Smol anxious stress bundle

It’s me, your anxious little bundle of stress. The anxiety has been so real recently. Yesterday, I freaked out because the new tattoo I have (it’s so pretty!) is healing kind of weird and I thought I’d ruined it because I had exposed it to the sun a little bit, and what if it was a little bit too much, like just a tad too much UV and the ink was already fading and I’d accidentally savaged my beauty before the ink had even set properly? The day before it was planning the route to a new place – I couldn’t get the times out of my mind. Over and over and over again I had to check the map, check the bus, check the schedule, check the time, then the map, then the bus, then the schedule, then the real time data, and then leave an extra ten minutes early despite the bus running seven minutes late and the stop being a short few minutes from my house. But it was a new route so all of this was necessary and the pounding in my chest didn’t stop until I could finally unclench my fists as I stepped off the bus at my destination. The day before that, it was the new housemate I need to find for next year as my current one will be moving out and I don’t want to lose my apartment but absolutely could not afford this place on my own. The day before, there was the new moles I noticed, and the weird way a scar has healed, and the blemishes on my face that just won’t go away. Now it’s the mountain of a cystic pimple between my eyebrows that refuses both to pop and to go down and so it’s just sitting there and I keep poking and poking and poking and I’m only making it worse because of the germs of my fingers and the phone I just touched and the dirt in the air.

And now, right now, I’m anxious because I just wrote a massive paragraph about all the things that are currently making me anxious without spacing it properly and the English major in me can’t stand it, but that’s one small way I’m facing my anxiety today.

Today, I will resist the urge to research the appearance of moles that indicate melanoma. Today, I will check my bus route once before leaving the house, and once when I’m at the stop, and then I’ll trust the bus will come. Today, I’ll stop prodding at my face knowing that it’s only making all the blemishes worse (especially that one between my eyebrows) and I’ll use a face mask instead.

Today, I’m taking small steps to deal with anxiety and all of the intrusive thoughts that arise.

Sniffing lavender balm. Giving myself a massage. Lighting a candle. Drinking good quality tea I save for days like today because I’m cheap and want to feel luxurious only sometimes, and only when I need it most.

I take a breath, and remind myself that this too shall pass, and reach for my bible if I can sit with Him today, and the stress releases, just a little, just a smidge.

And the bundle of anxiety that I felt physically throughout my entire body becomes a stiff ball isolated to just my chest and shoulders.

I’m officially scared of chairs

For a little while know, I’ve known that conventional seating isn’t my thing. In a bit of a weird way. I just don’t like chairs. I much prefer sitting on the floor. I don’t know if it’s because they symbolise waiting rooms and classrooms and doctor’s rooms and rooms of other people I’ve somehow irritated with my existence. Whatever it is, chairs make me uncomfortable, especially when I have to choose between two seats and consider all the possible scenarios of what might happen sitting in each different spot and how it might affect my life going forward.

But today in group this was taken to a whole other level.

We were asked to move seats. As in, Hi, Welcome guys, we’d like you to sit somewhere new today.

Nope,

Nu-uh,

No thank you.

When did a chair of all things become an anxiety / panic trigger? And also why? 

It’s just a chair.

But I couldn’t do it. I could not sit in another chair. I could not choose a different seat. I was (as I was reminded none too gently by the group therapists) that I was not thinking particularly dialectically.

No shit. You think I know why I’ve suddenly developed an irrational fear of chairs? All of a sudden, something in me changed. That panic system that I’ve so carefully constructed for times of ‘threat’ and ‘danger’ erupted. It bubbled out in breathlessness and uncomfortable sensations and racing thoughts and a racing heart and hidden hurts.

What if they write on the board this seat has the best view of the whiteboard and what if I sit somewhere else then I might make the others uncomfortable because they sit far away from me for a reason and what if I need to escape the room because I’m wildly dissociating and this seat places me uncomfortably far away from the door and what if I forget where my seat is after an activity and we return to sit down and I sit in my usual seat now-someone-else’s seat and I break down all over again and what if what if what if what if.

This, just in case you missed it, was because of a chair. 

Something is happening to my brain, and I don’t like it. Never before have I described myself as an anxious person. I normally leap straight for depressed or suicidal. But not anxious, not until recently.

Something to ponder.

Earlier.

More noticeably than ever have I been noticing the pull of polarisation that BPD brings. It comes with an anxious tremor, and a silliness fringing on hypomania, and impulsivity and outrageousness. But it also comes with dark thoughts and dark urges and the lure of punishments desecrated across my skin.

Tonight I have experienced every single of the above emotions. I have been silly and happy, enjoying time with friends. I have been anxious, shopping, the type of anxiety that makes me outrageous and loud and impulsive. I have been low, and thinking of pain, and finishing a bottle of wine alone.

A few days ago, I wrote this in my journal:

It just hit me – literally, just then – how big of a deal it actually is that I can enjoy study again. It hasn’t been days or weeks or months of anhedonia for me. It’s been years. It’s been almost a decade. It’s been practically my entire adolescence. But I’m finally not punishing myself by isolating and studying to meet my unrealistic high standards that I can never, ever attain; I’m studying and I’m genuinely passionate about it. It feels good that my head is brighter, and that without a little of the darkness, this is what my mind can do. This is the gift that God gave me to use that’s been hidden beneath a murky layer of depression for so long. It feels good to have a reveal, even it it’s only brief, I’m going to savour it like an individual portion of peanut butter salvaged from a cafe (seems an appropriate comparison). 

And by brief, I meant less than 24 hours. Because the following night, I had one of the most distressing phone calls with my mother ever, in which I screamed at her and essentially told her she didn’t care about me and she didn’t do enough (which I believe, somewhat). And the night after that, I invited her to my baptism. And the night after that, I giggled in the pouring rain at the bus stop. And then tonight, even as I feel the alcohol hit my system, I just want to keep on drinking. And I think, wow, I’m pretty sure I’m not meant to drink on my current medications. But fuck it. 

The ultimate highs and lows of BPD, ladies and gentleman.

The ultimate highs and lows.

She’s creeping in

There.

Just there.

A little more to the left. Shift slightly upwards.

There.

Did you see that?

I can count every rib.

Wait. No, there’s some missing. There’s too many missing.

There. Just. there. A little to the right, a little to the left. The light is in the wrong place now, and I’ve lost them. They no longer exist. If I can’t find them, even if it’s because the light is wrong, then it’s because they don’t exist.

Lately, my ribs have reappeared. I’m surprised, and relieved, and also excited. It fills me with warmth to see some bones again. Looking down at my wrists, I can see that they’re approaching thinness again, but then I look upwards at my arms and they don’t have quite the concave shape I’m after, and neither does my stomach. There’s no space between my thighs, but at least we’ve dropped a size. Step onto the scales, and then off again – because they’re lying – and then back on and back off before I realise it’s not me that’s broken, it’s the scales, so it’s off to buy a better set, a more advanced set, the kind that determines your fat percentage for you. That obsessive tic has returned, the sideways glance in every reflective surface (I’ve gained weight today), the wrap around the wrist to double check it’s the same width, and if not, then that’s the kind of motivation I need to do better. I take out the clothes I’ve kept specifically for this purpose, to measure my progress back towards my goal, and they still don’t fit the way I like. Deep breath, it’s okay, that just means only coffee today. I slump to the floor in a sudden spell of dizziness and glance at the dark circles in the mirror. I shake when I sleep because my body wants me to eat.

I ignore it.

I only indulge in food twice a day if I can resist the temptation, and if it comes to a third, then it will be once the following day. Nothing processed here, only wholefoods, and if it comes from a packet, then only ingredients I know and can pronounce.

And slowly, she gets louder. Good. Look at us go! Look at our progress! You’re doing so well!

And lately, when I make an inevitable mistake – too much cheese, too much yoghurt, one too many bites, there she is again. Stupid fat fucking bitch worthless useless bitch just go kill yourself you deserve it you don’t deserve life you deserve to be punished fat stupid worthless bitch do it just do it just do it useless ugly disgusting piece of shit. 

And I listen. Because I’m a good girl, and I listen to authority, and in these moments, Ana is my authority.

IMG_0123

Anxious Human Here (4.0)

Turns out, there’s still plenty on my mind. Here are some of the things that are making me anxious:

People on buses who sit too close, whose clothing brushes against mine. People on buses who cough, or sneeze, or rub their hands against the seat, or avoid sitting next to me when I’m wearing short sleeves (because they must be looking at my scars, why else would they choose to stand?). Buses which are late. Running late because of late buses. Running late. Lateness in general.

Trying to figure out if I have OCD because I pick at my skin and pick at my pimples and scratch my body when I’m in distress. Picking at fluff and dust and hair on clothing when there’s nothing really there as a coping mechanism for thoughts racing through my head. Different thoughts to normal anxious thoughts about being late and exams and study and my appearance and social situations, which just make me frantic and worried and panicked. Are these coping mechanisms really disproportionate? Are they in response to intrusive thoughts? I have always been obsessive and sometimes compulsive but they don’t necessarily follow on from each other so is that the same thing as having OCD? I don’t know.

Visiting home. Seeing my parents. Seeing my sister. My sister and my parents seeing my scars. Seeing their reactions. Potentially opening up to my sister, who I have never spoken to about my mental health struggles. It will go wrong. It always goes wrong. It will be my fault because nobody likes me and everything is my fault because I’m a failure.

Going to emergency for a self harm wound which I thought needed stitches but apparently didn’t and now it looks infected and I’m not sure what to do about it, but the doctor said it was fine so it must be fine, right? It looked deep to me. Deeper than usual. Does my opinion count for anything or nothing or is this just an example of splitting where I can only self-harm superficially or so severely that it kills me? Is splitting one of my BPD traits or a facet of my eating disorder or is it normal? The nurses and doctors and psychiatrist on call must think I’m a burden. I’m always a burden. Why am I such a burden to everyone around me? If I had taken the opportunity to go deeper, in a different spot, a little lower down, right about the artery that I learned about in physiology, then I could have bled out just like I wanted. Just a little deeper. Just a little sharper. Just a little more dead. Why am I always so stupid. 

Something is eating the house plants. The indoor house plants.

I need to clean the floor. Doing yoga in the lounge revealed to me just how much dust there was. But if I clean my housemate will notice and that might make her feel weird. I also want to do her dishes but maybe that will make her feel weird too. Does she think I’m a clean freak or have that stereotypical portrayal of OCD that revolves around hand sanitiser and cleanliness and neat organisation that can be observed simply by comparing her fridge and pantry shelves to my own.

I wasn’t supposed to eat today but then I did and I can’t remember how many crackers I’ve eaten and that’s important because I need to burn them off and I can’t do that if I don’t know how many there was because then the calorie count will be off. Instead I must overcompensate regardless, and not eat afterwards, because that’s how weight loss works. I worry this will only cause me to binge, and then to restrict, and then the whole fucking bulimic cycle will continue.

Not only am I struggling with intrusive suicidal thoughts, the intrusive anxious thoughts are also very loud.

Anxious human is done now.

But to see some other things I get anxious about, here’s part one, two and three.

Whispers – please don’t go

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.