New Years Eve & Social Anxiety

Hey guys I hope you have a safe New Years Eve tonight if you’re going out to celebrate!!

For the past week I’ve been trying to make plans for tonight. I don’t want to sit home another New Years Eve, so I’ve been hittin’ up all my friends trying to give myself some options. But something happened over the past couple days; my social anxiety has started getting to me and I’m not too sure if I want to go out any more tonight. There’s something about being in a bar or club filled with people that I still have a hard time dealing with. I feel pressured to be this flirty woman who can dance well and socialize with complete strangers and truth be told I simply don’t know how to do that. I get anxious and shy and pretty much a wallflower. I observe others but don’t really do much socializing even though everything in me wants to.

On the other hand a big part of what is keeping me home tonight too is the after club/bar get together at Denny’s my friends all do. I’m still not ready for Denny’s (for those of you who don’t know, Denny’s is this diner that’s open 24/7 and after a night of drinking it’s a thing to go pig out on food). I’m not ready to have no options of safe foods at a diner, especially if it’s going to be at 2 in the morning or so (I won’t know what the fuck to do about meals the next day). It scares the shit out of me and I don’t want to bring my eating disorder around my friends again.

So yeah, I have a lot more social anxiety/fears than I once thought I did so I’m not exactly sure how I’ll be spending tonight. I guess there are still some things I need to work on/work out & hopefully next year I’ll be able to go out with no problem.

Happy New Years guys!!

Cop Outs & Closure

So a couple of days ago I finally got my answer I’ve been wanting for the past 3 years from my ex-best friend and to be honest I’m doing alright with it.

I was in my room trying to focus on my homework, yet I kept thinking about her and what happened. I was getting angry, and the words on the pages in my textbook were turning into just black marks on a page. I could feel my anxiety rising, along with my anger so I decided to bite the bullet and send her a text asking if I could be told what happened.

When my phone lit up with her name on the screen I felt my heart palpitate as I unlocked my phone and read her response. It wasn’t a long drawn out explanation; she informed me that it was because she moved and friendships grow apart and we are doing very different things with our lives. Her words, no ad-lib.

Grow apart? I was constantly making an effort to keep into contact with her even though she was across the country. I read it a few times, and felt myself getting more upset to the point of tears. It was a bullshit cop out and I knew it. Hurt doesn’t even begin to describe the emotions I was feeling in that moment. I read and reread it over and over and over again for a few minutes until I realized that I was no longer worth the truth to her.

This happened Friday, and today I am no longer hurt by her cop out reason. Friends, even though they do very different things with their lives (which is normal for adults), still should be able to maintain a friendship if there’s an effort on both parts. I realized that for the past 3 years I was the only one in the friendship making an effort. So today as I write this post I am actually content with how everything is now. I don’t feel that heaviness or resentment/anger towards her any more. I am learning to love who I am, and made a promise to myself that I don’t need friends/people in my life who are going to bring me back down into self-destructive tendencies. So I’m moving on with my life, and I am more than alright with it. I have some of the best friends I could ever have asked for still in my life, and if anything this whole thing taught me to cherish those people more than ever. I finally received closure, even if it wasn’t the answer I needed, I still got one. If I’m not worth the truth, she’s not worth my friendship. I’m more happy now and appreciative of all of those who stick by me.

Family= Trigger

So my worst fear about seeing my family happened today and I’m not dealing well with it. I was down at my Aunt & Uncles house this morning, feeling anxious and the xanax wasn’t helping me. I was watching them eat and looking at what they had for me to possibly eat (which was nothing as I was expecting) when my 15 year old cousin made comments that started a mental tailspin.

At first she grabbed my upper arms, squeezed them and made a comment about how “skinny” I was. I felt my heart stop as the panic began to set in and I did all that I could to stay calm and not flip out. I tried telling her how that’s not appropriate or helpful, although I don’t think she realized the weight of her comments/actions. Then a bit later she flat out asked me what I weighed and that’s when I flipped out. I told her that that was way out of line and you never ask someone how much they weigh. She asked me why, and I told her that it’s not appropriate. Of course I know how much I weigh and that number began holding significance in my head again.

I was scared something like this was going to happen and the fact that it did is seriously fucking with my head. It’s like I don’t want it to ruin my day but those eating disorder thoughts are so fucking loud right now.

I hate the holidays, I hate spending time with my family and I hate letting the people who trigger me, trigger me again on a day where I was hoping my eating disorder wouldn’t be an issue.

“ReLAX It’s Christmas”

Hey guys I hope you all have a good Christmas tomorrow if you celebrate it, and if you don’t I hope you’re having a good week so far!

I’m really nervous for tomorrow. The closer it gets, and now with it only being hours before I have to face a huge trigger which is my family, I’m finding my anxiety increasing. I was telling my parents when they asked me about tomorrow (it’s strange still having my dad ask me questions and seemingly want to know what’s going on with me; but that’s a different post) how I’m scared of going down to my Aunts and have someone comment on how I look. I still have shitty body image and with knowing I’ve been gaining weight weekly it scares me that they’ll notice and comment. They’re already big triggers and I’m terrified that I’m beginning to look like them, which only fuels my eating disorder thoughts/behaviors.

Another thing I’m scared of is having the risk of using laxatives. Food is a bigger issue than I thought it was going to be, and with the mindset of eating like a normal person I’ve been having I’m scared that if I eat “normal” tomorrow (pies and sweets that I still cannot get myself to eat) I am already struggling with not resorting to laxative abuse any more. It took me so long to cut down to nearly not using them to compensate and I don’t want to go backwards, especially since I’ve worked this hard and am getting discharged from IOP this Tuesday.

Christmas is supposed to be relaxing, and I don’t know exactly how to do that. It’s frustrating that all week I’ve been worrying about the food I’ll encounter tomorrow. I already know what my plan is, but I wanted to be able to eat what everyone else is going to be eating; yet fried and overly greasy food is not on my list of things I can eat and not restrict, exercise or use laxatives after. I really want to be able to enjoy my day tomorrow without thoughts and anxiety about food and family.

Merry Christmas & whatever you’re dealing with over the holidays I hope you stay strong!

Sending A Message Without Using Words

Hey guys so here’s yet another post from yours truly. Seeing as how I’m on break I have the unfortunate “blessing” of having down time and allowing my mind to wander into places I would rather not have it go. It’s funny because I was talking with my mom last night about how I find it harder and more stressful to have down time than to be in school or constantly have deadlines and pressures on me; even she agreed that down time and allowing myself to relax isn’t my strongest area in life. I always get a week into breaks and begin panicking that I’m not doing anything with my life. But really this has nothing to do with what has been on my mind all weekend and flowing over into this week; this is more of a rather useless bit of information letting you know why I’ll more than likely be posting a shit ton more over the next couple of weeks until classes start back up January 12th (Jesus fucking Christ I can’t wait to get back into school).

So…. Here is what I’ve been thinking about: my ex-best friend. She’s apparently home now for a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t know for sure as she and I no longer speak. For so long I thought I had forgiven her and all that bullshit for basically abandoning me when I needed her most; when I was really sick in my eating disorder and pretty much fucking suicidal. She was in Los Angeles at the time as well, but she pretty much gave me the cold shoulder and didn’t want to talk to me, out of fear more than likely that she’s spend her energy talking to eating disordered thought me instead of fake-happy go lucky-everything is fucking peaches and cream- me. So basically, and I can’t remember when exactly, she cut me out of her life and we no longer speak or are even acquaintances, let alone any form of friends. So hearing on social networking sites that this princess of my town is home dredged up all of these emotions I didn’t even expect.

I know there’s a huge ass risk of running into her over the next couple of weeks, and I’m trying not to do so. I don’t want her to act thrilled to see me, I don’t want her to give me a hug and act like we’re still close like she did last year, I just want her to know one thing: she fucking hurt me so bad and I’m still hurt. I know in my heart of hearts that she will never tell me what I did wrong to upset her and push me out of her life, but I’ve been wanting to ask her so bad. Face to face, so she can’t just ignore my messages or texts. It’s fucked up and I know it, but ever since I heard she’s back visiting, I’ve had this fucked up thought that I could use my eating disorder to send her that message that I’m still fucking hurt inside because of her abandonment. Yet the reality is I can’t allow myself to do that. I am being discharged from treatment next Tuesday and I cannot let myself slip back to being sick; she’s not fucking worth it. But it’s the truth. I want to send her a silent message that hey, something isn’t fucking right with me and you’re a part of it (even though she’s not). That thought of not eating and losing weight while she’s home isn’t a helpful one and I’ve been talking about it openly, but it’s still there. I refuse to let her be the one who turns me into that pathetic patient whose only voice to let the world around them know they’re hurting is their silent eating disorder.

Christmas & Family Time

I wish I could say I’m not worried about Christmas this year, but I’d be lying. I survived Thanksgiving, but then again my parents and I didn’t really do anything special for it. We didn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner because my Mom worked the 3pm-11pm shift at her job; so Dad and I just hung out and watched Football that day. But Christmas is going to be different.

Last week in therapy I was asked if there was any triggers or stress related to Christmas and at the time I thought there wasn’t any, but the closer and closer it comes to Thursday, the more anxious and overwhelmed I am becoming.

This year Mom wants as much normalcy when it comes to the Holiday as possible. Last year was a strange Christmas and it didn’t really feel like a holiday. I was living down at my Grandma’s house taking care of the place and her pets because of what happened to her three weeks or so prior. Christmas wasn’t really a Christmas, and if I’m being honest I was alright with that. I don’t think Christmas (or any holiday for that matter) will anything big in my life for a long time. Holidays remind me of loss and grief and the fact that life will never be the same. But as I said, this year my mother wants it to be as normal as possible. She went all out decorating the house this year; it’s her way of coping from the loss of her own mom, although she is still alive she isn’t the strong woman she was and the woman I admired so much.

So me and my parents are going down to my Dads side of the family Christmas morning, and that’s where the stress and anxiety kicks in for me. I never got along with them or even considered them to be my family. I was never the one who fit in with their personality; I was always too sarcastic and too wild of a person for their conservative ways and lifestyle. I still feel like they walk on egg shells when I’m around after all of my past issues and being in treatment/psychiatric facilities. If anything, it’s the food that scares the shit out of me. They don’t care what they eat, and they indulge in food at every meal I’ve ever spent with them. It’s hard to be around that because that’s when my eating disorder thoughts go bat shit. It makes me physically sick to my stomach being around them as they mindlessly eat foods that are in no way remotely healthy.

I used to (and still sort of do) associate their personality and rude/ignorant ways with their food intake, which I am well aware is just a distortion. But I’ll be surrounded by them for a few hours on Thursday and I’m scared. It’s always a big trigger for me and I want to have at least one holiday with them where I’m not triggered to go back to restricting and over exercising. I know I have the tools and support from my friends, this year will be the true test if I can actually apply what I’ve learned and have it stick.

Body Image & Gender Stereotypes

I was starting my work for my psychology of gender course I am taking over winter break and came across something I found rather interesting and hope you all might as well. Before I start I am pretty well aware of the fact that the reason I found this to stand out to me and took an interest in it is probably because of the schema I have towards this type of thing.

I also found it interesting, however, because I am currently working on my own study regarding ones ethnicity and levels of social comparison/self-esteem levels. I’ll be conducting it this upcoming semester and I must say I am thrilled to be getting hands on experience in the research field. I’ll more than likely post more about this some time later but I digress.

According to Sex & Gender: an introduction 6th edition (Lips, 2008) this is what they have found regarding appearance and gender stereotypes:

  • Beauty is defined as a feminine attribute
  • Physical attractiveness is a more central part of the self-concept for women than men
  • Women are less satisfied with their body appearance and function than men
  • Heavy weight is often linked to low self-esteem
  • Women who describe themselves as feminine and men who describe themselves as masculine are most likely to feel dissatisfied with their bodies
  • Stereotypes vary by group. For instance, African American women report less concern than European American women about heavy weight

When I read this in my book it all made sense to me. It’s something I’ve wondered so much about, the question of why do we as women in society only view ourselves as good enough if we have that perfect body, and why is it supported that if we are not this thin-ideal body type do we interpret that as not good enough or somehow it makes us feel bad about who we are?

It’s upsetting to me that the way we look defines our self-worth a lot of the times and that the attractiveness of ourselves allows our emotions to dictate how we feel. It upsets me, but at the same time I understand it and get it. For so long, and even still although I’m trying to change it, I’ve let my weight/shape be a major aspect of my self-concept. Reading this in my book today however, made me realize that if it’s mentioned in a publicized textbook sold at colleges, than there’s a bigger problem and a bigger picture. It made me realize that the problem isn’t with body image, that’s only a manifestation of the bigger issue at hand; the problem are these stereotypes and how they’ve changed over time.

To Those Who Told Me I Should Settle

So after receiving my grades for this semester and looking over my transcripts thus far, I have to say I’m pretty thrilled. I know it’s contradictory to the post I wrote a few days ago but the more I thought about it and talked about it with people (yes I even spent some of my time in therapy discussing it as well as my future plans) I’ve come to realize that although I didn’t get grades I know I am capable of, I’m still kicking ass as a clinical/counseling psychology major.

I have known for a while now where this feeling of inadequacy towards school came from: my high school guidance counselor. When I was a junior in high school I met with her to discuss my future. Yes I wasn’t the best student at the time, I could care less about academics in high school, but I still wanted to go to college and get a degree. I would be the first grandchild on my moms side to even graduate high school, let alone go on to college. It motivated me to want to go, even though being 17 I had no idea what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. So, I walked into her office that afternoon with the expectation of being encouraged to apply to the few undergraduate colleges I was looking at at the time. Well, needless to say, after she finished reviewing my grades on my transcript she turned to me and flat out told me I wasn’t good enough to get into the schools I was hoping to apply to and that I should settle for a community college. I don’t think I ever felt more like shit about my future as I did when I walked out of her office when that meeting finished.

Needless to say, I let those words from someone whose job was to guide me to bettering my future and point me towards college, guide my life into a place where for the next 3 years I would work several almost minimum wage jobs. One day my mind changed and I ended up enrolling into the one place I was trying to avoid: community college.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to do well at all, still grappling with the thoughts that she was right and I would never be good enough for college. But she was wrong. I was getting rather good marks in classes and was getting motivation to transfer to a 4 year college. I think that’s what changed the course of my life, that motivation to excel in school & prove her wrong.

I wish I could go back to my high school and show her how well I’m doing. I would show her my grades from the university I am attending now, those all A’s from my 1st semester there, and the A’s & B’s from this semester. I want her to know how she hurt me and discouraged me. I want her to know that her shitty job at counseling me in that meeting led me to gaining motivation to prove her wrong. I want her to know that because of her I stress myself out every semester to attain the grades I have earned and that I am fully planning on one day getting my PhD in clinical psychology.

Mrs. D told me to settle, and those words that reinforced the belief I have that I am not good enough in turn made me motivated to be the best student I can and gave me motivation to go for a PhD.

You Are Not Your Illness

I was thinking today about the times I was diagnose with several mental illnesses. First it was just depression and anxiety, then Bipolar II disorder, then the doozy of them all that ended up with my plummeting into my eating disorder: borderline personality disorder.

Out of all the diagnoses Bipolar II and BPD were not ones I wanted to have. I mean no insult to those of you who read my blog on the regular who have these disorders, it is nothing personal or an attack on anyone living with the two disorders.

I remember walking out of my therapists office the day I was diagnosed borderline with my head spinning in a million different directions.

What was borderline?
What was I on the border of?
Does this mean I’m crazy?
Will I end up back in a psychiatric hospital?

In my offense, not that I have to defend how I felt in that moment but I want to give clarity, my then therapist didn’t give me the “it’s not the end of the world” speech or any sign of the fact that things were all going to be ok. None of that happened in that session; instead I was informed to go home and “Google the disorder, and come back and let me know if you think that’s you”. Bullshit right? But I did it, and it only made me feel more out of control. The next few sessions she pointed out every emotional reaction I had to situations that were occurring and gladly told me that it was my borderline personality. She gave no skills to use, but instead directed me to go buy the book I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me.

At this point I still had trust in therapists, and figuring that it was her job to help me, I went out and bought the book. But I couldn’t get past the first two chapters; it was overwhelming and disheartening.

What am I trying to get at? The entire time I saw that therapist after being diagnosed, I was given the impression that I was no longer Jess, I was Borderline Personality Disorder. So, that’s how I lived my life. I soon began seeing myself as that and it took over my entire life. My eating disorder and obsession with/compulsion to exercise got so bad that I’d even skip classes and my internship to go to the gym. If I felt like getting drunk, that’s what I’d do. The friends I had became distant as I pushed them away because I “knew” they didn’t want to associate themselves with a “crazy” person.

That diagnosis became my identity, along with my anorexia (which the lovely psycho-therapist told me I couldn’t possibly have because borderlines are bulimic not anorexic). It took me so long to come to the realization and for myself to believe the fact that yes, I may or may not have this disorder (I was more recently told I do not) but if I do, it’s not who I am. It took me almost 2 years of therapy to believe that I am not my diagnosis.

Every single year, an estimated 57.7 million Americans struggle with some form of mental health issue (NAMI, 2014), so those of us who see ourselves as only that are not alone in the struggle with mental illness.

So if you’re diagnosed with bipolar i or ii, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, borderline personality, PTSD or whatever it is the professionals say you have as according to criterion out of the DSM-V, I hope you know that you are not that illness.

So many times I hear peers who are psychology majors or even those not, refer to someone who has anorexia as “anorexic”, or someone with schizophrenia, “schizophrenic”. I think we as a society and even those of us wanting to be the next psychologists of the world, need to stop referring to an individual as their disorder. Instead of saying “anorexic”, “bipolar”, “schizophrenic”, we need to start saying something along the lines of “so and so who has______”.

We can’t continue to place labels on a persons mental health and refer to them as that. It’s time this changes.

You are not your illness.

The Problem With Perfectionism

Hey guys, so I got my grades for this semester today and I know I’m going to sound like one of those kids who are over achievers but I gotta say I’m not too thrilled with my grades; and here’s how my fucking perfectionist attitude gets in the way.

My overall GPA is now a 3.639, not quite the 4.0 I had last semester. I received 2 A-‘s and 2 B’s which should thrill me, but I can’t get the excitement inside me that I know I should have. This semester was hard (with taking an Anatomy/Physio course I shouldn’t have even been in, all thanks to my dipshit of an ex-advisor) so I should be stoked on the fact that bio and A&P I was fortunate to receive a B. But I’m sitting here thinking that I could have done more to receive higher grades.

I guess my problem is that I’m comparing this semester to last, without taking into consideration that last semester I had a much easier course load and only had one part time job at the time. This semester I had more science focused courses, a lot more homework (especially since I started working on my own research), two part time jobs, individual therapy as well as one night of outpatient treatment. Does that sound as exhausting as it did when I typed it all out?

All of these things logically make sense to me but that voice of perfectionism in my head is nagging at me that I should have been able to make the Deans list once more. It’s a problem, this perfectionist attitude/mindset I have but I haven’t figured out yet how to make that voice shut up in my head. There’s this unhealthy need inside of my head to be perfect, and if I don’t reach that then I’m left with this unbearable feeling that I am not good enough and all of those words spoken to me about said “not good enough-ness” are reinforced inside my head.

Now, in January, I’ll be starting the 2nd half of my Junior year in Undergrad and will have to start seriously looking into Grad schools and taking my GRE, but tonight I’m “ruminating” (to use a nice big clinical word) about the grades I received and if they’ll impact my chances of getting accepted into a PhD program for clinical psych.

Not being able to celebrate these grades is unfortunate; and that my readers, is the problem with perfectionism.