Tag Archives: mental health

Vacuums

30 May

Yesterday morning, I owned a vacuum cleaner – a gift.

It was red. And beautiful. And mine.

The giver – my mother – affirmed repeatedly this last point. It was mine. She would support me in keeping it. She would never claim it as hers.

So I let myself see it as mine. I cherished the fact that my mother gave me something – fulfilled my need to live in an environment free of dirt on the floor. The present of a vacuum cleaner meant that my mother cared for me, in spite of her previous abusive behaviour. It meant that I had the security of knowing that my mother gave a shit.

And now it belongs to her. She claimed it yesterday afternoon.

Anxiety Triggers

25 May

Herein lies a list of a number of my anxiety attack triggers. This is not a conclusive list of my triggers, nor should it be taken as representative of any other person’s anxiety triggers, but I consider it quite interesting nonetheless. Several of these are subcategories, rather than categories unto themselves, but WordPress doesn’t allow that level of bullet complexity. It should be taken as given that this post may trigger an anxiety reaction in readers.

Without further ado, the list:

  • Large crowds
  • The Beatles song “Run For Your Life,” from their album Rubber Soul (serious trigger warning on the lyrics). I can’t even listen to the album, which has some of my favorite songs on it, because of this damn song.
  • Transportation: driving, being driven, anticipation of either. Often begin to visualize gory wrecks.
  • Small crowds
  • Small spaces
  • Interaction with my mother
  • Interaction with my lover’s mother or father
  • Interaction with strangers
  • Interaction with doctors/health professionals
  • Discussing anxiety/anxiety attacks
  • Snakes, living or dead or in pictorial representations
  • Bugs on my skin
  • Physical pain
  • Phone calls
  • Unexpected touch
  • Expected touch
  • Breeze on leg/arm/head hair
  • Being too cold
  • Being too warm
  • Socks on my feet
  • Spilling a drink, especially on myself
  • Loud noises, especially unanticipated loud noise
  • The idea of eating or touching meat
  • Going to classes
  • Missing classes
  • Itchy skin
  • Waiting rooms
  • Music I don’t like
  • Lack of personal space
  • Grocery stores
  • Showers/bathing

Re: Diagnosed

18 Feb

I saw a psychiatrist today. He was not a jerk and we talked about Warhammer and World of Warcraft and the Sims. He keeps fish in his office.

Also, he diagnosed me as bipolar with social anxiety.

I have something to say.

11 Feb

I’ve tried to start this post so many times over the past several months, and failed to say what I needed to. Probably because I’m not sure what I need to say, even still. It is long (2000+ words), and quotes other people’s writing extensively. If that’s not your cuppa, I bid thee farewell for this post. [*note – ableist language used as example of mother’s verbal abuse*]

I’ve been raised to believe that I’m the problem in my mother’s and my relationship. That my possessions are the majority of the clutter. That my laundry is the majority of the laundry in the house. That I eat so often, I cause most of the dirty dishes in the house. I’ve never contributed enough to my mother’s household – either in cleaning, or by monetary means. I’m ungrateful and have an entitlement complex. My passive-aggressivity is not a learned behavior, but rather is my fault and I need to fix it or else. I mismanage finances to upset my mother’s financial success, instead of using money in a responsible manner. My depression and social anxiety can be fixed and/or cured by interacting more with my mother. My difficulty functioning in a room with mismatched dresser knobs or sloppy paint jobs are just examples of me being difficult and procrastinating. See also: my phone anxiety. I need to drop everything (including, quite possibly, other people’s needs whose schedules depend on mine) to help my mother do things. I’m a lazy piece of shit and I just need to get over my issues so I can be more useful for her. My religious views need to be put out of sight to avoid offending people.

My mother is emotionally abusive.

It took me until late 2008 to acknowledge anything my mother had done to me as abusive – one series of conversations, over a number of weeks. Until she moved away in June, I remained convinced that only the conversations we had had over the past 6-7 months qualified as abusive.

I didn’t – it didn’t occur to me that I ought to – take into account the years and years of conversation before that, where she insisted that I was useless, worthless, a drain on her resources, stupid, and so forth. I didn’t take into account the control over my actions, the words I used (negativity was not welcome, coming from me), my hairstyle (especially from about 11-16, I was forced to change my hairdo to suit my mother’s requirements), the silence I maintained over my political views, the coercing behaviour which taught me my body was, by default, vile. I didn’t think about the therapy I didn’t want at 13-14 but was taken to anyway; I didn’t think about her insistence I join a religion I had no need for or interest in (and understand this – I did become a member of this religion for 2 years, though I believe this was partially an escape from home life and to allow myself to build a social network on my own terms). I didn’t realize she was just as bad before – I didn’t know I was the one who had changed.

In August 2008, 4 months before the conversations mentioned above, I began reading feminist blogs. Slowly, at first – Shakesville and Shapely Prose, then, as I discovered the concept of RSS feeds, more blogs were added. I started identifying myself on my own terms. I started thinking in words like “autonomy,” “agency,” “auto-identification,” “acceptance.” I realized that I was attracted to more people than labels like “straight” allowed. This…this…revolution (!) was going on in my brain, and my mother was able to destroy more of my identity than she could before, because I was, for once, forming an identity outside the one she set for me.

A 2006 blog post by belledame222 entitled “Objectification, Continued Further” (ableist language at link) I recently read (hat tip to amandaw on Tumblr) put it thusly:

According to [Patricia] Evans [, author of Controlling People], most abuse happens when a person who’s very disconnected is suddenly confronted with the a glimpse of the reality of the other person as a separate individual, as opposed to the “pretend person” the controller has made up inside his/her head (and thus, an extension of him/herself).

By taking myself away from this “pretend person” my mother saw me as, I became vulnerable to her abuse. This is not to say that I am responsible for my mother’s behaviour towards me – absolutely not! – but it does contextualize why I became more aware of the problematic nature of her actions.

So, when people are manipulative around me – not even directed at me, necessarily – but when people use others to get what they want, while I am in the general vicinity, I react badly. I give the manipulator what ou wants, in the (usually vain) hope that this means ou can stop objectifying people and respect them and their identities. I go back to the silencing of my self, to the person who did what she was told so that she could try to get her mother to stop controlling her for long enough to maintain her own identity. For example, I took my antidepressant for six weeks, even though it exacerbated my anxiety attacks, because if I didn’t “just give it a chance to work,” my mother would blame me (more) for my depression.

In a post about abuse in online spaces, amandaw writes:

[I]t’s not just that you have flash-backs to previous events; it’s the way you return to the state of mind you were in during the previous abuse, the way your patterns of thought go back to how they were then, the way you react to things restored to its previous setting. You might find yourself becoming highly self-critical, questioning your own experience of things, doubting your knowledge of yourself and what happened. You might find the same problems with self-loathing come rushing back. You might be wondering whether you really deserve it. You might start to see yourself as a burden again, highly aware of all the ways you drag other people down.

You can’t just ignore it away. You can’t just Think Positive your way out of it. You can’t just tell yourself that all these thoughts are untrue; no matter how well you understand something intellectually, there is something about the human psyche that still follows those same self-destructive emotional patterns when exposed to the same kind of situation that originally set them in place.

The thing about my mother blaming me for having depression – the really big, damaging thing – I believe her. No matter how much science I read, or how often I read the Wikipedia page on the causes of depression, or how often I am told by people I trust that it is not my fault, I believe what she says about me. I believe that I am a worthless piece of shit, because she says I am. I believe that it is my fault I am depressed, because she says it is. I believe I am the source of the relationship problems between my mother and myself. I believe I am horribly overburdening my mother’s finances by asking for money for things like food and medicinal prescriptions, because of the way she behaves when I ask.

And I know – intellectually, on a relatively deep level – how incredibly messed up that shit is, but that doesn’t matter to the way my brain understands things and how my brain has been trained by my abuser to understand things.

Another quote from amandaw, this time from a Tumblr post on “That learned inability to protect oneself

But a person who just keeps extending hirself… over and over… getting hurt over and over, and never acting in self-protection … there is something, someone (maybe multiple someones) who destroyed this person’s boundaries, taught hir that acting in protection of oneself is completely beyond the pale (by punishing the person whenever sie does try to act in self-protection, and then telling sie brought that punishment on hirself by acting in self-protection). Someone did this to hir. And it took work, it took time, to create a situation where the person honestly feels that self-protection is never an option.

I mentioned the control my mother had over my hairstyle earlier in the post. I remember fighting her on this once, when I was 14 or 15. I told her that I wore my hair in the style I chose because otherwise, it looked like crap. I was immediately informed that I was not allowed to use such awful language, and that wearing my hair in that tacky style again would lose me various and sundry privileges.

One other time I recall defending myself. I told her [something she did/said, can’t remember what] made me upset. This infuriated her. I was given a long lecture about how she couldn’t “make me” feel anything – my emotions were not her fault. This conversation never sat right with me, and I can’t recall defending myself ever again, but until now I had difficulty expressing exactly what was wrong with it. Essentially, my mother denied the validity of my emotion and her role in it, forcing me into doubt over whether there really was a problem or if I was “just imagining it” or “looking for things to get upset about.”

Yesterday, I was informed via a third party of my mother’s intent to move me in with her, 1000 miles away, if I don’t “shape up.” The definition of “shape up” is unclear, although it may be that I need, according to my mother, to get on antidepressants again, because the last time wasn’t traumatic enough (I received an e-mail from her which indicated she thinks I’m exaggerating the psychiatrist’s behaviour *sigh*). I need to perform well in school – this will, of course, be easy-peasy once I’m cured of depression by those antidepressants. I need to get a job, to show I’m motivated to achieve (the fact that I had a semi-breakdown last semester because I stretched myself too thin – insignificant). I need to work on her house, doing odd jobs until it is perfect and gets sold. With all my free time. You know, the free time which I need to do schoolwork and unwind. I need to organize my belongings (this one infuriates me (wait, so do the others) because my mother is the one who disorganized them in the first place – she packed my things in boxes with neither my permission nor any care to my organizational system). There may be a few other things entailed in this “shaping up” process, but I don’t know what they are.

All of this, forcing me, based on my financial dependence on her, to take medicine whether I want to or not (for the record, I would like medication for the depression and anxiety attacks, but that isn’t being taken into consideration in this ultimatum), to do exactly what she wants me to do exactly the way she wants me to do it, to do well academically (which, if it were so easy as being told to do it and I magically could handle school again? Well, shit, I’d patent that method.). This is nothing less than paternalism and manipulation. It is unfair, abusive, controlling, and absofuckinglutely infuriating.

A few hours after I found out about this scheme of my mother’s, I read the following on Zero at the Bone, the blog of the most excellent Chally:

You’ve got to ask why your sense of control over what’s what is so important as to invalidate that person’s autonomy. Reassuring yourself that the world is a certain way, that those around you are a certain way: it’s just not worth it where as a consequence someone’s being dissolves under them – where they themselves are dissolved. That’s what’s important here, not your relatively unimportant wish to assert your own worldview.

Trust people to identify their own identities.

These words resonate with me, because my mother’s abuse has caused my “being [to dissolve] under [me].” Because I lose my identity to my mother’s controlling behaviour. Because I am hurt, and I am human, and I don’t want to be silent anymore.

Mental Health Update

4 Feb

Anxiety attacks are increasing, in both frequency and in number of triggering situations.

Depression is slightly stabilized, but mostly hovering around the moderate/severely depressed line.

I haven’t been taking my medication since the first month’s pills ran out (six weeks of pills total, because I had a two week sample pack) – they weren’t helping, and the psychiatrist I had gotten the prescription from gave me anxiety attacks.

He said I was too young. To be depressed. And anxious. In the most condescending way possible, the psychiatrist I saw told me that my age made my mental health condition tragic. He assumed and stated the sex of my lover to be male before I mentioned anything other than having a lover, and he told me I was too young to be in the condition I am.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??!

My age has nothing to do with what I am being treated for. My sexuality has nothing to do with what I am being treated for. I am being treated for depression and anxiety, not for whatever the fuck I’m too young for (which, um, I pretty obviously have and therefore am clearly not too young for). My lover’s sex is not for some doctor* to assume, nor am I comfortable with anybody doing so.  The phrase “I’ve been dating somebody…” coming from me should not instantly trigger the phrase “And what does he…” or the mentality behind it.

So, mentally, I’m not doing great. I have two art classes, and that helps! But overall, I’m miserable and want stuff to actually get better, not have my attempted solutions to my problems blow ageism and het privilege into my eyes like salty lemon water.

On age, I recently read a great post by Chally – read the comments too, they’re quite a lovely read: That’s that, then.

On gender and assumed heteronormativity,  meloukhia’s tag, “LGBQT,” is a veritable goldmine of delicious bloggy material. Also, my Oppression 101 tab has a few things relevant to the subject (I keep meaning to organize and add links, but for now you get a disorganized list of jumbled thought which does not reflect my full interests in internet activism).

*My gynecologist’s assumption of my lover’s sex to be male is less objectionable to me , as it is her job to make sure I am well-informed about potential sexual health risks, many of which are possible only through heterosexual PIV sex (read: certainly not totally unobjectionable, but I believe the assumption was made with my best interests in mind. The GYN also assumed that I was sexually active with a STD-positive partner.).

Diagnosed

12 Nov

So, due to an annoying and stressful string of events, I wound up at the doctor’s office today. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and prescribed antidepressants.

Yay?

Quick Hit: Phone Anxiety

5 Nov

So, the concept of talking on the phone is stressful for me. If I know I need to call somebody (especially if I don’t know them ((really) well)), I get fairly anxious. Dizziness, nauseous, rapid heart beat, minor difficulty breathing, and a general sense of dread are characteristic of this state for me. I may start to dial, then hang up before the number starts ringing. “Oh, I’ve forgotten some minor person’s name, I’d better look it up and call later.” Of course, later usually is an amount of time measured in weeks, even though I usually resolve the problem I was upset enough to hang up over immediately.

Because of this, it’s kind of a big deal to ask me to “just” call someone.  I have to have months to do so, and relative few hoops to jump through. It’s upsetting and, depending on my general mental health at the time, can make me sob and be unable to do anything for hours or days.

Phone anxiety (which, for me, is likely a form of social anxiety) is particularly stressful for me because I’ve been unable to successfully Google it. Depression is easier for me to accept – it has a Wikipedia article! I can take little automated quizzes that say 80%* depression-like symptoms, and no you aren’t alone in that, and, no, really, that symptom’s quite common actually! But approaching anxiety attack because I have to dial a phone is really damn hard to deal with. And since I use the Internet as a coping mechanism, being able to find information on anxiety from phone use that isn’t shaming or preachy, telling me to “just get over it and practice!” is invaluable. And I haven’t been able to find that. Which is so very frustrating and lonely.

The impetus for this post: I scheduled a Well Woman exam today by phone, where the gynecologist and I will hopefully get to discuss birth control (the main reason I haven’t done any period blogarounds in a while is the severe cramping and other PMS symptoms making me curl up on my bed and hide from the world every time I shed my uterine lining for the past 6 months, making HBC sound quite appealing) and antidepressants (while I recognize the value of getting a prescription for antidepressants from a psychiatrist, I would have to schedule an appointment with one. See above why this isn’t a good option for me right now.**)

*I have no idea what my percentage of depression-like symptoms happens to be, so I made up this number.

**I’m mostly justifying this to myself, to make it easier for ME to accept that I have barriers and limitations and can’t do everything. In general, any readers who have a problem with my choices for my mental health are encouraged not to inform me of this fact.

Headspace

20 Oct

My mental health lately: not so good.

Thursday, I went to some museums in Houston. It sounds like such a simple process, doesn’t it? I mean, I like art and going to museums. And I’d made plans with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while to meet up there, so a splendid time was guaranteed for all, right? So. I went to class that morning, and as leaving campus to go to the museum district, I got crowded by a bunch of people. It was my school’s club fundraiser day (there was a snowman on the gazebo, for some obscure reason) at lunchtime, so half the campus was in. my. space. And I started to get anxious – not too noticable, just about the level of anxiety I get when I’m grocery shopping at the beginning of my period. And then I had to deal with Houston traffic. And then there were schoolkids at the museum. And then I had to deal with more traffic. And then, because I was driving around an unfamiliar part of the city, I got lost. And I was thirsty. And the convenience store didn’t have much parking. Or plastic-bottle drinks. And the glass bottle wouldn’t open. And I started crying, badly parked in a convenience store parking lot, because I wanted a damn Sprite (which, once opened, was flat). And then, I figured out where I was. And then, I found the biggest art supply store I’d ever seen. And then, I headed home, in what for the most part appeared to be a pleasant mood. And then, the shit hit the fan.

A part of the way home, which should have taken me 15 minutes, took me an hour. And finally, I got home. And I saw the house, and I stopped lying to myself about what that house means to me, acknowledged how much I hate it for just a moment, and then I had an anxiety attack.

And then I went over to the lover’s (L) house, and tried to pretend everything was fine. And for a while, I got to a point where I believed it myself. And then L’s myoclonic jerks – twitches – started. They’ve been pretty bad lately, and I started crying. Again. And couldn’t stop. And I finally told L about the anxiety attack.

So then, it was Friday. Started out okay. Took L’s sister to buy Guitar Hero 5, so L and L’s mother could watch House together. And that worked out alright, except GH5 had to be in L’s room because it wouldn’t really fit anywhere else, so L and I couldn’t really be alone. Do that whole couple’s bonding thing. And then we went to a movie (Zombieland was fairly fluffy – a bit too “one true love and virginity is teh suxxors and LOL @ fatties” for my tastes). And the line to the ticket booth was long, and there were a lot of flashing lights (because, for whatever reason, the movie listings are surrounded by a Broadway-style marquis), and this creepy kid behind L and me started being creepy (as you can probably tell by my incredibly descriptive adjectives, thinking about it makes me all squicked) and I started shaking and I could feel the anxiety setting in again. I felt better as soon as I got out of the line, and was okay for most of the rest of the night, except for when I spilled a drink and nearly started crying again.

So, Saturday and Sunday kind of blended into each other in my memory. L’s sister played more GH5, and I decided to install the Sims on my computer to somewhat alleviate the general feeling of ennui. Except, it took almost an hour to install and I didn’t want to run any programs while installing it and once I installed the program I couldn’t find it in my directory and once I found the program and figured out how to run it I couldn’t figure out the controls because they were by no means intuitive and so I started crying and shaking again. And then L and L’s sister told me to calm down because it was just a game, so naturally I cried harder. Because telling me to calm down makes things worse, because it’s telling me to stop responding to things in the way I respond to things when I’m stressed and feel like I’m on the verge of an(other) anxiety attack, which isn’t possible because it’s how my brain fucking works and adds another layer of frustration over my current emotional response, because I’m trying to do the impossible to make other people happy (because one mustn’t allow others to feel like they have contributed to one’s poor mood). And I’m trying to process all that and avoid biting L and L’s sister’s heads off at the same time, so I went and hid (sat on the bed with the door wide open) in L’s sister’s room for a bit so I could avoid people. Once most of that frustration had bled off, I went back to L’s room and worked on learning the controls for The Sims. At some point, L told me that L’s parents think I’m gaining weight and should exercise more. And my face crumpled again, and I felt (once again) tears forming as I tried (once again) not to cry. Because of course I’m gaining weight – my bodyweight has a range of 20-30 pounds it cycles through. Because of course I’m gaining weight – I’m trying to make myself eat on a more healthy schedule, instead of not eating even though I’m hungry because I’d have to go to the kitchen which is all the way over there and I’d have to stand up to cook anything and it’s not like I have anything premade. Because of course I’m gaining weight – I’m stressed out, which means my body processes food differently than when I’m feeling well.

But I still feel like I shouldn’t be gaining weight. Because that’s bad, right? Even though I’m usually pretty sure that I don’t care about what I look like, even though I’m pretty sure that my weight won’t affect my health, even through all that, it still stings like hell that I might be gaining weight.

I’m going to schedule an appointment with a doctor this week, so hopefully having this shit documented will help me explain what’s been going on and why I think I need some anti-depressants.

Quick Hit: FWD/Forward

12 Oct

Apropos of my last post concerning the Feministing debacle, a bunch of awesome feminist writers have teamed up (including friend to Foxtrot Chally *waves*) and started a group blog discussing disablism, accessibility, marginalizing language and lots of other cool goodies.

It looks like a useful resource. It’s new, so reading the extent of the archives is easier than older blogs (in other words, go! Read!).

Why I’m Angry

7 Oct

You may have heard of Feministing’s recent refusal to acknowledge disability as a feminist issue.

You may have heard about the systematic othering of disabled people at Feministing.

You may have heard that Feministing commenters continue to engage in problematic behavior, in spite of being called out on TAB privilege.

You may have heard that Feministing moderators allow (and, by silence, encourage) the marginalization of trans people and denial of trans rights.

You may have heard that Feministing encourages multiple forms of kyriarchy, consistently and without apology.

You may have realized by now that I’m cosigning meloukhia’s letter.