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?

Strange Social Behavior

I’m drained.

Burnt out.

Stressed out.

I’m all kinds of not-doing-well, I guess. I flip-flop between being okay, and not okay throughout the day and some of the time, just feeling nothing at all.

I’m a little nervous about seeing S this week – not only because it’s a change in routine (he had something else going on during my regular appointment time – we have been changing our scheduled time around A LOT this semester. He had apologized and told me that he hasn’t gotten the hang of managing his schedule yet – but also because I’ll be making a solo trip out of state the next day, as well as the fact that I have so much to talk about but just not enough time in the session to do so.

I’m also nervous about what had happened on Saturday. I feel a lot of shame for my behavior and I had contemplated not writing this post.

On Saturday, my university had the biggest annual event of our campus. We had a kayak racing competition for all the students, alumni, faculty, as well as staff. It’s a huge deal here in our campus because it’s a day where everyone on campus gets to get together and just have a great day.

It was a beautiful day to have a 1/2 mile kayak race down the canal too. Even I, who hates being outdoors and under the sun, enjoyed myself being outside.

I was at the event at 10am and had a great time just being at the canal. It’s beautiful there, even if the water looked really gross. XD I had a great time just skating up and down the sidewalk next to the canal. When the race started, I had a great time just cheering the random teams on.

This was my first year attending the event – I hesitate to name it because I don’t know if I’ll be revealing my school’s name if I did since it’s a pretty unique name, so I think I’ll just call it “the event” for now. I was excited to be there just because I had never been to this annual event and yet have heard of it ever since I joined the school in the Spring of 2015.

I was also excited to be there because I knew that CAPS had two teams representing their department. I was excited to see how the staff at CAPS would fare in the race and I was also thrilled at the chance to see them outside of the dreary CAPS building.

When I saw D, the receptionist (whom I now realize is actually an Administrative Secretary – I think they changed her title recently), I told her “Good luck!”. I said hi to T, the co-facilitator for my group, and nodded at Y, whom I had seen once before for a walk-in. D was excited to see me and cheerfully thanked me. 10 minutes later, the teams were all loaded up in their kayaks and within minutes they were all racing down the canal.

I hopped on my skateboard and followed them down the canal. I stopped halfway through to wait so that I could cheer them on as they changed rowers. When the CAPS team came by again, I recognized S, and B (she was the lead psychologist for my previous group) and I felt my heart catch in my throat. I didn’t realize that S was going to be in this team. I thought that he would be in the other team. I felt pleased that I could see him.

And suddenly, I found myself feeling like a creeper or a stalker because as the CAPS team raced by, the rest of the department were following them on foot – cheering and screaming their colleagues on. I hopped back on my skateboard and followed them.

I was totally creeping on them. My curiosity drove me onward. I felt a mix of guilt, shame, and giddy excitement as I followed them. When I arrived at the docking area, I saw that CAPS had gotten 4th place. I was very impressed because these are professionals who spend all day sitting on their office chairs in front of their computers as well as sitting on their couches/armchairs across from their clients. For them to beat some young people was an impressive feat. I felt proud for them.

I watched from 20 feet away as they disembarked and excitedly talked to each other about the race. As they started talking to each other and walked away from the docking area, I realized that they were headed towards their families.

I followed them and I saw their families. It warmed my heart to see them with their kids, spouses, and partners.They all looked like they had picture perfect families – of course, it’s just an impression but everyone looked very happy to be there. None of the kids were crabby or complaining and it looked like everyone was just having a good time. It looked like a picnic scene from a movie. It was great!

Now here’s where the shame comes in.

I felt ashamed of myself because I just stood from afar and observed them. S and I had not discussed our boundaries when it comes to school events so I didn’t quite know how to act. I didn’t know whether it was okay for me to go up to them to say hi or not – although C, the Office Manager, did recognize me moments before the race had begun and had said hi to me. Though she is the Office Manager, and not a Psychologist so the rules don’t quite apply to her. I didn’t know if any of the psychologists had noticed me or not and if they knew that I had been observing them.

I tried to be as surreptitious as I could. See, I have a huge fear of rejection – I’m so afraid that things I do and say could cause people to judge me or to not want to talk to me again. I’m always afraid of causing friction with others because I’m not always sure of how to act. So, because of that, I tend to just stand from afar and observe people, gathering knowledge of them without ever having to expose myself to the vulnerable position of potential rejection.

I think I might have stood around for maybe half an hour to an hour just observing everyone. Now, doesn’t that just sound like something a creeper would do?

I started beating myself up the longer I watched them. The more I criticized myself, the worse I felt, until finally, I snapped out of my trance-like observations and told myself that I needed to run some errands before I headed to work. As I drove to the barber’s for my desperately needed haircut, I told myself that I was being such a weirdo.

Then something else happened that was somewhat unexpected – which lends credibility to my thought that I’m really improving and recovering.

I suddenly stopped myself from criticizing myself and instead said to myself, out loud in the car as I drove, “Jules, you need to stop beating yourself up. You were curious about them. You were particularly curious about S and his family. You wanted to know what his wife looked like. You wondered if he had a mixed race family, or whether they were all Caucasians. You wanted to know what his children looked like and you wanted to confirm for yourself the gender of his youngest. You’re just really curious about him because you don’t have access to him on a regular basis. And you just want to see him in that context because you wanted to know more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know more about someone. It means that you care about them. You didn’t do anything weird or creepy. You and S didn’t discuss what boundaries you should have during school events so you stayed away so that there was no potential backlash. After all, the director of CAPS was there. She could have deemed your actions inappropriate and S could’ve gotten in trouble. So it was good that you stood far away and didn’t engage them”

Every time the critical voice came back, I would speak to it and say, “It’s okay. You felt what you felt. Your curiosity was burning. What you felt was valid. It’s okay…”

When I calmed down, I marveled at how I had handled that. I was so distressed when I left the canal. I felt disgusted at myself but later was able to recognize that yes, I was creeping, but that I was not doing it out of malice or inappropriate reasons. I was/am curious.

The only thing is now… I don’t know how I’m going to bring this up to S. I don’t know how he would feel knowing that I had seen him and his family. I just know that he would want me to talk to him about this. There definitely are underlying issues behind my creeping behavior as he isn’t the first person I’ve done this to – I’ve done this to everyone who’s been heavily involved in my life at some point or another. My intense desire to connect with them, and be a part of their lives overwhelms me and I obsess over them. I don’t know how normal or abnormal this behavior is but I just know that in my case, it’s a sign of deeply rooted issues that I have yet to process.

So that makes me nervous to see S on Thursday.

I hope things work out and I’ll be able to figure out why I’m so obsessed with people and how I can work through that.

People Care

“I want to die”

4 words I posted on Facebook that gained almost immediate attention from one of my coworkers and an old friend whom I’ve not seen in 5 years. It was touching.

In that moment when I posted it, I had meant it. I did want to die. I was overwhelmed and exhausted.

I had a Discrete Computational Structures assignment that I barely understood and therefore had barely done that is due on Wednesday. I also have 3 sections worth of Calculus homework to turn in. And on top of that a programming assignment that I hadn’t started yet. That was just a matter of school alone. On top of that, I was just so discouraged by the fact that I had gotten such terrible marks for my Calculus test – I was just so perplexed as to how I could get a 56. I thought I had a good grasp on limits.

I also didn’t think that my ex’s re-marriage was such a big deal to me – that is, until it happened and I was hit by the realization that I still hurt. Maybe not as much as I did before, but it’s still there.

So, in the heat of the moment, in my discouragement and despair, I posted that status on Facebook. Almost immediately, my phone rang. I was in class so I replied to the call with a message, “I’m in class, booboo”. I asked my coworker/friend if she needed something. She asked me if I needed anything or if I needed to talk. I told her that I was ok. That there’s nothing to talk about. I just have too much to do and too little time.

“Don’t push me away, Jules” – her message was insistent and clear.

“I’m not. At least I’m not doing it consciously. I guess I’m just pushing everyone away. I need to regroup somehow. I just don’t know how” – I’d responded.

“It’s ok. I understand you need your space. But when I see ‘I want to die’ on Facebook, the last thing I’m giving you is space. Push everyone away when you’re stronger. Not right now. You are wonderful and valuable, and your coworkers, your family, your friends, those who look to you for support, need you. You are needed and wanted. You’re always smiling. You have a natural smile, you don’t even have to work for it”

As I read her messages, tears welled in my eyes. I didn’t think I’d receive such sweet and kind words so instantly. I felt heard and almost immediately, that felt like enough. I was whining, and someone answered to the whines.

I know that I do have people who care about me. I know that – especially here on my blog, I know that there are those who would respond immediately to my posts. I also know that there are people in my life that I can rely on for comfort. Yet, my EQ hasn’t caught up with my IQ. Despite all this knowledge, the heart hasn’t learned it yet. The brain has, and the brain is frustrated with the heart.

Multiple people after the initial two responses I got, started posting supportive messages and it felt good to read them. Q, and PD, both sent me messages that I needed to hear – most notably, “Give yourself a break, take care of yourself”, which gave me something like an excuse to have ice cream today. I’m also going to turn in for bed early without doing any homework.

I am burnt out. I need to be honest with myself on that. I am so burnt out that I’m barely functioning. I am honestly a zombie; just dragging my feet around campus, trying to keep awake in classes, trying to stay afloat.

Physically, I’m also not rested enough. Dark circles have formed under my eyes, my hair is some days very difficult to tame (because I desperately need a haircut), and my skin just looks tired, and pale. My nose had been bleeding for the past 2 days. I’m amazed that I hadn’t fallen asleep driving yet, like I used to back when I lived 30 minutes away from campus.

I’m just suffering on all the different aspects of life. I know I need a break and I promise myself (and everyone else who cares to know) that I will be taking a break 10 days from now. I can’t wait. I am going to go out of town and hopefully if all works out, be better rested when I come back.

It’s definitely something I have been looking forward to for maybe a month and a half now. The last time I was going to go out of town, my plans fell short so I’m not trying to be too hopeful this time.

Anyway… I called the Crisis Line yesterday. I am thankful that I did because the lady that spoke to me was very kind and empathetic. She and I spoke for 40 minutes or so (I had to be put on hold twice for about 5-10 minutes each time). She helped me feel a little better. Just having someone listen to me was definitely what I needed – to feel that human connection, to hear that person’s voice… It was comforting. I was skeptical at first and didn’t want to give it a chance because I hated speaking on the phone. I didn’t think that anyone could say anything that I hadn’t heard before. It turned out that despite having heard some of the things that the Crisis Intervention Specialist said, it didn’t sound condescending or old. In fact, hearing it from someone else who’s a complete stranger, felt really good. It just reaffirms what others have said to me.

I don’t think I’d have done anything harmful to myself – after all, I don’t have any more knives with me, and I’d surrendered my rope to S as well. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go to bed without feeling terribly restless though.

The 4 words that I’d posted on Facebook was dramatic and probably unnecessary but it was a helpful reminder that people care. That I need to stop the knee-jerk reaction of pushing people away.

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.

Pretension and Denial

I think I’m kidding myself and I’m pretending when I’m in front of everyone else.

I don’t think I’m as well as I want to feel and just because I’m not thinking of something, doesn’t mean it’s not in my mind.

I’m trying to be patient and when in times of loneliness, I’ve sought out the company of friends. I don’t think it’s really helping or that it’s really working.

I thought about S and though I don’t want to let him down, sometimes, I feel like just like in my marriage, I’d just been making promises I can’t keep. I promised him that I wouldn’t hurt myself or go and buy a knife – though I haven’t broken those promises, I feel like at any moment, I could.

My anxiety has been increasing because it’s only 8 days until school begins again and I don’t know if I can handle all the responsibilities that schoolwork will throw at me while working 4 full shifts at the restaurant, working 12 hours at the Math Assistance Center, and contributing my time and energy as a Peer Educator, all while trying to keep my mental health in check. I know something has got to give. I fear that my education might be the thing that gives. That, or maybe I’ll lose my job. If I do, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to financially support myself.

I tell myself I’ll be fine. But I can’t believe it. I know people believe in me and I know that they care.

Yet, at the same time, I can’t stop myself from wishing that nobody did, just so I can leave this existence without hurting anyone but myself. I’d rather that nobody cared at this point because I just don’t want to keep going. Having people care means that I can’t hurt them by leaving their lives so suddenly.

Even in all my pain, I keep thinking about how many people I’ll hurt if I take my own life. A part of me, the child most probably, hates that because I care about others more than I do myself. I think the child wants me to care for myself. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to care about me. Is it because I don’t feel like I’m worthy to have such care? I don’t know.

At the moment, I feel hopeless again.

Recently, a coworker had messaged me and told me some very inappropriate things – it made me feel violated and uncomfortable. Initially, when he told me how he felt and what his thoughts had been, I had told him that though I was flattered, I wasn’t interested. Then his words started gnawing at me and I felt more and more uncomfortable as the days passed. Today, I told my GM about it and he took it very seriously – he told me that he and the management team has my back fully. That if the coworker seeks recourse in any way at all, he will be terminated from his job. So I’d been struggling with that too – feeling awkward around said coworker, still feeling violated and somehow naked, feeling really unsafe and insecure.

When I reached out for comfort and protection, I got none. I wanted to talk to S on Friday because I felt so bad but he wasn’t in that day. I didn’t think that what the coworker had said would affect me so much but I guess it had affected me more than I would allow myself to believe.

I guess at this point in time, I just don’t know how to deal with life.