She Has Trouble Acting Normal When She’s Nervous

The last few weeks have left me raw. A bundle of nerve endings too close to the surface, chafed by every tiny demand thrown by life. It would short circuit and leave me feeling stuck in the murky darkness, where feelings are different. Less than and greater than at the same time — a heavy fog shrouding the world in a deep sense of dread and confusion. I was aware that there were alternatives to the be found — that happiness did exist as a gossamer, intangible idea somewhere beyond the grey. A theoretical thing. If I reached for it, my hand came back empty.

Step out the front door like a ghost
Into the fog where no one notices
The contrast of white on white.

A million scared emails to my therapist. One email to my psychiatrist to ask about a medication side effect and a reply saying to go back down a step on the Cymbalta. But… the Cymbalta is supposed to fix me. If it can’t fix me, if indeed it is creating more problems than it solves, where does that leave me but out in the woods, afraid of this emotional bear? At the same time, the severe muscle twitches caused by the higher dose was adding stress, not relieving it, so I went backward.

Backward. One step backward and two steps back.

Somehow, during all of this, I had internalized this feeling that nobody cared. I did not want them to worry, I just wanted them to care enough to worry in theory. I painted myself into a corner and couldn’t move in any direction.

And because cutting off help is totally the reasonable and definitely healthy reaction to depression, I told my therapist not to respond to my emails. It was stressing me out more to deal with the complicated relationship of therapist and client. My neverending belief that I was a burden on her time. It was easier if I just wrote into a void.

Except, of course, that my brain twisted this around to make things ever worse. Because then I felt like nobody was listening.

I didn’t want to exist anymore. I wanted to disappear. These are heavy and scary things to tell other people because they understandably assume the statement to be an active one. It was exhausting to have to explain that no, I had no desire to hurt myself in any way. I just want to have the power to switch existence on and off at will.

My therapist offered me an extra session last week and I snatched it up like a lifeline thrown to me seconds before drowning.

Therapy level up

Sometime in the 24 hours between the first and second appointment, I tried to schedule a massage to deal with the stress that had settled in every muscle. The place was booked the day I wanted and I basically said, fuck it, I’ll never get to have nice things ever and it’s all going to suck forever and always.

Then I switched gears and got sort of beligerant with the universe. Damn the man! So I booked a hotel room for Saturday night.

The next day my therapist sort of made me cry, which is indicitive of… something. I don’t cry in therapy. Not because I have anything against the idea, I just never have. Even when I’m feeling really terrible, therapy is generally enjoyable. And if it isn’t, I deal with it by rolling my eyes and shrugging. And sarcasm, lots of sarcasm.

There was something about her tone of voice when she was telling me that the hotel room was not a want at this point, it was a need. Some sort of sincerity that I never acknowledge from anyone, especially not her. Usually people could say, “I am being VERY SINCERE right now about these things I am saying about you,” and I would roll my eyes and refute. It’s safer to hide under the fear of rejection and to throw out the baby with the bathwater, just in case.

For whatever reason, the way she expressed her sadness for my sadness at that particular moment, of that particular day, edged its way in just the tinest bit. And it broke me a little, in a good way — like how you bend a glowstick to break the glass inside to make it work. And like the glowstick, I know it won’t last. Luckily they’re like 15 for a dollar at Target.

So I went to a hotel


It really was pretty glorious. I sat by the pool and played on my phone and closed my eyes and stared at the clouds. I found one that looked like some sort of elebunny. I posted the requisite photo of my feet by the pool. I drank beer.

I had previously made plans to go get drinks that night with a new(ish) friend. Instead I invited her to come have a drink in my room. Nothing says, “please be my friend, I swear I’m not creepy and weird” like inviting someone to a hotel room for alcohol. It was good, though. There was something nice to be able to have all of those “get to know this person” conversations without small children climbing you or having to speak in PG-13 code. We learned that our brains are broken in a lot of similar ways, which is always sort of relieving (though also too bad, because it means we both assume the other hates us and thinks we’re annoying and oversharers and and and…). Plus, she brought margaritas.

Of course, the next day I had to go back to reality, which was scary. Reality has been a bit to real for me recently and honestly, I wanted to stay in my little hotel cocoon for a little while longer.

Did two therapy appointments, a night in a hotel, and a friend fix it all? Fuck no. It’s never going to be that easy. But some combination of all of that, a new medication, and random luck seems to have relieved the tiniest bit of the tension. I’m still terrified. I still have two therapy appointments this week. Everything that was a problem is still a problem.

I’m still having trouble writing. But, I’ve managed to throw this post together. I made a new doodle about dealing with anxiety and depression at the same time and put the rest of the doodles (from my Facebook page) into their own spot over here on my website. A mea culpa was sent regarding emails responses from my therapist. I somehow gathered the energy to take my kids to the kid museum and to the river.


On the other hand, my plan to start skating again this week (and last week. and the week before that) has dissolved into a puddle of just too hard.

Looking at that as objectively as I am capable (and objectively looking at myself is basically my kryptonite) — maybe I’ve at least made it to one step forward, one step back. Not really getting me anywhere yet, but at least it’s not getting worse.

And since my therapist was talking about finding tiny things to be grateful for: a diet coke bottle cap fits perfectly under my keyboard where one of the little feet broke off. So there’s that….

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