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.


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


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.


Email to Psychiatrist

“Hi there.

I know you said I should feel free to email, though I still feel odd about it, but I’ve been having a particularly rough time lately so I thought I would reach out.
On Thursday I had a breakdown. I guess I was due for one. It started in the early afternoon, when I was in my last class. I felt so irritated and stressed. We were reading a play aloud and I felt so angry and like I might cry. I kept digging my nails into my hand. One of my peers commented, after class, how I looked upset. I got to my car and cried a little. When I got home I didn’t know what to do, since I felt the entire thing escalating, so I just laid in bed, but that didn’t help. I felt myself losing control more and more and in my frenzy I harmed myself, purposefully, then went outside and sobbed for a long time, feeling ashamed and alone. My best friend asked if I wanted her to come over, to which I didn’t respond. I eventually went to bed and slept for twelve hours, which just gave me a piercing headache. When I did end up seeing my best friend, she didn’t even ask how I was feeling. I felt slighted. I feel very isolated these days. If I can’t talk to her about my feelings, then who can I talk to? I’m realizing just how helpful our sessions were. I know I need to look for another doctor but it seems like a chore.
My mental health has deteriorated, yet again, as it always seems to. School is incredibly stressful this semester, mostly, I’m sure, due to my lack of good mental health. I feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. I’m getting mostly B’s when I should be getting A’s and this flaw is stressing me out even more. I’m putting immense pressure on myself but am unable to live up to it. I also very recently lost my job, as my company did some downsizing, so there’s another stressor for me to deal with.
I have absolutely no one to talk to about all of this and I don’t know what to do to help myself.
Anyway. Thanks.

Update Number Whatever

It’s been a while since I’ve given you guys an update. I haven’t been blogging much, which makes me sad since I was doing so well before. I just haven’t felt like writing in general, which is never a good sign.

Last Tuesday Bennett texted me asking me if I wanted to hang out. I knew she was supposed to be working, so I asked what was up. She said she “got fired.” I immediately called her, as I do in any even slightly dramatic situation. She basically told me they were downsizing at our company. I called Frank, the operations manager, well-knowing I was also going, but he wouldn’t tell me anything over the phone. Bennett came over and then we went out. I applied at Show World and then we went to Bar Louie, where I ate half of a burger and drank three really large beers which cost seven dollars apiece.

The next night I went in, feeling foul because I knew I was going to be let go. I told Dorothy, one of my favorite coworkers, I didn’t feel motivated to do anything since I knew. Finally around eight o’clock Frank came over and walked me back to his office. Right as he was getting into his scripted speech, a customer called and talked his ear off for a few minutes. Once he got off the phone he asked if a customer had asked my name earlier tonight, to which I responded “Yes.” It was clear that this customer complained about me, though I honestly am unsure of as to why, so that was even more of a reason to let me go, I suppose. Anyway, Frank read his speech and told me my position no longer existed, in a nutshell. I signed a paper giving me two weeks pay as severance. Strange. It’s also taxed 25 percent, so it’s better than nothing, but it’s still pocket change.

I really wanted to make it to the one-year mark with this job, and I know if the company hadn’t decided it needed to give so many people (mostly us part-timers) the axe, I would have made it. So now I have to job-hunt again and scrounge for change. Finding a job has never been easy, and it’s hard to find a job that’s tolerable. I didn’t like my job, but I didn’t hate it either, and I liked most of the people I worked with. I was comfortable there. And now I am forced to start over.

This, combined with the stress of school, my father’s unemployment, not being able to see my psychiatrist, and general depression makes for a miserable time. I constantly feel on edge and melancholy. I feel unmotivated and depressed. I feel like I can’t talk to any of my friends about it, mostly because I don’t know how to. I really miss my sessions with my psychiatrist. My anxiety has been heightened. All I want to do is sleep or drink. I feel out of place at my university and I’m putting so much pressure on myself to do exceedingly well and I’m struggling. My mental illness has been making me feel completely awful about myself, something I thought I had (mostly) overcome.

How are you doing?


Feeling Helpless.

My eye is twitching. That’s always a good sign.

My father lost his job in September. Since then, things have changed, sure, and despite my financial hardships I know it’s way harder on him than anyone else.

We’re losing our health insurance as of February 1st and switching to Medicaid. You know, the thing for poor people. My psychiatrist isn’t covered by Medicaid.

My number one concern is being able to get my prescriptions. I can’t tell you how much I hate that “drug free” attitude some people possess. I’m glad you feel capable of “conquering” your mental illness without prescription medications. I am not like you. I need pills to be a functioning member of this capitalist society.

My second concern is the idea of starting over with a new doctor. I’ve been seeing my current psychiatrist for nearly four years. He knows me and knows my issues very well. He can handle me crying and can handle my rigid silence. I like his dog. I like his advice. I’ve been through so many doctors over the years and the fact that I have to start over with another saddens and frustrates me.

I don’t feel like I’m doing that well right now. Maybe it’s all these financial worries, my piece of shit car, school starting in a week, or work. It’s all of it, I’m sure. Am I being proactive? Not really. Even alcohol can’t help me now.


Drug Information

This is a piece I wrote for my nonfiction class back at MCC, titled “Drug Information”. It’s a list of just some of the medications I’ve been on over the years and their official uses and side effects intertwined with my own experiences. Thanks for reading. –Zara

Abilify (Aripiprazole): Used to treat mood disorders as well as depression. You will be handed multiple sample packets of this to try alongside your other mood stabilizer. Your psychiatrist won’t tell you that it’s also an antipsychotic, which is probably why you don’t have success with it. It claims to improve concentration, however, you will just feel restless and irritable. You will tap your foot much more often than you already do.

Deplin (l-methylfolate): Technically a medical food, this is used in patients with low red blood cell folate. This will be added on to your Lamictal prescription, although Deplin should not be mixed with Lamictal or other anticonvulsants, as they can interfere with its effects. It can, however, be added onto an antidepressant, but remember, antidepressants are not good for your mental disorder. No common side effects of Deplin have been reported, so if you do experience anything out of the ordinary, such as an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately. You were wrong to be prescribed Deplin and you will be taken off it quickly.

Effexor (Venlafaxine): This is an antidepressant. You’re not supposed to take antidepressants, but you’re 15 and you listen to your psychiatrist blindly. Some young people have suicidal thoughts while taking Effexor, and you will be one of them. You will feel agitated and irritable, impulsive, hostile, and your thoughts will be cloudy. You will carve the inside of your forearm with a razor while taking Effexor and you will be hospitalized; don’t worry though, everything will go back to normal sooner than you think.

Gabapentin (Neurontin):  An anticonvulsant, originally developed to treat epilepsy, and is currently also used to relieve neuropathic pain and restless leg syndrome, also used to treat bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. You will take this after stopping Lamictal, but it will be unsuccessful as well. Side effects include weight gain, dizziness, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, swelling of hands and feet, and blurred vision. Less common, and more serious, side effects include flu-like symptoms, jaundice, loss of appetite, stomach pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, and vomiting, so beware.

Klonopin (Clonazepam): A very popular benzodiazapine. This does help to subside your anxiety, but certainly not enough, as you constantly live in a state of panic. Speaking of panic, it will not help you with your panic attacks, as it takes up to an hour for this medication to kick in. It’s almost useless, but no doctor will prescribe you Xanax, so you’ll have to deal with it. Remember to get your blood tests done to make sure your liver is still intact. You really shouldn’t drink while taking Klonopin, since it can be fatal, but you will anyway.

Lamictal (Lamotrigine): One of the many anticonvulsants you will be prescribed. It also, supposedly, treats mood episodes in adults with bipolar disorder. You will be on this medication for years and experience no positive difference, but you will be too afraid and too exhausted to switch to anything new. You may experience thoughts of suicide – ironic, isn’t it?

Lithium: A natural element which is supposed to affect mania (too bad you hardly ever experience hypomania). Despite this, you’re willing to try anything at this point, and you’ve heard of great success stories from people with bipolar disorder taking Lithium. Who cares if it destroys your kidneys? You’ve moved past that. Lithium will make you nauseous, cause your hands and feet to tingle incessantly, and screw up your digestive system, but it will pass. You already have a small bladder, but be sure to drink plenty of water while taking this medication. Also remember to go for your bi-weekly blood tests.

Tegretol (Carbamazepine): Another anticonvulsant, but it is supposed to help with bipolar disorder too. You will experience hardly any adverse side effects when starting Tegretol, which is surprising. You will feel much better around 800 mg. You will be exercising regularly, eating right, and generally feeling hopeful about the future. You will be amazed. But this will end, and you will sink back into a deep depressive state. You will gain all the weight you lost back. You will stop engaging in healthy activities. You will make poor choices. You will feel suicidal. It will be as if you did a complete 180. Your psychiatrist will continue to raise to dosage in attempt to help you, but this will cause a toxic reaction, so you will request to stop taking Tegretol. Weaning off this will be a bitch, too, just to warn you.

Topamax (Topiramate): An anticonvulsant primarily used to control epilepsy as well as prevent migraines. It’s also approved for weight loss, which is your main incentive for willingly trying it, but again, it too will be unsuccessful. It is used to treat bipolar disorder, yet there is no evidence to support its use in bipolar disorder. However, if you do become an alcoholic (and you’re well on your way), good news! It’s successful as a treatment for alcoholism. Common side effects of Topamax include dizziness, weight loss (you won’t lose any noticeable weight, though – too bad), nausea, fatigue, numbness in the arms and legs, and stomach pain.

Trileptal (Oxcarbazepine): An anticonvulsant also used to treat bipolar disorder, and another medication you will have no success with. Common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, weakness, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, indigestion, tremors, and vision problems. Do not drink alcohol while taking Trileptal. Call your doctor right away if you experience changes in mood (shouldn’t it change your mood, though? Well, it doesn’t anyway), suicidal thoughts, signs of inflammation, liver problems, or severe skin reactions. Trileptal can decrease the sodium in your body and cause a life-threatening reaction, so be on the look out. During the sample period of a year, the FDA reported 50 deaths directly related to Trileptal. Tread lightly.