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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“You don’t believe in yourself.”

I believe in myself, I just don’t believe in anything else.

My skin is at an all-time low now that I’ve, once again, increased my dosage of Lithium. I don’t know if it’s helping. It might be. I don’t feel so full of despair, or at least it’s not overwhelming. But I start my last year of undergraduate school tomorrow and that could be change. I’m not ready to wake up at 6:30am, to drive 45 minutes to campus, to block out the sounds of young, obnoxious voices droning on and on. I’m not ready to be so physically and mentally exhausted, and so drained. I’m not ready to read four different books at once and struggle to retain the information.

I’m not ready for any of it.

I dyed all of my hair teal and this seems like the opposite thing for me to do, considering I don’t want to be seen. At all. Ever. By anyone. Encouraging attention is the last thing I want at this point in time.

My friends have too much faith in the world. Or too much faith in me. Maybe both. I’m not capable of much. I can barely scrape by while doing the bare minimum.

I want to land a teaching job without needing a PhD. Or, if I need the PhD, I want it to be worth it. I want to be held in high regard. I want people to know my name, to read my writing in various magazines and papers and yes, books too. I want my talent to be recognized. I want a modest house in the Pacific Northwest and a job at a modest college. I want a dog and gardens in the yard. I want my friends to always be by my side, even if we separate physically, and I want someone to love me. I don’t want to succumb to suicidal ideation. I want to eat healthy and go hiking on the weekends and have a good dentist and decent health insurance. I want to feel good about myself. I want, I want, I want…

I had a dream the other night that I shot myself in the chest with a revolver and a giant bloody hole was left, and then I told the person in front of me to shoot me in the head, and then I woke up. I don’t know what this means.

I do believe in myself.

I do.

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 Internal Argument – Intimacy

I’ve been dating my partner, boyfriend, whatever you want to call him for two months. The first time we were physically intimate, beyond a mere kiss or subtle touch, occurred when I grabbed him against me and made out with him. The second time happened when I straddled him on the couch and we made out, again, for a long time, and I completely explored his body and eventually gave him oral sex.

My boyfriend is actually less sexually experienced than I am, but he’s more open to engaging in physical acts than I am. When we were fooling around, I refused to remove any article of clothing.

I know everyone deals with body confidence issues, but it angers and upsets me how deep mine go.

Yesterday we were sitting on his bed and he touched my shoulder and I recoiled in quite a volatile manner. I apologized, and we discussed it briefly. I was feeling depressed and although one part of my brain wanted to accept the touch, deeply desiring and enjoying it, the other, more dominant part of my brain, told my body to retreat, that I didn’t deserve to be touched, and to avoid it.

This toxic, argumentative part of my brain is always the part that wins, and I don’t know why.

Again, everyone deals with body confidence issues. We’re not thin enough, not toned enough, not muscular enough. We have cellulite and scars. Our stomachs aren’t flat. We have hair in places we don’t want hair. Whatever it is, it’s an issue. I guess my issue is, there’s not one part about my body that I like. Even when I was in shape and 75 pounds lighter than I am now and could actually be deemed “attractive” by the average person, I hated my body. But gaining the weight back has made my self-hatred even more severe.

The idea of not being in control scares me. If I let my partner dominate the situation, I lose control, and I won’t be able to enjoy myself amidst all of my worrying and self-hatred.

And don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate myself. I’ve come a long way, and generally, I quite like myself. But I only like the inside of myself. In fact, I love who I am as a person. However, that love and respect does not translate to my physical form, and for whatever reason, my disdain for my body trumps all self-love I do actually have.

I feel guilty because I don’t want my partner to think it’s him. I feel guilty because I can’t change how I feel about my body. I feel guilty because I can’t give my partner something he wants, and deserves.

I’m not sure how others, as uncomfortable as they are with their bodies, can take off their clothing and be okay with it.

-Zara

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?

–Zara

Lucky Enough

I’m content with there being no snow, which is totally unheard of this time of year. The Christmas lights on the trees of my neighborhood still listened pretty in the blackness. It’s warm enough for me to sit on the back step in just a hoodie, fresh out of work, my feet aching. A wave of sadness has hit me and I’m not sure why. Maybe because I feel behind in the game of life. Maybe because every second, things are changing and moments are disappearing and I don’t notice until it’s too late.
My love for the people in my life is so thick and coagulated in my heart, sometimes I feel it will be my downfall. I don’t know if this love is ever reciprocated. I can only hope that it is.
I’m struggling now so I won’t have to struggle later. That’s my goal. I imagine myself in a modest home, with garden and a dog, preferably with a partner but most likely alone. I imagine myself with a career as a writing professor in a university, preferably not in my hometown, but who knows. I imagine being a revered writer, known for my talent alone.
I can say what my predictions are but the predictions are bleak.
I’m not a lucky person. But I guess I’m lucky enough.
–Zara

My Head Exploded

No, not really. But last night (actually very early this morning) I experienced the sleep phenomena known as “exploding head syndrome.” It is described as “a rare and relatively undocumented parasomnia event in which the subject experiences a loud bang similar to a bomb exploding, a gun going off, a clash of cymbals or any other form of loud, indecipherable noise that seems to originate from inside the head. Contrary to the name, exploding head syndrome has no elements of pain, swelling or any other physical trait associated with it. They may be perceived as having bright flashes of light accompanying them, or result in shortness of breath, though this is likely caused by the increased heart rate of the subject after experiencing it. It most often occurs just before deep sleep, and sometimes upon coming out of deep sleep” (ASA).

I was just on the brink of sleep and feeling anxious, as I sometimes do when I’m right about to fall asleep, when I heard this loud continuous rushing sound. I felt like I couldn’t move and it was overall an unpleasant feeling. I just waited it out and after a few seconds it stopped.

Here are some possible causes: “Exploding head syndrome is thought to be highly connected with stress and extreme fatigue in most individuals. What actually causes the sensation in individuals is still unknown, though speculation of possible sources includes minor seizures affecting the temporal lobe, or sudden shifts in middle ear components” (ASA).

I haven’t felt overly stressed lately (shocker) and I wasn’t really that tired, so why I experienced it, and have never before, is an anomaly, I suppose. I’m curious about the Latuda. I mean, I’ve felt extremely nauseas since I hit 60mg and have mysterious, long-lasting piercing headaches. Latuda is a new medication on the market so I’m sure there’s more to learn about the side effects.

Regardless, I’d like to not experience that again. And I wish this headache would go away.

–Zara