Chronicles of the Lonely: Chapter Two–1997 pt. 2

For a while after that first panic attack, things were quiet. I had trouble falling asleep, but I didn’t break out into overwhelming terror. I just lay in bed for hours, staring at my ceiling, until my mind finally let me find its off switch. I pretended to be alright during the day and bristled whenever they wanted to send me off to bed, but nothing substantial happened.

This brings us to the second pivotal event of 1997: my brother’s carrot accident.

My brother was just two years older than me. He had always been far smarter, but his poor decisions–though farther and fewer in between–have always been worse than mine. He decided he was hungry and went to the fridge and pulled out a bag of carrots. To be clear–these were not baby carrots. They were long horse-feed carrots, which were simply inedible to him. He needed his carrots chopped onto smaller pieces, or he would not eat them. So he went in a drawer and grabbed the biggest knife my mother kept in there.

Now, this may not have had disastrous results if he had just cut it like a normal person–carrot on its side and chopped into little circles. Instead, he held the carrot straight up and attempted to slice it in half. I stood behind him silently, just watching. My mom was in the bathroom.

And so, down went the knife, through the carrot, and into his finger. He had pushed it extremely hard, and blood was pouring out of the cut. It fell all over his clothes and the floor. He screamed and dropped the knife, but I didn’t do anything. I just watched him cry. I didn’t say one word.

My mom came bolting into the kitchen, and he was eventually fine, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it that night. I couldn’t let it go. I blamed myself entirely for not helping him or stopping him. I should have done something, somehow. I fell asleep, but I woke up in the middle of the night yet again. It was the weekend, and my dad was there with us, but I didn’t go wake them. They wouldn’t do anything. I didn’t help my brother, so why should they help me?

This attack was longer than the first. The tears ran out, but I was still struggling to breathe or calm down. The sun came up, and I still hadn’t managed to shake it.

I heard noise coming from outside the plastic sliding door. My parents were awake. I immediately closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep just seconds before my dad opened the door. I laid there perfectly still, and after a few minutes I opened my eyes to see if he was gone, but he wasn’t. He was standing in the doorway quietly, and when he saw me open my eyes, he laughed.

He said he knew I was faking sleep. He told me to get up for breakfast, and then walked away.

This was the day I learned how to pretend I was okay. At six years old. Of course, it was impossible to do this successfully every time, but that first time worked out just fine, and I saved my tears for the next time they were all poking around in their own dreams.

I didn’t have another panic attack that year, but my problems with falling asleep would continue on almost every night without fail, forever.

This was the most significant year of my entire life. It was the year I became who I am today. It was the year I developed a mental illness that I didn’t understand. It was the year the word “bedtime” had begun to make me more anxious than anything else. It was the year depression lured me into a trap, swallowed me whole, and never let me go.

Circa 1997–It had me at goodnight.

The Perfect Perception of Pride

Pride is an interesting social construct. It is an idea based on perception, not fact. Entire personalities can be fundamentally hated because of misconstrued words and idiosyncrasies. We write people off as proud or egotistical only by interpreting what we see.

A little known truth is that, people’s actions do not always point to their true selves. Humans often display a smoke screen that creates an illusion that we are what we are not. Sometimes, it is easier to put on a facade of complete detachment and apathy simply because allowing reality to shine through can only expose our vulnerability.

“This is me.”
“You don’t like it, I don’t care.”
“I am who I am.”
“I will change for no one.”
“Get over it.”

These statements are thought to be nothing more than a verbal manifestation of a person’s high sense of their own grandiosity. However, they are not expressions of extreme hubris. More often than not, they are the words we hide behind to distract people from our floor-level self-esteem. When people are kept safely at arm’s length, the pain that intensifies when we’re alone in the dark is invisible.

Pride isn’t palpable. It isn’t easily discerned. It is often a cover for depression, anxiety, and low self-worth.

It is better to be awful than weak. It is better to be pompous than broken.

Be careful what you say, because your words are worse than sticks and stones. Broken bones heal. Broken hearts don’t. A simple sentence said can run races in someone’s mind until they fall apart completely.

And there’s no coming back from that.

Points of pride be damned.

To Whom It May Concern

To Whom it May Concern:

I have written many a post about depression and anxiety; I have explained it, described it, and defended it extensively in cyber space and real life. It seems, however, that despite all of this people still are unable to recognize it when they see it. This isn’t about me. This is about all of those around me that are subjected to labels by people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

The girl who stays up all night and sleeps all day isn’t just lazy. The guy who’s always on a screen of some kind, be it a computer, video games, or any other gadget that prevents social interaction, isn’t just addicted to technology. The people who keep to themselves for the most part do not think they’re better than others. Often, it is the exact opposite, and nothing is more terrifying than seeking help.

The girl who’s up all night is anxious. She can’t sleep, because all of the things that she thinks are wrong with her are running around in circles in her head. She is analyzing everything that she has ever done and is torturing herself over all of it, because she is simply incapable of moving on. Her mole hills are mountains she can’t climb, and when the sun comes up and she can see more than darkness, her mind finally lets her sleep.

The boy who is always staring at a screen is terrified of socializing. Crowds make him nervous, people make him anxious, and the real world is far more intimidating than the virtual reality he has created.

The girl who keeps to herself has low self-esteem. She compares herself to others and seems to always fall short. She looks down on herself and wonders why she couldn’t be as talented, smart, or beautiful as the people around her. It is easier for her to be alone, than to find herself in a position where her thoughts turn into self-deprecating beliefs that stick with her for life.

Just getting closer to God isn’t going to fix it. Being told that nothing is wrong with their lives, isn’t going to fix it. Telling someone that things are going to be okay isn’t going to fix it. Inserting our opinions and getting angry when the other person doesn’t get better isn’t going to fix it.

Telling people that it’s all in their head isn’t going fix it, because it is all in their head.

That’s kind of the point.

Sincerely,
The Guy Who Can’t Stand Your Type

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Looked into the DSM to check the exact criteria for anxiety, today. The handy dandy ol’ manual has shown me that I have almost every symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder except muscle tension.

Lol. Shocker.

…but I still won’t take pills. No thank you. I’m good. I’ll cope with a shit ton of Netflix.

But no chill.

Of Sleepless Nights and Anxious Messes

It’s four in the morning. I have been in bed for four hours, now. I can’t sleep. My anxiety is approaching an all-time high, and it feels like there’s a hole inside me that’s sucking up all the air I am trying to breathe before it gets to my lungs.

I’m exhausted, but not sleepy. I want to rest and forget everything, but my brain is buzzing. The only things contaminating my mind are the memories that remind me of all the reasons my life is so hard. And unfair. And just painful.

And I realize how juvenile it sounds. It’s as if I am a fifteen-year-old drama queen. I have so much to be thankful for–I know that. I know that I have so much to be thankful for, but that doesn’t make all the terrible things more bearable, and if you don’t believe me, I will list them for you. I will let you form your own opinion, as you read on.

I have Type 1 diabetes. I am epileptic. I wear flats in the dead winter, because shoes induce seizures. My memory is slowly wasting away because of my medications. I am fat. I am not pretty. I am not particularly smart. I am aromantic and asexual in a world that does not accept asexuality as a reality. I’m being dragged in the direction of marriage, and I am too deep inside the closet to protest it at all. I am alone in this, because not one person in my life has any of these problems. Not one. It’s just me, myself, and anxiety, and I’m struggling more than I can possibly explain.

I can’t breathe. I’m losing my mind. Even the things I’ve been told my entire life that I am good at have just led me to fall flat on my face. I’m a student at NYU. I’ve got that going for me. Hurrah for plan C, since A and B failed so tremendously. I don’t really want to be a therapist. I just failed at being a journalist, tanked my chances at becoming a writer, and needed something to do with my life.

And the worst part of all of this is, I am alone in a way that I can’t possibly explain. I am an anxious, depressed mess who covers it poorly with humor and sarcasm.

And for once, I’m not just being melodramatic. I’m quite literally seizing my days away.

And to fix this, I wrote a book loosely based on these experiences in a fictional story-line. Of course, my self-esteem is far too low for me to try to publish it.

I didn’t want to keep whining on here, but I can’t seem to stop.

Hend Salah–fucking up everything since 1991.

An Ode to Anxiety

Below is the shittiest compilation of words ever to be typed into the fickle debauchery contained in the interweb’s cyberspace, but writing this horrendous mess placated me through a full-blown anxiety attack.

And for this vomit of words, I am extremely grateful.

I know that I’m
Going to school
Today
I know that I’m
Losing my mind
Today
But I won’t
Take my
Laptop, with me
Because I’m not
In control
of me
I know of my
Anxiety
I know that I’m
Insane, slightly
I know that we
Have to believe
That things won’t go
Oh so, badly
I’m losing my
Mind in
This song
I know that my
Control
Is gone
But this is where
Our souls
Are drawn
And this is what
We lost
Them on
If I stop this
And close
My eyes
I can’t give you
A reason
Why
This song is so
Embarrassing
But I feel like
Panic is fading
I know that I
Have lost
My mind
But I’ll leave those
Dead Fears
Behind
This is the end
Please don’t
Make fun
I know that you
Will laugh
A Ton
I know of my
Anxiety
I know that I’m
Insane
Greatly.

Everyone has something that keeps them from falling apart. Mine are nonsensical words that I later refuse to acknowledge came from my pretentious hand.

My lord, this is my 100th post. Not a milestone I am particularly proud of, at the moment.

At least I can breathe, again.

Anxiety Attack in a Hospital

I literally just burst into tears and had a severe anxiety attack in the middle of a hospital with my grandmother asleep in the bed.

My grandmother doesn’t speak English. That means there has to be someone in the hospital room with her as often as possible, because no one there can translate to Arabic.

And that responsibility has fallen to me. So, I wake up at 5:30 every morning, drive two hours to get to work, work for eight hours, drive two hours back, and then sleep on the hospital room couch–waking up every twenty minutes to get her a nurse–then rinse and repeat the next day. I have a shit ton of backed up papers and projects that I haven’t touched, work for this volunteer thing I already got roped into and material for a standardized exam I need to study for.

It built up astronomically today, and I just had a complete nervous breakdown.

And as if that isn’t enough, my blood sugar is over 200 every single morning, despite the fact that I eat basically nothing, now.

Why has this all fallen to me? Because my mother and one of my uncles are overseas, and my grandmother’s other children just don’t seem to think it’s fucking important to be here. They haven’t even fucking visited. Their excuses are just lovely.

One of them is a teacher, and said that she had an open house, so she couldn’t come during the long weekend (Labor Day). She had to work.

Another one of them does not work or go to school, but is too busy studying for a licensing exam to come allllll the way here. Yes, because it is so impossible to study in Jersey, right? No, home is the only place that she can read off a fucking index card.

Their mother has been in a hospital for eleven fucking days. Eleven. Fucking. Days.

How about a round of applause for the worst children ever?

They all know that I go to school and work 2 hours away from the hospital she is in. I spend ten hours of my day out, and then come back to a woman who needs my help too much for me to get some real sleep. I have epilepsy and diabetes. I fucking need sleep or I really will collapse. It doesn’t matter, because I have zero choice in the matter. She is alone for long periods of time as it is. I can’t just leave her like that.

I am constantly too tired to do anything at all, and everything is piling up into a huge mound of dirt that I am going to be buried six feet under very soon.

This is a really hard time for us, and I will keep doing my part and making up for their absence.

But I will never forgive them.

Hopefully, I won’t break down like that, again. My grades cannot afford for me to slip.

Just say a little prayer for her. Things aren’t looking up.