Am I Unattractive or Unapproachable?

I’m sure a vast number of women (and men) have asked themselves this at some point. Honestly, I think I know the answer for myself–both.

Yes, I have pretty severe body dysmorphia; I spend copious amounts of time inspecting my face in mirrors, going over what I think is wrong with it. One of my eyebrows is slightly higher than the other, my nose is too wide for my face, I have low cheekbones, no jawline, my eyes are too small, my upper lip is too thin, my skin is flawed. The discrepancy go on and on with my face and my body. What I would give to not have the shoulders of a linebacker…

My self-esteem has gotten worse with each year. With each week, really. To be honest, I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but 23 has been the age I’ve experienced the lowest self-esteem of all time. When I look for books to possibly aid me, they really don’t delve into physical self-esteem issues; it’s almost entirely about emotional self-esteem issues. And no, I am not one hundred percent confident in that area either, but I am extremely confident about who I am as a person. I know my values, I know I’m intellectual and intelligent. I’m rational yet also emotional. I’m good at communication. I know I’m talented and capable, and I’m a great friend. I know my self-worth.

Except not when it comes to how I look, which seems to trump everything else.

It’s difficult to feel confident in how I look for a lot of reasons. I’ve analyzed my appearance with such scrutiny, and I’ve found “rational” explanations to explain why I’m so unattractive. And yes, my friends occasionally try to tell me otherwise, but they’re biased because they think my personality and who I am is attractive–not necessarily how I look. Also, throughout my entire life, no one ever told me I was attractive. Distant relatives and friends of my parents would comment on my brother and I and they would automatically declare that he was attractive. Me? I honestly can’t recall ever hearing that from anyone. It probably didn’t help that throughout childhood and adolescence, my brother actively berated me about being unattractive.

No one’s ever really complimented me (and it happens very rarely now–although I do have one friend to thank for telling me I look nice ever now and again), so I find it hard to believe.

I also know I’m unapproachable. I definitely have “resting bitch face.” In fact, I’ve had multiple people tell me I actually look like I’m on the verge of murder. At the very least, I know I look angry a lot of the time. Everyone I’ve ever become friends with has told me that before I actually talked to them (and sometimes after), they thought I didn’t like them and that I would be an unpleasant person.

Last night my friend and I went out for St. Patrick’s Day–sort of. I got looped into it, but I was glad I was sober for the multiple and extensive interactions with new people.

Soon after sitting myself down outside, I lit a cigarette and silently observed my over-stimulating surroundings: two very drunk girls standing next to me, a group of well-dressed men smoking a blunt on the other side of the picnic table, a man climbing a hardened snowbank to write something in chalk on the cement wall. A guy sat down across from me, and we made eye contact, so I gave him the inverted head-nod gesture. You know, when you quickly jerk your jaw forward in recognition? That’s usually what I do.

He was also silent, and out of my peripheral vision I caught him shooting me glances quite a bit. Eventually he asked me, “How are you?” I replied with, “I’m alright. How are you?” to which he responded, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

I laughed. “I’m alright,” I assured him. I knew why he was asking–I looked fucking pissed. “I use anger as a defense mechanism.”

We sat in silence again until I asked what was going on with him. It didn’t take me long to realize he was plastered. At one point he asked if I was single, to which I said yes. He asked why and I said, “Have you seen my demeanor?”

Nevertheless, I was happy to have talked to my new and very drunk friend.

Later in the night, my friend and I sat around the fire pit. Two of her friends had joined us as well. A bearded man in a short-sleeve button-up sat down next to my friend.

Listen, I actually love meeting new people, but I’m usually unwilling to break the ice–mostly, if not entirely, due to how I feel about the way I look. This guy eventually broke the ice for us by asking my friend what she studied at school. Then he asked her female friend. He didn’t ask me. So my friend came to my rescue and told him which school I go to, and then he asked what I studied and what I wanted to do.

It’s being an afterthought that really makes me feel hurt. It’s a pattern, and it’s a shitty one.

Soon it became just myself, my friend, and this man. The three of us talked, and we were both enthralled by his personal life for a few very specific reasons. I thought, “This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak to a man like this” so I decided that no matter what, I would ask for his phone number. I ended up asking to add him on Facebook, since that seemed more approachable (ah! That word). He seemed to happily agree to this and added the two of us. He also invited us to a party he’s having this weekend.

As the three of us were talking, a young man, extremely plastered, sat down next to our new friend. He asked the names of us “ladies.” After my friend introduced herself, he repeated her name and said “pretty” and licked his lips. Then I said my name. Boom. Not a person of interest, clearly.

We parted ways with our new friend as the lights of the bar came on and the bouncer shooed us out (although he seemed genuinely pleased that I wished him a good night; I’m sure it was a tough night for him). As I stepped outside, a dude said, “Hey girl” but I honestly don’t know if he was talking to my friend or myself.

As I pulled the car up, a man driving by honked at my friend.

Okay, I’m not wishing for myself to be sexually harassed in any way, but I’m the only female I know who hasn’t been (insert laugh track here).

And now I have this party to figure out. My friend actually can’t go, so I have to fly solo. And there’s no fucking way I’m gonna be sober for it, so I’ll have to shell out money for an uber. But that’s not the problem. The problem is, I’ll be alone. I’ve never been to a party myself. That’s terrifying enough, but even more terrifying is the fact that I barely know the host.

However, I’m very much into the host. It may be a little rash to declare that, but the more we talked with him, the more I realized how much I was aroused by him. It didn’t help that he put on an incredible red velvet blazer as we exited. What a dreamboat. Viewing his Facebook photos sealed the deal. Well, for me anyway.

Basically, I can’t determine if he was more into my friend than me. I would guess that he probably was. I just imagine him being disappointed that she didn’t show up. Also, I don’t flirt well. I never do it consciously and when it does happen inadvertently, I’m usually extremely aggressive or become a little self-deprecating to try and avoid actually becoming flirtatious.

This is a conundrum. And I don’t have therapy again until after the party happens, but perhaps that’s a good thing. I don’t know how to end this post–I guess my original statement still stands. The answer is both.

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Email to Psychiatrist II

Long time, no speak. Or see.

I am emailing you tonight because…well, there’s not a simple reason, I suppose. To start, my new therapist is fine, I suppose. She obviously doesn’t really compare to my relationship with you since we have four years of that and you know me very well, and you know I like to put up fights and you tend to deal with my bullshit pretty well. I actually skipped my last appointment with her. Most of it had to do with scheduling, but I also just felt no desire to go. The other woman, the one who deals with my medications, I have only seen once and she has failed to fill out my prescriptions for Latuda and Klonopin so I have been kind of floundering. I called to see what was up the other day but the receptionist never got back to me like she said she would. But I see this woman on Wednesday, so let’s hope I get my meds.

I was actually doing okay for a couple weeks, and then Monday I woke up and immediately was hit over the head with all these stressors (mostly expenses I don’t have the money for), so that was a shitty start to my day. Tuesday was worse. I got stuck in traffic on my way home from work (which I am quitting, even though I have no backup plan. Whatever.), for 45 minutes, and I was already in a rough mood so I started to cry, and when I got home I cried a lot more.
The rest of the week I have been exceptionally anxious. I’m having those feelings of derealization and it’s so unpleasant, scary, and uncomfortable…I do not know what to do. I feel very alone in this, and I feel as though something is deeply wrong with me. I have been passively suicidal, because, well, I’d rather die than feel insane.
What a cheery email.
– Zara

The Plague of Anxiety (I)

I’ve been an anxious person all my life. Even as a child, I never felt truly capable of relaxing. I worried about school constantly, despite how easy elementary school was, looking back now.

My anxiety has worsened with time and especially with a particular drug experience which I can’t remember if I’ve written about in length or not. Anyway, in 2012 I started taking Klonopin to help ease my anxiety. As much as medication can help, I feel like it has more of a placebo effect than anything else. When I start to feel anxious, these days, I take a pill, and my mind is eased. Usually.

I’ve been reading this book titled Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks by R. Reid Wilson and though very dated (it was published in 1996), there is a lot of useful and interesting information. Just seeing what I experience in writing, in someone else’s words, is validating. As I’m reading the book I’m thinking, “Yes, yes! This is me. This is exactly what I do!”

Something I found particularly interesting is how chronic anxiety can manifest itself in other ways than merely just feeling panicked or anxious from time to time. These symptoms, linked to anxiety, caught my attention because I experience them: headaches, the need for frequent urination, cramp-like pains in the stomach, difficulty becoming sexually aroused or achieving orgasm, irritability, and impatience.

Anxiety literally rules my life. I’m constantly on edge, just waiting for the next panic attack, wondering how I’m going to get through it, and sometimes my constant vigilance and preparation actually causes me to go into a panic. My mind is its own worst enemy. My mind likes to play tricks on me. My emergency response is miswired, for whatever reason.

When people ask me how I deal with anxiety and panic, I wish I could offer better advice. I’ve heard meditation helps. I was unable to commit to it. I’ve heard yoga helps, but any green-juice-drinking white yuppie will tell you that yoga cures all ailments. Medication can help immensely, but you have to find one that works for you (and have health insurance). Many people with anxiety use drugs and alcohol (hello, self) to cope, which just really backfires because of the physiological response that occurs. I don’t have better advice because I’m still constantly struggling.

I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book: “No one has to earn the right to be loved; we are already loveable.”

-Zara

 

 

Consume(d)

I have been terribly absent from this blog, and for those of you who actually read my posts, I’m egotistical enough to say that I hope you have missed me. I think my absence is just a product of apathy. In general, over the past five or so months I’ve been at a loss for words. I haven’t been writing–not on here, not on my own time, and getting myself to sit down and write papers for school has been a struggle.

It’s been a stressful few weeks, to say the least.

It’s been a stressful semester.

I need to find a new job. The reason as to why is very stupid. The hiring manager neglected to tell me that colored hair (and my hair is blue, okay) is a dress code violation and won’t be tolerated. So after over a week of working there, I was told to get rid of it, basically. Well, I’m stubborn, and not easily persuaded by minimum wage, so no, I’m not going to chop my hair off to satisfy The Man. Therefore, the hunt for yet another new job begins. I have not told my parents about this yet because it’s shameful.

Ever since I received the assignment to create a radio play for my poetry class, a dark cloud of anxiety has been floating above my brain. I finally got to record and edit it, so it’s done, but today I have to present it, and I don’t know how to utilize technology so I’m not sure how I’ll do it. I have three research papers to write, all due on my birthday. I still have six books to read in the next five weeks.

I’m just very overwhelmed and very tired. I had a good day yesterday–I got through my Scholar’s Day reader’s theater presentation and had the support of my father and my best friend. Bennett and I went to breakfast, then I took her to her first bar. Later, as we went outside my house to smoke, I felt myself crumbling. I just started crying and apologizing, subsequently, profusely. I feel attacked and overthrown by my mental illness and I feel alone in the battle. I have no therapist or psychiatrist anymore, and the medications I’m on are doing absolutely nothing. No matter what my friends say, I feel like I can’t talk to them about my state of mental health, and anyway, to be honest, they’re not entirely all that helpful. There’s something about a mental health professional that’s just…more useful. Not that I don’t love my friends, because I do, and I’m grateful they are willing to listen. I just don’t feel welcome to speak of such things. Because they can’t help me. And I haven’t told my family how poorly I’ve been doing because it’s shameful.

All of this morning I’ve been having anxiety attacks. It’s, without much doubt, a combination of stress, PMS, and depression. I don’t feel safe in my own mind and in my own body. I want to tell my dad, but I won’t because it’s shameful.

Right now I’m just holed up in the library, looking for new jobs, feeling like shit, and wanting a cigarette or to just die, really, because dying would be the ultimate relief from this storm that’s raging inside my skull.

-Zara

Medication Update

I’ve lost track of how many updates I’ve done, but as for the Latuda and Lithium combination, it’s been six days of 750mg of Lithium combined with 60mg of Latuda. I went from 10 to 20 to 40 combined with my full dose of 900mg of Lithium over about a month.

Here are the Latuda side effects:

  • dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • agitation, hostility, confusion, thoughts about hurting yourself;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;
  • high blood sugar (increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss);
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;
  • trouble swallowing; or
  • twitching or uncontrollable movements of your eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms, or legs.
  • drowsiness;
  • feeling restless;
  • nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite;
  • blurred vision;
  • weight gain;
  • breast swelling or discharge;
  • missed menstrual periods; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

I haven’t noticed much in terms of side effects, actually, nothing at all, aside from nausea, which I also experienced while very slowly increasing my dose of Lithium. Maybe I’m susceptible to nausea. I did notice that I’ve vomited twice in the past month or so after drinking. I rarely vomit from drinking. The last time, aside from late November, was April of 2014. So the nausea is not my favorite. It’s just plain uncomfortable. I’m also worried about gaining (more) weight, so I hope that “loss of appetite” side effect kicks in at some point.

Nevertheless, the last time I saw my psychiatrist, he said I seem to be doing better. It’s hard for me to tell sometimes. I’m still depressed and feel a lack of motivation in terms of eating better and exercising. The lack of daylight doesn’t help, nor does the exhaustion that comes from work and school and driving so much. But I have been somewhat motivated when it comes to my writing. I went on a big submission kick, started a new short fiction piece, wrote a few poems, and have been more active on here. The passive suicidal thoughts are mostly gone. I have my worries, but I don’t feel overly stressed about them. I haven’t cried in a while. Today I realized it’s been about three months since I had a panic attack, which is really, really good.

I hope the good continues and the bad continues to dwindle. I’d like to start being more physically active, despite it being winter. I’d like to continue being active with my writing. I hope my mood stays where it is, or better yet, improves. I have some home. Some.

–Zara

The Suffering of One for the Greater Good.

I’m thinking about this concept because while I, one in over 7 billion people on the planet, had a good day today, the rest of the world did not.

I went to the financial aid office and the office of student accounts at my university and found out that what I owe for the year is actually next to nothing. I’ve been thinking I owed thousands of dollars when I owe less than a thousand for the year. It made me feel unstoppable – something good happened for me??? Unheard of! I immediately thought, Something is going to go wrong. Probably with my car. But I was able to drive to the mechanic and they checked my transmission fluid levels. It’s still leaking, but it’s okay for now. So, more good news. I was already feeling productive. These were both things I didn’t want to deal with yet the end results had been unexpectedly good. I went to Rite Aid to get my prescription. Another thing I can check off the list. Then I went to ULTA, in dire need of a new face powder, and had a grand ol’ time just browsing around the store. I got four beautiful lipsticks and my face powder for just over eleven dollars. Not too bad. I was feeling good. I came home and checked my grade for a paper I recently submitted (and worked really hard on): I received a 97 out of 100. Thank god these phenomenal grades will not be wasted.

But then there’s what’s actually going on outside of my very small, personal world; the terrorist attack in Paris, the Earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, among other things, all happened today.

I’m not saying this applies solely to me. I’m not that important. But is it possible that individuals must suffer in order for there to be harmony elsewhere in the world? Did my random, atypical “good day” throw the world off balance? Did my few moments of joy somehow cause the world to teeter? Is that so unbelievable?

I don’t know. If it is or it isn’t, I felt guilty for having a good day while so many others suffered. What if I had just experienced an ordinary, mundane, miserable day like I do 98% of the time? Would that somehow have changed the course of human existence and experience?

I’m also not sure if that qualifies as narcissism or just…delusion.

Z

Fuck Fear

It’s 4:17am. I went to bed around 1am. I’ve given up on sleep for now. I’m too warm, too cramped in my twin bed, and my mind is restless. While I’m up, I thought I’d give those of you who care a bit of an update.

I’ve been pushing away the fact that I’m starting classes somewhere completely new and 30 miles away from my home out of my head all summer. Finally, on Saturday night, I decided that I should really check out what books I need since my first day is in a week.

I was pretty disturbed to see that for just one of my classes, I needed five books. I continued to scroll. One for that class, seven for that class, Jesus Christ on the cross, and oh my god, eleven for that class? Are you serious? This can’t be right. Who can afford this, even with renting and buying used?

So with the realization that I needed over 20 books for four classes in one semester, I basically broke down. I just thought, I can’t do this, I can’t even afford to buy the fucking books, how do I do this? I can’t. Not being able to navigate the overly-confusing website or find my student email added fuel to the fire. I was sobbing. I felt no control over the situation.

And then after calming down a bit, I had a thought. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

I am so tired of being consumed by fear every waking moment. I’m so tired of fear controlling my life. There is so much I want to do and I need to stop allowing my own insecurities and doubts get in the way. If I tell myself I will fail, I WILL FAIL. I need to stop and think and reevaluate my self-worth and my abilities. I hate working. So what? Everyone hates working. Remembering that makes me feel better about it. College is tough? My god, it’s so fucking hard (and EXPENSIVE) but it took me long enough to realize what I wanted to do and I am determined to do what I need to do to get where I want to be. I am not going to be 30 years old and working the same job I have now. I will not accept that.

Obviously, I am not going to feel this way all the time. I still am very worried about the whole school thing. But I know for a fact that I will get through it because I want to and because I can. And it’s going to take me a long time to learn how to relax even a little. But I want to. I just want to fucking relax for once in my life.

My friend told me today, “You think like a man.” Which is kind of true. I’m not an emotional thinker, despite being a very emotional person. I can shove those emotions aside and break down what I’m feeling into a psychological, scientific formula. Being so analytical and logical has its perks but it also means I can’t just “go with the flow”. No, there has to be an explanation for what I’m feeling and what’s happening. And sometimes my “logic” is wrong. Like that girl I’ve been talking to. Well, we were texting and she asked, “Why didn’t you kiss me the other night?” This took me by surprise a little bit because 1) I have no self-esteem and think no one can be physically attracted to me BASED ON THE LOGIC of sexual attraction and physically attractive qualities that I do not possess and 2) I attempted to analyze her body language throughout the entire evening but could not make a definitive conclusion so therefore, I did not “make a move”.

But there ya go. My reasoning and calculating was wrong. My intuition had turned out to be correct, I just didn’t act on it, because to me, it didn’t add up.

I’m just tired of feeling out of control. I do have control. Not over everything, but most things. And I can control how I handle situations. I need to get better with that.

There’s just so much to do. And by God, I’m gonna do it.

Z