Chemistry Lessons

Some days you hear a voice taking you to another place
Some days are better than others
–U2

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I haven’t been writing much of anything lately, aside from posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. This is in part because it’s summer, and I don’t do well in summer. But it’s also because my anxiety has been off-the-charts bad for some time now. It’s been a while since it was this bad. Every day I make it through without having a panicky meltdown is a success. Every day that I’m able to leave the house and interact with people without crying is a success. Every day that I’m able to write a coherent sentence is a success.

My therapist and I are working on it. We’re looking at possibly changing my meds, because my brain chemistry is clearly fucked up and the meds I’m taking don’t seem to be cutting it. She also made some suggestions (well, something between “suggestions” and “orders”) on how I should change my diet. I’m trying to go easy on myself while also taking a really hard look at what the hell is going on in my brain.

This is complicated stuff, especially when you don’t have much in the way of an attention span or patience, especially when your self-esteem is erratic at best, especially when you’re friends with amazing writers but you’re having trouble putting two sentences together. (Writing this post is like slogging through a bug-infested treacle swamp.) But even at my worst, I’m optimistic about life. I don’t always feel like I’m capable of living in this world, but I’m in love with this world. And I have an amazing support network of friends and family who remind me as much as possible that this is a fight worth fighting. I can get through this.

I’m hanging in there. I’m doing my best. And I’m looking forward to figuring out the best way of dealing with my wonky brain chemistry, getting this mess sorted out. I’ve been better. And I will be better again.

Broken and Loving It

A few years ago, a psychologist suggested I’ve been dealing with generalized anxiety and depression throughout my life. A year ago, a therapist suggested I have ADHD. Both of these diagnoses explained a lot of what I’ve dealt with in my life. A lot of the time, I feel like this: poohs heffalump halloween movie 9 - piglet is scared

Other times, I feel more like this:tigger-bouncing-pic

Both have been strong forces in my life.

I’ve had a pretty rough few weeks, and for much of the time, I’ve felt small, scared, and insecure about my ability to cope as an adult. My demons have been screaming in my head, repeating things I’ve been told all my life. “You’re immature and irresponsible!” “You spend too much time daydreaming!” “You’re unrealistic!” For a long time now I’ve felt broken, doing what I can to take myself apart and glue myself back together, new and improved. I’ve been trying to learn new habits, chastising myself when it seems like I’m not learning them fast enough, not getting better fast enough.

And then I thought about my recent post on refusing to apologize for some aspects of my personality. I thought about the self-help books I’ve been reading, the medication I take, the therapy I’m in. And I decided I AM NOT BROKEN AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. I mean, I know I’m not perfect, I know I have my faults, I make mistakes, I fuck things up. But not any more than anyone else I know. And yes, there are changes I want to make so that my life is easier for me. But I’m not on a timetable. There’s no rushing deadline of “I have to be relaxed and focused by such-and-such date OR ELSE!” There’s no end goal of “I’ve finally achieved mental stability and life focus. I’M DONE!” And I don’t have any responsibility to anyone else to get “better,” to be “unbroken.”

I think the biggest impediment to healing is the belief that you’re horribly fucked up and broken, when what you should be doing is accepting yourself for who you are and loving yourself for it. Today, I’m loving myself for who I am and not stressing about all the “horribly broken things” in my head that “need to be fixed.”

Dear Josh…

Dear Josh,

Dude, I know. You’ve been chastised ever since you were a little kid for being “irresponsible” and “inattentive.” You’ve been teased for being “unrealistic” and “lost in your own head.” You’ve never been good at showing up on time or meeting strict deadlines. You’ve made mistakes. Sometimes you’ve made the same mistakes over and over again. Yes, it’s frustrating. Yes, it’s disappointing. You feel like you’re letting people down and you hate that. You’re worried someone’s going to yell at you, which you also hate.

Here’s the thing: you’re working on it. You’re sincerely trying to get your life in order, to sort out what’s really important and what isn’t, to learn from your mistakes and do better. You’ll still fail sometimes. It’s OK. Everybody fucks up. Everybody is scared, uncertain, insecure–just like you. Yes, people will feel disappointed in you. Some people might even get angry and yell at you. But you’re doing the best you can. So be good to yourself. Stop yelling at yourself. Stop telling yourself you’re stupid, incompetent, a fuck-up.

Tell other people they should be kind and merciful to themselves. They shouldn’t beat up on themselves too much. And while you’re telling them that, tell yourself that, too. OK?

I know it may not always seem this way, but I love you, man. Really.

All the best,

You

Tumbledown

Autumn is my favorite season. I’ve been looking forward to this time of year…well, all summer. As the temperatures dropped and the leaves began to change color, I could feel excitement, enthusiasm, and energy building inside of me. As I type this, I’m sitting at the desk in our office at home, the window in front of me open, the best weather I can imagine drifting in.

So it’s particularly frustrating that I’ve suddenly been hit by a wave of depression. Since Tuesday, I’ve wanted nothing more than to hide from the world, curl into a ball, and cry about…nothing. I’ve been getting persistent headaches. The things that usually make me happy aren’t making me that happy. I feel sad, bored, frustrated, useless.

I’m doing my best to take it easy on myself, not push myself too hard to “suck it up and deal.” My new work position involves a lot of moving around and interacting with people, which definitely helps. And I keep reminding myself that (and this is important for everyone to remember, so I’m making this big and bold) DEPRESSION LIES. I might feel like I suck and that nothing I do is worth doing, but I’m also consciously aware that this isn’t true.

If anyone else out there is dealing with something similar right now, remember that this is temporary. It sucks, but it doesn’t last. And you’re not alone. We’re all in this together.