Special Sauce

A mish-mash of twisted thoughts from a fevered ego. Updated when the spirit moves me, contents vary and may have settled during shipping. Do not open towards eyes. Caution: Ingestion of Special Sauce may cause hair loss, halitosis, and a burning sensation while urinating.


Funny you should mention...

I just want to thank the incredible Marilyn, also known as the Knitting Curmudgeon. Go over and check out her entry from the 18th. She got me thinking about my own mental-health issues, and those of others I know. If there are any family members reading this entry, you may want to just go ahead and skip this one. No. Really.

So, in the spirit of the curmudgeon, let me put this one out there for ya. Ever since High School, I dealt with what I now know to be social anxiety disorder. My senior year, I thought it was normal. I chalked it up to my parents splitting up, and the fact that I still had no idea what I was going to do with my life, I didn't date, and being reminded that I was "really pretty if you'd just lose some weight" by my mother probably didn't help much. I was pretty sure that everyone out there was not only staring at me, but that they were passing their own judgement, and making sure that not only they knew I was a big freak, but that all of their friends knew it too.

I would do everything in my power to make sure that nobody knew I was freaking out inside- lest that give them even more reason to hate or make fun of me. (In reality, I know that I probably didn't even register on their radar, but I was convinced otherwise.) I don't remember a whole lot of details about my Senior year. I remember a lot of dread, even now my stomach knots up just thinking about it. To cope, I wrote a lot of my thoughts down in journals- gave them to a co-worker who was studying to be a social worker. I could not and would not speak about it. It was physically impossible. I credit my co-worker for keeping me from doing something really stupid back then, and would love to find him today and thank him for it.

Eventually, I got a little better- didn't feel the constant dread of what others were thinking of me and excelled in customer service, of all things. I still worried about what other people thought of me, but as long as I slapped on a happy face, and convinced myself that I didn't care, I was fine. I even worked as a store trainer for a few years- one of the best acting jobs of my life. It was weird, having these people hanging on my every move- and it probably helped too, because I couldn't just hide in the back room (as oh, believe me, I wanted to), I had to force myself to sell them on the fact that I was both normal and happy. It tended to work, too. In fact, I was pretty much OK for six years.

In late 2001, I was in a new job and was under a lot of pressure- I had been rapidly promoted to the position I was in, had zero experience. I started to experience a lot of the same feelings I had in High School- a lot of dread, a lot of frustration, my mind was cycling 1000 times a minute, and I was convinced everyone was watching my every move. I'd get so frustrated I'd mangle my arms (never cutting, but scratching, scraping and brusing them just to experience the physical pain as an outlet for the mental bullshit). I was lucky enough to recognize that what I was doing and experiencing was not normal, and sought help.

When I actually got to sit down with a therapist, it did help somewhat. She told me that my perpetual freaking out, and worrying about stuff was actually anxiety, mixed with a heaping helping of social phobia. One of the symptoms is that I knew that my fears were irrational, but they were also very real. (Of course, I was also sitting there thinking to myself that "this woman is just telling me this, so she's got billable hours for me.") Talking helped for a while. Sometimes, just knowing that there is indeed a name for what's wrong with you, is a good thing.

I do know my symptoms are kicking up again, and I can figure out kind of why, so I'm trying to put things out here. Lately, working nearly alone, it's been pretty easy to fall into the hole, and not want to go anywhere, or see anyone. I have a lunch meeting with an old friend in two days, and have been moderately freaked out for a week. (Why? Couldn't tell you. But not only have I been rehearsing conversational topics, but I got a haircut, and am still mentally arranging wardrobe- will he care what I look like? nope. Will I continue to obsess? Probably) I don't see anyone at work all day, but worry anyway who will see me at the gas station when I get my coffee, and what they'll think. I know I'm doing it, and I know it's stupid- I also know that therapy, for the most part, isn't going to help without some medication too. That scares me. If I don't have a pill there, I can pretend that there's nothing wrong. I can stay in the house and pretend I'm not actually freaking out. I can be as suave as I want to be on the computer, and nobody has to know. Of course, now you know. (assuming you didn't skip out, after the first paragraph, and if you're related to me, please don't bring this up at thanksgiving, because I'm not prepared to deal with it in person right now.)

I am getting better at recognizing my symptoms. Doesn't make it a whole lot easier to quash them, but I know they're happening, and know that I only have 2 more months till my insurance kicks in. That helps. Writing about it helps too. Be forewarned, the next few entries may be a bit off from the usual Special Sauce-age. If you read this far, thanks.



Blogger Memphis Word Nerd said...

Hey, chica. I hate to hear that you're going through this. I'm a therapist working for a child and adolescent mental health agency so your description of your high school years really rings a bell for me. (I'm sure that you know the old cliche about why therapists choose this field in the first place...) I am so glad that you're seeing a counselor and that you're considering seeing someone about getting some meds. That takes a ton of bravery. I can't tell you how many of my patients are hesitant to try medication. I'll point out to you what I tell them: you wouldn't feel strange about taking meds for any other illness (eg, diabetes), right? So, let yourself off the hook about taking meds for an equally biochemical problem. For the record, let me point out that (here comes the disclaimer!) I am NOT offering professional advice because a) I have never met you and b) I do not have a license in your state (wherever that may be) and several other reasons. However I will say that if the anxiety rises to the point of actual panic attacks, I have known people who take Benadryl to dull the edge a little. It's not a long term solution but our nursing staff frequently gives it to patients who are not prescribed anything long-term yet. Now, back to the disclaimer: I am NOT saying that benadryl would help you (though it might); I'm just making conversation. :-) There, was that sufficiently lawyerish?

PS- While I'm on the subject, has anyone ever worked with you on simple deep breathing exercises? I get a lot of use out of those.

2:36 PM  

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