Question of the day.

When you are with your family, immediate, or extended, do you feel like you belong?

My answer:

That’s a hard one. I’ve always had issues with that sense of belonging thing, for two reasons I think. First is related to my being far from my family for most of my childhood. I am actually just starting to understand these things about myself and didn’t fully realise it all even a year ago. When I was at the boarding school, I felt like I don’t belong there at all, but that if I belong anywhere, I belong only to my family. I think I had a strong sense of… hm, distinctiveness? individuality, don’t really know how to call it best in English, anyway my Dad has it very strong in his character and looks like we all, his children, have too, and my Mum has it as well. I’ve always felt like I’m an individualist and was glad with it and I always needed to have some private, just my own territory where no one else would interfere, which was almost impossible at that boarding school, especially at the beginning when we all (girls from my group) lived together in one room. Our staff always wanted us to talk about everything (including our feelings) with everyone and wanted us to feel the sense of unity with the others, share as much common as possible, they kept saying we’re “like a family”. I think it was with good intentions, but then it only was making me more and more rebellious and the more I’ve heard about all that unity, commonness and “togetherness” the more I hated everything about these words and the more I felt like vomiting whenever I heard them. I liked most of the girls in my group, but, no, thanks, I already have my family and I don’t need another one, I don’t feel close enough with them, that was more or less how I thought about it. So yeah the only community that I felt like I belong to was my family. But then when I was coming home, I was treated like a guest by everyone, and felt like one in some way, it was usually like a big holiday for all of us and I didn’t get that much of normal, everyday family life, besides longer holidays or stuff like that, and the two years in between my stay at the boarding school when I was experimenting going to integration school which didn’t work out in my a bit complex case. It was impossible to catch up on everything that happened during my absence so I didn’t know about many things and in some way felt like a stranger and had an impression that some people in my family perceive me a bit this way too, not in a bad sense like that I wasn’t welcome, but my life was just so different from theirs, you know. And then I was going back to school and had obviously very idealised picture of my family and of family in general and experienced a lot of this hiraeth feeling I described like a month ago or so. So as I grew up I gradually realised that actually I don’t feel anywhere like I’m at home. I mean, I loved coming home obviously and always was willing anything possible to stay longer here, but quite a bit of the sense of belonging to my family has disappeared with time. Btw I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I like Cornelis Vreeswijk so much, one of my musical crushes whom I mentioned already a few times. He was Dutch, but emigrated to Sweden at 12 with his family and lived and created his music and poetry there for most of his life and became famous in Sweden. When he was in the Netherlands, Nederlenders called him a Swede, while in Sweden he was Dutch, hence in one of his poems he called himself “a man (…) without motherland”. You know, birds of a feather flock together, right? Just my a bit detached reflection. I think there are many people who experience such feelings for their entire lives though, due to various situations.

And the second reason is that for almost all my life I’ve felt more or less inadequate to other people, or like I couldn’t connect with them, which can be at times quite frustrating and can make you feel like you belong hardly anywhere. My anxiety in social situations also gets in the way so it makes for quite an interesting mix.

These feelings have lessened in regard to my family as I am enjoying my life with them since more than three years now, although they are still present somewhere in my mind.

Like I’ve never developed a normal sibling relationship with my brother and we have hardly anything in common to talk about, which is so weird and uncomfortable for me, because he is only younger two years than me while with Zofijka who is ten years younger, I have plenty of things to talk about and we have a very close relationship, though also very dynamic, as we are so different and getting on each other’s nerves, as siblings usually do. I still have these feelings of not belonging sometimes when we all are together, but overall I think now I feel much more in place in my immediate family.

It’s worse with my extended. It’s hard for me to open up to them, there are so many of them and I know they all like me and I like them, but… all the holidays and stuff when we gather as a whole family are quite overwhelming for me, especially with my Dad’s family. I get on better with my Mum’s family, probably because we lived very close to them before we moved a year ago to where we live now, so I was seeing them much more often, and I just have more things in common with them, I feel. But it’s also improving and when my family and I are somewhere where there are more people who aren’t my family members, I feel like I belong and am a part of my family. And I am always proud of my family as a whole and of all the people of my immediate family as individuals and I think I’m very lucky for having the family I have. I am also gradually learning that although you’ll be always alone in some way as my Mum says, this is a really good thing if you belong somewhere because of your own choice, or because you’re emotionally attached to the community you’re a part of. and I am a part, and I feel like I’m one, of some other communities than my family, and I am very glad I belong to them and now I know it is so great to have something in common with other people.

How about your sense of belonging? I must say I’m interested about how it is with other people and do they always feel like they belong even if they didn’t have such or similar experiences to mine. 🙂

After an appt with the PD therapist.

So yesterday morning I saw this therapist specialising in personality disorders about whom I wrote recently that she will talk to me and see if I indeed have or might have avoidant personality disorder and also that we’ll talk about my dysthymia which still isn’t diagnosed but the two years that are needed have passed and not much has changed. My therapist wanted me to be evaluated by someone from the outside, pplus someone who’d be more qualified as for personality disorders, so she was the best choice in our area. Before my appointment both therapists talked about me, my background and stuff like that.

I was very very anxious about this appointment and I felt lots of contrary emotions about it and what may come out of it. But it went really well. We talked about my experiences in different kinds of interpersonal relationships, my self-esteem, how I am very often suspicious towards people and their motives and almost always look for some hidden meaning behind their words or actions and my feelings of inadequacy, or, how my friend used to call it but not in the context of my issues “alien syndrome” which name I really like. 😀 Basically we discussed everything in one’s personality that may be affected by AVPD. We talked through all the WHO criteria, I also told her about very various kinds of anxiety I have and my experiences from the boarding school. She asked me how I came to the conclusion I might have AVPD so I just told her how it started and how I felt like I resonate with it so much and how it was both scary and relieving for me, scary because it’s often somehow scary when you name your problem for the first time, plus I’d never expect I might have personality disorder and it just was so sudden, but relieving because I realised that if it’s really my issue, I’m not alone with it, there is a name for it so other people are struggling too and I felt more valid. It was a bit overwhelming and weird to feel both these contrary emotions so intensely at the same time, but I think I got used to it with time and now i’m not so scared. I told her that actually before I started to read about AVPD, I didn’t realise that the fear of being rejected might be why I’m so anxious, I still think there might be something more to it, but yeah, I guess I was always scared of being rejected, but never fully realised it, as I didn’t really want to realise it consciously cause it would make my self-image even worse in some way. I don’t know if it makes sense for other people, but, that’s kind of how I’ve felt about it… Then we talked about my emotions, how I’ve started to suppress them very early on and still can’t fully unlearn it and expressing what I feel is still so challenging and stressing out for me. Most often I don’t have issues with positive emotions now, in fact if I happen to feel lots of positive emotions I would most willingly like all the world to know about them and why I feel them and share it with me, but expressing my negative emotions still feels kind of like either baring myself or self-pity. And what she told me was almost exactly what I’ve thought about this whole AVPD thing. Some of the traits are milder, some are more severe, but overall I fit in the criteria and she told me she’s almost sure I have it, but she’d refer me to a psychiatrist for further evaluation and getting an official diagnosis. She honestly told me it’s too complex for just being social anxiety as the reasons why I avoid social situations are multiple, which I know, and she also checked whether and to which degree I might have schizoid or paranoid pd traits, but only some single ones fit me. We talked also about my dysthymia and she said it seems to be extremely common in people with avoidant personality disorder that they have dysthymia and/or generalised anxiety. I talked to her about how I’ve actually always been more or less depressive, although apart from some harder days I am able to hide it very well from people and many years have passed since I’ve been really suicidal, although I couldn’t say I’m not suicidal at all, I have some ideations somewhere in the background, I’d say. We talked about my sleep being pretty irregular for most of my life and I told her that I think my thyroid issues also may contribute to the low mood, but although my thyroid hormones are more stabilised now than they were in the past, it didn’t make that much of a difference. We had a long chat about dysthymia in general. My Mum was waiting outside of the therapist’s office when we talked but then she asked her to come in and join us. She wanted to have her point of view on the whole thing, on some of my behaviour patterns and stuff, as someone else’s view on things is always helpful and my Mum is with me almost 24/7 even if we’re not constantly together we’re at least in the same house, so obviously she knows me well even despite all those years I lived out of home. Of course after some time my very sensitive Mum started to cry. She always cries when she talks about some painful or just moving things, or even when she says something beautiful, that is how she reacts, although many people feel embarrassed and my Mum does too, but that’s just her nature and how she reacts to things and it doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t stable or anything, in fact I think she’s one of most emotionally stable people I know, just incredibly tearful. 🙂 And she was talking about how she is feeling so much guilty recently that she didn’t see on time what was going on with me back then and that she didn’t change anything. I actually didn’t realise how much of guilt she feels and I felt so sorry for her and actually felt guilty too, for making her guilty. It sounds ridiculous. 😀 But I really didn’t realise it fully. I told her I don’t blame her at all and that I don’t think there was anything more she could do than she already did. I told her just what I thought. That it’s the easiest way to blame the parents for who you are, for your childhood, for what you didn’t achieve etc. so many people do it. Of course I don’t count in abusive or purposefully neglectful parents. But so many people would like their parents to be perfect and always know what to do. But are there any trainings for how to be a good parent? Do they get this knowledge anywhere? Are they somewhat enlightened after getting a baby? They aren’t and that’s why I don’t like it, putting all the blame for your trouble on your parents. My therapist agreed with me. It just moved me so much how guilty she feels and how I didn’t notice all of her guilt for so long, although I think I know her so well and am so good at “feeling” other people. Then the therapist summarised for my Mum what we talked about without her very briefly. Whenever she was writing something in my notes she was telling me about it and finally she ended up unoficially diagnosing me with dysthymia. Then we also talked for a while about the fact I don’t actually have real therapy as my therapist has too much on her plate and had to cut some of her hours, thus we almost only have phone or email check ins. She was very kind and direct and offered me that if the psychiatrist will refer me to therapy, which will in her opinion most likely happen, she is willing to take over my therapy. I feel like if I have a personality disorder, I need some more appropriate support. I don’t mean I didn’t feel supported by my therapist, she was working with me for many many years and was always there for me if she could, but, you know, sometimes a monthly phone check in isn’t enough, plus knowing how busy she is, I often felt like it wouldn’t be appropriate to email her in between check ins when I struggled so it had to be really almost an emergency or something if I decided to bother her. So I think I’ll start with this new therapist, the more that she herself came out with it. At first as I met her yesterday I had an impression she’s so very blunt and direct it could be hard to get along with her, but I felt very comfortable around her with time and actually now I think it’s her advantage, as she still is very diplomatic. She’s completely different from my therapist Monika, but I think I like her and she seems to be a very attentive listener, which I obviously really appreciate. I still don’t know when I’ll see the psychiatrist, I am sure it’ll take quite a bit of time, but anyway, I now feel more validated and am glad of our appt. My Mum is too.

Today I had quite intensive day. I went for a big shopping with my Mum. I needed to get a few things, mostly Easter presents and some things for myself, from different shops and Mum needed a lot of groceries for us. I must say I rarely go out for such long shopping escapades, it is always quite exhausting and challenging for me, you know, all these crowds and all other shit. I was tempted to just ask my Mum to buy me things I needed when she told me she plans to go buy groceries and tell her what I need, but decided to challenge myself a bit. Plus my Mum had a lot to carry so it definitely wouldn’t be kind of me, would it? So we went together and besides the anxiety which was significant at times, it felt good to have some time together. I bought all I needed and also some snacks for Misha ans we are almost running out of them, so gourmand is he recently. We both were exhausted afterwards, not as much because of the long walk we did, but because of visiting soo many shops, my Mum also isn’t accustomed to such extensive shoppings as she only does them before some bigger holidays like Easter or Christmas. So Mum watched some TV and I went to my room and had some Mishtime which was just so fantastic, Misha was so very cuddly today.

Then I got pissed off by my Polish teacher. Actually she pissed me off already in the morning, but even more when we came back home. For those of you who are new to my blog and don’t know, I formally attend to part time school for adults, something between college and high school I suppose, but practically I am learning on my own, because it is a mainstream school and basically most teachers just treat me like I’m invisible or like they could pick up optic nerve hypoplasia from me. plus they often use things like slideshows on their lessons, so it’s just easier for me to learn on my own, I’ve never had trouble with it, and of course it’s emotionally much much easier. The only occasions I go to school are exams. Me and my Mum just talked about it with the headmaster and with my teachers and they agreed to send me what they’re doing in the class every term as well as the subjects of control assignments and exam terms and the rest is for me to do. I only have Maths lessons with my tutor who is a typhlopedagogist, as Maths is very hard for me and I’m clueless about it and although my Maths teacher at school would be eager to teach me and is really open-minded and communicative, it’s hard as for this particular subject because it differs how you explain things for sighted people and for the blind, and she’s not educated as for how to teach blind people. But now the thing is they are SOOO incredibly busy they don’t even have time to email me. I was sending them emails to remind them about our “agreement”, Mum called the secretary multiple times and even visited the school personally twice. My Maths teacher responded very quickly, then two others responded after much more time, but my Polish and History teacher still didn’t bother to write anything.

And today in the morning I checked my emails and saw that my Polish teacher wrote me an email asking whether it will be possible for me to come for Polish exams this Saturday and if not, we can find some other time. I felt a bit disoriented. OK, I’ll come willingly, but what’s the material for these exams? Does she suppose I’ll just come and pass whatever she’ll ask me without having any information about what this exam includes and what I should be prepared for? So yeah that made me feel very pissed off and stressed and I wrote to her just that, that I am absolutely OK with the time, but first I’d like to know what should I learn as despite my Mum’s and my messages we didn’t get any information from her, so it might be “a little bit hard” for me to prepare in four days to an exam from the whole term. So when we got back home I checked the email again and she wrote that she is “surprised” because straight after she talked with the secretary, she sent me an email with everything. She wrote she’ll check her another email and send it again. I was afraid that maybe indeed she sent it but I just missed it so I checked all the folders with emails I had, but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I felt rather confused. My Mum says it is just her excuse, but what I’m curious about are her motives? Is it really so hard for her to send me an email? Is she really so busy? Is it something in me that causes people to turn off so desperately? Or has she some early onset Alzheimer or other neurodegenerative disease that makes her forgetful? Striking. I must say I don’t get it at all… Don’t really know what I should do with this now as I still didn’t get any message from her, and I’m afraid that even if I’ll get it tonight or tomorrow, it might be very hard to prepare in such a short period of time. I’m not a perfectionist as it comes to school, I never freak out about marks and they’ve never mattered to me, actually at all, so I’ll be just glad if I’ll pass it, but if I will know hardly anything, it will be so terribly stressful. I feel like doing this to your students is at least disrespectful. Unless it is indeed some unfortunate accident. Oh gosh what a rant, didn’t expect it to go in this direction. 😀

And in the evening I watched some documentary about Wales with Dad, who was constantly like “Wooow! They have only ruins there, don’t they?” 😀 and that’s it about my day. Now going to have some Mishtime again. Somehow I have an inkling I won’t sleep very well tonight. I am having so intensive time recently and I feel like I might have migraine soon, hope I’m wrong, but if not, I doubt I’ll get any sleep tonight. HOpe you all had or are having a nice day. 🙂

Finally, much closer to getting a diagnosis.

I’ve been trying to write this post for a few days and make as much sense of it as possible, but for some reason I found it rather hard and had a lot going on in a few days, so decided to write it much shorter and all over again.

So as you may remember if you read my post about my last Zombie day, I was significantly depressed for days lately. I mean, my depression is generally bigger than even a few months ago as I am so much concerned about my future, not knowing what to do with it at all and other things get in the way as well, but, you know, you always have ups and downs, and that time surely was a massive down, but now I’m much much more stable luckily. In fact right now I’m doing really well and I can’t recall feeling so well in months. That’s really great. And you may also remember that I’ve been thinking more about my psychiatric diagnosis, which I still don’t have. On the one hand, I’ve been anxious about it and wanted it to stay this way, I was afraid to find out what is wrong with me, so in some way I preferred the fact that I still don’t know for sure. On the other hand though, I felt somewhat inadequate, like if they still can’t find out what it is, I surely have to be too complex, and maybe even am just faking all that, also I wanted to finally get appropriate support, which is much more difficult when you don’t know what’s going on with you. Of course I knew that it’s not a rare thing that people don’t know their diagnoses for much longer, but I think they also have to be really frustrated with it, that’s why I even more understand people struggling with it ’cause I know at least in some way how they feel, no matter whether it is a psychiatric or medical diagnosis. I didn’t think about it much usually, but it always was somewhere in the background of my life, some bothering insecurity about what’s the case with me.

I know I have GAD, I know I’ve had reactive depression, but since its symptoms didn’t fully disappear my therapist, or rather former therapist, as I don’t see her on a regular basis any longer ’cause it’s impossible for her, started to think I may be dysthymic, but to be diagnosed with dysthymia, you need to show the symptoms for two years at least, plus I also have hypothyroidism and it wasn’t stabilised back then, so the psychiatrist who examined me then suspected I may be so down all the time because of it or at least partly because of it, which I also think might be true. The thing is, as long as I can remember I was more or less depressive, but I was in a rather unfavourable environment for most of my childhood, which was the boarding school, so my therapist said it was rather normal, and I think so too. Since I also tend to experience moodswings and go high, (or just noticeably higher) suddenly, sometimes completely for no apparent reason, she also told me she thinks I might be bipolar, not dysthymic. But nothing more speciffic.

And now as this last depressive episode hit me, I started to think more about the thing wit my diagnosis. I am usually very very prone to self-loathing when significantly depressed and that time it felt like I must be very different in a bad sense of this word from other people if there aren’t any criteria I could fit in to. Not because I wanted so much to be labelled, but just because I think it would help me to find some help with my struggles. So yeah it was on my mind a lot of the time recently.

Then when I already felt more functional and a bit less depressive I was reading some Swedish blogs online and came across a blog written by girl with avoidant personality disorder. I was reading it with a lot of interest, firstly because I liked her style of writing and I just found interesting what she was writing about in general, but secondly –
because when she wrote about her disorder, about her feelings, relationships with other people etc. I was just like WOW! it’s so much like me! and as I was reading her posts, at some point I felt a kinda impulse and checked out something more about AVPD. I had a brief idea about it, I am into psychology, medicine and like to go deeply into others’ personalities so there was no way I couldn’t hear about it before, but I didn’t know much. Just much enough to feel this weird impulse and find out to how much I can relate to it and to what people having it struggle with. You know what? I went through WHO and DSM criteria and other basic stuff on all Wikipedias I can understand and I got a massive shock. I know people with AVPD need to fit general PD’s criteria as well, but so far almost everything was like me. Well, various symptoms to various extents, like I think I’m much more assertive now than when I was a kid, but still there are situations when I can’t feel very assertive, or I won’t try to make friends for the sake of having friends, changing my personality, likes, dislikes, way of being for others, just to be accepted by them, unless something in my attitude could be harming for someone of course, but I still do want to have real friendships and be accepted as I am. Basically as I was reading about AVPD, the vast majority of things was basically as if someone was writing about me, no matter if I read an article or a post from someone dealing with it. I felt very shocked and overloaded and didn’t know what to do with this, why did I actually wanted to deepen this topic? Shit.

But when I cooled down a little bit I decided to talk about it to my Mum. It was very hard. Like VERY, VEERY hard. I suck at talking about feelings and all that related stuff, it’s scary! But I tried to do my best and also my Mum was very supportive. I mean she always is, but I wouldn’t think she could be as supportive as she turned out to be in this particular situation. She got it and we both laughed a bit how much it is like me, but also quite like her too, only not to such extend definitely. She accepted it and we had a long long talk about it and everything related, which, although hard, was also very rewarding. I think for both of us. I think I haven’t opened up to her so much for quite a long time until then. I felt so close to her and that felt really good. I feel like this talk, and the one we had next day, on Sunday, changed a lot in our relationship. We were always very close, but now we get each other more, there was just so many incredibly important things we didn’t talk about before, which we didn’t know about each other. After that second long chat we went for a long walk and had a drink afterwards. It feels so good she doesn’t care whether I have this AVPD or not, I was almost sure she’ll be overwhelmed and maybe even make a little drama, as she is so emotional and impulsive, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to explain things to her from my perspective. But she knew them before I even started. It really changes things and now I myself don’t care that much whether I might have AVPD or not, I think if I have it, it’s really good I finally know it. Maybe it will help me to heal from it at least a bit. I realise that probably if not my own inquisitiveness, no one would tell me I may have it. And I’m glad there is a name for what I experience. It means there are other people struggling with almost the same stuff, which in turn means we aren’t alone in struggling, at least that’s how I see it. As for my anxiety in all kinds of social situations, I’ve been always calling it simply “social anxiety”, although I didn’t get an official diagnosis for it, but, for me it seemed obvious. Only that when I talked to people with social anxiety, my anxiety seemed more, hm, general. Like, most of them have it in particular situations – talking to a stranger on the street, speaking in front of an audience, or they’re afraid that something weird and awkward will happen while they’re with other people, while my anxiety is present all the time or almost all the time when I’m socialising. It even happens that I feel anxious talking to my family. Not only my extended family It’s a strange kind of anxiety, hence I’ve always felt kinda different to people with this classic form of social anxiety. In some ways my anxiety is even hard to explain. Actually, before I found out abou t AVPD, I didn’t even fully and consciously realise I’m afraid of rejection and how much I’m afraid of it, only that I’ve read it and then thought it through thoroughly and talked about with my Mum and therapist helped me to get to it.

Another important thing that happened on Saturday, the day I found out more about AVPD was that after talking with Mum, I called my therapist and asked her for her opinion. This was another lengthy and exhausting talk, we discussed plenty of things. She said that as she knows me for more than 5 years, it’s very clear to her how my personality resonates with description of AVPD, we also analysed all the diagnostic criteria and other stuff. So she said she’ll talk about me wit another therapist, who is her friend and who is professionally very interested in all kinds of personality disorders and maybe she will be able to schedule an appt with me just to be able to relate and say her opinion on that and then we’ll see what will come out next. If she will also say I seem to have it, then a psychiatrist will be involved. I also asked her about that dysthymia thing and she said that as two years have passed since that assessment I had and not much has changed as for my mood patterns, I should be tested again and she said she will talk about it to the psychiatrist who examined me back then. I’ve never tracked my mood specifically before, only wrote in my diary about it as about many other things, but I think that even if I didn’t do it, it’s clear enough for me that my depressive mood is very persistent, although with its intensiffication differs. But since that talk with my therapist I decided I will also make a special journal only for tracking my mood. Then on Monday she emailed me and told me that therapist working with personality disorders is willing to see me on Tuesday next week.

So as you see a lot was going on in a very short time and I have a feeling that now things will speed up a lot. I am still a bit shocked, but just because I wouldn’t ever thought I may have AVPD if not that girl’s blog, that’s just so new to me. But since I’m over that big depressive abyss for now, I got much more positive approach to things and I think my Mum’s support helps me a lot right now and her optimism about this whole situation is kind of infectious.

Sorry it is so chaotic and probably not the best stylistically , but hopefully readable. 😀 Just wanted to update you guys a little bit as my blog is also about my mental difficulties so I thought it’s very important to at least mention about what’s going on in this area of my life right now.

Thanks for reading. 🙂