs again, finances improved, and people matured. The reason I stopped wasn’t such a lucky one, though. I stopped because I landed in the hospital having triple-bypass heart surgery. My heart trouble wasn’t caused by the drinking and smoking, but it was made worse by it.

The initial heart disease was caused by my lifetime of not taking care of my type 1 diabetes. And also a smidgen of heredity on both sides of my family. Here I was 34 years old having triple-bypass surgery.

Another life trauma. This one self-inflicted. My self-harm was having a grand old time.

To add to the trauma of heart surgery, four months later I started on a year long journey of eye surgeries. Diabetic retinopathy, yet another self-harm party going on there. I endured four, count them, four eye surgeries in a nine month period of time. Also two laser treatments. Eye surgery is done while you are wake and aware, by the way. One of the surgeries the nerve block they use so you can’t feel the pain wore off before the surgery was done. Excruciating pain. MY blood pressure was through the roof from the pain. I writhed and struggled on the table.

You would think a person would be super angry about something like that. Angry at the doctor (in all honesty it was not his fault), angry at the facility, angry at anyone that can be blamed for the screw up. I wasn’t, I took it in stride, I chocked it up to me deserving it, because I did this to myself, because I’m a screw up.

Once all the surgeries were done and I was healed up the agoraphobia exploded. I was shut up in my home, all the shades drawn. I did not answer the door, I did not answer the phone. I was so depressed I did not get out of bed. I knew something was wrong, I knew I wasn’t well in the head, but I couldn’t access my feelings, I was numb.

Eventually I sought help, medical help. This is when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Soon after I was specifically diagnosed with agoraphobia and this was the first time in my entire life that a light bulb went off in my head. I was beginning to understand, certain things in my past and present were making so much more sense.

For a while things got better, a lot better. The medication eased my depression and therapy eased my anxiety and agoraphobia.

Then another sort of tragedy. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This in itself wasn’t the tragedy, the tragedy was the weight gain. I’ve struggled with obesity since I hit puberty, but I had long since become comfortable with my weight. But then when my thyroid went to shit and I gained 30+ extra pounds (despite medication) of which I can’t lose no matter what I do, I plummeted into depression and even deeper self-hatred, insecurity, and horrid self-image.

I quit my depression meds and stopped going to therapy. It’s strange that at the same time I was struggling, my life was also getting better. I was dealing with the horror of being extra fat at the same time as getting a new really good job, and paying off all my debts, controlling my diabetes, and just everything in life being awesome, except the weight shit.

And now for current events. Life was wonderful, better than ever. Then on December 8th, 2018 my husband’s brother had a very sudden and totally unexpected massive heart attack and died. Everyone who knew him loved him and everyone who knew him was devastated. No one more than his wife, mother, and brother. I was devastated by my brother-in-law’s death and by my husband’s devastation.

My agoraphobia came back. My anxiety got worse. I started to have nausea and vomiting. I started to call in to work. Eventually I knew I needed help again. I started therapy again and I started depression meds again. Things stayed steady for several months.

Then more trauma. Hubby and I were in a car accident on the freeway. The car was totaled but we were only bumped and bruised. A week later I went to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. Come to find out it was a really bad panic attack and I was diagnosed with post concussive syndrome. This caused my anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia to rage out of control.

A few weeks later I quit my awesome job because I couldn’t handle work anymore. I rarely leave my house, I can not handle any kind of responsibility, have both insomnia and hypersomnia (who knew you could have both at once?), and I am often dissociative. And what freaks me out the most is often I can’t differentiate between dreams and reality. My dreams are so vivid (nothing new there, they always have been)I sometimes think they are real, and my reality feels like a dream. I also have trouble with my memory sometimes.

And there you go, this is me.

Tony, It’s Been A Year

For about two weeks now the anxiety had been growing and the depression had been deepening. Not just for me but for many friends and family as well. As each day went by and December 8th got closer, everyone’s heart grew heavy with the refreshed pain of loss.

An entire year has gone by since we last heard his voice. That laugh, oh, that gigglish laugh that made everyone around him laugh as well. One year is too long to have gone without seeing him, talking with him, joking with him.

And then we realize, this is just the first year, how the hell are we going to keep going on without him?!

All year long every single time I would see a picture of him, or experienced a memory of him, I would be once again shocked and surprised that he is dead. As if it had just happened.

How can this be?! How can he be gone?!

It’s all different, nothing is the same without him.

Every time hubby needed help, advice, a level head, or just someone to talk to, he would go to his brother, he would go to Tony. For an entire year now, he still instinctively takes that path, and then stops short, remembering, and his heart dies a little more.

For an entire year now, at least once a month (that I know of) hubby falls apart and cries.

“I miss him so much.” I know, my love, I know.

He’d been crying more often as the 8th loomed closer.

In a group of friends who thrive on jokes and fun, nobody wanted to laugh or joke on the 8th.

A huge blackness, as heavy as it is eternal had been boring through our hearts all day. We came together to comfort each other and celebrate the life of Tony. But there was no celebration. The comfort of friends was there, love was all around.

Just as equal was the sorrow.

It is strange how sometimes the small things we took for granted are the things that leave the loudest silence. I miss hearing hubby yell at Tony over Xbox Live Chat when they would play their games.

“Tony, Tony! Cover me!”, “I got you, Tony, I’m right behind you.”, “Damn it, Tony!”

It used to annoy me. I used to complain about the noise.

Now all I hear is the profound silence of my husband’s broken heart.

I would give anything to hear him yell at his brother again.

I WANT TO MAKE HIS PAIN GO AWAY!

I see my sister-in-law, Tony’s wife, and she’s a trooper. Going on with life, she’s made all the adjustments needed to live without her partner. She’s strong in that respect, the getting business done part. But you’d be a fool to think she’s OK.

She’s broken. She’s not the same. She has the heaviest heart on the face of the earth. And she has every right to.

She has no choice but to keep going. And she wants to keep going, it helps with the immense pain.

I observe her and I can see the shadow of herself within weeping continuously, trembling in agony, silently screaming.

Every time I see her I want to hold her, I want to cry with her.

I FUCKING WANT TO TAKE HER PAIN AWAY!

I have no clean conclusion to this post. Everything sucks and we all deserve something happy after this crappy year.

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A Social Job With Social Anxiety

I’ve had social anxiety and a mild case of agoraphobia virtually all my life. Most of my life these didn’t interfere with my ability to function and prosper as a regular person. There were recently a few years where they both became severe enough to impact my life fairly negatively, even though I have refused to admit it until now.

As I now have a job and it is completely social in nature it has given a stark contrast view of me now and me over the past four years or so.

I spent the past four years unemployed, and the vast majority of those four years were spent in the cozy confines of my home.

I didn’t want to leave the house.

I felt anxiety at even the thought of going outside or interacting with the world and it’s inhabitants.

I only left the house if my hubby or mother were with me…my security blankets.

I felt conflicted all the time because I wanted to interact and hang out with friends and family, and I wanted a job, to be a responsible, functioning, and independent adult. But I didn’t want to…I was overwhelmingly (most of the time) anxious at the thought of doing these things.

It was only during these four years that my anxieties were this bad. Before these four years, before my health (heart, eyes, neuropathy, etc.) went to the crapper, I was pretty darn social despite the social anxiety and agoraphobia. I had these anxieties but they were mild enough that I could push those thoughts and feelings to the far back corner of my mind and live my life just fine.

I’ve always worked in customer service. Face-to-face with all kinds of customers and personalities. And I did quite well.

I enjoyed going out and hanging with friends and family, and going on trips, and doing all kinds of things outside the house.

I was no social butterfly, but I certainly wasn’t a shut-in either.

Going back to the four year high anxiety flare-up, I tried to get past, to get a hold of it fairly early on. Well, it was about a year into it that I realized and admitted to myself there was something seriously wrong. I was deeply depressed, to the point I would lay in bed for days, not shower, and hardly eat. I would be laying in bed thinking “I really need to get up and do stuff”, but then just stay there. “There’s something wrong, I need to care.”. But then I just couldn’t access those feelings, I couldn’t reach my motivation and my ability to care about anything at all. It was there, but so deep, so buried, blocked off from me.

When I had to leave the house I would be near a panic attack, I’d have to literally force myself out the door and overcome the thoughts and desire to just run back inside and screw whatever it was that I needed to leave the house for!

It was my endocrinologist who took one look at me one day and knew something was terribly wrong. She referred me to the psychology (Mental Health) department. I spent several months in therapy and a couple years on a fairly low dose of Cymbalta.

It all helped but didn’t totally stop the issues. I finally got to the point where I stopped going to therapy. I felt I didn’t need it anymore, and probably didn’t, but I’d be lying if I didn’t point out that one reason I stopped going was because I didn’t want to have that requirement to leave the house!

I eventually chose on my own to stop the Cymbalta and that was just fine, I really didn’t need it anymore and it was causing side effects that were really unsettling.

Anyway, now that that long backstory is done let’s get to the real reason I’m writing this. A month ago I started a new job. It’s full-time, and it’s a customer service job. I really wanted this job and was excited and super happy when I got hired.

I was also overwhelmed with anxiety.

A full-time job. I’ll never be home! I’ll have to be out in the world all day practically everyday!

8 hours a day, five days a week of interacting with people! And strangers at that!

I was worried I couldn’t do this. I can’t handle this!

Come to find out I’ve been doing pretty darn well with it all. I easily talk and interact with my co-workers. Very little stress there. This is probably thanks to the fact that I have my security blanket nearby all day. My hubby (my security blanket) works in the same building and the same schedule as me. We do not work side-by-side, but he is there, and our breaks often overlap. And since hubby has worked there for several years I had become acquainted with several other people who work there as well, so it helped to already know people ahead of time.

The first three weeks I was in a training class. It was myself and six other people in a classroom setting learning all day long. So it wasn’t so bad, especially once I got to know these people.

This past week, though, I’ve been ‘live’. This means I am in the full mix of the job, working with actual cases, customers.

I was so friggin’ nervous, insecure, anxious the first day. But it turned out to not be so bad. Then day two came around and the anxiety, instead of getting better, got worse. and then day three; by now I felt I should be getting a better hang on the job but I didn’t feel I was so I beat myself up about it and was being extra hard on myself so the anxiety just got stronger. Day four was the worst.

At the opening of day five I was talking to hubby on the way into work and telling him how very insecure, anxious, and worried about my ability to do this job. He made it clear I was being too hard on myself.

“You’re still new, you’ve only been doing it for a week, you’ll get it, you’ll be fine.”

“I just feel so overwhelmed, there’s so much to remember and sort through, and I have to do it all in the moment.”

I had the overwhelming desire to run back home and hide from life.

Yes, the dealing with customers, the social interaction, was weighing on me as well, making it all even worse. More difficult to concentrate. Thinking things like “They think you’re dumb, you can’t do your job. Why are you so slow? How do you even work here when you can’t even do the job?” just adds to the low self-esteem about the job, it makes the insecurity even worse. Such lack of confidence really hurts performance.

As the fifth day got started I quickly realized and noticed how much I had been improving all week. I suddenly felt like I could actually do the job! My confidence grew more and more. Customers were thanking me for all my help, “You answered all my questions.” “You gave me all the information I need.” “Thank you for all your help.”

Even the negative customers made me feel better about myself because I proved to be able to handle them with tact and confidence.

And through it all I had in my mind the awareness that despite my social anxiety I was still able to be cheerful, professional, and outgoing.

And not once did I think anything along the lines of, “I want to be at home”.

I can do this. It’s not going to kill me.

This Year (2017)

My, oh, my, has this year been a frustrating one. But, hey, there was a lot of good to happen here at the end!

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I tried really hard to start the year out happy. I was determined to get my health under control. I forced myself to think positive. But I wasn’t happy, I had zero control over my health; my body was doing its own thing and it wasn’t good in the slightest. I tried to be positive, but I was actually feeling hopeless.

Most of the problem was the fact that I was gaining weight and couldn’t figure out why no matter how hard I tried to lose I just kept gaining. I was utterly frustrated and depressed over this. I felt so lost.

It overwhelmed me so much that I just burnt out and shut down for a few months.

The first half of this year my anxiety and depression were very strong. I was on medication (Cymbalta) but when I realized it was no longer working and instead was making me not feel anything at all… well, I was feeling, but those emotions felt fake and detached. It was weird and unsettling so I stopped the medication. Once I was off the medication and other things in my life started improving the depression and anxiety shrunk to a level I can live with and function with.

Of course, the type 1 diabetes is always there, it’s never not there. No matter what happens in life, diabetes is there. There’s always that struggle. There’s always that need for constant vigilance, constant awareness, constant work. There’s never a break from diabetes and if you take a break anyway, it’ll bite you in the ass big time.

Due to my thyroid problem – and the struggle to figure out why the medication made my labs look perfect but the symptoms still raged on – my blood sugars were massively high and no matter how much insulin I pumped into myself they just wouldn’t come down. This just added to the weight problem, the depression, and the anxiety.

And  then there’s the agoraphobia. I don’t ever really go into much detail about it and I won’t here, either. I guess I’ll write a stand alone post all about my life with agoraphobia. I’ll say here that it is related to my other health issues, and very much to my anxiety.  This year I had my ups and downs with it, but I think I did pretty well not letting it control me… for the most part.

I write this blog for two main reasons. 1. To reach out to other diabetics and people with chronic illness; we are not alone! And to reach out and inform others about type 1 diabetes and related complications. 2. As my own therapy, a way to ‘get it all out’.

I want to help others. I’ve always wanted to help others in any way I can. As a child I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor when I grew up. As I got older I learned that I love psychology and I am drawn to and fascinated by behavioral psychology. I then dreamed of becoming a therapist, especially for people struggling with the psychological and emotional effects of type 1 diabetes. I never made it through college, but the desire to help remains.

This year my desire to help has blossomed into other things as well. I find myself not only involved with the diabetes online community but involving myself with other charities and awareness campaigns as well.

It feels good to help however I can.

Getting back to my health issues, obviously my main struggle this year has been with my hypothyroidism. Once we figured out that I am hypothyroid and that that wasn’t going to ever go away, I started taking Levothyroxine (thyroid replacement hormone). The Levo worked great at making my labs look good, but it did shit to stop my symptoms. I continued to have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism but the two main symptoms were the weight-gain with inability to lose and the massive insulin resistance.

As time went by and the symptoms raged on and had a very bad effect on my life and sanity, I began to do my own research. I found that a good number of hypothyroid patients that take synthetic thyroid medication have the same problem I do, good labs but no relief of symptoms. I found that many of these patients when switched to a natural desiccated thyroid found both good labs and relief of symptoms. I went to my endocrinologist with this information and requested to make the switch. We did, and all of a sudden all my hypothyroid symptoms are either gone or greatly reduced!

Now that I am actually able to lose weight again this has rejuvenated my desire to do my part to be healthy. There is no motivation better than seeing positive results! I am back to eating right for my body’s needs. I am also working out a lot. This year has also been the year that I discovered how very much I love to dance. I am terrible at it, but I love doing it, so I chose dancing as my exercise of choice. I simply put on some upbeat music, grab a couple two pound weights, and dance my heart out until I just can’t go any more. As I build strength, energy, and stamina I am able to push myself a little longer, a little longer, a little longer.

It’s great. I feel great!

Some of you may remember my mentioning in a previous post that I was diagnosed with yet another incurable disease but I refused to talk about it. I still refuse to talk about it but I will say, although it will never go away, I do have it under pretty good control and am getting better every day.

I talked a good deal about suicide this year. It was just that tough of a year health wise. I have never been so close and long-term in contemplating suicide as I was this year. I can’t say that I’d never actually attempt suicide, but certainly can understand how it feels, what it is like, to be so hopeless, frustrated, so desperate as to think there is no other option for relief.

Please keep in mind that it wasn’t just the weight-gain and insulin resistance that lead me to thoughts of suicide. It was those and the type 1 diabetes, and the chronic nerve pain, and regular ol’ life struggles, and depression, and anxiety, and all my other illnesses and the impact they have on my daily life and the life of my close family….

But instead of suicide, I chose to search for answers. I turned to science and I found another, better, option. It took guts to try something that might not work. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of how devastating it would be if this other thyroid medication didn’t work. But I tried it anyway. Thank science it worked!

Just getting one illness under control took so much frustration and burden off of me that I can now handle the weight of my world again.

The year started out hopeless and is ending with more hope than I’ve had in years.

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Paradox of Suicide

*Explanation: I am toying with an idea for what I think will end up being a short story. This is an excerpt from my very rough draft. Thoughts? *

With the thought of what One should say when One writes their suicide note; what should One say? What, in actuality, is the point of the note? To explain why? To try to make them understand? To say goodbye?

To whom? Who would read the note? One is unloved, unwanted.  One is worthless, ugly. One can never do anything right. One has failed at everything and will fail at this as well. One cannot live right, and One will not die right, either.  No One wants to read One’s note because no One cares, everyone will be happy to be rid of that worthless burden.

But One would digress to say such things. The note is not for others as much as it is for One. But One could not write a note to One’s self because One has never lived with One’s self in mind… One has loathed One’s self more than anyone else could ever loathe One. One’s self-destruction did not begin recently; it has been in existence as long as One has existed. One has always lived with others in mind. One has not loved One’s self, but One has loved all others beyond reason.

So One must write the note with others in mind, even if they do not care. Even though they do not love One.

One would begin by letting the others know that they hold no burden of fault in this; it is all One’s fault. One knows that One is loved, One knows that others care. But One can never believe it. What One knows to be true One cannot believe. This is One’s mind.

If other’s that care were to actually exist, they would want to understand why. And this One could try with all One’s power to explain, but One would know for certain that they won’t, they can’t, fathom the depths of torture One’s mind has forever wreaked upon One.

No matter what One knows to be utter truth, One’s mind has cemented other certainties that can never be torn down. “It is impossible for anyone to love you. You are not worth loving.” “You are disgusting, ugly, repulsive.” “You are good at nothing, you are worthless. You fail at everything and you will never be good enough.” “You are not worth the air you breathe. You are a waste of space.” “Nobody wants you around; you should leave, just disappear.” “Even your own body is trying to kill you, let it!”

On and on they speak with authority. One’s mind is never quiet from them. One’s mind cannot escape itself. One fights it. One screams for it to shut the fuck up. One cries.

One has lived with this One’s entire life.

One is tired. One is done.

If One understands even One thing, it is that the others who would read the note would feel compelled to comment. “You are loved.” “You do matter.” “Think happy thoughts.” “Just ignore it.” “Pray, have faith in God.” “Let him and God will heal you.” “Get some therapy.” “Go on medication.”

And with these comments and many, many others like them One would be utterly certain that One failed at getting others to understand. Just like One fails at everything in life.

Their comments and suggestions would simply make it all worse. Do they not realize One has done all of that? One has tried everything to make it go away, to make it better, to fix One’s self. If it were so easy as thinking it away or having faith, it would have been gone forever ago!

One is alone, even when others are around; especially when others are around.

So, One thinks of death. There is nothing once life has ended. Nothing.  Total nothingness. That sounds comforting to One. No noise, no feeling, no weight. Nothing. This sounds like heaven to One.

But One does not go to the nothingness because One knows for certain that One fails at everything. This means One will fail at suicide as well. And that failure is unacceptable.

One fails at life, and One fails at death as well.

 

This Month

A lot has changed over this past month. Mostly good things. 20170721_074149

First, and most importantly, my depression is pretty much gone. I finally pinned down what was making it flare so bad the past few years and figured out how best to deal with it (get it under control). It’s a complicated story full of many linked triggers and contributors. So many I didn’t even list all of them here.

It had been a number of different things that compounded to cause and ultimately make worse the depression and anxiety. It all began with the unrelentingly horrific pain of my diseased heart. A couple of years of constant, debilitating, pain that doctors could not properly diagnose and treat will certainly cause a depression. Then the realization that I had a heart condition and the sudden and frightening massive heart surgery that changed my life forever just fed the depression. Then the year long struggle with my eyes; eye surgeries, loss of driver license (independence), and dealing with a forever “droopy” eyelid fed the depression even more.

I know a lot of people who are reading this and thinking, “it’s all in how you look at it, I know it’s difficult, but just think happy and the depression will fade”.  NO! That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works!

I’m not done with the story…

All of the body’s systems are related.  ALL of them. That’s how the human body works; different systems do different things, but they all work together to make a living, functioning being. A person with type 1 diabetes has a chronic hormonal auto-immune disease. Anything that involves hormones, even one specific hormone (insulin) affects the entire body, even the chemicals that regulate emotion and psychological balance.

It’s not a matter of “thinking happy thoughts”, it’s all about chemical and hormonal balance; it’s physical.

Yes, I could have, and did, “look on the bright side”, but that did nothing to change how I felt because I had no control over my chemical and hormonal functions, and since my body was ill, neither did it.

Anyway, moving on to the other causes of this dark time in my life. Not long after the heart surgery and eye surgeries (4 in one year), we moved into a new home. It was a nice home in a quiet neighborhood with nice neighbors. Also, it just so happened to be surrounded by large trees and buildings that made it a very dark home. Even when all the shades were open, the house was dark. There was very little natural sunlight. Since I was home all the time (no job and no ability to drive and already depressed and developing agoraphobia) I got virtually no sunlight exposure. Both darkness and lack of sunlight exposure caused a depletion of vitamin D which feeds depression as well as promoting other illnesses.

So I fell even deeper into depression over those two years.

Also during this time I was gaining weight even though I was trying to lose, and was diagnosed with the vitamin D deficiency, as well as other illnesses that are chronic. This all fed the depression.

Finally, we moved. The home we moved into is very sunny due to many windows and not much to block the sunlight from coming in.  With the new exposure to sunlight (and taking Vitamin D supplements) my body was able to lift out of the depression a little bit.

But over the next few months I struggled with a sudden and debilitating case of thyroiditis that eventually left me with hypothyroidism.  A very prominent symptom, and you might say side effect, of hypothyroidism is depression because the thyroid controls hormone levels.

My endocrinologist prescribed Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid replacement hormone, and over the past several months has been keeping an eye on my thyroid levels and adjusting the medication to get me at the perfect levels.

Well, during most of the time that the above story takes place, I, of course, had been trying to fight the depression and anxiety. I struggled to figure out just what was causing it and why it was so bad. I could be naive and assume it was just because I was going through emotionally tough times, but I’m not ignorant and I understand that depression is so much more complex than just how you feel. I knew there was an underlying physical issue going on.

I went to therapy to help with the emotional/psychological part of the issue, which helped a bit. I went on medication to ease the chemical imbalances, which helped a bit. But the depression and high anxiety persisted.

And I am the type of person who insists on finding the root cause and “curing” the illness, not just treating the symptoms. But, as someone who has more than one incurable disease, I understand that not all illnesses are curable.  But, I fight on to gain control!

With my health becoming more stable, my depression and anxiety naturally lessened. Especially with getting the thyroid issue under control. Just this past month, with the raise in Levo dose, I feel so much better!

I stopped my depression medication which was it’s own ordeal, but feel even better without it than I ever felt on it!

I started taking St. John’s Wart which is claimed to “promote a positive mood” even though there are plenty of scientific studies that do not show that it does anything at all to state of mood. It may just be a placebo effect, but I do feel a tad bit better.

I’ve also been working on being more physically active which we all know helps the body to balance those feel good chemicals a little bit.

All in all, I have come completely out of my depressive, anxious illness and feel emotionally and psychologically better than I have in a long time.

 

On another topic, this month I was diagnosed with yet another incurable illness. I am not going to tell you what it is because I still have not completely wrapped my mind around all of it… I need time to ‘deal’ before I talk openly about it. According to my doctor, I’ve probably had it since childhood (we traced symptoms all the way back to around 7 years old) but most people who have it never show any symptoms… but because I am immune-compromised (Type 1 diabetics are considered to be) this is probably why I have had disease specific symptoms over the past few years. There is no cure, but as with all my incurable illnesses, it can be controlled.

So I began to take immune health promoting supplements (Vitamin C, Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin B complex, a multivitamin, Vitamin D) as well as getting more exercise, which we all know promotes immune health, and continue to try to eat healthy and keep my blood sugar under control.

It seems to be helping. If anything, I feel better all around!

 

So, in conclusion, I feel great! I hope to continue to keep my depression and anxiety at the minimum and keep up with the increased exercise which really helps with all my current issues.