Trading pain for pain

I watched a little bit of Dr. Phil today while waiting for something else to come on. It was about kids throwing tantrums — not really something I’m overly concerned about, you understand. One of the kids was filmed continually hitting himself in the face during his tantrum. Dr. Phil took a moment to point that, statistically, there were bound to be cutters in the audience and that cutting (like the hitting shown in the video) allows people to distract themselves from intense emotional/mental pain by inflicting a more easily handled physical pain. 

I’m not a cutter but it wouldn’t have taken much to make me one. When I first moved here, I stood on one of the downtown bridges, waiting for a bus, trying not to burst into tears as waves of despair pulsed through me. I don’t remember what triggered that particular event — I was full into a new clinical depression relapse and it really didn’t take much to tip me over the edge — I just remember digging into the back of my hand with my keys, trying to cause a physical wound painful enough to take my mind off the pain in my soul. It eventually worked. I didn’t break the skin — I never do — but the welts were still visible by the time I got home and my roommate was horrified. It wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last, though it’s much more infrequent now than it used to be. You don’t always have the leisure to indulge your emotions — bursting into tears on the bus or in a meeting is generally a bad idea; if inflicting pain gets you through it long enough for you to get home, then that’s a Good Thing. But there’s a terrible stigma attached to the chronic use of physical pain to cope with your emotions.



Or is that catch up?

I know it seems like I’ve been quiet here — I’ve made some private posts but even those have been thin on the ground.

Another year down, dead, vanished. Today, I’m steeped in Brian Melo’s “All I Ever Wanted” on auto repeat, Smirnoff Ice, and a lovely cloak of depression. No, not depression. Sadness. Fatigue. And a little of that old inner vibration. Anxiety? The cooler is pleasant, the song is rousing, the sadness is compelling me somewhere but I don’t know where.

Knowing why you are the way you are doesn’t make it easier to change who you are. And who I am is not who I want to be. Problem is that I don’t know who I want to be. Sometimes it seems as though I’m afraid of everything but in all honesty it nevers gains enough power to become anything that fully-formed. Instead, it lurks as a general malaise, pulling me to my bed, to sleep. Away from doing anything about the source of Sadness. Which, of course, is me.

I’m feeling small, insignificant, and superfluous. and I don’t want to be one of the millions whose lives become an unending stream of little nothings until they die. Do I have the courage, the discipline to do what I need to do? I’m afraid. Of failure. Of success. Of knowing neither. Those fears I’ve known intimately as long as I can remember. They are fully formed. And powerful. They pin me down, muzzle me, blind me.

Just breathe…

Feels like a very large elephant is sitting on me.

Anxiety hits me in the solar plexus, which makes both my stomach and my chest unhappy. If they were people, they’d be pacing back and forth, wringing their hands, and muttering to themselves.

Project anxieties, as always. I’m getting crabby again. I’ve had it shoved down my throat repeatedly that the BA will be doing the technical/peer review of my documentation for the project—at project meetings, at department meetings, and in casual conversation it’s been stated and restated that the BA is responsible for doing the technical desk check (wtf?), the peer review/proofreading (huh?), and a business requirements check (I’ll grant you that one). But according to the PM, everyone (meaning the BA) is too busy to do a peer review on the project that is due this week. She’s had it for several weeks and hasn’t managed to squeeze in a couple of hours to look it over yet? Then why the f&^% did you insist that she be the one to do it, for crissakes?!

What burns me most about that is that I’ve been told that under no circumstances am I to ask for my colleague to do a peer review for me without the express permission of the project manager responsible for the project she’s currently working on and the project wanting the peer review. And that is never going to happen. I can’t get them to understand that it isn’t a project thing, it’s a technical writing team thing. Do programmers have to get permission before they can ask another programmer to check something over for them? It’s called team work. The whole thing just makes me annoyed, anxious, stressed, ill, and unhappy. I spent several hours tonight working on the damn thing and I’ll probably end up putting in hours on the weekend as well. I have insomnia again and I’m near tears all the time. I need to find a way to cope with this because whatever I’m doing now just isn’t working.

Massive anxiety

Feels like I’m suffocating. Yes, it’s hot and gross here (on a lovely “air quality advisory” day) but it’s more than that. Supposed to be cooler tomorrow and on into the weekend — hope my anxiety eases with the humidex dropping.

Having some financial issues, partly because there have been problems with my last couple of paycheques, and partly because I just suck.

I’ve decided to go back to school so I’ve signed up for some university distance education courses. Well, a degree actually. That is alternately perking me up with excitement and driving me to my knees with pressure: financial, time, energy. The idea of this taking potentially a decade is insane but I don’t have the time, energy, or money to take a full-time course load or more. It’s going to cost about $30,000 or more for the whole degree.

Work has also been an issue. Weird demands, micromanaging, etc. But we did recently that mediocrity is not a bad thing and that 90% OK is good enough. so, whole lot of pressure released there. LOL Had thought that I might be able to get some of the courses covered by work but that idea was killed on Monday before it even got started. I’m both happy and disturbed by that — happy because now I’m just doing it for me and so the pressure to perform is off but disturbed because of the reasons behind the kibosh (reasons I won’t go into here).  

I made the mistake of informing my parents of my decision to go back to school and now I really regret it. It makes me feel like I’m 17 years old and living at home. I’m 42, damn it! Why do my parents turn me into a child whenever I talk to them? Why do most parents do that?

Am alternating between terrible insomnia and borderline narcolepsy. Today, my body is thinking “sleep for 12 hours” but my brain can’t stop spinning in place. And the suffocating pressure in my chest isn’t helping.

Crankiness abounds

Almost yelled (well, maybe “almost” isn’t accurate…I think I did yell) at one of the project managers at work when he started interrogating me about a release that I’d only just learned about a day or so previously. Everything is due the first week of June. It’s the second week of April. It’s an update release. Chillax.

I had sent the French version of the document out for a full edit in February — it was a mishmash of the work of several different translators and translator-wannabes and it would be nice to get it consistent with the English — and it’s due back at the end of April. The PM freaked out over that. April 30 was the original due date but the transation office thought it might come back earlier. Turns out she was wrong; they’re swamped by year-end crap from other offices. Regardless, end of April is not a huge deal. Doesn’t stop me writing the English stuff. And there isn’t likely to be 4 weeks worth of new French stuff to send out for translation.  So he’s getting upset over nothing. But he stills wants a detailed timeframe for everything and doesn’t understand that I can’t tell him what I don’t know. Translation time is based on word count and I won’t know the word count until I’ve actually written it, which I can’t do until they stop dickering over the details of the planned changes. And I don’t know how much work the stuff that is currently being edited will be when it comes back — it may just be a day or two of copying, pasting, and checking or it may be a week or more; it depends on just how bad the original really was. When I sent it out, there was no June release on the horizon (in fact, we’d just sent one out). There are other sources of crankiness on that particular project that didn’t help raise my mood, though I shouldn’t let them bother me. (Note to self: there’s a good lesson to learn. Think “Serenity Prayer”.)

So he got cranky and I got crankier. That never ends well, for me at least. That was shortly before I left work and part of the reason why I wasn’t into a suitable mood for the psychic fair. And part of why I am stressed out now (oh, there are so many reasons for me to be stressed out right now and almost all of them my own damned fault).

Dancing on the edge of disaster

Getting really cranky lately. Feel like I got too close to the fire today and lost my eyebrows. Think I recovered, though. God, I hope I recovered. Maybe it’ll have long-ranging effects that I can’t even imagine. And damn Jonathan Cainer and his horoscope:

If you are not intending to do anything constructive to change a certain situation, you forfeit the right to complain about it. If you are intending to make a move, you are still well advised not to complain, as you will need all your energy in order to summon concentration and motivation. Perhaps you feel that you do not know quite what you are intending to do, because you are simply so overwhelmed by an intense set of circumstances. If so, allow me to enlighten you. You are about to create a change.

I hope the change is good (as opposed to, say, getting my butt fired). I think I’ve managed to defuse a bad situation that had been brewing (largely because I’ve been really bitchy for the last few months) between me and a coworker. I hope so. I don’t like where I was going. It wasn’t a nice place.I broke down and apologized and she accepted the olive branch. So, I hope it’s OK. Got to start paying conscious attention to what I’m doing, saying, thinking.  Don’t want to blow this job.


Out of breath today. Not sure why. Upper back, shoulders, and neck are stiff and sore but don’t know if that’s why I’m breathless or because of the breathlessness.

Dreamed tonight of suffocating. In the dream, I was ill or suffering from some kind of disability that prevented me from communicating properly and was leaning against the bent knee of a father figure. Something made it difficult to breathe and as I struggled, he held me tighter, thinking I was just distressed over something and not realizing that I was trying to shift to a position where I could breathe better. As he held onto me, his knee pressed into my left upper back, right about where my PE was. He was killing me by trying to help me. And, like those old dreams I used to have where I was cattle prodded, I wasn’t able to breathe or move to defend myself. Eventually the dream me would reach a distress level that snapped me into a slightly different version of the dream—this happened a couple of times; the last time I woke up. It’s not the first time I’ve had a dream like that recently, though I haven’t had those suffocating dreams for years. When I was having the cattle prod dreams regularly, I wrote in to a column in the local paper that did dream analysis. My letter was chosen and the woman said that my subconscious was trying to tell me that I was going down a road that I shouldn’t be. At the time, I told my subconscious that, if it wanted to tell me something, it should be more clear and I had a number of very clear, very amazing dreams after that…and no more cattle prods. But that was in the early 1990s. I don’t know what’s going on now? Is it my subconscious prodding me again? Is it my brain just processing daily events (including my breathing trouble and aches)? Is it prescience, a portent of something?  I don’t know but suffocating is not a fun way to spend your REM sleep.

A deep, dark pit

Been stewing in a very large, very deep, and very, very dark pit of emotion today and can’t seem to find my way out. It’s that drunken bottoming out (without the drinking) that kills you if you can’t ride it out to safety.  Can’t sleep for more than 1/2 hour at a time because I’m hemorraging too heavily. So combine hormones with sleep-deprivation, a little SAD, a little of the Xmas blues, and the tumultuousness of a full-blown crisis and it’d be a wonder if I wasn’t going a little mental. But knowing its cause doesn’t make it easier to maneuver through.


The cyclones are being held at bay tonight courtesy of that marvelous discovery, Naproxen. As an anti-inflammatory, it’s pretty good. As a temporary hormonal-mood-swing stabiliser, it can be awesome. I can sense them waiting but can’t actually feel them. 

Tonight’s auto-repeat of choice is Take That’s Patience. Had never heard of them before (what, was I living under a rock ten years ago?) but it’s a good comeback tune for them. It’s funny to see them referred to as a “boy band” — they all look pretty hard-lived. OK, “old”. And then I realize that they are all years younger than me. Hrm. 

But officer, the wall jumped out and hit me

The despair cyclones and anger waves swirling through me tonight are trying to dissipate but keep smacking against the physical barrier that is my body and turning inwards again. It look so long to build this fucking thing, and I want it gone, now! But I can’t just sweep it away like a good spring cleaning. It took decades to build, layers and layers of fear, anxiety, and pain cemented with self-loathing and given physical form. I don’t know if I have the strength to spend the months, the years it will take to tear it down and expose the person beneath to the light of day. My heart is breaking already and I’ve barely even started.