writing

4am Anxiety

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It’s hard to put into words what it feels like when I can’t get my mind to just quiet down. To pace around our apartment at 3am like the ghost of Christmas past.

I move from the bed, to the desk chair, to the couch, and back to the bed. On heavy rotation, and more like a broken record I can’t seem to throw away. I close my eyes and the visions behind them play over and over like a silent film. Visions of things I have done or said long ago or things I have yet to do or say.

My eyes fly open and I decide I need some water. I drink and think that maybe it’s better if I just stay awake. If I am awake I am prepared for whatever the world has to throw at me. Asleep I’m vulnerable.

Then come the tears. I cry for no reason at all and sometimes for a million reasons all at the same time. It’s exhausting and exhilarating, it’s depressing and motivating. It’s something different every time.

My body is tired of course. My brain is well aware that I need sleep, but it’s too aware of everything else that I struggle with on a daily basis. I could list things that bother me. Things that trigger me to panic but some days that list will be empty and I will still feel it all building up deep within my bones. It’s a messed up spidey sense I never asked for.

I over think and underestimate just how much I can do. Some days I do nothing. I sleep and think and then sleep some more because it’s the only way I can keep the thoughts silenced.

I can conquer the world one day and barely lift a finger the next.

People don’t understand and people judge what they don’t understand.

Anxiety is not just a little feeling in the pit of your stomach. Depression is not just feeling sad.

It’s all consuming and tremendously frustrating. Your mind is a tangled mess and you spend all day trying to untangle it and you spend all night trying to think of why the tangles happen in the first place.

I write this as the clock strikes 4:00am and I can’t sleep because I wonder will the new day bring me more to worry about or will I be able to function properly?

And that generally sums up these feelings. I worry about worrying and it’s never ending.

But never say never.

life

A Little Louder for the People in The Back – A Look at Mental Illness

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I feel tired.

I feel tired all the time.

Anxiety and depression can do that, but having to explain myself a million times also does that. I get tired of getting skeptical looks, and strange waves of anger from people because I don’t and CANNOT fit into their mold of what a sick person looks like. Because I am not running a fever, I cannot be ill. Really there’s so much more bullshit that I have dealt with through out my struggles with anxiety that I felt the need to once again talk about it.

Everyone who deals with mental illness deals with it in their own way, not only that but not everyone will have the same feelings and symptoms even when they deal with the same illness. That’s always something that many people can’t seem to grasp. I cannot tell someone else’s tale of struggle, but I can tell you mine.

I was always a really shy kid. I also cried A LOT. When my parents would say that they would pick me up from say the babysitter at a set time, and they didn’t show up at that exact time, I would instantly start to sweat and I would begin to pace and ask a million questions because my mind was imagining the worst kind of car crashes in the world. At the time most people chalked it up to me being an emotional kid, but looking back I think that was just the beginning of my anxiety. I was definitely always known as the weird quiet child who liked to read. I was never a super talkative person, to this day I am not a talkative person, UNLESS of course I feel comfortable with you.

Let’s get a little darker now. I remember a time when I wasn’t aware that what I was feeling wasn’t just normal anxious feelings. In high school, I was told that I definitely had social anxiety. But it wasn’t until my early twenties, that at some point where I was having trouble breathing, I was crying nonstop for what felt like decades, and I dug my finger nails into my face that I finally realized something was really wrong with me. Since then I have sort of learned to manage it but it isn’t something with a cure. I have my really good days and I have my really bad days. I don’t hurt myself anymore, but I do still deal with panic and anxiety attacks.

The thing is, sometimes my anxiety is exacerbated by all of the negative shit that has been thrown my way in the past or even recently. I talk very openly about my struggles for a number of reasons:

  1. I want to be open with the people closest to me and also to the people I work with. Not for pity, but for understanding. There can be days where I have a hard time functioning.
  2. I want other people who are fighting this to know they are not alone.
  3. I want people who are completely ignorant about this, to learn how to deal with someone close to them and their anxiety or depression.

I also do it, because I always get asked weird shit, or talked about in a negative light because people just don’t understand. When I cancel plans with people because the thought of having to be around a group of people or public transportation is just terrifying that day, I don’t need to be told that I am flakey. I am not flakey, I am putting myself and my mental health first. I don’t feel that it is necessary to possibly be alone on a train, having an anxiety attack just to meet up for a drink. That’s not what I will ever do. Many friends stopped inviting me to places in the past, and many people were extremely rude and aggressive about me canceling plans. So when I find someone who understands without missing a beat, I try to hold onto those people. My advice to anyone who has dealt with this is to let go of the ones who tear you down over your struggles, and keep close those who let you take care of yourself first.

Recently someone said that they knew I was trouble when they first met me because I couldn’t look them in the eye when I first met them. This angered me greatly. Not because they don’t like me, not everyone has to like me, I really couldn’t give two flying dicks about that part. It angered me because when I first meet people, I tend to have a hard time making eye contact. Meeting new people causes an alarming amount of stress for me and I have a hard time making eye contact. They took that as me being –I don’t know…some kind of vixen? An evil queen wannabe? Don’t know. It’s just one of the many times someone has misunderstood something about my anxiety and twisted it to make me look bad. It’s not new for me.

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When someone has a physical illness everyone is ready to be helpful, supportive, and show empathy. As it should be. I am quite grateful that physically at the moment I am healthy. The thing is that many people don’t see anxiety and depression as a real illness. They seem to think we are all drama queens who can’t get our shit together. I wish I could be that good at acting because I would probably have an Oscar sitting on the mantle of my big ass house on a hilltop in Portugal. I hate when I have a bad moment in front of people I don’t particularly like or trust because I know from experience how they will use that against me. I also hate getting “advice” from people who have never in their lives dealt with anxiety or depression themselves. Stop telling me to do yoga or to drink tea. I’ve done those things and they don’t work for me. Everything you can possibly name, I have tried it. I already have my ways of dealing with it, but again there ISN’T a cure. You get better with time, and then you will still have a few bad days here and there. It’s just how it goes.

None of us want your pity. We want your respect and yes a little bit of empathy would be nice. If I feel so tired that I need a nap, then let me nap. My brain doesn’t function like yours. It spends hours and days sometimes trying to untangle my thoughts, and that in itself is really exhausting. Pretend my brain is running a bunch of marathons through out the week there comes a point where I just can’t take it anymore. I am drained of all energy.  I do not nap on a daily basis, but if there’s someone out there that does and needs it, then let them. This is another one of those moments where we get told that we are being lazy.

So when I am asked why I constantly talk about my anxiety, my response is because people still think I am being rude, lazy, stuck up, or generally awful all because I choose to do certain things to better my mental health or I do them because my anxiety sort of makes me do things that people find strange. I shouldn’t have to constantly explain myself, but because mental illness is still a topic that many people ignore, I HAVE TO explain myself so I can hopefully make a break through with some people.

Know that this is a REAL illness, and millions of people are struggling to move forward every single day. Stop treating us like we are liars and stop telling us to relax. I promise you, it really doesn’t work that way.

Book Reviews

Furiously Happy – Book Review

FuriouslyHappy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson is someone I admire greatly. This book is a collection of essays, and it made me laugh at a time when laughter was hard to come by. You see, Jenny Lawson is open about her struggles with Mental Illness. She is not ashamed of how her brain works, or malfunctions, and from her I learned that it is okay to struggle, but it is even better to fight.

This was a more personal undertaking than her first book Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. That first book shared a glimpse into her struggles, but not like Furiously Happy has done. Her stories of traveling, and how she just deals with daily life connected with me on such a deeper level, but yet I found myself trying really hard late at night not to laugh too loud as not to wake my boyfriend. She made me see that it is okay to talk about the daily struggle that is mental illness, but she is mainly focusing on the fact that we need to just grab life by the balls and allow ourselves to be furiously happy. It is hard sure, but it can be done.

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Even if you have never struggled with mental illness yourself, I still recommend this book to you. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will probably laugh and cry at the same time making you look like some kind of sociopath. I would also recommend that if you know someone who struggles with Mental Illness that you give them this book. It made my cloudy days a little brighter, and I know it can do the same for others.

Anyone who knows me knows how I have struggled. I do not choose to have panic attacks at shopping malls, concerts, or even just when I am simply crossing the street. I don’t choose to fall into the void of depression where all of the things I love to do, Have no importance to me for a while. But I can choose to be furiously happy and damn am I trying.

“I wish someone had told me this simple but confusing truth: Even when everything’s going your way you can still be sad. Or anxious. Or uncomfortably numb. Because you can’t always control your brain or your emotions even when things are perfect.”

This book get 5 out of 5 Metal Horns from me! 

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Games

Life is Strange – NEEDS A TRIGGER WARNING

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I haven’t written about games in a while. Even though I have been engrossed in The Last of Us remastered and some apps on my phone. I haven’t gotten the chance to write about them. Well I felt the need to write about Life is Strange again. While I know it is a game, I would now use quotes around that…so lets call it a “game” as I think it would have been better as some kind of mini series or a book.

My main concern with this “game” came about when I finished the most recent episode, Episode 4, titled “Dark Room”. I will try to avoid Spoilers but here’s fair warning that some of what I have to say may very well ruin the plot points for you.

Many people in the world suffer through mental illness, honestly I include myself in that group. I suffer from anxiety. This game had me feeling really uncomfortable this last episode. A lot of discussion is happening about this game, and now that I am looking at it, I really feel that it needs to come with a Trigger warning. What is a trigger warning? A trigger warning is a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material. This “game” contains some pretty distressing material. While I dealt with it fairly well, I can see how some players might have difficulty dealing once the fourth episode is done, and there’s even some distressing scenes in earlier episodes.

Trigger warnings are a kindness to those who do not handle some hard topics well. So while the companies don’t seem to be putting trigger warnings on this “game” in fear of revealing plot lines and twists, I am going to write trigger warnings for Life is Strange here. Be warned that if you play Life is Strange and you suffer from anxiety, depression, or any form of mental illness that there are topics of rape, kidnap, murder, death, and suicide in this game. If you typically cannot handle these topics then please do not play this game. They should have provided a Trigger Warning to begin with because from the first episode you are inclined to believe that this is where the story is headed. You may be trying to save your precious plot line, but you should also be concerned with someone’s mental health and making sure your game does not cause unnecessary emotional distress.

Those are my two cents.

MATG