Feeling Irritated for Always Being There

Whenever I find out that someone suffer from the same kind of mental illnesses that I do (anxiety, depression, ADHD), I automatically become inclined to talk to them more because I know how difficult it is to feel all alone and helpless. I would almost reflexively tell them that I’m there for them to talk if they ever need to. I do it, not only because of my protective nature, but also because I know that not many people care to talk to someone who is suffering from depression or anxiety or ADHD.

I have found few people to talk to other than S (which is why I spend so much time in his office and have been spending so much time in his office lately) so I want to offer that crying shoulder, and the comforting ear.

That said, I sometimes think that maybe I’m overexerting myself because depending on who I’m talking to, sometimes I end up feeling more distress myself because I’ve taken on the person’s burden on top of my own already-very-heavy one. I can’t seem to help it though – I always just would rather hurt myself than let others hurt.

Case in point, I have a friend who would message me whenever they’re down and despite all the encouragement, one doesn’t simply get out of being depressed – a fact that I know full well. Lately, I’ve been feeling stretched thin by my own struggles with the issues of abandonment, grief, confusion over trying to reconcile my faith with my identity, and overwhelming stress from school. So, every time I hear from my friend, I feel irritated.

I feel bad about it of course because I feel that this was my own doing – after all, I was the one who offered to be the empathetic friend who will always be there to listen and to help. Yet, I can’t help the exhaustion I feel. I don’t know if I am allowed to feel that irritation or not. In some cases in my life, my anger is justified and deserved, even. In some other cases, it’s not so clear – this being one of it.

I want to be supportive, helpful, and a comfort for all who need it from me. But I’m also exhausted. What do I do?

After Group

“It’s not just a haircut…” C said, as she looked at me empathetically. “There’s one important thing I want you to do tonight, after you are picked up at work and get home. When you are alone, and these thoughts come back, I want you to go to the mirror and look at yourself. Look at your haircut and what that represents for you. It’s not just a haircut…”

That was what C said to me earlier, after group therapy ended (it was our last session together – I was feeling really emotional, and B and C (the two psychologists that lead our group) had asked me to join them at C’s office after the session.

It was my first time being confronted by two psychologists at once. It felt a little intimidating but at the same time, also felt very nice because I knew that two people whom I’ve come to look up to care about me enough to want to talk to me.

“What’s up?” I asked them as I sat down – knowing full well what was up. This was familiar – as it has happened at least 2 times before this. This was about my BHM score.

“Oh, we looked at your BHM score and we just wanted to check in to make sure you’re safe…” B said, I had indicated in my BHM that I was always suicidal and that my risk was at a moderate level. “I know S had alerted us to the fact that your scores are going to be elevated for a while but we just wanted to make sure…”

I knew they were doing their job, but I couldn’t help but feel like these two women cared for me at a deeper level than just the job. They’ve seen me grow throughout therapy and they are invested in my future growth.

“Are you going to be safe?” C asked.

I didn’t know what to say. Since having my haircut, I’ve been receiving many compliments. Even random strangers would come up to me and tell me how great I look. It has boosted my confidence and made me feel better than I have in a while. Yet, despite that, it’s still there – that darkness is still lurking. It’s still angry and now even more upset because I’ve found something that strengthened me. I still don’t know who “it” is – I’ve not gotten any answers the times I’ve asked it who it is.

“I think I’ll be ok…” I said, not able to look at either women in the eye. They didn’t look away – I could feel their gaze on me.

“I know you say that you will be ok… But why don’t I feel good about that?” C asked.

“I think I just need to focus on the good things, on the more positive things… It’ll be ok. I just need to hang on until tomorrow…” I said, sounding completely unconvincing. “I mean, S took my knife away…”

“S took your knife away?” C asked.

“Yeah… He asked me if he needed to take that away from me and I said that it was probably a good idea…” I said.

“S took your knife away… But when there’s a will, there’s a way, right?” C persisted.

I started crying. “Yeah. Yeah there is… I mean, I can’t tell you how I’ll be in a few hours from now… ” I said. I showed them the scars that I had just recently acquired. Sure, S had taken my art knife away but when I was home, I have access to the kitchen knife.

It was true. I’ve never liked the question that psychologists pose, “Are you going to be safe?” because when I’m triggered, I react. I can’t help it most of the time. I know I need to work on better coping skills so that I don’t just react each time I’m triggered but it’s a process…

I didn’t know what else to say. I just told her that coming to group today had helped me a little to cope with a stressor that I’d had last night. It was something that affected me deeply and in the midst of it, I thought to myself, “See, this is why it’s better that I just die. It’ll absolve Hubster of his responsibility over me…”. I told B and C this. I told them that it’s much easier if I just died.

“Also, I go to bed really late… It’s usually during those times that I get the worst feelings.”

“And that’s understandable… It’s dark, you’re all alone… You’re tired… I can’t think straight when I’m tired!”

“Yeah…” I said, “I haven’t had enough sleep for a while now.”

“What do you have to do after this until tonight?” C asked, “After you work, after you get picked up… What will you do between 9 and 1?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I have school work I need to do… I guess I’ll do that… Or maybe I’ll force myself to go to bed earlier…” I said.

“Yeah, going to bed earlier might be a good idea…” C said.

“I mean I’ve tried the crisis chat line before and that wasn’t helpful at all…” I said.

B said, “Just like how there are bad therapists or therapists that you don’t match well with, there are also crisis lines that aren’t as well managed…”

C picked up a business card and gave it to me. She pointed at the list of crisis hotlines.

“Just because one didn’t know work for you, doesn’t mean you should just give up. If one doesn’t work, try another and another,” C said s she handed me the card with all the pertinent information about crisis lines.

“Yeah… I’ll try…” I said, “I mean… I also made a promise. I promised S that I’ll try to hang on. I don’t want to break that promise…”

We were quiet for a while. C took the opportunity to fill the void. She said something that made me sob uncontrollably.

“It’s not just a haircut…” C said, “There’s one important thing I want you to do tonight, after you are picked up at work and get home. When you are alone, and these thoughts come back, I want you to go to the mirror and look at yourself. Look at your haircut and what that represents for you. It’s not just a haircut…”

I had shared in group that my haircut symbolized something important to me. It felt like a change that I needed; like it was the step I had to take in this journey of recovery. I told the group that as the stylist cut my hair away, I visualized all the bad things falling away and I had started feeling lighter. B had commented then that it seemed like I had more confidence than she’s ever seen me have. I told her that the haircut did give me a boost in my confidence and that people seem to want to talk to me more now – it’s like just exuding some confidence makes people more willing to interact with you.

So when C said that, the floodgates opened and I sobbed. Both B and C let me sob for a few moments. It was so easy to forget the good things. I had just ended group, and I had already forgotten that I’m stronger than I let myself believe. That like B said, I have the courage to keep going.

“I am smarter than I think… All things are possible today… Good news is coming my way…” I said, repeating what one of my group members had shared in group today. He said that it was something that he was taught as a child and he repeats that every day. It sounded like something I needed to hear. B and C smiled and nodded. “Yeah… I guess it’s so easy to forget that…”

“It’s ok. I’ll remember it for you. I’ll hang on to it for you…” C said.

“You’ve got an entire team here working with you. Don’t worry. We will keep reminding you, Jules…” B said.

I cried some more because what they said was touching.

“Thank you…” I said, choking back all the tears. “Thank you…”

“I’m more of a tactile person so I’d touch my hair… But whenever you need affirmation, you need to look in the mirror…”

“I like to touch it too…” I said, brushing my fingers through my sides. We were silent for a few moments. “Yeah…” I said, as I thought about what C had just told me – about how my haircut was more than just hair. It’s a symbol of hope for me. It’s something I badly need to hang on to right now. “Yeah…” I repeated. “Thank you…”

Now sure that I would be ok, B and C relaxed. I could sense it in their body language.

“Okay. Come on, let me walk you to the door…” She said.

As I gathered my belonging and followed her out, I said to her, “You know. You’re doing a great job, C. I hope you finish and graduate and be able to do your own thing…” (C is actually an intern at CAPS and I realize now that B was probably present because being C’s supervisor, she was probably wanting to observe C’s session.)

“Yeah, I hope that I can graduate too,” C said as she opened the door.

Funnily enough, we bumped into S who was trying to get into the office while I was trying to get out.

“Oh sorry!” C said.

“Hi S!” I said, my heart leapt with a measure of excitement. I don’t often see S outside of his office so whenever I do, it’s an exciting moment. He was carrying some groceries.

“Oh! Hi, Jules!” He said – I saw him do a double take when he saw me. He had paused slightly after saying hi, probably because he didn’t recognize me at first. I was hoping that he’d see me with my new hair tomorrow but maybe a quick preview would spare him the shock.

Anyway, so group has ended for me. It has been a bittersweet experience. Bitter because it has ended and because of the stuff we dealt with but sweet because not only was I able to connect with 3 other people on a deep level, I was also able to learn how to listen, learn to be more forgiving towards myself, learn to be supportive and also learn more about myself.

B, being the lead psychologist, noted that though every group is different, she did think that our group was very quick to dive in to our “hidden” areas – i.e. the stuff we hide from people and don’t want to talk about – and was quick to attack our root areas. She said that because of that, we were able to grow so quickly and be such a great team. I feel proud of that. I feel proud to be a part of a group that did so well in such little time.

I also feel a lot of affection for the other two group members (both amazing guys) despite only knowing their personal life stuff and nothing about their background or story. I’ve known these people more intimately than I’ve ever really known anyone (besides Hubster). I trusted these people with my life and parting ways with them today hurts.

I’m grieving this loss. I’m grieving the fact that I might never see these guys again. I’m grieving the fact that we had gained momentum and were unpacking so many important issues that we were all grappling with – but now, it’s all over. I’m grieving all these things but at the same time, I’m also celebrating the end of a chapter. I’m celebrating the lives of these two other men that I’ve had the privilege to get to know. I watched both of them grow and change through these 8 weeks – BE went from being a shy kid who would barely speak, to a more confident leader who brought notes to therapy and who led a session himself. DD stopped minimizing his feelings and emotions and started to let us in. Today he actually told us a very important personal information that he never could reveal to us before. He told us that he trusted us.

I love these guys – maybe I’m just being emotional right now but that’s how I feel currently. I can’t even adequately express just how much I’ve learned from them or how important they’ve been to me. Through it all, they’ve also reminded me of how important I have been to them. They made me feel wanted and heard. They gave me a place where I belonged. I owe them a lot.

Things will not be the same even if I attended another group.

BE summed it up nicely, “It’s not going to be the same with another group. I don’t think I can attend another process group ever again. It’s just not going to be as special… It won’t have you two in them…”

He made me cry with his words. In fact, I couldn’t stop crying for the last 10 minutes of the session. When it was all said and done, I told them, “We’re going to be ok. We’re going to be just fine…” It was more for me than it is for them, but I think they appreciated hearing it as well.

At the end of it, we took pictures – B and C commented that this has never happened before; no one has ever asked to take photos of group before. B warned us that this meant that our privacy will no longer be ensured. We all agreed that it was fine.

Pictures are important to me and being able to look at a photo in the future and reminisce on this great chapter of my life feels like it’s something I really nee so I’m glad that BE suggested that we take a photo together.

I just can’t believe that I was initially so resistant to joining group. I was so adamant against it but S never stopped trying. He kept bringing it up and reminding me of group opportunities. Now that I’ve joined and had a great experience, I’m ready to do another group. It’ll never be the same as this first group but I know that I’ll glean even more about myself when I attend future group therapies! I’m so thankful that I attended this.

Crappy Week So Far

On Wednesday, I had a great session with S. I told him of my epiphany regarding how the anger and rage I often feel comes from the teenager side of me and that the adult side is broken into two – one is the rational, kind, and caring adult while the other is the nagging, critical, and spiteful adult. Often, the latter wins in most situations being that it not only represents “mother” but also is depression-fueled, making it much stronger than the rational, kind, and caring adult. I explained to S that the nice adult is tired because she constantly has to battle not only the teen but also the nagging and critical “mother”. She gets kicked down and beat by them daily.

S told me that he feels like on top of that, I seem to also have the child part as well. The one who is so fearful and constantly needs approval, attention, and protection. The part that I often deny and the part that “mother” always calls “useless”, “weak” and “whiny”. The child is the part that comes out every time I feel needy but the shame of feeling needy causes the “mother” to lash out and tell me that I am weak to need people’s validation and support. S made a good observation and I agreed with him about the fact that I do have the child side too. The one who desperately wants to be nurtured and cared for.

I told S that the angry teen is the one who has been destructive. The one who encourages me to cut, the one who wants to do harmful things and also the one who often comes up with suicidal thoughts. I also told him that I feel like therapy has been chipping away at the walls I’ve been putting up and I feel exhausted by all the things I am battling and all the unfamiliar feelings I’m experiencing. S surmised that therapy hasn’t been chipping away at the wall but rather has been bringing the hidden and unknown in my mind to the known and I’m terrified because I’ve been suppressing these sides of me for so long that I don’t know who they are despite the fact that they’re all me.

Anyway, at the end of the session (we spent almost the whole time talking about this – I would have to write a “Thoughts from Therapy” post when I can get some Internet – we’ve spent the last week moving to a new home and we won’t have WiFi until Monday… I’m actually typing this on my phone and draining mobile data), S said to me, “You’ve done good work, Jules. You’ve worked hard and I’m very encouraged to hear that you are beginning to get to know these hidden parts of you.” I also told him that I feel like I’m beginning to feel better. Like, there is finally a glimmer of light in the darkness that I’ve been in. He seemed quite happy to hear that and I felt warmth in my heart because I always like it when I hear praises from him.

I thought then that this would mean that my week would go well and I would continue to be happy and at peace. The next day, I woke up in a very foul mood. I started feeling the kind of anger and rage that I used to feel daily as a teen… My anger was unprovoked and it made Hubster really negative as well because he absorbed my negativity. I felt bad for being so angry but I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t stop it. The nice adult had stumbled and the teen had taken the chance to take over.

I’ve been angry and grumpy since Thursday. I tried my best to not be so with Hubster today so the two of us were actually fine today. I laughed, made jokes and we were lighthearted with each other. Not so when I got to work because despite the fact that I tried to be cheerful, customers seemed to think that they were entitled to treating me like dirt and to tip me 10% despite above 20% service. I was so angry that I thought that the teen would’ve effectively caused me to harm myself again. I was going to punch the wall so hard that I’d break my fist. I wanted to go to the office and scream. I wanted to cuss.

I also started to realize that someone I thought was a friend might not really turn out to be so. It made me think of all the toxic relationships I’ve ever had and I can’t help but feel like it must be me who is at fault. After all, why would almost every single friend I’ve ever made be such jerks towards me despite the fact that I go out of my way to do things for people I care about. I’ve been used and discarded so many times that I can’t even count them.

I wonder then, since I’m the only common denominator in all these relationships, then it must mean that it’s all my fault. Otherwise, why would it keep happening to me? What did I ever do in my life to deserve such shitty people and shitty treatment? Hubster thinks that it’s because I’m too nice to people so they take me for granted and act like jerks towards me because I never would defend myself. He might have a point there. I avoid conflict and am terrified of confrontations. Something related to shame, for sure…

Anyway, so I thought that I would have a good week but it seems like things are going downhill again despite the slight glimmer of light just a couple of days ago.

I’m now collecting more and more things that S and I are definitely going to have to deal with next Wednesday. I’m so distressed that I’ve been suicidal and negative all over again.

People don’t seem to realize that their words and attitudes affect someone who’s mentally ill in a dangerous way. The way people have treated me tonight and the things that they have said to me pushed me back into the darkness. I thought for sure that I was finally climbing out. I know some people might tell me to just snap out of it, get over it and to just ignore what people say. If only it was that easy. A mentally healthy person might be able to bounce back easily but certainly not someone who’s already been struggling with suicidal thoughts and negative thoughts on a daily basis already… My depression may sound like a cop out for many people and maybe in some ways, it is. Despite that, I can’t help how I feel and how I’m affected by people’s words and actions.

I’m ok now. I won’t do anything dangerous. I just needed to vent and to express how frustrated I am with people I thought were friends but then act completely the opposite.

Oh, tomorrow is my last day at this particular restaurant. I’m feeling a little emotional about it despite the fact that I really hate my job (it’s not the people I work with or the restaurant itself but rather the actual job of a server). I hope I don’t cry tomorrow. I very well could because I’m just nostalgic like that. I hope it won’t be a nightmare of a day either, like today was. I will definitely miss some of the people I work with. I’m moving to another town an hour away so realistically, I don’t think I’ll be seeing these people again – at least not very often.

We’ll how Sunday – Tuesday goes then. A week that I thought was going to be positive turned out to be pretty grim and explosive so far.

Why I’m Not Posting As Much

I know I promised to write a summary of what I’ve learned from my therapy session a few days ago but I really can’t get around to doing it. With all the studying I’ve been doing these past few days (can you believe it’s only been a week?) and all the other things I’ve been trying to fit into my life, it seems almost impossible to get to writing a long thoughtful post. I will try not to drop off the face of the Earth and hopefully soon I’ll be able to write a meaningful post.

For now, I just wanted to drop an update here so that people know that I’m still around – just trying to chug along. Things have been good and bad for me these past few days and after the few good days (I could actually tell you that I was happy – a foreign concept that I was very surprised by) but the bad days are beginning. I’ve been pretty down all day today and there has just been some circumstances in my life right now that I can’t really talk about which when added to my already moderate anxiety about school is threatening to tear me apart.

And course, when it rains, it pours. My psychologist, S, is away for the next two weeks and it’ll be another 17 days before I will see him again. He and I have set up some steps I could take or things I could do to help myself through the next 17 days but at the same time, I can’t help but feel like things seem to be worse whenever he’s not around – when he is around, some days, I go to therapy and have nothing to talk about and end up meandering around a topic that I really didn’t care to talk about because it really didn’t affect me all that much. Then when he has to be on leave or goes on a break, suddenly, everything important floods in to my life.

The only thing I think that’s really keeping me going is the fact that I am getting more social interaction than I used to – having friends and a loving husband helps tremendously – a fact that I never used to believe. I used to see myself as a lone wolf who is able to survive on my own but now that I have a pack to be with, I don’t ever want to be alone again. It took me 4 years to get a group of friends I can trust and love. Now that I have found this group I can be intimate with (we’ve only known each other about 3 months but we’re the best of friends – brought together by a common goal and similar family backgrounds and all of us suffering some type of mental disorder or atypical condition or other), I can’t imagine life without them. Although my husband has been a great source of strength and love, having these friends brings an entirely new dimension to my social interactions and I realize now how important a support group is.

That said, this still doesn’t stop me from feeling like I’m a burden to my new-found friends and a burden to my husband. I know Depression lies – I know that it tells me that I’m not worthy of love and that I’m a burden but at the same time, I can’t shake those thoughts yet.

I might have to go see a clinician tomorrow at a walk-in session at CAPS tomorrow just to get stuff off my chest and prepare myself for the rest of the week. Not being able to see S is really difficult and I do hate to admit my dependency on him but if I had to be really honest, I would admit that I need him.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a quick update post but obviously, I started to contemplate things a little bit. I hope everyone else is having a better time than I am – I hope that I will be able to find that happiness that I’ve had for a couple of days last week back. I haven’t felt as peaceful and calm as I did in those days for a while now.

Just What I Needed

It comes as no surprise that this week has been very difficult. I don’t think it’ll ease up until next Friday when my finals will be over.

However, that said, I did receive a very heart warming message from a friend whom I really count as one of my closest friends now and whom I also look up to as well.

She had messaged me and told me “I look up to you a lot! You’re mad inspiring”

It really meant a lot to me to hear that and to know that I’ve been able to inspire at least one other person in my life.

It was very uplifting and it really was something I needed.

What I Am Thankful For

Well, it’s that time of the year. The time where everyone (at least in Northern America) sits back and asks themselves, “What am I thankful for this year?”

I think now as I reflect, I have a lot to be thankful for – even if I have been spending the past 3 months being more depressed than I’ve ever been in my life.

Here are some of the things I’m thankful for:

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