Mental Health

Sometimes, it’s not really about the pants.

I had a super eventful day on Sunday. My favorite hockey team, the Boston Bruins, had a fan event in Providence where there would be special merchandise, contests, and meet-and-greets. Last year, I attended the event with my boyfriend. This year, however, he is transitioning between jobs and had to work, so I had to go by myself. I’ll go into more detail about the event in a later post, but the thing I want to talk about today is my pants.

This week, I learned that sometimes it’s not really about the pants.

Yes, my pants. I have a favorite pair of “summer pants,” somewhere between Bermuda shorts and capris, that I bought at Old Navy ages ago. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve had them- it’s been at least five years because I had them the last time I went to Atlanta and I wore them on my first date with my boyfriend. They’re a perfect size, the perfect cut, and the perfect material for me, so I wear them constantly while the weather is warm.

Sunday evening, while I was watching my boyfriend play Detroit: Become Human and decompressing from a tiring social experience, I noticed that something was wrong. My thighs had finally rubbed their way through my friendly, comfortable summer pants and created holes. At that point, I had a pang of anxiety: what was I going to do? What was I going to wear? Could I fix them? Would I have to replace them?

The more I thought about the pants, the more I realized that it wasn’t necessarily about the pants, but rather about the resistance to change. I’ve always been very rigid about change, maybe that’s the Autistic part of me showing, maybe that’s just my personality, but things that are different are scary. I’ve always preferred the status quo, whether that is taking the same route to work every day or not reaching out and putting myself out there in the world. The status quo is comfortable, and if I’m comfortable, why change? If these pants are so great, why wear anything else?

Sometimes, you need to change your pants. Yes, this is a metaphor. Change is scary, I know, but sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone and make changes. A lot of the time, this is voluntary, but occasionally the universe throws you a loop and you’re forced to make a change. For me, this was a breakthrough, both literally (with my thighs literally breaking through the fabric) and metaphorically (with my impetus to create this blog and tell my story).

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my pants, but I’m confident that I’ll come to a decision that makes me feel good in the long run.

Mental Health, Uncategorized

I am a Sum of My Parts

I’m sure most people by now have seen the Disney/Pixar film Inside Out, or at least know about its premise. In the film, characters are represented as a system run by a set of emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. This is, of course, a simplified version of the way our minds work, but it gets a point across about how the different parts of our personalities work.

This Week, I Learned That I Am A Sum Of My Parts

In my brain, there are a lot of voices governing my thoughts and feelings. In my case, there are some entities who are more in control than others. Keep in mind, this is not by any means a form of Dissociative Identity Disorder- in that condition, different personalities manifest as separate people independent of each other. These are all still parts of me. I identify them all as my own voice, just different aspects of such.

The issue I have is that some voices are most vocal than others. A good example of this is how in Inside Out, some of Riley’s emotions go “missing,” leaving the others in charge. In my case, the emotions are there, but they get shouted down by their more dominant counterparts.

Last week, I was introduced to the Internal Family Systems theory, where different parts of your personality play different parts in your mind. These roles can have either a healthy or unhealthy balance. In my case, there are a few voices that are unfairly balanced. Cynic, as I call it, tends to work with Anxiety to run my mind, while effectively silencing the other voices. Through IFS therapy, however, I am trying to speak to all of my parts and see where they are all coming from, in an effort to create healthier balance.

Mental Health, Uncategorized

I Have to Live For Me

One of the things I’ve been working on with my new therapist is trying to determine what I want. I know this seems like an odd thing for most people, I understand that, but for me, it can be a problem. For most of my life, I’ve lived to try and serve others, with a fear of being seen as too selfish. It turns out that I actually need to take more time to focus on myself and make my own decisions about where I want to go in life.

This week, I learned that there is only one person I have to live for: Myself.

When I am asked personal questions about my future, a lot of them are very open-ended. What do you want to do? I don’t know. Where do you want to be in five years? I don’t know. What does your ideal life look like? I don’t know! My indecisiveness is becoming detrimental to myself, and I need to step back and try to figure out exactly what I want to do before it gets much later (because it’s already past “too late” now that I’m in my 30s).

Too much of my life is spent thinking about other people. Whether it’s worrying about the car behind me on the road, internally begging store employees not to talk to me, or feeling obligated to answer all the little questions my mother asks in a day, most of my time and energy is devoted to others. Part of my mental health recovery is to focus on myself instead of others and to stop worrying about what others are going to think about me and my decisions. This is going to take time, but as I’ve mentioned before, recovery is a process. My assignment this week is to try meditation to help my focus shift onto myself and my being. I’m going to install a few apps on my phone and take some time to “turn off” my anxiety and think about myself.

Mental Health, Relationships

People Do Care

As a continuation of last week’s post, I had emailed some therapists. Right before that post went live, one of the four answered me, leaving a phone number to call them. This, of course, was daunting because of my phone-based anxiety, but I took it in stride and decided I was going to call on Monday.

Monday came, and I spent all day fretting about having to make the call. By the time 5pm rolled around, I opened my email application, ready to compose another message suggesting that they call me instead, only to see that they had responded.

I read your message again and noticed you have an issue with the phone. How does tomorrow sound?

This week, I learned that there are still people out there who care.

One of my largest struggles has been with interacting with others. In a lot of situations (notably while job hunting) making contact seems like I’m shouting into a void with no chance of ever getting a response. My anxiety makes me feel like I’m being a burden or annoyance to others, so getting a response like that, which was so understanding, is refreshing and helped me feel so much better about my efforts to seek help. Knowing that there is someone out there willing to pay that much attention to my message helped me realize that no, I wasn’t yelling into a void. There are people out there willing to listen, I just wasn’t giving them the chance.

The other impetus to seek help, the fight with my partner, was resolved this week. Things aren’t back to normal, but we took some time to talk it out and establish what the “new normal” for us might look like. I understand that all couples have to do this at some point, where they have to re-evaluate their relationship and set new goals and priorities. But I think we have things settled at least for the time being.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me this week, even indirectly. One of the ways that I practice self-care is hanging around in the chatroom of a twitch stream. For those of you who aren’t aware, twitch is a platform where people can stream themselves doing things. The site is primarily used for playing video games, but there are other categories for things like art, content creation, and just to chat. The streamer I follow, weirdistbuilds, is a Fallout 4 streamer who I found after he managed to beat the game without earning a kill. Two years later, I am an active member of his community and a moderator on his channel. Watching him play and talking to him and the rest of his community helps me forget about the troubles in my life and the world at large and having that escape helps.

Mental Health

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

This might be an interesting way to start a blog, but this week I had a fight with my boyfriend. I won’t go into the gritty details, that’s not important, but it helped me learn a few things about myself, notably that nothing is set in stone. I realized while in the deepest of my sadness and guilt that my relationship might be in jeopardy, and that terrified me. What I had thought was a sure thing was suddenly no longer solid, and I felt like everything was falling apart.

This week, I learned that things don’t always go as planned.

Things don’t always go the way that you thought they would, and that’s okay. But for someone with mental illness, even the slightest difference from expectation can be devastating. In my case, it made me re-evaluate myself, my relationship, and the ideas I had for the future. So what did I do?

I looked up a list of therapists near me who accepted my insurance, and I emailed four of them to reach out. I asked for help, and I’m so proud of myself for having done so. Sometimes asking for help is the best thing you can do for yourself. I’ve sought therapy in the past, notably during a major turning point in undergrad where I received my diagnoses of Clinical Depression, Anxiety, and an Autism Spectrum disorder. Mental illness has been such a major part of my life for so long that it has become part of my identity, but sometimes even the things that are intrinsically part of you can get out of control. I know that I will likely never be “cured,” but getting some help will definitely let me work on myself and hopefully become more independent.

One of the many podcasts I listen to, The Hilarious World of Depression, had two episodes last year where listeners wrote in about songs that help them with their personal depression journies. One of these songs really stuck with me, Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better.” It talks about wanting to get better and improve yourself, for yourself and your partner. I’ve been listening to it on repeat lately, as an inspiration. I’ll link the video at the end of this post so that you can feel the inspiration as well.

Here’s to wanting to get better.