22 May 2014

"It's one thing to read about what goes on in my head

And something entirely different to live with it every day."

I said these very words to Mike last night

Much of my waking hours are spent in a state of near-exhaustion. And at night? Uninterrupted sleep evades me.

Normal daily functioning leaves me drained. Making a phone call requires a level of concentration and determination usually reserved for tasks like proving the Pythagorean theorem. I role play the entire conversation with if/then statements, trying to anticipate every twist and turn of the conversation before it ever happens so that I insure I get the information I need while meeting social expectations. If, by chance, the person is not available and I have to leave a voice mail, my stress level dramatically increases. Each time the phone rings I fear that it is - or isn't - the person returning my call. If I answer the call and it isn't them, I don’t know what the person calling is going to want, and I don’t like not being prepared with an answer. If I answer the call and it is them, I don't know if they have the answer to my question and fear I might then be unprepared to get the information I originally called for.

If I have to talk to to someone face-to-face, it's even more tiring. It demands so much energy. I have to remind myself to look at them when they are speaking, and when I respond. I have to attempt to listen to them while insuring that I am following the "rules" of social engagement. I have to listen to their tone and watch their body language to decipher what might or might not be behind the words that I am listening to.

And all of these things are happening simultaneously.

Do you remember when computers were slow, and you'd get the Windows hour glass turning over and over again while your computer tried to launch an application? That is what my brain feels like.

I never stop thinking - planning - anticipating, even during the most mundane tasks. Before I drive to the market to pick up a few things, I think about the drive there. Which is the most efficient route? Which route has the most traffic lights? What is the traffic going to look like at this time of day. While driving, I'm anticipating speed limit changes. An escape route (from my car and from the road) should there be an accident. Did I remember my wallet? Is my debit card in my wallet? Or will I have enough cash to cover the purchase. What if I have to pay for part of my purchase in cash and part of it on my debit card? Will the cashier roll their eyes at me? Where is the best place to park so that I will be able to find my car again? Is it close to a cart corral in case I need to return a cart?

And all of this happens about 2 minutes into my drive

And it continues

Getting together with friends or attending a social event is especially challenging. I like to get out of the house and feel like I am an important part of the larger world, but then I have to think about where we are going. Is food involved? What will I eat? What will I wear? Do I look fat? Frumpy? Slutty? Inappropriate for the venue? Should I bring a jacket? A sweater? What will we talk about? How will discussions go? How will I respond if someone has had bad news? Or really good news? How will I reply if they ask me how Cameron is? How much information is too much information? Or should I just be transparent?

And all of this happens right after someone has said, "We should think about getting together."

Once firm plans are made, it gets even worse.

I have very few friends, in fact, I don't have a single friend that I talk to daily, or weekly, or even consistently once a month. It takes so much effort for me to maintain friendships. In theory, Mike "knew" what he was getting into before we started dating, although I cannot help but wonder if he'd do it all over again knowing what he knows now. I long for that comfortable space where I don’t have to think so much about everything I’m saying and doing. I envy others that feel that sense of ease throughout their day, without over-thinking and analyzing every encounter.

All of this effort and thinking and questioning and planning is overwhelming enough, but on top of that? I tend to absorb other people’s feelings.

If someone is angry, I can feel it inside. It rattles me and distracts me. It’s like the air around me is charged with the emotion they feel. The same goes for other emotions too - sadness, anxiety, frustration, disappointment. I absorb the feelings of others' like a sponge. I wrestle around with them inside me, fighting over control of my own emotions. But I always lose the fight, and my own feelings are wrestled away from me as I’m forced to exist within the anger or confusion or embarrassment of someone else. And they don’t even know this is happening. That their feelings have taken me hostage. It’s not their fault, really, so why should I tell them?

Sometimes, especially during high stress periods of my life, I turn to other things to quiet the thoughts and anxiety

Facebook games

Garbage television



And although all of these things work for a short period, in the long run they just complicate matters. I know that, yet in the moment, that immediate relief - that quest for a quiet brain - is a stronger pull than the long-term consequences

I can’t help but think that none of what I've described even comes close to really conveying what it's like inside of my head. I just don’t have the ability to put into words the complexity, ferocity, and relentlessness of my thoughts. I would change it in a heartbeat if I could. When people say, "Just relax and let it go," I wish more than anything that it would actually be possible for me to do that. To be a freer version of myself. To be able to just sit in the moment and take in only what was right there, right now.

I would still be the same me, but a better, less exhausted me.

I would like that very much.