Last Night was a Disaster

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That headline is not an exaggeration. First off, my MRIs went bad. I had MRIs for my brain and neck scheduled last night, both with and without contrast. I didn’t even get to the contrast part because the first part gave me a migraine, triggered severe neck pain, and gave me a major panic attack. I was almost sobbing by the time they got ready to give me the contrast, so they sent me home.

I left feeling embarrassed for not being able to keep myself from crying in public yet again. I also felt feelings of failure as I couldn’t do something as simple as completing two MRIs. Now I have to contact the neurologist that ordered the tests and tell him I wasn’t able to make it through and see if he wants to make separate orders for the contrast part. So, I might have to go through it again soon.

Also, we ate at a local restaurant yesterday that served me some bloody chicken. I didn’t notice right away because the blood pooled beneath the chicken breast. Anyhow, last night I got really sick and had to sleep with a trashcan beside me. I took both Mylanta and Zofran and nothing helped the nausea. I suspect I might have gotten a little bit of food poisoning from the underdone chicken.

At least I’m not fighting down vomit anymore, but still feeling nauseated and sick. Understandably, all this has made my mood rather blah too. I just want to huddle under the covers and hide from reality right now.

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I’m a High-Strung Mess

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I am currently a high-strung mess. As my SSDI hearing looms nearer and nearer, I find myself obsessing way too much over it and almost panicking about the fact that I feel powerless over what will happen in the end. I am trying to do absolutely everything I can think of to prepare for it and make sure we have good medical documentation especially, but that in itself is stressing me out because it means having to be assertive and ask for things from my physicians which I despise having to do. I HATE having to ask ANYONE for ANYTHING. It is just the way I am, but sometimes you have to do the things you hate…

I do not do well when I feel like I am not in control of a situation. My anxiety can’t handle the uncertainty and the endless waiting. I would almost rather deal with the worst case scenario immediately rather than be in limbo for months waiting for someone else to decide my fate. On top of that, I feel like I am annoying those around me (lawyer office employees, doctors, my poor husband) because of my intense anxiety state. I talked to a paralegal today and she told me to take a deep breath and relax lol. If only I could! I can do the deep breath, but the relaxing part just ain’t kicking in.

The heightened stress is taking a physical toll too, as it always does. My upper back/shoulder/neck area is flaring again to the point that I am regularly rolling on Lidocaine and had to take some Tramadol. The pain is so bad I can’t do any household tasks, which makes me feel bad too. Even typing this is painful and requires frequent breaks.

Now I feel like my whining is probably annoying all of you too lol. Sorry if that is the case, but I just needed to vent!

Wisdom Teeth Surgery Anxiety

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Not long ago I had an infected wisdom tooth, so unfortunately, the surgery I have been putting off to get my wisdom teeth out is now more of a necessity. I am scared shitless, and I’m not even sure why.

I keep telling myself it is a minor surgery. Outpatient even. I’ll go, get them out, come home, and likely crash for a few days. Then hopefully it will all be behind me. The teeth are impacted, which makes the surgery more complex, but I will be put out for the operation, so I’m not sure why I am so panic-stricken at the idea of having to do this.

To make matters worse, the first appointment I could make to get it done isn’t until the end of August, so I have an entire month to keep freaking myself out. I keep trying to distract myself or think positive thoughts, but I feel such a sense of dread that I just can’t shake, and it is making me spiral into a depression as well.

I did the typical Aspie thing, and tried to make myself feel better by finding as much information as I could about the procedure to lessen the anxiety, but it hasn’t helped much. I could quote you stats of all the risk factors (and ways to prevent them), draw you a diagram of the procedure, or explain step by step what will be done, but it isn’t helping me to let it go.

Maybe this is my OCD coming out in full force (an inability to NOT fixate on something I wish I wasn’t thinking about at all), or maybe it is just the anxiety of the unknown, since I have never had surgery of any kind before or been put out for any kind of operation…but I wish my brain would just shut the hell up about it! I’m sure my poor husband would find that a relief too since he has to deal with his basket case wife for the next month 😦

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.

Family Issues and Ex-Pastor’s Wife Resentment

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So I am going through a couple things right now. For one, my already strained relationship with my mother seems to be going farther downhill. To get a bit of the backstory on our relationship, you can check out this post. Anyhow, ever since I confronted my mother about the past, I could feel her slowly backing away. She now lives in another state and at first she would call me once or twice a week and would call back within a day if I called her. Now she doesn’t return my calls for a week at a time and it has been three weeks since she last called me, even though she said she would call me in a few days the last time we talked.

I can’t help but feel a little snubbed and like I am slowly being phased out of her life, which doesn’t surprise me now that she has remarried and doesn’t need me so much anymore. This has always pretty much been the pattern when she gets a man in her life. I stop mattering as much. Honestly, there have been times I’ve considered going “no contact” because the little bit of contact we have now only tends to make me sadder, and the more I feel put aside and ignored, the more I hurt.

I’ve also been dealing with some pent up resentment I didn’t even realize I had about the years I spent as a pastor’s wife. For the first 11 years or so of our 15 year marriage, my husband was a pastor. In the past few years we have kind of drifted from the faith and become agnostic, which is a huge change from what our lives used to be. However, I just realized when having a conversation with my husband the other night, how much being a pastor’s wife for so many years deeply bothered me.

For one thing, I constantly felt judged by the congregation and compared to previous or other pastors’ wives that the congregation knew. I was not old-fashioned. I was not meek and submissive. I did not want to teach, play piano, or lead anything. It just isn’t my personality. My social anxiety makes leading anything a horrifying thought for me, but yet, I found myself almost forced to sometimes be in these roles I hated. I was pretty much forced to teach at times, and while I loved the kids, I felt panic at the responsibility. No one helped or trained me, I was just thrown right in. At one point, I had a panic attack and burst into tears about my fear of teaching in front of the head pastor, his wife, and my husband and yet none of them seemed to take it seriously and pretty much just patted me on the shoulder and said I would be all right. But I wasn’t. Even when I found out I had autism and tried to explain to the head pastor why that made social things so hard for me, his response was that everyone has those problems. But no – everyone does not!!!

My husband now realizes how many mistakes he made by pushing me. He is sorry and has genuinely apologized for putting pressure on me and making me feel like I had to do things that made me anxious to the point of sickness. He realizes now that he learned that behavior from his own parents who pressured him constantly about being involved in church and often tended to ignore his feelings if he didn’t want to do something. Like most people, he was acting out the unhealthy patterns of his family as an adult and unfortunately, I got the brunt of it.

* For a great resource on couples therapy, check out this article from BetterHelp!

Hallucinations in Childhood

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell

Feeling Torn in Half…

Last night I had a really bad panic attack. The situation that triggered it is a complicated one that has me feeling rather torn in half. As I have probably mentioned before, my husband is a special education teacher. He is extremely devoted to his work and his students and loves what he does. This past Monday, he found out that one of his prior students, a girl who is now 19, needs a place to stay. My husband would like for us to take her in. I am really conflicted about it.

My husband and I used to do foster care, so I’m not unfamiliar with taking in strangers and looking after them, but the reason we had to quit foster care was my deteriorating health. That worries me about taking in a new, adult person who has both emotional and developmental issues. It also worries me because we recently downsized into a much, much smaller house and the autistic side of me is deeply worried about having no privacy or time alone which is essential to my well-being. Plus, I don’t know where we will move all the stuff that is now in the extra room.

On the other hand, I do feel deeply for this girl who has been through A LOT. My heart aches for anyone who already struggles with physical or mental disabilities and then has to add the weight of being abandoned or alone. She is living my worst nightmare in many ways and I can’t help but feel compassion for her. However, having never met her myself, I also worry about whether we would be a good fit or not. Often, that is something you just can’t tell until you live together, and if we do take her in, there is a good chance we would need to keep her at least a couple years until she graduates school and is moved into some form of independent living housing.

I feel so conflicted and anxious.

All Over the Place

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Lately I’ve been all over the place emotionally. I’ve especially been struggling with feelings of rage (I even stabbed an inflatable black cat to death), panic, and dread. Often I find myself laying in bed and these feelings come over me, settling like a heavy blanket around me, so that I feel like I can’t move or fight it off. During these times I truly believe that if it were possible to die from such misery, I would have been dead a hundred times over.

These storms of emotion definitely seem to be worse at night, when I try to go to bed, but even during the day I feel the remnants of these episodes wrap around me like tentacles. I’m honestly not sure what is causing it. Is it the PTSD? The bipolar? Autistic meltdowns? Is it a combination of my mental and physical conditions just wearing me down to an extent I can’t handle? Or am I just slowly slipping further into insanity?

* Art by Maranda Russell

Bipolar or Borderline? Part 1

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Although I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 mood disorder, honestly, I wonder myself if it might not be Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) instead, or even in addition. The reason I say this is that so many of the stories of other Borderlines hit close to home and so do the symptoms. My greatest fear is fear of abandonment, and has been since childhood. It doesn’t matter if that abandonment comes from rejection or death, it all feels like being abandoned to me.

As a child I wouldn’t even spend the night at friends’ houses normally because I would have panic attacks at night and end up calling my mom to come get me. I was always afraid something would happen to my family or they would somehow be gone in the morning if I wasn’t there with them all the time. This fear became much, much worse after my dad died when I was 12. After that, my fear centered on my mom dying or leaving me, which wasn’t helped at all when she remarried when I was 15 and started dumping me off on anyone she could while she went on trips with her new lover.

When I got married at 20 years of age, that fear transferred to my husband. At first I feared he would just get sick of me and leave or find someone else he liked better. I was extremely insecure for a long time. I would get upset over the silliest things, like thinking he loved the kids he worked with more than he loved me. It was ridiculous. The one and only time we have been apart since being married was when I went with a church group to Tennessee for a week. One night during that week he told me he would be home by 10pm, so I called him after that and couldn’t get an answer. I freaked out, and ended up leaving 19 tearful messages for him within an hour because I was so scared something had happened to him.

Fortunately, I have matured over the years and my fear of my husband leaving me or cheating on me has greatly reduced due to his loving nature, although deep down I know I must still have some of those fears because I have nightmares about those things happening. However, now my fear focuses mostly on my worries that my husband will die before I do…a fear that might be somewhat justified by my being about a decade younger than him. This fear of something happening to him is so strong it literally gives me panic attacks if I think about it too much.

My fear of abandonment and rejection greatly affects my ability to develop other relationships because I tend to push people away before they can get too close, mostly out of fear of them rejecting me once they really get to know me. I know I have poor self-esteem and a flawed self-image, which I’m sure I will address further in part 2 of this post.

* Art by Maranda Russell