Sadness Saturdays #7

I have to stop complaining about my job. Not because I don’t hate it but because nobody wants to hear about it. People are supposed to want power, even women, so to complain that the collective hopes and dreams are, as Dan Fogelberg once described a woman’s heart “so fragile and heavy to hold” — people just don’t get it. If someone saw me crying at my desk, which happens almost every day that I’m at work (to be fair, I cry a lot at home, too, mostly about my dead mom) they would think I was insane.

I’m so tired of trying to explain what a drain it is to try to keep everybody happy all of the time. People tell me that that’s not possible, and I get that in theory, but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

On an unrelated note, I’m sure, a new facial twitch popped up yesterday. So, of course, the eyelids top and bottom, left and right, are the classics. I also have had eyebrow twitches. Once, the middle of my lower lip twitched for about a week, and then last week, my upper lip twitched for the first time. The newest one, though, was between my eyebrows, at the tip of my right eyebrow. Who needs to travel? Dealing with my own face is an adventure.

I also had the fibroids flare up this week, which means that I left work early on Friday, and almost called in sick on Saturday. I remember this happening when I was agoraphobic and wondering how I was supposed to hold down a job when I’d be Mt. St. Helens-ing for weeks on end, and it’s mostly been okay. It’ll officially be 11 years in July since I went out and got a job. Not that it hasn’t been a problem, but it’s mostly been manageable. Still, it sucks to be debilitated every 6-9 months for no earthly reason other than, you know, biology. Stupid biology.

I’ve also been isolating a lot. I’m finishing up all of my promised projects and I’ve promised myself that I won’t start another one. I’m avoiding my best friends and am “too busy” to really stop and talk to anyone at work. Josh can tell that something is wrong so he being vigilant about checking in on me, but Barb is going through her own personal nightmare so she’s too sad and distracted to notice. Dave is getting ready to film his special and between that, helping Barb, and getting ready to film his special, he’s nice and distracted too. So I get to fly mostly under the radar, only interacting the minimum amount to avoid suspicion that I’m not okay.

After my mom died, I used to pretend that I was okay so much that I started to feel like a con artist. But I’ve studied up on it and I definitely don’t have that Machiavellian instinct. I think I just have BPD, part of which is having extremely thin skin AND emotional numbness. What a roller coaster!

How I deal with it is I just stay distracted as much as possible. I’m watching a lot of YouTube tutorials and Ted Talks and trying to stimulate the part of my brain that isn’t constantly screaming. I am currently making a crown-shaped jewelry box out of cardboard and a purse and neither project is for anyone in particular. And I created a new and pretty stitch for my knitting loom. I mean, I’m sure I didn’t invent it, but I didn’t learn it from anyone else.

I wish I had more or better advice about how to deal with it, but sometimes, there just isn’t any. I did an online chat with a crisis hotline about a week ago. Super unhelpful. I got linked to an online anxiety tips list that was clearly written for children and that linked to a longer list that I could pay for if I wanted to….I’m seriously better off just Googling baby animals.

Sadness Saturdays #6

Last night, I came home from work early. I was having panic attacks and couldn’t stop crying. Some people think they’re dying when they have panic attacks because dying seems like the worst case scenario. For me, death would be a blessed relief, but my worst fear is letting people know how I really feel. Anyway, I said I wasn’t feeling well and left.

I stopped by Smart & Final on the way home because I knew there was no food in the house, although I wasn’t really hungry, which is unusual for me. The cashier asked me how I was and I made a noise somewhere between a moan and a grunt. And he was very nice about it. Sometimes — no, most of the time — if I express any kind of negative emotion, the other person reacts as though I am personally attacking them, and they put their hands up as though my sadness is contagious. And it is, I guess.

But I think that there’s a level of emotional intelligence at which people can let you feel how you feel without it destroying them. Therapists have to have this level of emotional intelligence. I’m working on it, myself. But he was very nice. And it’s been, like five years since I worked there, and as I walked home, I was thinking about the two years I was there, in which I forced myself into a good mood, thrust all of the bad thoughts away, made myself focus on who and what was in front of me — and I remembered when that muscle tore down from overuse.

I don’t have it anymore. I have SOME ability to be pleasant when I’m not okay, but I can’t put on the full mask anymore, and to be honest, I don’t want to. It was SO exhausting. I would cry on my breaks, on the way to work, on the way home, at home for hours, but in public, I was all smiles.

Now, like, I’m having a rough time and I definitely feel some pressure to maintain my composure in public — mostly self-induced, honestly, right? If I just broke down and started crying in front of a co-worker, they would comfort me, I would feel better, and then later, I would be embarrassed, but I’d have a sense of closeness and acceptance with that co-worker that I didn’t have before. And they wouldn’t necessarily think that I was unstable and couldn’t be trusted, most likely they would just think I was human and having a bad day. Maybe they’d even feel more comfortable being less than perfect in front of me.

But I still have trouble being vulnerable in front of other people. Madlen was having a bad week last week, and she cried a LOT, and asked me if that made her weak. I told her that allowing yourself an honest reaction to stress is very brave. Sometimes I learn from the things I tell her. But I’ll say this: I have to leave for work in about an hour, and if I didn’t think I could hold my shit together, I’d be calling in sick today.

And it makes me SO angry. I was agoraphobic for 10 years and then I decided that I would never stay home again just because I was scared or overwhelmed. And I kept that vow for about 5 years. After my mom died, I missed a couple of days of school, just because I couldn’t go.

To be fair, after my mom died, all bets were off. All of the things I had “figured out”, all of my little formulas for walking around the world feeling safe — exploded. My belief in God, in cosmic balance, in good winning over evil all went kablooey. So, if I missed a couple of days of school a month after my mom died, so what?

But, you know, that was 7 years ago. Part of me thinks that I should have my shit put together again, by now, and part of me realizes that I know that I’m still shattered and that I just want to SEEM like I’ve managed to fit all of the pieces back together. Who am I trying to fool? And why is it so important that I fool anyone?

And then I think about all of the terrible advice I’ve gotten, like, “don’t be sad” or “you’re torturing your mother in Heaven” or “you’re going to die alone” and I”m like, no fucking wonder I have a hard time expressing myself, when that’s the result I get. And then I get defensive and clam up and I have to remind myself that the worst examples of dealing with people a reflection of most of my interactions.

At the store last night, the cashier asked me how I was doing, and I responded with a moan-grunt and he just looked up at me and said he hoped my night would improve. He didn’t dismiss my mood or try to guilt me into pretending to be okay, he was just kind. Be kind, people.

Sadness Saturdays #5

I just finished watching the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I started crying when Dr. Hakopian finally got Rebecca to admit that she couldn’t be in a real relationship with Nathaniel because she wasn’t emotionally equipped. Actually, that’s not the part that made me cry. It was the part where Dr. Hakopian said that Rebecca deserved to be loved.

I’ve been struggling with that my entire life. I can blame most of it on my mean foster sister but both of my parents were messed up and both of their families are messed up so I didn’t really have a chance. Sometimes, I talk to people who say that they had happy childhoods, that they never experienced real stress until adulthood. They miss that feeling of being taken care of, that everything is okay. I never experienced that as a kid. I’ve barely experienced that as an adult.

Recently, I started posting anonymously on a message board, just throwing some dark shit out there, not really wanting a response, just needing to be able to express myself without worrying about how someone who knows me would react. I have gotten some responses that are nice, and some that have reinforced the idea that putting myself out there is a mistake.

I think one woman thought I was Harvey Weinstein. She called me a rapist and told me that she’d kidnapped a member of my family (Not MY family, his I guess?). I deleted all of her messages, and reported all of them and haven’t heard from her again.

I had one girl send 11 messages in 48 hours, insisting that I was her Latina lover, Tanya, and telling me I was cruel for ignoring her. I finally answered her back, to set her straight, and she emailed back, thanking me. Then, today, she emailed again and said that I was a liar and a monster and to not bother answering her because she was blocking me.

Sometimes I think I want to be a published author and sell millions of copies of my books and go on press tours and share my wisdom on life and writing and all of that stuff. But, I mean, maybe five people read the post that this girl responded to, and that was the response I got. I can’t imagine what kind of bullshit I’d be inundated with if a million people read my stuff and were moved to unleash all of their issues on me.

I already have a hard time letting anyone I LIKE or LOVE get to know me. Even though I know better, I’m still afraid that they’ll turn on me, change their minds, stop liking and loving me. How much worse would it be if a bunch of strangers and their various personality disorders got a hold of me?

I’m not shitting on people with those disorders, by the way, I have a fair share of my own, and my mom, who I miss like crazy, had a ton of them. But people get to take in what you put out there, read and interpret it any way they want to, and then attack you. Why would I sign up for that? Why HAVE I signed up for that?

People act like it’s so odd that authors become recluses, and I completely get it. Once you put a piece of yourself out there, people think that they own the whole thing. Every day that goes by, I wonder WHY I thought that being agoraphobic was unhealthy. More and more, it seems like the sanest thing I’ve ever done.

Sadness Saturdays #4

I’m not actually sad right now. Give it an hour though, lol. Sigh.

Let’s see, since I’m not sad, let me talk about some things I do when I’m sad to help myself feel better and some things I do to allow myself to feel bad and some things I do to help myself feel worse.

To Feel Better

  • Do anything creative. Write, draw, crochet, make jewelry, etc.
  • YouTube, Netflix, Hulu. I mean, this is daily life, but when I’m sad I specifically look for documentary-style things like Abstract or House of Z or Amazing Hotels. Things that showcase people doing impractical but amazing things. It shows the triumph of the human spirit better than any “feel good” movie where half of the cast dies.
  • Text Cheri. I don’t do this one a lot because when I’m sad I don’t want to talk to anyone, but I know that when I’m sad, if anyone can make me laugh, it’s her. I don’t even always say that I’m sad. I just check in and she takes it from there.

 

To Allow Sadness

  • Be honest when people ask me how I’m doing.
  • Hybernate. Turn off phone, ignore FB.
  • Let it be quiet. No music, no YouTube, just thinking while I’m writing or drawing or something.

 

To Feel Worse

  • Ignore texts and FB messages AND feel guilty about it.
  • Replay all of the stupid, embarrassing, mean things I’ve said or done in the past week, month, year, decade and mentally flagellate myself for them.
  • Watch murder-y things on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu.

I also sleep a lot, but that can actually be applied to any of these categories depending on what my purpose is. If I need the rest, it’s a good thing. If I’m just avoiding being awake or procrastinating, it makes me feel like even more of a waste.

I had a weird dream before I woke up. It was a jumble of frustration, humiliation, and defiance. But I feel better now. I only got a full body massage once, and I’ll probably never do it again. The guy actually stood on me. I think it’s odd to ask someone why they’re tense when you’re intentionally hurting them. Anyway, I was super relaxed afterward, but he also, like, hurt me. I was sore for days. But like, relaxed. So the dream was kind of like that — tensing up all of my emotional muscles so that when I woke up, I felt fine.

Anyway, I don’t think that any of these are bad methods for dealing with sadness. I mean, the last one sounds the most negative, but it does have that deep tissue effect where when I’m really mean to myself, eventually I get tired of beating up on myself and then stop. And then I start to feel better. I would LIKE to go my entire life without hating myself but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so it’s not my favorite coping mechanism, but sometimes it’s all I have left. If the bad thoughts won’t go away, feed them until they get the itis and fall asleep.

Sadness Saturdays #3

I have a cold. I took cold medication that a friend gave me the last time I was sick, and I guess it helped because even though I still had a drippy nose and such all day, it didn’t really catch up to me until a couple of hours ago.

I hate myself, but I don’t really want to talk about it. People don’t get it. They think I’m so nice and that I should love myself as much as they do. But if they were looking at me from the inside, out, they’d see how rotten I actually am.

And I know that’s not true. My genuine self, who I am when no one else is around, is still pretty nice, I mean, like, in my thoughts and stuff. I almost never wish anyone ill, I see the best in most people I meet, and I don’t even really want terrible things to happen to people I despise, even though I joke that I do, sometimes.

When I was 7-8, I had foster sister who was my official babysitter. Every day, after school, I would stand in the middle of her room (I slept there too, but it was Her Room.) and she would walk around me with a belt and make me list reasons she should hit me. I had to list 10 things, otherwise, it was an automatic 20 hits, but she would never let me stop at 10, so the game ended up being both pointless and demoralizing. Like, honestly, her anger and hatred were genuine, I could feel that. But she was also a cheater, and that I didn’t get. What can I say? Classic Libra.

I know that’s a terrible image, and you probably feel sorry for me or whatever, but that’s not why I’m sharing this. I’m sharing it so that you understand why I have such a hard time believing that I’m lovable. Oh, God, that sounds even worse. Stop feeling sorry for me.

I said, stop!

Whatever, feel however you need to. Moving on.

The point is, 80% of my social anxiety comes from the mental list that I’m constantly making when I’m interacting with someone. There are Very Few people that I can be around without making that list, and I have met all of them in the past few years — some of them in college, most of them at Flappers.

So although being accepted and loved is great, it’s new to me, and I still walk around feeling like a creep in super prickly, borrowed skin, most of the time. I have an especially hard time talking to people that I really like but that am afraid they’ll change their minds if they really get to know me. I try to limit my interactions with them. So that’s sad, I guess. Yay, I matched the theme.

Speaking of, I’m already thinking about changing the categories of this blog around. I realized that I have a day for social anxiety and a day for sadness and those are two negative emotions that are pretty closely related — and I remembered that I craft on Thursdays with my friends, and I constantly craft by myself, too, aside from drawing and writing. I knit, crochet, and make jewelry,  pretend candy, unicorn horns headbands, etc. So I think I’ll change one of the depressing blog days into a crafting blog day.  Stay tuned!

Sadness Saturday #2

It’s odd, this morning, I knew I’d be writing this blog post when I got home and I was certain that I was going to be writing with my neck still under God’s boot. I was talking to someone about this the other day: we always think that the situation we’re in now is going to last forever. Any time I feel sad, I know that I will never be okay again. And when I feel okay, even though I know that the darkness will come back, based on experience, it doesn’t feel true. It feels like maybe I won that last bout and it’s the last one I’ll ever have to fight.

I woke up this morning to a lunch invitation because I forgot to put my phone on Airplane Mode last night. I went back to bed immediately but not before having a panic attack about the idea of sitting across a table from a person that I like and want to get to know better. I ended up texting her back and telling her I was having a rough time. We texted back and forth a bit, and by the time we were done, I felt a little better, but still not anything close to okay.

I have a new intern and he wasn’t supposed to come in today but found himself at loose ends, and we had an amazing conversation, just about what life is supposed to be about and stuff. I felt almost okay after that. The intern I was supposed to train today never showed up (I JUST remembered that he wasn’t supposed to), so this other intern stuck around and ran the shows for me. I would usually go up to the office and do some work if I know the shows would run okay, but the lineups were packed so I stuck around to fail to run the shows on time, myself.

I had a second to talk to two of my coworkers about writing, while the second show was happening. Another came by and I named his rescue plant. At some point, a drunk chick came out of the Main Room show for a cigarette and I walked her down the street a bit so she could smoke. It wasn’t legal to smoke there but I didn’t think she’d made it safely across the street, so I just kept her company.

The shows went well. The room was full, the comics were happy, they all had great sets. My headliner was amazing. I even got to see my best friend — twice! There were a thousand little conversations and interactions that were good. It was a good night. I work at a comedy club, which you know if you a) know me or b) have read any of my other posts in this blog. I found Flappers a little over four years ago. I could write a book about the impact Flappers has had on my life (I am, actually. It’s a story about a girl and her best friend, a unicorn) but right now, I’ll just say that I spent the first 35 years of my life, essentially as a mute. I could say words, of course, but I so rarely expressed myself honestly.

Over the past four years, I’ve found my voice, figured out who I am (to some degree), the impact that I have on the people around me, and found so many reasons to live that it really pisses me off that I’m not allowed to kill myself when I feel suicidal. I used to think that I would get depressed because I hated my life, and that was partly true. But now, I have a really cool job, I love my bosses and coworkers, I love the comedians (like 90% of them), and still, some days, I can’t feel any of the good things.

Unfortunately, my depression is clinical and it seems to be here to stay. But now, I recognize it when it’s happening, and I have ways to deal with it. All week, all I’ve wanted to do is isolate myself, and today, I finally reached out and opened up to people and it helped. I think my last Sadness Saturday was about how hard it is to be honest about being depressed because of the reaction I invariably get. Talking about being sad can be even more upsetting when the very idea of it is rejected or disallowed. But today, nobody shut me down, and I was able to open up, not just about sad things, but about nice things. And I got people to open up to me, too. I got to know two of my coworkers better in one night than in the year-plus I’ve been working with them. Amazing.

Sadness Saturday #1

 

First, let’s address the question that everyone asks when I express any type of sadness: why? And the answer? Who the hell knows, really? Was it a tough day at work? Sure. Was it a great day at work? Sure. Yes. Every day is terrible and wonderful and that is what life is. So it doesn’t matter why. I’m sad a lot, there are smart and dumb reasons why. Why isn’t important.

Why is a question that only makes me sadder because it means that the person asking it thinks that there is a solution. If you are sad because a) then you can cure your sadness by doing b). No. No matter how hard I dream, I still wake up me and I have to be me all day and then I have to go to sleep and be me again tomorrow. And me is sad. Sometimes I think that sad is all that me is, ever has been, will ever be. Usually, I think that when I’m sad. I generally don’t think that when I’m not sad.

The second thing that bugs me when I say that I’m sad, and honestly, I don’t say it much anymore because I’m so tired of hearing: get over it. Move on. Oh, okay. Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Just don’t feel. Don’t have a natural reaction to pain. I could, and honestly, I’m tempted to, justify my pain, really lay it out there, tell you all of the terrible things that have ever been said or done to me, and if I did, you would give up. You would say something like, “Oh, wow, I didn’t know it was that bad.” And then you would go about your life, still thinking that I should get over it, except you wouldn’t say it out loud to me because you wouldn’t want the argument.

The WORST thing about being sad is when I have to argue it, justify it. Here is my why? Why? Why do I have to prove that I have a right to be sad? Why do I have to paint a picture so horrific that you’ll finally stop arguing with me? I didn’t ask me how I was, you did. My only crime was answering honestly.

Here are two things I do to combat my natural inclination to make sure that others are okay with my sadness:

    • I don’t answer why. I just say, “sometimes I feel sad” and that has to be enough for them because I’m not giving them anything else.
    • If someone gets upset that I’m not justifying my sadness, I get over it.

These suggestions sound snarky, but honestly, it kind of works.

Here’s something else I do: any time someone tells me that they’re overreacting to an upsetting event that happened to them, I tell them that they’re allowed to be sad, that sadness is a natural reaction to a sad event. I figure, if I allow other people to be sad, they will allow other people to be sad, and eventually, maybe we won’t all walk around expecting ourselves and everyone else to react to pain like sociopaths.

via GIPHY

Pay the sadness forward, everybody! Have a good weekend!