Monday, April 24, 2017

This is who I am.

The past several days, I've been dealt some heavy blows that have left me reeling. I've taken trips back to some of the darker parts of my thoughts and emotions, which has left me feeling pretty unmotivated to do schoolwork or exist really. My counselor had to stop coming to my school's campus because of how busy her life has gotten, so I've been therapist-less for over a month. Before, I was doing pretty well and figured I should start learning to stand on my own two feet anyways, so I didn't bother to try and start with a new counselor. I guess I also dreaded the whole "getting to know you" process, which can be tedious and at times even demeaning, especially with counselors who aren't as good at what they do. Teaching someone about your entire background can take several sessions in itself and they might still not understand where you're coming from, so I figured I'd be okay without.

Anyways, since my last post, I found out that: 1) because of a series of mistakes on my school's part, I can't graduate next month, and 2) the guy I liked is even crappier of a person than I thought, so now I definitely can't like him. Two big things that have been driving me through all the stress and busyness of this semester have been: 1) the knowledge that I'm finally graduating, and 2) the excitement of liking someone, talking about them, trying to talk to them, and anticipating the possibility of dating them. I think I had honestly convinced myself that I would finally get the chance to have a romantic relationship by the time summer rolled around, and I was so excited by that prospect that it propelled me through all the assignments and late nights. I like most of my schoolwork this semester, I love creative projects, but nothing motivates and excites me the way having a crush does. I don't know why that is, but it's just the truth.

Unfortunately, the reverse is that nothing breaks me the way that "losing" that person does. Usually I realize they just aren't interested in me, though sometimes, like in this case, I have to come to the cold, hard acceptance that they aren't the person for me, even though I really, really admire them. I really love caring about people, admiring them, looking for the best in them, so turning myself against someone I've grown to adore is heartbreaking. I guess that's why I (and many others) often turn to hating and talking smack about that person; it seems like the only way to channel such strong feelings into something besides admiration. Sometimes I'm still as obsessed with the person as before, just this time I want to berate them or hear others tear them down or have lengthy discussions wondering why on earth they weren't interested in being in a relationship with me.

Ultimately, these two blows robbed me of my two big dreams and sources of excitement and motivation. Now I feel stuck. Time inches along whereas before it felt like it was zooming by at the speed of light. I still have major assignments due almost every day, however, and I really don't want to let this growing darkness get the best of me, so I'm struggling to fight it. But my brain feels like it's off in Neverland...Never going to find love, never going to be happy, never going to escape depression ruining things for me, never going to be desired...I chase my tail in a prison of anxiety and angst.

Today was especially bad. It's been rainy for days, which doesn't help, and on Thursday I had a particularly frustrating interaction with the guy I liked. We actually had some good banter and he even told me he had heard about my not being able to graduate and was really sorry - more than the majority of my girl friends have even done - but later in class I heard him talking about drugs and realized we really lead completely different lifestyles. I gave a big presentation that afternoon, which was publicized in the class we're both in, and he missed it because he was off getting high somewhere. Flashback to all the other times I've hoped guys would come to events and support me and they didn't show...

Anyways, I went through a period of shock as I wrestled with my admiration for this guy's good qualities with the growing amount of information I was receiving from a friend of mine (as well as my own interaction) about this guy's seriously immature traits and his interest in other women. I didn't want to let go, but I slowly realized I had to, for my own protection. Naturally, being the lovesick young thing that I am, I turned back to a former crush of mine - someone I really, really liked and subsequently had to really hate to try and get over him. I don't know what made me go back to him except that he really has seemed like one of the most compatible people I've liked and I had very strong feelings for him. Only problem is, to get over him, I cut off all communication with him, including unfriending him on social media, so I had no non-awkward way of getting back in touch.

Of course, I began to obsess about the situation and ask myself whether he really is compatible with me and rack my brain for a way to get back in touch with him. Subsequently, I've been miserable from the anxiety of obsessing, but also from the shame of admitting to people who I've ranted about how awfully he treated me that I'm actually interested in him again. I was afraid of their judgment, but I hate bottling things like that up.

I decided, impulsively, to try and reach out to some of our mutual acquaintances from my old school and ask about him, but this led me down the dark hole of, well, interacting with those people and remembering what shitty friends they were/are. I got even more upset and frustrated and lonely, feeling like nobody really cared or understood me. My friends would rarely ask about me and their answers were condescending or overly brief. Nobody asked me if I was graduating. I started recalling how the same people didn't respond when I said I wouldn't be coming back to that school. How they didn't check in to see if I was doing okay. How tempting coldness like that made ending it all seem. I want so badly to love people and invest in friendships because I love showing people kindness and thoughtfulness, but I get tired of how little people invest in relationships or appreciate other people's lives. I felt tempted to stop investing in relationships at all, but that's a depressing prospect too.

Ultimately, today has been really tough and I'm scared to think of what tomorrow is going to be like, but I realized that I need to be the one who embraces myself. I felt so embarrassed today for being interested in this guy who I previously ranted about, but at the end of the day, I'd rather be somebody who is honest about going back and forth than someone who denies they were ever on a different side than they are on now. At one point, when I was driving to class, I decided to just accept that I flip-flop a lot on things. It is part of my personality and the way I process. I don't think it's necessarily wrong, though I understand why it might frustrate people. I would rather be open-minded about things than be someone who makes a snap judgment and never reconsiders. People and situations are constantly changing, so it's oftentimes worth reevaluating your opinion. I've changed so much in life, and I firmly believe most of it has been for the better.

I also accept that I am who I am. I want to be the person who is in my corner. Obviously, I'm not going to get the validation and acceptance I'm seeking from other people. I either get torn up because those people disappoint me in their friendship, or I do experience validation via grades or applause or the occasional positive interaction and still feel unsatisfied. I guess I need to accept myself because even if I do get what I really crave - a relationship where the other person is really invested in and excited about me and vice versa - I will need a firm grounding in who I am so I don't get lost in that other person and so I can survive if the relationship doesn't work out.

So I'm not perfect in any way -- I'm sure anyone could read this post and pick it apart to identify a host of character flaws and psychological issues. But I'm trying really hard to be a better person, to love others, to improve my own methods of dealing with tough times. And I choose to accept that I am still growing and that's just the way life works. We can't get it all right at once. Or maybe, like, ever.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I'm not okay, okay?

Days haven't been too dark lately, but they haven't exactly been light either. You know how you get your hopes up about something - or someone - but then your happiness gets tied to that idea or that person? Well, I'm guilty of that.

I'm sitting in my school hallway and silently crying. I'm on Crisis Text Line because I was shaking and I wanted to puke but I have class later so I can't go home and I was starting to think about ways to end it all but knowing that I shouldn't end things over a stupid little thing like this.

An hour and a half ago, I went through the effort to come to campus extra early so I could try and get a chance to talk to him. I should've just stayed home. I don't know why I keep putting all this effort into these relationships that won't work. Why can't I learn that when the other person doesn't put any effort in, it's not worth doing the pursuing? I should have listened to my mom's advice that a relationship that's supposed to work should be easy, should work out well. But I was infatuated.

Anyways, I walked in, my heart pounding, going out of my way yet again to try and talk to him, and he was talking to another girl - a loud girl - asking about another woman. Asking if she could set him up with this other girl. Saying she was hot. She said something about how he has a crush on so-and-so. It was enough to know he had moved on, if he was ever even interested in me.

I don't know why I still tried to talk to him. I guess because I had gone through all the effort to go there and I didn't want to feel like I hadn't tried. The conversation wasn't anything special and just in the way he talked to me, I could tell something had changed. I got that sense of pity, of him wanting to be polite but not really being super interested in talking to me.

I know it's stupid. I know it's small. But it's the cumulative effect of over and over having the same story play out: Girl meets guy. Girl observes guy from afar and slowly grows to admire him. Girl imagines them together and develops embarrassingly strong feelings for him, but they don't interact much. Girl tries to overcome her shyness and talk to the guy, but they have little more than occasional conversations but her friends all say they would be so cute together so she keeps hoping. Guy never shows interest or straight up chooses someone else. Girl feels like a piece of shit nobody once and hates herself for not being outgoing and bubbly and sexy and normal.

That's happened so many times, I've lost count. So now that it's happened again, can you blame me for feeling a little worthless? More than anything though, I feel stupid. I feel mad at myself for falling into the same trap, telling myself the same lies, devaluing myself again by chasing after someone who doesn't make an effort to do the same for me.

In the mental health world, people talk a lot about triggers. Usually they think that reading about something traumatic you've gone through will trigger you to have upsetting thoughts or other negative emotions. I haven't found that to be true for me, personally. I've found my biggest trigger is experiencing rejection. I got a lot of rejections in the past; literal ones like, "We don't want you in our club" and more indirect ones like, "I told another friend my big news before you", or "I'd rather date this bitchy girl than you." Sometimes people don't come right out and reject you, but they get the idea across pretty well regardless by just ignoring you or not answering your messages any more or whatever.

When I was going through my hellish depression, I was also experiencing rejection. Rejection on a larger scale of realizing that I was never really accepted into the school I had been attending for three years; they just tolerated my existence, but I was never really part of their community or one of them. Rejection in the sense that friends were showing that they didn't really care about me enough to be there for me when I needed it most. But most of all, rejection from a guy who I really cared about. He seemed interested at first. He came to see me play a concert, we had nice conversations, he checked in to see if I was okay a few times when I was depressed. In turn, I tried to talk to him, get to know him, learn about the things he was interested in, support his music, send him encouraging notes. But ultimately I felt him slowly drift away and found out halfway through the year that he had decided to date a particularly unpleasant, jealous girl.

That was all happening as my mind and my life and my happiness was rapidly unraveling. It wasn't the cause of the destruction, but it sure added insult to the injury. It multiplied the pain infinitesimally. I turned to self-injury to try and deal with the pain so deep and intense I couldn't communicate it or even figure out how to endure it. People don't understand unless they've been there.

So when I experience rejection again, in whatever form it comes, I fall apart. I unravel. It's my trigger. I can't even help the emotions. They're just a reaction I can't control. Friends judge me, wondering why I have such a strong reaction to something so small as a conversation that didn't go well, and I can never get them to understand it's because of my past.

The Crisis Text counselor sounded more like a robot. They fed me the lines. I've heard all the lines. This month is my three-year anniversary in counseling. I know all the right answers, but I can't just give them to you right now because I'm hurting. I know you want me to just pull it all back together so you can don't have to feel uncomfortable, but I'm hurting right now and I just need you to let me hurt and be on my side, in my corner.

My friend told me I need to grow thicker skin, to be positive, to believe things will work out in the future. She told me she had endured actually breaking up from a real relationship but she was okay now. I felt disrespected. I felt betrayed. How dare she compare our experiences to devalue mine. And I've been through loads of shit, even if I've never been through a breakup.

I know all the answers. I also know my own history. I know my heart. I know the hurts its seen and the places that never healed quite right so they just burst at any tug at the seams. I feel self-conscious about how sensitive and emotional I can be, but at the end of the day, I don't think I want thicker skin. Because then I'd be the kind of person who tells a girl crying alone in a school hallway to have a thicker skin.

I just want you to be okay with me not being okay right now.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I don't know where I fit.

I've been doing really well the last couple weeks. I let go of the toxic people in my life. I decided not to visit the social media pages of the people who have hurt me in the past. I shed my old skin and finally let go of my disappointment and grief over my old life.

I felt like a new woman. A burden was lifted off my heart. Light finally got through to my soul. My foundation was finally firm and I could start building my life again.

Today I feel lost again. I feel like I've slid back, but I'm trying not to obsess about it because that seems like something my therapist would tell me to do.

I don't understand what my place is in the world. I feel disappointed, I feel scared, I feel insecure. The other women at school were swapping stories about men asking them out and overhearing men ranking women's appearance. I started to wonder where I fell on the list, which any woman knows is a poisonous thought that eats you from the inside out. Am I pretty enough? Do I really look as fat as I do in the pictures? Does anyone want me? Or on the converse, am I just being judged based on my appearance and objectified instead of being valued for my intelligence, compassion, personality, and character? Pretty or not pretty, you feel scared and devalued, like the ground is slipping and the world is suddenly full of predators and you're the prey.

Maybe it's the lack of sleep...Probably it's the lack of sleep. But it's also everything - all the little comments and criticisms and mistakes - coming together and weighing on my mind. It's the conversations with friends I thought would be fun and uplifting but ended up being discomfiting. Where you say something and they don't react and you're scared you said the wrong thing.

I feel like I've been walking on eggshells around everyone lately. I'm so scared of saying something offensive or incorrect that gets me in trouble and tarnishes my reputation or hurts my friends' feelings and gets everyone whispering about me behind my back. I try so hard to be sensitive and to push myself to be open-minded and aware of others' struggles and points of view, to understand their arguments and be sensitive to their needs. But I feel overwhelmed. The eggshells are turning to broken glass underneath my bare feet.

I don't feel safe with people. I can't be myself. I feel my insides tighten with fear and stress over the angry words I know I'll have to patiently, passively listen to. On the car rides home, my mind races with social anxiety, going over my conversations and class contributions from the day, worrying whether I said anything offensive, trying to figure out if people were angry with me or if they were just tired.

I don't know where I fit in this world. I don't even know where I fit in my own little world - my friendships, my family, my faith. Even my therapist wants me to fit into a little box. I don't know where I stand on everything and I feel like everyone is scrutinizing my every word and move. I have to have it all figured out and be consistent, but the truth is I'm still picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how to make them into a new picture that fits the frame my life has taken lately.

A couple of days ago, I had hope that maybe someone was on my horizon -- our lives could fit together, even if we didn't fit anywhere else. But shit I don't know any more. Last week I kept catching his eyes on me. My heart beat so hard all class period, knowing he was just in the same room. I hated the anxiety it brought back into my life, but loved the anticipation. The possibility of the complete unexpected being within reach. But we spent a semester sitting next to each other and not talking...Why would we start now? And I hate putting pressure on myself to approach him. I hate leaving school, feeling like a failure because I didn't overcome my fear and end the purgatory of dreaming of what's just out of reach. I hate begging my friend for hints whether they think I might have a chance with him. I hate feeling at the mercy of what I know will, given my track record, never be.

I guess we all have things that make us feel like we don't quite fit in. We're all misunderstood and hurt and broken and vulnerable. I just hope we can all find someone - or better yet, some people - who accept us in our brokenness, who embrace us in our vulnerability instead of using it to whip us and point out our flaws. I keep worrying about what qualities to look for in a man, what red flags to notice. I guess the core of the thing is finding someone who I feel comfortable being my full, most vulnerable self with and who accepts me wholeheartedly even when I'm broken or a bit out-of-bounds.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Panic & Peace.

It's been a roller coaster of a week. At first, I wasn't doing great on the Wellbutrin, then after a couple days on it, I was starting to see glimpses of light and I could read more than a page of a textbook and I was starting to think better about myself and the world...But the wheels of anxiety were starting to turn anew in my mind, creaking back to life and then whirring faster and faster. My brain was feeling more and more like a whirlwind of "What ifs" and "WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo", etc.

Tuesday, I woke um in the wee hours of the morning and felt like I couldn't breathe. Then it happened again in class later that morning. I had never had a panic attack that felt quite like that before. The mind-whirring anxiety continued. I couldn't shut my brain off. I couldn't stop obsessing over the question of what I should do with my future.

Today, I had been awake about an hour and was sitting in bed, trying to do some reading for a paper, when suddenly an indescribable pain clutched my abdominal region, spread up to the left side of my chest, and simultaneously struck in the left side of my head. I was terrified. What the hell was happening to me? It really felt like a heart attack or something. I faintly cried for help and my sister gave me a heating pad to put on my stomach. I clutched it to me, even though it wasn't that sort of pain. I lay down and stared at the ceiling, panicking. What was happening? What the hell was happening?

Thankfully, the pain subsided in maybe ten minutes, thought the ache in the left side of my head remained. I kept half-joking to my sister that I had had an aneurysm. I picked my book back up, determined to actually work hard today.

The slight headache remained and worsened and I started to feel worse and worse. I remembered that I might have forgotten to take part of my Klonopin dose last night, so I wondered if I was going through withdrawal I took a small amount to alleviate the symptoms and rested.

After dinner, I forged on in my reading. But it just got harder and harder. The house seemed to get louder, the sound of water running in the kitchen became more grating. My ears were ringing just hearing it. Then my head started to feel like it was turned to a static channel on the radio. I abandoned my reading as my head became too "noisy" and "busy".

I felt my torso fill with a similar panic-y feeling; everything was topsy turvy, like my insides were a bunch of bingo balls in a cage, being spun round and round. My heart felt like it was both fluttering and pounding. My stomach was full of butterflies that were escaping to frolic around the rest of my midsection. I kept getting waves of panic feelings, hitting me anew. It was frustrating. I just wanted to do my stupid homework. But I was in such an agitated state, I couldn't focus on anything.


I think both of these occurences today were probably panic attacks. The weird thing is that they were different iterations from the ones I'm used to experiencing - different symptoms, different feeling. But a little research into Wellbutrin's side effects revealed that panic attacks and extreme increases in anxiety are semi-common side effects.

And my shrink insisted that Wellbutrin had next to no side effects.

Bullshit.

I'm tired of the b.s. and I'm tired of people messing around with my head and my life and taking my money, pocketing it, and sending my to the secretary to schedule a med check a month out, barely giving me a method to contact them should something go wrong. Like, if I was ever suicidal, I wouldn't know how to get in touch with my psychiatrist in a timely manner. That is ridiculous.

I guess I'm just frustrated at how out of touch these people seem with things. You're effing around with my well-being, my chance to do well in school and make a career, my chance to live...literally. There were times my bad medication reaction took me to such a bad place, that I was suicidal. But the doctor will get back to you within twenty-four hours.

Medication saved my life - I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been able to get on Klonopin so I could start sleeping again the one semester panic attacks kept me up almost all night, every night. But it also ruined it; I had to give up everything because of the depression that my meds caused. It was devastating, heartbreaking. It gets frustrating when people who didn't see that, live that, feel that, don't listen to you or take the time to really evaluate what is best for you as an individual, not just what they learned in class in their manual. It's frustrating to try and communicate over a decade of struggle into a thirty-minute interview.

I know these people are trying, but on another level, I sometime feel a certain level of robotic detachment, even apathy. And that frustrates me because every day I feel turmoil. And all they give me is detached, distant once-a-week therapy or once-a-month med checks. Where do I turn when I'm spiraling? Where do I turn when I question if it's all worth it?

I'm going to call my doctor once the business week starts and tell her I'm going off of the frickin' Wellbutrin. If the anxiety is this bad now, it will likely only get worse. And I don't want to turn back into the girl lying in the fetal position in her bed barely able to murmur, "I can't" when her sister asked why she hadn't gone to class yet. I don't want to be the girl who leaves her group work partners hanging and gets those shameful "W's" on her transcript because she's too anxious to leave the house any more. I'd really like to graduate, thanks very much, and I'd like to do so with flying colors, not dragging myself with bloody fingernails to the finish line.


One last thought before I sign off: This evening as all this anxiety was going on, I also had another emotion: inferiority. I felt ashamed of being so "crazy" and "unstable" and of not being able to function and keep it together. That silly lie of, "Maybe I need to try harder and this is all my own fault" crossed my mind.

I felt inferior to the people who relish travel instead of feeling terrified of being stuck in a plane or vehicle, hurtling away from the safe, known to the insecure, unknown. I felt inferior to the people who set off with a few dollars in their pocket to pursue their dreams 1,000 miles from home. I felt inferior to carefree, well-adjusted, sociable, amiable, gregarious people who have perfect white teeth and can do no wrong. The truth is, I felt inferior to one person in particular, who shall remain unnamed.

But I have a struggle. I don't know why. I was born with it. Most of the people who cross through my life will never know about it. Most of my life I will probably be affected by it. But I'm trying. I'm fighting. And I'm trying to make a difference and encourage others and change at least the little circle where I have a bit of influence. A lot of the beautiful people out there can't necessarily say the same.

People might not get your struggle, but it's real. It's hard. It's amazing that you are still fighting. My hat goes off to you, friend. I hope you keep up the good fight. I hope you don't let others make you feel inferior for feeling. For fighting. For being who you are.

People may think you're weak because you struggle so much, but you're strong for getting through days tougher than some could ever even imagine.

Here's to you, friend.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Meds and shrinks, oh my!

I'm not entirely sure what people mean by the term "crossroads" (as a figurative term that is...I know what it is literally...duh), but I always think it sounds cool, like something you name a hipster church or a young adults group. This past week has seen a lot of change for me, so I felt like it warranted another post. I guess I feel like I'm at a lot of crossroads or turning points or something. I just feel like some shifts have happened.

For starters, I went to a new psychiatrist, which is always nerve-racking. The shrink I had been seeing was $200 for 15 minute med checks, a pain to get to, and it took over a week to track her down to get her to refill my prescription. Not cool. Dangerous, in fact. My mom found someone on our insurance plan (miracle of miracles) so we figured it was worth a try.

I started seeing my previous psychiatrist with the express intention that I not go on any new medications. I was shaken and scared by the experience I had had the previous year, being debilitated by the meds I had been put on that I had a bad reaction to but the doctor didn't have the sense to take me off. I wanted someone who would refill my Klonopin prescription and my L-Methyfolate and maybe offer some sage advice about sleep patterns. (Actually, that's a lie. I want to sleep how I want and I hate how that doctor's sleep advice haunts me, telling me I'll give myself the effect of jet lag if I sleep in on Saturday mornings.)

This time, I didn't have clear expectations of what I wanted; the appointment snuck up on me because I was busy starting school. So when I went in, naturally the psychiatrist did what they're trained to do: put me on a new prescription.

I was a bit shocked and pretty apprehensive, but Wellbutrin did show on my genetic testing to be a drug I shouldn't have an interaction with and it was true that while I had been on Wellbutrin, it had always been while I was on an SSRI, and the SSRIs were what I was clearly "allergic" to. Plus, the shrink said it can help with concentration, and I've been increasingly concerned about how much difficulty I have focusing to complete schoolwork. I figured that now that I'm well-informed about meds and the potential of having a bad reaction, it was worth trying the thing out and I could go off of it if I found myself getting worse.

That's not to say, of course, that my mom and I haven't been hypervigilante and constantly on-edge the past few days since I started it, combing through my life for any possible signs of a bad reaction.

But weirdly enough, the thing that's almost as scary as getting worse because of the medication is the thought of getting better. It sounds bizarre, but every time I feel my mood and outlook lifting or my ability to cope and have a healthy perspective increasing while on this med, I have a hint of fear. I mean, part of it might be my own pride; I kind of wanted the psychiatrist to see she was wrong and I was right to be apprehensive. As my mom put it to a friend, "This woman wasn't there when my daughter was curled up in the fetal position, too agoraphobic to leave the room because of these meds." But I think another part of it is a fear of a new normal; happiness is an unknown. Being well-adjusted and even-keeled is a strange concept. A tiny part of me almost doesn't want to be better. I guess it feels like losing part of myself. More than that, it feels like conforming. Becoming normal. Becoming one of those happy people who it pains hurting people to see. I guess I will continue to have empathy for hurting people because I can never remove the scars of this past torture from my heart and mind -- nor do I want to. But a part of me kind of resents those normal people who don't hurt or struggle constantly and I don't know if I want to be one of them. Maybe that makes sense, maybe it doesn't. Take it or leave it. But the feeling is there.

Whether the Wellbutrin will work, I don't know yet. I have to grudgingly admit that it does seem to be helping. But I have one last rant before I hit the Publish button....

I woke up at 4am this morning, hours before my alarm. This isn't uncommon for me. since I have to take one of my supplements on an empty stomach, so I usually stumble out of bed like a zombie and take it in the wee hours so I can eat breakfast right away when I wake up for real. But once I had lain down again, I couldn't get comfortable. I tried different positions, but nothing was right. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I couldn't get enough air. I tried to tilt my head different ways in case I was blocking up by air passage. I started to worry I was allergic to peanut butter suddenly and my throat was swelling up (I had also eaten a peanut butter cracker b/c I was so hungry I was miserable). I opened the window. Nothing helped. I sat up in bed and felt a little better. I sang Hank Williams songs to myself softly ("I Saw the Light" is a must-see if it doesn't contain triggers for you). Finally I realized I was having panic attacks. Eventually I was able to drift off again.

Later, in class, I was overwhelmed by how crowded the room was. The classrooms don't have windows that open or a ton of ventilation and there were thirty bodies packed into one smaller-sized room, consuming oxygen. I was again overcome with the sensation of something like a low-level suffocation. I felt physical discomfort that's difficult to explain, but wasn't unbearable. I couldn't wait to just get out of that classroom.

I realized once again that this was a panic attack of some sort, though it lasted for a while. (As a side note: I've noticed I tend to have panic attacks in crowded places. I think it's something to do with the lack of oxygen.) I told my mom about both occurrences that evening and she immediately told me that she had researched and found out that one of the big side-effects of Wellbutrin that people complain about is having panic attacks. "I should have told you sooner," she said, "well, heck, your psychiatrist should have told you."

I actually asked my psychiatrist what side effects there were and she did not mention this at all. She emphasized that Wellbutrin has relatively few side effects -- maybe a headache. Ummm...panic attacks are a pretty significant side effect and one that you need to be informed about. I hate to get all salty, but I'm getting frustrated with what I think isn't a stretch to call irresponsibility on the part of some psychiatrists when it comes to informing patients about potential side effects and what to do should they occur or should symptoms get worse. None of the three psychiatrists I have seen gave me much of any information on the subject.

What if I had never had a panic attack or wasn't familiar with them and experienced them? How freaked out would I have been? Panic attacks can be difficult to identify because your mind tends to get confused and frightened and you think you're dying or having some other medical emergency or you just can't think straight period. I've also had them manifest themselves in many different forms, so sometimes it's hard to tell when they're happening. It would've been nice to prepare myself.

I guess playing into this is my frustrated that psychiatrists (at least the ones I and my family members have seen) don't closely monitor -- or even encourage the patient to closely monitor -- their emotions and physical symptoms when they start meds or give them much guidance in general. Bad reactions to medications can be life-threatening in that they can involve suicidal thoughts, not to mention be downright frightening.

I guess I just got really irritated last year when I saw an article saying that Paxil, the medication I was on for a year, had been advised not to be given to teens or young adults after a study that had been done years ago, but that the study had gone largely ignored. Then another study had confirmed the original's findings. I got mad because my life was ruined by these people's irresponsibility.

I don't want to say that psychiatrists don't take their jobs seriously or have no emotions (well, sometimes I wonder...), but I want to add my voice to the conversation. I understand why shrinks don't want to overwhelm new patients with the black box of super freaky potential side effects and make them run away from treatment, so they downplay the info. Or maybe what happened to me really was a strange fluke (though judging by the research I've seen and stories I've heard, I don't think that's true) and most people who walk through these people's offices are totally fine on whatever. But, again, I want to add my perspective.

In particular, I want to emphasize that shrinks should encourage people to track their mood and physical symptoms closely, give the client an easy way to contact them and game plan should their symptoms take a turn for the worse, and give patients information about the side effects and adjustment process. I also would venture to say that we should reevaluate giving meds, especially SSRIs to teens and youth. I'm not saying we should rule it out entirely, just do more research and exercise more caution, which I know is beginning to be done.

Well, I meant to talk about some other things, but that rant has been longing to come out for a while. Thanks for bearing with me, readers. I will talk about my other crossroads some other day, I guess. On the plus side, I do have a new, much, much more affordable psychiatrist who, in spite of what this post might indicate, seems pretty competent. (And I bought myself a new scented candle as a reward for surviving the stress of going to a new psychiatrist. It smells like jam and makes my soul smile.)

One last time.

I hate first weeks of school.

I guess the good news is that last week was my last first week of school, at least for a while. It hasn't really sunk in yet, though, that this is the beginning of the end. And I really want to go through this semester with some sort of consciousness of that. I want to appreciate these moments before they're gone. I want to revel in the feeling of transition.

But back to first weeks...They're awful when you're an anxious person. My therapist says I shouldn't call myself an "anxious person" because that means I let my anxiety define me, but eff that...All I've ever known is life with anxiety and it does define me; it influences my every moment. It shapes my personality and my actions. People get to define themselves as white or black or Latinex or gay...why can't I define myself as mentally ill? I don't mean it in a bad way; it's just part of my identity, perspective, and experience.

Rants aside, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on life right now because I've wanted to write about first-week anxiety last semester but never got around to it because, well, schoolwork caught up with me.

First off, I wanted to give a shout-out to all the anxious people starting school again. I learned to dread going to school when I was young, and I think I mentioned before on this blog that I would always cry and cry the week before school started. I didn't have a particularly horrific school experience or anything, but I just hate the stress, the regulation, the loneliness, the detachment, the oppression. Even though I'm a good student and always get things in on time and do a thorough job, I always feel like I'm drowning once school begins. All the deadlines feel so impersonal and even though I know everyone else is stressed, you're the only one who can do your own work, so there's an element of loneliness. I guess it doesn't help that I've never had a ton of friends. It also doesn't help when you have friends who invalidate your fears and anxiety about school when you confide in them.

First weeks are awful because you get syllabus after syllabus of deadlines, due dates, projects, readings, expectations, grading policies, office hours, participation grades...It's like a giant vortex of anxiety. If the mantra to combat anxiety is, "Take everything one day at a time; don't worry about tomorrow", syllabuses undermine all of that. And we've all had those teachers who love to talk up their class to be as intimidating as possible to weed out people. I recall getting so anxious about being in honors math class when I was in sixth grade after listening to the teacher tell us all that we would be covering that semester (I've never been particularly confident in math), that I dropped down to the grade-level math class. It was not an appropriate fit for me and my teacher kept telling me to move up to Honors, but I was terrified. But that was the only year I got an award for my performance in a math class, and trust me, that's never going to happen again...

You think that after, what, eighteen years of first weeks (I guess more if you count semesters...) I would be able to not get freaked out and tell myself, "Hey, you've done this seventeen times and everything turned out alright, even when you were, like, almost dying, so I'm pretty sure you can do this." But no, I still got pretty overwhelmed. Not as overwhelmed as before, but freaked out. And it didn't help that my professors gave the syllabuses in a casual, "Oh, btw, nbd but there's a ten-page paper and two three-pagers but they'll be a breeze." And when I expressed my overwhelm to fellow students they seemed non-surplussed by the workload.

This week, I'm feeling less overwhelmed. I guess I'm just taking the "one step at a time" approach. But my heart goes out to all the people who feel completely out of their element and overwhelmed. It's not a fun feeling to have. That's an understatement. You feel like you're in a pressure cooker. Like someone just placed your head in a crock pot. Maybe you get headaches or neckaches or realize you're constantly tense. Maybe you start having panic attacks again or waking up in the middle of the night. Maybe you feel emotionally like you're drowning and can't possibly get this all done. You need a break just when you can't take one. You feel overwhelmed with inadequacy and uncertainty. Your calendar is your enemy but it is also your master; you can't ignore it but it terrifies you and it's marked up with commitments and deadlines in red ink.

It's okay to feel overwhelmed. It's completely understandable and valid; don't let other people who are excited and blase let you feel like you're crazy. (Personally, I feel like they're the crazy ones...) Give yourself room to breathe though. Take a moment every now and then to pause and say, "I am alive. This moment is mine. I am here. It is a miracle. I am breathing. I am working. I am achieving. I am enough. There is a future, but my job is to do my best today."

Look around you when you walk. Look up at the trees and admire how their branches stretch as if trying to touch the sky. Notice the little things: a house's shutters you like, a plant you've never seen before, a bird flying by, no matter how small. Dwell on the small miracles that all this life is happening. It's not all about this stress bubble that has encapsulated you (I'm not blaming your for the stress bubble, by the way...I hate how life puts us into these bubbles.)

I know the pressure is unrelenting when the semester starts, but I also know that people who are anxious and/or struggle with other mental illness are strong. They are survivors. They are overcomers. Every day is a battle for them, and they beat it. Just getting through a day is achieving sometimes.

When the world is putting pressure on you, be the one to give yourself a break.

You are a miracle.

We will be okay. One day, one hour, one minute, one second, one breath at a time. One sentence, one word, one formula, one math problem...It's going to be okay.

(I do wish there were a couple extra hours in a day though...)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mantra for Spiraling

I made a mistake, but that does not mean I am a mistake.

I made mistakes this week, but so does everybody.

Someone hurt me, but that does not mean I have to hurt myself.

I see my peers' accomplishments, but that does not mean I have to compare myself to them.

I feel lonely, but I am not inferior because I am alone.

People don't flock to me, but that doesn't mean I am worthless.

My messages to friends may go unanswered, but that's not a reflection on me.

Many have hurt me, but that does not mean I have to hurt myself.

I may be overlooked by others, but I am allowed to look at myself and admire what I see.

I may be overshadowed, but that doesn't mean I should let my light stop burning.

Others may seem like they have it all, but I don't know whether their heart is heavy.

Even if someone is "better" at something than me, doesn't mean I don't have talent.

Just because a lot of people aren't paying attention to my work, doesn't mean I'm not making a contribution.

Today may look bleak, but I don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Tonight may hurt, but I need to be the one to give myself a second chance for tomorrow.

I may feel hurt, but that does not mean I have to hurt myself.

This hurt may come back again and again and again, but slowly I will work through it, and one day I will be happier, healthier, freer.

It may seem like nobody wants me to be the person I am, but I think, deep down, I believe in who I am.

I want to learn to believe in myself and advocate for myself. When friends have abandoned my side after I stood up for them, I want to be the person who stays and stands up for me.

I may be hurt tonight, but that doesn't mean I have to stay hurt tomorrow.

Others may hurt me, but I can heal.

Just give it time, patience, and grace. Extend yourself love and patience, and give yourself space.

You don't have to hurt yourself - emotionally, physically, mentally - because of any mistake you have made or any abandonment you have faced or any abuse or neglect you have suffered. You don't have to suffer silently at the hands of those who have hurt you in the past and don't even give a damn about you today, replaying the conversation, revisiting the old places, remembering the sense of inferiority, retelling the lies that have permeated your mind.

Consider this your permission, your encouragement, to be free, to let go, to forgive, to scream, to write that letter and burn it, to delete that phone number and never answer it, to drop that subject and never pick it up, to go to a therapist and finally open up - whatever you need to do to heal and move on, please do. Just don't let go of yourself. Stop taking it out on yourself. Because you don't deserve it. You've been through enough and you are enough and you are beautiful just as you are.

Consider this permission to love yourself finally, even if it just starts with one tiny little part of yourself that you admit isn't so bad. Or one pat on the back for something you checked off your to-do list. Recovery is in your grasp - and if it seems out of reach right now, then it's okay to just strive for survival; one foot in front of the other is progress too.

Consider this permission to go at your own pace, admire your own face, and give yourself some grace. Look around and see the faces who can't live without you. Write down the things you have accomplished, no matter how small.

Consider this permission to move on and start healing. Start by saying this: "I am not a problem."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"You had a bad day."

This is a stream-of-consciousness piece I wrote earlier today after I had my car towed while I was in a somewhat stressful meeting, talking about my future after grad school. I was waiting around to be picked up and I just had to get all my emotions out somehow, so this jumbled but honest piece came out. I figured I'd share in case it resonated with anyone:
---

I feel…I feel the way I always feel when I leave a social situation. Vulnerable. Stupid. Lonely. Full of second-guesses and critiques and criticisms. All of myself.

I guess this is why I don’t get out much. It’s too painful. It’s too overwhelming. It makes me doubt myself all over again. It makes me feel hopeless, like there is nothing I can accomplish and the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

I was so excited to spend time with people because I get so tired of sitting in my room doing homework. But then I leave and think, “I talked too much. I held everyone up. I was too open. Maybe I offended someone. Maybe I interrupted someone. Maybe I said something stupid.” And I feel overwhelmed and stupid.

To make matters worse, I made a real, undebatable mistake. I parked my car where I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t notice the sign that said “No walk-offs” (in my defense, the print was small.) But I was in a hurry and I didn’t know if my school permit from last semester was still valid and who would notice if I went somewhere else? I could get something from the store later to assuage my feelings of guilt. But someone did notice, and when I came back my car was gone. Disappeared. Vanished. I wandered around before calling home, tail between my legs. “I should be more self-reliant. I should figure this out myself.”

My sister told me to call the number on the sign, so I did. Found out they had towed the stupid car and I needed to pay $150 to get it back. Okay, I could do that, I thought. Until I Googled how long it would take me to get to the place by bus...An hour. And I didn’t even know how to take the bus. So I dialed my mom to ask for help, feeling more and more like a spoiled white girl.

Sometimes you have to ask for help. Sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes you don’t know everything. Sometimes you put yourself out there and you don’t get the affirmation you need. Sometimes you drop your Chikfila iced tea on the street because you’re so flustered about your missing car and then so you don’t even have something to drink while you wait to be picked up. 

I hate that stupid parking lot even more now.
 ---

I feel so anxious sometimes, like I’m locked in a room filling up with water. I’d rather pull the plug at the bottom, just back out of thing I don’t want to do, than build up the strength to push open the ceiling to break free. All the talk about overcoming your social anxiety…that’s what it feels like to me. Trying to break open a damn ceiling.

I spent the morning talking about careers. I love and hate it. I like planning out what I’m going to do and I even like applying to summer internships, but I hate the burden of realizing I have to make myself “make it” in the world. I just want to write, to help people, and to make a difference. I want to make people feel less alone, less worthless. I want to learn to be myself and be confident in being myself. I want to find some relationships where I actually feel appreciated and wanted, even if I never find a husband.
--- 

People are talking politics again. It always makes me so uncomfortable. Nobody is being fair. Nobody is listening. Everyone is talking. My friend who I’ve been so frustrated with because she doesn’t seem to give a shit about me just texted me out of the blue to tell me her sister is coming to the Women’s March this weekend. I guess that encapsulates why politics frustrates me; it’s almost devoid of humans. It’s about ideology and action, ignoring the people who have those beliefs or will be affected by those actions. My friend texted me about the March because she knew I voted a certain way, but she didn’t bother to ask how I was or really anything about me. She didn’t even ask if I was going. 

Why did she even tell me this information? So I could congratulate her? I feel like political support - of whatever side - has, in some ways, turned into a badge to get acceptance or praise from friends. We hate people we don’t know – or, even sadder, people who we once loved – because they vote for a certain person or support a certain policy. I don’t get it. I hate the hate. Why can’t we just drop the subject and why is it such a big deal? People expect me to have an opinion on politics but I would rather know what’s going on with my friends, how they’re doing.
--- 

I wish I could be more honest about how I feel. I’ve gotten so used to putting my best face on. I let out glimpses of my vulnerability but I always feel like I said too much afterwards. I wonder if it would surprise people how broken I feel inside. But then I sometimes wonder if everyone else doesn’t feel equally broken. But then I come across people who really are happy. Or I tell people about my anxiety and the overwhelming stress I feel and they stare at me blankly and then pat my shoulder and say, “Oh, I’m sure everything will be fine!”

I know who I am, but I don’t know what I want. And I’m afraid of letting everyone who I’ve told what I thought I wanted in the past. Life is a journey and journeys are about finding yourself. Nobody is supposed to have it all figured out at twenty-two. Go back to focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other. All we’re guaranteed is this moment; who knows if we have the future. Who knows what’s in the future, if we are lucky enough to have it.



I am enough for what is here right now. And if I’m not enough, then maybe what I’ve put on my plate is too much for me and I need to downsize. But either way, one foot in front of the other. Today was a bad day but tomorrow is a new one. I'm going to be okay. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

I am enough.

Today, I went to my first day of an internship I really shouldn't have taken on. I'm too busy and I was terrified to go because of my social anxiety. I went anyways, so I guess that's something. I left feeling miserable: worn down, defeated, inadequate. I was planning on going a couple time to test things out and then maybe call the whole thing off if it turned out the work wasn't beneficial to my career goals or I was too swamped to do the work. But then I was made to fill out paperwork, I was introduced to everyone, I was told I was the only undergraduate intern the department had ever accepted. Over the course of the day, I realized, "Shit. I think I accidentally committed to this. How can I back out when they're already making an exception for me?"

The day ended up lasting five hours; I thought I was coming in for maybe three. I was on my feet for most of it. I was hungry. I was worried about the midterm I have tomorrow that I needed (need) to study for. I felt like I was in the way, a  burden, using up this person's already pressed time. I felt terrible at making small talk, quiet and awkward. I always feel awkward about what subjects are okay to breach with people who are three times my age.

Then a group of women who were graduate students and recent Master's recipients visited and listening to them talk I realized how little I know, how pathetic I must seem, how much work you have to do to make it in any career field. I felt so inferior and discouraged. I felt so trapped. That's how I've been feeling a lot lately: trapped. I don't know if it's the nature of stress or something to do with my personality. Once I started class again, I felt trapped in the knowledge that I have to finish the class and I'm going to be stuck sludging through it the rest of the month, then have no break. I feel trapped in that I've over-committed myself outside of class and I'm at war within myself over whether or not to back out of these different places where I'm volunteering to take care of myself or whether that would be disrespectful and hurt my career chances.

But most of all, I feel trapped by my career choice. I don't know if that's a signal I should pursue something different or if I would just feel trapped no matter what I picked just because I'm afraid of settling down on one choice. Of course, I'm also not actually working in the career, so it's hard to even really know. Then I realize in some moments that I just need to take things one at a time right now; I can't determine my whole career plan now - I don't know what will come up. It's best to keep an open mind. And if the volunteer opportunities I've taken on are weighing on my mind so much that I feel like the world is caving in on me constantly, than maybe the better thing for my career is preventing myself from having another nervous breakdown by quitting those "jobs".

I feel trapped when I think about getting a long-term job. People respond by saying I don't have to stay there long, but I can't shake the feeling of terror over signing that contract. But I'm jumping ahead so much. My job now is to finish school and find a summer internship. Then I just have to take the opportunities as they open up. This pressure to make kids choose a career is sometimes ridiculous; life just happens. I can apply to things and only one door might open up.

And back to the whole feeling inferior thing, I need to realize that I am what I am. I can improve that in small measures, but I can't be so hard on myself that I short-circuit the system.

Your resume is long, but it hasn't gotten you any internships in the past.

I am enough.

You're pretty knowledgeable, but you hardly ever read any more and you could do so much more work in your classes and you don't compare with those women you met today.

I am enough.

You went and talked to a lot of people, but there were so many awkward silences and strange moments and you probably didn't talk enough.

I am enough.

You know, some people your age have started businesses or written books or recorded CDs.

I am enough.

You haven't even dated anyone and a lot of people you know are married. People don't even bother to ask whether or not you're dating someone because they just assume at this point that you're single.

I am enough.

You should really do more meditation or start exercising or do a CBT workbook or something. Your social anxiety is so weird. You aren't good enough because of it. You are so inferior and nobody likes a shy person.

I am enough.

You need to write more music. You need to finish your book. You need to publish more articles. You need to get more friends. You need to find a hobby. You need to be more bold. You need to confront your lame friends. You need to market yourself better. You need to get more readers to this blog. You need to break your bad habits. You need to get to sleep earlier. You need to stop spending so much money. You need to give more to charity. You need to talk to that boy you like. You need to fix all your character flaws. You need to get out more. You need to join a club. You need to meet someone. You need to make sure you meet the right person, but not fixate over whether they're the right person, and be more open to just casual dating. You need to make sure that person doesn't take over your life. You need to wait to meet anyone, actually. You need to figure yourself out first. You need to build self-confidence. You need to find a new psychiatrist. You need to be more honest about your feelings. You need to be more thoughtful about people besides yourself. You need to practice your religion more. You need to decide where you stand on issues. You need to get over people who have hurt you. You need to accomplish things. You need to make a name for yourself. You need to have a plan. You need to network.

I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.

You are enough, friend.

(That was actually a really helpful exercise. I'd recommend it if you find yourself constantly nitpicking your life and what you "ought" to be doing. All these things are weighing on my mind daily and I hadn't really realized it until I unpacked it here. The list is a little scary. I really do need to ease up on myself. And go to sleep.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

But it sure is tempting sometimes...

Today has been one of those dark days...those days I'm convinced everyone hates me. Those days where I can't see the silver lining so I wonder why stay here. Those days where insult is piled on injury. Those days where nobody will answer the phone and it's probably just because they're busy but you wish you could tell them how it cut you to the core because your skin is already so thin and it made you think about swallowing all the pills on the nightstand next to you. Even when you weren't feeling this way, it popped into your head when you picked up that prescription how dangerous it seemed - all those pills sitting on top of each other in that orange bottle. You weren't even sad then and the thought was in the back of your mind and it scared you. The possibility that you would, the knowledge that you could, and the realization that you would think of it even when you didn't want to.

I know people are trying with all their might to erase the stereotype that suicide is a play to get attention, but I have to be honest and admit that for me personally, there is some element of the temptation to die that is connected to getting others to notice how much I'm hurting. When I'm in these dark moods, I want to just tell the friend who keeps ignoring my texts, "Can you just talk to me? I want to die and I need to know that someone here on this earth is invested in seeing me stay here. Can you just cancel your plans and agree to go skating? I just need something to distract myself. I wish we had gone last night because that was when I started overthinking everything and feeling so alone and hated and useless."  But that seems so desperate and, I don't know, against the rules of how you talk to people. I know that I should stand up for myself and just be honest, but I honestly don't have the words or strength to tell people how I feel. And I'm afraid of ruining their night by burdening them with my heavy heart.

Ever since Carrie Fisher died, people have been outpouring memories of life with her, tributes saying what they appreciate about her, and other displays of love and affection. Whenever a person dies and everyone gathers to remember them, it always strikes me how wrong it seems: why didn't we tell this person these things while they were alive? I guess part of me wishes sometimes that I could fast forward and hear those funeral speeches because right now I feel like I'm just a nothing. I don't know how other people feel about me and that really troubles me. What if I'm actually just bothering everyone I know? Annoying them. I'm that creepy person they wish would stop texting them. I realize how incredibly selfish and image-conscious this all must sound, but I just want to be honest in case anyone feels the same way. 

I feel like I've reached out so much to friends, tried to be supportive, empathetic, fun. And nobody really gives a shit. I'm not the friend people want. I'm not the one they run to when things are wrong or right. I don't think anybody would list me as their best friend. You can give to the universe, but it isn't necessarily going to give back to you. That doesn't mean you should stop giving, but it's just a reality I keep running into over and over and over in my life like a brick wall someone put in the center of a corn maze. 

I know I have to keep going - keep living, keep giving, keep supporting and loving other people. It may seem bleak today but everything is constantly changing in my heart and mind. It's not worth ending it all on a bad night when I'm young and over-emotional. But it sure is tempting sometimes.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nostalgia and nincompoops.

I have a lot of feelings right now. Maybe because I'm hungry. But mostly because a lot of my past has been dredged back up in the last couple days. I had forgotten why I kept all of the memories I made and people who I knew at my previous school locked up in a little box in the back of my mind. So I reopened the box again. I started having long conversations with two people who were good friends at Previous College. I tried to talk to other friends and received no reply. I went through my boxes of old clothes that I used to strut around campus in, sorting them to give away because I don't fit any more. Gosh, I know it sounds so shallow and materialistic, but it's killing me to part with these clothes. They have so many memories attached to them. And they were - still are - so beautiful. I wish I could pop back into them. I wish I could just re-live one day back the way things were, when these people still talked to me.

But then I realize that I was miserable then and there. Friends ignored and hurt me there too. I was so lonely and heartbroken. For every time I laughed and swapped stories with friends, I sobbed on a bathroom floor, telling my mom over the phone that nobody gave a damn about me. I still wouldn't mind wearing all the clothes again or popping back and taking some more photos and writing a few more journal entries so I could remember things better in the future, but ultimately I have to trust that I did what was right for me and that I'm in a much better place now. Just like I don't fit in those clothes any more, I don't belong in that world any more. It's time to move on to a new wardrobe, a new life. I feel guilty sometimes for not visiting my old school or making more of an effort to keep up with old friends, but ultimately I think the healthy thing to do is to move forward. My life now is different, just like my body and my clothes and my friend group, but I think ultimately it's a change for the better.

I guess I've been comparing myself with a friend who keeps in close touch with our friends back at Previous College and goes and visits regularly. Talking to her recently and hearing about her close friendships with those people, I feel guilty for not returning myself. But I tried to keep in touch with people and they were busy. And I knew that going back would be too painful. I need to trust the decisions I made at the time were right for me, regardless of how my choices look to others. Nobody knows me better than myself. I mean, I guess I was right to quadrant myself off from Previous College and Hurtful College Friends; now that I'm letting them back in my life, I feel hurt, inferior, vulnerable, worthless...all those feelings I experienced day in and out for years at that school, with those people.

Reader, if you find yourself questioning your choices because of others' critiques or comparing your life to someone else's in order to berate yourself, stop. It's not fair. It's not right. It's apples and oranges. Two different paths on two different continents. You have to listen to your own needs sometimes. You have to prioritize your own heart, even if the actions you take don't make sense to others. You deserve to be taken care of. You deserve to be loved, if at first only by yourself.