Loopy, Lonely and Lost

I am anxious, almost to the point of paranoia. It is very, very frightening.

I’m struggling to distinguish between what is real and logical and what is absolutely not.

Yesterday, I took a walk down to the local shops. I thought it would be nice – a leisurely stroll on a sunny Bank Holiday.

Then the ringing of bells. A couple of bicycles passing by, I step to one side and the riders say thanks, then they’re laughing to each other and I know it’s about me.

Then shouting. Some comment from the open window of a passing car and again it must be aimed at me.

A rush of blood, my face red hot, I’m staring straight ahead, there’s ringing in my ears and my hands are shaking but I keep walking, straight line, don’t let anyone see me flustered.

The cyclists stop, they look like they’re about to enter a house, but the idea gets planted in my head, they are going to attack me as I walk past. They are going to hurt me and steal my belongings. I speed up, and grip my bag more tightly.

Nothing happens but the idea is growing and I can’t stop it. Someone is going to harm me. I can’t pretend anymore that I’m just a normal, calm person on a gentle stroll. I’m jumping at every sound, and there are so many of them – voices and vehicles, horns and alarms, a total cacophony and I am so confused and afraid.

Swapping my bag from hand to hand, got to keep it unpredictable and swerve it out of the reach of passers by. Two men cross the street towards me, they’re talking to each other and I think I hear bag and I look up, startled. One of them looks me straight in the eye and I can feel the hostility. I am so afraid and I don’t know which way cause and effect works – am I afraid because people are acting oddly towards me? Or are they acting oddly because I, in my fear, am acting oddly first? Head down, handbag slippy in my increasingly sweaty grip, I scurry on.

I walk past a pub and someone walks out of it and heads in the same direction as me. My head is just ohshitohshitohshit over and over. I’m rushing across roads, hardly looking for traffic, and using the town like a shitty TV spy, checking reflections in windows to make sure no-one’s too close.

I make it to the shop I wanted to go to and I calm a little, feeling safer. But I can’t shake the feeling of being watched. I feel like everyone who walks past me is looking me straight in the eye all the time. I feel like I’m acting differently, moving slower so as to be more understandable to my audience.

I find some clothes I think I like and I go to try them on. The shop has recently been refurbished, the fitting rooms are new and as soon as I’m in there it’s fucking obvious there are cameras and spyholes and it is just plain old not safe or private. I’m in a mirrored box and the feeling of being observed is magnified.

So I leave the fitting rooms, dump the clothes, have a little walk around the rest of the shop. I find something I like and am about to buy it but then I get to the tills and a cashier looks at me with what I think is a knowing expression – so, okay, not safe. I leave.

I’m on my way home when I reach a bus stop. I wonder vaguely when there’ll be a bus to the city centre, if maybe being somewhere bigger will feel less weird. Before I can pass the stop, the bus in question pulls in. This is so obviously a sign – Bank Holiday buses being so infrequent, and one appearing as soon as I think about it – that I get on without thinking.

Every shop I enter, I am followed. Sometimes individuals, more often pairs and groups, always different. They stop when I stop. When I look at something, they’re looking at the thing behind or next to it. When I leave the shop, they disappear into the background and are replaced by others.

Outside one shop, there’s a teenage boy on the phone. He’s saying something – a funny and memorable phrase, something I’d normally be committing to memory for a funny anecdote later. Five or ten minutes later, when I leave the shop, the boy is still there, and he’s saying the same thing. Exact same wording and inflection and it’s like a code phrase he’s saying when I walk past him, alerting someone to my movements.

I try to calm down but it’s impossible. I’m panicking so badly that I can hardly breathe, I’m standing in the street with all these hostile strangers and I’m mentally noting the location of the police officer I can see standing at the other end of the street, so I can shout for his attention when the inevitable terrifying catastrophe happens. And then I start thinking maybe he’s not really police, maybe he’s in disguise and he’s really the one I need to avoid.

I step into another shop and am so overwhelmed by the feeling of wrongness, that I shouldn’t be there, that I turn around and walk straight out.

Straight to the bus station, in the hope that home means safety, and the bus is right there, again, full of people who look like they’ve been waiting for me, and I swear the universe is trying to tell me something, I just don’t know what.

There is a dog on the bus, a calm, old-looking dog with specks of grey in its fur and big, dark eyes, which, I swear, watch me all the way home like the dog, too, is in on the great secret that I’m not party to.

I get home and I’m jumpy and panicky and pacing about my room, then my brother goes out and I am overcome with vivid and horrifying images of him being involved in terrible accidents. I think of what I want for him, how I want him to return home. Safe, healthy, happy. I say it to myself. And then I’m chanting it

Safe, healthy, happy. Safe healthy happy. Safehealthyhappysafehealthyhappysafehealthyhappy.

When I’m with my parents, I can’t say it out loud as they’ll think I’m mad, but I just know it’s important to keep it up, it’s like a prayer or a mantra. So I’m tapping out the rhythm of it with my fingers, over and over and over again.

I go to bed and I can’t sleep. I lie there restless and wide awake until long after my wish has come true and my brother’s returned home.

I’m so on edge, I can’t wind down. I’m living right at the furthest reaches of my sanity and it is exhausting and scary and I don’t know how to make it stop.

I’m just about holding myself together enough to be able to interact with my family and go to work. Occasionally, people are commenting that I’m acting a little differently. I’m giving in to the little things I sometimes get obsessive about, and I’m tapping the rhythm of safe healthy happy quite a lot.

Argh. I am actually going mad, aren’t I?

 

 

 

 

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It’s my birthday and I’m trying not to succumb under the weight of the pointlessness I regularly feel, at every notable marker of the passage of time.

My Facebook profile is full of comments from people who don’t know me, wishing me a happy birthday out of some vague sense of obligation or pity. People I have called friends in the past, but who I haven’t spoken to in weeks, months, years. Let’s be realistic with each other, people – so much of communication is just meaningless words. Why not be honest? Why are we all pretending to know and like and think about each other?

There is a person in my life who I can trust (as much as I’m capable of trusting anyone), one of the few I’d still call a friend. He contacts me when he feels sad or lonely or angry, and I provide him with logic and ethics and distraction, depending on what he needs. He knows I’ll never contact him, asking for him to return the favour. He knows that’s not who I am. There’s no birthday message from him, and I feel more comfortable about that than about all the empty words from everyone else. It may be a lopsided and occasional relationship, but at least it is what it looks like. No-one in that friendship is pretending.

There have been times when I’ve thought myself hideous, disgusting, evil, terrible. And, much less frequently, time when I’ve thought myself dynamic and intelligent and charismatic.

Now I know the truth: I am nothing.

All the things that make people people – kindness, wisdom, bravery, the ability to form lasting and consistent relationships of one sort or another – are things I lack. I’m not wringing my hands or crying about it. It’s just a basic fact.

I am not extraordinary. Not even ordinary. I am barely human. I don’t think or feel like other people, and I lack the talent and commitment to turn that difference into something meaningful.

I have imagined for so long that I might be able to change who or what I am, or at the very least channel it into something. I’ve dreamt about being the kind of person who has some sort of impact on the world.

But I know that I am an empty shell. It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of the world – I can be n0-one and it’s okay.

It’s just a matter of finding a way to live as no-one. Finding a way to accept that dreams are for other people.

And as I try to find a way to live in the world, a way that doesn’t make me want to die, time is tick tick ticking away, giving me less and less time in which I’ll have to live.

 

 

 

Life

Posted on: July 4, 2016

I am struggling under the weight of the futility of my life.

Yeah, pretentiousness alert.

I’m aware that this is boring. Trust me, I’m living it.

I just keep thinking, when is my life going to start?

I’m paralysed by fear and indecision. I keep thinking of moving out of my parents’ house, but then I get so anxious that I’ll lose my job. I think my job is fairly safe, but who knows that for certain, really? I imagine myself with a mortgage, then being made redundant, being unable to get another job and then losing my home. It makes me feel sick, so I stay where I am.

My life just feels so pointless. Maybe it’s connected to my job -it’s alright, it could be a career one day, but I spend so much time presenting facts that no-one cares about, and I’m not very good at it, really. Every time I think about having to get another job, I try to imagine what my skills are and am faced with endless empty pages. But it’s not so simple as just doing something else. What the hell am I supposed to do? I have no vocation, no path calling out to me. I’d give anything for something to work towards, even if it meant more education and training and interviews. But I don’t see the point in working towards any of the things I could bear or possibly be able to do, because I wouldn’t be any more enthusiastic about them than I am about my current job.

I’d like to have some part of my life where I am successful. Where I matter. Where there are people (or even just a person) who feel glad I exist, whose lives are better for what I do or who I am. And if it’s not my job then it’d have to be my private life. But that’s no good, either – I will never have a significant romantic relationship and I will never have children. There is no-one to be glad I’m here. Maybe I matter to my parents and brother, but only as a witness, or a weapon they can use against each other, or a companion in troubled times.

As for friends, I don’t really have any. I’m alright with people. It feels arrogant to say it, but lots of people like me. I have many, many acquaintances. We say hello to each other if we pass in a corridor or on the street. If we happen to be in the same place for any real period of time, there is perfectly pleasant chatting, and often some laughter. Sometimes they tell me about their lives and their feelings. But friends? No. The people I call my friends in order to be polite are just the people I happen to have been in the vicinity of most often lately. There is no binding or lasting connection. We don’t miss each other when we’re apart.

I don’t know when I’m going to feel like my life means something. Probably never.

I feel like I am observing myself, and from my observations I can tell you that there’s a reasonable chance I am vaguely depressed. I’m always sleeping but I’m never rested. The people I know have started complaining that they don’t know what I’m saying – my voice has become so quiet, my body language restricted. I’m hesitant to communicate at all, hovering for minute after minute over the send button for perfectly straightforward emails, anxious about sending them but not sure why.

I don’t cry. It’s been a long time since I cried. My emotions are even more muted than my voice. They are folded up as small as they’ll go and locked inside a box somewhere very deep inside me. They try to get out but I feel them only as a dull, distant ache. More the ideas of feelings than actual feelings themselves.

I’m treading water with no hope of rescue, in the knowledge that sooner or later what little energy I have left will be fully gone and I will be pulled under the surface to drown.

 

Posted on: May 13, 2016

I self-harmed tonight.

It’s been such a long time. I can’t even remember when I last did it. It hasn’t even properly worked – I feel a little calmer but haven’t been able to flip that switch that turns off my feelings and puts me in a trance for a few hours. It used to come so easily, but maybe now I have to work harder for it. What I wouldn’t give for some unfeeling blankness right now.

I am fucking angry. Fist-clenchingly, heart-pumpingly, eye-wideningly livid.

My mother. More and more I find myself thinking she’s actually evil. She hates me. I know she hates me because she tells me so. She says such terrible things.

I know that I am not perfect. In fact, I’m a pretty awful person. I do try to look after her, but it’s never enough because opinions are forbidden. I am very, very bad at not having opinions. At not intervening when she says something I disagree with, or when she’s verbally attacking my relatives. I can’t hold back and I always get such horrible responses, about how stupid and fat and ugly and worthless I am, about how it’s not my house, it’s nothing to do with me, I don’t understand anything.

Today she made a hurtful and untrue accusation about me, and I called her a liar and left the room immediately before I could say or do anything else. Blood rushing through my ears, I could have torn down buildings.

I have some very ugly and unpleasant feelings about her. I’m torn between wanting to avoid the hypocrisy of pretending to love her when it’s really so much closer to the opposite feeling, and wanting to hide out of shame and embarrassment. It feels like everyone loves their mother and has a close relationship and it’s just not normal to fantasise about punching her in the face.

I know there are other people out there in the world who have the same sorts of problems as me. I just don’t know any of them. I feel like a freak.

I was just reading Seaneen’s latest post about her struggles with her weight, her eating disorder and the attitudes of medical professionals, and it’s got me thinking and inspired me to write about my own experiences.

To be clear, I wouldn’t describe myself as having an eating disorder. I’d say I have a slightly unhealthy relationship with food, but I could say that about practically everyone I know, to some extent.

I am big. Not too big to leave the house, but big. I can fit through doors, no problem. There’s room to sit next to me on the bus, but it might be a bit of a squeeze. I can buy clothes on the high street, just about. Put me in a room with 5 people chosen at random, and most of the time I’ll be the first or second heaviest.

There are a lot of contributing factors to me being the size I am. I try to eat healthily. It’s pretty disheartening, really – I eat more fruit and veg and less junk food than pretty much everyone I know. No fizzy drinks, very occasional sweets, and I can count my yearly takeaways on the fingers of one hand.

Maybe there’s a genetic element – my parents are both overweight. And maybe the reasons for their weight problems have impacted me, too. My mother’s a faddy eater, a yo-yo dieter whose various health problems cause her to vomit regularly, who complains about the vomiting but celebrates the associated weight loss like it was a deliberate achievement. And my father likes his food, and – especially when we were children – used food as treats for me and my brother when we were going through a particularly hard time with our mother. My brother eats nothing but junk food but is blessed with a metabolism that keeps him lanky, whereas sometimes I feel like just thinking about food makes me bigger.

My exercise level will certainly be a factor – I have a sedentary job (and everyone brings in cakes on their birthdays, and contributes to the Biscuit Box, and occasionally brings in doughnuts for the team as a treat…I try to abstain but I find myself giving in sometimes) and when I get home and on my days off I’m often so exhausted it’s like I can feel it in my bones. I walk where I can but it’s nowhere near enough, and there’s no other exercise I can think of doing that doesn’t make me feel a bit panicky at the thought of people seeing and judging me.

I know that I need to lose weight. I feel so awkward and ungainly, like I ruin everyone’s photos, like everyone is staring at me, like if someone had to describe me to a stranger, the word “fat” would inevitably be used. The problem is that knowing this and feeling like this doesn’t actually do anything.

I’ve been skipping meals here and there but I can’t do it too regularly or I start to get light-headed and lose my concentration (which I desperately need at work). I’ve lost a few pounds doing this, but it’s very slow going and so very easily undone. I feel like I don’t really have either the willpower or the energy to make a significant difference to my weight.

My doctor is…not particularly helpful. I went to see him about a fairly minor condition that was not in any way connected to my weight. He spent approximately 5 minutes diagnosing the condition and prescribing a course of treatment, followed by approximately 20 minutes weighing me, asking me why I’ve gained weight, suggesting exercise as the answer to all my problems and warning me of the risk of diabetes. And I wanted to say, you are not helping. I don’t feel encouraged, or supported, or empowered. You’re making me feel suicidal. But I am a doormat, too polite for my own good, so I sat there nodding, pretending I wasn’t visualising walking straight out of the surgery and into the path of an oncoming bus so that I would never have to think about this conversation again.

And the problem is, these conversations give me such excruciating anxiety about seeing a doctor about anything. Luckily I am rarely ill, but on the rare occasion where I am, I put off going to the doctor for as long as possible because I don’t feel strong enough to listen to the lecture again. I know he has a job to do, and he probably has targets to hit or something, but I dread it. I walk out of every appointment determined to eat myself to death, or starve myself to death, anything that will make it stop.

Any time I see my doctor, I spend the appointment in a state of half-panic, hearing my heartbeat so loud in my ears, fiddling and mumbling and not able to express myself properly. Then they take my blood pressure and of course it’s high, what would you expect? (The last time anyone at the surgery did my blood pressure was immediately before my smear test. It was slightly higher than normal and there was no acknowledgement that the situation might have any impact on it, just more talk of eat more healthily and how much do you exercise?).

Then they usually send me for blood tests to check if I’m diabetic yet. I’m not. My blood sugar is always at the lower end of normal, or a little below that. I guess it’s just a natural variation. I can tell that my doctor doesn’t believe it’s a true reflection. Last time he tried to send me for a test, he very pointedly stressed that I didn’t need to fast beforehand. I’ve never fasted before a blood sugar test, but there seemed very little point in telling him that. I just didn’t go for the test. I thought, fuck it.

I’ve never had a medical condition connected to my weight. Maybe I’ve been lucky. Maybe it’s just a matter of time. But right now, the following things are much more likely to kill me than my weight is:

  • I might kill myself. Mood-wise I’m not too bad lately, but like I said, every doctor’s appointment leaves me feeling suicidal, so if I ever have to go more regularly, it’s certainly a possibility.
  • I might die of some illness I develop in the future but which I never see a doctor about because I’m too anxious to go.
  • I might die of some illness I develop in the future, which I see a doctor about but which they miss because they’re too busy focusing on my weight to consider there might be anything else wrong with me.

I eat healthily but I still gain weight. My doctor talks about it every time I see him, my mother makes snide comments about my size, and I feel ungainly and weak and pathetic. I skip a couple of lunches and people at work start asking me if I’ve lost weight and telling me I look good, and I feel guilty, like I’m cheating. The focus is always on weight loss, without any consideration of actual health and well-being.

I’m sorry. This post feels horrifically self-indulgent. I know that my problems are of my own making. There’s a high chance this will get deleted when the guilt and shame kick in.

I wish I was dead.

I can’t even begin to find the words to express how much I wish I’d never been born.

I know I’ve talked about moving out of my parents’ house before, talked about it like it’s a real and possible thing, but let’s be realistic, it’s never going to happen. I fantasise about it, about the peace of living alone, and it feels possible and important and like something that might somehow save me.

But then I look at where I am, and I look at where I want to be, and the road is long and twisting and obscured. I’m exhausted. I don’t have the energy or drive or confidence to change my life.

So I stay where I am and the space I have to exist in shrinks around me. There is nowhere I can be myself, nowhere I’m allowed to have or express feelings.

One of my dearest friends, possibly the person who knows me best in the world, says I’m hardly human, I’m like a fictional character. He can’t understand how I’m never upset or angry or lost for words, how I’m always calm and reasonable and logical. There is no way of proving otherwise. Maybe a braver person would see those comments as an invitation to confide, to fall weeping on to a friend and admit to terrible, painful feelings. But I am too distant and locked away for that. I just nod and smile and laugh and say yeah, I’m probably an alien or something. Then he tells me about his problems and I try to be supportive.

Then I go home, and resigned to the fact I’ll probably live here forever, it is suffocating. I feel the walls closing in around me. I listen to my mother shouting and screaming and crying, practically 24 hours a day. It’s never quiet, I hardly sleep, and if I speak to her I get a barrage of insults. This weekend has been particularly hard. She says I’m

vile, disgusting, evil, cruel, disgraceful, brainwashed, stupid, awful, horrible, pathetic, useless, a disappointment

and then she proceeds to tell me about every distant relative and old, half-forgotten friend who’s getting married and having children and reminding me how much I’m letting her down by not being like them.

I feel like I can hardly breathe. I feel like I can hardly think. All there is in my mind is self-destructive anger. I want to tear myself into a million pieces and be scattered to the wind. I want to lie down and sleep, properly sleep, in darkness and silence, and never wake up. More than anything, I want to have never existed.

I am a terrible mistake. I am a burden on everyone around me, and life is a burden on me. It weighs on me so heavily.

I’m never going to achieve anything, now. Nothing resembling happiness for me or anyone else will ever come out of me being alive. I’m useless, a drain on everyone. Just a pointless, empty shell of a person, with nothing real or good or helpful inside.

Why is everything so hard? It’s probably me. Maybe if I wasn’t so pathetic, my life would be worth living.

I don’t ever want to wake up again. I hope it’s all over soon.

 

I’ve been having feelings that I can’t control.

It’s a very specific feeling but I don’t know what its name is. It’s like the equally evil half-sister of anxiety.

I don’t feel nervous or scared. I feel…guilt. And regret.

You know the feeling, right? It’s like…

  • An exam ends and the teacher’s collecting the papers, and your eye is caught by the back of the paper, which has a long list of questions that you didn’t even see, let alone get round to answering.
  • An elderly relative makes you a drink in their priceless antique china, and the cup slips out of your hand, and you can see it arc through mid-air, falling down to smash against a table and spill tea all over their pristine cream carpet.
  • You walk out of a shop, carrying an expensive new purchase that you’re really pleased with, and wander into another shop…where they have exactly the same item, on sale. Half the price you paid for it. With a free gift.

It’s the feeling you get in those situations. The flash across your mind before logic and common sense and self-soothing platitudes kick in. Just before you start apologising and trying to fix it, the moment where you think you’ve just fucked everything up.

It’s a jolting, fire alarm going off in the brain feeling. Internally screaming stop, halt, end. For God’s sake, CTRL+Z. Rewind, delete, restart.

The feeling that you’ve done something terrible, you’ve been foolish and so stupid and if only you weren’t an idiot you could have avoided this whole mess, but you’re shit, an awful person and now your life, everyone else’s life and the whole world is ruined.

Your stomach drops. Not even a metaphor. You can feel it, like it’s jumping off a cliff, like you wish you could. You are so angry with yourself, and so disappointed. You don’t deserve to fucking live.

You’ve done such a bad thing and you feel so guilty and you just want to turn back time and not do it, or do it differently, but you can’t. You’re stuck with this mess you’ve made and you don’t even know how or why you did it, but it is the careless, clumsy, stupid action that will define your entire life.

This is why you shouldn’t be allowed nice things. This is why you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house. You want to run and hide for as many lifetimes as it’ll take for the shame to disappear.

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Hello

My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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