zetasyanthis: (Default)
CONTENT WARNING: Disturbing imagery lies within. May trigger anxiety / PTSD.
I'm not quite sure why I'm writing these down, but I think it has something to do with a) keeping tabs on my mental health, and b) hopefully finding some story inspiration in them. May as well get *something* out of them. >.< If you want the last update, you can find it here.
Note that these are not particularly coherent, but the shards of memory I had upon awakening. Only items in [] have been added as sort of editor's notes after the fact.
For some reason, I was at home [parents' place] (staying in my room) and everything was tense, but alright. I think at some point (don't remember it - reconstructed) I decided that I as done and basically stopped talking. TERRIFIED of mom, getting worse and worse, tension ramping exponentially. Somehow I was more comfortable with my dad, and invited him into room, gently told him. This was the last time, and he cried, but understood (or thought he did?). Couldn't leave, ever. >.< I will not ever return, not even for their funerals.
Terrified in a hotel room or dorm, racing between the levels. Trying to find the car and the right floor to exit on. Keep guessing wrong. Wrong elevator, wrong floor, strange signs on the floors. Shopping mall on one??? Parking below ground but above some rooms? Can't find it, just want to be safe! >.< Crying, desperate, sacred. Sobbing, dying, black. Crying, crying, crying, bleeding choking trying to hold neck together throat cut no voice. Crying, choking on blood.
Chased around workplace by someone with a gun. Someone who wanted to murder me specifically. Very, very angry. Enraged. I think coworkers may have tried to help, but it still feels like they abandoned me. >.< Ended up racing up and down elevators trying to hide, then stairs (pairs non-intersecting?) next to elevators first, then another set at one end of the building? Other end had one too? [May be memories of College of Dupage?]
Eventually ended up racing down the hall on the third floor and recognized it. It was the second floor of the main building at my highschool. Ducked into (or tried to) one of the offices and ended up shot in the back, blew out a lung. Throat cut by a knife.
I died on the operating table. But somehow, some small piece of me refused to die. Extensive cybernetic surgery followed, replacing my brain, spine, and some other parts, and I eventually woke up, but I was dead. Some sort of precious, one-of-a-kind arithmetic engine was slotted into my brain, and I was finally able to cry. >.<
Before I passed out again, I held my kitty close and made them promise that when I finally died, they would give it [the engine] to my daughter, whose life it might finally save.
More crying, feeling of being ripped / whole, and woke up.


May. 7th, 2017 05:26 pm
zetasyanthis: (Default)
CW: Violence, Anxiety, Depression
Time for another weird one. (Feel free to blame The History of Rome podcast, which I've been re-listening to over the last week. Or, if you want to go meta, feel free to blame my anxiety, which has been spinning out of control the last couple weeks and demanding constant unhealthy input leading to re-listening to The History of Rome podcast?) Anyways, here's a weird one. It's going to be a mix of my typical status blogs, and a bit of unexpected empathy yet again. Think something in the vein of Orlando.
Anxiety has been beating the fuck out of me lately. >.< I've had a few good days, but quite a lot more bad ones, and even though I'm making major progress in my therapy as of late, I'm just about ready to collapse. >.< From shame about my sexuality and very identity to depression that won't let me feel anything at all in the last two days, it just keeps coming. It feels like I'm being physically hammered on, as though someone is trying to break me with iron when they couldn't break me with tears. >.<
(Author's note: Yes, I am getting better, but it just doesn't feel like it right now. >.<)
Therapy on Thursday this week was particularly bad, and I was actually unable to get unstuck when we went searching through my past. (My therapist performs EMDR, meaning we go back and reprocess things, then return to the present.) In many ways, I'm still stuck there today, and it doesn't feel very good. >.< [VIOLENCE WARNING] I'm still lying there bleeding on the cold concrete floor, crying in a pool of my own blood and vomit, stab wounds oozing from my back, unable to do anything else but die. I'm still freezing, unable to see past the pain and tears, everything so, so dark. >.<
And so when I found an unexpected feeling of empathy yesterday, it really really shocked me. Because I wasn't the only one hurt, pressed into a life I only ever hated, and that ripped my soul apart. I wasn't the only one who wished she could hide from all the world, her music the only thing that kept her going. And you know what? I'd have made a terrible emperor too.
I feel very much like a dragon who's had her wings ripped off, and is bleeding out despite her best attempts. And it *hurts*. >.<
(Author's note: It feels out of place putting this here, but I know I'll be asked if I don't say. No, as far as I can recall, I've never been physically abused, but apparently that doesn't stop my dreams from ripping me apart. >.<)


Mar. 25th, 2017 06:15 pm
zetasyanthis: (Default)
(CW: Anxiety, Depression)
Been having a real shit couple of weeks, mental health wise. I've started to feel my anxiety more viscerally than before, rather than it just being something that influenced my actions and caused me paralysis. I suppose that's progress of a sort, but it hurts *so much*. >.<
Some of this is burnout, because some things at work have come to a bit of a head as of late. Though I was asked, as opposed to my last job, I'm still on the hook for far too much at the moment, and it's breaking me down. There's a ton of reasons for that, but I need to somehow have a conversation with my boss about trimming down my role. Needless today, I'm scared as fuck to have that talk, and the fact that my boss is a friend makes it even harder. >.<
But there's a lot more to it than that. I haven't been feeling myself in weeks, and apparently haven't really been listening to music for a couple months. I knew I hadn't been listening a lot lately, but when Dakota told me it was months, I was honestly shocked. I can't even remember the last time I felt this disconnected from it. >.< Considering that music is probably the main reason I'm even alive to write this, that's not a good sign. >.<
It feels stupid that I feel like this right now, because I've made so much positive progress as of late. My name change is more or less done (just the passport left). I've written more than ever before, and read so much more, too. Even my finances are finally recovering (slowly, but thanks to a now-healthy cat and a fantastic car mechanic). I even bought a portable A/C unit so I don't roast this summer, something I desperately wished for last year. >.<
But when you can't even feel safe and warm at home, cuddled up with your kitty in your arms, something's really, really wrong. >.< When your gaze just slides off, without really registering the joy and happiness in your puppy's eyes, something's *horribly* wrong. >.< And when you feel like crawling back into bed and just shaking until you die...  >.<
I don't know what's wrong with me right now, but I'm going to have to start taking drastic measures. The last time I felt happy and safe was back when my phone broke and I was "stuck in the 90s", having cut myself off from my laptop that same week. Pretty sure I'm going to have to do that again. >.< Hopefully the lack of insane amounts of input will help. >.<
Anyways, suffice to say that I have been having a horrible time as of late. Guess it shows a little in the fact that I'm at Wicked Grounds as I write this, because goodness knows it's been a long time since I wrote a ripped-open journal here. >.<
Anyways, I just wish I could wake up one morning refreshed. That I could have one good day to put myself back together. I hope it doesn't wait too long. >.<


Mar. 5th, 2017 01:41 pm
zetasyanthis: (Default)
(Content warning: Depression, some politics, maybe anger? EDIT: Yeah, a *lot* of anger.)
I wish I could stay that the start of this year was going smoothly.
I kinda wish I could even say it was "Meh."
In reality, it's been absolutely fucking terrible. One of our kitties has been on death's door far too many times in the last few months; hidden memories are resurfacing, and it's taking everything I've got to just keep going. It's a heavy weight -- to keep moving forward, day after day.
Oh yeah, and the world's apparently gone mad.
I had such hope once, and things were genuinely getting better for people all across the world, and especially here. Yeah, some stuff absolutely fucking sucked, from violence against minorities all the way to the archaic and dysfunctional school system that we desperately need to rip apart and rebuild.
But we were making progress. People were safer. People were kinder. People worried less about what the future held. We were cleaning up our pollution, and breaking down walls, and even breaking down hearts.
And that's changed now.
All because of fear.
We have an administration that is utterly determined to destroy things, and the damage already hurts my heart. And it's brutal, because I know those affected by almost every one of these things. And because I know what it's like to be a child and to desperately need help and not receive it.
Here's the list so far:
* Revocation of Title IX transgender student protection guidance.
* Halting intake of all refugees while those programs are restructured.
* Muslim travel ban.
** Swatted down by federal court, luckily, but version 2.0 is due tomorrow.
* H-1B premium visa processing suspension.
** This immediately threatens the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of people.
* Massive immigration crackdowns, sometimes picking up parents after they drop their kids off at school.
* New this week, plans to intentionally separate undocumented children from their families at the border.
* Nationwide (state-level) assaults on abortion access and voting rights.
* Massive attacks against news agencies, calling them "The enemies of the American people"
And this is to say *nothing* of the abuses of power in state governments around the country.
How you can call yourself a human being and do these things? How can you even call yourself a human being if you don't fight these things? Forgetting even the effects these things are going to have on the adults, can you imagine what this is going to do to the children? This is going to break so many tiny minds, minds who have no capacity to understand why someone would wish them pain. It will ruin their lives to their have parents lose jobs and be deported, to have them disappear shortly after dropping you off at school, to have them ripped away and held in separate facilities, to be stuck in limbo while on travel and unable to return to safety. It will rip the hearts of teenagers from their chests when they are terrified and shaking, when they learn that they are pregnant or beaten for their eyes.
We are so terrified of their eyes, their eyes that only ask for hope and compassion. We are terrified of ourselves, and for ourselves, and for others that we care about. And we have to stop this, however we can, and with all the fury we can muster.
I swear by all the gods and men and stars now in the sky that on this day when hope was lost I would not let it die.


Feb. 26th, 2017 09:25 am
zetasyanthis: (Default)
CW: Mental damage, mentions of suicide.
It's been a while since I've written a journal, and it hasn't really been much fun. Some good things have happened, some bad ones, and I'm pretty sure I've been hurting myself by not working some of this out on paper. This is my attempt to deal with some of that.
You're probably wondering about the title of the journal, and I should probably try to make some sense of that.
I recently read a couple books that have kicked me a bit out of sorts. The Name of the Wind, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and The Wise Man's Fear devastated me in a way I never expected. There's... a lot of pain in those books, and there's a lot of pain in my heart, and I don't know how to deal with it either. There are a lot of days where I just want to curl up and die.
I want to cry, and shake, and cry and hide... to disappear completely. I want my mind to stop grinding against itself like shattered glass, screaming breaking noises, and screeching noises, and screaming and screaming and screaming until I finally die. I fight insanity *every* *single* *day*, the loss of self and heart and home that seems to be ever stronger. I hold death itself at bay with fear and force of will, and fear the loss of myself far, far more than that of my body. And yet, I know what the grip of insanity feels like, and it would kill me in an instant.
I just want to stop being ripped apart inside. I want to be able to function as a normal human being. I want safety, and sanity, and home and love and quiet. I want to be able to listen to music without it having to be a shield against my fear. I want to be able to feel my cat's love, and my girlfriend's, and that of all those who try to tell me they care. I want to stop being broken inside, and I want to cry. >.<


Dec. 26th, 2016 04:51 pm
zetasyanthis: (Default)
[Writer's note: I made myself write this one, because I need too, not because it's comfortable. Disturbing, violent imagery follows. You've been warned.]

The last couple of nights have been rough ones. Nightmares, one actually recurrent (the first time I've actually had one of those), have haunted me pretty badly and left me exhausted, even after what should be a solid night's rest. Thankfully, I'm writing this after two nights of relatively safe sleep, but if I tell you that I took my emergency Lorazepam for the first time, I think you'll understand.

The first night, I dreamt of fire... fire and water. I was a marine, or some manner of soldier on a river with (indistinct) others, and the area we were in was very hot. Gunships raced the skies above, and though I could see everything both from the ground and a bird's eye view simultaneously, I could feel the adrenaline racing through my heart. The dream lasted hours, finally disappearing into a fog after a last massive spike of terror. A massive airship, a bomber, I think, was shot down above us and came crashing down into the river. I tried to dodge it, and *mostly* made it, but so many died. The entire river erupted in flames and terror and crying. >.< I could smell the burnt flesh, and the screams ripped into my heart like a knife.

The second night was even worse, though I cannot remember it now. Recalling the first to write what I have has blanked it from my memory, but only for now, I suspect. >.< The one recalled above was my first recurrent nightmare, and I am absolutely certain the second will revisit me again too. >.<

As for the Lorazepam... I took it on the third night, and it worked, much as I was afraid it might. I had the most restful sleep I've had in what is probably months, and that's a dangerous thing to finally see. >.< The fact that I slept through any negative effects it would have had on me means my first impression was 100% positive, and that's not good. It's hard not to take it now.

That said, I'm not going to take it again, unless I absolutely need it, and I'm going to be speaking to my doctor about it at the next visit. I'm honestly really scared that it made that much of a difference. I actually felt like a safe, happy human being for most of the next day.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
Man, it's been a year.

Early for retrospectives, I know, but *sheer sigh of exhaustion* holy moly. This hasn't been an easy one. It's been 20 months since I moved from Arizona and started this whole crazy adventure, and I'm pretty lucky to have done it when I did. I say that because I honestly don't think I have the strength to  do it again. If time reversed and I found myself back in Arizona with all the memories and knowledge I now have, but having to go back through all the hard times I've been through since, I'm pretty sure I'd kill myself. A lot of days I wonder how I never did. >.<

As much as I'm improving, and as much progress as I've made, this is still hard... every single day. Crushing pressure the likes of which not even the oceans can summon has given way to the kindling of a soul, but one who has been horribly mauled in the intervening years. Shards of self, like pieces of a broken crystal, have been slowly reassembled, but their glow still hurts to look at, the pain obvious in the broken light they cast.

I'm still here, and I'm still trying; but the body-blows have been devastating. I feel like one often does after a hard day of physical work: beaten, sore, and exhausted. Always, always tired. I know what this is, and I know I have to fight it, because I am improving, but there are days I'm still not sure if it's going to win. There are times (like now), where I would give anything to just stop hurting, to stop being afraid. All I want to do is shake myself apart, to scream and cry... but those tears still aren't coming. Some have, but there are many more to come. >.<

I didn't really mean for this journal to go in this direction, but I guess it had to be said. I'm still hurting, and I'm still hurting a lot. Maybe it's just that I can see it finally, but I'm a fucking mess at the moment and could really use some help. >.< I just want the pain to stop. >.<

(And yes, I am seeking medical help... just still feel like shit. >.<)


Aug. 20th, 2016 05:43 pm
zetasyanthis: (Default)
I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to go with this one yet, but I feel compelled to write, if only to try and make sense of what I'm going through at the moment.

As a caution, I'm going to try and connect as deeply as I can while writing this, so this is liable to get pretty dark and upsetting. If you're in a bad head space yourself, this might not be the post for you. >.<


Anxiety has been killing me the last few days. >.< It's been orders of magnitude higher than... well, I want to say "ever", but that's probably not 100% accurate. This is terrifyingly reminiscent of what I went through in my sixth grade year, the memories of which I'm still pushing away. (Some, because it's subconscious, and some, because I apparently can't face them quite yet. >.<)

With that said, I'm going to continue discussing this as though it is the worst, because those seem to be the words I need to use to connect with this and validate my feelings...

The last two weeks have been the worst two weeks of my entire life. I've made so much progress, connected so much better than ever before, but there is always more pain. Visceral fear and terror, the likes of which should make me cry and shake until I feel better, if only the tears would come. But they will not, and it is killing me. >.<

I know I'm getting closer. I know I'm getting better, and that this is the dark before the dawn... but this darkness is so vast that I do not know how to navigate it, the pain so deep that I absolutely cannot cope. >.< I'm doing what I can to remain functional, to go to work and come home again, to do all those things that life demands of us, no matter our condition, but I feel like I'm failing. There is a hole in my heart, and all beauty seems to drown in it. >.<

My tremors have been getting worse. They encompass most of my upper body now, especially my neck and head, and I'm sorry, but I've been hiding them. >.< I'm as scared of them as I am of the things that are causing them, and the pain that will not cease. How much longer I can go without them being noticed at work, I'm not sure, but I'm in a pretty bad way.

I am still broken. >.<

I am healing, but it hurts. So much. >.<

This pain has always been here. But I pushed it away, hurting myself even worse in the process as I kept myself apart from whatever I have been. I am trying, desperately trying, to just be myself, but it is terrifying, and I hurt so much. >.<

*Her* pain (a fragment of myself, aged about four) to *my* pain is a *massive* breakthrough, even if it's killing me. >.<

I might yet end up in the hospital here, and the thing that scares me most is that *I have to be okay with that* in order to get through this. I'm not yet there, but I made it half an inch yesterday. >.<

*curls into a ball with her kitty* >.<
zetasyanthis: (Default)
This was originally going to be a Twitter rant, but I thought better of it. I have too much data and too many thoughts for that format. And I know this is considered a... sensitive topic, so I'm not sure exactly how to approach it, but I'm giving it my best shot.


Today, I want to talk about cash. Cold, hard cash. I want to talk rent, and medical expenses, and everything else. Fundamentally, I need to point out just how broken the Bay Area really is. And it's pretty broken, even if it has a lot of other things going for it (LGBT safety, among other things).

You see, I'm an engineer. I make a decent chunk of change, more than most folks in the US and elsewhere. Hell, I was doing really well making nearly 25% less than what I make now in Arizona... but here, nothing seems to be enough. Let's take some numbers from an apartment complex down the street, as an exemplar. These numbers are from Archstone, and are far cheaper than most areas in the Bay, especially down near Mountain View or north near San Francisco. They're modern units with washer/dryer, etc... but not really that special otherwise.

Here's some bullets with a price breakdown of what Archstone has on offer as of today. Listed are the min and max prices for each type of apartment with a basic 12 month lease (no pet rent):
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment
    • $2338/mo: 768 sqft
    • $2726/mo: 1050 sqft (including loft)
  • 2 Bedroom Apartment
    • $2831/mo: 1039 sqft
    • $2967/mo: 1184 sqft
  • 3 Bedroom Apartment
    • $3746/mo: 1421 sqft
    • $4227/mo: 1771 sqft (Exact price unavailable at time of writing, but generated from trend line...)
This is completely fucking insane.

We took a look at Archstone when we were looking to move out here, as well as several other places (10 total, I think) during a whirlwind housing trip, and these are indeed comparable pricing to most other options in the area. We actually lucked out in some ways compared to this, as we were able to snag a ~900 sqft place nearby with no A/C and some seriously electrical problems for only $2200/mo! What a steal!?! I mean, the single pane windows and lack of any serious insulation kick the electricity bill up to a nigh on $300 spike during the winter and you absolutely melt during the summer, but what's not to love? You never wanted a place of your own, did you? Never mind that most folks wished they made $2200/mo, let alone could spend it on rent! The whole mindset is nuts!

So here's the thing. CA is great. The Bay Area is great. I've made progress I could not have made anywhere else, and it probably saved my life in the process. But there is one thing here that is ruining so many other things, a cause of anxiety that I cannot make go away. I'm utterly financially stagnant. My net income for the last 12 months is a grand total of $400. I don't have enough in the bank to pay a single month of rent, let alone living expenses, and I'm not sure how I get there. I have to chose constantly between medical care and living expenses, and basically wouldn't be able to afford the former were it not for the salary bump I got switching from my last job.


How about those medical expenses? How can that possibly cost? What does insurance cover?

Well, here's a quick breakdown since the start of last year (2015).
  • Current costs:
    • Sperm storage prior to transition: $2,078.30
    • Visits to psychiatrist: $350.00 (7x $50 copay)
    • Visits to (out of network) therapist: $7,111.00 (Insurance covered maybe $400 of that.)
    • Visits to Palo Alto Medical Center (general and allergy care, some blood-work): $447.50
    • Dental visit for three fillings (copay): $109.80
    • Prescription drug copays: ~$120.00 so far.
  • Expected costs:
    • ~$1100 for start-of-HRT blood-work, since insurance is saying they won't cover anything under the Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis codes. (I'm appealing, but they're BCBS of Florida, so I may be screwed.)
    • Transvision copays: $100 + future visits
    • Future blood-work. (Hopefully cheaper.)
    • Future therapy, psychiatric visits, and medication. (Bonus points: My new insurance will pay a max of $50 for a max of one hour of therapy. It costs me $180 for 90 minutes.)
    • More dental work.
Just in already known direct medical costs, that's $11416.60. Holy fuck.

(In theory, I could even toss my "prescription" to Wicked Grounds in (Yes, my therapist actually assigned me to go journal there, and it's actually been pretty fucking vital.) for another $1188.62 while I'm at it... That'd push the total to $12605.22.)

And yeah, before anyone asks, I've been using my flexible spending accounts. I started the year with $2000 in my flexible spending account, and it was gone pretty much instantly...


So yeah. I'm angry. I'm frustrated. This gives me horrible fucking anxiety, and I really wish it would stop. I don't know how to help it, though. >.< I fucking have to get out of this hole, though. >.<

More than anything, I wish I saw a way to do it while still living here. >.<

Bonus: And oh yeah, my car needs a paint job, which was quoted at $2400 for the two parts that are actively peeling and $6000-8000 for the whole car by the dealership. I'm seeking additional quotes. At this point the car's only worth about $4,000, so I may be in new car territory too... I need to make a call before it starts to rust, which is only a matter of time. >.<


May. 15th, 2016 12:23 am
zetasyanthis: (Default)
It's been a long few weeks since my last journal, and long past time for an update. Yeah, I'm up a bit later than I should be (an itchy leg from shaving early today woke me back up), and yeah, I could probably take some Melatonin and go back to sleep, but I find myself in a writing mood this evening, so that's what I'm going to do.

So... it's been a few weeks. That last journal on April 14th was a rough one, and it didn't really due credit to what that day meant in the end. And so I'm going to try and do it credit now.

April 14th, 2016 was the first time I ever presented as myself with coworkers. Not only that, it was the first time I did it twice. It was the first time I was finally able to describe anxiety in the way that fully communicated how I feel, and it was also the first day I was accepted by those coworkers, with absolutely zero hesitation. The journal that came out that night was actually in between lunch and dinner, the former with a previous co-worker, the latter with two current ones. And you know what? I'm lucky to have all three of them. I was scared as hell and collapsed in between (I almost canceled the dinner.), but crying into that journal made me able to go, and to be truly accepted for who I was for the first time among coworkers. It was also the same night the word *coworker* morphed into *friend*, so much so that one hugged me before running off to his flight, and the other offered to back me up any way I needed when I finally came out publicly.

There is literally no way for me to express how much that meant, but I can surely tell you *why*. *I* *was* *scared*. I was scared of losing my job, of never being able to get another one if I lost this one, of every horror story you see from folks who've had life shit on them over and over again, just for being themselves. I was terrified, even with people I felt safe around (and had previously told!), and just couldn't stop my heart from pounding. And I guess I know I can trust them now, even if everything else still scares the shit out of me. >.<

April 14th was also the first day I ever purchased a bra and panties on my own.


The week after that was amazing. I could have floated away I was so happy, and so planned numerous further steps, including talking to HR the following week, which I finally did on the 26th. I won't say I wasn't anxious. I sure as hell was... but I did it anyway, and the lady I talked to (the head of HR for the San Jose branch of my company) was very understanding. Her first reaction was actually to go "Huh, I don't know if our benefits cover a lot of that! Let me find out for you!" It was also kind of hilarious to watch the HR diversity training gears engage in her brain as the conversation went on. XD

The 28th was another really good day. The day before, a coworker of mine had heard me chatting about anxiety to someone else and stopped me to talk about it a little later in the day. Turns out he's got a decent whack of it too, and talking about it with me helped a little. We'd planned to go to lunch on the 28th, but he ended up spiraling into a panic attack. (His particular way of doing that is slamming through his work at an alarming pace.) I wasn't sure what to do and had to grab some lunch either way, but remembered a trick that sometimes helps Dakota and I. I popped by Safeway on the way back and grabbed a bag of Dove chocolates for him, which kind of stunned him, I guess. O.o; Part of his attack was worrying I'd be mad with him for canceling, and he was able to see that that wasn't true at all. One of these days I'll tell him my secret, now that he's told me his, and I know I'll have yet another ally there. <3


On a more personal note, there's been progress too, of the self-acceptance kind. From appointments leading to (hopefully) a prescription for HRT later this week to my first purchase of a trans flag, it's been a few weeks of solid progress. I even bought the bubblegum pink Shibari rope I've been eying for some time. ^^;;; I've never had anything like that before, and I'm really excited, though still scared of what it means. >.< That one requires a stupid amount of trust I can't handle most days. >.<

Oh, and I guess I was in Memphis this previous week, too. Kind of a last minute work thing... I'll probably write about that in another journal though, as that was a bit rough. I want to keep this one as happy as I can.

I love you all. Thank you for reading this. >.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
A warning, right up front. This one's going to hurt. [TW: anxiety, fear, mentions of suicide]


I had lunch with a friend of mine earlier today, and in so doing, finally figured out how to describe what being afraid is like. Fear is a constant. It doesn't end, doesn't take days off, and rips apart everything it touches. It forces your heart to pound, even when it shouldn't, and spikes your adrenaline over and over until all you can do is collapse.

To be afraid all the time is to lose track of time and space. It's to lose track of emotion, of safety, of everything that isn't within the whirling storm. It's to lose the branch you're holding on to, over and over again. It's to be swept away, screaming, powerless to stop your flight.

Hiding from it, pushing it away... doesn't really fix it. It makes you think you have, but it lies. It'll lie right up until you kill yourself, not even sure why you're holding the blade, and it won't care a lick.

To be afraid all the time is to face that, daily... the voice that cries inside. The one that shakes until she can't, wishing for the end. Sometimes that's all I can do... shake until I sleep, exhaustion taking me into sweat-drenched nightmares, wishing I could weep.

My therapist called me brave last week, brave for fighting this. I told her that I have no choice. I just wish I could sleep. >.<
zetasyanthis: (Default)
As much as I'd rather do anything but, I need to write this out, so here goes. >.<

I've been really depressed the last few days. Even beyond that, I've been really out of it the last few weeks. Some of that has been medication-related (insomnia, now dealt with), some of it's been family-related, and some has been all the horrible stuff in the news. A lot of it ties into my last journal, too. >.< Deep therapy has played its part too, unfortunately, as though it's really important, it still has smashed me in terms of mental energy. >.<

So... my sister called me a week or two ago. I still haven't talked to my parents, and she's a bit upset with me. Note that she's not upset because I'm not talking to them, but because I haven't at least let them know what my decision is about them being in my life. I think she's right about that, as much as I wish she wasn't... and as much as I know many of you may disagree. I don't know how to do it though, because I'm fairly sure that I'd do far more damage trying to explain what they'd done in the inevitable "Why?". I don't respect them, don't love them, and wish like hell I could program them right out of my brain. >.< They have caused immeasurable damage that I have no idea how to recover from, and I probably would have been better off with *wolves*. >.<

I want them gone, I want to be healed, and I want the family I wish I had. And though I am making progress on all three, today it doesn't feel like it. >.< It hasn't felt like it for weeks. >.<

One thing that I just want to cry endlessly about is that I don't even know how to have a relationship with my sisters, even. Both are close to my parents, and I have no idea what cutting them off would do. I don't think it'd be intentional, but I feel like if I cut off my parents that I will inevitably lose them too. And honestly, I don't even know how to maintain a relationship with them without being constantly reminded of my parents, which I may not be able to handle anyways. >.<

I just want a safe and deep connection with my family, and I can't. >.< I'm fucking terrified. >.<

My therapist and I have been working on this stuff for weeks, really fighting it every session, trying to work on resources and honest-to-goodness healing, but every unlocked memory hurts more than the last. The part of me that's hiding even from myself is really, horribly, shattered, and I wish like hell she wasn't. That poor girl never had a fucking chance and never even knew it. >.<

She's still hiding in the stairwell, a place I used to go where no one would think to find me. Whether the back stairs that no one thought to check, or the unfinished wooden boards of the basement, it doesn't matter. She's still sitting there in the dark. She can't go down, nightmares of flames too terrifying to hide even deeper, in the not-even-lockable room with the gas-powered furnace, but she can't go up, into the brightly-lit kitchen either. There is nowhere that is safe. >.< And so she hides forever, or at least as long as she can, cold and alone. She hid other places too... in the bathroom that used to lock until her brother broke the handles, in the closet behind the clothes... she even hid in the crawlspace, that closet within a closet that only she knew she had opened. She lost that one to ice one winter, when the water crept inside the house, but at least she had the downstairs bathroom. Not even hers, in the middle of everything, the door could be barred with drawer as well as latch, making her feel a little safer... as long as she pretended not to hear the yelling through the door. >.< She hid *so much* and from *so much* and no one even realized she was scared. >.<

That poor little girl never even had a chance. As far as I can tell, she died there, alone in the cold, and I don't know how to bring her back. She's shivering, shaking in the tremors I feel even now, pausing every few seconds to let out a shudder of nervous energy that simply *will not let me be*. >.< Any time I get even close to this, it rises like a fucking tidal wave. I'm still terrified that it will one day put me in the hospital, possibly for good. >.<

On top of all this shit, the cultural rejection from my parents, we have the recent news, which really needs no explanation. The "bathroom bill" that just passed in North Carolina makes me want to just fucking sob, because I can already see the lives it will end. I know how badly the *explicit message of erasure* has hit me, and I can only imagine how bad the depression will be for bullied school kids as they are told by even their government that they are not worthy to exist. Madness. How the fuck do we expect *any* kid to not be destroyed by the fear resulting from this, in much the same way I was? >.<

I'm still hiding in that stairwell... and I don't know how to leave. >.<
zetasyanthis: (Default)
This one might be a bit disjointed. I've been trying to write the past few weeks, but my energy levels just haven't been there. Maybe it's the medication (Zoloft). Maybe it's the phone call from my sister last week. I just don't know. Whatever it is, I've been nowhere near 100% for a while.

Since I need to write, but am not sure what to write about, I'm just going to start with a bit of a status update. The last few weeks have been rough. I started deep DNMS therapy shortly after my last post, and while it's really helpful, reaching back to comfort my earlier self is a hell of an energy drain. In fact, the first session, combined with an event that happened shortly thereafter (~3 hours or so) knocked me out of commission for a good week and a half. :/

I'm going to try and talk about the therapy a little bit here, but I need to acknowledge, at least in a little detail, the aforementioned event, because it's had a profound effect on my own mental state the last couple weeks. I've learned a lot about the true depth and power of depression and anxiety in the last year, but never more so in the depths of my own mind last October. On that night a few Thursdays ago, I learned a different lesson along the same lines as I spent more than two hours trying to talk a friend down from committing suicide. I learned what it meant to fail. I learned what it meant to fail another, to fail myself, and what will happen if we fail each other.

While she survived the night, I had no way to know she would when she finally disappeared on me. As I laid there, texts going unanswered, I finally collapsed, energy levels flat-lining after far too much energy expenditure in one short span of hours. I awakened to find her alive, and I am eternally grateful for that, but I am scared now. Scared for all of us. :S We have got to do something about the hate and violence directed towards us. We have got to do something about the way we teach children that they are broken in so many ways. And maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to teach everyone else that they can be safe and happy along the way. >.<

This cannot happen any more. We have got to help on another, to help ourselves, and to reach out to those in need. The next few months, and perhaps even years, may be terrible ones, but we can make it through this. We must. We have to teach the rest.

...I guess I didn't talk about therapy, but that's okay. Maybe next time. :S
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I've had a hell of a lot of depressing journals as of late, and since I'm having a really good day, I think it's probably important that I take a moment to be present with that and acknowledge the progress that I have made. Important too is acknowledging those of you who have helped me make it as far as I have.


I am lucky to be here at all. ...and I don't know how the hell I made it this far. The more I learn about where I'm at now, the more I can recognize that my brain has been genuinely trying to kill me for longer than I can even remember. The pain that shines through my journals isn't even the half of it, as I keep finding more and more every time I dig into another layer. And yeah... just like you'd expect, the deeper you delve, the darker it gets. And it's getting pretty dark. :S

I wrote on Twitter yesterday that, "I'm pretty sure anxiety has driven almost every major decision I have made in my life." And the more I think about it, the more devastatingly true that statement is. They're not *all* like that, but everything from schools to careers, and yes, even founding a convention was been driven first and foremost by anxiety. And I didn't even know it... I convinced myself my choices were driven by something else because I had no word for what I was experiencing. I have that word now, and it's good that I can see that, I guess... but it still hurts to even look. >.<

Quick note: I'm not suggesting that all the choices were bad ones, just that the reasoning I convinced myself to believe was not the actual reason. Some ended up working out very well, but it still hurts to know how crippled those choices really were.

With that recognition comes an added burden, which is just straight-up not knowing how to function without anxiety as a primary driver. No, it's not gone (or even more than dented), but trying to wrap my mind around the concept of making choices without that pressure is like asking my to draw a 5-dimensional object. It's frighteningly complex, and very, very alien.

And so we come to a request... If you're a friend to me, and you see anxiety driving something I'm doing, can you try to tell me? I know that's asking a lot, especially since I have a suspicion that I'm not going to end up handling that that well... but I could really use the help. >.< It's not an exaggeration to say that if anxiety is making the decision, I am not.


Back to progress...

How to describe this... Though it's still marginal, anxiety eating the vast majority of my mental energy, I *have* been having more safe time than ever before. Gentle evenings spent with Dakota have done their part, as have dinners with friends (Goldkin) and other loved ones (Solei). Even some silly mid-rain car maintenance had its part this week, and I am thankful for all of it. <3 So many amazing moments together have made this week a wonder in my eyes, and I am so damned lucky to have all of you.

Really quick, though, I have to highlight one thing this week that led up to today, though. He's a little red and gold dragon that now shares my bed. His tag says 'Legend', and the little runt looks adorably grumpy from one angle, and really happy from another. (No wonder cats and dragons seem related! XD) Safety tokens have great importance to me, as I have so few of them... and that one really meant a lot. Thank you, Solei.

So what have I learned from all of this?

I'm learning is that my default state, sans anxiety, is love. And I *could* *not* be happier with that answer. <3 It is an answer I have dreamed of my entire life, a nightmare and a hope that I could not bear... I can now. Because I am no longer alone... and never will be again.

And so this morning... I put my collar on. For the first time since December I am whole again. So powerful was that moment that it felt as though the leather had bonded with my skin... and in that heartbeat, I felt scales.

My name is Zeta Syanthis, and I come back to you now... at the turn of the tide.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
I was reading a few things today and they got me thinking.  I want to expand on my previous discussion about shame.  I'll start by saying that shame is absolutely *the* thing that has crippled me from a mental health standpoint for years on end.  It still is impacting me, and though I'm now getting professional help in dealing with it, it's something I feel a need to talk about.  Why?  I know I'm not the only one.


So let's talk about shame.  Shame is one of society's ways of saying "No, that's wrong. That's not acceptable here."  And, in all fairness, society does sometimes need the ability to say that.  It should be fair for people who care about each other to communicate about harmful behavior and attempt to come to a resolution.  But... shame isn't the way that happens.

Attempting to influence someone through shame is, quite possibly, the most toxic and passive-aggressive thing you can do.  We've all been guilt-ed by shame at some point or another, and we all know how it goes.  Disapproval of personal behavior can start with as little as a nasty look, and can, in time, escalate full blown social isolation.  Rather than addressing the underlying problem directly, shame relies on the person performing the undesired behavior to eventually become uncomfortable enough that they chose the group dynamic over their own.  Even worse, since there's no direct communication about the cause of the disapproval, the person subjected to it is often left in an anxious state, trying to guess what they might have done wrong.  Sometimes it's clear cut, but not always.

So let's talk about the toxic effects of shame.  It's not like we don't know what it does to people.  It's not as if we don't know it drives them to anxiety and depression, to self-hatred well before it makes any change the person outside sees.  This process of internalizing the fact that something about yourself is wrong can take years to unravel, and that's only assuming the person in question actually manages to reach out and ask for help.

I guess what I want to say here is this.  Shame sucks the life out of the person it is directed against.  It is the tool of those who do not have the courage to speak out and actually say what they think problems are.  "She knows what she's doing wrong." and "He's getting what he deserves." in reference to these kinds of actions are an outright cancer, and we need to start cutting it out.


With that out of the way, I'll add my own story here.  This is something I've never written down, and I'm honestly not sure how it'll come out, but it's a start.

I grew up in a household that used shame and passive-aggressive behavior as a method of control, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  It's been ten years since I left home and I've barely made a dent in the damage that it did.  Though I'm working with a wonderful therapist on this and other issues now, I still can't function entirely normally in relationships, to say nothing of my issues with gender and sexuality.

In that household, like many others, we were taught from the time we were little to not "air our dirty laundry in public".  Basically, if you had a personal problem, you were not to discuss it or otherwise let on that something was going on around anyone outside my immediate family (the unspoken idea being that to do so would bring shame upon all of us).  In practice, this extended at least somewhat into discussing issues that affected us within the family as well, leaving us alone an isolated with our problems, repressing and pretending like everything was always 'fine.'  That's a word I can hardly use anymore, as it and the corresponding "It's nothing." are now huge red flags for me in any conversation.

Here's the thing.  Directing shame at 'undesired' behaviors (sexuality, gender, etc) inside the family, while directing those within it to never speak to outsiders for support was a fucking terrible system.  It created a self-reinforcing feedback loop that turned anything outside 'normal' into self-hate, and forced me to emotionally disconnect from my family and wear a mask at all times in order to self-protect.  I understand *why* they did it, that some of these things (religion especially) bring into question their own sense of identity in a way they're not comfortable with, but it's still not something that's easy to confront.  Or forgive.

I'm still fighting these demons, and I don't win every day.  Some days they best me, and it's everything I can do to force myself to go to work.  I'll talk more about my response to anxiety and the accompanying depression in future posts, but suffice to say that I think I understand why anxiety and paralysis are linked for me now, largely as a result of managing to write this out.


I want to leave with a few resources that have helped me over the years.  I'll be talking about these more in future posts, but for now a short description (and the links) will suffice.

QC is a story about a group of friends in the northeast US who move into an out of relationships with each other.  All of the characters are 'real' in the sense that they all have issues, some of them very serious.  Running the gamut from anxiety to control and OCD, to outright grief, this strip will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.  And all the time you'll be learning, about both yourself and others.


Venus Envy is recent find, but one I wish I had found ages ago.  Both the artist Erin and the main character Zoe are transgender, and though Zoe's struggles take place way back in high school (well before I managed to break out of *any* of my shell), they still mean a lot.  If you've ever wanted to understand a transgender person's desire to just fit in, be normal, and be accepted, you'll want to read this.  Beware though, it's not an easy read.  Lots of tears ahead.


Sunstone is another recent find.  I've actually never considered myself to be interested in BDSM-related material, but this comic caught me a bit by surprise.  The way it portrays an alternate lifestyle in such a positive and loving way, with no fear or judgment, is absolutely huge.  Learning new ways love can be seen and experienced is never a bad thing, and as much as it surprised me, I think it might surprise you. 

(NSFW link warning) http://shiniez.deviantart.com/gallery/35675685/chapter-1-completed?offset=0
zetasyanthis: (Default)
Darkness.  That's all there ever seems to be, anymore.  It's not that the sun isn't up there, not that the landscape isn't touched by its rays.  It's just that it doesn't seem to matter anymore.  Everything is just... gray.  It should be colorful and bright, enough to cheer anyone up, but it isn't.  Just gray.  It's not even that you can't see the colors, noting a little yellow in that gray there, a little dark green in that one.  It's just that they don't matter, that they don't touch you like they used to.  Just enough to let you know something's wrong.

That's the story my parents woke up to when I was eleven years old.


Kids get sick.  It happens.  They get better, too, little immune systems kicking into gear and storming their way through all the standard childhood illnesses.  From chickenpox to sore throats, and sometimes even to cough-I-really-don't-want-to-go-to-school-today-cough-no-really-I'm-sick-cough, parents are used to their kids being down and out once in a while.  That doesn't mean they don't worry, or take care of them, especially when they're very young, but it does mean that there's an expectation that they'll shake off most things and be okay with a doctor's visit, a little bit of best rest, and maybe some penicillin.  I didn't.

You see, when I got an ear infection, followed by a sore throat in the summer before my sixth grade year, I was pretty miserable, but it was nothing unusual for a kid to have, or to get over.  The trip to Denver wasn't much fun once my ear flared up halfway through the trip, aching so badly I could hardly focus, but a few days at home and I was better.  Except for the cough.  That lingered a little while.

Kids think they're invincible, don't you know?  And so did I.  I bounced around, thinking nothing of it, as coughs are usually the last thing to go.  I'm not sure what my parents thought of it at the time, but I don't remember us really give it a second thought until I ended up with strep throat a few weeks later, just as the school year began. 

That wasn't very much fun.  Stuck in bed, hardly able to eat, I missed about a week of class before feeling well enough to return.  The shivers of fever subsided, and the acid at the back of my throat cooled, but the cough remained.  For a little while longer, we chalked it up to the sore throat, a not unexpected hold-over, but then it got worse.

By the time things started heading towards Thanksgiving, I was in a very bad way.  The cough wouldn't stop, day or night, and I quickly grew exhausted.  Harder and harder, my chest wracked itself, but there was no relief, just a tickle at the back of my throat that would never go away.  Eventually, I was asked to leave school until such time we got it under control, as I was disrupting class for all the other students.

Steroids were tried, as was some sort of inhalant device I can no longer remember.  I'm not sure what was in that one, but it caused the worst attack I had ever had, to the point where I almost ended up in the hospital (it was administered in a small clinic).  My parents tried everything, but nothing worked.  Eventually, psychological possibilities were looked into, and we started driving deep into the city of Chicago to see one of the few psychiatrists that seemed to have any idea what was going on.  Things still had a long ways to go, though...


I don't remember when the tremors started.  We called them tremors because the doctor did, but they were essentially seizures, my motor neurons going insane and firing all at once in tremendous waves of activity.  It would start with a little fuzzy feeling somewhere back inside my brain, as though someone was tickling me along the border between my cerebellum and occipital lobe.  Eventually, over the course of minutes, or even hours, I would feel more and more energy leaking upwards into my brain and fanning out towards my fingertips, millimeters at a time.  I could hold it at bay for a while, but like a static charge building up in a thundercloud, there was no stopping it.  And the longer I waited, the worse it was...

If you've ever been electrocuted before, felt the jolt as you lost control of your muscles, you'll know about what I experienced, minus the burns.  Every muscle spasming, flailing wildly for minutes until all the energy in every cell was utterly exhausted, leaving me twitching, shorted out on the bed or couch.  The doctors were flummoxed, though my family doctor, Miroslav Kovacevic refused to give up on me.  A friend of my dad, he was the one who found the specialists, one after another, and kept trying.  I can't even imagine how long he was up nights trying to find anything to help, but I know he must have been, because he cared.  I know my mom and dad sure were.

About six months in, Dr. K, working with the psychiatrist whose name I can no longer recall, had built up a theory.  It didn't have a name then, but the gist was that there was some sort of correlation between anxiety, puberty, and an autoimmune disease.  Signs were starting to point towards my immune system attacking my motor neurons, triggering some sort of periodic overload.  Experiments continued, but I was basically out-of-commission aside from a few hours a day.  Tourettes Syndrom was considered as a diagnosis, as was early-onset MS, neither of which my parents wanted to hear.  I wasn't sure what they were, being so young, but now knowing what those are, it's terrifying that that was even a thought in my doctor's minds.

Eventually, we tried something new, an experimental treatment called an IVIG, which as I now understand, is used for many other autoimmune disorders.  I don't remember the details of what it was supposed to do, but I do remember having a needle in my arm for 5 days straight while the cool liquid drained into me, resetting my immune system and leaving me vulnerable to further disease.  For three years after that, I was required to take daily anti-biotics as a precautionary measure, but it didn't matter, because within days, the tremors started to fade away.  I can't even tell you what that meant to me, or my parents, but even tears were insufficient.  It took me the entire summer to catch up on my work so I wouldn't be behind a grade, but it didn't matter.  I was healthy again.  Mostly...


Relapses are awful.  Worrying about relapses is terrifying.  Hiding a potential for relapses from your parents for years is just... don't.  They still don't know this, and I doubt I'll ever have the heart to tell them, because they've been through so many terrible things since then with my brother, but every single day I know it could come back.  If I ever overloaded to a certain point, it could, and I don't know what I'd do.  You see, that tickle in the back of my brain?  It's never gone away.  And when I'm stressed, it grows stronger, buzzing against my hind-brain...  I have to be *very* careful.

I still have lingering neurological damage from the episodes too.  Muscles all over my body, from my arm to my back to my legs will trigger randomly, small bundles twitching outside of my control.  Sometimes it's my whole leg, spasming for half a second.  It's disconcerting and harmless for now, but I am keeping an eye on it lest it grow.  Just another thing to worry about.

Those of you who know me know that my memory is just awful.  I don't think it always was, but, ironically, I can't remember.  For now, I can only assume my ability to remember things was severely damaged by this experience, meaning I have to intuit pretty much everything I do.  Luckily, I'm pretty good at patterns, because rote memorization is out for me.  (Note that this means that this story is also a recollection to the best of that memory, and the dates and times are most certainly not 100% accurate.)


Since those days, it seems that quite a community of folks have come forward working on and dealing with a disorder that now has a name.  PANDAS, short for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system basically triggers against your own neurons with all sorts of ramifications.

Reading for those curious:


P.S.: Interestingly, it was 1998 when I treated, the same year a paper came out proposing a classification of the disorder with the first 50 cases.  I'm not sure if my results were included in that paper, but that would be something, wouldn't it?  If nothing else, I was one of the first diagnosed in Chicago.  Though, truth be told, if that's my claim to fame, I'd like it back please...  Something else would be a bit more enjoyable than this.  :/


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Zeta Syanthis

September 2017



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