Category Archives: family

making contact

I sent my parents a letter about three weeks ago, detailing some of my issues and frustrations, and I finally talked to them (separately) about it last night. They were difficult conversations, to say the least–but good. My dad gave me practical advice and validated my issues, while my mom got very emotional and questioned my issues. I welcomed both. It felt good to actually be talking about me–the real me. I felt transparent. I felt naked. I felt vulnerable. I haven’t felt like that around my parents in a long time; again, it was good.

Afterward, I cried a bit, but I didn’t feel very emotional. I don’t understand why, beecause the conversations were so emotionally-charged. I thought I’d want/need to binge, but I didn’t. I ate a salad and went to bed. I’m proud of myself for actually having an “adult” conversation with my parents. They now know what I’ve been going through, and my hope is that I can now lean on them for support.

My dad’s highlights–

“I used to be very shy and had trouble communicating with people too, but my job demanded it. I found that I could use running as a form of mediation to help me relax and deal with my issues.”

“Keep your head up; you’ll get through this.”

My mom’s highlight’s–

“I don’t know what to say to you. I’m scared to say anything because it won’t be the right thing to say.”

“I thought we had a close relationship”

“You dwell too much on the past; you just have to let things go and live in the present.”

“I don’t know why you just can’t live your life like everyone else.”

“I’m sorry for getting angry. I’m hurt and frustrated and don’t know what to say. I feel like I failed you.”

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letter to my father

My father is a very proud man. I’ve never understood him, but for the first twenty years of my life I lived in his shadow. He influenced my way of thinking, what I studied in college and how I viewed the world. I had a role-model, somebody I could admire and look up to. In my early-twenties though things began to change, or, more precisely, I began to change.

I moved away, first to Poland and then New York and finally San Francisco. I saw new things and was exposed to new ideas, new ways of thinking. I finally got to see the opposites–the things my father rejects, and never converses about. The things that make humans unique.

I started joining radical political groups and got rid of my car and stopped eating meat, anything to piss my dad off. For once, I wanted him to recognize me for me. I didn’t care anymore if he couldn’t see himself in me.

Because of all these changes, I’ve become angry at my father, and my father has become angry at me. We rarely talk. When we do it’s awkward and forced. I say hello, he says hello, I ask how he’s doing, he says fine, and then I ask to talk to my mom. At the time of writing I haven’t talked to him in at least three months. I’m waiting for him to call–it’s his job, right?

I’ll get to the point: I no longer want to be angry with my father, and I do not like this distance between us. There may always be geographic distance, but I’d like to be closer in a spiritual sense, or at least in a father-son sense. At this point, he’s less of a father to me and more of a long, lost friend. It’s sad.

What’s more, I don’t really know how to repair the damage between us, if that’s even possible. But I think a good starting point is for me to start being honest with him.

I think the most logical part to start with is his alcoholism. He’s been a functional alcoholic most of his adult life. It’s not easy to address because he’s not the quintessential alcoholic you see on TV or in the movies. He’s never hurt anybody in the family, and we rarely see him drunk. But he still has a dependence–and it has greatly affected our relationship.

I’m also afraid of my father. He has such a big ego. Nobody can tell him anything that goes against his way of thinking, and so I think the only way to get through to him would be through writing–

Dear Dad:

I hope this letter finds you well. I know we don’t talk much, and so you must be surprised that you’re reading this right now, but I think this is something we can address later. For now, I want to jump to the point.

For the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing my past in order to understand how those experiences create meaning for me in the present. You, being my father, are a big part of that, obviously. You’ve had your say in who I am today, and I thank you for that. I have inherited a lot of great qualities from you. I deeply care about the world and the people in it, especially those I associate with–which is why I’m writing this right now.

As you can tell, I’ve changed a lot since I moved away. I’ve taken the theories I learned from my childhood and adolescence–the things you taught me–and tested them in the real world. Some work, some don’t, and that’s okay. At this point in my life I think my most endearing quality is how open I am–I’ll listen to anything, I’ll give anybody a chance. Everybody has something to say, and everybody needs someone to listen to them. Right now I need you to be open, and I need you to listen.

I strongly believe that you are an alcoholic. You are not a fall down drunk and you’ve never laid a finger on anyone in the family, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an unhealthy dependence on alcohol. And it’s certainly impacted our relationship. Whenever I’m home, you’re always in the basement drinking, and when you’re not, more often than not, you’ve had too much to drink. Frankly, you’re less of a father and more like comic relief for me, as sad as that sounds.

You can do whatever you want now. Your actions are your choice. But I am no longer going to be an enabler. If you want to continue drinking, I believe the distance will only increase between us, and our relationship will continue to falter. What you do now is your decision. I’ve made my choice. It’s time for you to make yours.

I may never give this to him, but it still feels good to get it out in the open.

Poland, part 1

n 2005 I met a girl, fell into a relationship, and abandoned all my friends. I couldn’t handle maintaining the friendships because of my anxiety (and my issues with constancy), and besides, I had a girlfriend who took care of all my needs. Why would I need anybody else? My friends thought otherwise, and they kept calling me–wanting me to hang out, wondering where I’d disappeared to. I never answered their calls, but they just kept on calling. I felt guilt and shame and regret and remorse. I just wanted them all to go away. I needed a clean break–and one finally came. Poland.

After living together for only three months, my girlfriend and I decided to study abroad together. She’d lived in Hungary for a year with her family and really enjoyed many parts of Eastern Europe. I didn’t care where we went–I just wanted to get away. We … err she chose Poland, and we left in January of 2006. I told almost no one. Finally. I got the break I needed. I left everything behind, hoping I could start over.

In the weeks before moving, I pictured my girlfriend and I only spending time with each other when we were there. I knew there would be other Americans there, but I didn’t want to get to know them. My girlfriend had other ideas, though. She wanted to connect with others and make the most of her experience abroad. So in those first few days in Poland, my girlfriend hung out with others and made friends while I stayed hidden in my dorm room. I cried a lot. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to feel comfortable talking to others. I wanted so badly to be anybody but myself. My depression coupled with the terrible weather meant I barely left the dorms. I don’t remember much from those first few weeks, but I do remember taking a lovely stroll downtown braving the cold and the fog and the snow and the slush–

This hiding continued for about two weeks, ending when I decided to escape again by running home. At the time my mom was going through chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, and so I told everybody I was extremely upset about her cancer–which was partially true–and I fled back home. Finally. I could relax again. But right when I got home, the depression hit again. I felt like a failure. I just wanted to go back. Things will be different, I told myself. I’ll be different. I booked my plane ticket back to Poland the very same day I landed home in Kansas City.

My time at home was hard. I slept late. I sat around watching TV and playing video games. I cried. My parents didn’t know how to help because they didn’t know what was wrong with me. My dad ignored me altogether, but my mom confronted me one day, asking me why I came home. I said I didn’t know. I wanted so badly to open up to her and tell her all the things bothering me. But I didn’t. I passed up another opportunity to connect with a family member.

On the plane ride back to Poland I promised myself I would be someone different. I would make connections. I would be popular. This of course didn’t happen. I spent the rest of my time in Poland miserable, hiding in my room, planning out how things would be different when I got back to America. Now I honestly don’t remember much from the remainder of my time there. I can tell you that it was hard. I can tell you I felt depressed. I can tell you I felt like dying. Beyond that, though, there’s only some flashes here and there. I’m not going to detail them … yet. I may come back to this someday and fill in what I remember or start a new post or something. But right now, I’m exhausted. I can’t think about this anymore.

I added another part–Poland, part 2; or: the socially anxious traveler

Poland, part 2; or: the socially anxious traveler

constancy

Maintaining friendships is very difficult for me. This is a very complicated issue and one that isn’t easy to talk about, but I’ll do my best to explain it.

It all comes down to trust. I don’t like who I am on the inside, and so I keep people at a distance because I’m afraid they’ll see who I really am and run the other way. By not letting people in though, trust does not develop. Trusting others is risky, and I think people need to put themselves out there in order to build trust. This includes opening yourself up to others by showing them who you really are, speaking your true feelings, and revealing secrets–all of which I don’t do. Without trust, relationships become disposable. There is no replacement for trust; yet, I’ve spent my whole life replacing trust with constancy.

Constancy is stability; it’s being faithful and loyal.  Constancy is part of trust, but it’s definitely not a replacement. In my case, constancy develops through repetition: the more I see somebody, the more I feel comfortable around him or her. It’s vital for my personal relationships. Without it, there is only anxiety.

So because constancy, rather than trust, is the glue holding my relationships together, my friendships never feel right. I always question them. I think the person doesn’t really like me. I think he or she is always talking negatively about me behind my back. I think he or she is always trying to find a way to get out of the friendship. I think he or she doesn’t even really like me. In reality, I am the one talking negatively about myself. I am the one trying to find a way out. I am the one who doesn’t like me.

The problems are with me, and yet instead of dealing with them, I project them onto others.

What’s more, I’m always searching for someone I can have a deeper relationship with. Everyone needs to have some deep friendships. We need someone to talk to about our feelings, someone to confide in and feel save with. I don’t get to have those things in my personal, platonic friendships so I seek out deeper, sexual relationships for my true friendships. Then once I do find that true friendship and start connecting, I abandon all of my disposable friends. I think it’s normal (to a certain degree) to desert friends when one enters into a relationship, especially at the beginning. In my case, it’s hard to view my life objectively at the start of an intimate relationship. I’m lost in euphoria, filled with happiness and excitement. When that phase is over though, people generally reconnect with friends, creating balance between their intimate relationship and platonic one’s. I however continue to cling to the sexual relationship.

So after I find a sexual partner and establish an intimate relationship I don’t reconnect with friends and so I just ignore them altogether until they eventually go away. There isn’t a malicious intent, and I’m not even really conscious of this behavior–it’s a coping technique because I lose the stability or constancy I once had in the platonic relationships.

Let’s look at this deeper. Why is it so difficult for me to reestablish relationships? It’s simple: because constancy is lost. That’s the one thing needed for my friendships to work. Some people can go weeks or months without seeing someone and still be “close”, and when they finally do see each other, “it’s like nothing changed.” They go right back to what they had before the separation. If I get separated from a friend for even a week (depending on the situation, of course), that relationship won’t be easy to pick back up. In a sense, I feel like I have to start over with that person.  Often times, it’s easier just to abandon it altogether.

Sexual relationships, on the other hand, are easy to maintain because I generally see my partner every single day. There’s constancy. Plus, I generally open up to my partner so there’s actually trust. But constancy is still more important. For example, if I’m dating someone and we see each other every day for a month and my partner decides one day not to see me, I’ll get very, very upset. I’ll feel depressed, lonely, uncertain. I’ll think my partner doesn’t really like me.

All this because of constancy.

***

The hardest relationships for me are the casual kind in which constancy haven’t been established. It’s the people I see semi-regularly but not regularly. The people who live in my building. Co-workers I’d see at work but not really know  (when I used to work). And those I have to say hello to at my girlfriend’s work. Even deeper relationships–like with parents or life-long friends–can become difficult and anxiety-provoking when I don’t engage with them for some time.

Again, part of the issue is that I’m just not comfortable with who I am on the inside. How can someone else accept me if I can’t even accept myself? I wonder what some of the other causes are? Maybe my parents didn’t give me enough attention? Or maybe I was afraid my dad wouldn’t come home from work–and maybe he didn’t for a while (like he went on a business trip or something)? With my hyper sensitive nature, issues that seem small or trivial to other people can have a profound, lasting effect on me.

Consequently, a number of events could have been the cause for me to have difficulty with relationships. I don’t think it’s that important to find causes from my childhood or adolescence. I do, however, believe it’s vital that I become more aware of this issue and learn to deal with it as it arises. Trying to maintain balance in my relationships is vital when I enter into an intimate relationship. I could also share this with my close friends–and maybe even talk with old friends about this so they have a better understanding as to why I suddenly started to ignore them. Finally, I need to work on becoming more accepting of myself so that I can build trust with people and let them in. By doing so, constancy becomes less of an issue.

***

I addressed this very issue in therapy a few weeks ago, and my therapist and I concluded that I lock myself into romantic relationships to protect myself. It’s a defense mechanism.

To summarize: It’s very difficult for me to maintain friendships because I don’t open up to people. I replace trust with constancy, which doesn’t really work. The friendships seem superficial and disposable–and in a way they are. When I’m not in a serious romantic relationship I strive to make friends, and I succeed. But there’s just something missing. I feel empty inside. That’s because I don’t allow people inside, to see the real me. Consequently, I settle into a relationship, somewhat open up, and allow that relationship to fulfill my interpersonal needs.

Fortunately, in my current relationship, I’ve recognized this past behavior and am trying to have more balance in my life. It’s been difficult.

“By giving yourself solely to the other person,” my therapist asked, referring to my past romantic partners, “is that your way of showing that you love and care for her?”

Of course not. I’m using them to protect myself from the world. Love is secondary. Up until my current relationship, I don’t think I’ve ever loved any of my romantic partners. There was an intense emotional feeling that I thought was love, but it was only there because I was being saved.

binge, lamictal, my story

Friday

I binged again last Friday on the usual: a super burrito and almost a quart of ice cream. It’s scary how the “usual” used to be a super burrito plus a pint of ice cream–and now it’s a quart! Anyway, I wanted to take a picture of the food because I want to keep visual records of my binges (because I think it will help make the binges seem more real after), but I didn’t because I had to eat the food immediately because I was feeling terrible. I didn’t have time to waste on finding the camera and arranging the food. I had to eat! I felt that bad.

After I jammed the food down my throat, I felt terrible. The depression seemed to increase and I felt shame, regret, and tension throughout my body. I wanted to eat more–a lot more–but there was no time because I had to go right to hypnotherapy after.

I’ve been seeing a hypnotherapist for my social anxiety since April. I really like the idea of hypnotherapy (intellectually speaking), but I’m just not getting very much out of it. I probably would have quit a while ago if I didn’t connect so well with my hypnotherapist, Ms. L. She’s suffered with social anxiety most of her adult life and is currently recovering from it. She’s really easy to talk to, and it’s just nice because I know she actually understands what I’m going through. I think a lot of therapists and psychologists don’t really know all that much about the disorder, and if they do, they only understand it on an intellectual level–they don’t understand it first hand. Because of this, I think it’s hard for them to have empathy, and it makes treatment difficult.

With that said, my hypnotherapist is not trained in clinical psychology–she only has her hypnotherapist certification. Yet I treat her as if she was a psychologist. As of late, we’ve been spending a lot less time actually doing hypnotherapy and more time just talking. I feel comfortable telling her my secrets because I know she’s been through the exact same things.

Hypnotherapy is sort of like a guided meditation. She guides me away from my thoughts and the external world to my inner thoughts and feelings and emotions. It’s very hard for me to move away from my thoughts and into the present moment. I don’t think it’s possible to ever truly shut off your thoughts, but I do think it’s possible to not let them control you–letting them just be there without attaching onto them. I’m not there yet, and so I think it’s important for me to work on meditating on my own and on other forms of healing. Being lost in my thoughts prevents me from going deep into my intuition and, thus, getting positive benefits from the therapy.

On Friday we just talked. I told her about my depressions and how I was diagnosed with Cyclothymia. We both agreed that it would be best to hold off on any further sessions until I start getting relief from the depressions, as hypnotherapy can’t really help with something that’s biological in nature and the depressions are my main concern at this point. We scheduled our next session for the beginning of October. Hopefully I’ll be feeling a little better then.

During the session I also spoke about my frustrations with my mom: how whenever I talk to her she trivializes my issues by saying either, “Everybody gets anxious sometimes” or “You shouldn’t worry so much about what people think.” Which pisses me off, as you know. Anyway, Ms. L responded by saying, “Maybe your mom really wants to help, but she doesn’t know what to say. She’s trying to help in her own way. Maybe you should try telling her how she could help in the future.” This is something I hadn’t considered, and the more I think about it, the more I think she’s probably right. I engage in the same behavior sometimes: often when people are explaining their problems or issues I tend to respond by giving positive, practical feedback. I think sometimes people just need someone there to listen without judging–and that’s what I’m looking for from my mom. I just want her to listen. Maybe I should try explaining this to her?

After hypnotherapy I went for a run. I ended up running 3.5 miles with a belly full of ice cream left over from my binge . I gagged up stomach acid and chocolate ice cream every minute or so and just spit it out. I probably “threw up” thirty or forty times. So my binge turned into a purge. Wonderful.

Saturday

I started the Lamictal on Saturday. 12.5 mg. No side effects yet. But no positive benefits either. It’s too early to tell. I need to get up to the 50 to 100 mg levels before I’ll even begin to feel anything.

I hung out with a friend, Ms R., on Saturday. She suffers with social anxiety and depression and that’s how the friendship formed, but we have a lot more in common, as well: we’re both in graduate school studying information science, we’re both volunteering at a literacy center, we’re both interested in politics and literature, we’ve both lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I really enjoy hanging out with her. Again, it just feels good being able to actually talk to someone about my issues and know that they understand because they experience them.

Oh and I also showered for the first time in like five days! Yay!

Sunday

I spent most of Sunday holed up in the library, working through my history with social anxiety (My Story). It was incredibly difficult and evoked a lot of emotions. There were times when I couldn’t go on because I got too emotional, but I pushed through. It’s a work in progress and my hope is to continue expanding it. I also hope that you can relate.

On Sunday, someone came across my blog by searching “unhappy with graduate school and depress” from Google. I’m glad to see that people are finding their way here, and I can relate: I’m in graduate school, and I’m not really happy with it. I’m going to school online, which doesn’t help me to develop socially, and I’m going into a field (library science) that isn’t exactly growing. I have to constantly remind myself that (a) I am in graduate school (sometimes it’s hard to tell because the program is online) and (b) the economy will bounce back. It’s been hard.

Anyway, if you read this, hang in there. I think you’ll eventually find something that you enjoy doing with your life if you continue searching.

Today

I’m in a hypomanic state today. I got up early, came to the library, and have been working on schoolwork and blog posts ever since. I read seventy-five pages for school and finished a project. I wrote this post and am working on another. I’ve posted comments on other blogs and message forums. I’m caught up on email. And I’ve only been in the library for about four hours. I feel good, though. It’s nice being caught up with school and being so very, very productive. Earlier I was feeling extremely–extremely!–anxious. But not anymore. I’m not sure what that’s about. Actually I am still feeling somewhat anxious (and happy), but I feel sad as well. This is me right now: 🙂 + 😦 / happy and sad / I’m smiling and frowning / I’m laughing and crying …

unhappy happiness

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m hungover. I’m not sure what time I got up or when I started on this post or where I’m going with this thought. The only things that I am certain of are the fact that I drank a lot last night and I lied to my girlfriend about it. She left for the weekend to visit her family in the North Bay. I haven’t seen them for a while, and I really should have done the right thing and gone, but I didn’t. I’m not even sure why I didn’t now because I’m feeling quite a bit different than I was yesterday. Even with the hangover, I feel great! Yes, I’m upset that I lied, but everything just seems right. I’m me again.

Two years ago I had everything together. I functioned well during the day. I had a full-time job at Yahoo. I had friends. I ate right, got plenty of exercise, and spent my free time reading and writing. At night, though, there was another side to me–a side with a secret. This secret’s dark and scary and infinite. It came out at the darkest times of night, staying with me until morning. I hated it and tried to fight it every time it came out. Each fight seemed to weaken me more and more, and little by little, this secret grew. One day I realized I couldn’t fight it any longer, and so I quit my job and stopped hanging out with friends. I started an online graduate program in Library Science and moved in with my girlfriend, away from the world. Now, I want you to know that these things–quitting and moving–were actually good things: I hated my job and needed a change, and I was (and still am) in a committed relationship. My reasons for doing them weren’t to better myself or because of love, though. I did them because of my secret. I thought I could run away from it. I thought by completely changing my life my secret would cease to exist. In reality, these changes only strengthened it.

You probably know by now that this secret is social anxiety and depression. They’ve been with me for over ten years, but I’ve only identified with them the last four or five. What’s more, they grow with me, intensifying with age. They’ve been with me for so long, it’s hard for me to a remember a time when I wasn’t anxious or depressed. Social anxiety is my main issue; it drives the depression. It’s cyclical: I get anticipatory anxiety about an upcoming social event, and then I’m anxious throughout the event, of course. After the event, I brood on the negatives, which puts me into a depression, and once I pull out of depression, the cycle starts over. It’s vicious.

When I quit my job and started school full-time, I found that I had plenty of spare time. So, I tried addressing my anxiety in a different way: holistically. I began seeing a mindfulness-based therapist in November 2009 and a hypnotherapist in April 2010. I also used yoga, meditation, and exercises as interventions. Each of these target intuition rather than logic, and because of this, change is slow. Too slow, in my case. I became frustrated, and so I began taking an anti-depressant about three months ago. After two months of no results, I increased my dose. This, coupled with emotional fatigue sent me into a deep depression, culminating with a night filled with lots and lots and lots of alcohol and suicidal thoughts–the last night that my girlfriend left me alone. Subsequently, I got off the medication and intensified the other interventions. I also began writing about my inner experiences. The writing process has been a wonderful for me. I’ve  been able to put words to things I’ve never talked about–things I’ve been too afraid to talk about in therapy even. At times, it just felt so good to name the things going on inside me. I became addicted, thinking writing was my new savior.

I wrote and wrote and wrote, and within a week, I filled over fifty pages with new thoughts, new ideas, new experiences.  There were noticeable differences at therapy. Suddenly, there were new experiences to talk about, and I knew how to stay with the feelings better, rather than running back to my intellect when times got tough. I felt so good. I felt high. But this high lasted only a month: suddenly, and unexpectedly,  I crashed. Depression hit me harder than ever before. I couldn’t work on homework. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I could barely think. My only way out was to binge. So I binged, and everything was back to normal. I caught up at school and started writing more, even harder this time, thinking that I hadn’t been working hard enough before. Things were going good. More and more emotions. Better and better therapy sessions. And then: crash! I binged again, started writing again, and crashed again …

I’ve been in this cycle for about two months, and for the last month, I’ve crashed once, sometimes twice, a week, having to resort to binging to pull myself out. Yesterday I binged, and the day before that, too. That’s why I’m hungover today. I don’t usually have to resort to alcohol; food usually does the trick. This past depression, however, was longer and deeper than the one before that, and the one before that was longer and deeper than the one before that … And it’s hard for me to admit this, but food is working less and less: I’m having to eat more and more to become me again, to rid myself of my dark secret.

On Tuesday I’m going to see my psychiatrist. I’ve been using Ativan and Propranolol for the past two months for the anxiety. They’ve worked well. But the depression and these cycles seem to be more pressing now than the actual anxiety.  I’m afraid I’m bi-polar and need to be on a mood stabilizer. I’m scared about what he’s going to say and even more scared that I won’t even tell him any of this. I don’t want to let him down. I don’t want to be a failure.  But I know I need to tell him. I can’t go on like this. I’m having to eat more and more to bring myself back to reality, in order to feel like myself again. One day I’m going to get up from a night of binging and not be able to just brush myself off and go on with life. Even now it’s hard for me to do that. I neglected schoolwork for the past two days. I’ve neglected my friends even longer. This is the reason why I’m writing this post: to gather my thoughts, to summarize the past few months not only for you, but for my benefit as well. I need to see what’s happened to me so that I can provide empirical data to the psychiatrist, so he can make an informed decision about what course of action to take.

I last saw my psychiatrist on August 10th, and it just so happens, that I started recording my depression and binging in detail around that point. I’m now going to summarize my findings. Even though it is a “summary”, it’s still quite long. Skip down to the sentence in bold if you want a summary of the summary. Anyway, the summary goes like this–

July 29: I binged because of the emotions I stirred up from writing the previous day. I wrote about my last day of high school. High school is a difficult subject for me because it was so hard. Like most kids, I struggled to fit in. Being highly sensitive and introverted didn’t help. My anxiety started in high school. I must have engaged in a negative social situation and came out of it, for reasons unknown, feeling like I had done something wrong–that I behaved inappropriately given the situation, perhaps. That social situation made me feel like I had to change something in order to act differently in future social situations. I set new expectations for myself–expectations I could never live up to, even to this day.

Like most times, I binged on a super vegetarian burrito and a pint of ice cream. I felt better almost immediately after.

The next few days went well. I had two successful social situations with friends and I wrote a lot about my past, my relationship with my parents, and even a short story. On August 3rd I avoided a binge. I saw my psychiatrist that same day. He let out some frustrations because I wasn’t experimenting enough with the Ativan and Propranolol. I really felt like I let him down, and so, after that session I consciously told myself that I would experiment more with those drugs, document my experiences, and even try upping the dose of Celexa. The very next day I took my first dose of Propranolol (which went fine), and I also sent out an email to some friends from my past, explaining about my issues: why I didn’t really connect with them, and why I just seemed to disappear. It was hard and very, very emotional, but I felt great. Those feelings lasted into August 5th, culminating at a yoga class. By the end of the day, I just felt exhausted though, emotionally and physically, and I felt a depression coming on.

August 6th and 7th: I briefly described these days above: “After two months of no results, I increased my dose. This, coupled with emotional fatigue sent me into a deep depression, culminating with a night filled with lots and lots and lots of alcohol and suicidal thoughts–the last night that my girlfriend left me alone.” I’ll go into more detail now. The depression I started feeling the night before carried over to Friday, August 6th. I recognized that my depression probably resulted from all the emotions stirred up, and the fact that I was just drained. If I wasn’t working on school work, I was either writing, running, working out at the gym, or doing yoga. I bounced from activity to activity instead of giving myself a break from all the emotions brought up that week. I didn’t give myself time to rest, to heal, or to integrate. I also wasn’t sleeping very well. Recognizing this was a great achievement and telling myself that it’s okay to take breaks was even better; however, the damage was already done. My depression got worse and worse, and on top of that I increased my dose of Celexa the night before.

I immediately felt the side effects when I woke up. I felt sluggish and depressed, listless even. Everything seemed a bit fuzzy or out-of-focus. Thoughts weren’t coming to me. I questioned everything I had accomplished that week. My confidence faded, as well as any hope: I’m at the mercy of my own thoughts. Right now, I don’t believe anything or anyone can help me. I went back down to my previous dose of Celexa. (So, I only increased the dose for one day).

My girlfriend left in the morning of August 7th to visit her family. I felt terrible. She knew this and wanted me to come. But I assured her everything would be fine, even though, deep down, I knew it wouldn’t. After she left I held out as long as I could, but I ended up binging on a super burrito and almost a quart of ice cream a few hours later. This left me feeling better for about and hour; the depression intensified after that, however, and I ended up binging on alcohol that night, alone. Drinking made everything worse: after each sip, I could almost feel the depression strengthening. I knew I would have to drink a lot in order to suppress my feelings–and I did. In all, I drank eleven beers and two and a half glasses of wine. That night the suicidal thoughts were as strong as they’ve ever been. I wanted to die, and I needed to die. It was the only thing left; the only thing real; the only thing I had control over. Fortunately, I was too drunk to act on my thoughts. I passed out, and when I woke up the next day, the suicidal thoughts were gone–all thoughts were gone, actually–leaving me only with a massive hangover and the notion that I somehow had been defeated.

After spending a few days hungover, reflecting on what happened, I went to see the psychiatrist on August 10th. We agreed that I should tapper off the Celexa. He also seemed to view my experience on August 7th more optimistically: He also thinks that my actions over the weekend show that I may be on the cusp of something more–that maybe I’m on the way to change. I’m just shedding my emotions. Even though it was hard for me to believe that, I felt better after hearing it. The rest of the week went well. Because of the depression, binge, and subsequent hangover, I fell behind on schoolwork, and I had to frantically finish a paper. It was stressful, but I got through it. I had a few social situations that went really well for me, with the help of Propranolol, on Monday and Tuesday (August 11th and 12th). On August 13th, I flew back to Kansas City to see my family.

Being around my family was difficult. I left home almost four years ago after graduating from college. Since then, I’ve been changing, little by little, and, as of late, that change has intensified. I’m different. I’ve changed a lot. It’s hard to be this new person, though, when I’m around my family. I tend to revert back to my former self, into the person I was before I left home. Because of this, going home is a struggle. On top of that, my parents have quite a few issues they refuse to address. I’m aware of them so I feel like I have to solve them–or at least make them aware of them. It’s hard. I spent a week in Kansas City struggling not only with my own issues, but with trying to open up about those issues and express my feelings about my parents’ issues, as well. Issues, issues, issues! There were plenty of ups and downs that week, but I felt the most depressed the day after I got there, August 14th. I couldn’t binge, so, instead, I called my girlfriend and explained how I felt. Immediately after, I felt better. I know what you’re thinking: Why can’t you always do that: talk instead of binge. I do! I talk non-stop about my issues. I’m not sure why it was any different then. Anyway, after getting over my initial depression, the rest of the week went well. I talked openly to my mom and brother about my issues and concern over my dad’s alcoholism. It felt good talking about things we’ve never talked about as a family. I flew back to San Francisco more happy and hopeful than I’d been in a long time.

Unfortunately those feelings didn’t last, though. I wanted to continue moving forward. I wanted to build on my successes in Kansas City. In that first week back, I had three social events. I began writing a letter to my dad addressing his alcoholism. I wrote a lot of blog entries. I started cognitive behavioral therapy. I had a difficult session with my talk therapist. I burnt myself out basically, and I started feeling depressed on Thursday (August 26th), and I binged on the usual: a super burrito and a pint of ice cream. That night I met up with a friend. It didn’t go well for me socially, and I fell into another depression. In the night, I felt strange and my thoughts were strange. These strange feelings and strange thoughts eventually led to me feeling suicidal, in a strange way. It’s hard to explain. The thoughts weren’t tangible; it was more like I really felt deep within my body that suicide was an option for me. I felt scared. Those feelings eventually faded though, and I drifted into sleep, dreaming about death.

I went out with that same friend the next night (August 27th) with a group of people, including my girlfriend. Unlike the social situation from the previous night, I didn’t feel much anxiety. I just felt super, super depressed. I think it was one of the first times the depression overshadowed my anxiety in a social situation. I was afraid the strange feelings of suicide would come back that night, but they didn’t. The depression was still there, though. I went on a small binge the next day (August 28th) with a pint of ice cream and immediately felt better. The day after was great, and the day after that, even greater. I felt happy and optimistic again. This happy state lasted until Tuesday, August 31st. I crashed again the next day (September 1st), binging twice: large sandwich, pint of ice cream to begin, and three chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches later. Despite my efforts, the depression persisted into the next day, September 2nd. I binged again: super burrito and two pints of ice cream. It worked! I felt normal again! This past week I caught up with school, continued writing and working on cognitive behavioral therapy, and went through an okay social event on Labor Day. Therapy was difficult, as well as tutoring (I volunteer at a adult literacy center).

Again, this past week, I’ve tried outrunning my depression, always keeping busy; yet, it caught up with me on Wednesday (September 8th).  At night, back home, I felt a depression coming on. I tried fighting through it, and I thought I succeeded, but the next day (September 9th), I just felt terrible: I hate my life. I don’t have a job or any friends, nothing. School is too hard. My writing is terrible. There’s no hope for me today. I’m leaving the library right now to go binge.

This is what I ate:

Half-gallon of ice cream, super veggie burrito, chips. ~ 2500 calories

I’m used to the gourmet ice cream, so the Dreyer’s tasted terrible. I literally had to choke it down at the end. At that point, I wasn’t eating because I wanted to; I was eating it because I had to. I had to shove that much calories down my throat in order to squash the depression. In order to feel normal again. In the end, the binge didn’t help. It only fueled my depression, in fact. It grew and grew and grew. And GREW. By the end of the day, I knew I had to do another binge. Fortunately, my girlfriend left the next day (September 10th) to go visit her family. Remember: last time she left me alone, I spiraled out of control, eventually having a breakdown. She insisted that I go with her. But I refused, and she went anyway. She shouldn’t have to sit around babysitting me all the time. I promised her I wouldn’t drink any alcohol–a promise I eventually broke.

Yesterday I binged again; this time on food and alcohol:

Nearly a quart of ice cream, super veggie burrito. ~ 2200 calories

6 beers. ~ 900 calories.

This was enough to bring me out of my depression. Which brings us to the present. I’m feeling good, despite being tired, hungover, and emotionally exhausted. I’ve got to pick myself up, clean the house, and start on schoolwork. I’m so behind, and besides, I have to work now while I feel good because I don’t know when my next crash will be.

Whew! That was exhausting. To wrap up, let me give a summary of the summary–

  • July 29th: binged
  • July 30th to August 4th: felt good
  • August 5th: started feeling depression, increased dose of Celexa
  • August 6th: depressed, experienced side effects from increased dosage of Celexa, decided to go back down to my previous dose of the medication
  • August 7th: binged on food and alcohol, had suicidal thoughts
  • August 8th and 9th: hungover
  • August 10th to 13th: felt good, flew to KC on the 13th
  • August 14th: depressed, felt better after talking to my girlfriend about my feelings
  • August 15th to 25th: felt very emotional yet good
  • August 26th: felt depressed and binged, had suicidal thoughts
  • August 27th: depressed
  • August 28th: still depressed and went on a small binge
  • August 29th and 30th: felt great
  • August 31st: depressed
  • September 1st: binged (twice), had suicidal thoughts
  • September 2nd: binged
  • September 3rd to 7th: felt great
  • September 8th: depressed
  • September 9th: binged, had suicidal thoughts
  • September 10th: binged on food and alcohol

There you have it. That’s the last month or so of my life. Since July 29th I’ve binged on food nine times and on alcohol twice and experienced suicidal thoughts four times, and I went through seven cycles of depression. What does this all mean? Sometimes I wonder if writing about it even helps? I’ve taken my thoughts, feelings, and emotions and quantified them in the hopes that I, and others, can understand them better. I’m taking this information to my psychiatrist and psychologist, and I’m thinking of sending this link out to family and friends. I want empathy, not sympathy. I want people to understand what I’ve been through and what I’m currently going through. I want them to understand why I’ve been so reclusive at times. I want them to understand why they haven’t really connected with me. Most importantly, when I see my psychiatrist on Tuesday, I want him to see the things I can’t tell him so that I can get the best treatment. I’m tired of hiding behind a wall of stoicism and certainty, while my insides crumble. There you have it.

Now you know my secret.

***

Finally, welcome to Unhappy Happiness. Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in reading further, please check out my previous blog. I’ve also stated on the About Me page my intentions for this blog and my reasons for abandoning my previous one, as well as some background info.

Oh and if you understand the difference between categories and tags please let me know. I’m confused!