Who’s Minding the Store?

I’m living in a world where my thoughts are my constant companion. Not merely to take note of the weather, the time, what I must accomplish that day. They are an onslaught of continuous investigation into my thirty years. While some days are quieter than others, typically it will start with my examination of my positioning relative to every human being with which I have ever come into contact. My brother-in-law calls this my “always watching, always judging.” What he fails to note is that 90% of the time, the judgment is aimed inward. Alright, fuck it, 65% of the time, which is much worse but I am not what you would label a “people pleaser” except for that internally I am, which is the horrific irony of it all.

As doubt settles in / And closes the door

Enter stage right: A minted thirty year old, in another shade of beige, open-front cardigan, pants (that are probably just a little too tight?), and that fucking top bun. Our hero. She sits and frowns, her eyes glazed yet focused, absorbed by her surroundings.

“Who is on the bus today? Why are they standing there? There is an open seat! Just sit down! Is there something wrong with the seat? Do they know something I don’t? God, they are put together.”

“Why can’t you at least wash your hair more than twice a week? A bun again?”

“Fucking frizz. Do you think that people notice how sweaty I am?”

“Well, you have turned the shade of Wilbur with the heat blasting. Definitely the sweatiest person on the 75.”

“God I hope I don’t see anyone I know. Why did I move back to this city? Where did I go wrong? Was it when I quit Spanish in the 9th grade?”

“But you hated Spanish, and frankly could only nail down the lyrics to the Macarena, which NOBODY wants to hear, or see.”

“But you could be living in Spain!”

“But you swell up in the heat, and remember the sweat. Your ghost skin also doesn’t allow for much sun. Remember the sunburn on the cruise from Miami? Your skin puckered and you had to walk around school with a scorched, peeling, and (let’s be honest) oozing face.”

(Cue spiral into a twenty minute regression picking apart the days following my return from my family vacation, my sophomore year of high school, fifteen years prior).

“Was that where it all went wrong? I should start over, move to the east coast and pursue my dreams! But what are my dreams? Journalist?”

“Definitely not, you hate talking to people.”

“Editor?”

“No, no, they will find you out, fraud, and you will have to jump out the window. Although I do hear that you have a heart attack on the way down, so maybe not the worst way to go?”

“Writer?”

“But shouldn’t you have been doing that for the last ten years? Don’t writers work to write?

“Do I have a story worth interest?”

“People wouldn’t be interested, there is nothing exceptional about your tired, sad story.”

“But people pursue a dream every day, don’t they? Chandler did? Yes? Sitcoms don’t portray real life? No? Everyone hates me though, so better not.”

“Definitely true, all hate you. But fuck em, right?”

Oh, you picked up on the fact that I talk to myself in an actual conversation? Cool, cool. This diatribe isn’t a CBT’s wet dream AT all. And so it goes…

It’s only to hide what’s happened inside

I am starting to pull myself out of the ten years of my predominately destructive twenty-somethings and to come to terms with how far from myself I have strayed. I don’t think that my (yet undetermined, since apparently I am not supposed to self diagnose) mental health issues really set up shop until after I entered college. My childhood ticks off a lot of boxes on the experiences that could result in anxiety, depression, and OCD: my parents divorced at a young age, which left me to experience years of separation anxiety and guilt; my father and step-mother moved internationally for the majority of my childhood, which exacerbated my separation anxiety and led to more generalized anxiety and control issues; and I am genetically pre-disposed to depression and anxiety, which my mother has dealt with on-and-off over the years but probably never to the extremes that I currently face. Top that all after with a traumatic event (car accident, high school, typical) and the result is crazy, white girl trifecta! Add in the smattering of substance abuse as a coping mechanism, and voila!

Currently I am leaning toward a GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) with OCD tendencies that causes depression-light. My evidence?

  • I’ve always worried and I’ve always been in my head.
  • I run a constant pro/cons narrative regarding each decision I make and every person in my life, known or stranger on the street.
  • I’m judgmental and constantly comparing myself to others.
  • I feel guilty ALL THE TIME, in every aspect of my life.
  • I have sleep issues and spend every night trying to overcome looping thoughts about whatever guilt I feel that day.
  • Claustrophobia? Probably.
  • I don’t know, maybe it’s normal to have anxiety attacks and cry if there are too many people in the grocery store, someone is walking too close behind you on the sidewalk, or if there are too many cars on the road?
  • Didn’t think so.
  • So, if not now, soon.
  • I’m exhausted.
  • I seek escape.
  • I once needed to get away from it all so badly that I moved to Ireland and spent a considerable amount of time leading up to my flight burning down a majority of my relationships.
  • Out of sight, out of mind is my jam.
  • Lists? Also my jam.
  • Did I mention I’m organized?
  • I’m so organized my books have FOUR categorizations:
    1. Genre;
    2. Inter-genre eras;
    3. Inter-genre era titles’ publication dates chronologically;
    4. Inter-genre era titles’ chronological publication dates by author chronologically.
  • That’s normal, right?
  • Definitely not #4.
  • I need to be everyone’s everything and have a hard time living with the fact that I’m not.
  • At least it makes my life a fun comedy of errors?
  • I seek constant validation from the primary people in my life, which is exhausting for everyone and only makes my relationships worse.
  • Recently I went on a walk with two of my long-term friends, and during the walk I had to keep a running reminder to “stay focused,” “don’t interrupt,” and “ask them questions about their lives.”
  • Since when have I needed mental flashcards to interact with friends I have known for twelve years?
  • Oh, since I realized that in order to avoid crushing social anxiety post-hang, I have to remind myself mid-hang to act like a living, breathing human in the same way Ted Bundy trained himself to act when not murdering people.
  • Again, cool.

But I digress, and this is only my initial brainstorm compiling the mounting evidence. What I need to understand is the where and why to get to the ‘how to get better’ stage of this all, which truly began a year ago. I had been convinced, against my better judgment and my instincts screaming “NOT THIS SHIT AGAIN,” to move into a house and a situation to which I had spent my entire adult life proclaiming “never!” Long work hours, a three-hour round trip commute by bus, and a lifestyle I never intended to live had me steeped in existential crisis. This was not my first existential crisis, but merely the first of the handful in which I stopped to fight rather than succumb to flight.

Who’s minding the store?

Not me, certainly. For thirteen years I’ve been caught in a loop: crisis, confront mental health for a hot, obsessive minute, and then hard NOPE out; exacerbated by dependency and abuse issues (of the substance variety). Who wants to be that crazy chick? Especially before (societally speaking) you bag a person with whom you will receive validation for being a ‘we’? Each time confronted with my “maybe I have issues?” thought, I eased into it the way you wade into a lukewarm lake on a lukewarm day. If your from Seattle, you know these as the days the dads collectively decide its cargo shorts, socks, sandals, and sunglasses weather with fucking snow still dusting the lowland hills leading to the Cascades. A top-down, 50 degree sunny day. Slowly, shivering, you inch in. Maybe you shriek in a pitch to equal the blow of a dog whistle. Just as the water reaches your genitals you realize you are at the precipice of no return: quickly submerge or run panicked back to your beach towel. Well, finally, fuck that towel. I’m wading into the weeds.

So now I sit, writing these words to you, friends and family who I have cajoled or bribed into reading this. I expect no other audiences; such is the way with the discouragement depressions bring. I am embarking on an extended, deep dive into my mental state and would like to, as the kids say, “live in my truth.” I find solace in shared experiences and would like to add to the canon currently driving the force of normalization and acceptance surrounding mental health for the future generations. Today I have my initial evaluation. I have briefly participated in therapy before but it was disparate and I was in denial and not engaged. I doubt that I will today receive a diagnosis, however, I am making a commitment to myself to get to the bottom of what has been bothering me these past thirteen years. I have my suspicions. I will reserve my judgments. This blog will be the external manifestation of my internal conversations, partly to give my brain a break, and partly to hold myself accountable for my desperately needed introspection and reflection. I’ve (definitely! maybe?) got this!

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