Category Archives: medication

perfectionism or punishment?

Why are pdocs always late? I’m always having to wait at least fifteen minutes after our scheduled appointment time. It’s not fair. Because of I was late like that, I would probably get a lecture on the importance of being on time. It throws my day and all my structure off. On days I have to see him, I can never plan for anything after. Anyway this time I decided to say something–

“Right on time, as usual,” I said, quite passively. His non-response indicated that he didn’t appreciate my sarcasm.

I had high hopes for the session. I wanted to drop the other medications I’m on–Lamictal and Klonopin–and start taking Nardil, as a friend of mine with social anxiety has found Nardil quite helpful. The problem was/is that my pdoc hasn’t prescribed Nardil in over twenty years as he had a patient almost die while on it. You see, there are some dangerous food interactions, particularly alcohol, cheese, aging fruits and vegetables, some meats, soy, and so on. It’s quite alarming. You could eat the wrong kind of cheese and end up in a hypertensive state and have a heart attack.

But if the ends justify the means, I think I can live with the reduced diet–and the risks. My pdoc, however, wants to exhaust all other options first. So, he increased my dose of Klonopin and added Xanax into the cocktail (both of which, I might add, I’m having trouble filling due to insurance restrictions–so frustrating). Anyway, I came out of my appointment disappointed.

Oh, and I also got lectured.

My perfectionism came up. I told him I’m frustrated because I don’t have many friends, and outside of my relationship, I pretty much only hang out with my girlfriend’s family. And since she has a large family, I pretty much bounce from one large group social gathering to the next. I don’t believe that type of exposure works. I need gradual exposure. I need to see small successes and build from there. I won’t get any better if I continue going to huge social gatherings. But I don’t feel like I can opt out of them, either. Otherwise, I would just sit around the apartment, isolated.

“It’s okay to avoid things,” he said. “In fact you need to take back control from your anxiety and start saying ‘NO!’ every now and then.”

“But then I’ll be completely isolated,” I said.

“You’re going to school, you’re starting an internship, you have a girlfriend–you don’t sound isolated to me.”

“I’m going to school online,” I countered, “which isn’t helping my anxiety. I’m scared to death of the internship. I’m too dependent on my girlfriend.” We sat in silence for some time. “I can’t help but think this way. I know my perfectionism is fueling my anxiety but I can’t control it.”

“Mike, it’s not perfectionism. It’s punishment. You’re punishing yourself for not being perfect, and by doing so, you’re giving control to your pain. You still have control, though, but you don’t feel like you have it anymore, because these beliefs of yours are so ingrained. I don’t think you’re challenging your beliefs enough.”

I’ve been in therapy for over a year–is that not enough? But he’s right. I do not feel like I have control. I feel like I am my anxiety. I am my beliefs. I am who I say and think I am. How does change occur, though? It’s easy to intellectualize this process, but that can only take me so far. Change is deeper, in areas that I don’t like to touch. In areas I don’t know how to touch. When I do touch them, I shut down, I get flooded, and I push away.

He also brought up the issue of learned helplessness. I’ve failed so many times in the past, I do not believe I can succeed. I’ve taught myself how to fail. I’ve let my anticipatory anxiety get the best of me. I think I’ll fail, therefore I will fail. But maybe–just maybe–being conscious of this will help me change? I hope so.

***

Later on in therapy that night, my therapist asked, “What does it mean to be perfect? What does perfectionism mean to you.”

“It means I avoid being judged negatively,” I said.

There’s more but I don’t feel like typing it out. It was a tough session, to say the least. He pushed right up against my beliefs, and I pushed right back, shutting down in the process. I feel like we’ve been at a standstill for some time now. Why does change have to happen so slowly?

high to low and back again

I started writing this post yesterday afternoon, and it was originally called, stable .. for now, but nothing I wrote felt right, and by the evening I had abandoned it altogether. Some highlights–

I’ve been fairly stable since the wedding. That is, not depressed. I’m caught up with schoolwork again, and I’m starting to enjoy activities again, like reading, writing, running, and cooking. (I even went to a yoga class on Friday!) I’m looking forward to seeing my student on Wednesday and tutoring in general (I volunteer at an adult literacy center), as well as Thanksgiving. (I’m not delighted about being around fourteen people, but I do want to see if my mood holds up and how, or if, that will affect the outcome of the social situation. Plus, I want to test out some of my new cognitive techniques. So, it’s not so much about the social situation itself; it’s more about seeing whether I can get through it without being flooded with anxiety [an experiment, really]. And I’m actually feeling more confident that I will be able to do just that, and if I don’t–NO BIG DEAL!)

I’ve been doing lots of CBT lately. I still don’t know whether it’s working or not–whether it’s affecting deeper change–but I do know that it’s changing the way I think. I’m more positive and upbeat. I haven’t been engaging in my normal destructive behaviors of finding faults in the past and using those to ruin the present, etc. It’s a strange feeling, really. I’m not comfortable with feeling good–or, more precisely: not feeling bad. I guess I’ve just been feeling neutral lately. I look to the future and I don’t get the hopelessness that I got a week ago; it’s more like a staleness.

Finally, I’m also excited about trying a new drug. I’m not comfortable with taking Klonopin daily, so I’m going to talk to the pdoc on Tuesday about trying an MAOI–Nardil. A friend of mine who also has social anxiety is on it and I have noticed a huge difference in her behavior. Yes, MAOIs have some pretty bad side effects and you have to be on a strict diet to avoid hypertension, but maybe the ends will justify the means (for once)? I just have to talk my pdoc into it, because he had a patient die while on Nardil because s/he ate the wrong kind of cheese (aged) and didn’t seek medical attention.

Anyway, somewhere between writing and watching a football game and reading and taking a bath, my mood changed. By the end of the night, I was pretty low. Actually, I could feel my mood turning pretty much throughout the evening. My energy level dropped, and I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I’ve been pretty hyper (or hypomanic) this past week. I’ve bounced from activity to activity to activity. I haven’t given myself much leisure time or given myself time to think about things, which is good and bad. Sure, I didn’t think about the bad things, but I also didn’t get to process and own my negative feelings. I pretty much suppressed everything throughout the week, and maybe some of the those feelings were coming up while I was writing.

It’s a strange feeling knowing that your mood is going to turn. I started to panic a little, actually. I wanted to do everything I could to stop it from happening. I stopped writing altogether, and I tried to just sink into the feelings a little with the hopes of crying. I always feel better after I cry. I think it allows some of the feelings to release. It’s healthy. But it’s very hard for me, especially now that I’m on medication. I need to find more triggers. Last week I found a good song that brought me into tears almost immediately but I played it like ten times over the week, so when I listened to it last night, nothing happened. I need to find more triggers. What works for you?

I’m also very stressed about school and the holidays in general. I have three papers and two presentations to do in less than a month. The papers are no big deal. Sure, they’ll be a lot of work, but I’m more worried about the presentations. For those who don’t know, I’m in an online graduate program studying Library and Information Science. I’m becoming a librarian. Anyway, the presentations are done over a conference call, and even though they aren’t in person, I’m still a little upset about them. CBT is helping, though–I may have had lots of anxiety in the past, but I’m doing better. And it may not go exactly how I want it too, but I will get through it–and it will be okay. Again, I don’t know how much of that’s suppressing my feelings and how much of that is subtly dealing with the feelings but not letting them take control. I don’t know.

The holidays are another big thing. Thanksgiving is coming up. As I said before, I’m going over to my girlfriend’s brothers, where fourteen people from her family will be there. I am still hopeful that I’ll be able to get through it without getting flooded–with the help of Ativan and Propranolol, of course. I’m counting on there being a little anxiety there, just not the debilitating kind like I had at the wedding. I want to be able to converse with people and smile and not have to worry about sweating through three sets of shirts and looking like a complete idiot all the time.

I’ll address Christmas at a later date.

So, with my mood rapidly changing, and without being able to release some of the pent-up emotions through crying, I went to bed feeling like I’d wake up feeling even worse. But here I am. I feel a little down, a little stressed and depressed, but a little happy and hopeful too. Maybe I avoided a depression? I don’t know, only time will tell. But for now I am going to continue with what I’m doing: schoolwork, running, keeping myself busy.

Oh and I probably won’t be updating much until the end of the semester (12/9). I hope you are all doing well, by the way.

Finally, I’m curious how you deal with things when you know your mood is getting ready to turn. Do you just accept it, knowing you can’t change it, and try to do your best to weather the storm? Or are you more proactive about it–are there ways for you to avoid the depression altogether, or at least lesson the severity of it?

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

perspective

Although my head is still in a fog, I think I’ve gained some perspective not only about the wedding, but the last year of my life, as well. Despite what most people are saying around me, I feel I’ve taken quite a few steps back over the past year. I wouldn’t say I’m moving backward, but I wouldn’t say I’m moving forward either. It’s more like I’ve been stagnating; some things have definitely gotten worse, while other things are better.

The basis of this post, by the way, comes from two major events that have happened this past week or so. One being the wedding, and the other my one-year anniversary with working with my therapist.

I can’t ignore the fact that I am not the person I was one year ago. I’ve changed in many ways, good and bad. I’m really an entirely different person. I went to a wedding a year ago, and it really wasn’t that bad. I felt some anxiety, but I got through it. The wedding on Saturday, however, was a much different experience. I was completely flooded during it and could barely communicate, let alone smile.

So, what’s different about me? Let’s take a look–

Anticipatory anxiety. My anticipatory anxiety is much worse now than one year ago. The dreading and worrying is much more intense, and it starts to happen earlier and earlier. It’s even been so bad that I’ve had to avoid certain social situations altogether. I never avoided situations a year ago; I’d be scared to go, but I’d still go.

Depression. Like my anticipatory anxiety, my periods of depression are much more intense and they last longer. I’m usually knocked on my ass two days a week, unable to do anything, and I have a breakdown about once a month.

Mood swings. The lows are much lower today, and the highs higher. I’m constantly swinging from low to high, as well; in a typical day, I usually have at least one or two swings.

Binging. I didn’t consciously binge a year ago. That is, I wasn’t purposely binging to elevate my mood. Today, I know how to control my moods through binging; and, consequently, I’m binging a lot more.

Isolation. 14 months ago I quit my job; moved in with my girlfriend, away from my roommates and friends; and started an online graduate program. I quickly became isolated and stopped hanging out with friends. My best friend moved to NY last January. I pretty much have to rely on my girlfriend for support and someone to hang out with.

Joy. I do not get pleasure out of the activities that used to relax me. I don’t enjoy reading, writing, meditating, yoga as I did a year ago. I don’t really enjoy much anymore, actually.

Medication. I’m on some serious medication now. Lamictal, Klonopin, Ativan, Propranolol. What’s next? Just seeing all the pill containers reinforces my beliefs that I am fucked up and broken.

Therapy. Yes, I am in therapy now–isn’t that a good thing? I don’t know. I’ve had to admit that I have issues and that I need to work through them. Instead of internalizing everything, I’m having to face my beliefs, feelings, and fears. I’m not convinced this is a good thing. I’m moving too fast; it’s all too much to handle.

Beliefs. I’m also finding out that my beliefs are extremely rigid. I sincerely believe that I am a bad person; no one likes me; I’m inferior to those around me; I can’t cut it in this world; I’m a fool, a failure, a loser; and I will never get better. These beliefs are obviously reinforced by my actions and social experiences. Each time I engage, my beliefs are reinforced. It doesn’t help either that I bounce from one huge, overwhelming group social situation to the next; there’s nothing in between because I’m so isolated.

Awareness. It all comes down to awareness. I am much more aware of things going on inside my body. I can recognize when a depression is coming (but it’s frustrating because I can’t stop it). I know about my beliefs and feelings (but, again, I feel powerless to change them). The major difference is that I understand why I feel the way I do, but I haven’t been able to change it, and so, I feel even more powerless, hopeless, and listless. I’m scared.

What’s more, last night my g/f said she’d like us to go to couples counseling. It feels like the beginning of the end. I can’t deal with anymore therapy at the moment. I can’t deal with unlocking more deep-seeded beliefs and feelings because I can’t deal with the ones I’ve already unlocked.

I don’t know what to do anymore. Maybe things aren’t as bad as I think they are, but I cannot dismiss the fact that I am more unhappy than ever.

Each day grows harder. The longer my beliefs stay the way they are, the harder it will be for them to change. Plus, my inadequacies are further reinforced each day as I go about my life watching all the other “normal” people function like I should be functioning. Every time I see someone smile, I tell myself I’ll never be happy, which only fuels my beliefs.

I’m stuck. I’m trapped. I’m really, really scared.

    therapy and medication

    My therapist doesn’t get it. Or maybe it’s I who isn’t getting it? I told him on Tuesday that I struggle through so many simple things most people take for granted, like saying hello, or making small-talk after saying hello, saying goodbye, shaking hands, smiling, playing with children ..

    His response: “You went to an interview. Did you shake hands? Did you make small-talk? Did you smile? Did you say goodbye?”

    I nodded several times.

    “So, you showed up and engaged socially,” he said. “You were there–that’s the most important thing–and it sounds like it went well.”

    I usually show up to things. I usually make small-talk. I usually smile. I usually shake hands, hello and goodbye. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I don’t feel comfortable doing any of those things. The problem is that I feel like an idiot while doing them. I think people are watching me closely, scrutinizing every move, and making negative judgments. After I leave, I think people are thinking, Wow. Mike really doesn’t know how to engage with people.

    The problem is that I’m 27 years old, and yet I feel like I have the social skills-set of someone half my age.

    But then again, I got the internship, so maybe I am okay. Maybe I’m not as bad as I think. Maybe everything will be okay. I don’t feel like it, though, and right now, my thoughts are in control of me.

    ***

    In other news, I went back to the psychiatrist on Tuesday, as well. Now that my mood swings are a little more stable, the anxiety can be addressed once again. I don’t want to go on another SSRI, so my psych suggested Klonopin. .25 mg, twice a day. I don’t like being on a cocktail of drugs, and I don’t like being on benzos, especially everyday .. but then again, I don’t like anxiety.

    So I’m going to give it a try.

    Also, he made me feel very little by saying that my problems are minimal compared to others. He even said that it’s like I’m walking around and I get a tiny pebble (the anxiety) in my shoe, stuck between my toes, and I’m too lazy to get it out. So, not only are my problems tiny, but I’m not doing enough to alleviate the problems. Yes, I’m skeptical towards drugs, and, no, I don’t like taking them, but I think I am doing a lot to help ease the anxiety.

    No Relief

    I’ve been overwhelmed with anxiety and depression these past few days. I honestly don’t know how I’m writing this post right now. My thoughts feel far away, I can’t connect with them. I wish I could describe to you the feelings going on inside my body–but I just can’t. My hands are pretty much shaking right now. I’m honestly scared. All I can think about is food, alcohol, and Ativan–those are the only things that will bring me relief. I’m going to try to push through it and just sit here and suffer, but I don’t know how long I can hold out for. I need relief.

    Depression hit me on Friday, which carried into Saturday and on into today. I can’t seem to shake it. I tried drinking on Friday, and I binged on food yesterday. Neither brought any relief.

    Anxiety has been with me too, especially anticipatory. I have to go to another interview at the library I’m trying to intern at in the Spring tomorrow. Supposedly I have to meet with all the librarians at once. All ten of them. I’ve been going over in my mind what that will be like. In every scenario I fail, and even when I do win, and get the internship, things will just get worse, because I will then actually have to engage with people in the Spring. A part of me doesn’t want to get this internship at all. I’d rather just sit at home, where I feel comfortable.

    I increased my dose of Lamictal today to 50 mg. I really wish that would start working, I want to feel some relief, but for now all I feel like doing is covering myself with a blanket and crying.

    What’s more, outside it’s sunny and warm, and all I can think about is everybody else in the world enjoying the day, without me.

    I want to say more, but I can’t.

    anxiety attack, interview, yoga

    Wednesday night. I turned off all the lights, got into bed and shoved my head between two pillows. I felt ill. My head throbbed, my stomach hurt. I was sweating, and it was difficult to breathe and almost impossible to stop the negative thoughts. My heart pounded loudly. I could feel each and every beat, and I expected each one to be my last. After a few minutes, I got up and took an Ativan, and after it kicked in, I went to bed.

    In the morning I took another Ativan and then went to an interview for an internship (in the spring) at an academic library. It went really well. I’m pretty sure I got it. I’m crawling back into the real world, one step (err, Ativan) at a time.

    On that note, I’m a little closer to getting hired by the public library. I’ve been trying to get in for the last six or seven months or so. This week I found out I passed the civil service exam, and I’m currently tenth on the list for the position(s) I’m going for. My hope is that once the person in charge of hiring sees that I am in Library Science school, they’ll bump me to the top!

    The rest of Thursday felt great, and I had all but forgotten Wednesday’s setback. You see, I was feeling down about something (probably resulting from anticipatory anxiety about Thursday’s interview) and fatigued. I wanted to just binge and watch Star Trek, but instead, I went to the gym and killed myself on the treadmill. I’ve been running a lot lately and need to take a break, so even though I didn’t go as far as usual, my run took a lot out of me. Once done, I staggered off the treadmill, skipped stretching, staggered down the stairs and into the shower, and then limped back up the stars and all the way home. And then I ate ice cream for dinner.

    Yes, you could call that a setback. But it’s okay: I wasn’t perfect, and I’m fine with that. I don’t expect to feel good all the time.

    The rest of Thursday went well. I met my girlfriend later, and we went to yoga.

    “Slow your movements down,” the teacher said, “link it to your breath. Let your breath catch up.”

    Maybe I should slow down, instead of always planning, thinking and anticipating, letting the world catch up to me? I try to live my life one step ahead, but I just don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m tired of living the way I am. I need change.

    camping

    I went camping in Big Basin over the weekend with a friend (Ms. M), my girlfriend, her brother, and two of his friends. It was rough weekend.

    I hadn’t seen Ms. M. for quite some time, and, honestly, I think that my girlfriend connects more with her than I do at this point. But since I have very few friends, I’m very protective of the ones I have, so I’ve tried to keep my girlfriend and Ms. M. somewhat apart. (Which is a separate issue altogether.) Anyway, I rode down with her on Saturday, and it didn’t go well.

    I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to somewhat reconnect with her. I had to say the right things. I had to be funny, witty, and interesting. I put so much pressure on myself and I worked myself up so much beforehand that I had to take something. I wanted to take an Ativan, but I took Propranolol by mistake. All my pills are getting mixed up because I have to cut them and I keep all of the cut halves together, in the pill cutter.

    Mental note: pink = Ativan, round and white = Propranolol, triangle = Lamictal. Or maybe that’s pink = Propranolol, round = … ?

    Anyhow, I didn’t live up to my expectations on the car ride. I didn’t always say the right things (I never do), and I wasn’t funny enough or witty enough or even interesting (I never am, never am, never am); and thus, I was very anxious throughout the ride. I think the second I got in the car in fact, I just wanted to be somewhere else. It was a different kind of hell being in that car with her, but it was still hell.

    When we got to the campground, I stopped worrying about conversing with Ms. M. and started worrying about meeting my girlfriend’s brother’s girlfriend and her friend. They arrived with my girlfriend a day earlier. I was actually supposed to go with them but I avoided it, opting instead to ride with Ms. M. on Saturday.

    Once I got through the formal introductions (which I think I’m great at)–

    • To my girlfriend’s brother’s girlfriend: “It’s nice to meet you.” (Smile, shake hand.)
    • To my girlfriend’s brother: “It’s nice to see you again. (Smile, shake hand.)
    • To my girlfriend’s brother’s girlfriend’s friend: “It’s nice to meet you.” (Smile, shake hand.)
    • To my girlfriend: “I missed you.” (Smile, hug, kiss.)

    –I didn’t know what to do, what to say, or how to act. I wanted so much to make a good impression, but I really just sat there at the picnic table while everybody else conversed. I didn’t need to be there. Nobody cared.

    After a quick breakfast, Ms. M., my girlfriend, and I went to Santa Cruz so they could register for the triathlon. I wasn’t in it but I wasn’t about to stay behind with the others. On the drive into town, I sat in the back, while my girlfriend and Ms. M. conversed, while I consciously told myself I wasn’t going to compete with them (or anyone) to say things: instead, I’ll just be quiet until there’s an opening. What that really meant: I just won’t talk and feel like shit because I’m not talking. I just stared out the window, wondering how I’d get through the weekend and why I was there to begin with. They acknowledged me once during the whole ride, commenting about how quiet I was.

    I didn’t need to be there.

    Back at the campground, I avoid conversation by taking a nap–and by that I mean I pretended to. I stayed awake, hoping that someone would say something bad about me so I could confirm my suspicion that I am a piece of shit. It didn’t happen, though, but then again, no one seemed to mind that I wasn’t around. I got up around 5:00 to help make dinner.

    After dinner we all sat around the fire talking–everybody except me, that is. I didn’t say much to anyone the rest of the night.

    Put simple, I felt very depressed throughout the day. But was my depression caused by my anxiety, or was it a mood swing? Probably both. I binged on Friday night and felt like shit (even more depressed) in the morning, and I think I went into the weekend feeling depressed, because of a mood swing, and then that depression made it even more difficult to engage socially, which, in turn, brought me down even further.

    I barely slept that night, but I woke up on Sunday feeling a lot better. My girlfriend and Ms. M. left early for the triathlon, while I stayed behind to help the others pack up the campground. I ended up staying with them most of the day, watching the triathlon. I never really felt comfortable but I got by.

    Pic of the athletes warming up:

    I love watching endurance events because everyone gets so emotional. At the end of the race, I hung out by myself watching the runners cross the finish line. Some laughed. Some cried. Some shouted. Each one evoked emotion inside of me, and I started crying at one point. It was therapeutic.

    When my friend crossed the finish line I gave her a big hug. I felt the connection between us. It felt good.

    On the ride home, my elevated mood rose even higher. I couldn’t stop talking. What’s more, I was witty and funny and interesting and felt no anxiety, and I didn’t really want to say goodbye.

    Overall, Sunday was a much different day than Saturday. On Saturday I felt so depressed I couldn’t converse with anyone, and during the night I felt suicidal. I didn’t feel even the least bit depressed on Sunday. I sought out social situations and spoke up rather than hide.

    I hope others didn’t notice this swing.

    Finally, I want to end with some positive thinking. I don’t think my girlfriend’s brother’s girlfriend liked me very much. I don’t really know why I think this, but I could just sense it. She didn’t really talk to me much and when she did it felt forced and she gave me some funny looks. I know it could be anything, but I’m interpreting it negatively. Interestingly, I feel somewhat okay with that–I’m not a bad person because someone doesn’t like me. There isn’t something inherently wrong with me because someone doesn’t like me. I don’t need to change something every time I come across someone who doesn’t like me.

    Rinse. Repeat.

    I hope everyone’s day went well, and I hope this good mood of mine lasts for a few more days!

    disordered eating

    Well I broke two of my rules this week: No more than one post per day and five posts per week. This is my third post today and my sixth this week–and there’s still two more days left in the week.

    I’ll keep this short.

    After my second post today, I felt really anxious. I immediately went home, downed .5 mg of Ativan, and watched Curb Your Enthusiasm with my girlfriend. I felt a little better afterward so I came back up to the library to work on schoolwork. My anxiety was no where near as bad as it was earlier, but I felt much more depressed.

    I’m not sure where those feelings were coming from.

    I think stirring up a lot of emotions from my post earlier didn’t help. Plus I’m going camping this weekend with my girlfriend, her brother, and some friends. I may have to call a friend later to coordinate a ride. I’m feeling pretty anxious about all that. Oh and I also increased my dose of Lamictal from 12.5 to 25 mg.

    Anyway, I left the library around 5:00 and binged. Super burrito. 28 oz of ice cream. Plus a handful of kale. (I need my veggies, too.) I also drank a beer. I probably shouldn’t have drank because I took an Ativan earlier. Oh well.

    That’s two binges this week. At what point does disordered eating become an eating disorder?

    No more than one post per day and five posts per week

    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 …

    in the library

    Another up and down week for me, most of it spent in the library. There’s a special place I like to go to that’s hidden away from the main portions of the library. I don’t have to see anybody, and people don’t have to see me. I just plug in my headphones, work on homework, and stare at lots and lots of books. I haven’t had much social interaction this week except on Tuesday. I may feel more comfortable tucked away in the library, but it’s also very lonely. Even though social situations are hard for me, I need them–we all do. I should try to see some friends, but it’s so hard and I’ve grown apart from many of them. I don’t know how to reconnect with them now that I’ve pushed them away.

    I felt depressed on Wednesday and Thursday. It wasn’t the all-pervading-I-can’t-work-on-anything-right-now depression that I’ve been getting, but it still affected me. I got very little done those days. I didn’t binge, though. But that’s not because I didn’t want to. I probably would have if my girlfriend hadn’t been home. Maybe I should give myself more credit? Or not. I did go on a quasi-binge on Thursday. I had a gigantic sandwich for lunch and a bag of chips, followed by a gigantic Sprite, which I drank in the bathtub (with dirty bath water because I haven’t showered in a few days) while watching Pi. I then snacked on an English muffin and a protein shake, went to the library, and then had three donuts for dinner. Actually, it sounds less like a binge and more like a really, really shitty diet. I don’t usually eat this bad, by the way. The depression’s still with me right now, but it’s shifted more to the background. It’s like an annoying hum: it’s there and I can work on things, yet there’s this feeling of hopelessness there too. What am I doing with my life?! I feel like I’m sinking a little deeper each day. Each small depression is getting bigger and bigger; yet, the BIG ONE hasn’t hit yet this week. I’m overdue.

    Right now, I’ve got this urge–this itch–to drop what I’m doing and go home and binge. I had this same feeling yesterday. I’m worried that if I keep prolonging the inevitable, the depression will just keep growing and growing. I have to push it back down with food. I have to feed it. It’s the only way.

    Yesterday at the library I had a brief yet difficult social experience. I’ve been sick most of the week, and I had a terrible cough yesterday. I uncomfortably suppressed it most of the day, but at the end of the day, when I thought no one else was around, I stopped caring about how much and how loud I coughed–I just let go. Anyway, a guy walked up to me and said, “Tuberculosis?”

    I had my headphones on but I still heard him but I pretended I didn’t, and so I asked, “Excuse me?”

    He just stared at me, taking me in. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and he was tall and muscular, and he didn’t blink, not once. I couldn’t take it so I turned back to my computer.

    “Do you have Tuberculosis?” he finally said.

    “I don’t think I have Tuberculous, no.”

    “Well, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone cough so loud before in my life.”

    “Sorry, I’m trying to keep it under control,” I said, pointing at my bag of cough drops. “I didn’t think I was coughing that loud”

    Again, he gave me this death stare. Again, he didn’t blink. Again, I couldn’t take it, so I turned back to my computer. Finally he said: “I see. It must be very hard for you.” Then he walked away.

    What a dick! I should have either told him to fuck off (I didn’t) or got up and left (I didn’t do that either). Instead, I just sat there, trying to finish up some homework, trying not to cough. I choked several times suppressing my urge to cough. Finally my urge was so great I had to leave the library. I stormed out of there fast, afraid I would run into him again.

    In retrospect, I felt like I was twelve again. I felt like I was back in middle school being bullied. God I feel pathetic right now.

    Also, I’ve got to stop reading people’s opinions and anecdotes about their experiences with medication. As you know, I’m starting Lamotrigine / Lamictal soon, and I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Internet reading about the drug. It sounds like withdrawal is pretty tough. I’m scared now to try it, and I’m questioning whether I really need it.

    I haven’t organized my email in a few weeks, messages are piling up. I haven’t showered in like three days. I haven’t changed my shirt in even longer. I probably stink. I need to organize my finances. I’m still behind on school. My best friend called me last Thursday, and I haven’t returned his call. I have so much to do, and yet all I can think about is binging. So much to do, and yet life just keeps moving.