Hello friends. Welcome to Spring! Ahhh I've been waiting for it for a while now. And I've needed some nice weather, desperately.
If you're someone who actually reads this blog, then you may or may not have noticed that I skipped a week. Whoops! Trust me, I didn't forget about you. And there were no camera troubles either. I just dealt with anxiety symptoms that bogged me down so much that not even my creative outlet could help me. I mean, thinking of getting through those symptoms and finally coming back here and expressing what I dealt with did, but in the time that things went to crap, I couldn't even think about staring at a computer screen for a few hours to edit photos and write anything. Like I just physically could not bring myself to do it.
If you're new here or if you just didn't know, in (roughly) the Summer of 2013 (I think) I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. Yeah, that's right. Pretty bad stuff. So that not only means I have anxiety, but also a bit of depression, a pinch of ADHD, and a little touch of OCD. It's not exactly fun, but it does allow me to appreciate the days when I can function like a normal human (hehe). And that Summer was the only time my anxiety got so bad that it felt impossible to leave my house. I skipped an entire week of band camp because I had this overwhelming feeling of doom. Trust me, this feeling of impending doom is a real symptom of anxiety. For a lot of people, too.
Last Monday was like any other Monday. I picked up some lunch for my mom and me, sat down and watched The Bold & The Beautiful, and curled up under my blanket before my evening class. I'd been working a lot more hours lately, so I was naturally exhausted. However, when I went to drive to school, I got this overwhelming sweaty feeling. But I thought, eh, I had too much caffeine with lunch maybe. I'll be fine in a bit.
When I got to my art history class, I experienced both derealization and disorientation. I just felt like I was going to pass out, and I felt so trapped in that lecture room...I just needed to leave. So after he finished his lecture, before he showed us a slideshow of paintings, I left the room and pitifully called my boyfriend, crying. He was super patient with me and I appreciated it so much.
I'm going to try my best to describe what derealization is. Because it's a real anxiety symptom that I've experienced a lot, especially through high school. And if you're someone with anxiety who's reading this, maybe you'll learn what you've potentially experienced as well. So basically, if I get really overwhelmed or start overthinking my environment (even an environment so familiar, like my own home), my surroundings start to seem super unfamiliar, and my vision almost seems dream-like. I start overthinking so much, that I begin having a hard time focusing on what others around me might be saying or what I'm doing. So then I either have to, in my head, say you'll feel normal again, this is real life, this is just derealization, or I'll have to touch a wall or desk to understand that this isn't dream and that I'm fine, I'm present (although I feel like I'm not all-there); or I just have to walk away, sit down, and close my eyes for a bit so I can breath and gather myself. Derealization requires patience and some self-assurance. Usually my little moments of derealization occur during a social event where there are friends around, so I just have to assure myself in my head that I'm okay and maybe rub my eyes a bit, and then things feel normal within maybe five minutes. But this time, my derealization made me feel disoriented. Like, all night.
Another annoying thing about me is, I have logic--I can tell myself it's anxiety--but my anxiety fights with me and makes me question my logic. So that's why I'm someone who likes talking to others about my issues. I like when other logical minds reassure me that I'll be okay. So the next day, I woke up, and my mind instantly was like Omg girl remember how crap you felt yesterday? Wow what if that happens today tooooo? And, oop. It did. Because my brain told me it would. And then I felt disoriented from Monday through Sunday night. Sounds great, right?
It became extremely difficult all week to get anything done at work, which in turn made me feel worse. I couldn't bring myself to write a blog post, to write my honors essay, to do my online homework (which I put off on my assignments until Sunday night). I didn't know if I was just stressed about work, if I was anxious about having anxiety, if I was anxious about my parents leaving for their trip, if I was stressed about the school work I was putting off, if I was stressed about my photography assignment, if I was stressed about my sister leaving for NYC, if I was stressed about being a burden...if I was stressed about all of it. So Tyler kept me company whilst my entire family was gone on their separate trips. And yes, I felt like a huge burden to him. Because I was disoriented the entire time. I exercised with him, ate vegan meals with him, and drank a ton of water. So I deep down knew that there wasn't anything I was doing wrong for my health. I was doing my best and that's what mattered. And yes, I cried to him a few more times while he kept me company over the weekend. Because my disorientation was bogging me down and making everything super difficult to enjoy. Basically, I was scared I'd be bed-ridden again. I just felt constant fatigue and that horrible feeling of impending doom when I was to do something as little as walking out to the garage to get my cat and dog some food. My head felt heavy the whole time, and I felt so fatigued.
On Sunday night, I joined an anxiety forum on the site HealthUnlocked. The specific group I joined is just called Anxiety Support, although I believe it was initially created for men battling cancer. But there are tons of different communities on that website who interact with each other. The communities aren't just for anxiety, but also even situations where people have dry eye, bladder troubles, Down's syndrome, etc...basically anything under the sun related to health and wellness, they've got a community for you. And it's perfect for people like me who need assurance from others who have maybe dealt with similar issues. I mean, that's why I blog--so I can be that assurance for others as well! But the site is absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a friendly community for a bit of extra support. But it surprised me how many people also experienced both derealization and disorientation. Some people have even experienced it for years, but just have to fight the severity by lowering daily stress.
On Sunday night, my parents came home and I finished my online homework. So I felt a bit more normalcy there. And then that Monday evening (which was yesterday), when my art history class came around...I'll be honest, I was pretty scared to be in there. Still a bit disoriented, but I knew that if I could make it through that class, I could feel normal again. And with the support of my classmates (thanks guys), I sat through the entire lecture and slideshow--even read my Orlando Furioso report aloud to the class. I felt super achieved and, yes, rewarded myself with some ice cream and YouTube later on that evening.
I'm still struggling with some left-over fatigue, especially while driving (it's weird, I know), but I'm happy I'm able to at least bring you a blog post today. I've been meaning to, and it feels good to bring myself back to my feet a bit more. Thank you to Brooke for playing around with the camera with me a couple of weeks ago! You can see her other contributions to the blog here.
Thank you all for reading! And, erm, any tips for fatigue? ;)