Category Archives: site news

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. 🙂

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stepping back ..

I had a setback yesterday. Put simply, I woke up feeling down about the social situation from Monday, but instead of trying to deal with those feelings, I went right to my obsessive behaviors.

I’m obsessed over how many people read and comment on my blog. So, I shelved my feelings and went right to looking at my blog, and then I read and commented on someone else’s blog (with the hope that they will respond by checking my blog), and then I checked my blog’s stats (and felt disappointed), and then I commented on a message forum (with the hope that people would make their way to my blog), and then I checked my blog’s stats (again, dissapointed), etc. etc. This lasted for about an hour.

Afterward, I had to go back to my feelings, and, by that point, they had grown. That, coupled with my disappointments with my blog (which I can probably never satisfy), I fell into a depression, and I made a conscious decision to binge after my g/f left for work. So .. she left, and I binged.

Now, I haven’t binged in almost a month, and I thought I didn’t need to eat as much to get the desired effects (pushing the negative feelings back down in my body). Well, I was right and wrong–I got a terrible stomach ache (which I don’t normally get) and the feelings only grew along with my depression. As the hours progressed my actions grew more and more erratic. By the end of the night, my g/f was rubbing my forehead while I laid in our empty bathtub with all my clothes on, turning the water on and then back off again (just enough to get my back wet). I wish I could explain, I guess I just find comfort in the bathtub but I didn’t want to take a bath, I don’t know.

***

Anyway, my original intent for this post was to focus on the scope of this blog. I waver between thinking I can truly help people with social anxiety and thinking I can’t help a soul because I can’t even help myself. I’ve talked a lot about the healing process as of late, abstractly–I haven’t really thought about what it means to me, that is.

There’s always going to be setbacks. Two steps forward, one step back. Forward, forward, back. Forward, forward, back. It’s not quite that simple, either: there’s ups and downs, and yesterday I just felt like I was spinning around and around. But in the most general sense, yesterday was a setback.

This past month I’ve been trying to focus more on my steps forward. I want this blog to be positive. I want to provide support for people going through the same things I am. I want to be a leader. But I guess I’ve only been sharing one side to the healing process: my successes. Healing is also about failing. It’s about setbacks and destructive behaviors and hopeless, suicidal feelings. Having those feelings is good every now and then, because they are proof that I am healing.

So, I just want you–and I–to know that I am going to do my best to show this process more completely. To show the darker sides even if that’s not what you want to hear or what I really want to write about.

***

Finally, I’ve been taking care of myself today. I just got back from a run, and I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast. My g/f made pumpkin soup for lunch. I’m going to try to not stress about schoolwork. Maybe I’ll take it easy and watch a movie or go to a gentle yoga class or something. Or maybe I’ll just write a few posts. Or maybe I’ll take a bath (with water this time). Or read things like this. We’ll see.

Also, I’ve noticed that my obsessions with my blog only come out when I’m feeling depressed and/or anxious. They help to mask my feelings. I’m going to try to take it easy and just let things play out the way they should, but it’s hard. I know there will be a setback or two .. and that’s okay!

Final Redesign

Okay, this should be my last redesign, I think. If you have any suggestions or complaints, or anything at all actually, let me know.

Have a great day!

yesterday’s google searches …

… and my responses …

social anxiety can’t smile

I hear you on this. Smiling can be really, really hard, especially for photographs.

For photos I get really anxious beforehand because I’m worried how they’ll turn out, and this anxiety, in turn, makes it almost impossible to relax and smile. So I avoid them at all costs. I use excuses like “I’m the least photogenic person” or “I’m camera shy” to get out of them. I think people think I’m weird when I say things like that.

The only time I really feel comfortable when taking pictures is when I’m wearing sunglasses. I hold a lot of my pain and anxiety in my eyes, and I can pretty much cover the anxiety up everywhere else but there. My eyes don’t lie.

As far as smiling when you greet someone: just do what you can. You don’t need to produce a full smile. Just curl the corners of your mouth up a bit.

Make it look like you want to smile.

i lied to my girlfriend about my past

Everybody has things they want to hide from their past, and I think it’s not good to reveal things too quickly with someone. Our partners don’t need to know every little detail about everything.

With that said, I’m guessing you probably covered up something big, because otherwise you wouldn’t be searching for advice on Google. I don’t think it’s ever too late to open up and confess a lie. I’ve definitely had to make some difficult confessions. They were really hard, but I felt so much better afterward. You’d be surprised how forgiving people can be.

Give this some thought. How important is your girlfriend to you? Is she someone you can trust? Has she been there for you?

Again, everybody keeps some things tightly wrapped up. I’m afraid of my past, but it’s always there, guiding me in the present. You can’t run from it. But if it’s too painful you can cover it up. You probably had a good reason to lie. Maybe you were ashamed. Maybe you thought your girlfriend wouldn’t want to be with you anymore. If she really is important to you and you can trust her, I would open up to her. You’ll feel a lot better.

does cyclothymia get better?

This is an interesting question and one that isn’t easy for me to answer. I’ve been managing the disorder a long time (and it’s been pretty bad for at least the last year), but I just got the diagnosis a few weeks ago. So not only am I not qualified to answer this, but I don’t have much experience with it either.

But I’ve still got an opinion.

The question really is: Is Cyclothymia a mood disorder or a psychological disorder? If it’s the former then it’s more of a chemical imbalance that should be treated with medication. If it’s the latter it should be treated with psychotherapy. But let’s not think in absolutes because the world never ever works like that. Let’s just say it’s both. Meaning: There’s probably some chemical imbalance that’s been exasperated by our experiences; thus, a combination of drugs and therapy should be used to manage it.

I use the word manage because I don’t think it will ever go away. Yes, things can get better, but I don’t believe mood swings will ever disappear.

I mean, it’s okay to feel sad sometimes, and it’s okay to feel happy and euphoric sometimes, too. As long as you are somewhat content with the swings and they don’t control your life, the disorder is manageable.

I’m not there yet, and it may take a while for me to get to that point, but I’m hopeful (when I’m feeling good, at least) that I’ll be able to get there.

Some day.

the social phobic

Aside from this blog, there just are not many others out there that deal specifically with Social Anxiety Disorder. I know I talk about other subjects on here, but the main focus is the anxiety. It’s why I created this blog. It’s what I’ve been struggling with for the past ten years or so. Sure, I’m plagued with other issues, like depression and disordered eating, but the main focus is the anxiety–all else manifests from the anxiety, in my opinion. With that said, one other blog of note, which deals specifically with social anxiety, is The Social Phobic.

I’ve been following this blog for a few months. Actually, following isn’t the right word because it hasn’t been updated since March. I’ve really just been reading the archives. I can see myself in the author’s words. It’s comforting to know there are others out there like me. One of the hardest things for me to deal with is the isolation and loneliness. I forget that others experience anxiety too, and I forget that Social Anxiety Disorder is one of the most prevalent anxiety disorders, affecting millions upon millions of people. It’s just not glamorized on TV or in movies. There are no documentaries on A&E. The disorder isn’t represented on The Real World or any other reality TV show. I can’t see myself on TV, or in any of my friends.

That’s why I think these words are so important, and that’s why I found The Social Phobic to be so enlightening. Like everyone, we need to have a voice, we need to connect, we need to be seen and heard. So when I read that first post on that blog, I knew I had to share my experiences too, and I knew I had to begin writing about those experiences in order to understand them and eventually name them.

***

I know I don’t have many readers yet, but I still want to hear from you if you’re reading this. What other sites would you recommend? Are there are other blogs out there that focus on social anxiety that I’m missing?

rules to write by

Although I don’t like to limit myself, I think it’s important to set a few rules for this blog. I’m a masochist. I enjoy writing about my issues, and I want to continue doing so. But I know that I’m just doing too much. Too much writing. Too many interventions. Too much of everything. I’m stretching myself thin. I have got to give myself a break and just relax every now and then. These rules are meant less as restrictions and more as preventive measures to keep myself from becoming emotionally fatigued and entering into a depression. They are lessons from my previous blog.

  1. No more than one post per day and five posts per week. This could be hard. Remember: Quality, not Quantity.
  2. Don’t share everything. I don’t need to explain every yoga class or go into detail about every single therapy session. You don’t care, and it’s too difficult for me to spend all my free time just typing up blog posts summarizing everything that happened to be in a given day.
  3. Only one extremely emotional post per week. These posts obviously take a toll on me and stir up lots and lots of emotions. As much as I’d like to, I can’t do them every single day.
  4. Have fun. This may sound strange, but I love writing, even if it’s about my dark sides. When it stops becoming fun, I’ll stop writing.
  5. Remain conscious of my goals. This blog is for you, but it’s mostly for me. My hope is that you’ll see yourself in some of my words. I want them to be as much of a comfort for you as they are for me. With that said, though, this blog has to be more about me, because I’m writing about such deep issues. If I don’t think it’s serving me anymore, I will stop writing.
  6. Do other things. I can’t let this blog take control of my life. I have to stay focused on school. I also need to try to not let my thoughts focus solely on the content of this blog. I have other interests, other areas I’d like to focus on.
  7. Break the rules. Of course. Can’t be good all the time. If I want to write 10 posts in one week, I’ll do that. If I want to detail everything that happens in a single day, I’ll do that too. You get the idea.
  8. Don’t talk about suicide. Actually, it’s okay to talk about–in moderation. Sometimes I think writing actually intensifies my anxiety and depression. By talking about them, I feed my ego, which, in turn, increases my hold on my issues. The more I feed it, the harder it is to release. I identify more and more, in other words. It’s just a theory. Suicidal thoughts are not something I want to intensify of course. I’ll look at them objectively: just state I felt suicidal without hashing out the specific thoughts or feelings. Besides, this blog is not meant to shock people. If it happens, it happens. There will be ups and downs, but my hope is that my first post (yesterday’s) was by far the worst (rock bottom) and, from this point on, I move in a positive direction–forward, up, and out.
  9. Try not to compare. I often compare my writing to others’ writing. This brings me down, especially when I focus on style. I don’t think I’ve really found a voice yet, so when I look at other writing, I immediately put mine down. Whether I like it or not, my writing as of late has affected my overall self-worth. If my writing depresses me, then I become depressed.
  10. Digress. I think it’s important to allow myself to digress at times. Being a graduate student and having to write a lot of formal papers, I often take the same formal approach for my blog posts. It’s okay to be less formal and stray from topic now and then. It can be good, in fact.
  11. Once a post is posted, it’s complete. Except in the case of this post, I can’t be always going back to make edits to posts. It’s time consuming and confusing for the reader. Plus, it feeds into my perfectionist nature. It’s okay to fix grammar, just not the content. If something needs changing, I need to address my thoughts in a new post.

There’s more. There’s always more. If I think if more, I’ll add them in later. Also these rules are just suggestions. If I break them, no biggie. But I still think that it’s in my best interest–and the best interest of the blog–to adhere to them as best I can. Feel free to suggest some if you can think of any.