Eleanore Vs. Nobody Cares

Dearest readers,

My life recently has been intense to say the least, but now it’s settling down and I am relieved. The past week I have been even more full of anxiety than usual topped off with sheer panic about anything and everything. I have felt lonely despite being surrounded by incredibly loving people, my depression creeping up on me like the wicked Dementor that it has become. Though several of the stressors have now subsided, my panic is still here and as always, my anxiety disorder isn’t going anywhere. I think I need a million hugs.

Thankfully, I spent a mostly calm weekend with my boyfriend. I was laying in bed, waiting for him to shower as I  scrolled along Facebook when I came across a link that had to do with anxiety and relationships. It seemed right up my alley, so naturally, I clicked it. Within the article was a quote that instantly brought me to tears, for the truth of it stung at my heart. I can’t find the exact quote or article, but I still have that first sentence fresh in my mind:

People who have anxiety disorder are convinced that at some point, everyone will leave.

I was stunned by how one sentence could relate so much to one of the darkest parts of my mind that I often try to stifle.  To add to it, John Green, an author who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, said that when it comes to mental disorders such as mine and his, you must come to the realization that your brain lies to you constantly; and he could not be more right.

My anxiety and depression cause my brain to lie to me incessantly. Whether they are telling me I’m physically unattractive or screaming that I am not good enough for anything or anyone, they never quiet. They force me to rethink and constantly doubt, always feeling unsure about myself. When I commit to any outward expression of myself, my mental disorders instantly reply, “nobody fucking cares. Why are you even trying?”

Most recent I have noticed this with social media. I am painstakingly cautious about what I write and post, and even still, I have to look at each picture or read each post a dozen times over to be sure I want it to be seen. I regret nearly everything I do and constantly question every single word I post, wondering if it is important enough or clever enough to be read by others without wasting their time. At least a few times a day, I will write a post or a blog and then quickly delete it, because my brain convinces me that nobody cares.

Having an anxiety disorder makes it so that trusting anything is a difficult feat to accomplish; but the fact that many times I am afraid I can’t even trust myself makes everything far more difficult. The worst part of all is that I am fully aware that my brain is doing things wrong and isn’t working properly, but I cannot seem to stop it.

A while ago I was talking to my counselor about all this, and she suggested that anxiety disorder is much like a Chinese finger trap. The more you pull, the more tension you create. Since I’ve lived nearly 27 years with the illness, I’ve come to realize that she is incredibly accurate in her statement. In the words of the Borg, “resistance is futile.” Who knew they all had Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

If that is the case, I am left in a conundrum, because a mental disorder has a firm grip on my brain, but any attempts to fight it only makes the grip tighter. It seems the third option, and only way to actually get better, is to teach myself to turn the mental tables on my mind. To begin to tell my disorder what it has always told me. While it may take years of practice to get it right, at some point, I may be able to have a thought, and let it pass rather than latching onto it and obsessing for days, letting it consume all my other thoughts making it impossible to think clearly.

I look forward to the day I am able to tell my disorders with confidence, after all it’s kicking and screaming, “you know what? Nobody cares.”

Dig down, dig down, dig down,
And find faith.
When you’re close to the edge,
With a gun to your head,
You must find a way.

~Dig Down – Muse ( I encourage everyone to watch this video featuring the gorgeous Lauren Masser, a disabled actress/model).

 

 

Eleanore Vs. Coping with Dementors

Dearest readers,

I had a truly lovely and perfect weekend. Afterwards, I came home to instantly fall into a pit of depression, and those two sentences don’t quite make sense together. You see, depression is a difficult illness for approximately five billion reasons. For me, one of the most irritating is that I have found that even the best days can still end with me feeling dreadful, because (much to my frustration) there is not always correlation between my mental health and my experiences.  While everyone has off days, for many people good days lead to good moods and bad ones lead to…well…bad ones. It makes perfect sense. Depression, however, enjoys being nonsensical.

I have tried to create a system to help myself when I feel utterly hopeless. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I always try to give it an honest shot. It is mostly comprised of distracting myself with things I enjoy doing, talking to my friends and resting until the Dementors (more commonly known as depression) in my brain start to move on. When all else fails, I turn to a crisis hotline. The weight of my depression last night became too much, and I felt myself slipping, so I made the decision to call.  A kind woman answered and after the initial questionnaire asked what prompted me to reach out to her. She listened through my entire soliloquy patiently.

Towards the end of the conversation we talked about how I might cope with this illness that I often feel I have no control of. This part of the conversation can sometimes be frustrating. I become annoyed because it can seem like very generic coping mechanisms are introduced to me, and though the others are trying their best, it doesn’t always help. I was surprised when the first thing she asked me was not, “what do you usually do to help yourself?” like I had experienced so many times before, but rather asked, “when was the last time your depression was this severe to the point of complete hopelessness?”

I was slightly stunned by this unexpected question. After a moment of thought, I replied that the last I remembered was two Thursdays ago, when I felt like a I was crumbling completely. She then followed with, “so it has been a little over a week since you last felt this terrible. That means that in between that time, there were parts that were far less horrible, and some that were even good.” This was truly a revelation to me. I had never thought of it this way, but she was completely right.

I admitted how wowed I was by her take on the matter, and that I had never had it presented to me in such a way before. I continued on to explain that because I also have PTSD and Anxiety Disorder on top of my depression I struggle to stay in the moment. We both agreed that since I cannot stay in the moment, I can try to look forward and back at more positive things rather than negative experiences that only worsen my mental health. If my mind demands to leave the moment, I can at least have some say in what it is going back to revisit, or what it is looking ahead towards. I can have at least a little more control. I really adored this sort of thinking, because it wasn’t about forcing me to get over it or cheer up, but instead encourages me to better navigate the current predicament.

When I hung up I started to feel that some of the monstrous weight of my depression had been alleviated. I wasn’t completely okay, but I began to feel hopeful about the fact that I had been given a new, truly effective way to handle my depression, and felt a spark of excitement as I contemplated how I would go about using them in the future.

Yesterday I described depression to the woman on the phone as if I was sitting in a house that was melting around me. It feels like there is nothing I can do to save myself or the house; I am completely stuck.  While my depression sometimes does lead to complete apathy, most of the time it comes with an array of emotions. It is comprised of impossible exhaustion, crippling sorrow, and overwhelming fear that seeps deep into me. I despise how I am during my depressive episodes and I would do anything to get avoid them. However, I must gently remind myself that  improving from any illness is a journey. I have had my depression as well as most of my illnesses the majority of my life; most of them are incurable. I may have depression for the rest of my life, and I may never be fully cured of it. But if I can learn to cope with it even at its most intense and move through it, then I have a fighting chance at life, with or without my mental illness.

Note: Since childhood I always described depression as an insidious, black, shapeless thing that takes over my mind. It only occurred to me last week that the closest thing that is similar to this is Dementors – I will probably use this imagery in my writing for the rest of forever. 

I missed the last bus, I’ll take the next train,
I try, but you see, It’s hard to explain.
I said the right things, but act the wrong way,
I like it right here , but I cannot stay.
I watched the TV, forget what I’m told,
Well I am too young, and they are too old.
The joke is on you, this place is a zoo,
You’re right, it’s true.

~Hard to Explain – The Strokes

 

 

Eleanore Vs. The Infinite, Inside Battle

 

Dearest readers,

Today the weather matches my insides. The sky has returned to its usual grey gloom, raining not enough to be beautiful but just enough to make the day feel a little bit sad. I awoke this morning sore and unrested despite oversleeping, and as I became more conscious my mind felt the fog of depression slowly creeping in. I slumped down the staircase feeling as if I had already been defeated before the day had begun.

Sometimes my depression is triggered while other times it decides to antagonize me just because it has the option. Most days I can fight back furiously, managing to quell it before it turns monstrous, while other times it starts out as a leviathan that easily takes me over. Instead of fighting I can only try my best to survive with it until it returns to the back of my mind where it waits until it decides to attack once more.

As I have expressed before, due to my many  illnesses, treating one without aggravating the others has become a complicated challenge. I have tried many medications for my anxiety and depression, yet every single one gives me either an allergic reaction or some other adverse effect that make me more unhealthy; I’m not a doctor, but I’m sure it isn’t supposed to go that way.For many of my illnesses I am left to my own devices when it comes to treatment. It is unbelievably irritating and frustrating because being sick is difficult, but being sick without much help, mental or physical, is infinitely worse.

I’ve noticed that despite becoming consistently more open in my blog, I seem to be doing the opposite in my daily life. Lately I am somewhat adverse to expressing how I truly feel to those closest to me. Part of me believes this is because I am exhausted of people not knowing what to say, minimizing me or not listening at all. This exhaustion is a mix of aggravation and fear, and it keeps me silent, or at most only expresses a small part of how I feel rather than being entirely honest. I realize how strange this is considering I seem perfectly fine with bearing my soul to the entire internet, but what can I say. I’m a little bit odd.

Though parts of this is a mystery to me, every part of my being agrees that I absolutely hate feeling this way. It is unsettling to feel as if my body is weighed down with concrete while my mind is clouded by unbearable sadness. I keep thinking to myself that I feel like this for no reason, but then remind myself that having clinical depression for my entire life is certainly a good enough reason to feel unwell some days.  All day I have felt on the verge of tears, a fragile doll just moments away from falling to pieces. No matter what I do, my depression is louder than my favorite albums, snuggling with a puppy or a warm dish of food I made for myself. My depression is blaring, heavy and as distracting as it can possibly be.

Earlier I had a short conversation with my Momma Rose who I truly adore. She asked me how I was and she could tell that something was clearly amiss, so we sat down and I explained to her just how I was feeling. Finally my tears spilled over onto my cheeks, and I felt myself beginning to come undone. Later on my friend asked me how I was, and I honestly told him, too, to which he replied that he’d do anything he could to help me through my day. It certainly helps when people who are dear to me offer their support, but despite this kindness, depression is cruel and unfair, and I honestly don’t know what I need from myself or others to improve it. I wish more than anything that I knew so that I could ask for help, but the more I try to find an answer the farther I seem to be. I feel helpless as well as irritating to those I love who are caring enough to try to support me, even when none of us are sure how to do it.

Long story short, depression really fucking sucks. I wish I could stick a vacuum in my brain to have it all sucked out of me, but unfortunately that isn’t an option. Whether I am having a good day, an alright day or an impossible day, my depression is always lingering within me. It is always a little cold spot in my heart that keeps frigid no matter how warm I am made to be. Even still, I hope that both myself and those I love never stop trying to give me the warmth I so desperately need on days like these.

Credit for the above art goes to not me (but I am unsure who did it since I used the magical google machine to find it). 

And now it’s getting dark and the sky looks sticky,
More like black treacle than tar.
Black treacle,
Somebody told the stars you’re not coming out tonight;
And so they found a place to hide.

~Arctic Monkeys – Black Treacle 

Eleanore Vs. Unicorns (Yes. Unicorns)

Dear fabulous creatures,

Life has been crazy, which nowadays is normal for me. Does that make it less crazy? I’m not actually sure…but I digress. In a wonderful turn of events I’ve found a place to live, and even though it isn’t ideal, it is far better than the situation I’m currently in, so I’m trying my best to fight the part of me that’s a grumpy little asshole and be optimistic. My optimism is laced with anxiety and stress; in the next three weeks, I’ll be working both my jobs, packing up, moving, then traveling to Michigan to spend Christmas with a wonderful friend. While most of these events are positive, it all is going to take one thousand percent of my effort, which converted into average person effort seems inadequate. Through all the hustling and bustling I’m left wondering, can I really handle all this?

I have written before about minimizing, gas-lighting and other annoying things people do to us chronically ill folk. However, I don’t think I’ve brought up one that I’ve been experiencing especially often lately. I call it the Unicorn Problem. If that phrase means something else, forget about that definition because mine is better. Okay, well I don’t know about that, but just go with it, okay?

Between my chronic illness, my abusive family and then loss of family, break-ups, moves, and other tasking surprises my life has presented me with, I’ve almost always had to exert myself more than I really should. I push myself in the words of Deadpool, putting in my “maximum effort,” and usually regret it. I end up in CFS relapse or some version of sick that makes accomplishing my goals even more difficult than it already was. When I talk to those I care about, they often reply, “just believe in yourself, you’ll get through it!” While this is a potentially harmless, rainbow and dolphin-filled exclamation, they’re missing the point (or should I say horn? No?…sorry).

I completely agree that we should absolutely believe in ourselves. Having faith instilled in us that we can overcome great obstacles can keep us moving forward through even the most nightmarish periods of life.Not to mention having the support of the people I love is immensely important to my wellbeing. My problem with telling a chronically ill person this, though, is that it insinuates that I am somehow responsible for my physical pain and illnesses, that I’m not trying hard enough, or that I need an attitude adjustment. Furthermore it assumes that I will “get better” from my chronic illnesses while denoting how much blood and glitter I put into every bit of stardust that my life is comprised of.

Allow me to say it louder for the people in the back: Chronically ill people are not unicorns. No matter how hard we believe, stomp our feet or clap our hands, we will not magically become less sick. I’m not saying that our minds don’t affect our bodies; on the contrary, I constantly affirm how emotions and mental illnesses cause physical and mental suffering. But again, the problem lies in how flighty the phrase, “just believe in yourself,” truly is, and how it often feels like a dagger being shoved into my heart, even when it is meant as innocently as possible.

If you’re wondering what a better phrase may be, how about saying, “I understand that you have a great deal to overcome, more than most, but I believe in you, and I know you’ll get through this.” Acknowledging pain is unbelievably important. A few days ago I wrote a fairly depressing post, and as I’ve mentioned before, I often feel immediately guilty after hitting “publish.” I must constantly affirm that the very reason I created this blog was not to romanticize illness. I created this blog to be a raw reflection of my life, for all the goodness and all the misery, because every part of my life contributes to who I am as a person.

As I reach the end of this post I come to understand that the largest reason I find the Unicorn Problem insufferable is because being someone who is chronically ill and in constant pain takes more faith and mental strength than many others realize. Those of us who are chronically ill have to wake up every single morning and make the decision that we will tirelessly fight through our days despite all our illness, and making that decision is never easy. Nearly every morning I find myself wishing for more rest as it seems I am always lacking, and feel pain surging through me. Despite it all, I have to convince myself to get my day started. If that isn’t a testament to how much I believe in my abilities, I simply don’t know what is.

I may not be a unicorn with a luxurious mane, a spiraling horn and a satin coat. However, I think that myself and others like me are equally impressive. The strength it takes to be like us is certainly something extraordinary, and even if others don’t acknowledge it, we always should. For all we have overcome, all we are currently fighting, and all that we will do, every part of our lives deserve to be seen and heard. If there is one thing our society needs more of, it’s belief that every part of a human life is important, even the not so pleasant parts.

Whatever you are fighting or suffering through, if you feel that you are lacking acknowledgment or belief, know this my darling reader; I know how alienating and alone being constantly unwell feels and I see you. I believe in you just as I believe in myself, and that will never stop, even on the days that every single part of my body is screaming in pain. I will scream too, and I will cry because of my discomfort, but even if I lose a thousand times over, I will keep going. I will always keep going not because I’m a unicorn, but because I am me, and after an entire lifetime of self deprecation, I’m finally starting to realize that that’s pretty spectacular, too.

And this will be,
The one moment that matters.
And this will be,
The one thing we remember.
And this will be,
The reason to have been here.
And this will be,
The one moment that matters at all.

~ One Moment – Ok Go (if you haven’t seen this video, see it. It’s astonishingly beautiful). 

 

Eleanore Vs. Her Static Brain

Dearest readers,

Last Wednesday my anxiety decided to surge and caused me to feel electrified in the most unpleasant way. Saturday I went to see Fantastic Beasts, which truly lived up to its name, and I was beginning to feel better until my disassociation ring  (click the blue to read about it after) exploded off my finger 30 minutes into the movie. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss it until it was gone, and now that I am without the grounding tool I had gotten used to, I am feeling so much worse.

I was hoping the weekend would improve my disposition, but Sunday I received awful news about my brother whom I no longer talk to, and my heart ached. Since then, I have felt exceedingly fragile, as if I am a porcelain doll that has already been broken and glued back together several times. My glue is weakening and I find myself in a state of grief, quickly moving from feeling  calm, to over anxious, to being reduced to a teary mess.

While I don’t wish to speak specifically of the source of my heartbreak, my grief comes from not only the bad news, but from the realization that my siblings and I have been abandoned by our parents from the very beginning. Now, all three of us struggle for different reasons, and though one of our parents is aware of our suffering, they still refuse to care or shed even a drop of empathy upon us. I grieve for everything my siblings and I never had, for the love we were not given, and for everything we must fight now in order to survive and hopefully thrive. This single thought has stuck with me the past few days, and I find myself crying constantly, my depression and anxiety at an all time high. It feels like that scene in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, where Scott is completely abandoned in the desert, as you can see in the featured photo.

All of this has made thinking about anything extremely difficult. Despite my heath issues I usually try to be as productive as possible, but my depression has made everything feel impossible. I’m weak and heavy, and while my thoughts normally explode in my brain like fireworks, they’re now lacking color and are mostly smoke. Depression and anxiety are both tricky monsters, and together they’re even worse. People sometimes talk about depression and how it causes feelings of overwhelming sadness or complete apathy. They talk about how it makes living a futile chore. We also talk about anxiety, our brains being constantly over stimulated with calculations and worry, and the illusion anxiety gives of a heart aching to explode out of our chests. All of these descriptions are completely true; but when you have both anxiety and depression, the symptoms are all swirled together for the perfect mental nightmare.

I always make sure that my readers know I talk from my own experiences alone, because my life is the only one I have lived. I don’t speak for every chronically ill person, every woman, or every person who struggles with mental illness. Of course, it is always my hope that my words are relatable; nothing pleases me more than when I get a comment from someone being told that they feel like I “get it.” After all, what’s a better feeling than knowing that you are understood?

That being said, to me having anxiety and depression at once feels someone keeps abusing my light switch. They turn my switch upwards and everything launches into action at once; my anxiety goes into warp speed, my worries and fears storm my mind, the pain in my muscles, nerves and joints surge. Suddenly I’m shut off, and while the anxiety and pain is still there, it is blanketed by exhaustion and heaviness. I still feel fear, but rather than being overcome with worry I think, “who cares?” as I struggle to stay awake and find a reason to keep going through my day. Just when I think that at least feeling heavy and tired is better than feeling like I’m bursting at the seams, my switch is flipped again, and my brain is once again filled with static.

Living this way is miserable, and of course when I talk to most people about it, their first reaction is, “you need medication!” Nothing aggravates me more than this suggestion. While medications are certainly useful, they aren’t magical cures to a problem. They’re supplementary, meant to be only part of a whole treatment. They also usually forget that I have tried to take both anxiety medications and depression medications, and every single time, I’m left with either a severe allergic reaction or worsened anxiety and depression to the point where I’m manic. Some have even made me hallucinate which is anything but helpful.

I have all this suffering and pain, all this illness while living in a city that is not my own and I have no medication I am able to take. My doctors and psychiatrists are now too afraid to give me anything else for fear I’ll either go insane or anaphylactic. Once again I feel abandoned, carrying the weight of a thousand lives rather than just my own. As I’ve said before, many days it feels like it’s all just too much for one girl to carry, especially since I have many other illnesses besides these two.

I feel paralyzed by everything going on in my body and mind, yet I still have to function.  I still have to go to work at my current job and start my new part time job tomorrow, all while pretending nothing is wrong. I still have to cook and keep my home tidy, do all kinds of paperwork and keep my life running. Though I have rested the last few days, I don’t feel any better at all. Sleep isn’t even enough at this point, and this morning when I talked to my social worker on the phone, I had nothing to say aside for “I don’t know,” when she asked what she could do to help me.

I feel sick, heartbroken, defeated and lost, yet at the same time I feel as if I don’t have any time to feel it. I haven’t even had time to grieve the death of my grandfather in April or the end of my two and a half year relationship in September because I’m just struggling to survive. I believe that not being given the ability to properly cope only adds to more sickness, and I can feel it all bearing down on me. The worst part of all this is two weeks ago a few major changes happened that made me absolutely ecstatic; I felt less sick, amazingly happy and excited for my life. I wish it had lasted longer, but it never takes long for life to grab me from a high point and drag me back down.

Each night I go to bed, regardless of how the day was, I tell myself, “I hope tomorrow is better.” Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, but my hope always remains.  I’ve only been awake today for two hours, but I can already tell today is going to be rough, so I will say it now rather than waiting for my bedtime- I hope, as I always do, that tomorrow is so much better.

These silent hearts we hold within our hands,
Within my heart, the rush is just the same.
These silent hearts, protect it from the dark.
And let silence be broken.

These Silent Hearts – BT

Eleanore Vs. A Little More Anxiety!

TW: bugs! 

Dear darling deers (I just watched The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe so my mind is foresty), 

Last week I pushed myself farther than I probably should have and as a result I ended up suffering for it; but that’s how this whole chronically ill thing tends to go.  As I have said before in a post a little ways back, one of the most frustrating things about being chronically ill is not knowing if you’re simply sick from everything you already have, or if your symptoms are something to be worried about. This time, I’m quite sure I’m just unbearably tired. 

On Saturday which was the last day of my super busy week, after only 5 hours of sleep and 9 long hours at work, I returned home and all I could think about was rest. My bed had become a long lost lover that my heart had been aching for all week. We were constantly reunited, then ripped away from one another too soon. Okay..maybe I’m being dramatic. But really, I was as my grandmother often says, kaput!

I waddled from one room to another, took a warm shower and contemplated falling asleep in it, and turned on my tea kettle to make hot water for the water bottle I put on my incessantly aching back. I went to my bedroom to lay on the bed and wait for the horror-like screaming of my tea kettle. I lay there staring at the ceiling, fighting sleep in any way I could so that the stove wouldn’t burn down my home. As my eyes wandered about my bedroom I finally saw it; a giant, grey,  spindly moustache sitting on my wall.

If you’re wondering what a spindly moustache was doing on my wall, allow me to explain. Here in Missouri we have creatures called house centipedes, and they horrify me because I come from the magical land of California where we had our fair share of bugs…but we did not have big, grey centipedes. I glared up at it and thought how nothing, not even this creepy little fucker, would keep me from the sleep I so desperately needed. I grabbed a ball of paper towels and stepped up on the bed to reach it. I could kill the bug. I was a big girl or something like that! I own tablecloths! 

Several times I moved my hand to reach up and destroy it, but each time its freakish feelers would slowly move, and it felt as if they were grazing my skin. I imagined the bug jumping on me, feeling the texture of it. My imagination betrayed me and I began to feel more and more uncomfortable. My anxiety built up and I become nervous. “But it’s only a bug!” I kept telling myself. “A harmless, stupid little bug!” Still, I could not manage to kill it.

I am extremely fortunate that my landlord is not only a kind person, but has become my good friend. I’ve called him several times to rescue me from wasps, and though house centipedes are mostly harmless (at least that’s what they want me to think), he is aware that I suffer from anxiety and have a moderate fear of bugs. Even butterflies and fireflies give me the creeps most of the time. Since I heard him walking around outside, I called him asking to remove the spindly moustache from my home because I was completely exhausted. He agreed to come up and I told him he was my hero; after at all, I do often feel like a princess in a tower surrounded by bugs.

My landlord came up and the spindly moustache was sitting at the corner of the doorway. My landlord took the fly swatter he had given to me a few months ago and whacked it. Of course this was the exact opposite of what I was hoping would happen. To my horror, the centipede fell into my bed and ran off.  Seeing the bug in my bed sent me into a panic. I asked him to try to help me find it, but he had to leave. I felt my tears rising in my eyes while my anxiety rose in my chest. I told myself how immature it was to feel so terrified by a harmless insect and I hated myself for getting so upset. I felt the judgment of my friend and landlord, and was embarrassed to have him see me so anxious over such a ridiculously minor problem. The sleep deprivation was not helping. 

After I composed myself (sort of kind of) I changed my bedsheets and shook out my blankets to make absolutely sure the bug was nowhere to be found. Finally I felt safe to sleep, yet every time I relaxed I would feel the sensation of something crawling on me, and it made truly resting exceedingly difficult. I had planned to sleep for at least two hours; instead, I slept for only 30 minutes.  I woke from my nap hardly feeling rested, but I finally gave up and decided try to make some dinner instead.

I am aware that my reactions to certain situations do not make sense to those around me. Some of the circumstances that make me extremely nervous like insects, going to a gas station, or being in a crowded shop are only minor inconveniences to others. It can also be confusing that sometimes I am not as bothered by these situations while other times they cause me a great deal of stress. I’ve been called childish, immature, drama queen, attention whore, and every other sideways insult that others can think of in these situations. I’ve been told that I “just need to relax,” that it’s “not that big of a deal,” and that “everything is fine.” Of course, none of these phrases help. Ever.

The mechanisms of anxiety are extremely complex and though I have lived with it all my life, at times I still don’t completely comprehend it all. I don’t entirely understand why some days I feel like being in a crowd may make me burst, while other times I’m only made to feel mildly nervous. If anything I assume that external factors such as the remainder of my illnesses, my amount of stress and how much sleep I get aggravates my anxiety to make it more or less tolerable. As much as I try, I cannot always help these factors, and so I end up in tears because a spindly moustache has fallen into my bed. Truthfully, this wasn’t only about the bug. My tears were a manifestation of every negative thing I was feeling at that moment in time, and the centipede was the gross little cherry atop my clusterfuck sundae.

Having anxiety causes me embarrassment, and that feeling of embarrassment makes feel worse both mentally and physically. It tells my self deprecation, “hey! come play with my brain, I didn’t need to think straight today anyway!’ It’s exhausting to constantly have to apologize for myself, to see people roll their eyes at me or get angry with me, even exasperated at times. I wish they could understand that I’m just as frustrated as they are, if not more so. It gets tiresome to replay every situation in my head a thousand times, thinking about all the dreadful impressions I’ve given the people around me. 

I am well aware that my anxiety affects others around me; but the fact remains that it affects me the most, and while I definitely I try to understand that it isn’t always easy to deal with, I hope that people understand that I’m not doing these frustrating things on purpose. I wish I could be calm and collected, the kind of person who can do martial arts and rescue people from supernatural dangers and maybe even kill her own bugs. I am not that person, at least for now. While I’m trying to make who I am better and healthier, it is an extremely long process.

Currently, I am the girl who is terrified of bugs and who gets anxious regardless of how I try not to. I am a silly girl that cries easily, sometimes from anxiety, sometimes from sadness and sometimes from happiness, or a sweet end to a film. I’m the person who is going to need help on occasion, both mentally and physically, even though I desperately wish that I didn’t. I need to be told a thousand times a day that I’m safe because anxiety and physical illness often causes me to forget or doubt it. I need to be constantly told that I am supported, and that as frustrating as I can sometimes be, I’m still loved anyway. 

To my friends that have to deal with me at my best and worst moments, I hope you understand that I truly am trying my best at all times, it just doesn’t always work. I understand that you’re doing the same, and I’m so thankful for those that have helped me through especially some of the worst parts of my life and who have seen me at my least composed. It would be significantly more difficult to be myself if not for those who love me through the trials of my life. 

Anxiety is a sneaky, hidden illness. Other times, the bastard is painfully obvious and impossible to stow away. Either way, though it may not seem like it, it is always with me, resting beneath my skin like a monster waiting for someone to dare to enter its cave. I’m doing everything I can to gain control of it, and I am confident that between time and my hard work, I will. For now, I’m hoping that if I understand that those I love are unaccustomed to how my mind functions, and they understand that I’m constantly fighting battles that I win yet also lose, I truly believe that we can get through anything; even an uprising of spindly Missouri moustaches. Moustachi? Meestach? Plurals are hard (As you can see by my silliness, I’m not quite over my exhaustion just yet. Back to bed I go).

A downward spiral just a pirouette, Getting worse til there’s nothing left.
What good comes of something when I’m just the ghost of nothing?
I’m just the man on the balcony singing, “Nobody will ever remember me, ”
Rejoice, rejoice and fall to your knees.
Lunatic of a god or a god of a lunatic?
Oh, their faces are dancing, they’re dancing til
Til they can’t stand it.
A composer but never composed,
Singing the symphonies of the overdosed.

~ From Now On We Are Enemies – Fall Out Boy

Eleanore and the Magic Ring Vs. Everything

Dear dancing phalanges (if you don’t understand that reference, click here, you’ll be glad you did),

After much struggle, I finally found a counselor to help me and I am so thankful for her. We have been working on my mental health and though it has only been a month I am already feeling small differences. My counselor, Erin, is smart and compassionate, exactly what a counselor should be. Surprisingly, she’s a psychology student, but despite her still being in school she’s better than most of the counselors I’ve ever had. I am fortunate she was assigned to me.

During my last few appointments we have been discussing one of the problems I have that I really hate talking about, for fear that people will think I’m either crazy or lying. Or both. After speaking with her and realizing that this is surprisingly not just me, I’ve decided to come out about it, so it’s super transparent Eleanore time. Aside from having PTSD, Anxiety Disorder and depression, I have struggled with disassociation for as long as I can remember. I understand that this makes very little sense. Allow me to remedy that.

There is a disorder called Dissociative Identity Disorder, known more commonly as multiple personality disorder. This is not the illness I suffer from. What I do suffer from is dissociation between my soul and my body; at least, that’s the easiest way to explain it. It makes me feel as if my soul and body are separated, my soul happily floating in the atmosphere while my body hops about the Earth. When I was younger, I used to imagine my soul swimming about the galaxies, an airy and carefree version of myself tethered to me by only a thin string of stars. I explained this to a few people, all of which thought I was being imaginative at best and strange at worst. So, I stopped talking about it while continuing to living feeling as if I was not a whole person.

My dissociation also affects my senses. When I touch certain items it seems as if I can’t completely feel them. I’m only feeling 50% of what is really there. Extremely smooth materials such as tiles, satin, and leather bother me because not only do their textures make me uncomfortable, but it also seems I can’t get much sensation from them. Things that are textured such as stone, carpets, and beardy faces, however, are my favorite things because since they are a bit more rough, I can sense them more. If you have a beard, beware, because I will try to touch it. I’ll ask permission first of course, I’m not a weirdo, but I will work to be as convincing as possible that I should be allowed to do so. #sorrynotsorry.

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease I struggled with numbness and tingling in my hands. I had found out that nerve damage was often associated with Celiac Disease and was worried that my hands would go numb forever. However, as I received more care the numbness improved, and while my hands still shake and hurt many days, I’ve never been diagnosed with any nerve issues in my hands. While this was somewhat of a relief, it also made me frustrated as I could not figure out while I often felt like I couldn’t sense half the world.

Several counselors I have had before would mention disassociation here and there, but would never think much of it. Until I saw Erin, it became a fact of my life. I was doomed to feel disconnected from my soul, from my world, unable to feel all that I wanted to. Somedays it is worse and some days it is better, but it never fully goes away, and with my attitude, it never would. As I became more comfortable with Erin we began to dissect my disassociation, and to my relief she helped me to discover that this problem is actually symptomatic of PTSD. She explained that it was as if my whole being was attempting to protect me from experiencing more pain than I’ve already had to deal with. This made everything worse because my lack of senses depresses me, which in turn makes my disassociation worse, which makes me more numb. After we contemplated my situation she gave me the idea to find something I can keep on me that is a texture I enjoy, so that when needed I can touch it and bring back my feeling.

Since finding a cute, beardy hipster guy to follow me around forever might be a little weird, I thought for quite a while what I would ideally have on me, and I settled on a ring. I’ve always liked rings, and it would be something easily carried while remaining inconspicuous. The material that popped into my mind was Marcasite, a type of pyrite stone. When my siblings and I were younglings, all three of us had rock collections. My sister had a beautiful, dark piece of pyrite that I was always quite jealous of. Thinking about it now, I liked it so much because of its texture; rough enough to allow me to feel while not being painful or uncomfortable. Marcasite is used to make jewelry that often looks like this:

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It’s the perfect texture and I would get a ring such as this but the whole being poor as balls things means that I can’t afford a damn thing. I felt particularly frustrated until I realized that I had an entire box of beads and everything I needed to make a ring myself. So, I broke out the beads and made my disassociation ring. It looks like this.

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I’ve ended up absolutely loving it. As soon as I put it on my finger, I began to play with it, and I have been doing so ever since. While I hope that I can get a marcasite one eventually, for now, the little black beads hanging out on my finger are a lovely start. It’s comforting for my anxiety and my dissociation, and while this is a very tiny step thanks to a very tiny ring, I’m hoping that it’s the first of many on my way to being healthier mentally and physically. The idea that my dissociation is something that can be treated and helped gives me so much hope. While I wish I could eventually knock off every single illness on my list, I realize that’s not entirely possible; but if I can remedy just a few and refrain from getting any others I’ll be more than satisfied.

Here’s to all of us being on the way up, and as always, a step closer to living the best versions of our lives despite that which deters us.

You have become what you have always been,
Life, figuring out, peripheral vision
No words we can speak, our paths have been chosen.
But all the trails that we trek, should lead us back to here.
Because our love comes again,
Just when I’ve broken down I found love can come again.
You gotta believe that love comes again,
Just when I’ve broken downI found love can come again.

 

 

 

 

Eleanore Vs. Talking Like a Tree

Dearest readers,

It’s very early in the morning and I did not sleep well so I currently lack the ability to come up with a creative greeting; my apologies.

The world has seemed chaotic lately. There’s confusion, sadness, anger and all sorts of other emotions being thrown every which way. It has provoked my anxiety so much so that I, the social media alien princess, have had to remove myself from just about all social media save for WordPress. Of course, I have thoughts and feelings about the current state of the world, and I will share them, but not until the world has calmed as is ready to hear me. Right now, I don’t think many people are capable of listening. All that being said, if you are like me and are overloaded by current events, don’t worry; this has nothing to do with any of it.  

A few days ago I had a spectacularly long conversation with a new friend who has quickly become one of my very favorite humans to talk to. We spoke on the phone for hours until the day had ended and a new one had begun. As I’ve said before, I constantly crave delicious human interaction. I’m a conversation addict, drawn to people who both love to express and think while allowing me to do it with them.

We conversed about everything and anything, he talked and I listened and replied, I talked more and he did the same. I at one point became hyper aware of just how much I was speaking and I brought up the fact that every boyfriend, friend, and family member have at some point told me in disdain that I just “talk too much.” I’ve told him this several times before because after having it drilled in my head, I’ve become highly self-conscious about not only how much I speak, but how I speak in general. I have also been constantly told that I’m hard to follow and some have gone further to tell me that I make their heads hurt. As I had expressed to my other friend Danull not long ago, I have decided that when I meet someone who doesn’t ever tell me that, especially in order hurt me, I should probably marry them straight away. I’m kidding of course. Mostly.

My friend then brought up the fact that I serpentine when I have conversations. I tangent, I come back, new things come up and things get lost and sometimes returned. The moment he said this, I had a flashback to the ancient times of the 90’s, playing the video game Snake on my mother’s flip phone. I imagined the snake gobbling up little 8-bit blocks and growing a block longer, then moving on to the next poorly animated victim. The black, pixel-y snake slithered across my mind, and I could see his point, but I felt it wasn’t entirely accurate as to how I felt. Then suddenly an idea hit me and caused me to blurt, “I think I talk like a tree.”

His immediate reaction was, “like Treebeard?” Which, for any self respecting nerd is of course the first thing we’d think of, though I did not mean it as literally as a Tree Ent. What I do mean is that every conversation I have begins as a tree trunk. As I think, converse and discover, my trunk grows a few thick, sturdy branches. As we continue more branches appear, some thick enough to swing on and others not quite so strong, others simply twigs that are barely visible from a distance. The branches continue to grow, reaching for the sky until they’re all over, and then all at once they start to grow leaves. The leaves fill out the emptiness between the branches. My conversation is complete, the zigging and zagging connected by the leaves, the overall point of the conversation. To me, most lengthy conversations with dear friends always have the same point; to hear one another, to connect, and to learn.

I realize that talking like a tree is not everyone’s cup of tea (oh how cute, that unintentionally rhymed!) and as the great Olan Rogers states, “you cannot make everyone happy. You are a not a pizza.” Even still, I suppose because I constantly find myself in such dire need of human connection, when those connections fail, it saddens me and causes me to feel alienated and strange. While part of me thinks that if every conversation were to blossom into a full, beautiful tree, they would lose their remarkableness, the other part of me would like to think that at least with a select few in my life we are capable of growing entire forests together. That thought leaves me ecstatic.

There’s also the problem of my speech impediment and how quickly I speak. I’m sure part of the reason I speak so fast is simply because I’m from Northern California and we’re all just a tiny bit insane. Recently, in this same conversation, I had the miniature epiphany that my anxiety also plays a part in my thoughts flying out of me like fireworks. I assume this is because my anxiety and my lack of memory make me feel that if I don’t get my thoughts and words out quickly enough, I’ll forget them, and I despise forgetting things. I try to stifle this as much as possible because when I forget to, I end up interrupting people even more than I already do and accidentally talking over them, which I find deplorable.

I’m not sure I can fix my tree like thought process, but If there is one thing I’d like to improve, it is that I still tend to interrupt others here and there. While this is somewhat normal and we all do it to each other, I’m afraid someone may get the impression that I think I’m more important than them, or that I’m only talking at them, not to them. As much as I love to talk and let my heart and mind swell with thought, I truly love experiencing others do the same.

My forest contains so much beauty. Some of my trees are small, sad little Charlie Brown Christmas trees, while others are glorious Redwoods. Regardless of the type or the size, what is most important is that my forest is full of variety, and many trees that are not my own. To truly listen to someone is to bring them into your forest and tell them, “you may plant your tree wherever you wish, and I will protect it. The sun will kiss it, the rain will nourish it, and it will always be yours.” After all, my forest would not be nearly as beautiful if it were full of only my trees. And come to think of it, they’d probably get lonely.

I saw this man dispose of hunger and soap operas too.
I saw this field, that grew perfection, full of things you do.
I saw this box get rid of heartache, and cure cancer too.
When I awoke I sat there hoping, this is what we’ll do.

If we can, we will leave a letter and this song for you,
And we’ll write once a day, and float it through the sea to you.
We’ll regret all those things we thought, of but didn’t ever do.

When the sky seems to clear, who will then be left but a few, me and you.

~ Watch the World – Boxcar Racer 

 

 

Eleanore Vs. Maternal Chains

TW: Pregnancy, abuse, parental abuse

Dearest readers,

I am sometimes an unhealthily introspective person; I tend to obsess over thoughts that just get stuck in the subspace of my mind. Especially after the several big events that have happened recently, I’m now analyzing everything inside and outside of what it means to be Eleanore. Sometimes this brings me negative realizations and sometimes it brings positive ones, but usually each realization is a mix of both.

Today I was home alone and I was told to not to come into work. I got little tasks done around my home and played my bass a bit, but the whole time I was in deep thought about my current predicament of being mostly defeated, broke, and unsure of what’s to come. It was all quite overwhelming and saddening, and then I was bitch slapped by a memory that changed everything, at least for the moment.

My mother had an odd habit of suddenly breaking out in exceptionally out of place comments which were often cruel and hurtful. When I first became “official” with my first love, I was just about to walk out the door to go to school one morning when she felt it pertinent to blurt out, “you know if you were to get pregnant right now, you’d almost definitely miscarry, right?” I was crushed for the rest of the day, sobbing to my sister on the phone on the way to my first class. These interactions also bashed the wind right out of me, but never stopped coming.

Back home, in a strange land called California, there was a store called “The Starving Musician.” My mother and I used to pass it while we ran errands around the city. We were sitting quietly in the car when out of nowhere she told me, “you know, you can’t do that whole ‘starving musician’ thing. You’re too sick. You’d never make it.” This was only a few months after I started to my play bass guitar. I’m not sure what she intended for this comment to do to me, but I mostly found it jarring and insulting. I was only 13 at the time, and I couldn’t understand precisely why, but I felt the cut of her words deeply.

As I got older I realized that she was a very strange abuser in the sense that she would constantly complain about what a burden I was and would make me feel as unwanted as possible, while also working hard to make me believe I couldn’t possibly survive without her. She taught my sister and I that the world was a scary, dark, and dangerous place, that no one was to be trusted, that we were burdensome and worthless, and that without relying on her or being just like her, we would never get anywhere. As I have grown and have ventured outside the black veil my mother kept me hidden under, I realized just how very wrong she was.

There were so many times in my life when my mother would have violent fits and would tear me down any way she could because I made a decision without her consent. Even after I was able to drive myself, she was furious any time I even went to the hospital without her for regular appointments. She had the same reactions to me house sitting, going to see my friends, and pretty much anything else I would take part in. I was hopeful that this attitude would stop when I had moved away to Missouri; unfortunately she only became more verbally abusive and controlling.

For the last five months I have had no health insurance because I turned 26 in July and was therefore removed from my mother’s insurance. Soon after, she called me, explaining that because I was chronically ill, her work wanted to help me get extended coverage. I thought about it for a few days, and while the prospect of health insurance was wonderful, the thought of still giving her something to use as a chain around my throat sickened me. Every time she threatened to take my health insurance away for one reason or another haunted my mind. It was a difficult decision, but I ended up deciding that I would rather have no health insurance and finally break the chain that kept me under the clutches of my mother than have proper medical care while being chronically ill. When I am looking at my medical bills or am in a hospital bed I often relive the deciding moment; yet every time, I arrive at the conclusion that between two dreadful options, I chose the less harmful.

Currently my life is a mess, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely terrified. However, I am often relieved that while I have to face that terror a hundred times every day, I don’t have to deal with it being layered with threats, abuse, hatefulness and unrealistic fear. As I’ve grown from child, to teenager, to a fully adulty adult woman, I’ve realized that most of the lessons I was taught as a child were horribly wrong and that they were actually not lessons at all. They were only chains used to keep me tied tightly to my abuser.

My life may be overwhelming, I may be chronically ill and have very little. Yet after 26 years I have finally started ripping apart the chains that my mother worked so tirelessly to keep me down with. I have discovered so much in my life, I have met so many beautiful people, and have been braver than I ever thought I could be in spite of every toxic seed she planted in my mind. While I often feel I haven’t got much to be proud of, I certainly have that.

I do not know what is next for me, but whatever it is, I promise to myself that I will be brave and adventurous. I will also mostly likely be anxious and scared, but  I promise that my fear will not stifle me. After 26 years of being raised in a world full of doubting and darkness, I am slowly but surely discovering what I’m really capable of.  I can’t do everything I’d like to, but I can still do spectacular and wonderful things.

I can live, I can thrive, I can create. I can break the chains placed around me at my birth. I have already started to.

I can, I can, I can.

It was a strange place and a tender age; I was just a babe in school,
Saw them roll their eyes at me every time that I thought that I was cool.
Well God knows I was no chosen one that just wasn’t my prime,
Yeah it’s just matter of time, honey, it’s just a matter of time.

~Work This Body – Walk the Moon (I’ve probably used this song before but it’s just SO good!)

A horse of a different color:  I am really struggling to survive right now. So, I am selling most of my things. Please consider purchasing (and convincing others) to help me pay for rent, gas, and my medical bills that are currently adding up to the height of Mt. Doom itself.

Click here to see jewelry.

Click here to see books.

Thank you for reading, from the bottom of my heart. 

Eleanore Vs. The Big, Sick Secret

Dear sentient, sparkly clusters of starstuff,

Last night I had an severe anxiety attack. I took the photo above just a few minutes before it happened, because I wanted to show off my cool Transformers sweater on Instagram. Instead of doing that, I short circuited. This attack was nowhere near the first time I have had one, but they are not something a person could ever possibly get used to. Some only last a few minutes, I don’t cry at all and am just slightly uncomfortable as my heart goes warp speed inside my chest. Then there are the type like last night, where I feel as if the entire world is on fire, there’s no oxygen left anywhere, and my body is covered in excruciating pain. I’m not entirely positive how long it lasts, but by estimation, I’d say it lasts about an eternity. These severe attacks convince me that I will surely die.

Normally in these instances I call a hotline. Don’t get me wrong, the people on hotlines have helped me dozens of times and I am so grateful for them. I encourage people to use them when in need. But last night, it just wasn’t enough. I needed someone who knew everything about me, who knew exactly how to talk to me and who knew me as Eleanore, not just another unwell person. So naturally, I thought of my best friend Stan (don’t worry, I won’t rant about him again, but if you would like to hear more about him, you can read about him here).

When I first called him I was gasping for breath, the pain in my chest screaming, “you will not make it out of this.” The tightness, the razor like stabbing and the intensity of it all was far too overwhelming. “I’m going to die,” I told him through gasps and tears. Spoiler alert: I didn’t die.

About an hour later, we were laughing and discussing all kinds of things. My pain was still there, my life still felt like a terribly made straight to DVD movie, but there was also this strange feeling of calmness, and the fact that I was able to laugh on the phone with my best friend felt like a miracle after struggling through such a terrible attack. At one point I finally asked Stan,”is it odd that we’re talking like this after everything?” Of course, because we are ourselves, we then proceeded to dissect the feeling of surviving something awful. This conversation led me to think about the one big secret that we, people who suffer from chronic illness of every kind, don’t talk about.

I’ve read tons of articles like this that talk about how to act around a sick person or what we wish others would know. “Ten Things to Never Say to an Anxiety Sufferer.” “What People Don’t Know About Anxiety.” They all make wonderful points. They all talk about the different types of anxiety attacks, what they feel like, and how to help someone through them. Sometimes they come out in aggression, tears, or sometimes they are completely unnoticeable. All of this is completely true. What we don’t talk about often enough, though, is what happens after and before.

After an anxiety attack some people may think that a person is mostly likely to be a lethargic blanket burrito. Somedays, that is exactly what I need. Anxiety attacks completely purge me of all my energy and emotion, and functioning in that state can seem futile. However, other times I can seem completely fine afterwards. I can laugh, converse, and carry on with seemingly “normal” ability. But what I wish people would know, and what is often hard to convey, is that after an anxiety attack, I am most certainly not alright. Whether I’m wrapped in a blanket or making dinner, I still feel as if a storm has passed through me. I feel the wreckage inside me, and even though I’m laughing, I’m still hurting.

People tend to think that those who suffer from illness of any kind must show it at all times. We must constantly look disheveled, be depressed and teary-eyed, and be dysfunctional at all times. But we aren’t. It isn’t always obvious that someone is suffering, but just because someone isn’t clearly distraught, doesn’t mean they’re alright. The worst being of course that when we don’t look or act how people assume we should, we are met with doubt, disbelief and harsh, cold judgement.

I can’t tell you how many times people have exclaimed around me, “but you were fine just a minute ago!” They don’t comprehend that I am rarely “fine.” I am always in pain. I am always trying to think through the static in my head my anxiety disorder causes. I struggle to run past the PTSD flashes and the endless pain in my body that always remains, no matter what I do. At the same time, I’m trying to enjoy time with my friends. I’m trying work so that I can pay my rent, because if I’m even an hour short, I don’t have enough money to keep my shelter over me. I am still trying to create a life, a good one, despite everything holding me back; and I’m doing it mostly on my own. Currently I am not succeeding at that, but I am trying to survive until I see a light in the blackness.

The big secret of anxiety, of all my illnesses really, is that they are always there. With my anxiety in particular, the physical manifestation of a panic attack isn’t the beginning of my sickness. In fact, at least for me, my anxiety attacks are the end, the part where I finally explode after trying so terribly hard not to. The explosion of what has been inside for hours, days, weeks or even months. They are the boss levels of my game, too enormous for me to fight. Yet somehow I defeat them. Somehow, despite the gasping for breath and feeling like I can’t go on one more day, I do.

On another note, as I wrote a few days ago, I am struggling more than ever. I am barely making it and I’m scared, trying for anything that I can do to keep my head above water for a little longer. So, I’ve decided to sell a good deal of my things. I’ve started with selling most of my jewelry; I honestly wish I didn’t have to, but my survival is most important right now. Most of my jewelry is vintage styled and in wonderful condition and well priced. So, if you know anyone who might be interested or are interested yourselves, I hope you will peruse my little bonanza shop and find something neat. I am grateful for any and all help. Until I either find a better job I can work with my physical restrictions as well as the restrictions placed on me by waiting for my disability hearing (which I have 1.5 years left to wait for), I’ll be struggling for a while.

Click here to go to the shop! 

Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding from the storm?
Just shine a light into the wreckage, so far away, away,

‘Cause I’m still breathing, ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own.
My head’s above the rain and roses, making my way, away,
‘Cause I’m still breathing,
‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own.
My head’s above the rain and roses, making my way, away,
My way to you.

~ Still Breathing – Green Day