As Desperate As An Ice-Cube In Hell

I thought about turning on the TV tonight, but I can’t get my head around watching it alone. Since my separation, I’ve hardly really watched TV at all. Which is weird, because it’s not like me and Ex really watched anything together toward the end anyway, mostly because we couldn’t be in the same room as each other. I vaguely recall spending most evenings either beading with my headphones on or laying in the bath for hours with a bottle or two of wine, while he either slept on the couch in front of the TV or skulked off into his shed to pretend he was busy.

Before it got like that, back when we did watch shows together, it was always what he wanted to watch. Typical male king-of-the-remote-control stuff. He would fall asleep and I would gently pry the remote out from between him and the cushion. I would slowly turn the volume down before changing the channel, hoping that the sudden shift from one show to another wouldn’t startle him awake. There’s an art to it, but I never mastered the skill. I invariably failed and would receive a glare and a, “I was watching that.” He would reclaim his precious prize, switch the channel back and nod off again.

Now days, if I’m faced with the challenge of deciding what to watch, I’m like a crippled little lamb. So mostly, I don’t watch anything except for The Walking Dead. If I’m with someone, I can watch, but I can’t make the choice. Even if there’s something that I want to watch, I’ll concede to someone else’s preference. It’s part lack of confidence in speaking up, and part being so desperate for company that I don’t want to risk them deciding not to join me on the couch.

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You see, I’m stunningly needy. I’ve only just come to realise this. I’m fairly certain that everyone who has ever dealt with me has been long aware it, while I’ve been existing as a shapeless mass of oblivious desperation. I’m horribly lonely, even when I’m not alone. I require constant reassurance that I’m a good person, a good mother, that I exist, that I’m not losing my mind, not a burden, not a hellish mash-up between The Blob and Freddy Kruger.

When someone doesn’t want to spend time with me, I “know” that it’s because of who I am as a person, or how I look. If someone rejects me, I feel like hideous monster who should be shunned from society. Conversely, if someone chooses to spent time with me, I feel like maybe I matter. If I’m lucky enough to spend the night with someone or be shown affection of any sort, I start to think maybe I’m not so bad. So I crave touch; a hug, a hand resting on mine, any kind of gesture. It’s not romance or love that I want, it’s just the feeling of being worth…. something. Hell, some days, I would be happy to be punched me in the face just for the sake of human contact, some kind of acknowledgement that I’m here and I matter. And that’s not a healthy way to be.

I’m learning a lot about myself as I work through this process, and most of it isn’t great and it hurts like Hell. But all the same, I’m glad that I’m figuring myself out, so that I can work on fixing it. Three steps forward and two steps back is still progress. Eventually, I’ll have found all the little pieces of me, I’ll cut back the rot and I’ll be content to be me. I’m not going to get any younger or prettier, so best I start learning to accept myself now before I’m a lonely old hag preying on handsome young Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on my door, insisting that they have one more cup of tea.

Catharsis

My head isn’t in the best of places today, but it’s probably just necessary to work out the kinks (although, some kinks I’m happy to keep ). It’s 1.30pm, and I’ve only just gotten out of bed, but today isn’t for pressure, today is for catharsis and for planning. My house is a mess, but fuck it. I don’t need to impress anyone today.

Today my plans include, sitting and crying; laying on the couch playing games on my phone; writing a list of small goals and a plan on how to achieve them; drinking lots of water; cat and rat cuddles (not at the same time); mindless drawing; walk on the beach.

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I need to stop trying to be what other people want me to be. I was me for a little while there, and I’m going to get that back. I need to stop feeling guilty for not being good enough, strong enough, generous enough, pretty enough. Changes are coming.

A Public Service Announcement For My Fellow Mentals

I have changed anti-depressant medications, and it was an awful experience. I have since found out that the standard New Zealand practice for changing SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) medications is different from that of the rest of the world.  Australia advises a withdrawing period of 4-7 days, waiting 3 days before starting the new medication. America is on the most cautious side of the scale, reducing Zoloft over a period of 4+ weeks, waiting 7 days then introducing Escitalopram.

In New Zealand we just switch straight to the new one immediately. Going cold-turkey from Zoloft is risky and difficult, particularly if the dose is high and has been taken long term. Withdrawal can take several painful weeks. I thought it was unusual, so I made a point of asking the doctor if that was correct. She told me that because they’re both “short-acting” drugs an immediate change is suitable. This is so unique to New Zealand, that it is even mentioned as a side-note in the official UK GP Guidebook.   I have my suspicions that it is likely to be about money. In New Zealand we have a heavily subsidised healthcare system. In my area, I can see a GP for $17 and get prescriptions for $10, and three months worth of meds for $5, the government foots the rest of the bill. It’s pretty sweet. But it’s not perfect.

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I believe the reason that the method for switching SSRI’s is an over night change, is because weaning means more doctors visits, more prescriptions as each week is a different dosage, and therefore more cost to the Ministry of Heath. So people are suffering unnecessarily, because it’s cheaper. And I mean really suffering.

I was unable to function. It felt like I was moving through treacle, my head was spinning. I couldn’t make sense of anything. The simplest things were baffling. I was profoundly sad, and tired. At first, I couldn’t do much more than lay down and cry. There were times when I was detached from reality that I felt like I was an observer, watching the world from the outside. My responsibilities as a mother became monumental hurdles.

It’s been six days now, and I’m still feeling pretty run-down, but it’s getting better every day. I have learned a valuable lesson and I will never, EVER make a cold switch again. Always insist on tapering off SSRI’s

Good Times.

My last 7 days have been like this:

Thursday: Anxiety says,”Who needs cuticles? Let’s gnaw those fuckers off!”
Friday: You know what goes well together? Depression AND anxiety!
Saturday: Let mix things up a bit. How about we completely lose our shit, and throw in some massive panic attacks with hyperventilating?
Sunday: Panic attack hangover, ugh. Still got housework done, yay me!
Monday: Profoundly miserable.
Tuesday: Pretty damn good actually.
Wednesday:  Lots of aimless wandering. Why am I holding this box of cereal? No, this doesn’t belong in the bathroom.

Yesterday I went to my doctor. I’d been putting it off for a while because I didn’t want to accept that I couldn’t get my mental health under control by myself. However, it’s become increasingly obvious that I can’t so I had to do something. The end result is I have changed my medication from Zoloft to Escitalopram. Changing meds is very rarely a fun experience and my memories of starting Citalopram (slightly different version of the same drug) years ago are unpleasant. Two weeks of feeling like I was on an icky, muddy high. But once the side effects wore off, I found them quite effective, so fingers crossed.

I took my first one before bed because they’re suppose to make you drowsy and the doctor says they should improve my insomnia. But, first I have to deal with the unpleasantness. So I’m here again in the wee hours, I’ve had two hours sleep. I’m crazy tired but can’t drift off, and I have a hazy disconnection to reality like I’m viewing life though a camera’s lens. So my apologies if this post reads like jumbled up nonsense. Starting to feel kinda nauseous from the spinning sensation, so I’m going to lie down for a bit and hopefully get some sleep.

 

The Ocean Is Pretty, But It Will Fuck You Up.

I’m a crier. I cry a lot. It’s not that I cry at the slightest hint of emotion, I don’t cry unless I’m genuinely, deeply upset. But there’s the problem: I feel too much.  It’s like I’m standing on a shore and my emotions are waves rushing towards me and over me. The bigger the waves are, the harder it is to stay standing. Sometimes it’s a torrent and I’m pulled under, I can’t breathe, I can’t speak. I don’t have the words at that time to communicate or ask for help. I try, but the words don’t come. I want to show someone how I feel, I want to transfer a snippet of my experience to another person’s mind just for a moment, because then someone would understand what it is really like. For them to experience that helplessness, the feeling of being trapped, that suffocating pressure on their chest.

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And here we have a representation of the inner turmoil I feel while waiting to find out who Negan beats to death with Lucille on The Walking Dead. It’s gotta be Glenn, right?             Photo credit: Luis Ascenso

To say that I’m ‘over-emotional’ or ‘too sensitive’, is misleading, as it is often said as a synonym for ‘weak’.  Such expressions are often hurled, when what is really meant is “Your emotional response makes me uncomfortable and I don’t know how to react, so you must be faulty,”.

I am not weak, if I was weak I would have broken long ago. I’d be a drooling mess in a funny farm or worse. But I’m not, I’m still here. I’m fractured, but I’m still holding all the pieces in place. I am what Psychotherapist Joy Malik, calls a Deep Feeler. I am easily overwhelmed by my own feelings and the feelings of others.  My feelings are real and valid, they are not something that is enhanced intentionally. It is as much physiological as it is mental. Malik said, “For those with high sensitivity, strong emotional responses are natural and need to be processed in order to metabolize them.” And so I cry, and I write.

I write my most honest thoughts privately, and share publicly some of my struggles. I do this in writing because talking about them out loud is difficult. Being upfront about your emotional and mental health is not easy. It’s mistaken as self-pity. Some think I’m an over-sharer and should keep things to myself; have some class and dignity.  But the fact is, it’s taken me years to get to the point where I can be open about it, where I can say .”I’m not okay today” . I’m not ashamed of it anymore, nor should I be. I want to show my children that it’s safe to speak up when they’re not OK. The world is changing and the stigma is gradually lifting, but there’s still a fog of taboo that needs to be burned off. It’s time to clear the air.

You Are A Pervert, And So Is Your Gran


You know what’s great? Objectification.  I looooove objectifying men (and some women, looking at you Catherine Zeta-Jones). Objectification is the act of viewing someone as a sum of their parts and what they can do for you sexually. To say that objectification is male chauvinism is grossly inaccurate, because I, and every other straight woman, sometimes {read: frequently} look at a gorgeous specimen of masculinity and secretly think, “I want to chain that up in my basement and keep it for my personal use.”

Hm? What’s that? Oh, you don’t?

Well you, Ma’am are a filthy liar!

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Case in point: Remember when Travis Fimmel was a CK model?

We are just as prolific at objectification as men are, the only difference is, we are subtle. Men don’t really do subtle. They try, but they’re just not very good at it, bless them.

Example:
Where Marjory might walk past a strapping young lad and think to herself, “What I wouldn’t do to get on that tasty piece of man meat….”, old Theo would look at the lads’ arm-candy and blurt out, “Did you see the rack on that!?”. This of course would lead to Marjory calling him a pig and giving him the silent treatment for the rest of their vacation. Then granddaughter, Chantyllisha, will lecture poor old Theo about the perpetuation of rape-culture in a patriarchal society. Anyone within ear-shot would consider Theo a creep, when all he did was fail to engage the safety barrier between brain and mouth.

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I mean, fucking hell, LOOK at him!

Yes, women are judged on their looks more than men are, but times are a-changing. Women are becoming more vocal. Some would say more vulgar – I would say more honest. The filthiest person on my Facebook feed is a woman, and I think she’s awesome. The fact is, Theo is no more a pervert or a threat than Marjory. This will come to light in a few years when Marjory goes a bit senile and her brain-mouth barrier fails. Chantyllisha will hold that old whore’s hand and tell herself that Granny doesn’t know what she’s saying when Marge offers the sexy orderly a good going-over. Then they’ll both sit back and imagine what he’s hiding under his uniform.

I say, objectify away! Don’t be an asshole about it and make people uncomfortable, but by all means, admit that you’d like to bone Jason Statham; nudge your buddy when a particularly pert butt in yoga pants walks by. We’re all horny perverts, and that includes you.

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He just gets better and better as time goes on, how the fuck does he do that?

Aquatic Absurdity

It seems I’m getting more insane as I get older, which is awesome because it means I’m probably going to be one of those old ladies who just don’t give a fuck. You know the ones, they’re eccentric, flamboyant, opinionated, unapologetic, and dress like they’re heading to the Rio Carnival. I’m picturing a cross between Granny Clampett and Dennis Rodman. Obviously, there are downsides too, but one day I’ll be too bat-shit crazy to notice. So there’s something to look forward to.

One of my new neuroses is in regards to swimming pools. I love swimming laps by myself with lots of space; I can zone out and focus entirely on the movements (and keeping my tits contained within my swimsuit). So I didn’t think there would be any issue with signing up my Aspie Girl-Child to swimming lessons, and following them up with a play in the pools. Except, I soon found that I quickly become overwhelmed and have panic attacks that leave me on edge for the rest of the day. After much analysing, I think I’ve worked out what it is that bothers me.

It’s every-fucking-thing.

The pools are indoors (it’s still too cold for outdoor swimming), and the building is loud with air-conditioning, pumps and echos. I find that I can’t hear well and this makes me on edge when people are speaking to me. Even though the space is enormous, the sound makes me feel like it’s closing in on me. When people get too close to me, or block me, it compounds the claustrophobia. Also, I have to wear my glasses to keep an eye on my kidlet because I can’t wear contacts. This makes me feel self-conscious because swimming in glasses is fucking weird. If I want to swim properly, I have to take my glasses off, but then I can’t see jack-shit. This means I can’t watch the Girl-Child and because I can’t see her face, I can’t tell if her squeals are happy squeals or ‘I’m about to lose my shit’ squeals. So much of working with her is recognising the subtle changes in her expression. I worry about her panicking or lashing out at someone while she’s out of my reach.

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All of this sounds justifiable to me, but I know that it is irrational for several reasons:

  • Mr. Flatmate comes with us, stays by her and is a strong swimmer;
  • about 6 months ago, we all went swimming together at a different indoor pools before and I was confident enough in Girl-Child’s abilities that I was able to leave her swimming alone while I went on the hydro-slide;
  • and what the shit is with this sound overload? I don’t think I had that before. It’s like my brain short-circuits and I lose the ability to think coherently. It’s new, it’s scary, and it’s stupid.

It’s the school holidays at the moment, so much to my relief, swimming lessons are on two-week break. Mr. Flatmate has suggested taking the kids to the pool several times, but every time he mentions it, I can feel the anxiety rising. I feel terrible, because I know how much they love going, but it fills me with so much dread. We’ll go back when lessons start again and I will make a conscious effort to have more faith in Girl-Child’s swimming abilities, and in Mr. Flatmate’s ability to keep her safe. My goal is to enjoy the Summertime at the pool and the beach with my babies, instead of being a shrieking Helicopter-mum putting the kibosh on their fun.