Two Thousand and Twelve

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I remember a time when it seemed like I was aching to write a blog post every day and I even had some queued up at one time, although they were usually to express my depression and general sadness about everything. Things seemed so out of my control back then, I was consumed by suicidal ideation and spent a truly frightening amount of time thinking about death and ways to kill myself. In the back of my mind I still think about it and if I’m brutally honest I still think that’s how I will end up going but for now it’s not my immediate concern.

I had such difficulty concentrating on university work as you can probably imagine given that I wasn’t even sure that I would live until the end of my course (and ended up doing my hardest to try and make sure I didn’t). It’s amazing that I managed to struggle through and make it this far. As I think I said in earlier entries, I’m resitting the final year but once again I’ve come up against a lot of problems that social anxiety exacerbates. Just after new year I had to do a mock job interview with two staff members. In a way I was at an advantage because I’ve had several real job interviews before and some actual work experience to talk about. I thought about myself when I was the same age as my classmates and how horribly inexperienced I was, this would have been a terrifying prospect but thankfully it didn’t cause me too much bother this time despite having to wait out in the hallway for one and half hours before hand.

It’s strange to think about this and look at the situation from the perspective of my ‘normal’ classmates. This was a nerve wracking situation for most people (as interviews normally are) especially since some of them had not experienced one before. I was nervous myself but not even close to how nervous I was about something which seems positively relaxing to others, a workshop where we had to work in groups.

It has been a while since I tried to break down the thought processes behind some of the situations I find anxiety provoking for anyone reading who perhaps doesn’t know what I’m talking about so here goes. For my software engineering class the lecturer said we had to get into groups of 5 or so to work together coding a piece of software. We’d be using a technique called pair programming (or group programming as the case may be). This involved one person acting as the ‘driver’ and writing the code while the other(s) are ‘observers’ and watch, trying to catch any errors. The reasoning being that it eliminates bugs and mistakes. You are supposed to change roles regularly so everyone gets a turn at doing each. Now this might sound harmless enough but here’s how my mind deals with it:

  • I only know 2 people in the class, one of them is not there when the lecturer asked us to get into groups and the other already has a group. I’m assigned to a group along with some people who hadn’t turned up (it was the last lecture before Christmas). I start to worry that because I don’t know who these people are I won’t know how to find them when I go into the workshop after Christmas and where to sit. I know this sounds crazy but I hate not knowing where to be, physically.
  • Obviously there is the usual stuff about being awkward around strangers and worrying constantly that they think I’m weird etc.
  • I can’t stand having people watch me write/type. My grades have suffered in workshops before because I’m afraid to ask for help because I hate people looking over my shoulder while I’m working.
  • I don’t want to bring the other people’s grades down if I am not good enough at the project. Conversely,
  • I don’t want to be the only one who knows what to do because I don’t have the mental attributes to take on any kind of leadership role in groups.

After burying my head in the sand about it for a couple of weeks I decided to try and find some of the people in my group on facebook and try to remember what they look like (I find this difficult for some reason) and luckily when I went back after the holiday I found out who a couple of them were because they were waiting for their interview at the same time as me.

OK that was a long and pointless rambling story but this is the kind of thing that I get caught up with regularly during university. The other problem I’m having is that I haven’t done enough work on my final project and thus haven’t got anything to show my supervisor and have avoided arranging a meeting with him for weeks even though I’m supposed to see him once a week really. This has turned into a vicious circle because the longer I put it off, the more work I should have done to show him so it just keeps escalating.

I keep saying to myself that I should email him and say I’ve been struggling with the workload of the other modules (which is true) but I am afraid that my excuses are starting to wear a bit thin with them. After all I have already had the very rare privilege of being allowed to retake the final year when in almost any other case I would have failed, and even that was thanks to me calling in every possible favour from doctors and the university disability/mental health people. I don’t honestly feel I deserved the second chance.

There is a disconnect, on one level I know that I am on thin ice, there are no more second chances but in another sense I can’t face up to things and talk to anyone who matters about it, hence another long winded blog.

I’m not in such a bad situation as last year, I haven’t had to request any extensions and I’ve passed the work that I’ve submitted so far. A lot of this years grades depend on exams and I’ve got a much better attendance this year (hardly a feat compared to my sporadic appearances last year) and I’ve taken decent notes. I can cope with exams, another strange situation where I seem to be calmer than other people. I’m lucky that I don’t find exams to be too stressful.

I really hope I can turn this around and pass my degree. It started off so positively but the step up in difficulty both academically and on my mentality has been tremendous. If I can pass it will probably the biggest thing I have achieved, in my opinion. Sadly even this thought isn’t enough to spurr me on to believe in myself and get things sorted.

It’s incredibly difficult to describe the kind of ennui to people who have never experienced it. I’m veering off on a tangent here but bear with me. Sometimes you see a sportsperson who has the talent to do well but you can tell they just don’t want it badly enough to be a real success. I don’t think even the most driven and talented people are immune to this. The horrible news about Gary Speed and the brutally honest article by Dean Windass really resonated with me. I don’t really know what to make of it all, on a one level I hope that people become more aware of mental health issues and how they can affect even people who you would think have no reason to feel that way but on another more selfish level I can’t help but feel that I will probably end up the same myself.

(footnote: I wish I could bang out a thousand words this quickly for assignments…)  

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Just to break up the wall of text a bit…

I haven’t looked back because there’s some very depressing stuff there but I seem to remember I started this blog before I began my degree (I imported the first set of posts from a social anxiety website where I used to write a blog before it closed) but back then, around late 2007 early 2008 I was at a very low point (this reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to write about ‘scales of depression’ but I’ll save that for another entry to stop this post becoming novella length), I was coming up to the point where I’d been unemployed for a year and my psyche was still scarred from how traumatic I found working at my first job. I was completely without direction and because my mental problems were undiagnosed, my parents (or more specifically my mother) were not not as sympathetic to my situation as they might be now. It seemed like there was nowhere for me to go in life. I would spend ages, weeks, without leaving the house. I had no real job prospects what with my aversion to telephone calls (probably still my number one anxiety thing also apologies for the number of parentheses) limiting the number of IT related jobs that didn’t require a degree severely. I have no other real skills and all my life I’d been working towards a job in computing but reality had kicked my teeth in about that.

If you look back through the archive you can probably find where I wrote about finally getting the courage to go back to university after my first terrible experience and moving away from home which up to that point had been unthinkable. This was a big step but to look at it from another angle, all I have really done is delay the inevitable. It’s creeping up on me again, the time when I will have to find a full time job and I honestly don’t know if I can face the 9-5 grind every day being constantly assaulted by anxious and depressive feelings and poisonous people.

 

*warning: suicide discussion*

You might wonder why I think it’s so impossible if I managed it for a while before even when I didn’t have any mental health support, I’ll try and explain. I don’t know if there is a proper psychological term for this phenomenon but perhaps some of you reading this might know what I’m talking about.

The first major instance I can recall properly is from school. When I was in school I never skipped any classes or avoided school completely even though they were some of the toughest times and I would literally be in tears many nights dreading the next day of torment. You may wonder why, but I was never one to break the rules back then. Although I knew you could do that and probably get away with it, I never really thought about doing it. This changed when I started sixth form (for non-UK readers this is from age 16-18 when you do classes to prepare you for university. It is not mandatory) and I began to skip many of the most stressful classes because there weren’t many repercussions for doing so. This sort of unlocked the floodgates. I went from being the person who always followed the rules to getting in trouble for bad attendence and I think this marked the start of my extreme avoidant tendancies.

The same thing happened throughout college, my first attempt at university and so on. When I think about my first job now, I wonder how I managed to keep going back every day. Of course I was scared of what my parents would say if I wanted to quit, more of their disappointment than any anger, but back then it was unthinkable to me. Now however, I don’t think I could hack it at all. This is where my problem arises because just like how I discovered I could cross the line into skipping classes, I have discovered suicidal thinking and the ultimate escape from the pain. I want to make it clear that I’m not thinking about doing it now but since I crossed that line it is no longer an unthinkable course of action.

If I was stuck in the situation where I had to take a job like that where every day I hated each second being there and despised the way people made me feel, struggled to fight back the panic attacks every day before going, I don’t think I could promise anyone in good faith that I wouldn’t try to kill myself. The problems arises in that I think a lot of jobs would make me feel this way. I can’t rely on my parents forever, I’m already too old to be doing that and when I’m in dark moods I wonder what reason there would be to hang around once they are gone. They are not immortal. I don’t think I am cut out to be an adult in this world.

I should probably leave it here. Thank you if you read all the way through, I’m going to try and do more regular but shorter updates instead of dumping an essay here every couple of months.

A Quarter of a Century of Disappointment

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This Sunday will be my birthday, I’ll be 25. I think that even though I had low expectations, if you showed my younger self what I’d be like at age 25 it would come as a huge disappointment.

I seem to have missed out that part in life where you are supposed to “grow up”. I know people will inevitably tell me that 25 isn’t old etc etc but by this age you should have at least moved on from a simple chilidish emotional state of being. I still have the exact same feelings now as I did when I was 5 years old, the terror I felt when going to school and being forced to be around other children, the isolation and desperate longing to get away from it all. In many ways I haven’t moved on at all since then.

Apparently most people go through some kind of the stereotypical rebellion as teenagers, wanting independence and all that. I never felt that way; most likely because I’ve never had any friends with who I wanted to stay out late or go into town with or whatever. I never went to any parties or even hung out with people outside of school. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to be with the people who made my life such hell for 7 hours a day any longer than was strictly necessary.

It is this lack of any social development that has led me to be in the sorry state I am now. Afraid to leave my room unless I am sure there is no-one outside my door and I have to pretend to be happy, or at least not utterly miserable, a challenge which becomes greater every day. No matter how good their intentions, there are only a few people who I actually like to see and spend time with and this is only because they are either related to me and so have always known me or I have met because they suffer from similar problems.

Just lately I feel as though I have been moving backwards. I live with 2 other people at my uni house and I haven’t said more than 2 sentences to them over the past month that I have been in that house. I consciously avoid them more than ever, more than I did last year when we were even less familiar with each other. The thing that bothers me most is how physically scared I feel whenever I hear one of their boyfriends in the house. I don’t know whether this stems from some sort of jealousy, he is almost the exact opposite of me in every way from what I can tell, confident and outspoken, popular and would almost certainly find my behaviour to be completely alien. I am terrified when I hear his voice though, or him thudding up the stairs. I have confined myself to my room late into the night when I was desperate to go to the bathroom and had to be up early the following day because I was too afraid to cross the living room where they were watching TV.

I don’t know how a person as crippled by such bizarre issues will ever be able to function in the real world. One day I won’t have my mums house to retreat to every weekend. I am already living beyond my means by buying sandwiches and eating out because I am afraid to spend 10 minutes in the kitchen cooking in case I am trapped into an awkward social situation.

A perfect storm of circumstances seems to be forming. The dark winter months, a stark reminder of  how immature I am, the increasingly difficult work at university are all conspiring to make me feel overwhelmed and unable to cope any more. I missed my CBT appointment while I was off over Christmas and he left a voicemail on my mobile which I haven’t yet dared to check and won’t dare to call back anyway. I don’t know what else I can do, nobody can help. I can’t expect to be bailed out all the time and I just cannot cope on my own, I am simply not good enough.

I feel sorry for my parents. Live or die, they are still stuck with a pathetic loser of a son. I can’t help but feel that a tragic loss for them would be better than a continuing disappointment for the rest of time.

Retrospective

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2009 wasn’t a good year for me, in fact I’d say it was probably the worst of my life since I was in the institutional torture centre known as school. Obviously the spiralling depression and series of events that led to me finally trying and failing to kill myself in the summer was a particularly low point. I did some things that I should probably be ashamed of if I could feel anything other than hopelessness. I lost most of the few connections I had with other people because I, foolishly in hindsight, wrote to them to let them know what had happened to me. I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be coming back. For months i researched methods and bought hundreds of pills which sat ominously in my drawer while at times I desperately tried to overcome the feelings that death at my own hands was inevitable and that it was the only way to stop the agonising dull pain of living a failed life, wracked with guilt because my own cushy life would be welcomed with open arms by 99% of the worlds population.

10 years ago, I was almost 15 and probably at the height of my psychological bullying and trying to deal with the uniquely fucked up family situation I found myself in and blamed myself for. There was a lot of talk about the future, what with us entering a new millenium (although not strictly true, you pedants) and I somewhat foolishly hoped that the next ten years might bring some changes to the unhappy awkwardness that was my teenage life. It is a thoroughly disheartening thought to realise that not only am I more unhappy than ever, my social skills and any semblance of a “life” are even worse.

I saw the end of a TV programme the other day, some talking head was going on about how teenage girls spend inordinate amounts of time talking and thinking about their first kiss with a boy. It deeply saddens me in many ways because it is a constant reminder of how far I’ve been left behind socially.

This kind of observation usually prompts comments like “life isn’t a race” and so on. This is no consolation because it is usually said by people who have no comprehension of what it’s like to be so isolated and the mental desolation of being consantly alone with no connection to other humans. I recently struggled to explain to some mental health types that I simply cannot fathom the idea that I could ever be in a relationship, it’s unthinkable that I could even have friends. Every single day I am forced to spend around normal people just reinforces further the massive deficiencies in my own personality and I just cannot ever imagine being capable of the basic social skills that are required to get on in the world.

This post has kind of gone off the rails, I apologise. It’s 2.30am and I am sitting here wondering how I am going to be able to carry on the facade, pretending that I don’t wish I had suceeded in killing myself. Not only this but I have to struggle with the increasingly hard university work. I started looking at pills again and got to the checkout stage. I know how I could make it work now, I just can’t let anyone know until the time when I could be “saved” has passed.

Letter to my therapist

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I can never answer honestly when he asks “How are you?” and I assume this is one of the rare occasions where an honest answer would actually be appreciated so I finally decided to write something down. I am tired and can’t really think of everything I want to say but I think this captures the essence of it. It should be a fun hour tomorrow 😦

I feel very depressed every day. I don’t look forward to anything, it seems like there is always something to dread about the future, I’m always worrying about something that’s coming up. Life seems pointless, I can’t even do the most basic things like be in the same room as people. I’m scared of being around most people but I don’t know why. I haven’t made a proper meal at my house for the last two weeks, I’m too afraid that I will be trapped in the kitchen when there are people there and I don’t know what to say or how to act and I’m scared of them thinking I’m weird and saying things about me. It makes me feel even more worthless.

I can’t stop thinking about how I want to die. There is no other reason I can think of other than guilt about causing my family pain why I want to live. It occupies my mind for hours each day, I feel terribly guilty that I feel this way but I wish that I had died when I tried to kill myself.

Frustration

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The last few days have been overwhelmed by frustration. I went for my CBT appointment on Thursday and my therapist seemed much more impatient than usual. I know it must be difficult to deal with me and I have apologised before for being such an awkward patient (which he of course denied I was), it takes me a long time to vocalise my thoughts or explain things which I find embarrassing. A lot of the time I sit in silence and he rattles off suggestions of how I might have felt until he says the right one and  I nod. It’s a slow process indeed.

This time however, he just seemed to be out of patience. He set me the task of asking a stranger for the time and asked how that would make me feel. I knew it made me feel scared, but I couldn’t put into words exactly why and what I was afraid of. Having had some time to think about it; I guess what I’d be worried about is the person wondering why I’m talking to them. Why did I choose them to ask? They might think I’m coming on to them or trying to distract them while someone pickpockets them or something. Another more likely thing is that they’d just ignore me and walk past, because nobody wants to be stopped and hassled by a weirdo like me. I don’t know, it’s hard to express these thoughts aloud when they are so embarrassing. Even though I realise that none of these things would be harmful, I’d still be scared to do it anyway.

Assuming the best case scenario, I manage to do this tiny activity and report back next week, I’d probably be given something larger to do and so forth. But how long would it take building from being a functional retard like I am now to becoming something resembling a normal human being? It will be in the order of years even in the best case. I don’t know if I can handle being such a loathsome wreck of a person for that long. I’ve already wasted almost a quarter of a century, some of the times in a persons life when major personal development happens and, by and large people find to be an enjoyable time.

I don’t really know how to end this post. I think I’ve gone past a point of no return regarding suicide. Once you get it into your head that it is not only a viable escape from the pain, but the best and most immediate one, then it’s hard to take your mind off it and stop your thinking from going there automatically. I don’t know if it’s possible to stop doing that. They’ve tried using guilt on me, but there will be a point (in fact there already was a point) when the pain is too much for that to hold me back. What can I do? Become a permanent inpatient and doom myself to a life of being constantly sedated and under lock and key until I die alone? What a great life to look forward to.

Losing Control

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The past few weeks have been pretty unbearable, I haven’t been able to summon the energy even to complain on this blog. I’ve been feeling completely trapped and hopeless, several times a day I’ve been on the edge of breaking down into tears for reasons that I can’t easily explain.

One thing that’s been causing me considerable anxiety and fear is the group project I’m going to have to do at university which involves me working with randomly chosen people on a project that will last most of the year. The lecturers are making this out to be the most important thing ever, and with each dire warning they give about the importance of communication etc I only become more and more hopeless of being able to cope.

I’m terrified that one day I will break down in class and not be able to continue. I already feel so awful that I cannot face anyone, but even at my house I can’t seem to escape being disturbed by my housemates. I’ve tried explaining to one of them about my anxiety and how I get so stressed out but understandably, she obviously doesn’t realise the extent of my idiocy and how even the slightest thing puts me on edge for hours.

I’ve lost so much weight that my family have noticed and my clothes no longer fit properly, I only managed a proper dinner once last week, the other days I was unable to face the shared kitchen. I can’t stand the people who come round to our house. My housemates boyfriend, D, is now at the university and spends a lot of time at our place. He’s the exact opposite kind of person to me; confident, loud, outgoing, self assured and not afraid of offending people. The other night all of his Halls flatmates came round and woke me up after they’d been out drinking. I was so glad to be in bed away from their hideous shouting and insulting. It was a stark reminder of how much of a misfit I am and how I could never ever be accepted by people and nor do I want to spend time with people like that again. I’ve had enough of that in the past, putting up with being a metaphorical punching bag for their constant insults.

I don’t think I can cope with things, I feel like dropping off the face of the planet. There’s literally no hope for a person like me who cannot handle the easiest of lives.

I spoke to my tutor about the problems I’ve been having and he told me that it would be possible to suspend my studies for a year, but I don’t know whether I’d be able to go back after all that time off, I’m not sure I could manage it. Even more pressing is the financial situation, I only have 2 years (including this year) student support left so I’d have to pay the full amount of fees myself for the 3rd year and I’ve already signed a contract for the rent of this house which I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t receiving my student loan.

There’s nothing I can do, I’ve got to try and muddle through until I fall apart at last.

I’ve become obsessed with finding places to jump from again 😦 I read a news story about some girls who jumped from a bridge in Scotland and tried to find out  how to get to it. I don’t know if I will end up doing that, I really don’t want to take any chances being “saved” this time.