Progress on Self-Affirmation

So almost a month ago, I had posted about someone that I had been chatting with – someone that I had met over a dating site in this post (Love Bug). I was supposed to meet them last weekend for the first time and they had reservations about our date. They cancelled, and told me that they felt stressed out with the pressures of school, with how their relative is sick, and how it’s so much pressure to meet me for the first time.

I felt like I had been too pushy and too insistent for us to meet. At that point, I was very burnt out with life itself and felt that if I gave myself a reason to leave the city I live in right now, that I might feel better. That if I could meet this person, I could feel better.

It was hard not to feel disappointed when we didn’t meet. It’s not that easy to admit that either. Somehow, it feels embarrassing.

Every time I think of this person, and how they haven’t messaged me in about 8 days now, I feel like somehow I did something wrong. Maybe I pushed too hard? Maybe I said something that they took offense to? Maybe I am texting too much? Maybe I’m too desperate and it comes across as needy? Maybe it’s just me… Everything’s my fault, right?

My anxiety started to convince me that it’s something that I did or didn’t do.

Then tonight, something else happened. The anxiety came back because I had contact the person again through the dating site. I had seen that they were online so I decided to send them a “Hi, hope you’re doing well” kind of message. They didn’t respond and shortly after I sent the message, they went offline. I had a feeling that they didn’t want to talk to me.

I started to beat myself up again. Thinking that it’s probably something I did – that I should’ve waited a little while longer before talking to them again but now I’ve blown it because I couldn’t wait a few more days.

As I showered, my thoughts went back to what I could’ve done differently.

Then I said to myself, for the first time ever, “No. You did everything right. You did everything you knew to do and you didn’t text them every day. You texted them once every few days. You’ve done everything you could. Now it’s me for them to reciprocate”

“What if they don’t?” The inner me asked.

“Well, if they don’t respond back, too bad for them… It’s their loss really. You’re intelligent, you’re attractive, you’re pretty awesome, and interesting. For them to let you go is a huge mistake. And it’s fine because someone will recognize your talents and appreciate you for your qualities. They’re making a poor choice if they choose to leave you”

A few moments after I finished that conversation, it hit me that I had just self-affirmed in one of the most positive manners I’ve ever felt. I was compassionate and understanding of myself. I recognized some of my good qualities and was not afraid to tell myself that I did indeed have those traits.

I felt thrilled that this had happened. I felt thrilled because this is an amazing step that I’ve taken. It wasn’t easy to get to this point but now I’m starting to be more and more aware of my action and words! Wow! What progress!

Thoughts From Therapy – #85

S and I talked about what I did on Saturday at the event. I was filled with trepidation as I recounted what I did (for context, read this: Strange Social Behavior).

I was nervous because I was afraid that I’ll lose S; that he’ll be afraid of me and pull away. I didn’t want him to feel those things. I also felt bad because I felt like I had acted inappropriately.

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Reflections From Today

So I saw Dr W today, my psychiatrist. I told her how I don’t like being on Strattera and how tired it makes me feel. I also told her that it’s not working all that well anymore because I haven’t been able to focus or concentrate on anything lately. She asked me about my stressors and I revealed to her that I have many.

It’s the first time I’ve ever really been that forthcoming with her. I usually withhold just how badly I feel or how depressed I really am. I don’t tell her how often I have suicidal thoughts. All this because I know that she will prescribe me more medication.

I was right in my assumption because today, she upped my Zoloft dosage to 100mg because of all the things that I’m suffering through lately – with my move, my divorce, my terrifyingly difficult semester (which is only going to get worse as the semesters progress), my abandonment issues, my fears, my hectic schedule, my unstable financial situation, and work. She thinks that my loss of focus and motivation is due to these stressors and she hopes that by fixing my mood and anxiety, that the Strattera will start working again. She told me to give it 3-6 weeks and if nothing changes, then we should reconsider the Strattera.

To be honest, although I hated the heart palpitations, the sweaty and cold hands, the constant sweating, the flushed face, and the anxiety that Ritalin brought on me, I liked the other more positive effects like how it boosts my energy, how it keeps me going strong despite not having had a meal, how it helps me stop my sugar craving, and how I can control my diet better. Strattera makes me exhausted – all. the. time. – and I feel sluggish, my mind gets foggy easily, and my dry mouth symptom is the worst thing to deal with since I have to talk a lot – being a server, you can’t not be talking to your guests.

Anyway, so now I have to give Zoloft another try. It hasn’t really been doing anything for me. I doubt it will do anything even with 100mg.

After the meeting with Dr W, I headed to group therapy in which because the lead facilitator wasn’t able to attend, the co-facilitator was more inclined to let us rant instead of just focusing on how we feel at any given moment. One of the group members was having difficulty letting go of an unhealthy relationship, and the rest of us fervently encouraged her to love and respect herself first. To put herself first. As the session grew, we all started getting more and more “rant-y”. Near the end, the group member who had brought up her issue of unhealthy relationships talked about her career fears and insecurities now that graduation is approaching. She is Asian, like me, and we both share starkly similar backgrounds where our parents were concerned. Her rant about her parents brought me into the fray and before long, the two of us  were pretending to be our parents and saying things that Asian parents would say (things that people usually turn into memes). This prompted another member, a Caucasian, to express how angry he was that any parent would do that to their children and how it must be that his lack of cultural understanding is what is making him so angry while the other member and I are just accepting it as a lost cause.

As the group filed out the group therapy room, I said to T, “You totally just let us rant, didn’t you?” while chuckling.

T smirked and gave me a mischievous look.

“Well, it just seemed like Steph (not her real name, obviously) really needed it…”

“Yeah… She did… And I guess we all did…” I said with a smile. Most of the time, T had sat back and just listened, from time to time, he had an amused look on his face. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in therapists’ heads. I know S smirks to himself from time to time as I speak – it always makes me wonder what it was that he was smirking at. I never had the guts to ask him. I’m building up to it. One day, hopefully soon, I’ll ask him why he smirked or why he looks so amused.

When group therapy ended, I felt a great tug in my gut – I wanted to see S so badly. I saw that his door was closed with the “Do not disturb” sign hanging on the doorknob. It meant that he was with a client. I was upset.

And of course, like always, whenever I’m upset, I spiral downwards.

I thought about the rope that I had. I thought about the noose that I had tied last night. I thought about the anguished email I wrote to S. Then I thought about something I read on PaperDoll’s blog about how she realizes that her therapist isn’t her crisis line and that she shouldn’t be messaging her during crisis. I thought about the email that I had sent S this morning at 3.30am when I couldn’t sleep and the suicidal thoughts plagued me. It was a wonder that I didn’t get up from out of bed and hung myself then. I realized that I shouldn’t be sending him emails like that. He can’t answer me through email and technically, I shouldn’t even have his email address.

I want to hear from him constantly. It kills me that I keep thinking about him because I know that I shouldn’t be relying on him all the time. I need to grow up. I need to be the support I need. But of course, it’s easier said than done.

I waited until S was done with his session with his client. When I saw that his door was open, I took the bundle of paracord rope and marched to his office. I was going to ask the receptionist, K, if I could go talk to S but there was a line at the reception counter. I figured that if I didn’t go see S then, I probably wouldn’t. Besides, I am at CAPS so much that I didn’t think that anyone would stop me if I went down the hallway towards S’ office.

I was right because although T was walking down the hallway towards me, he didn’t make any moves to stop me. Neither did P, another psychologist that I had seen before for a crisis intervention session. In fact, she smiled at me. I think both T and P, who were both S’ office neighbors, knew that I was headed to S’ office.

My hands shook as I lightly knocked on his ajar door. S was at his desk. He looked up from his work and smiled at me.

“Hey…” He said.

“Hey… Um…” I started, not sure if I should explain what I was doing there standing at his door. I decided not to because I already felt quite awkward to stand there. My hand shook as I showed him the bundle of rope. “Can you… Can you please take this from me?”

His eyes widened a little when he realized what it was that I was holding. He quickly sat up in his chair and leaned over to reach for the rope. I had half a mind to pull my hand back as he reached. I didn’t want to be out of that option – if I were to die, I wanted it to be my choice.

“Yeah!” He said, as he took the rope from me. He then looked a little concerned. I clenched my jaw. My hands continued to shake. “Were you waiting? I just finished with a client…”

I wanted to say that I knew that but I didn’t want to come across as a stalker. Yes, S. I know. I’ve been watching you from outside of your window. Eee heee heee heeee heeeeee….

“Um, no… Yeah, I know. I saw that your door was open. So I thought… I could try to see if you were here…”

He hesitated and looked like he was going to say something else, but he didn’t and I could tell that he was gauging my facial expression and body language. Probably trying to figure out what it was that I wanted from him. I wanted to say more but I realized that I was standing outside of his office which is inappropriate. So awkwardly, I said, “Yeah… Okay… See you”

“I’ll see you next week, Jules…” He said.

“Yeah… Yeah you too… Take care…” I said as I wandered away, my hands still shaking. As I left CAPS, I wanted to punch things and scream in anger. I think I didn’t want my autonomy taken away – despite the fact that technically, I was the one who decided to give up that autonomy. I knew I had to do it. I’ve been toying with the suicidal thoughts too much lately. So much so that I learned how to tie a noose.

My week has been terribly hectic and when I pulled into my parking space last night, I had promptly burst into tears because thoughts of my ex crossed my mind, and thoughts of me being so lonely crossed my mind. They triggered an outflow of tears that were uncontrollable. A friend said that I am stressed. I feel like I’m at the brink of a mental breakdown. It feels like it’ll happen soon and when it does, I’m sure people around me will be surprised.

Anxious Thoughts

I have an important post about therapy that I want to write but I haven’t had the time amidst all the courses and work that I’m doing. I’m also headed to a Peer Educator’s retreat for the weekend, to learn how to be a good Peer Educator and to support the campus non-academically.

So I’m just going to write this short post about my anxiety that has been wreaking havoc in my life lately. Since I’ve been suicidal and severely depressed, my anxiety hadn’t really showed itself but since school started, anxiety has been taking over my daily mental head space and has been pushing me closer to the edge each day.

I try to combat it by distracting myself with self-care and coping strategies like skateboarding, hanging out with people, studying, and so on. They’ve helped some but S noted that in doing so, I’m not acknowledging that I’m anxious – that I’m not allowing myself to feel the entirety of that feeling, which then makes it come back with a vengeance the next time.

I get what he’s saying but if I allow myself to feel the anxiety, wouldn’t I devolve into a panic attack mess? I don’t know… I haven’t yet really allowed myself to be anxious.

This morning, I woke up with the anxiety that I am just no good if I can’t do 15 credit hours. It just sank in on Thursday that I am doing 15 credit hours. I feel so overwhelmed by the fact that I have 5 classes on top of my 2 jobs, and my responsibility as a Peer Educator.

So I texted my close friend, C, and suggested that maybe I should drop the Server Side Programming for the Web class. We both take that class together and I miss being in the same class as C (he’s way more advanced than I am now despite the fact that we both started together in Spring of 2015). However, at the same time, having 2 already very intense “weed-out” classes is stressful enough without having to add another class that I barely know anything about into the mix. As it is, due to my lack of experience and knowledge, I am having to study HTML and CSS outside of class just to be able to learn the PHP and SQL that I’ll be learning in this class. Every time I think of school latey, I just want to break down and cry.

I feel thoroughly overwhelmed. I know that dropping this class will be good for me – it’ll be a healthy thing to do, right? But at the same time, see the doubt? Anxiety is telling me that I’m so behind. That I’m not going to graduate in time to get a good job because the market will be flooded by the time I finish. That I’m just such a loser for not doing 15 credit hours and beyond. That I was able to do that in previous semesters.

I try to tell Anxiety that I didn’t have extraneous circumstances in the past – I wasn’t divorced, I wasn’t questioning my sexual orientation, I was moved out and living alone, I wasn’t stressed about my finances, and I wasn’t so severely depressed. At the moment, it’s not helping. I know I have to practice the mindfulness technique that S had taught me – that is, to sit down quietly, visualize a river flowing calmly while leaves float by, put my thoughts onto each leaf, and let the leaves and thoughts float by.

Damn, why is it so hard to deal with this?

How My Day Turned Around

Today’s therapy session had been an important one. Well, I say that every time I leave therapy… Of course, all of my sessions are important in their own unique way but the last time I was there on Monday, I had been avoiding some topics with S. I had spent 20 minutes talking about something very superficial.

I admitted that to him today. And today, I told him that last session had triggered a landslide of emotions and thoughts as I left his office. We talked more about that. I will hash this out in another post. The post I want to write right now though, is a different one.

It’s about how S had actually given me a tangible homework to do. We were dealing with the issue of indecision that I have been struggling with for a while now. I am paralyzed by fear when faced with decisions, especially decisions that could affect a great outcome.

So due to that fear and anxiety, I tend to live life very conservatively. I eat things I know will taste good and have liked previously, I go to places I know, I wear clothes I know will be comfortable, etc. I don’t take many risks – and that one time I walked around downtown without knowing where I was going? That was very uncharacteristic of me. When faced with a day without a plan, I’m crippled by anxiety and I waste time in indecision.

So today, after I left CAPS, I was able to not feel the depressive aimlessness that I’ve been feeling lately. I was able to walk out of CAPS and head somewhere, because S had told me what I needed to do. He gave me homework and I needed to do it.

His homework was to expose myself to a situation where I would be faced with a myriad of choices and to allow myself to fully feel the panic and anxiety as I am overwhelmed by the choices. Then, I would have to tell myself, “Okay, I’m going to take all this in and I’m going to make a decision”. He didn’t say whether I need to be happy with that decision or not – maybe he did and my ADHD brain wasn’t listening – but I assumed that I would have to be satisfied with that decision.

S told me to start with something small – maybe go to a Chinese restaurant where they have a hundred different things on the menu (We both laughed at this as I said, ‘Why do they do that???’) or to go to a food court that has many selections of cuisines. OK, lunch. Sounds like a doable venture, I told him.

So off I went. I had a tutoring session scheduled for 1pm and my session ended at 11am. I had 2 hours to do what I needed to do.

I spent about 40 minutes meandering almost aimlessly because I couldn’t decide where to eat.

Here are the things I posted on Facebook as I meandered:

PostTherapy01

First post after therapy. As per usual, names have been erased to only leave initials.

Then, about 10 minutes later when I arrived at the area where there were many restaurants, I posted this:

PostTherapy02

Indecision… Indecision…

Then when I finally made a choice, I walked out of the restaurant and went into another… And another…

PostTherapy03

Sigh…

I did kinda panic. I decided to go to Starbucks to get an Iced Green Tea Latte to calm down. The caffeine and L-theanine amino acid in the matcha green tea always helps calm me down. I went in to Starbucks and had the best service I’ve ever gotten anywhere. Then a woman who was waiting on her tea asked for agave nectar from the staff. This was the resulting conversation:

Lady: Can I have a few packets of agave nectar please? I don’t have it on my desk and I am drinking tea all day… (She sounded apologetic)

Jules: Oh, drinking tea is not a bad thing. (I was trying to make her feel less bad about her habit) I drink tea all the time. Do you do chai?

Lady: No, I do green tea. I’m trying to be good anyway…

Jules: Oh! Me too! My go to is green tea…. In fact, there’s my drink now (as the barista handed me the Iced Green Tea Latte).

Lady: Oh, what is that drink?

Jules: It’s actually an Iced Green Tea Latte. It’s made with matcha, which is a great substitute for coffee. It has the caffeine content of coffee but because it also contains L-theanine, an amino acid, it causes the caffeine to be released slowly throughout the day.

Andy, the barista: Oh my goodness Jules, you’re hired! The drink is also good for not causing a crash the way coffee does. I drink twice the amount of this stuff than she does!

Lady: Is it sweetened?

Jules: No, Starbucks recently cut out the sweetener in this drink.

Andy, the barista: Yeah… We did. But we could always just make it with hot water, mix it with just regular water or even make it into a frappucino.

Lady: Oh wow, that’s amazing! I’m going to have to try that next time. I am definitely going to need something like that where I don’t get a crash later in the afternoon. I’m always having to drink tea throughout the day to keep my energy up!

Jules: Yeah, this drink always helps me out and I’m feeling clam throughout the day.

With that, we bade each other a good day and I decided after my sip of green tea that I would have lunch at Jimmy John’s. I went with Jimmy John’s because I knew that despite the myriad of choices they have on their menu, that I really like their #9 with Hot Peppers. When I went in, I was greeted cheerfully by the staff and I felt warmed. I had a good lunch and contacted my person, SH, as per usual just to feel a little connection. I was starting to feel good. So I decided to go back to Starbucks after my meal.

Andy: Hey, you’re back! What are you trying this time?

Jules: Oh, I just wanted to get two more of my drink. I’m going to surprise a couple of people.

Another barista that rang me up which I forgot the name of, oops: Wow! That’s so nice!

Jules: Yeah, I just wanted to spread some cheer… I just hope they like my drink choice for them. I don’t think one of them has had it before.

Another barista: Well, they should! If they don’t, well then… Shame on them because you’re doing something so nice for them!

Andy: And it’s a great drink. They should like it!

I paid for the drinks and left feeling even better than I did when I walked in. This was the best Starbucks experience I’ve ever had.

Then I walked all the way back to CAPS. It took 10 whole minutes in the hot sun. Thankfully, the ice didn’t melt too badly.

Gift

Paying it forward.

I saw D, the receptionist, and she was on the phone. So I waited. When she was off, she asked me what was up.

I gave her the cup of tea that had her name on it. “Here you go, D”

“Wait… That’s for me??” She exclaimed, “Oh my God!! That is amazing!! Thank you so so much!! I love it! I can’t believe you got me a green tea latte!”

I didn’t expect her burst of joy. She was infectiously happy.

“I love this drink! Thank you so much! You’ve just made my day!” She continued to gush.

I couldn’t help but smile widely. It felt so good. I made someone’s day. It was a $4 drink that anyone could’ve bought but by doing so, I was able to make someone’s day.

“Um… Is S in? I bought him one too…” I asked.

“Oh let me check!” D said excitedly. “Oh… He’s with a client right now. Would you like me to give it to him when he’s done?”

“Oh yes please! He’s never had it before so I hope that he likes it!” I said.

At the same time, C, the office manager, walked in. D showed her the cup of tea that I had bought her and excitedly told C what I’d done for her. I almost turned bright red at that moment. I like doing nice things for people, I like being validated for it but I also don’t always enjoy the attention I get from it. Yes, I’m a conflicted individual.

Then as I was leaving, D beckoned me back. “Come on Jules, cheers!”

“Oh! Cheers!”

So we toasted each other and touched our cups together. And I smiled again. I couldn’t help but feel so uplifted, especially by the way D reacted.

So that was my day so far. It went from a challenging therapy session with S because I had to admit that I was avoiding processing my feelings on Monday, to being quite a good one where I had many moments of connection with people.

Maybe these are the moments that will keep me alive until I can desire it for myself. I sure feel less suicidal and a little bit more energetic than usual.

Thoughts From Therapy – #40

It was a hard session today – as last week’s was as well. S’ explanation for how bad I’ve been feeling is that we’ve discussed some very heavy stuff last week. We’ve been stirring the pot, so to speak, and my unconscious is starting to rise up and mingle with my conscious which is adding to my despair and pain. He assured me today that I am making a lot of progress, even if I can’t believe it or know it right now.

I gave him a half smile. It’s been hard to do that lately – just to smile. And that was the first smile that I had today. Yes, it’s hard to believe that. It’s hard to believe that I’m making progress in recovery – especially not when I feel suicidal almost daily and thoughts race through my head constantly. But I trust him. So I trust that he’s telling the truth and not just telling me things I want to hear and enabling me.

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