Still Fighting

So it has been quite a hot minute since I last wrote anything here, huh?

Well, I’m still alive.

I’m still anxious. Still depressed. And still ADHD. Those thing have not changed, and I don’t think will ever change. I think I’ve finally come to terms with that and have decided instead to take each day as it comes.

That said, I’ve been really busy with school, mostly because I am a such a slow programmer that the last time I had a Data Structures assignment, it took me an entire 2 weeks to finish programming it when it took my friend less than an hour to do the same thing (then again, C has been coding for a year more than I have, and he spends at least 60 hours of coding a week. While I spend maybe 10… Or less…). So really, my busy-ness is merely due to my lack of skills, and knowledge.

Due to that, I haven’t been able to log in to WordPress to write or read anyone’s blog. 😦 I’ve missed the mental health community here in the blogverse. I’ve been wondering how everyone’s doing – especially Q, This.Shaking, skinnyhobbit and PaperDoll. I think about these wonderful people often enough.

Not writing in my blog makes me miss my advocacy work – I have recently been way more active as a Peer Educator but since a lot of our programs lately have been on sexual health, and sexual violence, I haven’t really been talking about mental health as much. Also, I’ve been feeling guilty about my recovery progress – of the times when I’ve slipped up and regressed, of the times when I’m less than a model Peer Educator, or the times when I don’t seem to embody the message I want to share.

Other times, I feel guilty for being better. I think I feel that way because then it’s like others see me as somehow “more successful”. But then again, I’m pretty sure I’m just projecting.

S and I have been continuing our work, and lately, I’ve been getting paranoid about termination, merely because I feel like I’m getting better, so that must mean I don’t need therapy anymore. The child is still in there, still scared. Despite realizing that she has the capability of being strong, and moving on, she’s still scared. She still wants S.

On that front, therapy has been going well enough. I am still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce, but it has been months since I’ve cried over the ex. It’s also been a while since I last spoke to him. I cut all ties with him some months ago (I don’t even remember when!) but from time to time, I still think of him, of the things that have happened, and of some of the better times we’ve had. Yesterday, I stumbled upon an old album that had all kinds of photos of us and for the first time in months, I broke down and cried seeing it. Then, after seeing it and feeling all at once angry, hurt, disgusted, and sad, I deleted all the photos that had him in it. It was painful to do it but the more I deleted, the easier it was to face the pain. This incident merely reminded me of the fact that this rip in my heart will probably never fully heal. There will be scar tissue, which means that I’ll probably always hurt whenever the scar tissues get aggravated. Thankfully, they don’t get aggravated all that often.

I’ve also been working hard in group therapy. Ever since I spoke up and told people how I actually feel about them, I have not been able to stop. It is almost like an addiction now – to say, “To be honest… This is how I feel…” and just say my mind. It feels great every single time because of how liberating it is not to have to keep secrets. The response from my group members have been positive, and it has helped me see that conflict, when avoided, often brings pain when not resolved. And that despite how uncomfortable it is to confront someone about something, it’s also equally uncomfortable to hold it inside. I have also learned that if you tell the truth, and give people the chance to tell their truth, and then both of you decide to give each other a chance, then things will work out.

T, the co-facilitator, told S of my progress in group. According to S, he expressed his awe, and admiration at my courage, and how hard I’ve been pushing myself in group. He also told me in person in the last session how excited he is to see my progress, and how happy he is every time I open my mouth to offer my opinion. He asked me if I now feel burdened by this – my answer was yes. I feel some pressure to perform – to be courageous all the time. To always be vulnerable, to always face my fears. It is stressful because now that I know I can do it once, I know I can do it again – but I don’t always want to. And that is another uncomfortable feeling I have to live with.

On the more personal front, my relationship with Cherie has been going well. We had our first huge fight recently that felt very scary and threatening to me due to how I always blame myself whenever a conflict arises, and how fearful I am at a loss of connection. Instead of letting the conflict tear us apart though, we were able to work things out. It is becoming clearer to me how much I love this woman, and how much she means to me.

I sometimes freak out though because of how I just don’t know how to do relationships – so being in a stable, and mature relationship with Cherie unnerves me because I don’t really know how to be. For 8 years, I was a certain kind of partner but that is me at my utmost dependent, weak, and whiny state. Now that I’m with someone who works hard on her mental health, and is a strong independent woman, I keep doing things that I find to be annoying such as being whiny, child-like, and dependent. I drive her insane sometimes because I can’t stop asking her if things are okay between us. I push and push and push because I feel insecure.

S and I have been talking about this a lot too – we discovered that I have such deep separation anxiety that it makes me so clingy. However, S has been reminding me for the past 3 weeks that I need to be kinder to myself and not immediately call myself names like, “Childish”, “Weak”, “Loser”, but rather recognize that uncomfortable feeling of being in conflicts, or the uncomfortable feeling of feeling like something’s wrong in the relationship when there really isn’t, and embrace that; hold the pain in my mind, and sit with it.  That has definitely been happening a lot more for me than it has ever been. Whenever I am aware of my issues, I try to sit with whatever uncomfortable feeling it is that have brought me the issues.

I really miss posting here because this is a space where I can word vomit, and not be judged for it. I can provide as much context as I want. I can speak freely and express my thoughts and feelings. It helps me process my feelings, and situations. I think not being able to write here has been detrimental to my progress because I haven’t really had a way to express all the pent up analysis that goes on in my head – and when I share the thoughts with Cherie, it often ends up at a point where I get super clingy. This blog is my space to just blah, without any expectations that anyone is even going to read it. And that’s fine because I think this blog keeps me sane.

Anyway… Overall, I’d say that I’m well enough. I might still have suicidal ideations but at least, the degree in which I’d act on them have definitely decreased. S is keeping an eye on my mental health. Cherie, and I are also doing the same. My group members have been supportive, and while I still have trouble in school, I am feeling a little better about programming because I feel like I’m slowly starting to understand some things. Unless there’s a huge trigger, I am usually feeling much better than I have been 3 or 4 months ago.

I think I’ll visit here more whenever I can. It really does free up a lot of mind space in my head when I write all my analysis, thoughts, and feelings down. So I hope all of you reading are well, as well, and I hope that I can have some time to check out the things you guys have all been up to as well then.

Still Alive

Anyone who follows my Facebook, my blog, or knows me personally knows that I’ve been through a hellish year with processing the traumas of my life, processing a painful and messy divorce, battling suicidal thoughts and intents, battling self harming tendencies, processing my sexual orientation and what it means to be Christian despite it, dealing with the pain of intense self-shame, self-punishment, self-defeat, as well as experiencing all those feelings as I project them onto others, working two jobs while contributing as a Peer Educator, and struggling with financial issues.

At the end of the day, we’re on the cusp of the beginning of the final month of the year – I’m still here, after all that shit, I’m still fighting.

I’m going to fail all my classes – in retrospect, that shouldn’t add to more shame for me right?

Then why do I still keep feeling like I’ve wasted an entire semester doing nothing? – Even though, I’ve done more in this semester where my mental health is concerned than I’ve ever done in my life.

The critical voices in my head need to stop.

After all the shit, I should get a medal for still being here. What are 3 F’s in a transcript compared to how I’m still alive?

Another Update

I know some of you have been worried about me because I haven’t been active on WordPress or written in my blog.

Things have been a whirlwind of intense emotions. I’m sometimes very distressed and depressed, and then other times feeling okay, feeling “fine”.

The only good news I have for myself right now is that things are well in my personal life – with Chérie, things have progressed smoothly with us since the last update. I had gotten a chance to meet her for the first time and we behaved as though we’d known each other our whole lives. She makes me feel so appreciated, so loved, and so encouraged. It’s a foreign feeling (being happy) that I’m trying to cope with and accept.

School has been my main source of stress and a huge downer. I’m failing.

I didn’t realize how badly I had needed a semester off until now that I’m about a month away from the end of school. Finals are creeping up and I don’t know if I can pass all my classes. I’m not utilizing my time very well either because despite my anxiety over my grades, I really don’t want to do anything. It’s almost like I can’t do anything.

S and I have been talking about my relationship these past few weeks (which is why I haven’t written any Thoughts From Therapy posts – I figured, who really wants to hear about all that, right?). This week though, I’m going to have to steer us back to my school struggles. I’m really experiencing intense depression – the kind where you don’t want to get out of bed, and you don’t have energy for anything, and food doesn’t taste good, and sleep is restless – all because of school.

I’ll write again sometime – for now, thank you for all those who have been asking how I’ve been. You guys help keep me going because I realize that there are people out there who care about me.

 

Crawling Out of The Rut

It’s been quite a while since I’d written and I do apologize but life has been a roller coaster lately.

Since I started crawling out of my post-divorce rut, I had taken a misstep and had fallen back into another rut – the school/academic rut. As I am slowly recovering from the post-divorce rut, I realize how badly I’ve been doing in school lately.

I’m doing 3 classes officially with the fourth class being a supplemental 1-credit hour class and despite only doing 12 credit hours, I’m floundering really badly. I am failing Discrete Computational Structure (which is essentially just Discrete Math) and can’t keep up with the class. I am not doing well in Calculus despite this being the second time I’m taking the same class (the number of homework and tests/quizzes for this class is truly relentless!) and I’m also struggling really badly with Computing 2 (mainly because the midterm project has crushed all motivation that I ever had in me).

All this has led to an unfortunate amount of stress and tension. I kept backing myself into the corner again – telling myself that I am so weak, and that perhaps I need to reconsider my dream of being a computer scientist. That perhaps, I had made a mistake in thinking that I was smart enough for this venture.

Thankfully, through all this, Chérie has been steadfast in her encouragement and commitment to me. Despite all the whining I’ve been doing about school, she has been very supportive – she even sat me down (figuratively since we’re almost 400 miles apart) one day to help me reorganize my schedule. She and I both successfully helped me cut out 8 hours of work from the restaurant as well as 3 and a half extra hours from private tutoring. Just having her sit with me and discuss my plans was very useful. It calmed me down considerably. It allowed me to refocus.

We’ve only been together 2 weeks so far and things have been going really well for us. It’s interesting how well we’re doing and how much we’ve planned and discussed. I suppose that since we’re both in our thirties, it’s not hard for us to be mature in our outlook and steadfast in our decisions. I truly am fortunate to have found such an amazing person to share my life with.

Group therapy had been very interesting on Friday. The issue between Kyle and Brandon came up again (see: A Most Intense Group Session for context) and I pointed out that since this came up again, that the issue must be pressing enough to warrant another look.

This time, the gloves were off as both Kyle and Brandon got heated with their ideas and opinions. Brandon still didn’t understand why Kyle would not empathize with him or just show him some compassion while Kyle didn’t understand why Brandon is so “fanatical” in his beliefs. Brandon took offense to Kyle’s w0rd choice. Kyle responded that he had no idea why Brandon would so arrogantly presume that everyone should see things his way.

As the conflict got more heated, J was good to jump in and diffuse things before they escalated even more. She cut in a lot and mitigated the conflict very well. At one point she said, “Okay, the content of the disagreement is not what we’re trying to discuss here. We’re trying to discuss how we can approach each other when something like this happens!”

She was right. The content of the argument was not important at all. As both men continued to argue, I interrupted them and jumped in. I didn’t think that I would ever have the guts to do something like that but I did.

I said, “Okay guys. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but I can really see both sides here. I can empathize with both of you and I do. Brandon, I am part of the LGBTQ community too now and I understand how you feel. I get how angry you are and how much you just want to punch everyone who even utters a tiny homophobic comment. I get it. It makes me mad when a Christian acts like total assholes. At the same time though, I see Kyle’s point – I see what he means by how the Westboro people are just lunatics – it’s because they are. No matter how much we fight them, we’ll never win because they are not only brainwashed to hate people who are different from them, they are also delusional! Doing nothing sucks but sometimes we just need to have compassion for these misguided people. That said, Kyle, I feel like you’re not really empathizing with Brandon. I mean, this is what I perceive. I perceive that you have a great reluctance to just say that you care for Brandon. There were easy outs and you refused to take any of them. J asked you if you cared to be here and your answer was ‘Well if I didn’t care I wouldn’t be here’. Brandon asked you if you could just give him some empathy while T flat-out told you that Brandon just needs to feel some connection from you. Yet you refuse all three offers to let you off the hook. It makes me wonder then if you’re just afraid to show yourself to us – that is to be vulnerable and humble. I have two theories. One it’s that you’ve invested too much into this argument between you and Brandon that if you don’t get any resolutions from it, then it would make the last year for us to be pointless. All I’m saying is that, I feel like you could also be a little less judgmental toward Brandon and just reach out to him, offer some support, and just be there!”

I felt my heart hammer in my ribcage as I spoke. I was afraid of how I was going to be perceived. This was why I didn’t like conflicts. I was afraid of the fact that Kyle and Brandon could both hate me because I was being blunt.

It turned out that what I said opened up the conflict into smaller more manageable chunks. We were able to mostly sort through our emotions and reactions toward the conflict. When asked what we learned from the experience, I talked about how fearful I was to share my opinion and how uncomfortable it was to be amidst the conflict. T pointed out that he was glad that I came to that realization and reminded me that through this experience, we’re able to see that just because we’re not directly involved in the fight, we are actually still a part of the conflict as it still affects us “bystanders”.

I learned a few things from group this week – one was that I don’t always have to follow my instincts and pick a side (I’ve always felt like I had to pick a side. Otherwise, both sides will hate me…) because chances are neither of them were right and choosing a side merely makes everything even more petty. I was able to resist my instincts this time and was able to overcome the discomfort of not knowing what to do. I was also able to sit through the discomfort of being in the middle of a conflict and not run away. I was able to do this without having a meltdown. I was also able to realize how brave I was to say my thoughts and perceptions.

At the end of the session, I called Chérie excitedly on the phone and conveyed everything that had happened in group. She was ecstatic to hear that I was able to do what I did – “Good job!” she had said.

“I actually feel kinda proud of myself,” I said, feeling the same kind of embarrassed shame creep in to my cheeks. I was proud of the fact that I was proud of myself because self-validation has never been my strong suit. I think I’m really moving forward towards a mentally healthier me with my improvement in self-validation, self-pride, and self-encouragement.

So that’s been my week so far. I hadn’t had time to really write any Thoughts From Therapy posts either but as assignments pile up, I barely have any time to be online anymore, much less spend time writing blog posts. I hope to be able to post more thoughtful posts when things start to cool off for me. Until then, I’m just grateful that I still have people I trust here in the blogverse and people who care enough to come back and check to see if I have new posts.

 

Monday Blues

Today has definitely been a rough day.

I had one of the worst falls in my experience of skateboarding. I was distracted for just a split second and had leaned backwards a little too much which caused my heavy backpack to pull me backwards. As I fell on my elbow, almost all of the force was directed to it. The backpack absorbed a lot of the impact as well which made it so that only a little part of my hip was hurt as well. I was glad that my laptop didn’t break.

The good thing about all this was the fact that the two guys who were walking behind me rushed up to help – one of them was quite polite. “Are you okay, ma’am?” he’d asked as I pulled myself off the hard brick pavement. I told them that I was okay – even though the only reason I got back up so quickly was just because I didn’t want to be laughed at for falling in a high traffic area because the pain was so jarring that I actually needed some time to recover from it.

As I type this now, my right arm is complaining, while the scrapes on my arm and elbow still burn. My wrist hurt as well because the bottom part of my palm had braced myself against the ground as I fell – I should have known better than to have braced myself though.

So it felt good to have 3 different people rush up to me to make sure I was okay – the third person was a girl who had retrieved my runaway skateboard. It was nice to know that people still care and that I’m in a campus with people who really care and are conscientious of everyone else.

So physically, I’d hurt myself – the only good thing was the fact that it had happened before the last class of the day. Otherwise, I’d have had a bad time going through the day. When I got to class, I decided to wipe my arm with my left hand. As I did so, I smeared blood all over my left palm. I hadn’t realized it but my arm was pretty scraped up and the bleeding took a few minutes to stem.

I was also extremely sleepy. I fell asleep in every class I was in. It was annoying. I had also received poor grades for my Calculus test and I was very frustrated because this is my second time taking this class – I should be better at it, not getting worse! I am definitely not motivated in school at all – besides that, I also don’t have the energy or focus to finish my work. It’s like my brain’s had enough and it doesn’t want to cooperate anymore.

I feel stupid, unworthy, and lazy. I feel convinced that I am going to drop my GPA again because of how poorly I’m performing in school. Today, I beat myself up and told myself that I am not going to succeed. Today the stronger side of me was not present to convince myself otherwise so I was depressed for much of the day.

It doesn’t help that exhaustion and sleep deprivation makes it even harder to be stable emotionally.

To make things worse, my classmate had asked me if I watched a certain TV show – when I said that I haven’t, she asked if I’d watch TV. When I responded “no” to her again, her eyes grew wide as she tried to fathom how someone can survive in this world without TV’s… She then said to me, “So you don’t watch TV, you don’t do anything fun at all! Man… Your life sucks. If I were you, I don’t even know what I’d do. Aren’t you stressed? If I were you, I’d totally be stressed…”

“Yes, I am stressed. I’m stressed all the time. Haven’t you wondered why I’m always so edgy?” I said, feeling my irritation creeping up. I wanted to say, ‘No shit, Sherlock’ but bit my tongue.

I was a little hurt by the insensitive comment about how my life sucks. I didn’t think it was helpful at all for me to have heard that. Although I knew that they didn’t mean anything nasty by their comment, it was still hurtful – especially since that is my reality. Daily.

Then during the end of the last class that I had for the day, one of the classmates that I’m most close to, had asked me why I was at the LGBTQ+ center. He’s a conservative Christian.

He said, “Why were you at the LGBTQ+ center? What, are you batting for the other team now?”

I wanted to explain to him that I do indeed struggle with same sex desires and that I’ve become more and more cognizant of my feelings and attractions. Still, his question caught me by surprise – I went with my gut instinct and go-to knee-jerk reaction. I lied.

I told him that I just had a quick question that I needed to ask the Director. He didn’t seem to buy it but he dropped the subject. His question though made me think. It made me think about the uncertainty that I still feel over my sexual orientation. It also made me still feel guilty and unworthy – it was the usual religious uncertainty that I’ve been grappling with since I was young.

He told me that he doesn’t believe that people are born gay but rather our brains get used to the idea of being one thing or another – that  homosexuality is a choice. I then explained to him that I struggle with my attraction to women. He was surprised that I would tell him that because I seemed like a conservative Christian like he is.

I explained to him all the struggles I had to deal with and all the pain and struggles that the LGBTQ+ community has had to deal with. I told  him that no one chooses a life like this. Especially not when we live in a conservative state like Indiana where you could still legally lose your job if you were in the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

It was an interesting conversation. He didn’t end up being swayed by my arguments but at least, I was able to stand up for myself and disagree with his opinion. I also pointed out the fact that today was World Mental Health Day. I told him that the way Christians (some, not all) have approached homosexuality is also the same as how they approach mental illnesses. That is to say, they don’t. I was told by someone that I wasn’t praying enough or that I didn’t have enough faith back when I first revealed to them that I suffer from mental illnesses.

It was a triggering conversation for me. I felt good to know that everyone is allowed to have an opinion and that they’re not silenced for expressing it but it was also bad because I thought about my salvation and my faith issues again.

The only positive thing that had happened to me today was the fact that my college had organized a Mental Health Awareness Day event and they had dozens of vendors from organizations like The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA), and American Society for Prevention of Suicide (ASFPS). I spoke to a lot of people at that event and made contacts. I told them that I was a Peer Educator and that I’m part of the group that creates the programs for mental health related topics. I excitedly shared my passion for mental health advocacy with the volunteers. I was told by all the different organizations that they do want to collaborate with us and that they would be happy to have me be a part of their organizations. I had a great time just hearing about all the different ventures and resources that were available for people. I was also inspired to come up with a bunch of ideas of what the mental health team could do next semester. Going to the event also really just affirmed to me that I am really passionate and excited about the topic of mental health. It fired me up again to be a great Peer Educator!

Note: I was falling asleep while writing this and may have written gibberish or nonsensical sentences. If I did, I do apologize. It’s been a long day.

Exhaustion

I was supposed to come home and study/finish my homework or assignments. Guess what I did instead?

I browsed through Amazon for things that I shouldn’t be buying and wasted all the precious time on that.

It’s like I have an unconscious desire to fail in school. It also seems like with the self-harm, I have an unconscious desire to be forced into a psych ward. I’m not sure why that is but I’m self-sabotaging for sure.

I wonder if it’s fear… I’m afraid to take responsibility for my own actions – so perhaps if I was forced into a situation where I have no choice, then I can say that I didn’t have anything to do with it. That it was someone else’s fault that I had failed.

I don’t know exactly what it is but a part of me thinks that it’s hugely influenced by the fear I have.

Sometime tomorrow, my ex is going to be married and I need to take my mind off things. My friend, El, told me to focus on coding. I thought about how unmotivated I am to code. I’m not sure why. She speculates that maybe I just don’t enjoy it and so that’s why I don’t want to do it.

Thing is, I feel tired. Every time I think of homework or assignments, my mind feels heavy and my body feels fatigued. Every time I think of having to do something that could potentially be overwhelmingly stressful, I have the same feelings of fatigue. I’m groaning, I’m dragging my feet, and my eyes are heavy with drowsiness.

Every time I talk to S, I bemoan the fact that I’m tired. I keep telling him that every single time I am in session. “I’m tired, S. Just so tired…” I don’t know how to fix it. 😦

I think it’s been 4 weeks since I’ve last had a day off.