Tuesday, May 8, 2012

social anxiety

I hate people.
I hate the way they talk too much and too loudly.
I hate how they smell bad or good too strongly.
I hate how they do things that make me want to punch them, or cry, or call CPS or PETA or the cops.
I hate how nosey they are.
I hate their reactions to who I am.
Mostly, though I hate how I feel around them.

I have social anxiety. If it were up to me, I'd stay home. . All the time. I'd rather stay home than do pretty much anything. Dealing with people makes me sweat, disorients me and makes me generally stupid. I feel and sound like I have a mental disability. I worry about everything. How I look, how I walk, how my hair is, if I'll be able to get the carseat into the shopping cart without looking like an idiot, if I'll get the cart with the squeaky wheel, if I'll fuck up my change because I'm so flustered. . . You get the idea. This is constant.

When I'm planning on going somewhere, I have to think about all the alternatives. I have to be prepared. And it's exhausting. It's exhausting to think so much about something that seems so simple to everyone else.

Sometimes I'm fine. Those times, I have JP with me. He's my anchor. He doesn't care what anyone thinks about him or me, and I know he loves me even if I do mess my change up and stutter. He's good with people. He breaks awkward tension with jokes- and even delivers them well.

I don't really know how this all started. I've always been especially afraid of people. Maybe because I was the weird kid. My mom was Greek, my dad didn't let me go anywhere or do anything, I had no choice over what to wear till I was like 13. Maybe it started because I was ashamed.

Maybe I didn't get enough practice with other people. I didn't really have friends growing up. I remember two kids I saw occasionally that I played with. I mostly hung out with adults, or by myself. When I was with my parents (which I don't remember happening as often as most kids, since my Aunt Rita watched me while my parents worked, and by watched me, I mean I lived at her house most of the time) they'd go to prayer meetings. I'd color.

When we came to the states I stayed in my room and read. I won reading contests. I drew. That was my life. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere except church- and by church I meant the sermon part, and sometimes Sunday school. Sunday school and regular school were a case by case scenario, since my parents changed their minds about whether I should be allowed to go so often. I remember desperately wanting to belong. I remember sneaking out to go to youth group.

I think that's when my depression became the monster it was during my teen years as well. If I went to school during that time, I'd go in the mornings, my dad would be there, and come home and stay in my room. If I didn't go to school, I'd stay in my room and do homework, read, write angry poetry, and starting around year 11 or so, cut.

So, I suppose that would be as good a place as any for my social anxiety to start. My parents loosened up, eventually, but years of self-injury, eating disorders, multiple suicide attempts, two psychiatric stays and a desperate need to belong later, things still aren't right.

I still feel like I don't belong. I still don't have friends. And though I'm much more comfortable with myself, and have for the most part conquered my crazy demons, I still feel like that 13 year old girl who has no clue what other human beings are like.

Will I ever get over this? I have no clue. I fucking hope so, though. It would be nice to think about going to the store without feeling sick to my stomach. It would be nice not to worry about if Willow is going enough new places without feeling like I can't take her there. I want to show my baby the world, and I will, whether it hurts me or not. . . But hopefully, I can get to a place in my head where I will enjoy not only her enjoying the world, but the world itself.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

the artist's way

Today I'm starting a series of blogs about my experiences going through the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'll be doing this in conjunction with my friend Karen's blog, so check her's out as well because we're doing it as a team.

The Artist's Way uses two basic tools, the morning pages and the artist's date. Morning pages are three pages of stream of consciousness writing every morning to sort of get the worries out of the way and clear the my head. I'm not supposed to read them again right away, but wait for a while and then read them, I guess for some insight into how my brain works. The artist's date is a weekly chunk of time (2 hours is what she said) where I go (or stay, I suppose, but that would be hard to do with le bebe) and do stuff. Anything, I guess. Walking, concerts, museum, bowling, movie, whatever. That's going to be hard for me. I always go out either with JP or Willow because my social anxiety goes crazy in the real world. If I do go out alone, I run in and out of the grocery store. . . And even then I hate it. Maybe these dates will help with that as well.

So, Karen and I will be chronicling our journey through this book. . I'm not sure what exactly it entails. I started flipping through it and got a little freaked out, which is probably a good thing, so I'll be taking this one chapter at a time. Karen has done this before, so if you follow her journey you'll be getting not only a whole different perspective, but someone who's a great writer and a pro at this whole finding your creativity thing!

I hope to get two things out of this exercise. Mainly, I hope to learn how to write even when I'm happy and everything's going well. I've never been good at writing happy poems. My writing started as a coping mechanism, and every time I tried writing not-sad poems they ended up sappy or stupid. Secondly, I'd like to shake the writer's block that plagues me every few months. Sometimes, I can write for months and months but then I stop. For like a year. Usually, it's when I'm depressed, and not being able to write makes it worse. . . So, Julia Cameron, I challenge you to fix my creative.

In the book she asks us to sign a contract, so I will put it on here so I can be responsible not only to myself and Karen but to you all,

I, Annie, understand that I am undertaking an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve-week duration of the course. I, Annie, commit to a weekly reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artist date, and the fulfillment of each week's tasks.

I, Annie, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I, Annie, commit myself to excellent self care-- adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and pampering-- for the duration of the course.

So, there it is. I'm not sure if I'll be posting updates or other stuff along with the weekly artist's way blogs, but I guess we'll see.

I, Annie, am signing off.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

two years self-injury free!!!

The title says it all! It's been two years, which is crazy for something that used to be almost hourly for me! Go me!

I'm really proud of myself for the progress I've made and for how little I think of self-injury as an alternative to dealing with my emotions nowadays.

There has been a lot that helped with my recovery process, but JP has definitely been the biggest motivator for me. When I met him, I was just starting to get back into it, after a deep depression during my freshman year of college and miscarrying Chatham, but even after all that, it didn't escalate to anywhere near the level it had been at in previous years.

Poetry has also helped. I've written for years, but getting a little better at it (god, let's admit it, those first ones sucked really, really bad!) and even competing in a slam or going to poetry readings and getting more involved in the spoken word community, though not as much as I'd like to, has really helped. It gives me something to look forward to. This all started my freshman year when I heard Bluz on Indiefeed and then he visited IC and gave me his CD's (he's a great guy!) and then continued with Sierra DeMulder, who I was also introduced to by Indiefeed and is an amazing artist and person. JP and I went to one of her poetry classes last winter, before I found out I was pregnant, and we hoped to go back for the whole semester, but it's in St. Paul and I got pregnant and crabby.



The main reason I wouldn't go back to the awful that was my life is Willow. I want a better life for my little girl. She's my everything.

Happy Beltane. I'm going to go light some candles. Blessed be.