i can’t, i’m coming down with something

If I was to sum up my feelings about my life, I’d have to quote a Silverchair song: “I don’t want to be lonely, I just want to be alone.” The time off after quitting my job was great. I had the opportunity to catch up on reality tv, wash my hair without having to plan it, and most importantly, I lived out my reclusive fantasy. The only problems I encountered was the opinions of everyone around me.

So many doctors, friends and family tell me that it’s not ok to want to live a quiet and “unhealthy” life in which I close myself off from the world to live in peace. I lie sometimes to agree and to tell them that I want to be normal. I guess I do to an extent but it’s more out of curiosity. Like, what must it be like to be brave enough, and have the inclination (or guilt), to go to the gym by yourself? I think about doing that sometimes and I know that I would never be able to make myself. Once I got there, what would I do? That’s when the shaking would start and the panic would creep up my neck and force me to retreat to safety. The bigger part of me though, would love a life alone. Not without human contact, people could come and visit me in my huge house, (because the fantasy always allows me to be rich enough to never have to work again or have to worry about finances), and I would be happy having everything I need around me. The thought alone makes me feel safe and calm but I know it’s never going to come to fruition.

I’m at work again, different job description this time which I am very thankful for. It’s been a good couple of weeks which has surprised me. During my time off I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, and after a month of medication, have noticed a few good days in the sea of bad ones. The day before I started this job I was so tired that I couldn’t stand for 5 minutes without having to sit down and I cried in frustration at not being able to fix myself.

I rewatched Parenthood recently (a great movie) and one of the kids in the movie has some emotional problems, he overreacts and cries and acts like a toddler throwing a tantrum. I’ve seen the movie at least 50 times and I have never understood what was going on with him until now. It finally became clear, I am this kid. I freak out over nothing, I cry uncontrollably and the main problem is that I don’t know why. I can’t stop it when it’s happening, I am so overwhelmed. I am powerless and I am scared that one day, I will be lost to those emotions and never get myself back.

Today is a bad day. It’s one of the worst. I feel as though I’m back at that previous job, sitting at my desk having a panic attack over the phone ringing. The noise is back. I can have these completely normal conversations and that’s pretty impressive considering the screaming that’s going on in my head. Screaming non stop that I don’t belong here, that I don’t want to be here, that I don’t want to be ANYWHERE. Are they screaming too? Is there anyone looking at me that can see what’s happening to me? Can they see me breaking apart?

Sometimes I wish that instead of the fake conversations and trying to appear relaxed, I’ll scream out loud. I will scream as loud as I do in my head and I will see their panicked faces and feel relieved that for once, someone in front of me feels a stab of the fear I feel every moment of every day. I don’t want to hurt anyone, I’m a nice person but hey, I guess we all go a little mad sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

know when to walk away, know when to run

I’ve never liked gambling. I’d say it’s gone so far the other way for me that I have judged people that flush their money down the toilet. I guess I’ve never won anything but it’s not that I’ve never tried my hand at it, and in fact, I have an understanding of why it’s so tempting. Anyway, recently, I’ve been buying lottery tickets. It started after my Nanna died, a way to be closer to her memory because she used to buy them every week. She would play the same numbers (all of our birthdays) over and over again. I remember her excited but tired voice telling me “You have to be in it to win it,” her gorgeous European accent made me smile, no matter what she was saying. This week though, I’ve purchased more than one ticket. It’s a big draw and I want to win so badly. This time I want to win it for me. So that I can escape. I want money, so that I can leave my job, pay of my mortgage and run away from my life. I’m so unhappy and I’m convinced the chance to step away from it all is the only answer.

I haven’t believed I’ve had depression until recently. I’ve always considered myself to be optimistic. I wake up and look at the sunlight streaming through the window and take a deep breath at how beautiful it is, and I feel hope for my life ahead of me. I’m not trying to minimise it, I know that I’ve described something so trivial, but to me, that feeling of hope is everything. But then I think about the fact that I so desperately want to be a recluse, and I am actively pursuing that lifestyle which wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t feel the immense weight of depression and anxiety. I feel like it’s crushing me, and every breath is getting harder to breathe. I’m not talking about harming myself, I never really feel that way, I just mean that the weight of life is so intense and heavy and I’m struggling to hold myself up. I feel like I have so much responsibility to other people and life in general that I usually just go along with everything and deal with the pain by denying it. But I’m screaming in my head, when someone is talking to me at work, it’s all I hear. It’s deafening. I want to escape by running away and hiding in a dark room. I look at people and wonder how they survive. How they can go out socially and not feel so uncomfortable that they shake and hyperventilate constantly? How do they go to the gym by themselves, or at all? How do they go to the supermarket?

Escape is a key word for me, it’s the most freeing word. Not feeling as though I owe anyone anything because that’s all I feel. It gets so bad that I refuse to call a company and tell them that I’m moving to another one because they provide a better service. I can’t make anyone disappointed. And this week it’s bad yet again. I’ve had the last few weeks off and they want me back towards the end of the coming week. I thought I could handle that since there’s only a few weeks left on my contract with this job anyway.

This morning I had personal training at a small gym and my partner came along. I’ve been to this gym for 6 years and the only way I can handle it is that there’s less than 6 people in there at all times and they’re too busy with their own trainers that they don’t look at me. Just before we left the house, I started shaking. My asthma got so bad and the inhalers weren’t making a difference. I felt so much nervous energy that my limbs felt electrically charged, not in a good way but in an almost painful way. I wasn’t myself during the session, I couldn’t concentrate and when we drove home I burst into tears. Tears of exhaustion and anxiety and I didn’t stop crying for an hour. I almost collapsed in the shower and I felt so dizzy that I had to hold the walls to support myself.

I know now that no matter how bad I’ll feel about it and how much I feel as though I’ll be letting them down, I am not returning to this particular job. I can’t. I’m terrified to tell them and my boss has a bad temper so that scares me too. Even worse, I have to lie and say it’s a physical issue because she will gossip to anyone (and I mean ANYONE,) and I don’t actually trust them with the real reason. So for the weekend, I’ll worry and I’ll worry even after I’ve told them but I don’t have a choice. I have to leave because if I go back, the edge that I’m standing on will collapse and I’ll go down with it. If I’m sure of anything, it’s that. I have to tell them and I have to try and work towards a better life and one day I won’t even remember this moment. I can seek comfort in that.

So, in the words of Stephen Chbosky in ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ –

“This moment will just be another story someday.”

how to say no when you can’t say no

Ok, as usual, I’ve found myself in a bit of a predicament. I’ll set the scene – I have worked in this particular part of the entertainment industry for just under 5 years. When I finished high school, it’s all I wanted, and that’s exactly the way they want you to feel before you get given the job. When you’re on the outside, you feel like you’re missing out on something huge. There’s no way in but luck and who you know, that’s just how it goes. So before I got my (un) lucky break, I had tried for 2 years to get into the industry. I’d send hundreds of emails, worked as an unpaid intern, flown around the world to find a job and then, out of the blue, I got a call saying that I got a job I’d applied for 2 months earlier. My first job was the dream job initially. I worked my way up and I actually started thinking that I deserved to have the job. It was all fine for a while, the hours were not the best but that can be excused if you’re loving everything else. About a year or two later, I started getting restless and feeling as though nothing I ever did was good enough. It didn’t help that my bosses at the time would pick apart every single thing any of us did and would call us into meetings in the boardroom to talk about how we could improve, even when there was actually nothing wrong with us, it was always their need to bring us down. I got sick of this pretty quickly and I’m not necessarily one to keep quiet when I think that something’s not right so occasionally I would argue back but then quickly learned a) that doesn’t get you very far and b) it didn’t matter what I did, this was their issue. Then I moved out of that job, and into the freelance world. It was scary at first but again, after my confidence built up it was ok. There were a couple of things that hadn’t changed though. First of all, the hours are even worse. Most days I don’t see sunlight and I get home in a bad mood because I’ve been surrounded by people who obviously don’t even know what smiling is. So anyway, fast forward 3 years and I’m still here, different jobs, same story except that I’m really struggling to cope now. I’ve got a lot of issues with feeling like a failure, it’s probably one of my biggest obstacles is feeling as though I’m never good enough. So, I’m trying to be positive and think that  if I can’t last out this career, it’s not because I’m weak, it’s just that the job isn’t the right fit for my life. I guess that’s what I have to tell myself to handle it all. Otherwise, I’ll just accept that I’m a failure and end up hating life and thinking there’s no hope.

Fast forward again to last week. I started this new job on Monday and since I was asked to do it (a month and a half ago) I questioned if it was the right decision. I’ve worked with these people before, knew it would be the same story but I felt obligated. I felt like they’d think I was unreliable if I said no… again, not sure why that matters exactly as I’ve wanted to change careers for at least a year now. But despite all of that, it did mean something to me and I felt bad so I said yes. My boyfriend was a bit exasperated and asked me why I thought this would be any different. He knows that it’s a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde situation and he hates seeing me so upset and acting like an arsehole basically. But I justified it “Well, I know I don’t want to do it anymore but I don’t have another job lined up, I’ll need the money and I’m sure it won’t be that bad.” And then I find myself on Monday this week having the panic attack I referred to a few posts ago and I feel stuck. I’m on this job for another month and then I’m supposed to have 2 weeks off before I start another contract. So today, I called the next boss and I said that my health hasn’t been that great and that I wanted to let her know in advance so she can replace me and I was sorry but this is what I have to do. “Oh no, how about we see how you feel in a week and if you still feel like you need the time then let’s decide then.” I kind of wanted to scream. She’s lovely, don’t get me wrong but for the first time in forever, I’m proactively trying to do something that I want to do. Not what anyone else wants me to do, this is for me and me alone. I guess I have to wait until next week now to tell her that I’ve made up my mind and I don’t want to take the job. But that’s the issue, I’ll have a week to change my mind and I’ll feel bad that I’m saying no and she’ll talk me into it and then I’ll be in the same cycle all over again. I’m looking for jobs in other industries, and just the idea of it is lifting a weight off my shoulders. But as always I’m stuck. Because I am not assertive to say “Actually no, this is what I want.” Why can’t I just be one of those people that doesn’t allow themselves to get pushed around? Why can’t I leave the industry that’s pushing me to the point that I actually felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown at only 28 years old?

I dunno, maybe I’ll answer that in a week.

 

the exhaustion of being tired

I am tired everyday. I don’t think I can actually recall a time in which I wasn’t tired. You know when you look around you and think “I should pick that up, I should put it away” or “I should do some washing” and then you just can’t? Yesterday, my wonderful boyfriend was on his way home from work. I noted the time and knew I had an hour. When I’m working (I work 11-14 hour days), he cooks. When I’m off work (as per a post ago, I have been given a week off by the doctor due to anxiety), I usually cook. This sounds incredibly selfish but I never cook because I want to. I mean, I do want to but rather that I can barely get myself to move. It’s always out of obligation because my boyfriend helps me so much in every way that I force myself to get up. Last night though, I couldn’t. I tried, I thought I should at least prepare the meal but I didn’t. Instead I laid here thinking about how much I wish I could do that, but I can’t. Then, at the time expected, he got home. And we had a conversation about his day and he asked me about mine and I just started crying to him and telling him how I wanted to cook for him but I couldn’t. And because he’s amazing, he was so soothing and said it didn’t matter at all. But how unfair is that?? He comes back after a long day of work to find his selfish girlfriend lying down and complaining about how she refused to get up to help him? I get angry at myself and to tell you the truth, I’m so tired of being tired. Just so you know, I’m not just an outright bitch. I care a lot for the people around me and I show them as much as I can. In this instance though, it wasn’t being lazy, it wasn’t that I couldn’t be bothered, it’s that I couldn’t. I feel stuck, I don’t know how to get myself out of this and how to be a regular person. I don’t know how to get to a place in which I can actually just do things because that’s how life works. I wish, for instance, that I could walk down the street to the supermarket by myself in the middle of the day because I’m hungry and there’s no food in the house. Instead, I would either sit here drinking lots of water until my boyfriend gets home and I would go with him (only at night when there’s less people around and it’s dark), or most likely he would go alone. That’s not right, I know it’s not and yet what do I do? My psychologist is helping me through my past and it’s great to talk about things but I’m not feeling inspired enough after a session to go out by myself anywhere except the short walk to my car. And even that is incredibly hard, I shake, I look around me all the time like someone is going to attack me, my heart is thumping and the noise in my head is excruciating until I get in my car and finally it goes silent. I don’t want to take medication because I really don’t want to admit to myself that I have a problem and maybe it would be a good idea. So instead, I’ll do what I always do. Lie here in my bed, avoiding all responsibility and denying myself a proper life. I’ll justify it to myself because I can. In fact, I can already feel it starting to take over.

THE DESPERATE WORLD OF G R I E F

“You look bereft, Leon”

“The question is, why don’t you?”

“Don’t be deceived by appearances.”

  • Lantana (2001 Film, Ray Lawrence)

 

My Grandmother is/was one of the most important people in my life. My mother resumed full-time work a month after I was born. My grandparents lived an hour away from them but since there was no one else to look after me, I lived with my grandparents for the whole first few years of my life until I went to kindergarten and I got to go home. I would be held up to the window and would scream and cry as I waved to my parents retreating in their cars. Years later when I’d started at school (and lived back with my parents), I would usually visit my grandparents every single weekend and during the school holidays, and I would .

Anyway, I got used to sleeping on a single bed against the cupboard doors in my grandparents room. I would scratch my name into the wood and be shocked the next morning when I saw it made a mark… I don’t know why but I still feel guilty about that. I would wake up early and sneak into the lounge room as quietly as possible and slide the door shut behind me. I would put on the TV and watch Art Attack while cutting out cardboard people and houses. My Nanna would wake up not too long after and would make me Vegemite and butter on toast.  It would always be a little cold and I now only eat toast if I’ve left it in the fridge for at least 10 minutes (if you haven’t tried this with Vegemite you’re missing out). Then my Dada would wake up and come to the lounge in his pyjamas, robe and slippers with a newspaper under his arm. I would have to change the station at this point to the news. It was all he ever wanted to watch, listen or talk about. Around midday we’d catch the tram to just north of the city and go to the markets and the library on the corner. They’d take me to McDonalds and then we’d catch the tram back, talking all about the adventures of the day. At night we’d watch foreign comedies and I would feel safe knowing I was so loved by them.

Over the years my grandfather started to lose touch with reality. He’d changed so much from the man that would stop strangers on the street to talk about where they were from and what their ideologies were. He’d studies religion and politics and had walls and walls of history books. Now he was too thin for his tall frame and the same pyjamas and robe were hanging off his frail arms. My grandma didn’t know how to cope and this became painfully clear after he was admitted to a hospice and she began to deteriorate herself. I was in the hospice visiting him everyday except the actual day that he died. My friends wanted to take me out for a day to help me get through the difficult time (made even harder because I’d broken up with my boyfriend of 3.5 years during the same week) and that was the day he died. And I missed it because I was selfish, and I don’t think I’ll ever make my peace with that.

I’ll give my Nanna props here because after Dada died, she lived for another 5 or so years until the month before she was going to turn 96. This is the really hard part to talk about. I stayed very close with her, still visiting her almost every weekend and sitting with her next to the window talking about the most mundane things but yet the way she told the story, always with a flair for the dramatics, I was kept interested by her stories. Unfortunately she declined pretty rapidly after a stroke and she also went into a hospice she was never going to come out of. The day I was told she wasn’t going to recover, I lost all rationale. I cried like a child and stamped my feet in the hospital. I looked at her beautiful face and though she was barely there anymore, I have never felt the sting of the punch quite as bad as I did at that moment. I dragged my feet to the car, and climbed in, smashing my head on the steering wheel in tears. On the dive home, I was inconsolable and I kept screaming “Please don’t leave me!” as tears streamed down my face. I had lost my voice by the time I got home.

All I kept thinking of was the most simple times in my life when we’d sit on the couch chatting, or I’d listen to her yell in other languages (she was born in Egypt and could speak 8 languages) to her friends and she would laugh! She laughed all the time, a loud accented noise and I loved it. Sitting next to her was the only safe moment I’ve truly felt in my life. You know when you close your eyes in peace and think that no one’s ever going to hurt you? I doubt I’ll ever feel that way again, the feeling died with her. When I got a call a few nights later at 3am, I knew it was the call. My mother told me the nurse had called to say she was close to passing away. After I arrived, I ran down the hall, not even registering grief that was already starting to overtake me. I held her hand and we felt her heart still faintly beating until the nurse listed with her stethoscope and told us she was gone. I’ve never felt more alone than that moment. She was gone and I was all alone. That was a year and a half ago and the curling, threatening grip of grief hasn’t left me since. I cry about it sometimes, mostly at night in the dark so my boyfriend can’t see me sobbing uncontrollably. Sometimes when people talk to me and I get reminded of her, I scream so loudly in my head that I wonder why they haven’t reacted to the sound. She was the only person who understood me and loved me unconditionally. She was my only safety. And here I sit, writing something barely coherent and I can still hear the screaming in my head. She’s gone.

I had a panic attack at work yesterday

This isn’t unusual for me in general except that I went to see a doctor to try and escape as fast as possible. Walking to the doctor’s was awful. I work close to the city so unfortunately my boss wanted me to go somewhere nearby (I’d told them I was having a bad reaction to medication). So the drive was one thing, at least I was by myself in an enclosed space but I can’t deal with that many people around me. When I got out I had to go to a ticket machine and then walk back to display it in my car, all the while taking so many deep breaths and sweating from how nervous I was. The doctor, who I’d never met before, prescribed me anxiety medication after I burst into tears while telling her about the panic attack I’d had that morning. So after coming home, (the doc had given me time off work… me actually telling work that was really terrifying) my boyfriend and I discussed the medication and I did some online reading and came to the decision that it’s not for me… just yet. I think I need to sit on this decision for a little while and see how I feel about it. I do have bad anxiety, and I know this medication has helped so many people but I find the idea too overwhelming to act on it right now. I’ve just started seeing a psychologist and I’m finding it so helpful to be able to discuss these issues as openly as we are and it’s making me feel… normal? Is that an offensive word? I personally think it’s more normal to have these issues than to not have them. I’ve recently tried to be open about my struggles to different people and I’ve found that almost every single one of them has/ is seeing a psychologist, or admits to being anxious, depressed and neurotic. So I’m going to start calling us the cool kind of normal from now on, cause that’s exactly what we are.

Femi-autobiographical

I have a lot of issues. But then again, I think we all do which is why I feel comfortable discussing them. When I was a kid, my parents sat me in front of a television while they continued with their lives. So, I learnt to rely on film and television characters to be my friends. I’m not sad about it, I’m glad they did because I consider emotions to  be one of the strongest things we have as humans and I can read people like a book because of it. But it also means that my safe place is inside watching and judging characters’ decisions and faults, rather than going to a bar and having tequila shots. In fact, just the idea of the latter makes me shudder. I hate leaving the house, especially by myself (shaking, heart racing etc) and I’m just abut scared of everything (birds, cats, boats, mayonnaise, murderers (obvs)) and I HATE people seeing me.

Until recently I didn’t consider myself a feminist. It’s not that I disagreed with the notion, but rather that I’d never really thought about the label. So I’m embracing it because the word gives me strength and curls around me like a warm blanket. I might as well say from the outset though that I love men. I love everyone, and in my opinion, no one is better or worse than anyone else. This of course, also applied to race. Anyone who believes one race is more superior than another is a f****** idiot.

Great, now that that’s out of the way… I’ll segue to crime. My dark, creepy obsession that I can’t shake. When I was about 13, I was looking for something to read and stumbled across a book in my father’s collection about famous Australian murders. I was a mature 13 year old in that sense, I’d always watched films that were way ahead of my age group (a la A Clockwork Orange at the ripe age of 4,) and suddenly I was overcome with the thirst for learning as much as I could about the twisted people that roam the planet.

So I guess the summary here is that I have a few topics that interest me and I’m going to cover them all. I’m sorry if I offend anyone but also not really because this is my space so you can just like, leave.