Category Archives: social anxiety

an example of avoidance

Yesterday my boss asked me to go downtown today to pick up some tax documents at the state’s local field office. I didn’t think they could provide the documents, but I didn’t have the nerve or desire to argue with him so I reluctantly agreed.

I’ve had to go to this field office a few times before. Each time, I’ve had to endure a rather difficult social situation because the receptionist is very attractive and socially adept. In other words, she’s beautiful and perfect, and I’m not. These thoughts happen in a split second and ensure that I will fail. Now, CBT has taught me to catch these thoughts before they happen, to counter them with positive, rational thoughts. But this never seems to happen quick enough. I sum up that she’s perfect and place her on a pedestal before my rational mind has a chance to kick in–and I’m left playing catch up.

Anyhow, earlier I started having anticipatory anxiety about the situation: Not only would I have to face this perfect being but I also don’t feel comfortable asking for the documents since I don’t think they could provide them. And so, I started coming up with ways to get out of going–

  1. I could lie to my boss by telling him that I went and that they either didn’t have the documents or couldn’t give them to me.
  2. I could call in sick.
  3. I could call the tax office to see if they could even provide the documents.

The third choice seemed the most logical, but I’m terrified of making phone calls, especially when I have time to think about what I’m going to say beforehand, so I wanted to do the first choice. Eventually though, I talked myself into calling, which was horrible in itself, but I found that I was right: They couldn’t give me the documents after all.

I’m now beating myself up, telling myself that it wasn’t that bad and I shouldn’t have been fretting about the situation at all. I’m also disappointed in myself for avoiding another social situation.

Why can’t I look at the good parts? I mean, I made the phone call even though I was terrified and obtained an answer without lying. Those are positives, I guess.

If I’m not perfect then I’m nothing at all.

a setback

As expected, depression caught up to me last night. Along with it came intense claustrophobia, which brought anxiety and at times near panic; sadness; unfulfillment; and the inability to do even the most basic tasks.

I tried to just go with it, to let the feelings pass by actually feeling them, but they became too intense. I binged on food, which didn’t help, and then tried to binge on alcohol but after one drink I felt sick. I spent most of the night lying on my bed in the fetal position unable to move.

Suicidal thoughts returned in full force. I felt like I did two weeks ago. I’m disappointed with myself for succumbing to the depression and binging.

my mom and dad and my boss

I thought I’d drop by
to see how you see the sun.

As you know, I told many people about my suicide attempt, including my parents and my boss. I’m not the closest with my parents so telling them wasn’t easy. Fortunately, when in the midst of a crisis things become easier. I called my mom while I was still high on Ativan–I barely remember the conversation, actually; I just remember her saying over and over again to stay away from alcohol–and I told my dad while I was in the urgent care facility. He took it well. I mean as well as one could, I guess–very grateful I was alive and communicating with him.

Further, I also told my boss while in the urgent care facility via text messages. I told him I wouldn’t be coming in the rest of the week because I had a “psychiatric emergency.” I should have been more specific as he seemed worried, because he tried calling many times. But I did tell him that I was okay and that I would explain everything face-to-face.

That face-to-face conversation went well. I didn’t tell him about my social anxiety but I did share with him my suicidal intentions as well as my subsequent overdose. He understands that I am a perfectionist and take a lot of what he says personally. He wants me to be more open with him when I’m feeling stressed or angry at him, rather than bottling it up–easier said than done, of course. I also told him I wanted to work more, as I need more structure, and that I enjoy the work (most of it). He’s been pressuring me to take more interest in the work, as he actually wants me to take over the business some day (not sure what he sees in me), but I told him during our conversation that I’d like to be working there for a long time but in the background. “I do not want to take over the business,” I told him. I feel a bit trapped, I guess. I’m not sure what I want to do with my life, yet this job isn’t very demanding, socially-speaking–so it’s working for me right now.

I feel really bad because my boss is probably going to lay someone off thinking that I can take over his role. Granted this person has really stopped caring about his work, but I can’t help but feel bad. He has a very difficult time communicating, even more than I do, and he must be struggling from some form of social anxiety. Then again, I think he may want to get laid off to pick up unemployment.

But do I really want to put someone out of a job for a job I’m not sure I want? I keep telling myself it’s out of my hands, but there are options; I’m just choosing the easiest one for me, which may be best considering all I’ve been through.

***

I talked to my parents yesterday after everything calmed down with me. I apologized many times for not confining in them about my problems. I will do my best to be more honest with them in the future about my depressions. (But I have my doubts about whether I will really be able to do that.)

I now feel really depressed and somewhat anxious about my relationship to my parents. I put myself out there–I mean really out there–and now I feel a lot of pressure to keep an open dialogue going with them regarding my mental issues, which is a common theme in our relationship as of late. During those calls, we  grew closer than ever before, and it scares the hell out of me. It’s as if five years of emotional bonding and connection passed before us all at once. (My dad even said he loved me, which hasn’t happened in like ten years. It was very awkward, and I must admit my “I love you” back was equally awkward. We both meant  it; it’s just we both lack an emotional connection to the other. He’s not a perfect dad, and I’m not a perfect son–that’s okay.)

What’s more, they say they understand but I don’t think they have a clue. They may have been depressed most of their lives but they address it differently. They ignore it and try to push it away while I’ve tried to address it. I don’t think they’re any closer to seeing the sun the way I see it.

***

P.S. I think my manic energy is starting to wear off. I may not post for a while, but don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Take care.

three things (and four stages)

First, sometimes I cannot trust myself. Losing your capacity to reason isn’t quite as bad as thinking you can still reason when it’s clearly illogical (in retrospect, of course). I need to do my best to question my logic. Logic can be its own monster. That is, fallacies and distortions can build on one another, creating what appears to be logic–but it’s far from it. Staying connected with others and communicating more with them will help me stay on top of my own distorted thinking.

That said, I think there are instances where death makes logical sense–and suffering from mental illness(es) can be one of them. However, I owe it to others and more importantly myself to exhaust all options before even considering death. I need to grind away at each day no matter how difficult life becomes.

Second, killing myself will affect so many more people than I realized. I tried my best to push people away. But I now know that no matter how much distance I put between myself and others, they can still see me–and will be greatly affected by my loss in ways I cannot even begin to imagine. I thought I could simply die unnoticed. I was wrong.

Finally, I need structure now more than ever. In The Four Stages of Spiritual Development, the author, Scott Peck, posits that there are four stages of spiritual growth (from Wikipedia)–

  1. Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.
  2. Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.
  3. Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.
  4. Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics.

I for one believe that no one person is totally in only one stage at a time–we fluctuate across many stages throughout our  lifetimes, often residing in more than one stage at a given time and between stages as well. At this point, I find myself mostly in stage one. I still carry with me pieces from the other stages, but, for the most part, I unraveled, tried to kill myself, and now am left vulnerable, disordered, and reckless.

Now, I don’t believe that organized religion is the only means of finding structure in Stage II. I’ve decided to focus more on my job, as well as to start studying for an Enrolled Agent exam so I can move up in my company and get a raise. I’d also like to spend more time writing and connecting with others through my blog. Reading, exercising, and cooking are also on the agenda.

Sorting through the pieces of what’s left from my suicide attempt is all I can do at this point, and I need to take it slow, one day at a time.

does your mother know?

So, on the way home from therapy on Tuesday I took an overdose of Ativan. The session itself was difficult, as we discussed my recent suicide attempt and the fact that I found a new therapist and would like to start seeing him next month. I also tried to ensure my therapist that the events are mutually exclusive. ( I thought this was very important.) In other words, I’ve been contemplating a change in therapists for some time now (which is true).

Furthermore, I was dreadfully scared of having to go back to work yesterday, so instead of addressing it proactively–by either talking to my therapist or boss, trying to go on disability or something, etc.–I felt it best to OD. That will grab attention, I thought; and it sure did.

Without doing much damage I skipped the emergency room and went right to my psychiatrist’s office. He suggested I spend the night somewhere safe at a urgent care clinic, which I did (which wasn’t so bad), and then possibly go on disability leave from my job. There’s also plenty of options for low-cost inpatient care treatment here in San Francisco (we love our social services here!), so that’s an option. But to be honest, I really think I just want to switch anti-depressants–to Nardil–and go back to my normal routine.

I’m proud of myself because I told both my parents what’s been going on with me over the phone, and they were both very supportive. I also texted my boss. I haven’t given him all the details yet–I just told him I couldn’t come in because I had a psychiatric emergency. He’s provided support, and he wants me to call him–and I will as soon as I get up the courage.

I am feeling loads better. I see my psychiatrist again today to hopefully get on Nardil. I am also no longer feeling suicidal. Yay!

empty shell

I’m still here. I guess. Still here, with little to say. Today I went to the grocery store, the bank, and the drug store. I walked through the park and rented a movie. I ate a burrito and drank a glass of wine. I can’t explain it but I know the depression is returning. I’m scared. The last wave changed me.

My girlfriend asked me last week “what happened to the reader, writer, runner, librarian Mike?” Depression destroyed that person. I don’t have much left. This time, the depression may leave me with nothing.

I don’t want to go through that again. I can’t go through that again.

I wish I could explain just how claustrophobic I feel right now. There’s someone else living inside of me, forcing me to think things I never imagined were possible just a few months ago.

I’m so lonely. I’m thinking about my family. I haven’t talked to any of them in months. I hope they’re okay and not worried about me.

It’s hard to form thoughts into words. When I focus on the emotions, my head begins to spin–I begin to spin. I wonder if any of you have felt like this before. I’m still here. But I feel like an empty shell.

crisis

I think part of the reason why I haven’t been writing much on here is because all I’ve really thought about these past few weeks is how I’m going to kill myself. I told myself it’s not good to entertain my suicidal thoughts in the past, and so I promised myself I wouldn’t do it on here–so instead I’m just doing it in my head. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about them, but I do want to start writing regularly again.

As many of you know, I was doing CBT for a few months last year. I thought it was working, and, I guess, to a certain degree it was. I was feeling a little better about myself, which, in turn, made social situations a little easier. But what I’ve come to realize is that no matter how good I do, I’m never good enough. I still think I’m a piece of shit, regardless. So what’s the point of changing my behaviors when my underlying feelings about myself are so negative?

So I’ve given up on CBT.

I also gravitated toward running. I thought that was helping me, emotionally. Sure, it was taking my mind off things, but I think it was really just suppressing a lot of my feelings.

Anyway, I originally had a point I wanted to make and I’m too tired to connect the dots so I’ll just get right to it. I think that deep down I am a good person. But no one really sees that because of the anxious front I put up. I have a good heart, but I just don’t belong .. anywhere.

That voice in my head–my ego–which tells me I can’t change and so I shouldn’t even try is getting stronger and more powerful. More and more, I divert my attention to him. I don’t know why I have to suffer anymore. I don’t know why I feel guilt for killing myself when I haven’t even done it, nor have I seriously tried it. I feel guilty for something I haven’t even done. Why?

Our culture is definitely more manic as a whole than depressive. We jam pack our days with activities, leaving little room for rest or thought. And when someone feels depressed we try to prop them up and when that fails, we medicate them. We don’t try to understand them. It’s just another case of people being afraid of something they don’t understand.

I wonder how many people have felt such a deep depression that I’m going through. How many people have dealt with an existential crisis like this? I mean I want to die. I don’t want to be here anymore–and it’s not fair that I feel so much guilt over that. No one asked me if I wanted to be here, so I don’t owe anybody anything. Does that make me selfish?

And yet, even as I write this I can hear another voice–a voice that wants to survive.

i am my only one

I don’t understand why I’m so tired all the time. Since I started my job and internship about a month ago, I’ve just been in a daze. The past two weeks have been particularly difficult. Am I just doing too much, too fast? My girlfriend thinks I should quit my job. “I think your internship is enough right now,” she said to me a few days ago. Maybe she’s right? I don’t know.

What I do know is that my depression has intensified. I don’t have much time to fret anymore, so anticipatory anxiety isn’t taking me over as much, and so social situations aren’t so bad. But–and there’s always a but–my depression has really been knocking me around.

I’m back to old habits. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve binged on food these past few weeks. I’m going on three days in a row right now. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired?

I started taking Chromium Picolinate last week because a Wikipedia article on Atypical depression said it could help–

It has been noted that patients with atypical depression often suffer from intense cravings for carbohydrates. A mineral supplement, chromium picolinate, was found to assuage these cravings. It also was found to have an antidepressant effect on some atypical depression sufferers.

I’ve stopped taking it, because I felt even worse on it. I binged more and harder, and felt even more tired. I felt like a zombie. Everything seemed to culminate on Sunday night when I found my girlfriend’s stash of Vicodin. I took ten pills and then got scared and went to the ER. I don’t really think the nurses or doctors knew what to do with me. I probably would have had to take at least fifty pills to do any real damage. I guess I just wanted attention. I don’t know. I’m still in a daze from that. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired.

I went with my boss today to a marijuana dispensary to help the managers set-up a budget and whatnot. I sat in on a meeting. I had no input. I just sat there while everybody else talked, laughed, and joked around. I’m just on a different level than everyone else. I’m going in some other direction. I could follow the conversation fine, but when I opened my mouth, I had nothing to say. That’s the best way I can describe social anxiety.

Anyway, I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I’m tired of therapy and medication. I want to quit it all. It’s not helping. I’m just tired of trying. I’m not going to ever open up to people. I’m always going to direct my pain and negative feelings inside. Why is that not okay?

Being a therapist, my girlfriend has a hard time dealing with my depressions. She feels like that she is the only one I open up to–which is true–and she’s tired of being that one person. Long story short, we’re going to start seeing a couple’s counselor tomorrow. More therapy. I don’t think I can do it. I want to leave her. I want to leave my job, my school .. and go back home ..

I don’t know what happened on Sunday. I don’t know if I really tried to kill myself or not. But I do know is that something isn’t working. I’ve been on a bad path for a while now. Something has to change.

i miss you

I’m sorry. I’ve been a bad blogger this past month or so.

First, I decided to take a step back and see what life would be like not totally immersed in my issues. I found this experience good at first, but I missed all of you–all the blogs I used to frequent, all the people who have commented.

Second, I started my internship–at an academic library–on Monday, and I got a full-time job last Saturday at an accounting firm, which I started on Tuesday. I’m at the library for eight hours and at my job for forty plus hours. I’m also taking a class, which I’m already behind on. It’s been busy. I went from having very little social interaction to having a lot–fast. Fortunately, both my job and internship have been going well.

The library director is easy to talk to, and I get a long with her well. She coddled me a bit, but that’s okay–it was my first day, after all. I worked at the reference desk and then on a few IT-related side projects.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing at my job. I guess I’m like an administrative assistant. I do odd-jobs. The office is a complete wreck. I spent half my time trying to understand the organization of all the files. My boss enjoys power and isn’t afraid to show it. He talks down to all his employees, sometimes even in front of them. He’s nice to me, though. But who knows what he’s saying behind my back. Today he told me that I’m absolutely pleasant to be around, which felt good.

Anyway, I got side-tracked. I originally just wanted to say that I miss all of you. I’m going to be really busy the next four months, but I will try to post every now and then. But please know this: each of you will be in my thoughts.

Cheers!

detachment

Does anybody ever feel detached from reality in social situations? It’s like I’m there, interacting and what not, but I don’t feel truly there. I don’t think I’m dissociating or anything because I’m totally aware of what’s going on. It’s more like I just feel like I don’t belong. It’s a terrible feeling.