I’m writing right now because I can’t do anything else. I’ve written 5,000 words today, and am less than 20K away from completing the NaNoWriMo challenge. Is that exciting? Of course it is. As of yesterday, my family is one step closer to being able to move into our new home. Does that make me absolutely ecstatic? You bet. That’s not to mention that I got in town Thursday night and have been on my Thanksgiving break ever since. In total, I will get to spend around eleven days here with them–and most of that will be spent unpacking boxes and sorting through stuff and organizing the newest space I will be able to call my own. But right now, I’m crashing, and hard.
I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to lock myself in a closet and rock myself to sleep. I want to bleed and I want to overdose and I want to do anything but sit through another round of excruciating torture. I am tired of being scared and paranoid and on edge. I’m scared of feeling so fragmented. If I am a book, my pages are being torn out and put through a shredder, one by one. That’s what it feels like right now–that sort of agony, that sort of burning pain, that sort of fiery hell. Some of it has to do with them, because when I can’t focus well they are quick to creep in and feed off my defenseless mind. Most of it has to do something entirely different–something I feel like I have no way of explaining. But I’m going to try, because it’s the only non self-destructive thing I can bring myself to do right now.
I have a certain sensitivity when it comes to sensory things. I’ve only recently begun to notice this, and by recent I mean a gradual realization over the past four or five years. The first thing I noticed was that I have issues with lights. I hate overhead lighting, with its harsh, unforgiving color. I also have problems with flashing lights, and on several occasions they’ve caused me serious anxiety and even panic attacks. I tend to be hyper vigilant, all too aware of movement, shadows, and differences in color and brightness.
It took a while, but the second thing I noticed was physical contact. Of course, there’s a long list that goes into that, and I’ve gone in depth about most of it before. The simplest way to describe most of the things on the list is simply one word: trauma. Personal space is also an issue, because I not only must I keep my distance from others, but I also have to make sure I can defend the area around me. (This is why I absolutely hate sitting on couches or in between other people; I feel too exposed, which leads to me not being able to focus and therefore triggers a paranoid reaction.) Around the same time, I noticed that I have problems watching television. Part of it has to do with flickering lights, but the inability to focus on a screen also has something to do with it. Commercials interrupt the flow of whatever story the show or movie is trying to tell, and I have to work harder and harder to refocus every time. (This is why I can sometimes watch movies or Netflix better than anything broadcast in real-time,) However, removing commercials isn’t fool-proof. I have a very hard time sitting still and doing nothing.
I can sit still and read, I can sit still write, I can sit still and listen to music, but I can’t sit still to watch images going by on a screen. I turn into an anxious, paranoid, irritable, sobbing wreck unless I have something else to do. A lot of times, that “something” has to involve my hands. Sometimes I doodle and draw, sometimes I obsessively pet a stuffed animal (because soft things make me feel safer), and sometimes I write. Trying to write can sometimes make things worse, because as hard as I try to focus on whatever characters or lines I’m working on, the background light and noise from the television keep intruding. The only thing that seems to significantly improve the ordeal is something called kinetic sand. It’s sold in plenty of stores, and (of course) is available to buy online as well, and is a mess-free way for kids to be creative. The sand sticks to itself and generally stays moist. A good friend of mine showed it to me once while we were hanging out, and I sat through watching two movies with little to no anxiety.
Sometimes these things are more of a problem than others. I most often notice it when I’m at home. I do more driving, a lot of which happens to be at night. (As you can imagine, driving at night gets real complicated real fast with being so sensitive to lighting.) My parents preferred form of relaxing is also watching television. Most of the time, my dad falls asleep while my mom is busy playing a game on her phone or tablet, and wakes up whenever anyone turns it off. They complain about me spending so much time in my room (and have for years), but what they don’t realize is that I can’t handle that environment when the television is on. In a lot of cases, my parents end up in a conversation or debate about something, or they try to help the other figure something out–which is perfectly fine, except that it ends up with no one paying attention to the TV. By that time, I’m usually so delicately balancing myself that I can’t get up and turn it off and I can’t say anything about how much it aggravates the snowball-effects of my distress.
That’s how I end up to where I am now, typing away what I’m experiencing because it’s, quite literally, the only thing I can do. I still want to cry. I don’t want to scream anymore, but I’m pretty sure that will return soon enough. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is. My parents don’t understand it, and I have no way of explaining it to them. Even when I try, just thinking about the situation usually puts such pressure on me that I start to crack. Thinking about the stressors is a stressor in itself, so I break down and clam up, shrugging it off and acting like it’s something I can just get over. But it’s not.
This type of stress triggers depression, anxiety, and paranoia. It makes me terrified to go to sleep at night, and I usually am only able to rest after several hours of recovering outside that sort of stressful environment. Sometimes I can’t pull myself together, and I end up off balance until I can reset again–usually after a long time spent by myself. These stressors also send me spiraling into some of my more less easily manageable states. Sure, I go quiet on the outside, but that’s because I end up battling a cacophony of voices in my head, and usually start feeling different “presences” somewhere along the way, too. Sometimes, these things get so bad that I literally have no option than to find a blade and cut to relieve the tension and, more importantly, give me something to focus on that’s safer than everything going on in my head.
The depression is actually the easiest to deal with, because I know how to be sad. I know how to be lonely, and am familiar with my more melancholy moods. I can exist in those states without too much immediate damage, but staying there isn’t safe. Getting out of those moods takes just as much effort and maybe even more time than my more anxious and paranoid states, even those episodes are often much more severe. I don’t know what any of these things are called. I also don’t know if anyone cares whether or not I learn how to navigate it. I don’t know how much I care if I anyone ever helps me or not. Part of me wants to scream and cry and shout and somehow make you see, SEE WHAT THIS IS DOING TO ME???!!!?? But the better part of me, the broken part of me, stays silent. I’m as silent as I am when fighting off them, yet even that becomes their advantage because it isolates me even further from any hope of healing.