if I can't tell free stories for people.
I'm going to talk about why I think that is, because it's not because anyone here on Dreamwidth has been a jerk. It appears to be more tied into the kinds of "abusive religion / family" things that we're used to writing about. It just took a visit to a "Mormon Meme Translator," which explains the hidden meanings behind the things we grew up with, to help us see why we are having such trouble with this.
Content note: Brief, nongraphic mention of how we were so depressed as a Mormon that we almost killed ourself, which is not how we're feeling right now, and spoilers for the plot of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
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Just read Wundergeek's comic about depression and anxiety. :P And how they make you sabotage yourself.
So, what does this mean for you?
Honestly, I don't think you (meaning anyone reading this) have to do anything. We have to not be so hard on ourself, to be more realistic about what we can do, and to be accepting when bad things happen or we can't do what was expected.
We're pretty sure our readers and players are. We just need to learn it as well, because this perfectionism is a bigger problem than our triggers and lack of spoons are. The latter we can work around or wait to subside, while the former makes us feel like we shouldn't try to begin with.
Having said that, some more hugs and encouragement would be nice. >_> We're sorry we're being so hard on ourself.
Yesterday, I got stranded a long way from home with no way back.
Content note: A longish story about the hidden costs of being poor, the inhumaneness of "personal responsibility" teachings, and how jewelfox learned to be mean to herself from her abusive family of origin. Contains swearing, transphobia, and poverty-shaming.
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I'm not writing this because I bear a strong grudge that I haven't let go of (although that may be part of it). I'm writing this because this is stuff that has really affected me, and has changed how I see myself whether I want it to or not.
My family of choice, my real loved ones, don't see what I did as unreasonable, and don't want me to see myself as "irresponsible" and a "burden." I don't want to see myself that way, either. So I have to deconstruct why I feel that way, so that I can maybe move past it.
I hope that this helps someone else, who needs to do the same thing. I hope you can learn to value yourself as a person.
* Willful ignorance is the defining trait of religious and political conservatism, as near as I can tell. It is also the defining trait of evil alignment, IMO.
We've talked about them a lot in our previous posts, but those are kind of scattered through our journal and some of them were written in various states of incoherent rage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; anger is a sign that your boundaries are being violated, and is as natural and necessary as physical pain is. Expressing it should be a warning to other people to back off, or to help so your pain goes away.
Unfortunately, it also made us hard to understand sometimes, especially when each post usually addressed one particular thing and assumed prior knowledge of what we'd been writing about. So here's the condensed version of why our "family of origin" and "family of choice" are two separate things, and why it would not be healthy or possible for us to change that.
Content note: We don't go into too many details about their physical and emotional abuse, but the ones we do mention might trigger some people. We also talk about their homophobic, transphobic, and sexist religion some, and the things that they've done because of it.
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We currently have no contact with our parents of origin, and don't have online contact information for our siblings even if we wanted to talk to them. We don't want to have contact with any of them until they demonstrate self-awareness, and apologize and try to make amends for their behaviour, instead of just sweeping it under the rug and pretending like nothing has happened. Because as long as they think that it's normal and okay to hurt other people the way that they do, but harmful and deviant just for me to exist, they are dangerous.
In the human social circles we've been inside, there is enormous stigma against saying that you've been hurt, especially by someone who's part of the circle.
The assumption is that you've brought it on yourself. You chose to take offence. You chose to be victimized, or your choices left you susceptible to it. You now choose to play the victim, and it has to be a role that you play because no real victims exist. Not here, not in our circle, not as a result of our kind.
The second-fastest way to lose friends is to point out who they victimize.
The fastest way to lose friends is to require them to take responsibility for having hurt you. Especially if you're too hurt by them to do it in a polite way, because politeness is the social grease that's smeared over violence to mask it.
A bit of a run-on sentence, from http://stormsandpower.blogspot.com/2014/
For me this work raises other questions especially at this time when so many people seem troubled by the facts of Mormonism’s past and the politics of its present as to whether that ex- of ex-Mormon means you can no longer define them as part of the experience of the Mormons as a people.
I think that for a lot of people, that's true. Being "Mormon" doesn't necessarily mean being a member in good standing of the modern, correlated Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no matter what its leaders say. It's more of a cultural identity, like being Jewish, and there are people who cherish and embrace that identity even as they question Mormonism's basic doctrines or historical foundations.
Personally, though, I see myself as less of a participant in the Mormon identity, and more of a victim of Mormon culture and institutional Mormon religion.
Politically incorrect, adj.: "True, but we pretend it isn't"
It's politically incorrect to use the v-word in today's society, where everyone is an ubermensch and can breathe lightning and decide whether or not something hurts them. But you can't really have a conversation about things like "victimization" and "victim-blaming" without there being victims.
The word has come to mean "morally deficient person who dwells on past grievances and blames others for her own flaws," when it really just means "person who's been wronged." And while I'm okay with some people I'd otherwise call abuse victims choosing to identify as "survivors" of abuse instead, I also think that term places abuse in the realm of natural disasters and acts of god. Things that just happen on their own, that you can't prevent and can only learn how to deal with.
It may seem that way to abuse victims / survivors, since abusers choose people who can't fight back as their targets. But in my experience, the reason abusers blame victims -- and telling them they can't call themselves victims is a form of victim-blaming -- is to keep them in an abusive situation, both mentally and physically. If they're the ones causing the abuse, there's no need to try to escape or seek redress; they just need to make themselves worthy of not being abused anymore.
And that's what Mormonism does
To a lot of people outside the institutional Mormon church, with its political activism, and to a lot of people inside it. Who don't fit into Mormon culture, but don't have a meaningful choice about what culture to participate in.
I wanted to call myself Mormon, but kept being reminded that I made a very poor one.
I was "unworthy" of their sacred ordinances and coming-of-age rituals, because I was honest in Bishops' interviews. I was constantly reminded of how different I was from the hand-shaking, back-slapping, neurotypical Mormons around me, and when my mother of origin saw me cringing from physical contact she chastised me for it.
I don't know how many youth dances and "young single adult" activities I spent pacing in driveways, parking lots, and darkened hallways, either listening to my MP3 player or watching the shadows get longer.
I don't know how many lessons and talks I sat through where people told me that the technology which enabled me to live a halfway fulfilling life, connect with people who valued me for who I was, and have experiences I never could otherwise, was an irrelevant worldly distraction.
And when I finally left the Mormon church, and started telling people about the abuse I received at the hands of my Mormon family, all the Mormons I talked to about it had two reactions: They felt very sorry for me, and they distanced themselves and their culture from the abuse, with canned statements like "not all Mormons are like that" and "our church teaches against that." Even though my parents of origin were, and as far as I know still are, "worthy" members who were never chastised or held accountable by the church for their actions, and who used its teachings to justify (and its power structures to enable) hurting me.
Meanwhile, my interactions with church members and leadership were major factors in my becoming suicidally depressed.
So if a non-mormon leaves the Mormon church
... can she still be called an ex-mormon? I don't know.
I know I've always been fascinated with Mormonism, but it's become more of a morbid fascination since I left. Their culture, doctrine, and practices basically embody abuse and rape culture and kyriarchy, and any time I need an object lesson for "what not to do" I can use them.
I also know Mormon culture has influenced me. My method of prayer is still very close to theirs, even if the object of worship is different, and their teachings on sexuality are the reason that I'm such a prude. :P Not because I'm okay with slut-shaming, rape victim blaming, and having adult men ask kids of all genders about their sex practices one-on-one behind closed doors, but because the shame I internalized from those teachings is something I may never be rid of.
If there's anything (arguably) positive I got out of Mormonism, it's being unafraid to be different in public. Nowadays, the institutional church's PR machine is spending millions of dollars to make Mormons appear normal, or at least bring them up to Mitt Romney levels of normalcy. But I was raised with the thought that I was supposed to be part of "a peculiar people," with beliefs very different from everyone else's, and I should be unafraid to share those different beliefs.
I like to think I've learned some about boundaries since then. But as you can see from the sidebar, I'm still okay with being different, and with explaining my differences to others. It helps that the only way we know how to describe ourself truthfully is to use different words, and pronouns, than others use.
Content note: Sexism, descriptions of physical and emotional abuse, some brief strong language towards the end, and descriptions of interpersonal conflict within a family.
There's a good story somewhere in Ender's Game. A child gets taken away to a magical school In Space, and is forced to survive when both teachers and students are literally trying to kill him. In the end, he faces a moral dilemma, and how he responds after everything that he's been through defines who he is as a character.
It resonates with me, because it basically describes a Mormon upbringing.
On the one hand, you're mass produced and depersonalized, especially if you come from one of those Utah families with nine kids. On the other hand, you're told repeatedly that you are a Chosen One, part of a chosen generation of Mormon kids, and your actions and faithfulness will help bring about the second coming of Christ. (Mormons are averse to calling him "Jesus" for some reason.)
Ender spends his whole childhood training to be a soldier. Mormon kids spend their whole childhoods training to be either a mom or a missionary. I can't overstate how much these two roles are glorified, or how much the bike-riding, nametag-wearing missionaries are held up as role models to Mormon kids who are assigned the male gender. And all the while, your belief that you're one of the few people that God approves of -- and that everyone else needs to be like you -- is creating this wedge between you and the people around you, which you are encouraged to see as "they hate me because of my righteousness."
Seriously, this is the major theme in the first couple parts of the Book of Mormon. The POV character is a Mary Sue, whose brothers hate him and repeatedly try to kill him because he's so awesome and always does what God wants him to.
The problem with Ender's Game is not that Ender goes through all this. It's that Orson Scott Card did, and is apparently blind to it.
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(Content note: Transphobia, detailed account of interpersonal conflict.)
I went to speak with my therapist the other day, and the first thing on the agenda was how I was treated by one of the receptionists on my last visit to my psychiatrist's office.
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I kind of have to fight my Mormon upbringing to write accounts of being treated badly. I feel like, what she said and the way she said it were right; I just need to be patient and accept that I'm not a full person, and it's okay to do things to me that they would never be okay with if it were anyone else. Abuses of power and trust are supposed to stay hidden and never see light, because abusers are more valuable than the people they hurt and it's important to not hurt their feelings.
The fact that I was raised this way, by people I now know were terrible, is part of the reason I write about this. Also because I want to keep my friends and loved ones posted, and I want to remember what happened and explain it to myself, so that I don't slip back into feeling like I deserve it all and it's all my fault.
(Content note: Abusive religion and families, depression and self/victim-blaming.)
One of the reasons I still sometimes visit the exmormon Reddit is because it helps to see what I went through from an outside perspective. When you're Mormon and live in an abusive family, everything's supposed to be all smiles and happiness, and you suppress even your memories of the times that they're not.
Part of the reason for this is that you are told, outright, that when you're having hard times it's your fault:
My FIL is a Branch President [Pastor] at the MTC [Missionary Training Center]. He shared an insight that turned my stomach [...]
Every so many weeks there is a set talk that is rebroadcast. The main theme of the message (from one of the 12 [Mormon apostles], I think) is that obedience and worthiness (and work) are the key elements of missionary success. And that there are people prepared in the mission field, prepared for every specific missionary. It is vitally and eternally important that every missionary be worthy of the full guidance of the Spirit™ to ensure they can be led to these people. These nonmembers, these brothers and sisters, are relying on the missionaries to be worthy so as to receive the inspiration to give the nonmembers a chance at the gospel – possibly their only or best chance in this life! The guilt of worthiness is laid on THICK!
So thick, in fact, that every week after this rebroadcast the Branch Presidencies are overwhelmed with missionaries bawling and shaking in dire need to confess to sins so as to be worthy. They are terrified that their past mistakes will condemn someone else. They line up to confess things they hadn’t shared before entering the MTC(fearing they’ll be sent home) or reconfess to perfect strangers sins they already owned up to but are afraid they need to make double/triple sure they have covered so they won’t condemn someone through unworthiness.
Emphasis in the original.
This isn't always the way Mormons handle these things. There's a glurgy song one of them wrote which confronts this viewpoint, and shows how unfair life is. Then it goes on to remind the Mormon listeners that "after the trials we will be blessed, for this life is a test." It's still a bad way of looking at things, and I've seen it used to minimize other people's suffering as being God's will and nothing to complain about. But it at least acknowledges that bad things happen to people who don't deserve them.
What it never quite got around to pointing out is that part of that unfairness is who gets blamed for what happens to them and who doesn't. The 18-year-olds entering the MTC are near the bottom of the Mormon hierarchy, right above women, poor people, and gays. And they're blamed for everything that goes wrong, like getting zero baptisms in a European mission. They usually pay for this privilege, out of their or their families' pockets. Meanwhile, the rich white men doing the blaming -- the Mission Presidents -- live in big houses and have their living expenses, medical expenses, kids' educations, and a lot of other things paid for out of members' tithing.
The biggest revelation I had, when I started reading books like Barbara Ehrenreich's, was that there were people who played by "the rules" and were thrown away anyway. This was such a blow to my system that I don't think I ever recovered. In a way, it helped to find out that not everything was my fault, and that the world was just a scary and unfair place. But knowing that doesn't make the guilt and feelings of worthlessness go away, and doesn't really help me deal with it.
I think that's why a lot of Mormons have this "just world" belief. (TW: Rape) They know, somewhere in their hearts, that they are all play-acting. They put so many things, so much loss and pain, on top of a shaky foundation of belief in their God's will and power, even when it means believing that they must have prevented him from blessing them through their unworthiness. And they know that if they ever stop bracing against it, it will fall down and crush them.
I'd have more sympathy for them if they weren't standing on me while they're doing so, and blaming me for not being a doormat.
I have even less sympathy for narcissists, whatever church they attend. Because what's worse than feeling like everything is your fault, is believing that nothing is.
Content note: Spoilers for the Ender's Game film, and a certain PC strategy game.
5 minutes later ...
And now for our thoughts about how the story itself should have gone, inspired by Will Wildman's spectacular Ender's Game deconstruction.
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Like seemingly most people who use the service, I have a library of Steam games that I bought when they were on sale, most of which I haven't played beyond a few hours if at all. In my case, though, it's not because I'm busy. Even when I can do anything I want, I rarely feel like I want to play them right now.
I guess most people have their own comfort zones. But mine seems to be so narrowly focused that my idea of fun is to play grindy MMOs, like RuneScape circa 2007. Or do grindy things in MMOs, like hundreds of random battles over and over again to obtain the extremely rare atmas in FFXIV.
Maybe it's how I deal with a high-stress environment. When you're being triggered every other day, and under tremendous emotional load, the idea of digital "comfort food" that's always there and always nearly the same experience can be soothing. Plus, being good at maintaining attention on repetitive tasks has advantages.
But then I put off reading messages from my loved ones, because I can't handle the thought that someone genuinely cares about my well-being. I fail to reply to supportive comments, that people leave on my most depressed entries, and I sometimes skip past them entirely. Not because they mean nothing to me, but because they mean so much.
I have procrastinated reading a loving, supportive message from my mother of choice burning_ground before, so that I could read things on Mormon websites that make me hate myself. Just because I'm used to the latter, and not used at all to the former.
Am I trying to conserve what I see as a scarce, precious resource? Am I so susceptible to autistic sensory overload that I avoid beneficial things? Or am I just a mean old lady, who hates fun and nice things and wants everyone to be miserable?
Maybe I just still feel like I have to do things I hate, and shouldn't do things that I like enough to notice the fact that I do.
Earlier, I realized that if someone tells me not to be selfish, it's usually because they want to keep the selfishness all to themselves. I'm now convinced that if someone tells me not to take offence, it's because they're going to start dishing it out.
Valerie Aurora wrote an extremely good essay addressing what to do in this situation, and who is responsible for doing it. It starts by explaining what's wrong with telling suicidal people to "reach out and talk to a friend," as though this would save their lives and not merely be an added burden, and goes on to address things like sending the police to intervene. It argues
that we, as as [sp] society, should take more responsibility for making people’s lives bearable, and focus on supporting more concrete ways to prevent suicide, like helping people contact professional help, supporting research and treatment of depression, and fighting for social justice.
For instance, in the case of my parents of origin apparently calling a United Way suicide hotline which in turn sent police officers to my door -- as described in this somewhat visceral entry which I've now made public -- more helpful things they could have done to diminish my risk of suicide would have been:
Encourage me to seek mental health treatment when I began having "emotional problems," about 12 years ago while we were living in Utah, from a licensed therapist who places my well-being ahead of adherence to Mormon doctrine.
Read the Mormon version of Supportive Families, Healthy Children, a booklet published by the Family Acceptance Project. It explains how treating me the way they did when I came out to them as transgender increased my risk of suicide significantly, and shows how to relate to LGBT children in a way that the data show better upholds Mormon teachings on the importance of families.
Treat my increasing unwellness and depression while living with them as our problem, not my problem, with the goal of helping me become healthy and not self-loathing (and gender dysphoric). Instead of communicating to me in a number of ways, and bringing me to a church which taught me explicitly, that if I can't live a sufficiently Mormon-y life it's better if I killed myself.
Reach out to me with the intent of making restitution for the "mistakes" they admit to making and the damage they've already done. Such as my father of origin beating me as a young child, terrorizing me once I became sexually mature, and then breaking his agreement to co-sign a long-term lease and effectively raising my rent by $100 a month once I came out to him.
(Although I haven't counted, that last one is pretty easy to put a price tag on, and it is looming over every interaction or potential interaction with them. Why should I even talk to them when they directly caused me $XXX in damage, and show no sign of wanting to make up for it?)
Anyway, while that's all specific to my situation you can see how it applies to many other suicidal persons or marginalized groups of people. Instead of giving unhelpful advice, or using force to intervene, if you're concerned about someone you should educate yourself about their situation, and then (personally or as a society) take pressure off of them so that they can regain their emotional health. This applies doubly if you or your society are responsible for the state someone's in, like with young persons, victims of abuse, persons of colour, indigenous persons, poor persons, and gender / sexuality / species / romantic / religious minorities.
Whose choice is it, anyway?
The way things are set up right now, in the quasi-theocratic settler state that I live in, suicide is basically a crime, no matter how hellish your life is. The only way that makes sense is if your life isn't your own.
As Valerie says:
I want to put in a word for suicide as a legitimate, reasonable option in some cases. If you can’t imagine a situation in which killing yourself seems like the best option, you simply haven’t suffered very much. Suicide is, in a sense, the last form of protest against suffering that is too strong to make life worth living. Sometimes that suffering is purely organic – there’s something wrong with your body and it’s caused by nothing related to society. But sometimes, suicide is a protest against being forced to function and give support to a society that is so unfair and unequal that it’s not worth staying alive.
If you really want to help, don’t do things because they help salve your personal feelings of loss and guilt, do things that lessen the suffering and illness that cause suicide.
She gives a list of these things towards the end of her essay.
Thank you to everyone reading here who has helped with those things.
Content note: Violence, threats of violence, and physical / religious abuse.
One of the big things my therapist seemed to look for when diagnosing me with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was the way I relived trauma events in dreams. Even since leaving the Mormon church, for instance, I can't count how many times I dreamed that I "had" to go there again, with my family of origin or otherwise, and was basically treated as a child again. Sometimes I wake up from screaming at terrible people.
My mother of origin told me in an email once that I was being brainwashed by things that I read on the Internet, which were turning me against "my family." But the Internet and the mental health profession didn't give me these dreams. They just gave me the words for the reason I have them.
The Mormon church gave my family of origin words for the things that I'm going through, also ... like how when I was terrified to be around them, I was "bringing a cloud of darkness into [their] home." They just happen to be the wrong words, and to serve no purpose except to help them blame and fear their own victims. And remain ignorant of what others go through.
I feel bad for saying this, but I'm actually not sure how much most of the comments and compliments I've received help, after reading this essay on /r/raisedbynarcissists.
I think a lot of it may have to do with how my ego was inflated, growing up, as a homeschooled Mormon. I was told over and over again that I was part of a chosen generation, I was a prodigy, I knew better than almost everyone else, I had more authority in my little finger than the Pope did in his whole funny hat, I was going to live while the earth was cleansed with fire ... a lot of things designed to inflate the egos of young people and tie their self-worth to the church, which I was explicitly told to do.
Then finding out that in order to keep getting that treatment, I would have to lie. But not processing it that way, because lying was out of the question. And not realizing that the people around me did it anyway, all the time.
I think I eventually saw that in the situation I was in, all the ego-inflatingness I received really said more about the people dispensing it than myself. People would tell me things that reinforced their own cultural narrative. They liked that I exemplified some part of the story they told themselves about how the world works. Sometimes it was painfully obvious, like when a mentally ill "friend of the family" who was staying with us told me how I would pilot the spacecraft we apparently kept in our basement.
They didn't really want to know that I masturbated, or was depressed, or felt sick very often, or had never had a full-time job. They wanted me to exist in their minds as an object.
I understand hugs, and listening, and mirroring my distress, as signs of love and affection. Compliments just go right past us. We used to treasure the ones that we got for our writing, but somewhere along the line we started to feel they were so hyperbolic as to be unbelievable. We're not sure why.
Compliments based on the kind of person we supposedly are don't even register. They are like telling us "God has a plan for everyone," or having cishets ask about our relationship when they assume that we're in one like theirs. It's at once disturbingly personal and very impersonal, and it doesn't bother us so much as make us nervous. Because we feel like the person is outlining the conditions on which they will relate to us, and if we do something that contradicts the image they have of us in their mind they will shun us.
I feel like they don't know what they are talking about, and even if they're saying something nice they're really just saying how much I affirm something they believe in.
I think the compliments I've been most touched by are when people describe the effect that I or my writing have had on them. That feels like a thing I can take credit for. The best I can say about myself, then, is that I remind other people of what's important to them, or have helped them escape from a bad situation.
The worst I can say is that I'm terrible and shouldn't exist. I tell myself that at least ten times a day, just as a reflex. It's usually brought on by either doing something I find enjoyable, or hearing someone tell me that I'm awesome.
That's how my father of origin responded when I came out to him as bisexual. And this is really how a lot of conservative religious types see sexual orientation and gender identity. They think it's something you choose to do, because sex.
Content note: This post talks about sexual shame and homophobia, and contains links to discussions of rape and child solicitation.
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Content note: Religious, physical, and arguably sexual abuse, as well as non-graphic discussion of sexuality which may be TMI for some.
This is what I was taught, growing up in the Mormon church:
Your body is the temple of God, and it belongs to him. Your "sacred parts" were given to you so that you can create new bodies for God's spirit children, and to form bonds in a marriage relationship between husband and wife. You are not allowed to use them for any other purpose. You may not have those feelings in any other situation.
Beyond that, I was taught covertly and overtly that the rest of my body belongs to God and/or to the people around me. The Word of Wisdom, the Mormon dietary code which forbids coffee and tea, was imposed on me whether I wanted it or not. My parents of origin got mad at me for trying to refuse physical affection, when it was forced on me by them or church members. And one leader I had in Boy Scouts forced himself on me, roughing up my shoulders for what seemed like a whole minute after I told him I'd just had a tetanus shot, and telling me I was a "wuss" and that I needed to "beef up!"
Beyond that, there was an expectation that I make myself bodily available for any meeting, calling, or requirement my family or church imposed on me. I was guilted for staying home sick from church, and even guilted myself for it because deep down I knew that I wanted to stay home. I was asked to help tear down a home that had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina, and was given no facial protection in rooms filled with dust and mold spores. I understood that I could get violently sick or physically harmed on a two-year proselyting mission, but that it was my responsibility to go anyway, because God owned my life and he demanded this tithe of my time.
People in "the world" think they own their bodies and lives, I was taught, but those are Satan's lies. A life lived for yourself is shallow and meaningless, filled with cheap pleasures and devoid of the love of marriage and family relationships. Only through marrying in God's temple can those relationships continue beyond the grave. Everyone needs to be taught this, and anything that could interfere with the eternal family needs to be destroyed.
Including my awful, unworthy "habit" of masturbation, and my "addiction" to "pornography." Which is what they called looking up PG-rated furry art, with scandalous things like bare shoulders in it.
This is how I feel about myself, deep down, even today. If I am ever in a situation where I'm having sexual feelings, especially when there's the possibility of having them with someone else, I panic and either freeze up or try to escape. On two separate occasions I've bailed when people I was attracted to tried to initiate sexual encounters. When I'm alone, the easiest way to get through it is just to give in, but I try to do so as quickly as possible so I can get back to pretending I'm not the kind of person who actually wants to.
It's not "just" sex, either, as though a need at the core of my being to be intimate with someone who loves and appreciates me is a hobby I could set aside. It's everything. Going around town today, I felt like I do not belong here and any second now someone's going to call me out on that fact. It wasn't as bad as it was before antidepressants, and I did just have a depressive episode yesterday which kind of weakened me. But I live in what feels like the most whitebread American suburb ever, and every day I set foot outside the park that surrounds where I live I'm reminded that people move here to get away from people like me.
(Of course, when I go to the city it's like being hit with a wall of NOISE. Hyperacusis FTW.)
I don't know how to change the way I feel about myself. Sometimes I don't feel this way, and I have more energy and can forget that I'm not supposed to exist. But everything crashes down whenever I'm triggered, or when I encounter a situation where I'm reminded that my "sacred parts" still exist. Suddenly I am a horrible, selfish person, who's trying to take from God and from other people what is rightfully theirs.
One of the first things that our new therapist did was diagnose us with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in addition to anxiety and depression. Despite having a credentialed professional certify us as being this way, we still have a lot of lingering incredulousness at the concept.
The problem is, ignoring it won't make it go away.
A few days ago, our home internet went out for the second time in a month. We called tech support for our ISP, in the process finding out that our free government cellphone service had been canceled even though we made a call to keep our account active like they asked. We then went online using our mobile broadband modem (which gets 500 MB of completely free data per month through a company which very aggressively upsells you on stuff), and let a few people know on Skype before logging out.
When we woke up, we found that our modem's plan had been used up, because we hadn't turned off Windows Update. The plan would reset in two days, or we could buy another 500 MB for $10. We did not have $10 because everything was earmarked for rent. On top of that, while discussing the finances we found out we owed someone a large (to us) sum of money because of a misunderstanding that we felt responsible for.
We freaked the hell out.
We started apologizing compulsively for causing the problem, for being the problem, for existing. We told people (and honestly believed) that our life was not worth the sum in question. We felt completely helpless and powerless, and yet knew that we had to try somehow to repay it in full even though every day made us go further in debt.
None of this makes any sense, from a distance. We weren't dealing with bill collectors or landlords (the cash set aside for them wasn't the problem). We were dealing with our partners. Of course they would pay the $10 so we could have (limited) internet access while waiting to get a new modem. Of course they would take responsibility for the misunderstanding and get everything taken care of, just like they've done with our finances for awhile. They were more worried about us, and wanted to have us online with them.
But that's not how we saw it. Because having PTSD means that your triggers take you back to the original situation that traumatized you. And we're badly triggered by finances, and by being deprived of things that we need. We feel like at any time everything can be taken away from us, and when it does we'll deserve it. So when stuff goes wrong all at once, really fast, in ways that we didn't expect, we don't feel like "ugh, there goes the power again. What do I pay these noobs for!?" We feel like
We've been physically ill for the past few days. The day it all happened, we slept for about 16 hours on and off. Our system was flooded with stress hormones, and we still feel anxious and on edge. We had horrible heartburn, to the point where we got nauseous if we stood up for too long and had to elevate our head in order to sleep. And that's not even getting into the more unpleasant symptoms. >_o
Reality is that which does not go away if you stop believing in it. Unfortunately, the reality seems to be that we're very sick, and might never recover from this. Not unless we avoid our triggers completely ... which in this society seems almost impossible.
If only they knew they were making things worse.
EDIT: In hindsight, I think part of the reason we feel hyper and nervous is because we just had our Celexa dose increased by 50 percent and our brain hasn't had time to adjust yet. I remember we felt like this right after going on it originally. I don't think it's what made us physically ill, though. And we had actually worked through our initial distress about things, right up until we realized the part about owing money, and because of the internet being out weren't able to effectively talk to our loved ones about it.