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One Week

My calendar tells me that it’s been less than a week since I went back to school.  That can’t be right.

Last week was insane, to say the least.  Every day was filled with some sort of stress, mostly of my own creation, but others…well, for instance, Wednesday morning, I was awakened when my sister called me to tell me she didn’t need surgery.

I hadn’t known that she might have needed surgery–so, okay…

After realizing I needed a change in attitude, and after trying very hard to change said attitude, things have gotten much easier. I’m getting back into the swing of student life, and, have found out a few little things that make my life much easier–like I don’t need a parking permit to park on campus on Saturdays–which is nice, because my Saturday class starts at 8am, but the buses don’t start running until 8:30.

An odd thing has happened, too.  All of a sudden, when I have stuff to do, I’m aware of the time when I don’t have anything to do.  My days now have a purpose, but once that purpose is fulfilled, or before it is time to start that purpose, I’ve become bored and restless.

Maybe that means that I’m ready to start looking for a job again.

I’m still anxious when I’m on campus.  I had dismissed the notion of getting Lulu certified as a service dog so she could come to school with me, but today, as my Isaiah class filled out, I began to revisit the idea.

I hate to think that I’ve fallen so far from the person I was, but I have.  I know I need to be around people, as annoying as they are, to be healthy and happy.

It doesn’t make the transition from being a hermit any easier, though.

A change in attitude

Over the past couple of days, my family has helped me realize that I’m looking at this whole going back to school thing the wrong way–rather than focusing on how much I don’t fit in, I need to be extremely grateful for this opportunity I have to be going back.

This last year or so…well, I’ve been living in a way that wouldn’t be good for anybody.  I’ve been sitting home alone, only leaving the house enough to for the dogs to take care of their needs, and to buy groceries.   Rather than fight my agoraphobia, I’ve been feeding it.  So, it’s no wonder that all of a sudden I’m stressed and disoriented being around hundreds of other people.

So, from here on out, I’m going to try to minimize my discomfiture, and focus, at least when talking about school, the more positive aspects.

I had my first class from UVU today (the classes that will get me on campus the other four days of the week are being taught by LDS Institute) –I was so late in registering, that the only way I could get into my classes was to take them on the weekend.

This was the class I was most worried about, English 1010.  It’s a course that is required of everyone,  and when I took (and failed) it at USU, it was full of jocks and people (like me) who were just out of high school.

Fortunately for me, most little 18 year olds aren’t going to be taking a class, even a required class that is only once a week, and ends at 6:30 on a Friday.  There were a few, but for everyone fresh out of high school, there was somebody over the age of 25–including a woman who was brave enough to admit that her children were teenagers.

I left that class today feeling much more confident both in my abilities as a writer, and about going back to school in general.

And it didn’t hurt that I finally managed to locate the Jamba Juice that I spotted on the campus tour, and promptly forgot where it was.   Finding the Jamba Juice may or may not have been my unofficial goal for the week…

Don’t worry, Mom, I know that I can’t afford either the money or the calories that come with having a smoothie even once a week.  And while the Jamba Juice is located in the same building as my two on-campus classes, it was closed by the time I got out of class, and I don’t know if it’ll be open for my class tomorrow.

Speaking of my class tomorrow–who in their right mind takes an Art History class at 8am on a Saturday?

Oh, that’s right, someone who didn’t get registered soon enough to take it at a more decent hour.   I seriously hope I’ll be able to stay awake.

I really don’t think it was this scary the first time around.

One of several versions of the painting "...

Image via Wikipedia

Twenty-four hours from the time I write this, I’ll officially be back in school.

I’m more than a little freaked out at this process–I’m not looking forward to being surrounded by little 18-year-olds just out of high school.

I’m trying to remain calm, I really am, but the anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks about an hour ago.

Hopefully, I can get this freak-out taken care of today, and tomorrow, I’ll be calm and serene.

Fat chance.

The thing is, I know I have to go.  This isn’t like church, where I have a lifetime to overcome my fears and anxieties, I’m actually paying good money to be surrounded by teenagers.   And, as much as it sucks, getting out and being around people really will help with the anxiety–when I was working, I did get panic attacks, but I didn’t let them overwhelm me, I could excuse myself for a few minutes and go to the bathroom to calm down, but then I had to get back to work.  School should do the same thing, right?

So tomorrow, ready or not, I’m headed to UVU.  For one hour.  Of an LDS Institute class.  Which should make going to my actual college classes a little easier, right?

Administrative note:

WordPress unveiled a new feature called Zementa that’s supposed to make adding pictures and links easier.  I haven’t decided if I like it yet, but I’m trying it out for a bit.

Anxiety

I wish I could say that the lateness in today’s post is because I was off doing something amazingly fun, but alas, that isn’t the case.

Yesterday, I went to my sister’s house to help her get ready for the third (and hopefully last) birthday party that G has had this year. Unfortunately, I felt like I was more of a hinder than a help.

Halfway through a frustrating task that should have been very simple, I felt a panic attack coming on.  I excused myself, and tried to go outside–which of course is G’s favorite place to be, as long as he has an audience.  And look!  Aunt Cori trying to keep her sanity is a perfect audience!

All of my instincts were screaming at me to get home–right during rush hour.  Sis, wisely, didn’t let me leave.  She explained to G that I was going into time out, and couldn’t be bothered, and had me go into her guest bedroom, and try to relax.

I made it home safely–it’s a good thing I like to drive, and don’t mind traffic if I’m not in a hurry, but today…well, it’s been rough.

I had found a gift card for a local movie theater in my wallet that I’d had for three years.  On the back, it said it didn’t expire, and the website verified that I still had the original $25 on it.  I tried to make it to a movie, but couldn’t make it out of my parking lot.  I then thought that maybe I could go to the aquarium–I like the aquarium, and it might be nice to be able to take my time.  Yeah, the realization that it was Saturday, and would thus be full of kid stopped me.

I’m worried about what’s going to happen when school starts in a couple of weeks.  I can’t go to school if I’m so agoraphobic.

At the moment, I’m only registered for three classes, and one of them is online–I am wait-listed for two more classes, I’m number 1 on the wait-list for one class, so I’ll probably get in to it, and number 24 on the other, so I have a little less hope for getting in to that one.  I guess that starting slow might just be the best thing, easing myself, and the dogs, into the idea of being out of the house for long periods of time on a nearly daily basis.

Speaking of the dogs–I’m not the only one at my house suffering from severe anxiety.  Lulu’s been pretty stressed, and therefore clingy with all the thunderstorms we’ve been having, and she’s really not used to me going out without her.  When I was trying to make it to the movie theater, I was fighting to even get down to my car, and I could hear Lulu scratching at the door and barking, because I had the nerve to go outside without her.

One of the classes that I’m taking is yoga–I’m going to try to take a PE class every semester.  I might as well use this going back to school thing to get in better shape, right?  I hope that a) I’m not too fat to do yoga, and b) that it will help me learn to control my anxiety.

I did decide that I need to spend more time outdoors, even if it’s just on my balcony.  Sitting on my balcony, surrounded by my potted plants (in various stages of life, I’m either hit or miss with plants, they either thrive or die) without a book, without a computer, without anything to distract me (besides keeping Max from playing watchdog) is very relaxing.

I hope that when school starts, I can get into a routine, and things will calm down.  Because I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

If it’s not one thing, it’s ten thousand others.

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately.  It just seems that right now, whenever something goes right for me, two other things go wrong.

My computer broke again.  I think it’s just the power supply, but I want the B-I-L to look at /fix it before I spend any money needlessly.  The problem is the timing–the B-I-L’s family is going camping tomorrow, and it’s my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary this weekend, so he’ll have no free time, then next weekend is G’s 4th birthday…yeah.

At least he’s through with school.

Speaking of school, I’m trying desperately to get a hold of my councilor.  I’ve gotten very familiar with her voice on the answering machine.  My goal was to go in and see her today before coming up to see Sis…except she’s out of the office again today.  After taking a 4 day weekend.  And being unreachable yesterday.

I’m so frustrated.

So, I don’t know when I’ll be able to blog again–I’m on my sister’s computer now, and I’ll be able to use Dad’s over the weekend…and maybe I’ll get lucky and whatever is wrong with my computer can be easily fixed and I’ll have it back tonight.

In the mean time, I’ll be trying desperately not to burst into tears too often.

Sisters

Okay, first the random, administrative stuff.  I don’t get tons of comments, but it kind of freaks me out when I see my picture next to a comment my mom made.  So, until I can get back down to my parent’s house, and tell their computer to log me out of every web browser, I’m turning off the avatars in the comments.

I know, you’re all crushed.  But it shouldn’t be for more than a week.

I guess I didn’t know how stressed these last two weeks had made me until this afternoon (er, yesterday afternoon.  I missed the midnight cut off to have this post on the 25th).  The Roommate had invited a bunch of friends over for dinner.  She did invite me to join them, but I was feeling a bit shaky from…everything.

So, you know how I don’t handle crowds?  Well, I found out today that it’s even worse when they’re all speaking a language I don’t understand.   I slipped out under the guise of taking the dogs for a walk, and headed up to Sis’s house to pick up some things that I managed to leave their last night.  Notably, my camera and my sanity.

I don’t know what I’d do without her.  Things were hectic when I got there–they had some family friends over–again, lots of kids running around, but after the company left, and after her kids went to bed, she and I had a good long talk, and she managed to calm me down, and ease some of my anxiety.

I really hope that when school starts, and I get into a routine, that life will get easier.  I don’t handle change well, and right now, I’m such a stage of flux.  And the last two weeks have been…emotionally difficult.

As horrible as depression is all around, I think the worst thing it does is make me doubt myself.  Even things that I know I can do well, I doubt my ability in.  I see the mistakes I make, but not the triumphs.   Depression sucks every bit of self confidence I have out, until I’m so convinced I’m going to fail, that I don’t even try.  And I guess that’s why I have a hard time telling my family “no”, because when I get into those bad ruts, they, especially Sis, are the ones that pull me out.  Sometimes, kicking and screaming, but no matter how I fight, thus far, it’s always turned out for the better.

Next time, though, you never know…

Control Issues

I woke up this morning before six, thanks to a combination of a full bladder, and a little dog who also had a full bladder.   Our respective problems resolved, I was then faced with the quandary of not being able to go back to sleep.  Which would be less annoying if I had made it to bed before 2am.

While out with the dogs, I found myself thinking about the conversation I had with my Relief Society President on Sunday.  Her whole purpose in visiting was to make sure I was still alive, and to talk to me about why I haven’t been coming to church.

I explained about the agoraphobia, and how overwhelmed I get in crowds.  She was sympathetic, and asked if smaller gatherings would be better.  I then had to explain that I’m also introverted, and while I love stuff like giving talks and speeches, and teaching, I struggle with conversation because I can’t plan out what it is that I want to say.

This conversation, and the Montaigne that kept me up ’til 2 last night were tumbling through my head while I was out with the dogs, and I had a revelation.   More than anything, it’s about control.  There is so much in my life (like everything) that I feel like I don’t control now, that I grasp on to whatever I can dictate for myself, like if I want to have a conversation or not.  That control is why I write.  It’s why I play games like The Sims.  It’s why when I know my favorite shows on Hulu are coming to an end, I don’t watch the last few episodes.  It’s not that I don’t want closure, it’s that I want the control to end things on my terms.

And I’m petty and self-destructive enough that if I feel like I don’t have the control I crave, I’ll end things prematurely, or drag them out over too long a period.

Maybe that’s normal, I don’t know.  I feel like I’m so far away from normal, I’ve forgotten what it looks like–if I ever knew.

All I know is I need something I can control.  Anything.

Evey new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

The phrase “end of an era” reminds me of a line from the Semisonic song “Closing Song”, ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Now that we’re out of that forest of quotation marks…

I have a hard time with change. I’m one of those people who craves stability. It make sense, I suppose, stability isn’t something that I can find in my own head, and, at the time of this story, was in short supply in my personal life. (This was just a few years after the end of The Experiment that consumed most of my teenage years. People who know about it will know what I’m talking about, and those who don’t, well, the memories are too painful to share.)

It was the day I graduated from High School. I had already been accepted into college at Utah State University, and would be starting classes there in a few weeks. I had housing lined up, and was, in theory, ready to get out of my parent’s house.

This night, when I should have been out celebrating with friends, I was instead trapped in a deep depression. (It was one of the first times I could actually feel the depression coming on. I’ll never forget it–I was standing on stage, pausing for pictures, and feeling my mood drop. I had been ecstatic a few minutes before, and now, I was fighting back tears.)

Upon returning home, I went into my bedroom, turned on the radio so my family couldn’t hear me crying, and collapsed onto the bed. I was terrified of what happened next–the ceremony I had just participated in literally marked the end of my life as I had known it. All of a sudden, I was facing a big, scary unknown.

Then the song “Closing Time” came on the radio, and the line “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning end” struck me. I shouldn’t be thinking about the end of my High School life, but the beginning of my life as an adult.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” has become sort of a personal mantra for me in the eleven years since I graduated High School. When I’m faced with a change in my life, I remind myself that I’m facing a beginning, not an end.

Validation

I wonder–how much of the human experience happens when we are trying to please other people?

How much of our lives are spent trying to get someone–maybe a specific person, a parent, a sibling, a “friend”, maybe anyone to say “Corianne, (or whatever your name happens to be) you are a wonderful person just the way you are.  You don’t have to change anything.”? With the only “but” that may follow being “but if you do, I’m okay with that too.”

We seek for this acceptance by changing ourselves.  We attempt to conform to the impossible ideal of beauty posed to us by Hollywood, the makeup industry, and professional photo-retouchers, who tell us that if we aren’t young and beautiful, we aren’t worth anything.

Or perhaps we go the other way, and make a big show about not caring, while secretly longing for someone to say “Hey, this person doesn’t care what other people think, I like that.”

We  may end up doing the right things for the wrong reason.  We go to church to be seen, and to see others.  We go to school or choose a career to please a parent. We are friendly and outgoing in an attempt to get other people to like us.

And it never works.  Desperation is repulsive to those whose attention you actually want, while it attracts those who will take advantage of, use and abuse those who just want to be known as a valid human being.

Knowing that we–I do this doesn’t seem to make a difference either.  Knowing that I am chasing approval only makes me more depressed, more isolated, and more vulnerable to the criticism that comes with life.

And still, I can’t stop.

You mean I actually have to do stuff?

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about depression, at least for those living with someone who suffers from it (i.e., my friends and family) is the complete and utter lack of motivation.

I want a better life, I really do, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that doing the work required to change for the better is worth it.

This, of course, leads to a dangerous downwards spiral.  I used the metaphor on my mission of walking on a conveyor belt.  If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.  There’s no such thing as standing still.  I was talking about spiritual development, but it works just as well for personal growth as well.

Mom’s on my case to find out about school.  As well she should be.  I’d be frustrated with me if I was in her position, too.

But still, I’m old enough to have kids of my own, and still, one of my main motivations in life is not to have my mom yell at me.

I wish there was a guide, some sort of path–“if you do this, you won’t be depressed any more,” type of thing.  Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way.

And I’m not sure I’d have the motivation to do it, anyway.

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