Anxious Human Here (3.0)

It’s me again, your regular anxious Rosie. Here are the things that are making me anxious:

Do people even like me, or are they just pretending? My colleagues laugh, but is it with me, or at me? I sing aloud as I slice bread; do they think that it’s weird? Are they pretending to like me to get close to me, because they need my help with something, or to pass off the bad jobs to me, and once they’re done with me, they’ll toss me aside for another person to play with? Is my housemate pretending to like me, when she nods at my sarcasm with a smirk plastered on her lips mirroring mine? Is she pretending when I ask her what she’s been up to, and seems genuinely happy when she answers? I wonder, does she notice. Does she take note of the scars. The odd eating habits. The isolation in my room. The declining of invitations to go out, to eat together, to ‘bond’. I worry, yes she does.

I have exams starting next week. I have taken on too much tutoring, and there’s very little time for myself. On the other hand, it’s nice to finally have money. I can’t spend it though, because what if something bad happens? If it’s not a necessity I don’t need it. I don’t deserve it. I don’t want it anymore, even though the cute cable knit sweater caught my eye, or the boho backpack, or the fresh bundles of flowers with exotic scents calling my name, or the smell of incense drifting from fair trade hippy grocers, and bath salts from the candle stores. What if I spend my money on nice things, and then something bad happens? I don’t deserve nice things. I don’t deserve self care. And besides, shopping is just another thing to be anxious over. I worry about my finances, even when they’re fine. I worry about my grades, even when they are so beyond fine I don’t need to study at all.

My final grades for second year semester one will be good, but not good enough, because nothing is good enough for a perfectionist. A perfectionist with depression must force people to believe that the sadness is strong. An intelligent perfectionist with depression must force people to see past the grades that act as a mask and ask what the purpose of studying is. My grades are inversely proportional to my mental health, but why doesn’t anyone believe that? Why can’t I be smart, and suffering? Why can’t people see beyond the facade of non-failure and see the anxiety hidden beneath high distinctions? I worry nobody will care to ask until I crumble inward into another mental breakdown.

My nose won’t stop trickling. I want it to stop. People must hate the way I sniff. It’s so loud. I can’t touch the poles on the bus because then I might get sicker. I can’t touch the buttons on the pedestrian crossing because then I might die. I can’t touch the sponges on the kitchen sink unless the water is hot and they’re soaked in soap because that sponge could kill me too. I worry that I have OCD, because I think everything could contaminate me.

The smell of soup is comforting, but I want to have a bath as it boils, and what if it boils over and catches fire and I burn down our apartment building. I want to have a bath to take my mind off the study and the sadness brewing behind my eyes like a nasty headache, but seeing the fresh scars – even though I put them there, even though I needed them at the time – will be triggering. I’m not ready to explore anything. It will make me think of sinking beneath the hot water, the scalding water, because I need my skin to blister and crinkle and buckle, and letting go of my breath as I gulp in the scented water. If I light candles while I soak, what if something catches fire? I’ve always been a cutter, but maybe I should try burning. Just a little. Just a touch. Do I really need more scars? I worry about being judged.

Do I want my next tattoo on my left arm, as I had planned, or my right, where the skin is un-puckered? Am I ready to bare my scarred arm to a stranger, as they decorate my messy flesh with permanent art? Having art on my left arm might draw attention to my scars; having it on my right might detract from them – good. If I get it on my left, I can’t show my parents. Or anybody. I worry about the efficacy of a tattoo to keep me safe.

It’s going to rain. It’s trickling down the windows where the black, possibly poisonous dust collects. I like to dry my washing in the sunshine, but there is no sunshine today. I worry about doing my washing so frequently and other people in my building seeing me go up and down the stairs.

My body hurts. My meds are being increased. My moods aren’t stabilising. My eating disorder is taking control while I’m unwell. If I lose weight while unwell that might be the spark I need to ignite a relapse which is scary but not unprecedented – and maybe even welcomed. My brain hurts from studying and suppressing emotions. My heart hurts. I feel heavy. I worry about the adjective “atypical”.

I’m going to have a bath while I boil soup and light candles and continue to be an anxious human despite it all, and my brain will continue to hurt as the same thoughts circulate through my cerebral cortex, and my sympathetic system will respond to the absent stimulus and cause fear and the familiar sensations of panic will consume me. I worry that I make things up. That it’s all in my head – but where else would you expect to find it? It’s a mental illness.

But it’s all okay. Because I have anxiety. And I’m an anxious human. And everything will be okay in the end, because if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.

Everything will be okay in the end.

It’s not okay.

So it can’t be the end.

Anxious human is done now.

Some Things

I had no idea what to write today. Most of the time, when I sit down to write, or to blog, or to journal, whatever it may be, I have a pretty clear idea of where I’m heading and what I want to achieve. Lately, everything is a mess. It’s so much of a mess I can’t untangle all the thoughts and turn them into words. So instead of writing something, I’m going to write about ‘some things’. Here are some things that are going on for me and my super sad melodramatic mental health club as of late:

I’m exhausted. My body is heavy. I’ve been pushing the exercise hard. I need to lose weight. The only way I know how to do that is push myself to exhaustion. Burn off every calorie I consume. Check that I’m really hungry. Feel for the bones. Make sure they’re still there. It’s weird to try and return to something (anorexia) you once so desperately wanted to be free of (and still do) yet this time, it’s intentional. I never wanted to have an eating disorder, it just kind of grew on it’s own until it evolved into a beast which consumed me. I feel like now, because it’s intentional, because I want Ana back, that’s the reason why it’s not working. I haven’t lost any weight in the last six months. It’s disgusting; I disgust myself. My best efforts have failed. My body can no longer stand starvation. It resorts to binge eating and no matter how calories I burn off, the binges aren’t negated – even though they used to be.

On the bipolar front, I potentially had some hypomania happening but chose to ignore it – stupidly. I didn’t share it with my psychiatrist, although I did tell my usual therapist. I probably should have. I don’t know. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like something else I’ve made up to cope with everything. It doesn’t feel worth mentioning. Maybe, just like with self harm, I want the mania to increase in intensity so people can see how bad things really are inside my own head.

On that point, I haven’t self harmed for nine days. That would be because nine days ago I had a scary SH experience where I should have gone to hospital but didn’t and freaked myself out and don’t want my housemate to find out because that happened last time I was in a sharehouse and was one of the reasons why I left the environment. It makes things awkward. My housemate isn’t my friend. Just someone to split rent and bills with.

I’m shaking a lot. It could be anxiety. It could be the caffeine. It’s probably a combination. Trying to disguise exhaustion with caffeine and then anxiety with exercise and then exhaustion with caffeine does not work. Neither does procrastinating, which is a new thing for me. It goes against every fibre of my perfectionistic being, so I’m not exactly sure why it’s begun now. Exams are soon. I’m scared. Procrastination helps me avoid work, and worrying, and anxiety, and failure. And I’m not exactly at peak motivation right now with the emptiness caressing my soul. And the sadness consuming my brain. And the urges I fight with tensed fists and scattered eyes. The anxiety I fight with exercise. The shame I fight with binging. The guilt I fight with restriction. And on it goes.

I love learning, but studying is hard when my entire mental capacity is filled with so much stuff.

Because I’m trying to be less pessimistic (or bitter, or sarcastic, or whatever you want to call it), let’s end with some things that aren’t so fucking awful and emotionally exhausting. It’s autumn over here in the southern blogosphere, and the leaves are so pretty. I didn’t realise how happy autumn made me until the leaves started to shift from green and brown to red and yellow and form heaps on paths and front yards. People find it annoying, but I think it’s beautiful.

Lastly, I’m going to get my next tattoo (I have one already that’s almost 12 months old now) once semester ends. I’m designing it myself based off Rupi Kaur’s illustrations. More on that later. Believe me, the tattoo will be in a post all of it’s own.

Love and hugs and kisses and all that sappy sentimental shit,

Rosie Bogs.

The Thing About the Future

The future can be likened to many things, some of them literal and some metaphorical. Sometimes it seems that the future is a butterfly fluttering away in the distance, always visible but never reachable. Maybe it’s more of a stone, rolling down a hill and gaining more and more momentum until it’s an unstoppable force. Maybe your future is a little like mine and is best likened to depression – which obscures the future, until depression is all I see and all I can ever expect to see. It seems like the future is an epic weight on my shoulders, the weight of not only my own small world, but the world, the weight of expectation and anxiety. It’s the dark fog that surrounds me, narrows my shoulders, and hunches my back. The rain-cloud that hovers seemingly only above me, dulling everything else.

I’m sceptical that anybody can see the future, even those that charge money for it.

There are some things that help, I suppose (not many, but there are some). They seem to make the future not any more reachable, but at least a little more possible.

I make plans on the good days. Enough said.

Scheduling social time. Somebody once said that depression is more than an illness of the mind, it is an illness of loneliness. Depression makes me isolate, my borderline personality makes me constantly in need of comfort and validation from others (normally in the form of instant text message replies) but anxiety swamps me in social situations. It’s a tricky tightrope to wander, and yes, I do fall off, and very often, but there are definitely times when seeing a friend, and feeling a little more ‘normal’ lifts the depression just a little, so I can gain a glimpse of the future. Future coffee dates, future catch-up strolls, future movie nights. Just a glimpse, but a glimpse nonetheless.

Committing. Not only do I make plans, but I commit to them. It gives me things to look forward to. Also, I hate to let people down, so it’s a bit inevitable that I will commit to plans regardless of how I feel. Unless that feeling is suicidal, in which case I usually end up at the psychiatric emergency care centre, crying into a friend’s shoulder there.

Going outside. Getting to a sensory place soothes and comforts me, and distracts from the depression too. I love to lie in the grass, eyes closed, listening to the birds or the wind, or maybe even doing a guided meditation. If I can drag myself to the bus or have enough energy to cycle, I might head to the beach and wriggle the sand between my toes, or walk into the ocean fully clothed – again, this is not something I would ever do if I was actively suicidal. The outdoors is such a grounding place, and once I find a spot I like, I will return there in the future. This is the only part I miss about my childhood home in Western Australia – walking to the end of the street, over the sand dunes, and down to the beach. Sydney beaches don’t have quite the same amount of seclusion…

Finding a really, really good book. And pledging to finish it. Some of my all-time favourites are:

  • The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak)
  • The Boat (Nam Le)
  • More Than This and The Rest Of Us Just Live Here (Patrick Ness)
  • The Vegetarian (Han Kang)
  • And the absolutely hilarious The One Hundred Year Old Man That Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson).

Being so engrossed in a book that I simply cannot end anywhere else but the end is a surprisingly powerful motive to hold out for the future.

And if you still can’t see the future, that’s okay. I’m sceptical that anybody can, even those that charge money for it.

Sometimes, because of my depression, it seems like my future is all doom and gloom. That’s the thing about mental illness. But the thing about the future? I can’t predict it. The present is the present and the past is the past, but the future hasn’t happened yet. And maybe, just maybe, the future will be a place where my assortment of abbreviated illnesses and I can live symbiotically, rather than fighting for existence.

Anxious Human Here (Again)

Here are some things that are making me anxious:

University enrolment for semester two. My enrolment didn’t open until 4pm which is unusual, because normally it’s 9am, and this is bad because I had work 2-8.30, and my break ended at 4, so I took a sneaky 10 minutes to enrol using my phone at 5, but by this time the classes I needed were full, so now I’ve had to pick different classes at different times which means rearranging my whole life and work schedule to fit in these other lab times, which is stressful. Also, two of my classes clash so I’m waiting for that to get approved, and if it doesn’t then I can’t start taking philosophy to earn my minor, and I don’t know if I am able to fit in enough units to get that sorted.

That was the least literary paragraph I have ever written, which worries me because of how it will be perceived, as I ordinarily consider myself an excellent writer, except when I’m so anxious, all I can do to cope is rant. Sorry.

People are still sitting too close to me on the bus.

People are still questioning my life choices and future career path, and will I ever become a doctor? Will I even want to study medicine once I’m done with my first degree? What if I never find a job anywhere and become just another intelligent person and former school dux who ended up going nowhere at all because she lacked motivation? Why can’t I drop out and read a medical book and gain a qualification immediately? Are my standards dropping? If I’m not earning the marks I need (cough, 90%, cough) that makes me a failure and I’ll never be loved and then I’ll have failed at thinness and at life and be abandoned and alone forever.

The windows on my house are hard to clean. The dust is black. Is it poisonous? I can feel it entering my lungs, my bloodstream, it tastes like poison, but if I clean it, that means touching it and if it is a disease then it’s probably one which is easier to transmit via skin contact. So my windows continue to collect dust, and that black dust continues to concern me, and I stare and stare, hoping it will disappear, or at least long enough for my vision to get blurry and speckly and weird so that the dust fades into static and I’m more worried about my eyesight than contracting some rare and non-existent spore-transmitted pathogen that resides in dust from the highway.

Dirty cloths from cleaning dirty windows and sponges that collect bacteria and coffee-stained mugs and second-hand mugs and a dishwasher that uses too much power. Also taking the rubbish out when I’m running late and can’t run upstairs to wash my hands because then my hands are contaminated and I can’t clean them and if I touch my face I might die. Or drop into convulsions or something, I don’t know.

A loud heart. Why is my heart so loud? My heart beats more evenly when I’m running than it does when I’m trying to relax. What if it’s an arrhythmia? What if I have a heart condition? What if it is just anxiety, in which case, why can’t I calm down? And why is my heart so loud?

Loud noise (that isn’t my heart). Fire drills. Sirens, especially ambulance sirens.

Judgement. Constant judgement. Internal, external, all-consuming. Stares and whispers and murmurs and short sleeves and clothes that don’t fit properly and no money to spend on nicer clothes and nicer things.

The amount of stuff I own. I own a lot of stuff, mostly books, mostly university work. Mostly dusty and cherished and used for tutoring and essays and not much else. But no-one else has this much stuff. I should try to sell some. I could make extra money and buy new clothes and feel better about myself. But that means interacting with strangers and I don’t know if I’m ready for that when I could just take it to the op shop or give it away to struggling first-years who would appreciate obsessively taken notes by an over-achiever.

There’s more. There’s a lot to be anxious about. That’s just what I am able to get out in the twelve minutes before I need to head to class.

In case you missed it, here are some other things that make me anxious.

Anxious Human Here

Here are some things that make me anxious:

Being unexpectedly touched, like when people sit too close on the buses, and their thighs or sleeve touches me, and I have to press my face against the window to escape, but then my skin is touching dirty public transport glass and then I feel unclean, and have to choose between two different sources of panic.

Being stared at, because people are constantly judging me, because why wouldn’t they, it’s because I’m constantly making mistakes, isn’t it? People staring at my scars is worse, especially when their eyes dart back and forth between my thighs, wrists and eyes. People commenting on my scars – strangers – is the worst of all, because just as I thought it would be okay to wear shorts for once, and actually felt confident enough to do this, some nosy stranger has to point out how I have mutilated myself. Not. Necessary. This week the waiter at the cafe I was eating at glimpsed my legs, and said “wow you need to tame your pet”. Thanks. Thank you. Thank you so. very. much.

Being questioned about my decisions.

Being asked why I am studying what I am studying, what sort of job a degree like that would get me, what sort of person would choose two conflicting fields (science / English literature) and what my career aspirations are.

Being told my clothes make me look fat, or people commenting on how much or how little I’ve eaten, or people watching me eat. Body checking. Body comparisons. My Body with a capital B.

People seeing me tapping, because I tap to relieve anxiety… if I’m caught out at it, it only makes the tapping worse. And then it’s easier to notice, and now I’m more anxious and need to tap more and then I have a panic attack. Cool.

People commenting on how fast I type, or how fast I read, or that I work too many jobs, or that I’m super talented, or super busy, or super smart, or super nerdy, or am too stringent with my money, or don’t have enough fun, or can’t have fun because I don’t drink. People suggesting if I had a drink, and that then maybe I wouldn’t be so stressed. I’m not stressed, I’m anxious.

Lists. Even though crossing things off lists is deeply satisfying, I don’t know that the process of list-making is actually helpful.

Dirty sponges. Dirty towels. Dirty sheets. Dirty floors. Dirt in and of itself is actually kind of soothing, but not when it shows up in places it shouldn’t be. Like yeah cool I love to hike and garden, but soil in the kitchen is not okay. Dust. Acne. Acne scars. Ingrown hairs. Scars from picking ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs that refuse to stop growing inwards.

Unexpected knocks. Unexpected phone calls. Unexpected spontaneity. Unexpected loss of control.

Unexpected loud noise – especially sirens.

Anxious human is done now. Bye

*whispers* please don’t go

 

 

Soon

Soon, they say.

Soon, things will get better.

Soon, things will improve.

Soon, the medication will take effect.

Soon, the therapy will take effect.

Soon, positive coping mechanisms will replace the maladaptive ones.

Soon is not soon enough, in the same way that good will never be good enough.

I can’t be good, I need to be perfect. And I can’t have soon, I need now. 

I need to be thin now, better now, healthy now. I need meds to work now, scars to fade now, things to get easier now. I need to think clearly so I can get perfect grades, think clearly so I can get to a perfect weight, think clearly so I can be a perfect friend, sister, daughter, Christian, student, tutor and employee. Perfection cannot be achieved when depression is in the way. And the depression will lift, eventually – soon.

I want these thoughts gone. I want my emotions to be normal, instead of my mind reverting to dysregulation every time something goes wrong. More than that, I want my memories gone. I want the memories of anorexia gone, of the bullying gone, of emotional abuse, and neglect gone. Of starvation, of deprivation, of hospitalisation, of stigmatisation. Will the memories fade soon, as well?

When is soon?

And what if soon never comes?

My Brain Hurts Tonight

There is darkness in me.

It hurts. It pushes against my skull, a visceral pulse of mental pain. I feel it inside my chest and throat, where bugs dance against my flesh, and trapped insects crawl up and down. Under my skin, there’s a creeping sensation. Inside my heart, a deafening beat. There’s depression disguised as exhaustion, and anxiety disguised as agitation. I attempt to exhaust all stores of physical energy to hide the mental energy I’m expiring to resist engaging in compulsions – to check, to exercise, to tap, to run. So racing thoughts are expressed as racing words, and fast-paced actions, and shaking to relieve the tension. And I start tapping, because I can’t resist. Does tapping burn calories? They say fidgeting burns calories but is it enough?

I used to be so healthy. I used to be so good.

I wish I could run with a broken wrist. I wish I could feel my bones, see my bones, count my bones.

I need to run. Running keeps me thin.

Worthlessness directed at myself is disguised as sarcasm directed at others. Suicidal ideation disguised as jokes to disappear, jokes that “I’m ready for death”. They laugh, but I could die tonight. I’m not strong enough to see it through, and so the worthlessness only compounds. Why are you so stupid. Why can’t you do anything right. Why can’t you lose weight. Why can’t you be thin again. If you were thinner people would notice you. If you were thinner people would be pleased with you. If you were thinner, you would be closer to death. If you could just do better, just be thinner, then maybe this time you would die. Just kill yourself. Just do it already. Just do it.

Ana feeds me these words, and I know these words are lies. But in this moment, they consume me. This is the moment when I hurt myself, to relieve this agitation that I’m using to disguise the anxiety, but agitation makes others confused and angry and hurt, and their reactions hurt me, because I don’t know how to relate to people, not really. I just pretend to. I’ve learned how people work. But I don’t understand it, not really. I’m a chameleon of more than emotions, I’m acclimatised to a variety of personas. I will make you see what you want to see. I will be who you want me to be.

My brain hurts tonight. It hurts from holding in all these thoughts, and fears, and feelings, the waves of sadness and anger and despair. I worked so hard to build walls when I was younger, but now the walls are crumbling, and I wished I’d built them stronger. I built them well, at first. Now they lay shattered around me. It’s because I’ve let people in, and in return, only been let down. It feels like it’s because I let people break me instead. Break me down. Beat me down. Berate me. Bully me. Hurt me. Abuse me. Shout. Scream. Sever ties.

It hurts. Physically, in the places where I bleed, it hurts. But inwardly, the scars I gather tenderly to my chest – they hurt too. Irreparable tears in my personality leak out pain and anger, and then this pain and anger needs to be suppressed (so I don’t eat), or relieved (so I cut).

I’m hurting tonight.

I’m hurting.

This hurts.