Hello from Rock Bottom

There is really no point in reading this post. I only wrote it to try to get some of this out of my head.

I’m stuck. Paralyzed. I have spent the majority of the last two days in bed, playing games on my phone and watching Grey’s Anatomy. For as many times as I’ve felt my depression sink me to rock bottom like a weight, I can’t ever say that I’ve ever felt this unable to act or move or do just about anything.

Self-care has gone so far out the window I’d have to go miles to retrieve it. I am still tracking my moods and to a lesser extent, my diet, but I’ve been eating terrible. Other than that forget it. No mindfulness, no self-affirmations, no coping thoughts. I am not utilizing my self-care box. The most of my relaxation plan that I’ve managed is using my oil diffuser.

It’s bad. I feel really awful and low. I haven’t done a single productive thing in days. Every time I think about doing it I either feel tired or I think, what’s the point? 

I finally got out of bed this morning, but I’ve just moved over to my desk, where I can conveniently continue watching Netflix on my laptop.

After some reflection, I’ve decided that one of the biggest triggers of this awful depression is the holiday weekend. It’s Memorial Day Weekend in the US and I had a total of 0 plans. As I laid in bed feeling the hopelessness of inaction, I saw a whole slew of posts on Facebook and instagram of people who are off traveling in other countries or are attending cookouts with family.

Don’t go on social media and look at pictures, you say? Fine, I’ll give you that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I know people are out there having BBQ’s, going to the beach, and doing other fun activities. It doesn’t change the fact that they have friends and spouses and families who want to do those things with them and I don’t.

I have my parents, but it’s not like they had any plans. And honestly, I’m currently still dealing with a lot of pent of resentment towards them for not being the people I need them to be. Being around them makes me pretty angry sometimes. Even when they have good intentions and are trying to help, I find myself easily annoyed and looking for an escape because I’m so wrapped up in how their faults screwed me up. I can’t get over how different we are, how our values are so far apart

Which makes me feel like an ungrateful asshole. What kind of terrible daughter can’t spare any tolerance towards the people that gave her life? What kind of person can’t just accept and move on, instead blaming two people who did the best they can for her own failings? What kind of awful, unappreciative person times leaving her room so that she doesn’t have to run into them?

Let’s not even discuss the fact that I’m pretty much trapped in my room, because it’s my only personal and private space in this house. That’s it’s own trigger.

I don’t want to feel this emotions towards them, but I do. They are eating me alive, overwhelming me. I feel so much shame for all of that and the fact that I do a piss poor job of hiding it.

I’m not just angry at them. I’m angry at everyone who had plans. My therapist, who took days off to spend at the beach with her husband. My friend, who was just in Florida and is now at the beach with her other friends. The family I babysit, for being able to take three vacations in six months while I get to stay home and watch their dogs to barely make enough money to pay what would be one month’s rent.

It’s not anger, it’s jealously. I’m jealous of all the people who had things to look forward to while I spent my time alone in the same four walls where I always am. I’m jealous of all the people who have the means to live their lives. I’m jealous of the people they have to experience that fun with.

I’m awful.

I’ve made propositions to my group of friends from grad school to do fun things. We talked about going to Mexico after we graduated, but that never happened despite mentioning it multiple times. We’ve talked about Niagara Falls this summer over drinks, but that hasn’t transpired. They all go on vacations with their families or boyfriend or group of friends from high school or undergrad. This isn’t a priority to them and I don’t have my own group where it would be a priority.

I could push the issue a little more, yes, but then I’d worry relentlessly that they didn’t even want to go somewhere or do something fun. Unless they show any initiative, I can’t be sure that they even want to really be with me. It’s so defeating to ask about when we are booking a trip and get only a half-hearted response. I’ve given up.

Sometimes I think about trying to do these fun things on my own. Taking a day at the beach. Actually traveling somewhere. I wish being out in the world didn’t make me so anxious. I wish the thought of doing those things alone didn’t make me feel so pitifully empty.

I also think about going out and trying to make some new friends, people that I could do these things with. That seems like a possible solution, except I have absolutely no idea how to go out and acquire new friends at this point in my life. Even if I did, I have no confidence that I’m worth anyone’s time and I’d be too damn awkward about it.

I have a lot of shame for these feelings too. I feel like I should just suck it up and be grateful for what I have. Some people don’t get to do all the things that I want to do. Some people just get what they get, they work hard and live a simple life. Some people have it so much worse than me. What I have should be enough for me.

Are you catching on to all the reasons I’m not the good person everyone believes me to be?

My critic is in overdrive, as has been stated by some in the comments of my last post. Every time I look in the mirror, I’m put off by the dark circles under my eyes, red marks on my face, the size of my pores. Every time I look at my thighs, I’m put off by how fat they are.

And yet what have I been doing the past couple of days? Eating more than I should be, making unhealthy choices. That’s certainly not helping me be less of a fatass. I’m so impulsive when it comes to food. It’s always easy choice, the lazy choice.

Every choice I’m making is a lazy choice.

Possibly the worst part of all of this is, and maybe a secondary trigger, is that I bombed one of my interviews on Wednesday. I don’t know that for sure, but even being as tough on myself as I am, I just know that I didn’t put my best foot forward. I felt completely frazzled and just froze up when they asked me questions. Like an imposter masquerading around as someone who is actually deserving of a job.

It’s been so hard to go to interviews and not know whether I’m being perceived as competent or unfit. I feel like a little kid in adult shoes, and I don’t know how I’m ever supposed to function independently. As much as people say kind things about me and how I am “an asset” to the team, I feel like they just don’t get how much I struggle to make decisions when confronting teachers and administration.

I do not trust myself. I don’t believe in myself. Why should any of them believe in me?

I feel like I stand no chance of doing this job well: the one I like but also spend ample time questioning whether or not I’ll even be able to make a difference.

Ungrateful. Lazy. Loser. Selfish. All of this is running through my head 100% of the time. I feel helpless to it, and have kind of resigned myself to the fact that it’s true. I’m failing. I’m failing all across my life.

It’s my job to at least try to be better. Literally no one else out there can care or put in the effort that I can to be better. But what happens when even I don’t feel like there is a point?

I can learn skills, great. I can tell myself some nice things, sure. I can spend an hour a week paying for someone to be nice to me, awesome. I can keep pushing, keep surviving this.

But why? Why should I do that?

I feel like I’ve made all the wrong decisions, messed up all my chances to be happy and have the things I want. I can’t go back and fix any of that, I’m stuck with where I am and what I’ve got. Now, I feel like all that’s left is coming up short in life, not achieving what I want. I’ll go to work (maybe), come home, rinse, repeat. That sounds miserable.

Maybe I should hope for more, maybe I should fight for more, but from this dark place I have no fight in me. I just don’t care.

Since I don’t care and since there is no point, I’m really thinking about cancelling Thursday’s session, more than I ever have before. Plus, I feel like I’m more undeserving of J’s kindness than ever since I’ve only spent the weekend hurting myself and laying around. If I go to her and complain about all this again, it’ll just prove how attention-seeking I really am. This is my consequence. This is my punishment.

Of course, it’s not easy to cancel, but I feel like I should. J deserves the break from me anyway. The holiday weekend is over tomorrow, so I’m going to try to force myself to text her then.

A week ago I felt so hopeful and was seriously looking forward to graduation. Things have gotten so bad so quickly. You never know when it’s coming. But it always comes back.

J thinks good things about me. She thinks I’m a good person. She thinks I work hard. But she shouldn’t. She’s wrong. Maybe this feeling is temporary, but the truth about the flawed, shitty person I am is permanent.

 

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Sundays

Sundays are hard.

Sundays are typically the day I like to stay inside. They are my break from a busy week. They are my escape from the world of conflict and fear and people, which might sound awful but it’s true. On Sundays, I get to sleep late. I get to lay in bed. I get to be lazy.

Sundays are my chance to catch up with the chores I’ve fallen behind on and prepare for what is up ahead. On Sundays, I might put away laundry or dust my furniture or finally sit down to write a post. Today, for example, I rummaged through my closet again to rid myself of clothes that I don’t wear. I might pack a week’s worth of lunches or pick out clothes or make a list of what I’d like to get done for the week. I just did that last one about five minutes ago

I have to make lists, in lots of bright colors, because Sundays are also a time of mounting anxiety and stress. Sundays mean that my time without pressure and expectations is about to come to end because there’s a whole week of crap flying at me and it’s about to hit me in the face. Hence, the lists. It’s about the only way to feel like I’ve got any form of control.

The problem is that it feels so overwhelming. I really need to learn to stop time traveling, because if I could be more mindful than I could keep from being overloaded with every scary thing I’ve got waiting for me this week. I might be able to appreciate the rest time, really enjoy it, instead of worrying about running a referral meeting, testing a child who will likely prove untestable, getting through my counseling group, and getting my car dropped off for inspection.

I know that once I get going, once I’m in these situations, I will feel okay. At least, I know I will survive it. Everything is okay once you get started, once you’re moving. But until then, I just live with the anticipation, dreading everything that is coming.

Waiting is the worst. Sundays are always about waiting.

I almost wish that I didn’t get the break that a weekend provides me, because if I didn’t have to stop moving, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to get going on a Monday. It’s like when you are on your feet all day and don’t realize how tired you are, how much your feet hurt, until you take a moment to sit down. You’d have been better off just pushing through.

Weekends are the equivalent to sitting down for me.

I had a moment of overwhelming stress and panic today, because I knew the clock was ticking down on my free time. Tick, tock. Tomorrow, it will be Monday. Tick, tock.
I will be out in the world, subject to the extreme feelings and the irrational thoughts that come my way from interacting with others and taking risks. I can’t stop that from happening. Tick, tock.

I wanted to hurt myself in that moment, but I didn’t. I did other things that were more productive, kinder. Celebratory points awarded to me for that. J will be proud. I’m proud. But I still have a major case of the Sundays.

I’m trying to focus on this moment, the only one I can control, but I’m an avid time-traveler. It’s hard to shake that habit off. Tick tock.

Like I said, Sundays are hard.

Suck It Up

There are many phrases that I, a member of the mental health community and also someone imbued with the distinct experience of having mental illness, despise because of the implication of the message.

The one I hate most right now? Suck it up.

I’ve heard this used by many people in my lifetime. To me, it is one of the most invalidating things you can say to a person who is struggling. It simplifies a very complex and nonlinear healing process into a one-step solution. I’ve noticed that I hear it most from people when they have been interacting with someone who is repeatedly struggling. If all attempts to help the person are met with continued sadness or poor choices, the previously empathetic helper becomes frustrated and defaults to ‘suck it up’.

To wit, it is pretty much equivalent to saying figure your shit out and stop bothering me with it.

I get it. When people make comments like this, they aren’t necessarily referring to the illness itself. I think there is a common understanding that most people cannot help what their thoughts and emotions do sometimes.

Where I believe that understanding changes is in consideration of people’s response to those thoughts and emotions. There appears to be a statute of limitations on falling apart. When something happens, you get a period of time where you’re allowed to react. Think about how people respond when someone close to you dies. For awhile, emotions are okay, reaching out is okay. To some extent, it’s even okay to make choices that aren’t the best. It’s okay for your struggle to be visible.

At some point though, you’re expected to just get past it, or at the very least shove it inside enough so that it no longer affects you visibly. So that no one else knows its there. This is what we value in society: stability, happiness, security. Even if we don’t feel it, we are expected to fake it.

Lately, I’m realizing the way this is true for mental health. We get a pass at the beginning, when symptoms first start manifesting in a public way to others. People empathize with us. They step up, show concern, try to help us. They say you can always talk to them (which, as nice as it is, often ends up being a lie they don’t realize they are telling). You get the space to be a little bit of a mess.

But at some point, we are expected to pull ourselves together already! We’ve been dealing with these demons long enough, aren’t we done yet?

That’s why even the most well-intentioned friends get irritated when you haven’t taken their advice and blossomed into a perfect, functioning, no-longer-depressed soul. They feel like you’ve overstayed your welcome at the pity party. Surely, your suffering at this point must be your fault.

Which is probably at least partially why I’ve cycled my through a fair share of friends. Many of whom probably thought I should suck it up.

The last few times I have heard any comment in this area, it has been from people who work in the mental health field. Just the other day, my friend said it when she was talking about a client of hers who is currently choosing to wallowing (client’s words) in her miseries instead of pulling herself together.

I’ve heard similar statements elsewhere too, from others in helping positions. These are the same people who purport to care about students or clients and then assign them labels like hot mess, lazy, or manipulative in the same breath. The things that we say behind the backs of those who are struggling: it’s innocuous, maybe, with no malice intended, but I think it sets a precedent.

Remember when I was triggered by a comment by a colleague? Remember when I asked: if the people that are volunteering to work in the mental health community, those who are trained to understand, are making these comments then what does that mean for everyone else?

It’s exactly like that.

Are all of these people right? Did I use up quota of ‘mentally ill’? It sounds ridiculous, and I would say so to any one of you if you asked that question. Yet, as much as I hate the phrase Suck it up, I’m starting to wonder if that’s exactly what I should be doing. Especially in therapy.

Here I am, feeling completely emotionally unwell, and a voice in my head is telling me (screaming!) that I should cancel my session for Thursday. Perhaps it’s a minion. Perhaps not. How do I know the difference?

What is the truth?

I know that when I walk in there, she will look at me and ask how I am. In that moment, I’ll have a choice. 1. Say that I’m fine, quickly guide the subject into DBT skills, and hope she doesn’t notice I’m lying. 2. Fess up to some of what I’m feeling at a shallow level, but brush it off in favor of wherever she takes the conversation. 3. Be honest. Brutally honest. Give her the truth, the same truth I’ve spoken on and off for months. Say how hard it is. Say how much I’m struggling. Say that things feel hopeless and impossible to overcome. Potentially, fall apart.

Except I no longer feel like I have the right to go in there and fall apart. I am no longer entitled. I’ve shed enough tears, repeated the same useless things about how things are hard and I’m so angry and ashamed and also really don’t want to do this anymore. How many times do we have to have this conversation? I’ll ask. As many times as it takes, she’ll say. And round and round we’ll go.

I have insight I did not have at the beginning of our work together. I have skills. She is literally teaching me skills. Good skills, too. I believe in them, so I should be using them. J says not to should myself, but I should be! I always have the best of intentions to use them and then things get hard and it just doesn’t happen.

If I were using them like I should be, I would be feeling better.

I lamented the other day how hard it is that she cannot fix me. She cannot fix me. She could hand me the key to solving all my problems and it’s still my job to put that key in the door and turn it. It’s my job to make things happen.

I’m not though. I’m failing myself again and again. I’m failing her too.

J is patient. She is so patient with me that she deserves a damn medal. Is she thinking that I should suck it up? Because at this point, I don’t even think I’d blame her. If I were in her shoes, I would definitely be frustrated with me and self-influenced my lack of growth. I should be better by now and it is my fault that I’m not.

I want my hour with therapist, I do, because she is safe and trustworthy. She reminds me that I am not the bad person I think I am. She encourages me to see the silver linings, always, even when I don’t want to hear it. But I do not feel like I deserve her time. I do not deserve her care and support.

Perhaps if I’d spent the last week really putting everything I could into using all my tools, then I’d feel like I’d earned my safe space. But I haven’t. I spent last night staring at my computer, paralyzed by my own depression and exhaustion. I could barely follow through when she told me to take care of myself after last session.

Is it true that I felt like I couldn’t do it in those situations? That the minions were too strong and even something as simple as writing felt herculean? Sure. But that just sounds like an excuse. Saying that I couldn’t is a lie, because I could have tried to do some more positive things, but I just gave in to my mental illness and didn’t.

Failure.

I haven’t cancelled, and I know I won’t, because I’m selfish. But what else is there to say? It will not change anything, will it? I can say it all and still leave at the end of the hour, completely alone with my problems again. It’s on me to handle them. I have to continue to keep it all in. Figure it out.

I’m not trying hard enough. I have to try harder. I just need to suck it up and deal.

Angry.

It is currently about 9:30 on a Monday morning. I got home late last night, achieved very little sleep, and then woke up too nauseous to eat. Despite all that, I managed to get some makeup on my face, get dressed, and head off to work. Now that I’m here, I’m barely functioning. I’ve spent most of the last half hour staring at the screen, rereading the same passage because I’m just not processing what’s there.  Not that it matters, they don’t have anything for me to do here.

With great effort, I am trying to use some of my coping statements and affirmations.  These feelings are not comfortable, but I can tolerate them. Here is a chance for me to practice coping with some difficult feelings. I am strong and I am doing the best I can. I can survive this.

Perhaps to no one’s astonishment, it is not working very well.  In fact, the only thing that has calmed me thus far is taking a break to get these thoughts out.  While I don’t feel better, I will say that in the last few minutes there is less tension in my body, and my stomach may have settled some.

I was triggered quite easily last night and this morning by trivial words and actions of others that most people would be able to brush off without a second thought. Yet for me, these moments sent me on a tailspin.

Last night, I went to a concert with my cousin and his friends and felt largely ignored by him. This is nothing new. Then, when we were on the way home. We got into the car and were waiting for him and his friend. It was late and I was sick of sitting in the middle seat, where I’d been the whole ride down, so I slid over to the side so I could rest my head on the window. He got in and basically kicked me out of the seat, despite my protest. I had some choice words for him because I was so annoyed. I know, I know, it’s just a seat, but he grew up always getting his way. Always. He was older and he took what he wanted. And when I complained about it, feeling like it was unfair, I was always labeled the one with the problem. He’s like my older brother, and he certainly pushes me around like that. It’s amazing how things never change. In that moment, I was just over it.

Then this morning, I was speaking with a colleague about some of our students who are up for re-evaluation. She is going to give me one of them to assess, which is great, but is not willing to let me test the other one because the student is potentially up for being declassified from special education. On one hand, I understand it because I am an intern and not an official district employee, but on the other hand, I am nearly off on my own. For all the kind things she says about me, it feels like she has no faith! About fifteen minutes after that conversation, she asked me if I could help out one of the counselors by teaching them how to use one part of our online program. I agreed, which was fine. But then she called her back a few minutes later and told her how! So did the counselor not want me helping her again? Did my colleague think I couldn’t do this simple task? What gives?!

This is what I mean by there’s nothing for me to do here. It’s quiet as it is, but it seems like no one is even willing for me to have an opportunity to do anything. I might as well have just stayed home.

These little things would only be annoyances to most people. My recognition of that fact is sparking all kinds of shame and anger. I literally had to sit down and write this as a compromise for not getting up and walking out the door from work today. I had every urge to flee from my environment, but I knew it was not an option.

I am doing everything I can right now to maintain enough function where I may not be productive, but at least I am not destructive either.  And you know what, that makes me so damn angry.

The littlest of transgressions between a family member and me makes me feel buckets of resentment towards them and just increases desire I have to completely withdraw from each one because I am so different from them. Every behavior from someone else at work that feels the least bit invalidating or tense starts me on the path of The pressure of this job is too much for me. It is not something I want any part in. How am I going to do this job every day? What if I can’t?

These statements and affirmations I am learning from my DBT book are great. When I’m in a more neutral place, or even slightly upset, they are far more effective.  But once I’ve slipped into a state of extreme heightened emotion, those statements do little so offer solace.

Which, unfortunately, has been an awful common state for me in the last few…weeks? Months? Who knows anymore.

Right now, they are only marginally helping, and not in any way that makes life fulfilling. Just in more of the “keep me from listening to the suicidal voices” kind of way.

I don’t want to be one of those people who cannot cope with anything. I don’t want every minor slight from another person to feel like an assault.  But it does. It so vividly, intensely does.

And because of that, I am quite the angry human being lately. Being confronted with the happiness of others renders me a furious, cursing internally at whatever poor soul happens to step in my path. Yesterday, I listened to an artist I like playing live on the radio and I hated him for being able to do something successfully that he was so passionate about.  During the concert, I watched a couple swaying to the music in each other’s arms, clearly in love, and felt fire in my stomach. Each time I hear my friend at work articulate something beautifully, in a way that shows off her knowledge, I am irritated with her skill and confidence.

I sound like an awful person, I know. Maybe I am an awful person. That feels true. It’s the anger. It turns me into a spiteful and bitter person that I hardly recognize amidst my ire.

I am angry that other people get to be so, so happy when my emotions flare up at everything and I can’t cope with it. It makes the world a dreadful place to be. It makes me look forward to sleeping and being away from other people. I don’t want that to be my reality, but alone and isolated is where I feel I can get the most control over the anger and the anxiety.

Of course, being alone exacerbates the depression and shame and hopelessness. That’s the catch-22 of it all.

So today, I am seriously angry. I think I’ve been that way for a while, although I’ve honestly just recently become aware of it. I’m angry with other people for being calm and easygoing, I’m angry that at their happiness.

I’m angry at myself too, for more reasons than I can count. I don’t know where to put all this anger, how to pack it away, because right now it is winning. It is winning and I cannot cope.

Baby Steps

Here we are, another Sunday where I find myself staring at the screen after a week without blogging. I don’t mean for this to keep happening, I really don’t! It’s funny, for as much as is going on in my life right now I just have so little to write about. Everything I want to say is either a. something I’ve said 500 times already or b. just so mundane that it isn’t worth a full post.

This was the first full week that I have had in quite some time. I had a little reprieve from babysitting during the last week of March, then I was on a break from work the week after Easter, and what was supposed to be a full week back after that was cut short by the stomach flu. Throughout all of that, I was also doubling up on therapy sessions. So this is the first week in almost a month that I had a normal schedule, with work, then babysitting, class on Monday and one therapy session on Thursday.

My week was fairly standard, as far as things go. I am still having moments of utter dread and self-doubt when I think about what I have chosen for my career. I suspect these may be recurring for awhile as I adapt to the field. Yet, I am pushing through them. I am showing up to work each day. I am trying to remind myself that I can tolerate this anxiety and that it is unrealistic to expect perfection from myself.

I even managed to finish my portfolio for class this week, which is a huge thing to have crossed off my list!

In therapy on Thursday, I found myself not wanting to talk about any of the difficult feelings that had come up throughout the week, so we focused mostly on the next chapter of my DBT workbook. I know that my affect had to be totally off, because I could feel it. It is just the way I get when I’m feeling funky but not fessing up to it.

At one point, she caught me off guard by asking me what I was feeling at that moment. I had a hard time letting on specifically to what was bothering me, because sometimes it is an amalgam of everything and I don’t know how to verbalize that. Fortunately, I was able to admit to her that after a week of keeping this stuff contained, it felt like a challenge to release it. I knew that doing so, even just a little, would just bring up tons of attachment pain and I did not want to deal with it.

J seemed to understand where I was coming from and didn’t push me further. We did spend more time talking about my reluctance to apply for jobs though. So much anxiety! I will literally do anything to avoid doing that, and I am so good at finding other things to do instead.  J still doesn’t respond with anything helpful when I mention my fears about us not being able to work together anymore. That’s hard and I haven’t figured out what exactly it is I need from her when I bring up that fear, so I haven’t addressed it yet.

At the very least, it is helpful to hear her validate my fear and continue to encourage me. It’s nice to have someone be my cheerleader when I can’t muster up the energy to so it myself.

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This next step, the job thing, has been extremely taxing on me. It feels like there is talk of it everywhere: with my friends, my supervisor, in class. My mom asks me about it. The mom I babysit for asks. Everyone wants to know my next steps and where I am in the process. My friends want to talk about where they’ve applied and gotten interviews. I can’t escape it.

hate the idea of change when the form of that change is still a mystery. How can I prepare myself if I don’t know what’s coming?

Still, I try. That’s one of the good qualities I have, I’m persistent as hell. So what did I do last night? I applied to my first two jobs and two more today. To me, that’s quite the accomplishment. Even more of an accomplishment? In the moment, it felt exciting, not scary.

I know that my feelings are more complicated than that. There will be angst and anxiety around whether or not I am contacted for an interview. There will be comparing of myself to my friends, based on their own experience with the job process.

For now though, I just want to give myself credit for doing something very difficult and taking the steps to apply.  That feels like major success for me, and I’m allowing myself to be proud. I also went running three times this week. Yes, running! I get credit for that too, because it’s running and usually the only form of exercise I mildly enjoy is walking to the freezer for ice cream. c22115b3948c5ff2ad8ea8d040de0224.jpg

So like I said, here we are. A Sunday night. It was a beautiful day, it really was. Finally, I sense that spring may be here to stay. I’m wrapped in a blanket out on my deck right now, which is a place I love to be when it is this nice.

For the first time in awhile, I feel like I am in a good place. I’ve been productive this week, even despite the mental illness minions trying to force those negative feelings upon me. That’s progress. As soon as I finish this, I’m going to turn on Grey’s Anatomy and let myself relax. That’s progress too.

Healing is just baby steps. That’s the truth of it. It makes the journey feel longer, but I’m still getting there, bit by bit.

Uncertainty

In the last month or so, I’ve been dealing with level of uncertainty about my current career choice. It’s one that crept up on me; I didn’t realize it existed until it was ringing in my ears all the time, impossible to miss. But it’s been there, lingering, growing like an aggressive tumor. Last night, I spoke the thought aloud for the first time to my friend and then again today to J during the first of two sessions I will be having this week.

I’m not still sure that I want to pursue the job that I’ve just spent the last three years being trained to do.

I’ve said before that I am currently in the process of completing an internship in school psychology, with aim to be a member of the Child Study Team as a school psychologist. I graduate from grad school in less than two months and will start applying to jobs pretty much within the next few weeks. So, we’re at the end of the road as far as this career path goes. I’m in a place where I am ready, pretty much, to work independently.

Which is a hell of a time for the realization to pop into my head that I may not want to.

Like I said, this uncertainty felt like it came out of nowhere. At the beginning of the year, I really enjoyed my internship. I felt like I was learning a lot, even though it was stressful, and I was passionate about what I was doing. Maybe that was just an idealization, but I truly enjoyed the challenge and had this belief that I was making a difference.

And then in the last month or so, I’ve found myself having thoughts to the contrary. Upon becoming fully immersed in the politics and structure of the intervention, it became more obvious to me how much things really out of my control. We can make suggestions for interventions, we can teach someone how to implement strategies, but there is no way to control whether a provider intervenes with integrity or just half-asses their job. Worse, there is no way to extend the services to the home if the parent refuses to be a participant in their child’s education.

Plus, we are limited by the system, which can be an arduous, exhausting process to change in an effective way that better supports student need.

Like, for example, involving more social-emotional learning in classrooms with a built-in curriculum to teach our students these skills. We all know this needs to exist, and yet it doesn’t. So we recycle the same interventions that may or may not be working, and are likely just a reaction once the problem has escalated instead of being preventive.

Are we really making anything better, or are we just fooling ourselves so we can sleep at night?

Perhaps words of all, the politics are ridiculous. You have to word everything in such a specific way to avoid stepping on toes when getting your point across. It’s a fine line between between a strong advocate and an insubordinate. I’ve never been very good at politics and the realization that it’s about to dominate my life has been overwhelming to say the least.

There is so much animosity between groups. I witness contention between our team and the teachers and it makes me uneasy. In any situation, it seems the teachers will have one opinion and my supervisor will disagree. He so passionately believes he is right, as do they. I see both sides, and thus I have trouble resolving to my own opinion that I can truly stand by. I know it is not a personal thing. Even with the same shared goal of the child successfully accessing the curriculum, it is a matter of two different agendas.

Do you know what it’s like to go on forums and see that other school psychologists feel burned out only two or three years into their work? Scary. Depressing. It doesn’t bode well for sure.

I don’t always feel this way. Sometimes I remember why I chose this field for my career. Sometimes I have a successful day with a student or I learn something that feels truly impactful. By and large though, the number of I don’t want to do this moments have been bountiful as of late.

I’ve been going to internship day after day as this has flowed through my brain. It does not make for the most productive intern or the most confident. I’ve chosen not to say anything though, until today, because I feel kind of stuck. Whether or not I’m unhappy, whether or not I want to do this, I’m committed now.

J was quick to point out today that I am not as stuck as I perceive myself to be. There’s always the potential for more school and a different path, she says. As if it were so simple.

With equal insistence, I let her know that while I’m aware that I could go back to school for more, it does not feel like the practical or healthy decision right now. We both know that my ultimate goal is to live on my own. Hell, even J was trying to push me to get out of my house last year because of the impact it has on me. But school is not cheap. The only way I made it through grad school was by living at home. To take on a new financial burden now, when I’m so close to being fiscally independent? No way. I want…scratch that, need to get out of my parents house, for my own well-being.

Even more, grad school has been the most physically and mentally taxing three years of my life. I feel as though I’ve barely survived it. I am absolutely against subjecting to myself to late night classes and the overwhelming work load again unless I were being paid nicely for it.

I told J this, and she got quiet very fast. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

What she did do that was helpful was ask me if, knowing myself as a person, I thought I might still be experiencing these feelings if I’d chosen a different career.

Really, there are two situations here, two coins with two sides. There’s the I don’t think I can do this coin in which I alternate between feeling confident about my capability to function independently as a school psychologist and feeling like I will be an utter failure to the students. And there’s the I don’t think I want to do this in which I alternate between feelings inspired and hopeful to feeling defeated and disillusioned.

Considering both of those questions, both the can and the want, I do think that J has a point. I second-guess everything and have a tendency to expect the worst. I don’t doubt that I would feel this way no matter where I was and that this is an issue we need to tackle by keeping that in mind.

And after speaking with my friend and having her tell me she felt the same way , I can also admit that maybe some of this is a normal feeling. Perhaps with time I will adjust and my opinion will change.

I have some hope, some desperate hope, that this is the case. Because like it or not, I have committed to this for at least the foreseeable future. It’s what I need to do to get what I really want, which is my own functional independent life.

We are working on me developing some positive affirmations I can tell myself at externship when I’m feeling the can’t or the don’t want to. It’s a process for sure, but I’m willing to try anything. I miss being excited about going to internship each day.

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Struggling

I am really not in a good place right now.

Perhaps it was triggered by the fact that my grandpa still is not getting better. Perhaps it is the stress of these lingering feelings that I’m not sure I still want to be doing what I just spent three years in school learning how to do. I’m not really sure. I can’t pinpoint when the tides turned and I flipped into this very dark, depressed mode. I’m just kind of hanging out here, waiting.

It feels like a very passive thing to do, but I’m honestly at a loss. Engage in self-care, you say? I’m trying to do that, here and there. I’ve done a little bit of exercise, reached out to friends, found moments to decompress. I’ve tried some mindfulness activities and positive self-talk. And honestly, I just feel worse and worse each day.

So I’ve been overcome with a sort of apathy. Existing may feel very challenging and I may be constantly triggered by various moments in my day or things I see on the internet, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Instead of feeling that pain, I’ve just detached from all of it. Each time something comes up, I just shrug internally and wave it away. Oh well. Maybe it will feel better later. Who knows. 

Maybe that’s me just working tirelessly to stay in an adult place. Or is it just that mental illness is entirely at the wheel again, with me tied up in the trunk, unable to get free.

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I’ve reached out to a few friends to try to find my relief from the exhausting sadness I feel about my grandfather. I even asked my friend for a hug the other night, hoping for comfort. That helped a little bit. But I can sense their unease about it. My one friend just keeps repeating that she’s sorry when I tell her I’m upset about him. I don’t even bother anymore. I’ve withdrawn. Best not bother anyone with it.

People ask how I’m doing all the time, but in that casual, conversational way you do when you’re not expecting a real answer. “How are things going today?” “Busy, but good.” I could barely get out of bed because I feel so relentlessly unhappy, but I did and I’ve spent the day feeling insecure and anxious. “How was your weekend?” “Just fine, too short!” I spent most of it feeling utterly alone and wishing I had plans, while simultaneously feeling completely incapable of asking someone to make plans. 

The politics of life are such that no one ever expects you to answer with the truth. If you do, they don’t know how to respond. It just makes things awkward. We’re expected to conceal it, keep all of that behind closed doors.

So that’s what I do now. That feels like the best option.

I’ve certainly burdened my friends enough with my tears and pain and suicidal thinking. They get immediately uncomfortable with all of it; I sense it. They don’t know what to do. That’s fair, I don’t know either. Best save us both the time.

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The truth, the honest truth of it is, I have to be in this for myself. I keep coming back to that very lonely, unpleasant fact. We go through life all alone. Sure, we have people around us, but the ultimate experience of our thoughts and feelings cannot be experienced by anyone else.

I should be the one I rely on to talk myself out of these stormy moments. And I do, sometimes. I try. I have a sense of what I need, I think.

However, through all of this, there’s an endless tirade on loop in my head. My belief that my entire heap of feelings are completely my fault, and the circular logic backing that statement up. It doesn’t matter what the thought is, I can divert it back to an understanding that I am to blame for all of my problems and that my having the ability to make it better may be a far-fetched theory that is actually way out of my control because I am in fact that “less than” person with fundamental flaws that irreparable at this point in my life.

To fix this core belief, whether it is true or not, would require me to have some confidence in myself. It would mean I would have to like myself even a little bit and believe with any amount of certainty that I deserve all the things I want. And I think I am finding that I large part of me does not subscribe to any of those ideas. It is one thing to treat myself with such harshness and critical words, as I know that I do, but I am finding that I truly dislike myself on a whole for all the negative parts of me.

So I can’t fix the internal narrative because I don’t like myself enough to try. And I feel incapable of liking myself because of that the internal narrative telling me I’m not worth it.

That just sounds like an excuse to me.

I’ve just got very little right now that’s keeping me afloat. Until I slip back into some more manageable feelings, I’m just floating aimlessly through each day, surviving. With the debris of my mental illness cluttering my mind. I feel like I’m lying by saying that I’m trying, because if I were truly trying, shouldn’t I feel even slightly better?

There’s so much I feel like I should be doing. There’s a lot I want to do. But the paralysis I feel at the thought of making moves is incapacitating. Sometimes I find myself just laying on my bed staring into space. Other times I sit in a chair, willing myself to move. Telling myself I’ll do what I have to do at a certain time or when a certain episode ends.

I do the bare minimum. Work, babysitting, class, therapy, grandpa. I do those things because the anxiety of not doing them is more than I can bear. Anything even remotely extra feels herculean.

All while I’m in that state of apathy. The tirade of criticisms keeps going on and on and I let it do that, because I don’t know how to shut it up. I go where I’m supposed to be, spacing in and out, noticing those difficult feelings. Eh, maybe they’ll go away. Or maybe not. Who cares. It all doesn’t really matter. 

I still have the automatic intrusion of thoughts that tell me I’ve backed myself into a corner and it only ends one way. Not necessarily because I want to die, but because I can’t live with the fact that I won’t amount to anything, that I’ll just keep vying for things I won’t achieve. That it’s too late to meet new friends, and even if I do, I’ll mess it up. That my issues will interfere with me ever having a relationship and even if I find one, I’ll sabotage it. That the state of our world and all the intense feelings it evokes are beyond what I can continue to stand.

I read other stories about people who wanted to end their lives and didn’t. They talk about all the things they have now that they didn’t then. And all I can think is but what if that doesn’t happen for me. So many people say it gets better, but it doesn’t just ‘get’ better. Life doesn’t work that way. Maybe, if you work hard enough, you find the better.

But maybe not.

I see blog posts from people who deal with the same struggles I do, and I see that they have kids or are in a relationship or are holding down a job, I get immediately envious of them. It just makes me feel so much worse.

That’s not me thinking that they shouldn’t feel the way that they do, not at all. On the contrary, it’s me thinking they have mental illness and were still able to get a boyfriend/find a husband/have a full-time job/raise a family. I’m so messed up that I can barely get someone’s attention. I will never even have any of that. 

That’s pretty ridiculous, I know. I feel embarrassed that I just admitted that.

Just another reason that the little voice tells me to kill myself.

How long? How long will I keep trying? How long can I stand the back and forth between extremes?

I don’t know. I don’t know much of anything at this point, except that I want to get in bed and sleep for the next week.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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