(This, from yesterday, while in the dish.)
I just heard a firetruck and suddenly…I am freaking the fuck out. My place is a tinderbox. I’ve been out of my bubble for four hours and my stomach is in knots and churning painfully and I NEED TO GET HOME NOW. But I am stranded in the dish being a good friend and my neuroses and panic don’t give a fuck about that. I need to get to my bubble, make sure it is ok. This is not normal. This is my life, though.
Yep, that’s what it’s like for me to be out in the dish of petri. Hand wringing, stomach churning, panxiety. It’s been this way for many, many years. No one understands it, they view me as anti social, weird, avoiding, always in a hurry, to self important to spend time visiting. But enough bad stuff happens to you…Paranoia and anxiety become a malignancy that borders on post traumatic stress. Not that the counselors or doctors want to hear about the reasons that have helped create the neurotic monster that is me. Friends and family definitely do not want to hear about it. So I suffer. And make no mistake about it, living that way IS suffering, especially when you’ve used every therapy trick in the book, medications, sucking it up. You end up feeling like a failure. And society, even those in the mental health community, perpetuate this unintentionally.
Frankly, for every day I manage in the panxiety zone, out in the dish, even if a basketcase…I consider myself successful. Low standards? Perhaps. But working up the courage, the stamina against all those anxieties eating away at you every moment you’re outside your bubble, and staying the course as long as you have to…It doesn’t matter if you only manage to “succeed” once for every time you do not. Mental illness isn’t a game to be won, it’s not a series of odds. It’s life. Your big “win” is just surviving with this albatross.
The odd thing was, once I was home, place not burned down, no bad news in the mail box, all my stuff inside safe and sound…I started to calm, to not feel so threatened and scared. Off the hook from dish responsibilities (ain’t it sad that I consider hanging out with a friend who buys me smokes and lunch a stressful responsibility?)…I was better. Not great, of course. My kid is trying, her little friends are trying. All the housework is exhausting, just looking at it and not even doing it because I feel buried alive and it’s an anxiety that feeds itself even when I start doing what needs to be done because…it’s never enough. The carousel never stops turning when it comes to housework. The daily mundane chores. Worrying that leaving that sink full of dishes and the floor unmopped will result in a visit from someone who decides your housekeeping skills are “unfit” living conditions for a kid.
No, the anxiety doesn’t simply go away because I’m in my bubble and feel less threatened. And it’s not idle neuroses, either. Again, I’ve always had generalized anxiety but the last ten years or so of the malignant anxiety…is because I’ve witnessed the worst happening. I’ve SEEN that which cannot be unseen. Is it logical to fear it will happen again because it happened once?
That would be one of those questions for the so called professionals and their DSM that say it’s okay for people to be permanently scarred by war or rape or abuse or any other traumatic (as seen by society) event. Who gets to determine what qualifies as traumatic and damaging to a mind?
This is in NO way meant to detract from the seriousness of PTSD and what people go through with that.
This is about things that happen to alter a person, alter their perception, increase their fears, give shape to the monster in the closet. Things that imprint and you fight it and sometimes, it gets better. Only to inevitably get worse again. Because the event IMPRINTED. The notion that we can rid ourselves of this imprint with some psychobabble and whatever technique of the week (which some of them sound stolen straight out of the whackadoodle Scientology club) is laughable. There can be recovery. There can a lessening of symptoms. A change in how we process what damaged us. But it will never ever go away. The memory, faint as it might become, remains.
I’ve been saddled with traits from pretty much every personality disorder known to man. Yet few of these professionals slapping these asinine labels on me bother to hear me out and link why I am paranoid, socially awkward, scared of crowds, a bit love/hate borderline when it comes to relationships. How can you ever fix what’s wrong if no one will look at the root causes? Is it a disorder or is it just something that gives me the right to be wary and a little on edge?
I was bullied in school for six solid years. Usually by kids in groups, pack animal mentality. I hurt no one, kept to myself, and still…They tortured me. Spit on me. Passed my journal around for laughs.
Why would I not be wary of crowds and scared people will torment me?
My parents were together for 28 years of miserable marriage and pretty much agreed on nothing and screamed at each other for everything. Does this make me borderline or is it just that all I ever saw was love/hate?
What few friends I’ve had over the years have made it clear, and I mean, in their own words, “Niki’s the weird girl no one wants to hang out with, so I feel sorry and talk to her.” Why wouldn’t I be socially awkward when I got this treatment from “friends”? Which into adulthood became “friends” who made it clear, “You’re cool and all, but I can’t handle your mood swings and depression and it’s embarrassing to go out with you and you have panic attacks so everyone stares.”
How can one spend years minding their own business, yet for whatever reason, elicit rude responses on weight, looks, clothes, et al, from people in cars, walking, in stores, and not be paranoid?
As I became an adult, it did get better. Not my anxiety or wariness, but as long as my mind was stable, I managed to go out and not let it stop me from living for the most part. Except my mind was never stable for long and I’d go down the rabbit hole again and again. I started seeking out friends of my own ilk in depression support groups (back when they had them here). And it was wonderful. Until they all started to get well and I was still stuck on my manic/depressive hamster wheel. They tried to keep in touch, tried to be supportive. But after years of me not improving, and actually getting worse…They all vanished. And maybe I pushed them away because I was too depressed to get dressed or shower, let alone go out and do normal things.
Every relationship I had with guys was an exercise in torture. For them and me. My mood swings and shut downs are living hell. How I ever expected anyone to be strong enough to cope with that aspect is beyond me. But doesn’t that make it easy to see why I prefer being alone? I don’t want to hurt anyone but I can’t change my bipolar.
I had a reaction to Nardil than nearly killed me and left me brain damaged yet everyone still expects the before incident version of me. Is it any wonder I get so stressed around people because I can’t undo what’s been done and be that super smart capable manic person I once was?
I woke up with my building on fire once. The firemen had to drag me out and I wouldn’t leave without my cat. I sat in my car for two hours with my cat, no one even offered me a blanket even though I was in my pajamas, barefoot, no coat, no keys to even warm the car. Hard not to think the worst of people when they exhibit the worst. Also easy to see why after watching my home burn in shades of red and orange and yellow why bright colors now set me off. And why I am scared of not having a home because of a fire. Because that’s exactly how it was, I had a job, but nowhere to live and no savings.
Fear of coming home to my stuff missing? It happened three years ago when I was in a good mental state and not even obsessing. Walked in and tv and laptop are both gone. Never saw it coming. Now first thing I do through the door is make sure the laptop replacement (which I waited two years for R to fix up for me) is still here and I have old m CRT televisions no one wants. Best way to avoid robbery is to own shit no one wants, right?
I am not making excuses for my neuroses. But they are all so easily explained. Maybe a million other people would be rattled a bit and move along. I don’t have that Teflon coating and it all sticks. The anxiety metastasizes. And I get to go through life labeled dysfunctional when I think pretty much all my dysfunction is easily explained, managed for the most part, and not some big hindrance to functionality. Normal functionality, perhaps. But I do what I have to do. Does it matter if I can’t survive four hours in the dish without being consumed by anxiety. I try.
It still sucks worse than a bunch of Dysons, Dirt Devils, Bissells, and Dustbusters all running at the same time.
I. am. still. here. And all I want is some understanding. I got this way for very legitimate reasons. So instead of being labeled and flogged for lacking a Teflon coating…It would be really awesome if I could receive some credit for my successes and the fact that in spite of my failures…I keep trying.