Or late night. The sun isn’t out yet and I’m having dinner, so it still feels like yesterday. I’m sure by the time I’m done writing this post it… will still feel like yesterday, actually; there’s an hour to go before sunrise.
I’m feeling sentimental, with a little self-reflection thrown in. Somehow I slept all day Wednesday — I didn’t have the energy to get in the shower, so instead I lay back in bed. Twice. I had three separate nightmares, none of which I remember even vaguely right now. If there’s one side effect from my antidepressants I wish I could get rid of, it’s the nightmares. I do okay with the diminished sex drive — at least it doesn’t distract me — and my occasional low appetite bothers my mom a lot more than it bothers me. But the nightmares are a constant reminder that whatever part of my brain takes things as badly as it can and conjures up worst-case scenarios for everything is still there, muted by the paroxetine but still there. This is particularly obvious in the mildest nightmares, the ones I wake up screaming my head off from but can easily shake off once I’m awake. I don’t really have an explanation for the rest. They’re complicated and nonsensical and they stick with me after I wake up. I like the ones I wake up screaming from better, anyway, because my parents acknowledge them and my mom worries about it. It’s not that I want my mom to worry, but rather than it’s better than the alternative: lying in bed trying to calm down while someone completely dismisses that I could possibly feel bad because of something that only happened inside my head.
That’s what living with anxiety is like, all the time.
Last night I kept tossing and turning in bed, probably part of the reason I was so exhausted today. I wasn’t thinking about anything specific, or worrying about anything specific, other than I’m running late on many things I have to do for people and I keep running late because: I feel guilty so I try not to think about it; I need lots of alone time to function and my sister isn’t letting me have it now that we’re sharing a room again; I want to make up for the lateness by meeting a nonexistent standard of quality that can basically be summed up as “better than I feel like I can do right now,” which is an attitude I thought had stayed behind when I moved on from writing to visual art pursuits. None of that is something I can do anything about after bedtime, but I was still there last night, rolling from my bed onto my sister’s and play-kicking her feet and complaining to her about how my brain is an asshole.
That’s what living with anxiety is like, all the time.
Sometimes I wonder if I should switch meds, because obviously the paroxetine doesn’t have me completely covered. It was perfect at first, before I took advantage of my newfound stability and started an Etsy shop and a photography business and an Indiegogo campaign, with all the networking and socializing that entailed. Have I mentioned that I have social anxiety as well? The meds help with it and generally keep me from overthinking every social interaction I have on and offline, but at the end of the day I’m still that person who has trouble keeping other people updated on her delays because what if I just get it done instead? And of course, I am also that person who has to take stock of her spoons before she voices a dissenting opinion.
I should, anyway. Sometimes I call people out without knowing if it’s going to send me off the rails to deal with their offensive opinions. I may not go to rallies or protests, but I do have an activist streak in me when it comes to my causes, and when I see people slutshaming (there are other things, but slutshaming is ubiquitous), I can’t help but say, hey, no.
And then people unfollow me. And then I think about how I’m not losing any friends but also about how good I am at alienating people, and how sometimes that’s not a bad thing. If someone goes ahead and cuts me out, I can cut them out without a second thought, and I won’t see their offensive opinions anymore. I did a really good job of staying in a bubble when I was in fandom. The blogging world is still a new space for me, and navigating it can be tricky, not least of all because I don’t want to mute my beliefs, and I don’t want to pretend I’m someone I’m not.
Also, the social anxiety thing.
And that’s the thing and the reason I can’t bring myself to switch meds. What if it all starts crumbling? I don’t have an environment that will keep me going. I have my online support system, but my sister still doesn’t understand that I need alone time and tidiness and space, and my mom doesn’t understand that I hate my sleep schedule more than she does, and my father doesn’t understand that he’s abusive, or how or why — probably because he doesn’t want to. Those are the people I live with. Those and my grandma, who doesn’t understand much about me at all, and that’s probably because she doesn’t want to, either. Because I’m not straight and I’m not Christian and I don’t socialize like normal people do and my priorities are a little out there for her.
They’re a little out there for me, too. It’s a little out there that I have an anxiety disorder, and it’s real and it’s better with medication. But there we are. It’s better now I know. It’s not random tachycardia that will “pass.” It’s anxiety. And if I know what it is, I can treat it. And it’s not just the meds. It’s acknowledging that this is how I react to things, this is how I work, and there are ways to keep me calm and collected and away from hyperventilating or having my heart beat like a hammer.
The thing is, some of these ways involve other people being considerate and giving up some of their habits and needs for my mental health. For something they can’t see because it’s in my head, and if I wake up screaming it’s unconscious and legitimate, but if I get increasingly anxious while I’m awake it’s my fault and psychosomatic and all in my head.
Of course it’s in my head. It’s very much in my head, constantly, and I can’t make it stop, and I don’t know when it will end, or if it will end, and on top of that I can’t scratch it, or put anything on it, and people poke it and tell me it can’t possibly when I say it hurts.
That’s what living with anxiety is like.