Fraud

I’m two weeks into the fall semester of my junior year and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.  I’m at the same school, in the same program, surrounded by the same classmates but everything seems so different.  I’m rested.  I’m not overwhelmed.  The storm inside my head has been relatively calm.  I’ve even loosened up enough to allow myself to go out twice since I’ve been back.  This eased state of mind terrifies me.

I’ve been very anxious since I began my college education.  I would stay up late night after night, studying until I could hardly keep my eyes from shutting.  Then, I would pour myself a cup of coffee and press on.  I spent the past two years like this.  Pounds evaporated from my body until skin and bone were all I had left, and I didn’t bother putting on makeup or wearing presentable clothes.  Rather, I dressed more strategically, layering on all sorts of tights and sweatshirts and coats to keep myself from freezing to the bone in the frigid winter.  I looked more like a scared little girl than I did a young woman.  I felt more like a scared little girl than I did a young woman.

While the state of mind I spent the first half of my college education enduring held me captive in a perpetual state of emotional turmoil, the idea of continuing my education without such a mindset is unsettling.  While I was incredibly unhappy, my grades were nearly impeccable.  Driven by anxiety and self doubt, I would study day and night, doing whatever it would take to achieve stellar marks.  At one point during my freshman year, my lab instructor even referred to me as “the girl who gets hundreds on everything”.  Comments like this make me squirm.  Receiving a good grade always makes me feel a little sad.  All I can think about is the extremes I push myself to, the despairs I collapse into, all for a mark on an assignment or exam.  Honestly, I don’t believe I’m actually smart.  I’m nothing but an anxious perfectionist- a fraud.

Everyone in this program is brilliant.  All my classmates seem so knowledgeable, confident and ambitious.  They have their shit together, and they still find time to have friendships and happiness.  I’m not so brilliant.  I’m the polar opposite of confident.  I don’t have friends and I haven’t felt much happiness since I began my college education.  My classmates are truly and genuinely intelligent.  I, on the other hand, simply get anxious.  The past two years have been grueling as I’ve slaved to the irrational worries spinning in my head; however I’m afraid that if I finally quiet my mind, my cover will slip and it will finally be revealed what a phony I really am.

I’m not quite sure what I’m more afraid of at the moment.  I worry that this is only the calm before the storm, that my anxiety will return in full strength and drown me in its illusions of doom.  At the same time, I’m afraid of not being afraid.  What if I can’t do this without being fueled by anxiety?  While I want to be happy and have friends and enjoy college, I also want to be smart.  I want to pass my NCLEX and be a good nurse and maybe even get into a good grad school.  I just can’t find a sense of balance, or a sense of acceptance for myself.

It should play out to be an interesting semester and an interesting year.  Hell, it should play out to be an interesting rest-of-my-bachelors-degree.  I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever be successful, if I’ll ever be happy and if I’ll ever make it.  I guess all I can do is be kind and gentle to myself and to the world around me.  Maybe then, I’ll find acceptance in the world and acceptance in myself.

Thank you all for reading.

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Slip

I knew today was not my day from the moment I woke up this morning. I felt drained, even after a full night of sleep, so I shut my blinds and spent the next hour drifting in and out of sleep before I finally got up.

In the mornings, I usually just have a bit of fruit before I go running. I’ve been eating especially healthy lately, but this morning I decided to have figs and prunes with peanut butter because my body felt drained and in need of something high-energy, and I could honestly care less about fat, calories or feeling sick on my run.

It took me forever to get out and go running. I laid around, watching Netflix for an hour or so before I finally got my ass out the door- something I NEVER do.

After I got back from my run, I laid in the grass for an eternity before I finally went inside to shower. I skipped my post-run snack. I barked at my mom at the grocery store. I ate lunch two hours later than usual and skipped my afternoon snack. I made dinner, but bagged it up and put it in the fridge because I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t go for my bike ride. I didn’t lift. I cancelled  a date, despite the fact I haven’t done anything with anyone yet this summer. I barked at my mom again. I sat in my room and cried to my old favorite songs. Today was most definately not my day.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten like this, and it sure as hell isn’t the last. This isn’t the worst I’ve ever gotten, but with another stressful semester rapidly approaching, all I can do is worry.

I’ve been quite a fly-on-the-wall lately. I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but some conversations just seem to prick my ears and I can’t turn away my attention. I hear people at the gym, my sisters’ friends and all sorts of people talking about people they know with depression- talking not about how hard the depressed person has it, but how burdensome they are to the people around them. It makes me sick.

I know I am not easy to be around when I’m slipping. I know I get selfish, I shut people out, and I drag others down with me. I know I am a burden and I am ashamed of it. I hear these people talking and all I can do is think of myself and all the relationships I’ve torn down, all the things I’ve thrown away because I couldn’t break out of this gloomy state of mind.

I want to be a good person. I want to be a good sister and daughter and friend- and maybe even a good girlfriend and wife and mother if I get lucky enough one day. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to just to feel like a person, period. Feeling like an empty shell has become a familiar sensation to me.

I know I need help. I want help. I’ve tried getting help. I found a fabulous therapist up at school, unfortunately she was out of my insurance network and I was only able to see her twice before I came home for the summer. My mom set me up with a therapist back home, but I only saw her once. She was much older than I was, not to mention a bit too quirky, and I felt too uncomfortable to go back. We never got around to finding another therapist.

Sooner or later, I’m going to have tell my mom I still need help. It’s a lot harder than it sounds; I don’t want her to know that I’ve still been hurting so much. My mom’s already brought up the possibility of me leaving my university, staying at home, and just attending community college. She doesn’t think I can do this and all I’ve ever wanted was to make her proud of me.

Even though I want help, it’s not going to be easy to get. I have a hard time opening up to people. I’m scared if I disclose just how broken and twisted my mind is, they’ll take things away from me. I’m scared they won’t let me be a nurse- or even worse: they won’t let me stay at college at all. And when I finally do open up to people, I cry. I turn red like a tomato, I sweat, my speech becomes completely incoherent, my nose runs like a fire truck and I basically turn into a horrible blubbering mess.

I feel like a failure. I look at all the people around me, how much they’ve blossomed, all the people they love, the people that love them, the things they’ve done and the things they’re good at. I don’t have many people I’m close to. I don’t have many people that want to be around me- and quite honestly I don’t blame them. I’m not particularly good at anything or good for anything. I never clean up. I never dress up. I never go out. I pass through each day on autopilot. Passing through days, rather than spending them…that’s how my days have felt for as long as I can remember.

I’ll be twenty years old in six days. I’m not a big fan of my birthday, it just makes me feel depressed and anxious. I’ve spent the past two decades doing a whole lot of nothing and even more feeling sad. I feel like I’m wasting my life away.

I’m tired of living my life like this. I believe that life is so meaningful and precious and evenly last damn second should be cherished. I want to laugh. I want to smile. I want to love and be loved. It’s all just a bit easier said than done for me.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read what I’ve been keeping bottled up. And to anyone else who’s been hurting…you are special. You are wonderful and special and meaningful and I beg you to get all the love, support and help you need to live your life fully and to feel the purest happiness you can possibly imagine. Thank you all again for reading.

My Life in an Introverted Mind

From the eyes of the world, introverts seem to live pretty quiet lives.  We tend to be soft-spoken and require a great deal of time alone.  For me, life as an introvert hasn’t been as quiet or as boring as it may appear from the outside, because all the noise happens on the inside.  Yes, I am soft-spoken, and yes, I spend a great deal of time alone.  However, my mind is never silent.  It’s like a highway, thoughts rushing in and out from the first chime of my alarm in the morning to when I drift off to sleep at night.  My mind then paints vivid dreams behind my closed eyelids, leaving behind faint traces of thought for my imagination to develop further when I awaken.

I have always had an intensely vivid imagination.  When I was young, I gorged my brain with ideas from computer games, movies, music and books.  I borrowed my favorite ideas and blended them with bits and pieces of my own thoughts and realities to create my own personal scenarios.  Finally, I would grab my scooter, hop on my bike, blast music and dance in my bedroom, or even just run around in circles outside.  Once I engaged in an outlet, I would set my imagination free and plunge deep into a world of make-believe.  I must have lived a million and one adventures by the time I was ten years old.

Growing up in a world of fantasies did have its hardships.  When I was especially young, I didn’t feel the need to make friends.  I could have plenty of fun by myself!  I never felt the need to break out of my comfort zone.  I never really developed social skills.  I grew painfully shy.  I was so afraid to participate in class that even raising my hand to ask to use the restroom gave me extreme anxiety.  I became a target for bullies both at school and in the neighborhood.  I didn’t know how to stand up for myself, and none of my few friends ever showed much interest in standing up for me.  In fact, they usually just joined in on the teasing.  I had my world of make-believe well mastered, but reality has always seemed to kick my ass.

I still have my imagination.  It has matured a great deal, but it is still vivid and very much alive.  Somewhere along the way, pursuing my imagination through the use of outlets caused me to blossom into an avid runner.  There is nothing I love more than my ritual of waking up early in the morning to lose myself in a nice, long run before I take on my day.  These past few months have been pretty rocky with injuries, but I’m trying to stay positive as I work through this rough patch in hopes that one day I will be able to achieve my dream of running my first marathon.

I have also learned how to use my mind a bit more constructively.  I have always had a powerful mind, however I have not always had a smart mind.  Up until my junior year in high school, I was a pretty mediocre student.  I got mostly B’s with an A or C here and there.  I knew my brain was extraordinary, but I couldn’t apply myself even if my life depended on it.  I struggled to remember my homework; I gave up trying to pay attention in class entirely.  My junior year of high school, something just seemed to click.  I realized if I could channel my mind’s energy to learn, I could be smart as hell.  It was like the perfectionist inside me came to life.  Now I am halfway through nursing school with a 3.8 GPA, having made Dean’s List every semester so far.  My passion for thoughts and ideas has matured to allow me to grow passionate about knowledge.  I take pride in learning and I consider my education to be one of the most valuable things in my life.

I wish I could continue to rave about how greatly introversion has changed my life for the better.  The truth is, being an introvert still brings many challenges upon me.  Despite having an outstanding GPA, I found myself struggling often during clinicals last semester because my inadequate social skills prevented me from delivering care to level in which I know I am capable.  At the end of the semester, my clinical instructor asked me the very question I’ve spent the past two years asking myself:  “Are you sure you can do this?”.  Without a doubt, I am smart enough.  I care too.  More than anything, I want to help people.  I care about people and I want to do good for them, but after a childhood starved of friendship and interaction, I’m worried my social skills may never catch up.

So there you have me in a nutshell:  a runner nursing injuries in hopes of becoming a marathoner and a scholar abandoning her comfort zone in hopes of becoming a nurse.  As of right now, I plan on remaining anonymous because it helps me feel more comfortable in divulging the inter-workings of my mind and my experiences as I brave the territory beyond my comfort zone.  To anyone who considers him or herself to be an introvert and to anyone who’s ever felt quiet or shy or awkward, please remember this:  you are extraordinary and you are not alone.