Criss-crossing on that border of mind

“Just do it” fucking sucks as a statement. It is one of those things only I am allowed to tell myself, maybe the one or two people closest to me as well. Others; fuck off. …unless you actually know what I’m going through.

Here are the things I cannot “just do”:

-answer your message

-open a random door

-attend your whatever event

-meet you and your friend

-answer your call

-try a new meal

-clean my apartment

-go to the store

-care about my physical well-being

-make my bed

-have a shower

-take out my trash

-not have a drink

-not have sex with random strangers

-get my shit together

Want to know why? Here’s why:

-answer your message; my anxiety cannot deal with the potential requirements your message comes with; needing to call you, answer you, meet you. If I don’t answer you, will you hate me forever? I do not have the mental capacity for these questions

-open a random door; I have control issues, new doors with unknown things behind them freak me out; how and which way does this door open? What’s behind it? What happens next? People will laugh

-attend your whatever event; what should my social anxiety wear for it? The shirts of me cannot have these people looking at me like they hate me and judge me? They will laugh at me

-meet you and your friend; I might love you and trust you, but now you want to force another person on me? How could you do this to me? I thought we were friends…you having another person with you is you putting me on the “need to pretend I’m great” zone even if you know I’m not. Are you betraying my trust in you by having your “friend” see my mental breakdown you know will happen? Do you hate me?

-answer your call: fuck off. Let me have my peace and time to collect myself and my thoughts. Don’t force me to quick pretend to be happy

-try a new meal; you know I don’t like new things. If I try a new meal I know you will be looking at me, watching me as I taste it. You are looking at me to hate it so that you can laugh at me

-clean my apartment: Just clean my apartment? Yes it is a mess. There are pizza boxes, dirty underwear and dust all around. I have long hair so yes, my shower drain is full, you can see the bundles of hair on my floor. Have not done the dishes in a week or two, these disposable ones work fine. And the bottles of wine? Yup, all around. I’m sure your apartment is great.

-go to the store: There are days when I cannot even get out of my bed except to go to the bathroom and receive the take out I just ordered. There are days when all I want is to stay in my bed in the darkness. I might watch Netflix, I might order food in. Glad you can walk around as you want

-care about my physical well-being: Not. Not at the top of my list. My head is not right, the heart even less. My body? Would I give a shit? No. I can’t even get out of my bed.

-make my bed – I will sleep in it, now, and next day night and day. I can barely get to the bathroom. Why would i make my bed? Who is going to see it?

-have a shower – I think my best is around 8-9 days without shower. I will lie in my bed thinking I’m fine until I start thinking I smell, after a few days of that I will shower, if I really really smell

-take out my trash – The pizza boxes, or quick food, or anything really. They will pile up. As long as I can step over or around them I am fine.

-not have a drink – Should I not drink? I want to forget the world, I want to forget me. I will drink, I will drink now and I will drink tomorrow

-not have sex with random strangers – I go to bar and grab a stranger, or even better yet, use Tinder for it; sex delivered at home. Do I necessarily remember it the next day? No. I just needed to be close to someone, I needed the sex.

-get my shit together- On it. Dickhead.

Let’s get this straight. Living with mental illness is messy. It comes with concrete messy things of dirty underwear on the floor, messy actions of getting black out drunk at office events, and messy aftermath of messages on your phone you have no recollection of. It comes with days and weeks of disappearing, calling sick for work, not replying to your friends. It comes with being unable to complete the simplest of things of taking out the trash or making your bed.

I’ve been there, done that, living there. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, general anxiety disorder and social anxiety – that I know of. I am in therapy and my therapist might have a diagnosis or two to add to this. I’m not new to this though, this has been years of me. I’m living with it, making progress I hope, while having my ups and the sure deep downs.

The more I have worked on my problems, the more I speak to others about them, I realize I am not alone. And if I’m not alone, it means you are not either.

Stop searching for neglect and hurt – accept the love or at least the ok

Our brains are fun, and with mental stress and illness even funner (no, I do not care about the correct spelling for that, thank you for asking that in your head).  While they see and hear and feel and observe pretty much everything, the amount of information they can bring to our conscious is very very limited. We are talking about 11 million bits of information per second processed by our brain with only 50 of it making to our conscious minds. As the google search of algorithms they are, they try and fill that 50 bits with the most relevant information; based on our previous searches and preferences.

Here’s how that works in real life; if you have been in a car accident, you will suddenly notice how ALL newspapers are reporting on ALL the car accidents that happened and think there are more of them than usual. If you broke your leg and are now walking with crutches you will notice ALL the other people with crutches; there must be dozens of them every second everywhere. Or, let’s take a less negative example; if you are planning for a kid, you will suddenly only see the new baby mommas around you, the strollers in the streets, and the crying toddlers ALL around. That means your brain looks for things, highlights things that it thinks you want to see. That means it ignores all the other things – pushes those things to page 2 and 7 of the google search; you can find them, but only if you really really want to.

.

And how’s that with living with mental health issues, with drama in our past? Well, we see things that fit our drama, we see things that match our previous experiences, we see things that we think we are supposed to see. Our brains, while yes, could mean good, might not be corrupt, are just looking for those best fit search results based on our previous experiences and expectations; neglect – people ignoring us and leaving us all alone, hurt – people wanting to harm us and being after us in harmful ways, praise – people only wanting to exploit us and use us to benefit themselves.

Eventually what that does is we ourselves look consciously for only the neglect, harm and hurt. No matter what someone does or whatever happens we look for the one thing that supports our worldview; our search parameters – the evil world, hurt to us.

Here’s an example of my past few weeks. I have been going through a bit of a downward time again in my life – this time due to burnout mostly. I have this friend who I’ve known for about 6 years now. She has been absolutely an amazing friend; being there for me when I cry, sending memes to cheer me up, having a laugh at and with me on good days, just being an absolute treasure of a human. She has a dog and during the past couple of years she has had the said dog, I have made numerous comments how I’d love one too…but can’t because my landlord doesn’t allow for one, how my work schedule would be a pain etc. And her dog is damn cute! So. Couple of weeks ago we were talking and she brought up me having her dog for a couple of days after I had made comments how great an emotional support dog that dog would be. I said I’d love that and as she brought the dog over couple of days later my mind went into harm-mode; “so you don’t want to walk your dog”, “you want your freedom and push this dog on me” “guess you are hoping for bad weather so that you are not the only one having to walk her in rain and guess now you can enjoy your coffee in your apartment with me walking your dog”.

And then there are these people who keep messaging me with “how are you?” “thinking of you”. They keep doing that month after month even when I’ve totally disappeared on them, made promises to meet them and then cancelled on them. I see their messages pop up on my phone and I get a rush of anxiety throughout my body – what do these people need now!?!? Can’t they just let me be!?!?! Why do they need to torment me?

These friends that have stuck by me, are sticking by me. Friends that understand my pain, or at least acknowledge I’m in pain. Their words, their actions, the hugs they pull me into; a whole new world of tears. As they pull me in, keep pulling me in, they force me to fight. My “I know you will hurt me” against their “no, you idiot, I like you and care for you”. I fight them with “no-one ever did in my life” and they counteract with “well, idiot, I’m not those people”. And this fight is only after a couple of hundred times they have shown me they care for me and are there for me, even as the idiot I am keep pushing them back.

My advice? The words I myself still try to get through my head; some people can be good, some actions just for the love, not all is evil – everything must not end in doom and betrayal.

Difficult I know, impossible as it seeems, give it a go, give it a chance.

Mental health is like balancing in a bowl on a cone on wheels that’s on a ball that’s constantly turning

Take a wrong step and ooops, backwards you go. But. And here’s what many people don’t get, same works the other way round; make a small step forward and you will feel amazing; you can have the best day ever, cry because the color of the sky is light (not dark) blue again and you can actually take a breath and smell the flowers. You can feel the warmth, the love, the pride, the progress of the one step…and then realize you are balancing in a bowl on a cone on wheels that’s on a ball that’s constantly turning.

It’s. Not. Sustainable. You will not stay in one place, there is no mellow of a mental health problem, it’s not a chill place, it’s not like people are not doing anything to change it. People are, we are. Ever tried on balancing on anything? A board on a rock as a kid, a balancing board as a fitness freak adult, or the funny as balls as a hotshot on Total Wipeout? If you did, or if you want to try it out now (take a 2by4 and a round enough rock, I’ll wait), you will know it takes a shit ton of strength just to keep balanced, just to stay in that one place and not worse.

The energy it takes just to cope. The energy it takes to function. The energy it takes to maintain at least a bit of our social or job or economical or whatever bits of us…the energy is enormous… and if and when we try to change our position, ideally for the better, we are faced with the balancing act again. And! Let’s keep in mind that the world we live in is constantly turning, and not just in a  geographical sense…although I’m pretty sure that’s true as well…stars and whatnot, horoscopes and tectonic plates. K. What I mean is that our social worlds are changing, friends getting more kids and dogs and exes, family members getting more or less annoyed with us, jobs becoming harder and/or more filled with dickheads, tinder dates getting pissed off for…oh what a fun new post this will make! ..The world is not waiting for us to get our shit together. We are not on solid ground. Any move forward will make our legs wobbly, our hearth tremble, our brains panick…can we maintain this new position? Can we move forward? Will we fall backwards? And same with any fallback; we will take the extra panick, anxiety, shame, blame, energy, and first of all, feel like shit for the step backwards, and then for balancing us again, for again one day to move forwards; energy.

And, so, hence, furthermore, moreover, etc.; here’s the extra extra thing. While we feel like we are alone in our bowl we for damn sure also feel the entire world is watching and judging us. So. If you are yourself, or the whole damn other world, reading this you can help shift and keep the balance for you and/or someone for the better. Help, don’t hurt.

Help leave the past behind and move forward, support building the new way around for the better. Actions speak a millions words, but the rigth words will already be worth millions.

You are not alone!

Does losing my fears mean losing me?

Aren’t the fairy tales the worst (…this will make sense by the end of the blog post…maybe…). “Spend time with your fears”, “use your fears as a stepping stone”, “focus on your fears instead of your goals”. Who the fuck says stuff like that?? …for fucks sake…dumb as shit…….. Oh, right, that was my last blog post…the dimwit I was back then…I thought that was actually good advice…thought I’d solve aallll my problems thinking aaaaallllllll my problems were related to being too pretty few years ago… how great I thought this moment would have been where I could write my genius blog post with having solved it all!

Well..it did not quite go that way did it? DID IT? …no, no it did not… and also, get off your high horse you dimwit you…

I actually took my own advice…spent some time, long time with my fears. Sure, one of them is facing all the criticism that would follow if people would see me. I knew it existed. I wrote about it. I was also semi-aware of my fears of being just like my dad; overly sarcastic, charming person who eventually will hurt everyone around them by breaking their promises, cheating on anyone who can be cheated on, etc. etc.. An alchololic. I thought I’d take that on; a friend of mine was starting her annual lent journey; 40 days without alcohol or sweets. I’m in! I’ll prove I’m not an alcoholic!

40 days without any alcohol or any sweets – I did not think I could make it. And why? Here’s why: 1. The only thing I hate more than being told what to do is to be told what not to do 2. 40 days without any alcohol or any sugar; don’t think I’ve had that since I was 13…and that’s just for alcohol…with sugar we would prob have to go back to, I don’t know, when can toddlers have sugar? 3. My dad was an alcoholic and while that’s my mental image of pure hatred, how close am I actually of becoming him…?

Guess what happened? Guess! I made it. It was actually easy. I made it through 40 days without any alcohol and any sugar and I think it was harder on random waitresses than it was on me…

-Waiter: Should we start with a prosecco for everyone?

-Friends:  Yes, yes, yes, yes….

– Me; no, can’t drink alcohol right now

– Waiter: no problem, we have great mocktails

– Me: Sure, but I can’t have any sugar either

-Waiter: oh…let me ask our chef… *questioning all his best service pledges

-Waiter; so here’s a drink with cucumber, lemon and basil

– Me; It’s great *putting on a fake smile and a thumbs up

– Friend who shows up to dinner right after; oh that looks like the best mojito ever!

– Me: ….it’s water… *turning my fake smile into a sigh of deep disappointment

My learnings? Well. Damn right, previous blog post you (me?), I am my biggest challenge. And what this time of proper self-reflection showed me; the fucking fears I knew I need to, and will, deal with are only part of it. I can be without alcohol, I sure need to lose weight. But. Here’s the real shit: I’m afraid of moving on from me. I’m afraid of moving on from what I need to be to survive my past. I’m afraid of letting that me go.

I guess this might not make sense to a lot of people, but maybe it will make sense to some. In a very messed up way of putting it; I knew my life was not a Disney movie, but I needed it to be one. I had to deal with a lot, I went through a lot. I thought I needed to keep to it so that I could be “saved”. I thought I needed to have it, so that I could have my happy ending. And without it? No happy ending. Without it, I’d be one of the normies. They surely don’t get a happy ending, surely not as great as mine. I mean, if you are normal and happy and healthy and not completely fucked up; can you get a knight in a shiny armour to save you, can you save yourself? Is your story worth telling? No, not according to fairy tales. You need to suffer for it.

And oh my…does that not lead you to fucked-up-ville? You need to be properly fucked up so that next you can be happy? You need to stay fucked up so that others see your worth? So that others can look at you with “she went through a lot, it’s a miracle she’s still alive”. AND. If she’s not fucked up, she’s just one of “us”, a normal person trying to make it through life. And want to hear the most random fucked up thing? I’m afraid to give blood because I think my purpose and will to fight is tied to my blood and by giving it away I would give a part of me away! It doesn’t make sense!

What’s my fucked up biggest fear? Losing part of my fuckedupedness. I actually fear that getting better would mean losing part of me. And I do get that, I had to fight to get here, and I fought, and I will fight. But come on….I need to fucking let that fucking fucked up shit go. I for sure need to, and can, use that as a stepping stone to level the fuck up. …damn…

Arts and crafts  – not only just for the mental breaks in the movies

So I’m on my way to recovery…been on that way for a while, years, decades even, you know this, I don’t have to repeat this. I’ve been looking to enhance my well-being through a series of ways – like alcohol and memes, which my therapist seems to disagree on. …oh the eye-rolls and looks of disapproval… But! I’ve also seen enough of shows and movies where people have their mental breaks and end up in mental institutes. And. What do they do? Arts and crafts! So. I thought there  must be something to it. Sure, my therapist goes on and on about talking and crying, and weird stuff like exercising. But. Netflix shows and movies, they have millions of views. How many views does my therapist have on her stuff? One view, mine. And was I convinced, no. So. Arts and crafts.

Painting. Painting will be my thing. I went online and bought some brushes, paints, and canvas. I also googled “abstract art”. Abstract because I do know I have no artistic talent so abstract will have to do, and googling because; I am a perfectionist, and do want to be rich. So thought I’d just google what others do, kinda sorta do the same thing, paint stuff, sell stuff, become a millionaire. I thought it was a great plan.

I laid the canvas on the floor, took out my brushes and paints and started thinking of stuff to paint. What a wonderful journey it started. I painted my first thoughts, then other ones, then other ones, then… It tooks a good couple of weeks to finish. Or maybe I’m still not finished…but here’s where I’m now.

Version 1. Organized, structured. I selected the paints carefully, I measured the canvas, marked it with 10cm intervals. I drew a sketch on an excel sheet before to check the measurements and lines. I had it all planned out.

It’s funny because; that’s how I was thinking when I was a kid. Everything, everything! Needed to be planned out. My future, school assignments. I’d write down my school speeches from word to word and get anxiety pre, during, and post speeches if I missed a word. My life was planned out; married by 20, kids by 23, divorced by 30….. so structured.

But then life happened

Suddenly my pre-planned life didn’t make sense. Other things came up. But I remained calm, kept my structure. These new things, events, realizations, I’ll just box them up. They don’t matter.

They did matter. They expanded. The chaos, darkness expanded, it took over. My beautiful, boxed, structed life and plans, ruined. Ruined.

The years I spend coping with it, dealing with it. Ruined. Destroyed.

Getting help. Finally, after decades. Getting help. I felt guilty painting over it. It felt like denial; am I only painting over things pretending they didn’t happen. Should I keep them, to show I suffered? And then I realized. I’ve kept my hurt. I’ve kept it for me to see, not others, for me to see. I’ve lived my life thinking I need to suffer. I need to have my pain. I need my pain. I need to keep it.

There’s a difference between remembering your pain and letting it drive you and denying you have it. I’ve denied it, ended badly. I’ve let it drive me; ended badly. What I haven’t tried is moving on. Moving on. Remembering the pain, accepting it exists, but moving on. That’s what I need to do. Paint over it, not in denial, but in building new, building something new. Paint over it, keep it, remember it, but move on.

You paint it, you let it paint. You take your brushes, your paints, and you paint – not in denial but in remembrance. That’s what I did. I painted over. I changed it, I changed my life. I painted.

I’m proud of what came out. It’s certainly prettier than the squares I started with.

But here’s the thing. The thing I painted. It’s part of my childhood. It’s a view of my childhood and youngster escape. I used to walk to the strand from my place. 2 kilometeres and I’d be next to the sea, and this is the view I saw. This is the view, 30 years later, that’s what I painted. It was a place of hope, a place of relief for me. So, for my unconscious mind; is this a trip to the pain, or a start for something new – a new start, based on the pain and hurt, but driven by my safe haven?

I think it’s great example of life – we start with a clear view of our future, just to have it meddled with, completely destroyed and thrown over. And then we build a new. Then we build, having our past as a base, we build something new. We build. We should not forget our past, we build over it, we build. And we respect where we came from. For me, forever for me, my happy place will be by the sea looking at the world beyond. As a kid I wondered what possibilities it might bring. As an adult I want to make sure I’ve visited those possibilities. I want to make sure I can visit it all.

Day 31 – tried and failed

Needless to say – I failed, miserably. I was not able to even spend a minute or two on self-care every day. I know it sounds sad – but in my defence, Claus died and that made me very sad. It was very tough for me, to see him melting away hour by hour, day by day… just like my plans of my-me-month…Also, I don’t think anyone has the time for self-care every day. Like. How? Unrealistic. Also, I’ve been working most days, from 7am to 11pm, when would I have the time for it? WHEN? Also, I did tell you I’d fail, and I don’t want to be a liar. So.

I mean, how could have I succeed? (cue the excuses). I’m overworked and I had insane deadlines to meet, how could I possibly focus on self-care? And everyday? Impossible. What was I supposed to do? Eat salads and go for walks? Let me tell you about salads and walks. Salads and walks are an option, but they are and option like the guy or girl on your phone you had your fun with once or twice, kinda enjoyed it, but not enough to fully commit to, unless you can’t find anything better. Not a real option are they? …I mean… of course they are… salads and walks, keep waiting, I think you’re totally awesome and I’ll totally come to you one day, I’m just super busy nowadays.

Well, it hasn’t been (all) that bad, and I have truly tried. I did spend a day with a friend in pjs watching brainless reality TV and eating junk food, cookies and popcorn. And it. Was. Awesome. I also spent an hour floating in a sensory deprivation tank one day. There’s something really relaxing about just floating in complete darkness and silence. Maybe it’s the impossiblessness (it’s a word) of bringing a laptop with you to that tiny sci-fi egg of salt water?

And. I did also order a new outdoorsy jacket online; for when I go out for a walk…that I’ll most likely never go on …Which is just one of the many reasons why I don’t have any savings – I keep buying stuff I don’t need… Let’s be honest. Would I go for a walk? Maybe? Keep hoping.

Aaaanyway. What I did do a lot this month was contemplate on why I don’t prioritize self-care, and how I really should. It did make me realize a few key things that I may or may not work on. It made me realize I need to change things in my life and I have no idea how. I’ll try again next year.

Day 2 – almost missed it

It’ll be a short one today! It’s 7:30pm and I still got a couple of hours of work left to do, which is great since I’ve only been at it since 6:30am …just one of those days…and I must admit, I seriously thought about just powering through the work, ordering take out and going to bed, skipping the self-care as I just do not have the time or energy for it. But then I had a strong chat with myself and we came to the conclusion that it’s only day 2 and while this thing has lasted for a full day and a half already, which is about 20 hours longer than a lot of my other self-improvement initiatives, we should not give up yet.

Since I don’t have the time, and really really just want to finish a few things and go to bed, I selected a very quick and easy self-care action for today; the plank challenge. It’s literally just 60 seconds and then I’ll be back to my excels sheets. I have selected this version of it for myself as it was well, in the top 3 first google results and that’s about the engagement level this little side quest of mine gets.

But it is 60 seconds which is more than nothing, kinda counts as exercise, and allows me to be proud of myself for doing something today! So. I’ll hit publish on this post of mine, get on planking, tell Alexa to set a timer for 60 seconds, and then feel bad about the inevitable realization of just how out of shape I am. Should be fun.

My-Me-Month! – I’m the treat behind every door

Ok. So. Full honesty. My last post – wrote that a month ago. So this is take 2 at starting a blog. And also a great way to manage expectations lovely imaginary followers – if I say I do things non-work-related (work me is super efficient and awesome) it’s generally 32-54 business days before stuff actually happens. It’s not the greatest turnaround time, I can admit that, but, well, it’s what we’re dealing with here. So. Just being realistic. Anyways. Super happy to be writing my second blog post that may or may not be posted any time soon. I am also having a glass of wine, a lovely Spanish white wine (goes great with the bottle of prosecco I just finished). For that reason, I have come up with an additional idea to my pre-new-life-start – My me month!

Xmas time is awesome. Not because I would believe in three wise men existing and bringing gifts but because it is just a beautiful time of the year – the candle lights breaking the darkness, the people rushing around madly for a month just to calm down completely for a couple of days, the overly materialistic holiday culminating in quality time with family, the overeating turning into diets just few days after. It is the most beautiful time of the year – peaceful and chaotic and going from one extreme to another. But I’m getting ahead of things. One favourite of mine, as part of this waiting for one extreme to hit another, is the advent calendar – opening one door a day, getting that one tiny piece of chocolate and counting down the days to eating so much chocolate in one sitting you’re ready to sign up for that gym in January.

Bit of a long intro, so how about we try and get to my point: Imagine an advent calendar – but for self-care. Hear me out – it could be chocolate one day, because health benefits, but it could be exercise, massage, reading, learning, developing, reaching out to people we miss, hugging a random dog, meditating, whatever does you good. OR. Not doing something that doesn’t support your mental/physical well-being: I certainly have a lot of those in mind, like maybe, potentially, skipping that weekly bottle of bubbles.  

I’m quite aware that it’s the 27th of November, and I’ve had a couple of drinks, and given my success record with doing stuff I want and need to do, I’d say there’s a 97% chance I will not post this and 99,99% chance I will not follow through with my My-Me-Month plan. But! I also have a track record of starting about a billion things, failing at them, and then starting a billion more, so who knows, maybe this is a numbers game and this try could be the one that sticks. Also, why wouldn’t I try, at least I’ve tried, and if I do fail, who cares. You wont, you’re imaginary!

…aaaaaand here’s the November 29th edit to the post; took me only 2 days to post this! We are doing this!