August 10th, 2000

Brown-eyed Stare

The crippling emotional storms... hurricaine season inside my own head.

Ok, I've talked about my meds here, and how not taking them makes me crazy... and how I spent my childhood, teenage years and young adulthood feeling like that most of the time.

Add to it the strange elixir of hormones that naturally comes with being a female, and once in a while, you end up with a moody, crabby Deb. Today is one of those days. I hate feeling paranoid, like if people don't talk to me, then they hate me. I *know* better than that, but sometimes the emotions run in that direction, and I follow, nerves trailing behind. My logical brain gets into an argument with my emotional brain... and the result is a messy storm. At those times, I place far too much weight on my hypervigilant (but warped) perceptions of others, and I see things and motivations that aren't there.

Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer that actions are a strong indicator of what someone really believes and thinks. But during those turbulent times, it's like my vision becomes clouded, and overly self-focused. I'll look at someone and perceive their strained smile as hostility towards me, and only me. Or take their silence as their cruelly ignoring me. It sounds incredibly selfish, self-centered and egotistical, as if everything reflects on (and depends on) me. What a grandiose, self-centered way to move through life!

And really, it *is* self-centered, but I never understood that there was anything else. I never learned any other way to live inside my own head until I started my meds, and the painful emotional storms began to calm. Prior to then, I never understood that others' actions and reactions may have *absolutely nothing* to do with me. Or that my behavior might be what they were reacting to, and not me as an individual. It wasn't that they didn't like *me*... just that they didn't like what I was doing, and how I was acting. I could *never* take a break from defending my actions, could never really relax -- even a little -- unless I was drunk or high.

I was pushy and egotistical, paranoid and rude to others on the outside, while inside I was just trying to make sure the outer world didn't keep stepping on those horribly painful exposed nerves that seemed to be leaking out of me at every turn. It was a bad situation and I didn't know how to make it better.

Now I understand a lot more, and can see the emotions for what they are, and can try to *not* react to them, and to *not* lash out when they come. It's still a struggle, espeically when I still have to fight rigid systems and ignorant individuals, just to get the meds I need to function. I get frustrated, and it's then that the fight to *not* become a total bitch becomes insurmountably difficult. It feels like a losing battle. I want to scream and rage and cry... and that is exactly the behavior that will NOT get me the help I need.

It is a difficult situation to be in. If you don't get what I'm describing, or if you want a more comprehensive picture, read Elizabeth Wurtzel's book, "Prozac Nation." When I read her book, it was a profound personal ephiphany. I understood for the first time that I am not the *only* one in the world who feels this way. Others also have to do battle with these emotional storms. Nor do I need to feel permanently ashamed for my horribly selfish behavior... I just need to learn how to correct that behavior.

Since I've started my meds, I have been able to relate a lot more empathetically with the outside world, and I tend to be a lot more patient with others, because I "get it" that they are often struggling, just like me. I can relax now, and not be so defensive. It's easier to work a normal job, and while the struggle to take good care of myself is still ongoing, I think it's getting better, slowly. And when I take my meds regularly, I don't have overwhelming guilt and shame as my constant companions.

I think my increased clarity about who I am, and how I function, has also been helpful, but that too has come about as a result of starting meds, and talking with a counselor. My strange behaviors are no longer a mystery, and I am able to control the crazy compulsions that used to rule me.

And I'm really grateful for it.

That's about it for now. Maybe I'll write more later.