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I feel fine.

I feel totally fine. Thank you to everyone who is always reaching out to check on me, but I really am completely fine and we should be focusing more of our energy on healthy extroverts who are really suffering.

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This is from a woman with anxiety and depression who says she feels better now during this crisis than she has in years.

My mood has stabilized after years of oscillating between paralyzing anxiety and debilitating, at times suicidal, depression. Despite everything, I realize, I am OK. More OK than I have been in years.

That’s a strange thing to admit. But evidently I’m not alone.

Elizabeth Cohen, who has practiced psychology for 15 years with a specialty in anxiety, estimates that 20 percent of her clients have actually seen their symptoms alleviate in recent weeks. Roughly the same portion have seen their symptoms worsen, she says, while the remainder have seen little change. 

(cont. Daily Beast)

I’m part of the fraction of people with depression and anxiety who has seen their symptoms alleviate during this crisis. I’ve been off my meds since September and hit my lowest point in February. I honestly haven’t felt this calm or slept this well since last summer.

A lot has gone wrong. I landed my dream job at the beginning of March, worked for two weeks, and then got let go. I haven’t qualified for unemployment and can’t get through to discuss my appeals. I screwed up my back and couldn’t walk for a week.

But I’m not sad or anxious.

And the article doesn’t touch on it, but I’m less anxious because there’s nothing I could be doing to fix my life. Everything is always falling apart and I never feel like I’m doing enough. My depression and anxiety are usually compounded by feelings of inadequacy for not being able to find a job, not being able to find a date, for not having money and being unable to afford to do fun stuff with friends, for being depressed and unable to shake it.

I don’t feel any of that right now. It’s not quite “misery loves company” but there’s some comfort in not being the only person you know whose life is a mess. The very real prospect of running out of money next month if I can’t get my unemployment denial overturned doesn’t really phase me…because so many other people are also gonna run out of money. Not being able to go out for an indefinite amount of time doesn’t really phase me…because I was declining things anyway, but now there’s no guilt or anxiety about not being able to do something.

And because I’ve spent so much time avoiding people out of fear that nobody will like me because I’m depressed, I’m very adept at spending weeks by myself. When I’m having an episode, I don’t talk to anybody, because why would anybody want to hang around the person who’s always sad or bringing them down with their problems? So dealing with anxiety or feelings of unease all by myself is something I’m equipped to do anyway, but now the load is so much lighter. I don’t feel stressed when I wake up. My sleep is restful. I look forward to all my little activities I have planned.

I feel totally fine. Thank you to everyone who is always reaching out to check on me, but I really am completely fine and we should be focusing more of our energy on healthy extroverts who are really suffering.

The only thing that has stressed me out since this started is grocery shopping.

I couldn’t find scallions today.

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Me

I can’t walk.

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Well, I should be on my way to work, but since I can’t get out of bed, I’m just lying here waiting for one of my roommates to wake up and help me move around.

Let’s go back to the beginning (since I have the time)!

I started my new job last week and I would go into more detail, but there’s a lot of HIPAA stuff and I just don’t really want to blow up my spot. I’ll say a few things:

  • I work with a lot of doctors.
  • Literally everyone who works there is lovely — the people who run it will actually decline to accept a practitioner who has a nasty attitude.
  • I foresee this being my favorite job I’ve ever had up to this point.
  • My health insurance (when it starts next month) will be amazing and completely employer-funded.

The other day I was talking to Travis about how happy I was at work, but that I was having trouble sleeping because I had so much anxiety waiting for something else to go wrong. I haven’t posted everything I went through last year online because it’s a lot and really depressing and I didn’t want to keep bringing everybody down, but let’s just say I was very much at the end of my rope and had run out of ways to climb out of this ditch that kept deepening.

Yesterday, that something else to go wrong happened.

The girl who is training me this week needed to use my computer (formerly her computer) to get some passwords and stuff, and while she did that, I decided to start on a little organizational project in a spare room. I want to turn it into our package room, but it needs to be cleaned out and organized. I bent down to pick up a box of tissues, felt a twinge in my lower back, and collapsed in a puddle on the floor. I have never had a back problem and I’ve never felt a pain like that in my life. I rubbed the spot where it hurt and crawled to a chair, but that’s the best I could do. I sat in there for twenty minutes in tears, rubbing my back and trying to stand up.

After I made it to my feet, I hobbled out of the room — bent over at a 90 degree angle — and shuffled down the hallway a few paces before I heard a woman behind me.

“What happened?”

I don’t know! I bent over to pick something up and collapsed. I can’t stand up.

(half-dragging me) “Come with me.”

Uh, what do you do here?

“I’m a chiropractor.”

OH OKAY!

So “Dr. Candice” pulled me into her room and on the table and started examining me. She said I have stress in my lower back and muscle knots and it was a back spasm waiting to happen. A few months ago I was putting lotion on my back and I noticed this hard spot and honest to god, I thought it was just a bone I never realized was there before. Didn’t even think anything else about it. It’s a knot. I was so stressed out all last year I made myself a cute lil knot of muscle in my lower back.

Candice worked me out for about ten minutes and it was like magic! She is hella strong and by the time she finished, I could stand up, and my pain had subsided from a 10 to a 4. I went back to my desk to do some more work and she told me to come see her if it started to act up again.

Sidenote: The super cool thing about working with fun doctors is if they can treat it, they will. There’s an allergist who is going to do tests on me next week because I was telling her nurse how I’d had about six anaphylactic reactions in boarding school and three over the past seven months (part of my stress, almost dying three times while unemployed with no health insurance).

Anyway, my back got progressively tighter and tighter as the day went on, and when Candice was between patients, she stopped by the desk and hooked me up to this:

I wasn’t listening when she told me what it was, but I looked it up this morning (because I desperately need one at home!) and it’s a TENS unit. It sends electrical impulses to wherever you attach the pads. Candice put them on me where it hurt most, told me to wear it for about an hour, and increase the intensity as I got used to the levels.

Again — MAGIC! Pain went down to a 2. Y’all I was so excited about it I text so many people just to tell them my back went out and a doctor saved me for free.

When it was time for me to leave, I was nervous about having to take the subway because I didn’t know when I’d be in pain again. I made it home with no problem, cooked dinner, baked cookies. The only time it really hurt was when I had to change positions from sitting to standing. Otherwise it was more of a dull ache. I went to bed last night and really didn’t think about it.

Five AM, woke up almost screaming. I sleep on my back and I was in mid-turn to my side and jolted awake with the same intense pain I had yesterday. I just laid there on my side until I had to pee and then I tried to get out of bed. LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE. I cannot express to you the level of pain. If it was a 10 yesterday when I collapsed, it’s like a 20 when I try to swing my feet off the bed so I can stand up. I would roll out of bed and crawl, but my bed is too high off the ground and I would probably hurt myself.

(this part is gross — skip this paragraph if you want to maintain a Pristine Classy Image of me)

There’s no way I can make it to the bathroom so my options are limited. Pee in the bed (no), pee off the bed onto the floor where I have my clothes from the past two days (no), pee in one of the bottles I keep next to the bed to spit in when I have snot in the morning (I know, it’s gross, but getting up to go spit in the sink every time I have to clear the drainage in the back of my throat is annoying, and using tissue is needlessly wasteful, so I spit in an empty Soylent bottle and then throw it away when I do finally get up). So that’s what I did. I painfully rolled to the edge of the bed, put my dick in the bottle, and peed (finally, having a big penis pays off in some part of my life where a white bottom isn’t being problematic).

(you can start reading again now if you skipped that!)

So anyway. That’s my life right now. I can’t get out of bed. I think I’m going to ask one of my roommates to go out and buy me a TENS unit and I can pay them back when I get paid? That worked so fast and so well yesterday, I think I can get by using that as my pain management system until I can get a full workup done and find out what’s wrong with me.

🙁

I’m gonna try to get up again. I’ve been rolling from side to side a little so maybe it’s loosened up! Wish me luck!

🙂

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Me

Giving back in 2020.

Depression manifests itself differently in everybody, but I used to say this a long time ago and I want to remind anybody else in a similar situation: maybe find a way to give back something. The joy of giving is a real thing, and helping someone to better their circumstances can sometimes help you to better yours.

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A couple of months ago I got to the Last Interview stage for three jobs that I really wanted, but I was passed over for someone else. It happens, no big deal, but…it kind of is?

A thing about me: I’ve always thought my best quality was likability.

I had a hard time fitting in when I was growing up, but once I hit college, I’d learned to navigate my anxieties and traumas and I could pretty much win over any crowd. For years and years I relied on that knowledge to make me feel better when depression got the best of me: you’re not the hottest, the richest, the funniest — but everybody likes having you around and you’re interesting to talk to.

That translated to employment. Before this past year, I’d never gone on that many interviews. Getting past the resume / phone interview stage was a hurdle, but if I could GET in someone’s FACE for an interview, I always got the job — because I’m smart & likable.

I’m not likable right now. I’m DEPRESSED. I’ve been off my meds for months and I have no drive to DO anything. I have nothing to say in a group so I avoid my friends and decline invitations. I just feel like a sad, energy-stealing burden.

After the third job I didn’t get, I had to be honest with myself: the qualifications were there and they liked what I had to say or I wouldn’t have gotten so many interviews. In the end, they just liked someone else. They would rather work with someone else.

Woe is me, I’m so sad, nobody likes me, not even the upper management white lady tasked with finding her new mid-level underling.

So how do we fix this? How do I climb out of this hole without access to a mental health professional because I’m jobless and without insurance?

We’re going back to volunteering y’all!

When I first moved to NYC, I was living with 3 strangers in a 4th floor walkup in Bushwick where people made/sold crack in the basement. My room was so little, I had to stand the mattress up against the wall during the day so I could walk. I couldn’t get any job interviews for anything that paid enough to live and I was a cashier at Bed Bath & Beyond living on ramen & bologna for MONTHS. I felt awful, but I had a roof and food and my health, which is three more things than a lot of people.

I started volunteering at a battered women’s shelter in a Catholic church to stop wallowing in self pity and refocus my perspective. Years later I was running a kid’s program there and volunteering 3-5 times a week. When church leadership changed, they demoted me. They didn’t want a queer atheist running a program in their church. They told me I could keep volunteering, but I left, because I was hurt and upset. I started that program and they took it from me, so I felt bitter.

I’m going back next week. I miss my kids! And so what if someone else is running it? Nobody connected with those bad ass kids the way I did and they need me. 💅 Selfish or not, I need to feel needed. In a way it’s transactional — the kids get a mentor and I get a spark.

Depression manifests itself differently in everybody, but I used to say this a long time ago and I want to remind anybody else in a similar situation: maybe find a way to give back something. The joy of giving is a real thing, and helping someone to better their circumstances can sometimes help you to better yours.

I feel a little better already.

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Email: rafi@soletstalkabout.com
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
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Me

Merry Christmas! (to me!)

Who wants to buy me something for Christmas???

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** singing **
It’s the most wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeeaaaarrrrrr

Just kidding, I hate Christmas. However, partly due to these whisky hot toddies I’ve been drinking today waiting on the maintenance man to come see about the hole in our ceiling (he never showed up, obviously), and partly due to all these sad gray clouds outside (bah humbug indeed) I was thinking today about how I haven’t gotten a Christmas gift in years! All my friends go home to their families and the last time I saw any of my family at Christmas was a few years before my mom died.

I think it would be cute to get a couple of boxes from Strangers on the Internet so I made one of those Amazon Wishlists that the IG thots make, except instead of sex toys and tiny underwear, it’s mostly stuff for my bedroom and kitchen gadgets. So you do not in fact get a Thank You Pic of me in a semi-aroused state if I get a present.

Unless you just really need one. They’re still on tumblr somewhere.

So! Here is my boring old lady Xmas Wishlist!

But, also, JSYK, I’m saving up to buy a new computer because mine is 7 years old and dying, so if you’re feeling the holiday spirit and you wanna donate to that fund instead, I have Cash App ($RafiDAngelo) and Paypal (paypal.me/soletstalkabout).

To help with the spirit, these are my Christmas Divas to set the mooooood.

facebook.com/SoLetsTalkAbout/
twitter.com/RafiDAngelo
Email: rafi@soletstalkabout.com
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo
paypal.me/soletstalkabout

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