Airing Out the Bunker

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I realize that is stating the painfully obvious, but I want to acknowledge my absence. I could blow it off on mundane crap and say that I was too busy, but the fact of the matter is I didn’t make time amid the crap to sit down and write. And I have paid the price.

I sat down yesterday and tried to just breathe. My therapist right now is really into mindfulness exercises, and truly, they work well for stopping a panic attack in its track. That said I suck at doing them on my own. Especially when I look around and it seems like the whole of humanity’s shit is piling up around me. Instead, I girder myself inside a bunker, wait for the shitstorm to pass, and inevitably focus on all of the bad things.

... again.

… again.

There is something broken or in need of fixing in every part of my life. Literally everywhere I look, I see something that needs attention or fixing or healing. When I sat down to do my mindfulness exercise, I minded my way right into a full on panic attack. Go me!

The point of this veritable pity party is that I need to draw a line somewhere. I cannot let this get to me the way it has. I’ve been moping, wrapped up in the thoughts of what is going wrong and where I am failing, unable to see anything positive. There are rays of light, for sure. But for the most part, I haven’t let them touch me. And I am worse for that.

Perhaps the mindfulness exercises are working better than I give them credit for because I can see now that it’s a choice. I’m choosing to wallow in the impossibility of my current situation instead of letting the light shine through. Instead of valuing the things that go right. I may not be able to will myself out of a deep depression, but I can choose to open up a freaking window in my bunker and let in the air.

So, that is what I’m doing. Airing out the bunker a bit. Things may in fact be fucked up all around me. There may be more to fix than I am humanly capable of handling at this point, but that doesn’t mean that I am without hope. It doesn’t mean that I have to sit in a cold room wrapped in the thoughts of what is wrong. I can take my own advice and let small victories lift me up.

 

So … Good news: My mom, who had major surgery on Monday is now home and resting comfortably. Though she’s going to need more PT and recovery time than we anticipated, the surgery itself was a success. She’s in less pain now and on her way to recovering fully.

More good news: I opened an Etsy shop offering cross stitch patterns and hand stitched items just in time for the holidays. It allowed me to take something that was just a little hobby and make a bit of money from it. And since it’s my shop, I can be as irreverent as I want to be. For instance, I can sell bookmarks that are lacy and delicate and read “bookwhore.” Because I want to and I think even lacy, delicate people should be allowed to love the dirty words. You feel me, I know you do.

Even more good news: I was nominated for a blog award! Despite my absence! I will be adding a post on Monday describing the blog award and nominating some other blogs that I would recommend to my followers.

It feels fresher and brighter in here already. Little bit of air, little bit of sunshine … it clears the bunker right up, doesn’t it? When I’m in a rough patch, I often find it very difficult to breathe and accept any good. It’s so much easier to focus on the negative and let that stack of bad grow to monstrous proportions. I’m not negating the bad stuff. I’m not saying I should just blithely ignore the problems. But I do need to work on ways to refocus myself. I have friends and a therapist who can help me with that, but honestly? This is something I need to work on for myself. I’m not always going to have someone around who can refocus me and help me breathe.

What do you do when the bad stacks up and looms over you like the big, bad wolf threatening to blow down the walls of your safe space? Does meditation work for you or do you prefer heavy metal blaring in your headphones while you work out? I often prefer the latter, but have lately been unable to work out due to some health issues. It sucks. But, in keeping with allowing in the light, I’m also getting a great chance to heal. <~~~ Look at me all Zen and shit.

and that shit has just GOT to stop.

and that shit has just GOT to stop.

If you’d like to share your secrets, please feel free to share them in the comments. I think this is a problem many who suffer from mental illness face on a regular basis. I’d love to have a conversation about what we can do individually to combat the problem. I will see you soon with my next blog post. Feel free to poke and prod me if I leave you hanging for too long. The bunker can sometimes suck you back in if you’re not careful.

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Why Being Labeled Sensitive is Bullshit

I think everyone has heard this at least once. You may have even said it. I know I have. “You’re being too sensitive. You need to lighten up.”

I’m here to tell you those words are utter bullshit.

sensitivity

Think about every time you’ve ever been called sensitive. Chances are, you took words that someone said to heart and it hurt you. Maybe you called them on it. Maybe you withdrew a bit to protect yourself. Maybe you just changed the way you dealt with them. Or maybe you started to question yourself, and your reactions. Maybe you blamed yourself for feeling hurt.

Let me be very clear: we are not always right in our interpretation of others’ words. Our feelings, however, can’t be wrong. How you feel inside when you hear someone’s words is never invalid. And when someone tells you that you are too sensitive, that is exactly what they’re saying. Your feelings are invalid; my right to say what I want is more important than your feelings. So suck it up.

Bullshit. Don’t let them get away with that.

I’m honestly the worst with this. People don’t even have to tell me I’m too sensitive; I just naturally think they think that about me. So if something that someone says hurts my feelings, I hide the hurt and make a joke. Or I just smile and nod. I bury it and keep it with all of the other things that poke at me at night when I can’t sleep.

It’s time to stop that shit because my insides are beginning to feel like a worn out pin cushion.

Yes. I am a sensitive person. I feel deeply All. The. Time. And you know what? That’s a goddamn super power. If I tell you I love you, you can be sure I feel it from the tips of my toes all the way through every inch of my hair. If I believe in a cause, I will support it with every fiber in my being. And if I don’t like you, well … I guess we’re done then. Because I feel that to my very core as well.

fucks

I also apologize for myself pretty much constantly. I caught myself today. I was walking into Wawa (a local convenience store for you non-PA people out there) and a gentleman held the door open for me. As I walked in, I nodded and said thank you. And then, almost immediately, I said, “I’m sorry.”

Sorry for … what, exactly? Walking into the store? Taking up space? Existing? Seriously, there was no reason to apologize, but I did out of habit. It made me think about how many other times I apologized for no good reason. Let me tell you, it was a lot.

This all ties into being “too sensitive.” I’m not sure what it is in our culture that makes some of us feel the need to apologize for our very being, but it is there. I have a number of friends who apologize when they give an opinion, when they missed a phone call, or when they didn’t find something funny. Why are we so eager to apologize away our very existence?

If you are a sensitive person, like I am, and someone tries to make you feel bad for feeling bad, put your foot down with me and say enough. You don’t have to be mean, but offering a small education would do all of us a favor. Instead of laughing with them, next time say something like this: “Actually, that hurt me. And you probably didn’t mean to hurt me, but you did. I’d really appreciate it if you could find a different way to say that.”

And DON’T apologize for requesting that they respect your feelings. You’re going to feel exposed and vulnerable. Trust me; I know from experience. But if the person is your friend, I genuinely believe that they will understand. It might open up a dialog that in the end will benefit everyone involved. And if it does offend them? Maybe that tells you all you need to know about them right there.

I’m going to try to do this right along with you. I say try because, honest to god, I’m having a minor anxiety attack just thinking about speaking up. But I’m going to give it a go. I encourage you to do the same. Let me know how it goes!

In other news, I’m running a weekend contest over on my Facebook page. If you’d like to participate, head on over to the page, like it, and then comment on the contest post with something that makes you happy. It could be a picture or a sentence. At the end of the weekend, the comment with the most likes will win a $25 Etsy gift card for a little bit of Retail Therapy! Hope to see you over there!

Refilling the Empty Cup: The Danger in Giving it All Away

I’m not good at setting limits. Not when it comes to the people I love or things I care about, anyway. My best, I find, is often not enough to meet all of the needs that are out there. That doesn’t stop me from bleeding myself dry in order to try, however.

Times have been rough for the past month or more. I put on a good face, but inside I’m full of turmoil. I recently left the therapist that I’d been seeing for over a year and took about a month off of therapy. My timing sucked as my month off happened at one of my lowest points ever. But this week I started with a new therapist and it looks promising. It’s draining though, opening up that closet door and letting a stranger poke through all of the skeletons and dig through the dusty drawers.

I find myself exhausted most of the time. Exhausted and exhausting. I literally exhaust myself with my circular thoughts of what I’ve done wrong and how I could be better. This exacerbates my anxiety issues. I just don’t have the reserves to keep it under control and so I’ve been having more panic attacks. Which leave me – even more fucking exhausted.

several days

i feel like this defines anxiety attacks. it feels like several days just up and jump on your back all at once.

Yeah. I’m kind of over all of this shit.

You’d think, then, that I would relish the time I get to replenish. There are things that do that: sitting with a good book and hot coffee in quiet, plugging in my headphones and filling my head with music, sitting with a special friend and having a beer … all of these things help to refill and renew my energy. I just wish I could appreciate those things for longer than the time it takes to do them.

I spent last night with a good friend. Someone I can be totally honest with and put aside the mask completely. We had dinner, drinks, and watched a funny show. It may have honestly been the best medicine in the world even though it was completely mundane. Spending those few hours without the weight of a mask was refreshing. I felt lighter, able to relax for the first time in a week or more.

glad you are alive

it’s great when things that make you glad to be alive are people too.

I woke up however, to discover that in the midst of everything that I needed to accomplish yesterday, I’d forgotten a commitment I’d made. I’d forgotten a lesson I was supposed to teach and left my student waiting without any notice that I wouldn’t be there.

That kind of carelessness is completely unlike me. Promptness and reliability are things I pride myself on, even in the midst of my worst breakdowns. But I let it slide and instead, I took time for myself. It wasn’t a conscious choice, mind you. I didn’t say, hey! Fuck this lesson. I’m going to have dinner with my buddy. No… I just forgot that it was scheduled and did something for myself.

And the guilt is crushing me. I know that it was a mistake. The student is fine. I spoke with them and they completely understood: lesson rescheduled and no one is the worse for it. I know that it could happen to anyone. But it was me. It was my responsibility. And I failed.

Times like this, it becomes so very difficult to silence those voices that say I am not good enough. That I let everyone down. That I don’t deserve friendship, relaxation, or ease. It’s really hard because I feel like that mistake damns me in some way. It’s not rational. I should be able to let it go.

I can’t.

And this is why my cup is almost always near empty and why I feel like what I have to offer is never enough. Because I pour out so much more than I refill.

I’m working on it. I have friends who remind me to take time for myself. They remind me when I feel guilty that refilling the cup allows me to give more. It doesn’t help the guilt.

And this is why I need therapy. *sigh*

peace

peace: what i hope to gain from therapy.