Category Archives: deep thoughts

An Eternity of Struggles

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (1937)

I’ve long struggled with the concept of self esteem. It’s such a cliched thing to admit to nowadays. It seems like everybody and their cousin has “self esteem issues.” Pick a new issue, I want to say. But then I realize I would be telling myself that as well.

When I was growing up, I didn’t have siblings to play with. I grew up essentially an only child from the age of about six onward thanks to an older brother who decided he no longer wanted to be apart of our family around then. He is ten years older than me and at that time, everybody was focused on him and his problems. Nobody seemed to notice the scared, quiet, emotional little girl. I know my parents tried their best to shield me and give me the attention I needed to grow up into an emotionally healthy adult, but I’m not sure it was always what I needed.

Teenage years were just that – teenage years. Any young girl will tell you that she’s not confident with herself, but my issues went beyond what most girls probably had. I was painfully shy, almost to the point of not being able to converse with people. I spent three years of high school not even going into the lunch room, choosing instead to hide in the newspaper office which I considered my refuge from people. I worked for the basketball team my junior and senior years of high school and was terrified to even walk out on the court during games because people might see me. I didn’t go to any dances, didn’t ask anybody on dates, didn’t get asked out on any myself and sure as hell didn’t consider myself on par with “the popular girls.”

College turned out to be no different. I was a tomboy in every sense of the word, preferring my basketball clothes to most any girly thing. I had makeup and pretty clothes, but I didn’t know how to use them and most of the time they sat in my closet, ready for the day when I would become more comfortable with myself.

It’s only been recently that I’ve felt more comfortable in my own skin, perhaps in the last two to three years. I guess I’m what you call a “late bloomer.” I’ve realized how to use the hoards of makeup I had amassed, but never bothered to use. I figured out high heels make my butt look good and that clothing should be tighter, rather than looser if I wanted to show off any type of feminine shape. As the saying goes, “Tight enough to show you’re a woman; loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

The self esteem issues are still there, no doubt. I struggle with the concept of self worth most, I think. That I’m worth someone’s time, someone’s energy, someone’s love and someone’s attention. I shouldn’t have to beg for any of those things and I sure as shit shouldn’t be wasting my own time with someone who won’t return those things. For about three to four years now, I’ve had a whiteboard that I’ve scrawled “You are worth someone’s time” posted on somewhere prominent in my apartment, only because sometimes I forget that concept if I’m not reminded of it. I’m still learning that – that I’m worth it. That I deserve better. That I deserve the best.

When I was much younger and still to some extent, I was a self-harmer. It was always little things. Showers that ran just a little too hot just to feel something. Tweezers that dug just a little too deep. Not eating for days at a time in the hopes of feeling that hungry feeling. There’s probably more little things that I don’t even realize are and were forms of self harm, quite frankly. Chasing after the wrong people knowing it was going to end in heartache. That’s probably a big one right there. That may just be a case of not learning from my mistakes.

In a lot of ways I worry that my interest in BDSM is just another version of self harm. If the whips, chains, floggers, paddles, clamps, and toys are just new ways to inflict harm upon myself. I’ve never managed to find myself in the elusive “subspace” everybody talks about, but a really good beating is very cathartic for me. It’s a watershed moment, often inducing major bouts of tears and leaving me feeling cleansed and fresh. The need for that release builds in my system, poisoning me and making me feel ill to the point of physical aches.

I’ve often been told that if you seek external sources of happiness you’ll never be happy inside. That the external validation can in no way compare to the internal validation I should be receiving from myself. I don’t disagree with this statement at all, but the problem is that I have yet to work out a sufficient way to provide that internal validation for myself. In my mind, I’m never quite good enough. Never quite pretty enough. Never quite smart enough. Never quite … anything enough. It’s a constant battle I have with myself trying to balance the “I’m better than you” feelings that come from an inflated ego and the “I’ll never be good enough” feelings from having low self esteem and low feelings of self worth.

It’s something I’m working on constantly. Seeking new paths. Seeking that inner peace and inner strength that I’ve so long been looking for. I hate making resolutions; they usually just end up failing. I think this year though I’ve made a new resolution that I will try my best to keep. My 2012 resolution? I will stop letting people make me feel like I’m worth anything except the best.

Medication Diaries

Disclaimer: Anything I say in this post is not intended as medical advice. I’m not advocating taking or not taking any particular medication nor saying that medication itself is a toxin. I’m merely relaying my experiences with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Before starting or stopping any form of treatment, please consult a licensed physician for your particular symptoms.

In December of 2009 I went to the doctor hoping to get some of my stress issues worked out. I could tell you all the symptoms I had, but by now I’ve forgotten most of them. The biggest was I knew I was having mini panic attacks most every day. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t dealing with stress in a way I knew how to. Exercise and meditation didn’t work for me either. It was no longer an issue about calming myself down and relaxing; it was much larger than that.

I talked to my doctor and she suggested I had a low grade form of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This wasn’t too much of a shock considering my father had been diagnosed with a somewhat more intense version of the same disorder. My doctor and I went through all the various options I had for treatment and we ultimately decided on a low dose of a combination anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication, Paxil. The dose was so low it was almost placebo level, but we wanted to see how I’d respond to it.

It was about two weeks when my first real side effects started to emerge. It was an interesting side effect too – my entire body was itching inside and out. My skin constantly felt like it was crawling. At the time I was wearing fake nails and I found myself itching my skin literally to the point of raising welts and drawing blood. My head itched so badly I had to start using anti-dandruff shampoo to calm my scalp down despite not having dandruff. I was using oatmeal-based body wash to calm my inflamed skin. I was mixing¬†antihistamine ointment with my sensitive skin oatmeal lotion to relieve more itching. ¬†Something wasn’t right. I’d never had these problems before. Sure, I felt more mentally stable, but it seemed to me like Paxil was giving me side effects that I couldn’t handle long term.

I went into see my doctor again and she switched me to a similar medicine, Lexapro. They’re all in the same family of drugs apparently. The Lexapro did the proper things such as making me more even mood wise, decreased my anxiety and the stress I was dealing with before was almost non-existent. But as the weeks wore on the itching that I had dealt with on Paxil had returned to the same level as before. I managed to keep taking it through finals because I need to be relaxed and dealing with those well enough. Finals ended and so did my Lexapro taking. I didn’t want to itch any more.

My general doctor had never heard of itching as a side effect. He consulted his colleagues and they’d never heard of it. He looked it up in books and found nothing. I looked it up online and only found one or two references to something similar. It took going to my dermatologist for an unrelated issue and asking him as an offhand question to figure out that I was allergic to these medicines. He told me that the itching was a side effect from some ingredient or something inside these medicines. It all made perfect sense. While some people steer clear of things they’re allergic to, like peanuts and shellfish, I was happily swallowing something that I was allergic to every morning.

I was in court one day doing status work during this past summer and right in the middle of court I got a panic attack. The world closed around me and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think; I couldn’t handle being there. I had to get out. I went home that day and realized that I needed to be on something. I went back to the doctor and this time I was recommended to be on Effexor. It was a similar drug, but slightly different. This time I was taking an SSRI. The doctor warned me that at some point if I went off it, the withdrawal from it would be much worse than both Paxil and Lexapro (on which I’d never experienced any kind of withdrawal.)

So how did Effexor work for me? Wonderfully in theory. My mental clarity was really good. I wasn’t as down on the whole. I could handle stressors very well when they arose and found myself in a much healthier mindset most of the time.

But there were side effects too. I had mood swings that could click on and off. I’d be happy for days on end and then *snap* something would happen. My depression would be extremely deep and it would take a lot for me to pull myself out of it. I had a period of depression that felt like it went on for weeks. Friends and family commented on it. I finally told my parents – “Hey, I’m really down and trying to do my best to get out of it, but just take time and have patience with me.” They were understandably worried as I was. I was starting to get mad at myself at how depressed I was. That period of time is something I’ve mentioned on here before. It damn near killed me. Then one day I woke up and decided “I don’t want to be depressed any more” and I was out of it. My happiness had returned.

I found my obsessive aspects of my personality kicking in as well. My collecting and hoarding tendencies grew and collections of things packed up in my apartment. It was weird almost. I didn’t see it as a problem at the time, but now looking back I see it wasn’t necessarily a side effect of the Effexor though it was something to think about and consider.

But as time went on, the itching that I had problems with on Paxil and Lexapro resumed, though to a lesser extent. My biggest side effect I noticed? I gained weight. Lots and lots of weight. Ten pounds in a matter of four months. That doesn’t sound like a ton of weight to the average person, but for someone who is 4’9″ that a lot of weight. I simply don’t have any place to put it. Granted my boobs got bigger and so did my ass, and I can’t debate that hasn’t produced some lovely attention but other parts of my body swelled. My calves, thighs, stomach. Even my fingers gained weight. My face got rounder. It wasn’t a pleasant thing at all. It was really starting to effect my ego as well as my anxiety there. I couldn’t fit into clothing that I’d ling since fit and looked good in. Not a big deal normally given clothes shrink over time. But when something I’d bought two weeks prior fitting nicely didn’t fit when I came back to it later in that two week time period, I knew things were starting to get out of hand.

That’s when I said enough was enough. I couldn’t do this any more. Between the itching, the mood swings, the weight gain and other minor side effects I couldn’t really identify specifically, I couldn’t take these medicines. The toxins I as willingly putting in my body had to go. Instead of addressing the underlying issues and again attempting to treat these things naturally, I was putting a Band-aid over a gaping wound so to speak. This wasn’t working at all.

So what did I do? I wouldn’t say it was the smartest thing in the world. I just stopped taking Effexor. Cold turkey. I took my last pill on Tuesday, October 19th and haven’t taken one since. The first day without medicine I felt fine. No side effects so I thought maybe the reports of withdrawal were overrated and over reported.

The next day though, my withdrawal officially started. Queasiness. Dizziness. Irritability. Pounding headache. I couldn’t eat anything. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t stand too long without wanting to fall over. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. It was essentially like the flu from hell. In my moments of lucidity and less queasiness thanks to drinking Pepto like water, I found what I was going through. It’s called SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. I looked up the symptoms and had just about all of them. I just hoped it wouldn’t last long considering I hadn’t been taking the Effexor for long in the first place.

It’s been just under a week now and I’m much better. The lingering side effect is a little bit of light headedness that does get a little worse as the day goes on, but nothing like two or three days after discontinuing my medicine. I would say I’m about 99% through what I’ve been calling detox and feeling better than ever.

So what lays ahead for me? Not mind-altering chemicals that’s for sure. I can’t take anti-depressants any more if they give me these side effects. It’s not worth it. When I feel like crap and feel bad about my appearance, I can’t do it. When I’m depressed for weeks on end when I’m already on anti-depressants, I can’t do it. When my moods swing to and fro like a child’s swing, I can’t do it. No, I don’t think anti-depressants are for me at all. I’m investigating herbal remedies and will work on overcoming this stress and anxiety through sheer willpower alone. I am mentally stronger than all this. I can do it.

Judge me or don’t judge me for what I’m doing. Call me stupid for doing this if you want, but this is my body. I can control what goes in and I’m saying I can no longer put these toxins inside me happily with these side effects. This is my life. I’m going to make the best I can of it, chemical free.

A Hurt Deep Inside

I have so much to say but I’m simply at a loss for words. The screen stares back at me, blank and waiting for the words to pour out. It’s ready for all the emotional revelations and deep emotional turmoil I’m suffering right now. And yet, all I want to do is cry. I want to cry and be held by the ones I love. The ones I will always love. Just when I think I’ve shed my last tear and I can start healing, the tears start again and don’t seem to stop.

I love V and J with all my heart. I love them like my soulmates, partners, best friends, confidants. Everything I could ever ask for in life. And yet somehow we’ve ended up separating. I’ve been convinced this is the best thing for now. I want to scream and rage and tell them they’re wrong. That the best thing is for us to be together and work through this. That we just need to keep trying to change the problems keeping us apart. That distance doesn’t matter when you love someone. That even if you only get to see them once a year, that’s enough. Okay, that last bit is a load of bullshit, but it’s how I get through my days.

I wake up and know they want me with them and I want to be with them. That will never change. Here I am, at 3 am sobbing my eyes out after having done so for almost three hours yesterday. Right now it’s a hurt that feels like it will never go away until I’m with them again and we can be one.

Through good times and the not so good times, I gave them everything. I opened my heart and showed them a side of me nobody has ever seen. I took down my thick, impenetrable walls I put up long ago to keep people out and to keep people from hurting me. Having let someone inside and then letting this happen, it’s a hurt I can’t even describe.

How can you love people so much you’ve never even touched? That you’ve never looked in their eyes and seen the love you know they have for you? How can you know they ache for your touch as much as you ache for theirs? I lay here and want nothing more in this world than to be theirs for all of time and want to spend every night in their arms.

Simple geography and forces beyond all our control are preventing this. I’m so mad at the universe for keeping me away from the two people I want to be with most. I want to rage and scream and blame so many things beside myself. I want to make it better and feel in control again.

But that’s not going to happen. I’m not in control and it scares me. I’m not in control of my own emotions, my own tears, my own love life, my own destiny. I can’t control the few things in this world I so desperately want to control. It would be so easy to drive to the airport right now, load my credit card up with plane tickets and never come back. To slip into bed with them and feel their warm skin against mine and know this was where I’m meant to be all along. How can something that feels so right be so impossible to accomplish?

I know I’m being tested right now. That some day all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and we will be together. It seems unlikely right now, but it’s a belief I have to cling to if I want to get through this. If I want to come through this on the other side.

I know some day I won’t feel this empty. I won’t feel this out of control. I won’t feel this broken. I won’t feel like my life I planned for has been taken away from me by forces beyond my control.

But for right now, that’s what I feel. There’s only two people in this world that can fix that feeling and I can’t be with them. I’m being denied the one thing that can heal this terribly broken and practically shattered heart of mine.

Until then, I will continue to cry.