5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself!

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Here are a few important questions to ask yourself about your purpose and meaning in life! For fun, I have provided my own answers to them as an example! If you do answer these, I would recommend taking the time to write them down, think about them carefully, and be as honest as you can!

  1. What is your life work? My Answer: Writing, sharing ideas and emotions, creating art, advocating for and comforting others with autism, mental illness, and chronic pain/illness.
  2. What is the meaning of your life? What gives you purpose? My Answer: Inspiring others (kids, fellow Aspies, those with disabilities, other outsiders). Loving family, friends, and animals (loyalty).
  3. What is your passion? My Answer: Writing, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, toys, books, animals, art, creativity.
  4. What does the world lose if I wasn’t here? My Answer: A child-like, loving heart and spirit. Loss of inspiration and creativity. The loss of a voice crying out for justice and harmony. Loss of a unique thinker.
  5. What would it take to begin fully living my dreams today? My Answer: Time, the willingness to fail or be ridiculed, the possibility of being proven wrong, unwavering belief in myself, trust in what is meant to be, hope.
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Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

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Over the weekend my husband and I took a short vacation to Louisville, KY to celebrate our 15th anniversary and spend some quality time together. I did have a good time, but I must admit that I dread and sometimes even regret vacations just as much as I look forward to them.

Why? Simple. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Vacationing when you have CFS sucks. Big time. Planning the vacation wears you out. Packing wears you out. The travel wears you out. Even though I don’t do the driving, I am still exhausted by the time we even get to our destination. Often, as soon as we get to our hotel I immediately have to lay down for at least a couple hours to recuperate, even if it is only a 2 or 3 hour drive as this one was.

The main excursion we planned was to the Louisville zoo. We had never been there before and both my husband and I love animals. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge zoo, but by the time we had toured about half of it, I was in really poor shape. I had to sit on each bench we came by and rest. I even had to make do with the floor a few times and just collapsed. I was nauseated, felt like passing out, developed a migraine-like headache, and felt extremely overheated, even though it wasn’t that hot out and I stayed hydrated. Heck, most of the buildings were even air conditioned. THIS is what living with CFS is like.

I didn’t get to see much of the rest of the zoo. I was too busy looking for places to rest and recuperate for the trek back to the car. My legs ached so badly and felt so weak that I feared they would give out on me multiple times. My entire body felt like I had been run over or slammed into by something big and heavy. Somehow I did make it back to the car (after resting many, many times on the way there), and then we went directly to our hotel so I could recuperate for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have the stamina to go out for dinner a few hours later, so we ate at the hotel.

I went to bed early, hoping I would feel better in the morning, which didn’t really happen. The next day we visited a cool indie bookstore I had wanted to go to, but I was almost too tired to even enjoy that. We went and found a place by the Ohio River to sit and watch barges pass by, which was peaceful and relaxing. During the drive times to our locations, I curled up with a pillow and laid my seat back to doze.

By the time we headed back for home, I was too exhausted to care about much of anything. When we arrived home, I went almost straight to bed, even though it was only 5pm. The next day (Labor Day), my hip and back were so sore (with a pinched nerve thrown in), that I spent most of the day laying in bed watching a Lake Placid marathon on the Syfy Channel. Any form of movement was excruciating.

All of this makes me wonder if vacations are really worth the trouble. It also makes me wonder if maybe sometime soon I will need to get a motorized chair to even survive simple outings like this. I hate to give in and do that, but my worsening symptoms make it an almost certain possibility eventually.

A Theory About Personality Disorders

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While I was writing yesterday’s post about personality disorders, I kind of came up with a theory of my own. That theory is that all of us likely fall somewhere on the spectrum of personality disorders – ALL of us. Granted, it is definitely to greater or lesser extents depending on your experiences, personality type, and genetic makeup, but all of us fall somewhere on the spectrum of narcissism. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of avoidance and anxiety. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of neediness and emotional dysregulation. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of eccentricity.

This theory is very similar to theories I have heard that claim we are all somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Some of us clearly fall heavily on the side of autistic traits, some of us fall in the middle somewhere, and some of us fall heavily on the other side of the spectrum, but we are all on there somewhere.

For personality disorders though, I feel that most of us probably do more closely fit one (or perhaps even two) of the clusters overall. In case you were unaware, there are 3 clusters of personality disorders:

Cluster A (the “odd” or “eccentric” cluster), with Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal personality disorders.

Cluster B (the “dramatic”, “emotional”, or “erratic” cluster), with Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Antisocial personality disorders.

Cluster C (the “anxious”, “fearful” cluster), with Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorders.

I don’t know about you, but almost everyone I know fits quite nicely at least into one of those groups when I consider their overall personality traits. Either I know a lot of messed up people…or maybe having some personality problems is just part of being human? Of course, some take it to the extreme. I myself am so highly anxious and fearful that I would consider it abnormally so. I believe most of that has to do with early attachment issues in childhood and a history of trauma and abuse.

I guess what I am trying to say is that people with personality disorders are not monsters or rare weirdos like many tend to think of them. They are just normal, somewhat dysfunctional people like the rest of us, but perhaps they have a harder time coping due to negative experiences and traumas they have endured. Sure, some of them are assholes, but so is a significant portion of the human race in general…

Nighttime Dread and “Quiet Borderlines” Thoughts

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I slept in until after 2pm this afternoon. I hate when that happens. I feel like most of the day is already gone by the time I get out of bed. I must have slept at least around 12 hours last night, even though I had a bit of an emotional fest when I actually went to bed. For some reason, all the loneliness of the world seems to settle down on me when I try to go to sleep and all the horrible things that have and could happen come around to haunt me. It is often at these times that I feel absolutely alone and helpless in this world, even though logically I know I’m not…at least not right now. But I could be. I could be all alone very easily and that thought sends me into a kind of despair I can’t explain.

Recently I have been reading a book entitled “Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder”. Reading the book has been insightful and interesting, and made me realize I am definitely NOT a traditional borderline. I simply don’t have the acting out behaviors. I guess I could be what some people call “quiet borderlines”, although sometimes I wonder if they are really borderlines or not?

Perhaps some “quiet borderlines” are actually more along the lines of Avoidant Personality Disorder or another anxiety-related personality disorder? Who knows. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say, but I do find so many commonalities running through various personality disorders, that even if you have one, pinpointing which one might be difficult and many people have traits of more than one. For me personally, I think I definitely fit more into the cluster C “anxious and fearful clusters” than the cluster B “dramatic and overly emotional clusters”. In fact, the only time I am visibly overly emotional is when I am so anxious I pretty much panic. Unfortunately this almost always seems to happen in public, because social interaction in itself can easily set off the panic in me.

 

Getting Out Isn’t Always the Answer

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Many, many times, when I have been severely depressed or anxious, I have heard the repeated suggestion that I just “get out and do something”. I think this is a common misunderstanding that people have about depression and anxiety, that the cure is always just going out and finding something to do.

Personally, I can say that if I am mildly or moderately depressed or anxious, getting out can indeed be a huge help. It is a good way to distract myself and can make my life feel less empty and more meaningful.

However, if I am severely depressed or anxious, “getting out” is absolutely NOT the answer, and I know this from experience. Whenever I have been severely depressed and I somehow managed to make myself leave the house, I have just been a teary, numb mess who ends up feeling worse for being unable to stop the tears in public. During these times, I am unable to join in with anything going on around me and will just sit there and cry and feel embarrassed, wishing desperately I had never left home.

As for times of severe anxiety, I often also deal with severe irritability and a tendency to snap at others, even when I don’t mean to do so. “Going out” when in this state can actually damage relationships because people wonder why you are taking it out on them, even if you absolutely don’t intend to do so. Not to mention the fact that severe anxiety often comes with intense panic attacks, which are something that is horrible to experience in public. Panic attacks suck no matter where you are when you have them, but given the choice I would always choose to be in the comfort of my own home dealing with one rather than out in an unpredictable public environment.

Feeling Insecure and Confused

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The dollies and my bunny say hello! The baby doll in the panda suit is a new addition to my collection, but sadly, he has some issues (floppy, loose head) and I may have to return him and get another one. The outfit that the bunny is wearing I got at a thrift store for less than a buck! Good deals! I also got some more vintage puzzles that I’m sure I will be sharing images of soon!

Ok, now with the cuteness aside, I’ve had a rough few days. A lot of mood swings, anxiety, and depression. I’ve also been feeling insecure and sometimes like I don’t even know who I really am. I wonder if that is why I try so hard to figure out what conditions I actually have and what is wrong with me…because I need an outside force (be it a doctor or diagnosis) to TELL me who I am. I know this kind of feeling is normal when you are a teenager and just figuring out who you are, but I’m 35 freakin’ years old! Shouldn’t I know by now?

I even find myself questioning my blogging efforts. I wonder if anyone really likes the stuff I am into (particularly the toys and puzzles and stuff like that), or am I just boring everyone? But if I talked about nothing on the blog but my mental and physical problems, wouldn’t that get boring in itself? See, I am doing far too much overthinking and that always leads to picking out flaws and beating myself up. It wouldn’t matter WHAT I did on here, I would feel like it isn’t worthwhile sometimes and like I am a burden to others.

I know in my heart, that these feelings of inadequacy are not something that anyone else can clear away for me. It wouldn’t matter how much praise or reassurance I received from others as long as I am still doubting myself inside. I guess at least I recognize that. I appreciate all you guys sticking with me through all the ups and downs. Having a place to open up like this makes a huge difference.

 

Ever Heard of Sexual Anorexia?

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Last night I was looking through book giveaways on Goodreads and happened to spot a book about “sexual anorexia”. I’ve studied psychology and mental health issues for years, but that was a phrase I had never come across before. Now curious, I had to Google it and found the subject rather interesting.

Apparently, just as anorexics starve themselves of food, a sexual anorexic starves themselves of sexual experiences. Some do so because of strict religious or moral beliefs, but the majority do so because of fear of intimacy and trust or a history of sexual abuse. There do seem to be some who seem to have OCD issues about sex as well, and avoid it due to a belief that it is repulsive or disgusting. This last category seems especially hard hit because they tend to beat themselves up or feel degraded for even having sexual urges in the first place.

Often the sexual anorexics that are afraid of intimacy and trust might still indulge in porn, masturbation, and such, but they avoid actual sexual encounters with others. They often choose to be celibate, but some do get into relationships and then find ways to avoid actually being sexual with their partners, which obviously can lead to major issues between couples. I found it interesting that there is also a category of “sexual bulimics” which are people who might go out and sleep around a lot all at once, but then will starve themselves of sex for a long while afterward.

I know this may seem like a weird subject for a blog post, especially when I don’t have personal stories or experiences to share, but I find stuff like this fascinating. The intricacies and oddities of the human mind never fail to amaze me.