Words, Words

In the mess that was freshman year of college, I met someone I really liked. This blog is already sorta anonymous but for her sake, I’ll call her C. She and I were in the same “group” of friends, but I always felt like I got along with her more than the others. When I made jokes the rest of the group didn’t get, C usually did. When the rest of the group started trying to exclude me from activities, C would stick up for me and make sure I was included. I appreciated that a lot more than I ever let on.

Now this year, I’ve moved on from that whole group. I have a lot of new friends who actually want me around, and I’m done fighting to win over people who couldn’t care less. But I do genuinely miss C, and I often wish I could let her know. The problem is, she’s still super close with this group of people that I really can’t handle in my life right now. I don’t want to start drama by trying to re-establish a solid relationship C and not the rest of them. So that leaves me at an impasse.

At the moment we’re both reblogging random things on tumblr, and I’m looking at her posts wishing I could ask her about what she thought of the golden globes, and if she remembers all the fun we had watching them together last year. That night is one of the only positive memories I have of my spring semester.

But we haven’t spoken in months, and I don’t think I can find the words to tell her that.

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Excuses

Tonight my dad once again got on my case about “building my resume” and doing more to succeed at school because I’m smart and I can. Meanwhile I’ve spent the past week sick to my stomach, barely able to eat or sleep because of anxiety.

My dad doesn’t know much about my anxiety. He knows that in Junior year I went to the doctor and got put on Fluoxetine, and he knows that I briefly did therapy in the months after. I think he knows that I’m still on meds. He doesn’t know that I recently had to increase my dosage. He doesn’t know that I spent most of the past year doing weekly therapy sessions.

After living with it for a few years, I’ve come to accept certain things about my life. It’s a lot harder for me to be happy, so I spend more time trying to find happiness than success. I can’t take on as much as other people or I’ll make myself sick. Sometimes, even when I am taking on less, I get too sick to do anything at all. This is how I live with GAD and panic disorder, and sometimes I hate that I got dealt this hand, but the truth is it’s not going away.

I have never, ever wanted to use my mental illness as an excuse to lower my personal standards. I can and will do amazing things with my life. But it’s harder for me. A lot harder, sometimes. That’s what he doesn’t get.

He doesn’t understand the struggle of being a woman in business either. Doesn’t understand that from the time we are born, women are taught to be Less, to ask for less, to question ourselves before we speak. There is a very real confidence gap between the genders, and I don’t want to let that hold me back, but god dammit these issues have been afflicting me since the moment I was born and I just want some acknowledgment of that when he tells me I need to try harder. I am trying, dad. I am giving no less than my very best, though I know you look at me and see potential for so much more.

Never in my life have I wanted to use my gender or my anxiety as an excuse, but sometimes I just want to sit you down and yell and scream that you don’t understand. I am lucky in so many ways, I grew up with opportunities you never had, but I have also struggled in ways you can’t imagine.

I don’t want to make excuses. I don’t want to be pardoned from the difficulties of life. But I need you to see that these difficulties exist.

Back At It

So, honestly, I haven’t been posting because I forgot this blog existed. Then, when I logged on for the first time in two months I felt this huge fear that someone had actually read what I’ve written, and I didn’t want that. It terrified me. I started this blog because I’m so bad at opening up to people in my life, and I thought maybe being honest about my thoughts and feelings in front of strangers would be easier, but it sort of isn’t. The internet is forever, and the anxious part of my mind keeps saying that someday this will all get traced to me and somehow ruin my life. But the rational part of me thinks my fear is stupid and knows this blog is the best terrible idea I’ve had in terms of helping myself face it.

On a different note, when I woke up this morning I had this memory come to me and I’ve been thinking about it all day. It was Junior year of high school, and I had decided to quit the debate team when our season ended in January. But I was so scared to tell my parents, the coaches, and my friends on the team that I just… didn’t. After the last round of our final tournament, the entire team was gathering around my friend (the only Senior on the team) talking about how weird it was that this was her last tournament, and reminiscing about their favorite memories from the past couple years. And I was sitting with them feeling sick, because it was my last day too, but no one knew that and I couldn’t bring myself to tell them. I wanted nothing more than to join in and talk about how conflicted I felt walking away from the team after three years. I just sat there and felt awful instead.

I don’t even know if there’s a moral to that story, but it’s on my mind. There is a certain strangeness to everyone around you trying to care for someone else when you’re going through the exact same stuff.

Rational Feelings

I’m a very logical person, which means a lot of times I’m basically a mystery to myself. The issue is, I get the thing I’m feeling confused with what I think I should be feeling.

Case in point: I went to the 1989 World Tour a couple weeks ago. And objectively, I’m not the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the room. I don’t really like country music. I don’t understand why our culture idolizes performers so much. And although I know enough about her to say she seems quite sweet and charming (she gave some of her fans christmas presents, which I find adorable) I don’t know enough about her to like her just as a person like a lot of fans seem to.

So I’m sitting in my seat waiting for the concert to start, and of course I’m excited. I’m about to see an artist I love perform songs from an album big enough that my own children may listen to it someday. That’s exciting stuff! I’m smiling to myself and feeling good! But then… the lights go down. The stadium screams. Swift comes on stage. And I start crying. Which is embarrassing, because no one else in my section seems to be reacting with half as much emotion. But I just, I can’t stop. I cry all the way through the first three songs (and yes, the third song on the setlist is Blank Space, and I never imagined myself crying to that one, but it happens anyway).

Eventually I get ahold of myself, only to break down a couple more times during particularly meaningful songs or speeches. After the first time, I’ve surrendered myself to it. Because, I realize, this concert means a lot to me.  Objectively I’m not the biggest fan in the stadium–not even close–but I know this is going to be one of the defining moments of my year. I still couldn’t tell you why, even if I had hours to write down every possible cause and effect (it had been a long week, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the concert, and the way the stadium lit up was pure magic). It’s beyond explanation, but deep down inside myself I feel sure that that concert will be one of the most incredible things to happen to me all year.

But the tl;dr in that story is this: I have reasonable (logically thought out) expectations about how I should feel about this concert. I show up and my emotions are not at all what I thought. And it surprises me.

I surprise myself with my feelings a lot. Last year I had a lot of tension with some friends, and for a while, being around them made me feel sick. They hadn’t explicitly done anything, there were no big issues or fights between us, so I was confused until it finally hit me that I was mad at them. This was, to say the least, a shock. It literally took me *months* to figure out, and I’m almost certain it was because I was angry over such petty things the logical part of my brain was like “you just can’t be upset about that, it’s not possible!” and I decided I wasn’t. Except I was, and our relationship suffered a lot because I couldn’t be honest about how I felt. I felt too stupid about it, because it was irrational, but that doesn’t mean it was any less real.

I don’t want things to be like that anymore. I want to be able to talk to people about how I’m feeling even if especially if those feelings aren’t “reasonable” or don’t “make sense”.

So I leave you on a positive note: I spent a lot of this past weekend feeling down. I wasn’t eating. I’d sleep all day. I think I only left my room one or two times, and only because it was absolutely necessary. But nothing was actually wrong, and I hated that. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help without being able to explain why I was so overwhelmingly upset, and there was no explanation. And then, weirdly enough, I asked for help anyways, and I got it.

I think sometimes it’s okay to feel things you don’t understand.

Homesick

“Home is wherever I’m with you” -Edward Sharpe

I haven’t felt at home since I left for college 13 months ago.

I feel like pieces of myself were left in my hometown, in the memories there, and in the people that now live hundreds of miles away.

Being away from the place and people I grew up with is something I thought I’d never be over, until that day in the distant future when I have the chance to move back to where I belong.

But a piece of myself lives in my new city now. When I leave school during breaks, I miss my classmates, my dorm, my favorite study spots. Going back to visit my family and friends doesn’t make me feel complete in the way I once did.

Is this what growing up is? This feeling that you no longer have a real home, that home is just a collection of people and places that you’ll never truly be able to reconcile? This constant sadness that the relationships you work so hard to build will only be temporary in the long run?

I know rediscovering various parts of ourselves is what brings us back to those important people and places throughout the rest of our lives. But in the meantime, I still miss those parts like crazy.

On Getting Sick and Wasted Time

Junior year of high school, the time when my anxiety and depression was at its worst, was a lost year to me. Simply surviving took so much of my time and energy, I didn’t have anything left to put into living. I watched myself fall behind in extracurriculars, let friends drift away, and miss experiences that I’m never going to get back. Ever since then, I tend to get really stressed if I feel I’m wasting time or wasting an opportunity. I don’t want to lose any more of my life to idleness.

I had a conversation with my therapist about this a couple days ago–I was complaining about how sad and anxious not having plans the previous Friday night made me, because it felt like this was just one more moment of life I was missing out on. In response, she said something along the lines of “there’s no way for you to get Friday night back, just like there’s no way to get that year of high school back. It happened, and wishing it could be different is only going to make you unhappy. Since you can’t change it, you need to move on and focus what you can do to make sure the future turns out the way you want it to.”

And at the time, I kind of brushed it off. This is a new therapist for me and I’m still not sure if I really like her advice. But then, yesterday, I got sent to the hospital.

So what happened was, I got some sort of stomach flu that ended up affecting me way more than it had other people. Meaning, I lost a lot of fluid, then my blood pressure dropped like crazy, and I was on the verge of passing out before I finally decided that it was time to call an ambulance (I don’t have a car, and it’s not like I could have driven anyway). Once I got to the hospital, they hooked me up to an IV and I started feeling better. But due to delays, testing mix ups, and the fact that they wanted to monitor me for a bit, I was kept there for about 12 hours.

So all in all, 6 hours in bed sick + 12 hours in the hospital + 15 hours of sleep once I got home  =  around 33 hours of time I “wasted” this weekend.

Yet when I woke up this afternoon, I wasn’t upset about it at all. I was just thankful. Thankful that it hadn’t been worse. Thankful I had only given up a day and a half of my life to get back on my feet. Thankful that I had a support system in place to help me catch up on the work I’d fallen behind on. Yes, I had lost time, but I knew I could now move forward and everything would be fine.

I need to start thinking about Junior year, and “lost time” generally, that way. No resentment, no regrets, just acceptance and moving on. Unfortunate things will happen to me throughout my life: I’ll get sick, or miss my chance at something important, or make a bad choice. But dwelling on it isn’t going to help things get better.

All I can do now is keep looking forward.