Nothing Works Part 2

I’ve been feeling very suicidal over the last few days. I was actually feeling great just earlier this week, but I’m a complete wreck at the moment. I keep thinking about the all the propranolol and diazepam I have stored in a drawer beside my bed, and of how sensitive I am to beta-blockers. I don’t truly want to die but I can’t go on living this miserable existence. No one in my life understands how painful it is to live with severe social anxiety disorder every single day of life. No one understands how painful it is to have always been the social outcast and the person who others have always tried to bully, belittle and intimidate. No one understands what it’s like to have no close friends and know that the chances of ever being in a relationship, or making any connection with another human being, seem very slim, if not non-existent. I hate this hell that I’m living. I don’t see how I could ever get what I want from life, or ever have a life that doesn’t make me feel so alone and miserable.  I am a reject from the production line of evolution.

My brain keeps telling me how awful a human being I am. My depressed brain is having what Stephen Fry once called “a Tourette’s view of yourself”. I can’t stop beating myself up for everything and seeing my future as utterly hopeless. Maybe I am Hilter incarnate and I deserve to feel this miserable and alone.  I started back at work again on Wednesday, and one of my colleagues said they didn’t even realise I wasn’t there until the second week of my holiday. I immediately interpreted that as proof that I am unlikeable, worthless, and would not be missed if I died.

I am being failed on all sides at the moment. I mentioned a few posts ago that I asked to once again be referred to CMHT. Well I was supposed to be doing group CBT, but I’m not able to go to the group due to it clashing with uni. They’ve said they’ll see what else is available and get back to me (they seem to be taking a long time about it). Though if all I’m offered is one-on-one CBT again, I really don’t see the point, as it never helped me before. And I dislike and distrust mental health professionals thanks to my previous experiences with them. To be honest, from what I saw at the group CBT introductory session – which I may write a brief post about later – it just seems to be very basic information on anxiety that they’re covering – the kind of stuff that I’ve been over about 1,000 times. Yes, I’ve seen many different psychologists/ psychiatrists, read self-help books, researched social anxiety at great lengths, and I am also doing a biological sciences degree. No, you don’t need to spend 2 hours explaining to me what adrenaline does/ the ‘fight or flight response’, the symptoms of anxiety and why they happen. Nor do you need to speculate on the possible causes of anxiety disorders or the role of genetics vs environment (that’s not to say that I’m uninterested, but it’s unlikely to solve anything). I am no longer interested in the causes of the problem. I’m interested in the solutions. Except none of the solutions I’ve tried so far seem to be working for me.

The online CBT course I’m doing hasn’t helped me at all so far, despite doing it diligently. I’m tempted to buy myself one of  these to use for the handouts. Every time I read over one, I feel that I really am just bullshitting myself. I may as well be reading ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’. I regret having spent so much money on something that hasn’t helped me (except maybe a tiny bit with some negative thought stoppage) so far. I have no idea how this programme can have so many good reviews on the forums, and yet not work at all for me. I also wonder if Dr Richards consciously thought to himself when coming up with this treatment plan: “Hey, you know what works wonders for social anxiety disorder? Sitting alone in your bedroom talking to yourself!” Reading over the handouts for 30 minutes or more every day is mind numbingly boring, and feels like a massive waste of time. I’d be willing to put up with the boredom if I thought that reading over the handouts was actually helping me in any way, but I have noticed no improvements so far. There are many other, somewhat more minor things about the course that annoy me, such as how childish much of it seems to be, that I’m supposed to unquestioningly accept that automatic negative thoughts can never be based in reality, and his use of the term “ANTs thoughts”. I’d also like to see the evidence (if there is any) that slowing down your talking and thinking is enough to alleviate social anxiety disorder, and that reading over handouts in slow talk is more beneficial  than reading it at your normal pace or silently, or even that it is helpful at all. I think I will still keep going with the CBT (and sort of feel like I have to) even though it has not been helpful. If it doesn’t help me, then perhaps there is someone else out there who WILL find it helpful (because mark my words, if I paid that much money for something that was supposed to help, then it had bloody better help someone).

My befriender and I were supposed to be meeting about once every fortnight but I don’t think I’ve seen her since May. I had really wanted to go along to more meet ups, and start going to some new meet up groups that I have so far been too afraid to go along to alone. I texted her a month and a half ago about possibly going to a meet up together, but she never replied to that text. So I emailed her about it, and she said she’d find out her shift pattern and then get back to me. She never did. Then, on Monday, I texted her about going along to another meet up, and she replied, saying that she’d like to go, and asking when/ where it was. I texted her back the details, but she never texted me back to confirm that she was going. I tried emailing her the next day (just in case she hadn’t gotten the text), and also texting her on Wednesday (the day of the meetup), as she had suggested that we meet before the meet up, but I had no idea where or when she wanted to meet, and was getting increasingly stressed out as it got closer to the time of the meet up. Eventually, despite my anxiety, I tried phoning her, but she didn’t answer. I was very upset as I felt that she hated me and had rejected me, and I started to think about what an unlikeable person I am, and of all the years of rejection and being an outcast. Eventually, despite being very upset, having cried, and also having no idea if my befriender was going to show up or not, I decided to hurriedly get ready and get the bus into the city centre. Then, about 40 minutes before the meet up was due to start, while I was on the bus, she finally decided to text me to tell me that she was not going. To be fair to her, she said she had been off work that day due to stress/ anxiety, and she also has a lot of other things going on in her life at the moment. Usually, I would be understanding, and would be able to empathise. However, as heartless as this may make me sound, I was so angry and upset that I had no compassion for her at the time She had two full days in which to text or email me to explain that she wouldn’t be going. A simple “Sorry, can’t go” would have sufficed. Instead, she chose to waste half of my day (both in terms of worrying/ getting upset about it, and also wasting time and money on two buses). While I do feel compassion for her now that I’ve calmed down, I still haven’t texted her back, and don’t really want to. This is why I am unable to trust people. They always betray me, abandon me, or let me down in some way. And I don’t see why I should stay in touch with someone who wastes my time and adds to my anxiety (I started back at work on Wednesday, so had already been through more than enough anxiety for the day). I’m probably being insensitive. But at the moment, I’m too angry and hurt to care.

My befriender’s last minute cancellation (combined with the negative thoughts I’d been having earlier about always being unlikeable/ an outcast, and also with the anxiety and negative thoughts I’d experienced on returning to work that day) triggered me into a bit of a breakdown. I felt very suicidal, ended up crying for ages again, ended up fighting with my online friend, and then in my highly emotional and illogical state, sent him some voice messages explaining how suicidal and miserable I feel, and how living with SA every day of my life makes me want to kill myself (I cringe just thinking about it now, as sending voice messages is usually extremely anxiety-provoking for me, and I was crying and babbling incoherently in most of the messages I sent him. I am not good at expressing myself verbally, especially not when I’m that emotional/ illogical.) It’s not fair on my online friend to burden him with this sort of thing, as he’s the only person who I am in frequent contact with that I can actually talk to about feeling suicidal. He doesn’t deserve to put up with that and to put up with having me as a friend. The thing is, though, I literally have no one else. My family definitely do not understand and probably never will. However, my friend admits himself that he’s not good at providing emotional support, and will most often just give me constructive criticism when I’m in a highly emotional state and having ANTS/ being illogical. While this might help when I’m feeling calmer/ more rational, when I’m in that highly emotional and illogical state, all it does is make me feel even worse, as I feel that he is deliberately trying to upset/ antagonise me, though that isn’t (or at least, I hope it isn’t) his intention. What annoys me the most, though, is that whenever I’m suicidal, he seems to just abandon me and ignore me for days at a time. Every single time that he has been suicidal in the past, I’ve stuck by him no matter how much it impacted on my mental health and wellbeing. I sacrificed so much of my time, and frequently deprived myself of sleep in order to just be there for him/ try to support him/ try to talk him out of various things and balance/ correct his negative thoughts and beliefs.* I suppose if there’s one thing that life has taught me, it’s to trust no one, and rely on no one. Because the minute you are in a real crisis and need help and support more than ever, you’re all on your own.

* I’d usually do this by responding to his negative thought/ belief of “I’m <W>” with “No you’re not <W>, because< X>,< Y>, and <Z>”, rather than his irritating use of sarcasm/ bluntness, and harsh truths to point out the flaws in me/ my thinking.

The thing is, he is a good friend, besides the abandoning of me when I most need help (he’s said before that it’s because he doesn’t know how to help me, though I’m not sure if I believe that). I enjoy talking to him and having a laugh with him. But if I need emotional support, I’m on my own, or I’m going to have to somehow find someone else who can provide this.

I feel that I just piss my family off with my negativity and anxiety. They seem to think it’s something that I can somehow snap out of. They don’t know I feel suicidal at the moment. I don’t see the point in telling them anyway, because they wouldn’t be able to help me. They don’t understand. My family members and my online friend all seem to think that I’m overreacting or exaggerating how tough and how miserable it is to live through each day of life with severe social anxiety disorder and no close (offline) friends I can talk to or be supported by. No one understands how hard I’ve tried and how hard I’ve fought the anxiety. They think I don’t even want to try. They probably just think I’m being pathetic or lazy. They don’t understand how much fear, misery and loneliness I experience just living through a normal day of my life.

I had a really awful day at work yesterday. Someone who works at the meat/ fish counter kept loudly pointing out to his colleagues how quiet I am, even though I deliberately spoke up after the first time he said I was too quiet, and I honestly don’t think I was any quieter than my colleagues. He kept putting a cupped hand behind his ear every time I tried to talk to him, and his colleagues started laughing whenever he pointed out how quiet I am. This of course led me to feel very embarrassed and ashamed. I have no idea why his colleagues were laughing, or whether it was at me. My paranoia tells me that it was. Are there people who are honestly stupid enough to think that this kind of behaviour will help a quiet person be any louder/ less inhibited? I think that many of the people who treat me like this simply do it because they enjoy intimidating others/ trying to control them. There are bullies everywhere in life. And I always seem to attract them. I will never understand how people can be so cruel to others. If they were forced to live my life, they would probably not last a day. Part of me wanted to shout so loudly at him that everyone in the shop would hear me, but of course, I’d never actually be able to do it. I don’t think I’m even capable of shouting that loud. I ended up getting triggered by what he said, and it brought me down for the rest of the day. I am always too this or too that to meet the approval of other people (Personally, I think these people are too ignorant). I am a pushover. I’ve always been a pushover.

(And yes, I do post a lot of depressing music on here. I just thought I should mention that I don’t only listen to depressing music. Well…I don’t when I’m not depressed anyway. But I find that song lyrics are a good way to express how I’m feeling).

Just to add to my by then already extreme anxiety, I ended up having to collect condoms for the first time since I started working there. It actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Perhaps it might be a bit different if I was actually buying them though. Like that’s ever going to happen…

Today at work, I actually managed to talk to a couple of colleagues who included me in their conversation. But I was sweating, blushing, my heart was racing, and I was shaking like crazy. I think my face was also doing some weird stuff, my eye contact was weird, and I was so anxious that I probably looked as if I was about to burst out crying at any moment. I experienced derealisation and even felt dizzy/ faint at times. All this in response to a simple conversation. Yes, this is how messed up I am. I don’t even like to admit it to myself. I try my best to hide any signs of anxiety from my colleagues, but I doubt it’s working. I hate that I have to lie to others at work just to appear like a normal human being who is not hopelessly socially inept. Everything is one big lie. My daily façade is wearing thin and I’m sure they’ll find out how weird I am/ that I have no friends eventually. This is no way to live.

I’m sorry for such a jumbled post. My brain isn’t really working properly at the moment, and my extreme anxiety at work, combined with being extremely sleep deprived, certainly isn’t helping. And yes, I’m irritable and bitter, I know. When it comes to suicidal thoughts/ feelings, I’ve learned that the only way out is through. I just worry that one day, I won’t make it through. I am in desperate need of support but there is no one. I will end this post with an excerpt that describes loneliness far more eloquently than I ever could:

“There’s not much to say about loneliness, for it’s not a broad subject. Any child, alone in her room, can journey across its entire breadth, from border to border, in an hour.

Though not broad, our subject is deep. Loneliness is deeper than the ocean. But here, too, there is no mystery. Our intrepid child is liable to fall quickly to the very bottom without even trying. And since the depths of loneliness cannot sustain human life, the child will swim to the surface again in short order, no worse for wear.

Some of us, though, can bring breathing aids down with us for longer stays: imaginary friends, drugs and alcohol, mind-numbing entertainment, hobbies, ironclad routine, and pets. (Pets are some of the best enablers of loneliness, your own cuddlesome Murphy notwithstanding.) With the help of these aids, a poor sap can survive the airless depths of loneliness long enough to experience its true horror — duration.

Did you know, Myren Vole, that when presented with the same odor (even my own) for a duration of only several minutes, the olfactory nerves become habituated — as my daughter used to say — to it and cease transmitting its signal to the brain?

Likewise, most pain loses its edge in time. Time heals all — as they say. Even the loss of a loved one, perhaps life’s most wrenching pain, is blunted in time. It recedes into the background where it can be borne with lesser pains. Not so our friend loneliness, which grows only more keen and insistent with each passing hour. Loneliness is as needle sharp now as it was an hour ago, or last week.

But if loneliness is the wound, what’s so secret about it? I submit to you, Myren Vole, that the most painful death of all is suffocation by loneliness. And by the time I started on my portrait of Jean, I was ten years into it (with another five to go). It is from that vantage point that I tell you that loneliness itself is the secret. It’s a secret you cannot tell anyone. Why?

Because to confess your loneliness is to confess your failure as a human being. To confess would only cause others to pity and avoid you, afraid that what you have is catching. Your condition is caused by a lack of human relationship, and yet to admit to it only drives your possible rescuers farther away (while attracting cats).

So you attempt to hide your loneliness in public, to behave, in fact, as though you have too many friends already, and thus you hope to attract people who will unwittingly save you. But it never works that way. Your condition is written all over your face, in the hunch of your shoulders, in the hollowness of your laugh. You fool no one.

Believe me in this; I’ve tried all the tricks of the lonely man.”

– ‘Counting Heads’ by David Marusek

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8 Responses to Nothing Works Part 2

  1. klodo says:

    Thats a great piece of writing by David Marusek which sums loneliness up perfectly.Your work colleagues sound like complete assholes. I do hope it gets better eventually for you. I worked with people like that for years but eventually moved into a different department where it was a vast improvement and my anxiety was greatly improved as a result. You are doing tremendously well just to fight through it each day and still carrying on.I know it feels like a living hell at the time and that no one understands. Good luck.

    • Gemma says:

      Thankfully, most of them are not like that but a large number (mostly from other departments) unfortunately are. Sorry to hear that you had similar experiences before you changed departments. Thank you for your comment, and I hope things can also improve for you.

  2. Now I remember why “Dr. Richards” rings a bell. I tried that program too and abandoned it because it was so insulting to my intelligence. It’s not just you.

    I don’t know how you can help yourself during this time except to remember what you already know, that the only way out is through. That applies to anxiety as much as it does to suicidality. Like the signs on the bridges say, life is worth living.

    When I feel suicidal I read back over things I’ve written during periods when I’ve made progress. I also carry around a slip of paper that tells me not to kill myself because I’ve always eventually lost the urge/obsession eventually.

    I don’t know how things work in the UK but here in the states our insurance is often similarly useless for mental health. I’ve always ended up finding someone outside of the system and paying out of pocket. Is it possible to look outside NHS for someone who knows how to treat SA? Or is that a dumb, culturally ignorant question?

    Stay strong, girl. You’re right. Most people couldn’t hack this for a day. When you eventually find something that works you’ll be unstoppable.

    • Gemma says:

      I actually came across your old blog posts about Dr. Richards’ programme a couple of weeks ago, when I did a few google searches to find out whether anyone else had encountered similar problems with it. I’d never read that part of your blog before and I’m now wishing I had before I bought the programme. I can’t understand how it has apparently been so effective for so many people (everywhere I looked on the forums, people were singing its praises), and yet not helpful at all (if anything, I’ve found it damaging) for us. I suppose that much like CBT, it isn’t a case of “one size fits all”. It irritates me that Dr. Richards himself refuses to accept this, with his belief that as long as you repeat the handouts enough times, his method cannot fail.

      That’s a good idea. I will read over some of my more positive posts from the past and see if that helps. If you don’t mind me asking, how often do you feel suicidal, and has it lessened at all since you overcame/ reduced your social anxiety?

      No, it’s not a dumb or culturally ignorant question. I haven’t been able to find anyone who specifically specialises in the treatment of social anxiety disorder, but I have found one private psychology practice in Edinburgh that claims to treat a range of issues including social anxiety disorder.I may enquire there if everything else fails me. I just don’t want to waste any more of my money on something that isn’t guaranteed to help me. The fee for an hour-long session is upwards of £80 (which is more than I’ll be getting paid per week when I go back to uni).

      Thank you again. I hope so…

  3. Kira says:

    A lot of what you wrote resonated with me. I can’t say I feel your pain because it’s different for everyone but I can at least see where you’re coming from. I don’t want to turn this into a comment about me so I’ll just say, hey! do you want to be friends? because I would like the chance to get to know you. shoot me at an email at forever_alone_together@aol.com (seems like a fitting email at this moment lol) we can go through all the awkward introductions and stuff. if you want I can send the first one to set the tone just send me your email ^^

    looking forward to getting a response, even if it’s to reject me. no worries! just want to know you’re doing okay if anything

  4. Hi, Gemma. Yes, I regret that I didn’t warn you about that program. Wish it had clicked earlier.

    I would go for years at a time without being suicidal, but over the past five years I had a cluster of period of suicidality owing to a lot of losses, illnesses and life stressors. You are right that as I’ve recovered from social anxiety I have been less prone to it. Having built a support system has been a big part of that, as has finding creative outlets.

    I have been suicidal throughout my life starting at around age 10. It runs in my family and I believe it’s a combination of nature and nurture, in terms of genetic predisposition toward depression and anxiety and having suicidality having been modeled for me as an acceptable coping mechanism.

    I have been suicidal so many times (I estimate 10 episodes, ranging from fairly fleeting to lasting 2years) that I accept it as a part of my disposition. I do not forget what it feels like and how serious it is as a danger. Now I know what the progression is and how it starts and escalates, I work to keep it at bay.

    You write about needing to love yourself and that is absolutely true. But before you can do that you must be kind to yourself. You are so unkind to yourself in terms of the judgment and shame you heap upon yourself. Your sensitivity is what makes you beautiful and loveable. I hope you can find a way through this because I do think that with your resilience, courage and capacity for self reflection you can eventually recover and live a life with relationships that are trustworthy and healthy.

    • Gemma says:

      Hi, J. Don’t feel bad about it.

      I’m sorry to hear that the past 5 years have been really difficult for you, but glad that the suicidal thoughts/ feelings have lessened as you’ve overcome your anxiety. What do you mean by creative outlets?

      Wow, 10 years old? 😦 That’s awful. No child should ever have to feel that way. I’m sorry to hear that it runs in your family and that members of your family modelled suicidality for you. I commend your strength and bravery for surviving a 2-year period of feeling suicidal. I don’t think I could manage that.

      Thank you.

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