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"But Why?"  
03:04pm 31/08/2015
I have struggled with a lot of things in life and it turns out that it all boils down to needing to know the reason "why" things are the way they are.

This started in childhood by being fascinated by reasonable things that all kids ask. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? These things that science can answer and when I learned the "why" I was content, I moved on to the next lesson that there was.

I loved school and was fanatical about the whole process. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, I loved explaining things I already knew while learning about everything that was still different to me.

This is why when I started forming irrational fears it started weighing me down so heavily. I couldn't figure out why things happened, why people acted the way they did, why people didn't seem to love me the way I loved them. Then it manifested into fear. You close yourself off because you fear the answer to your questions that you so strongly want to know the answers to. Creating a universe inside your head that's dark, filled with the scariest monsters possible, clawing at your insides to get out and see the light.

I realized now that I am able to practice rationalization that it was all born out of the desire to know all the answers. It's why when I'm challenged and do not know the answers, I cave in on myself. It's why being treated like I'm an imbecile strikes me down the fastest.

This is also why I have been thrilled to find that my method of treatment for my Social Anxiety has a name. I found out that it's called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. I did it a bit differently since I didn't invest in a therapist, I was lucky to not need that extensive of treatment. I found someone who cared about me, who saw my worth and valued me as a person, someone who had the patience and desire to protect me from myself. Not to enable me to let myself feel victimized by my situation but to teach me a new way that makes life so much easier and enjoyable.

I've always had a strong awareness for the psychological aspect of life but always used it to decipher other people around me most of all. Now after finding this information about my own mental state and how I was able to take control of my life, to have something to point out and explain to others, it gives me a freedom that I have been so thirsty for.

Read More about CBT here

It's exactly what I was trying to explain to people "how" I broke the chains of my anxiety. I quite literally spoke to myself when the negative, nasty, scary thoughts popped up. "No. That's not right. You are not in danger. This person will not hurt you. If they don't like you, that's their own problem." Once you start believing that, you will be able to accomplish everything you ever dreamed of.
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Weight Gain & Public Shame & Sexuality  
12:25pm 05/05/2015
As a society, some people have come to the decision that "tough love" means that you're cruel to others under the guise of "it's for your own good, this will teach you!", only it is actually just outright bullying and judgement to make yourself feel better about your own shortcomings it turns out.

This most recently occurred to me while I was talking about finger nail biting earlier. People see someone gnawing at their fingers and start saying things like "That's disgusting! Quit that! That's a nasty habit!"

What they don't stop to think about is why someone is chewing on their hands. Most of the time, a person isn't going to resort to self mutilation (yes, it's self mutilation in a very limited way, that doesn't matter how big or small the results are), they are not doing it for fun. They do it out of nervousness, this is also known as anxiety, which can be a huge underlying problem that others do not want to acknowledge because it's hard to judge people harshly when you also feel compassion at the same time.

So instead of smacking your kids hands or putting bitter herbs on their nails to make them stop their "bad habit", address what they are feeling that makes them pick at their nails. Open up a conversation instead of brushing it off as a "habit" that makes their hands dirty and puts germs in their mouths.

People resort to all sorts of small self harm antics when nerves kick in but are trained to think of it just as a habit you've picked up over time instead of a coping mechanism. Others will accept the have anxiety but still feel a deep seeded shame because they can't help it, it's the only thing that they have to do with their hands when they're in that upsetting kind of situation.

I started gaining weight the summer between sixth and seventh grade. My parents finally found their dream property, not very far from our hometown but far enough "out in the country" to be away from it all. I hated it, it felt like light years away for a kid. You have a highway locking you in. Sure there's tons of grass and trees to wander around in, only problem is that I wasn't interested in any of that, I wanted friends and civilization.

I started eating out of boredom a lot, grazing mostly, not necessarily a huge binge all at once. This is how a kid goes through a family size box of Hot Pockets in a weekend.

Nobody picked at me specifically for my weight too much but there would be digs thrown in enough. It didn't help when you're putting on pounds to also be taller than an average girl as well. I felt like a linebacker and I had comments about that once I got further along into school, not downright mean snarks but just passing judgement about how large my body was as a whole. I was likened to a boy often enough, I was already awkward as hell only having a brother to draw influence from for the most part. I would wear boys clothes because they were what fit best in that day and age before "plus size" girls were allotted a couple stores with fashionable choices.

I withdrew into that persona of a tomboy even though desperately I hated it, I hated feeling dumpy and undesirable.

It didn't help with my underlying looming sexuality crisis either. I knew that I was boy crazy but my attraction to girls was real as well. I felt with my appearance issues that I just came across as butch and turned inward even further, that was the last thing I was and wasn't going to identify as such.

I loved wrestling because at the time, the women wrestlers were these strong, independent ladies who could go toe to toe with men and showcase their sexuality along with their power. There just aren't a lot of role models for girls who encompass both. You're either small and fragile or big and clunky, the world isn't always built for a complex case like I always felt I was.

This caused me to withdraw into a world of entertainment and escapism. Instead of putting myself out there in the world and taking risks socially, I could be safe in a dream world where nobody would be able to reject me for any one of the assorted reasons I hatched in my mind. I was stuck in that trap within my own mind and heart until I was in my late twenties, when I felt myself breaking loose and demanding that I test the restrictive boundaries I set around myself.
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The "Triggers" and "Quirks"  
10:36am 04/05/2015
Over the course of the years, from childhood into adulthood my anxiety has been triggered by the oddest and seemingly every day behaviors of the common man. It's taken me all these years to really pin them down and understand what is happening.

Let's start at the smallest ones and end with the big nasty that's actually ruined relationships.

1) Pushy/noisy crowds. This is typical for a lot of people with anxiety from what I've been told. Which is easily understood most of the time since it's compact and your personal space is often violated.

2) Disorganization. Mainly unorganized lines in stores or elsewhere (perfect example: concert merch tables). In recent history, as in this last few months, I have been able to get myself to suffer through this, prior I just wouldn't even try to.

The clutter and the disarray hits me right in the gut. I have that underlying fear of doing things wrong and having to be corrected, I hate feeling stupid and that's a quick way to accomplish it. Even though it's completely irrational, nobody knows the system at this point but my heavy mind will immediately tell me that "there IS a system though and you just don't get it because you're not figuring out the pattern properly!" It's like a giant life-size SAT question of "What's the next shape?" and you just don't know the answer, so you throw your #2 pencil across the room and run out crying.

3) Food. Food. Food. Food. Food. This is the biggest, grizzliest beast of them all. I hate ordering food by myself, I hate eating food in public, I hate food around other people, I hate making choices about food while with others, I hate buying food in general. I hate food and everything it stands for most of the time, until very recently. As in maybe yesterday-ish I wasn't as hateful of food.

This stems from multiple things. As a kid, I had an irrational fear of choking and thus dying. I heard a story about someone not chewing something properly and needing to get their throat cut open with a knife or something of that sort. That started my fear of choking.

This reminds me of a quick story. You know when you swallow a pill and it "sticks" in your throat? I was a kid and Richard Nixon's funeral was on TV. So it was April 1994 according to Wiki. A child of 10 years old that would be. I had taken a pill for whatever ache or pain there was at the time and it stuck in my throat. Instead of freaking out properly, I decided I wouldn't bother throwing a fit. I didn't want my throat cut open. So I laid down on the coach and WAITED TO DIE. That's how twisted my baby sized mind was at that point.

Next, I became ashamed of eating after I started gaining a lot of weight going into my teens. I felt that people were judging me because I was fattening up. This is why I developed a fear of eating in public and didn't do so very often in junior high or high school. My life was a lot of liquids during the day and binging at night when I got home in the seclusion of home.

I would get comfortable eating around people over time, very specific people since they gave me that sense of security that I thrived off of.

I hated gatherings that centered around food. I dreaded company picnics or a dinner at another person's house, birthday parties were also a horrible gnawing feeling in my gut. It always felt rude to crowd around tables and focus on food, it felt like a death sentence.

I got to the point that I wouldn't eat at all. I physically wouldn't be hungry the entire time I was with someone because my senses would shut that off.

The two times I tried to date before finding my safe, comforting and patient boy were horrendous. Nobody made a big deal out of me not eating for the most part but there was awkwardness surrounding it. They don't understand that I'm not just being that girl who orders salad because of the social crap. I don't even want to eat healthy food around most people in my case.

This also goes along with two other issues that are parallel to the food-issues. Manners and knowing what somebody's expectations are at any given moment. I have a fear of being viewed of as rude and my point of view of "rude" seems to be above that of the common people. I don't like feeling rude, pushy or invasive. I live with a fear of "wearing out my welcome".

Another story of how this goes back to childhood is asking for things. I couldn't do it, I couldn't ask someone who wasn't my mom for food if I was hungry, even if I were with someone else in their care. I couldn't ask to use the bathroom at school. Often will still hold it if I don't know where the bathroom is instead of asking.

This caused me to pee my pants in grade school at one point.

That is both my fear of rejection (hearing the word no) and manners (not asking at the right time that's most convenient to the person that's being asked).

I developed a phone phobia and calling issue because of a couple incidents in childhood that lead to getting verbally smacked down for not having proper phone etiquette or at least not to the standards of people I don't even know that well. This followed me through to my adult life, wherein I'd have my mom make as many phone calls and appointments as possible, unless I knew the exact procedure that "worked" for the place that I needed to go.

This is why for many years, I couldn't go to an unfamiliar place on my own. I would plan and go out of my way to use specific gas stations when I started driving because I KNEW that they were "safe" and the standard way things worked there.

Over the last year of forcing myself into situations that otherwise leave me feeling tied up inside, I have learned that it's not that big of deal. That's not something you can learn by just hearing it, you have to experience it yourself, as painful and sickening as it feels. The immersion therapy process allows you to know for a fact that you aren't going to be hurt and that most people are very understanding, forgiving and accepting. The few times you run into an asshole who doesn't like how you word something or how you answer the phone, your speech impediment or the way you stand in line is just that, an asshole who doesn't matter and will not be in your life for very long. You can walk away from a situation after accessing it first instead of assuming the absolute worst. It takes witnessing it first hand and seeing the mathematics of it all. At least it does to a very statistically oriented mind like my own!
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Grade School - Middle School Social-Anxiety  
10:31am 01/05/2015
When I started grade school in the fall of 1989, my developing mind was on fire. I was thirsty for knowledge from the beginning. I was a year older than many of the kids because my late September birthday left me in a bit of a "loophole", wherein the previous year I could have taken a test and entered Kindergarten then or my mom gave me the choice to wait and just go in the following year without any testing required. We chose to wait until I was 5 going on 6 to do the placement.

I kept every piece of schoolwork from Kindergarten to 6th grade in a filing cabinet that my mom had "gifted" me when she finally upgraded hers. It was this ridiculous cabinet on wheels that the top opened up and you'd put the file folders inside. I carefully tucked everything, from math work to English assignments into that cabinet religiously. It turns out I was meant to be a bookkeeper this entire time, right?

I don't remember any really terrible situations at school from Kindergarten to Fifth grade. I did have a few rude kids here and there who were just snobs.

My mom wasn't interested in becoming friends with the school kids moms but she was often a room-parent for special events. I recall her going on the field trip to Doris Ranch one year, in which I hated it because she caught me being a little jerk and told me to behave myself! My mom drilled manners into my head at an early age and was not having me pick on or boss other kids around.

Third grade was hard for me emotionally. I was so attached and close with my Second Grade teacher that I went through a depression having to move on. My mom noticed and knew what was going on but at that stage, you cannot do much, I couldn't just say in Second Grade forever!

I remember being picked on in Elementary by a few specific kids just for various reasons, I just didn't fit in with the snobs or the high energy kids. I was a kid who loved to learn, bring the teachers flowers and didn't socialize much. I still wanted friends but couldn't connect properly for one reason or another.

I was able to make a few friendships along the way but I always felt like they had other friends they liked more, so I would shrink away at times, continuing to isolate myself out of my fear of being rejected. I rejected myself so that others didn't have to do it.

There was one moment that I recall vividly though. In 4th Grade when I was the mean kid and my mom had to be called. It was a bizarre time, where we were doing projects with partners. I HATED partner projects for various reasons. Being a know-it-all and extremely rigid about my perfect grades I didn't like depending on anyone else. To make matters worse, the teachers assigned me to work with one of the develop mentally delayed kids, which set my little heart ablaze. How could they set me up to fail like that?!

My mom did tell me to be nice but also told my teachers I wasn't just being a brat, I was just so uptight about my school projects and grades that it blew up into something else. She told them that I held myself to high standards and was still at an age that I couldn't necessarily lower them for another child that I wasn't sure of.

The punishment of course was that I had to work alone. Some punishment. I delighted in it and got myself the A that I was gunning for all along.

The transition from grade school, this massive place with teachers who were nurturing and excited most of the time to this dangerous prison like institution that was Thurston Middle was devastating.

I was placed in TAG classes, so it was the smart kids that I was mostly surrounded by in the classroom, however I still never quite got along with the "nerds" either. I was scared to put myself out there. Being around other individuals who were deemed just as smart as I was at that rate just made me start questioning my own intelligence, a whole new issue to undertake. The teachers also were not prone to wearing "kid gloves" like the Elementary School teachers were, they'd quickly criticize you. At that age it was hard to understand "constructive" criticism verses picking you apart and leaving the remains for the birds to gather up afterwards.

I had a very cut and dry sense of things. "No" was permanent, there was no follow up, it was straight rejection. Telling me to do something different either made me indigent because I truly believed I was right or absolutely crushed, thinking I was the stupidest girl in the world, how did I not do it right to begin with?! My emotions were very pointed and turned in on myself. As years went on, they turned mostly to feeling I just didn't do anything right, so why even bother.

I remember once in P.E class while we were running track, someone came up to me and told me I ran funny. I did run funny, I ran with locked legs for some weird reason but it stopped me cold. I wasn't an athletic kid, my mom never even tried to get me into organized sports, I hated working in a team anyways, then you have to depend on others, right? After that I refused to run again. I wasn't going to do something that I knew people would laugh about.

Just like when I was told awhile later that I had hairy legs, I defied my mom and just grabbed one of my dad's razors to start shaving my legs. I only ever needed to be told once, these things stuck in my mind brightly and burned hot.

I hate disappointing people and not being what everyone expected but at the same time, I couldn't change everything about myself. I was still going to live in a trailer, I was still going to have a mom who didn't push me into sports or other social activities that I wasn't expressively interested in, I was still going to have red hair.

I needed glasses around Fourth Grade, when I came to school with them, someone made an off handed remark. I didn't even try to wear glasses again until Junior High. Wherein I also felt mocked about them, so off they came and down my grades fell because I couldn't see the blackboards or projectors and like hell I was going to ask for help from anyone.

I stopped caring about grades when I hit Seventh Grade. That will be covered in the next entry that covers my family moving school districts that stirred up even more of my emotional issues.
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Childhood Anxiety  
04:21pm 30/04/2015
I grew up with a loving stay at home mother, a hardworking father who busted his butt at a physical job all week long to provide for his family and a brother who was six years older than I was.

I never went without the necessities. My parents didn't believe in extravagance or wasting money, so we didn't have the fanciest things by any means but we got new school clothes every year and plenty of stuff to say the least.

Our parents spent as much time with us doing family things, mostly it involved going to the woods where we'd camp, pan for gold, pick wild flowers, swim in the icy creeks and hunt crawdads. My dad had two weeks off in the summer, after my mom learned to drive and got a new station wagon, we had summer vacations that included Disneyland, the Grand Canyon and exploring the ends of the Oregon trail.

So why did a child that came from such a fantastic loving home suffer from high anxiety? It doesn't quite make any sense even thirty plus years later but it's the painful truth.

A little redhead girl, who loved being read to, learning just about anything, My Little Pony's and The Wizard of Oz.

That little girl that most adults would say was adorable, so well behaved and smart was grinding her teeth at night and having night terrors. My mom knew I was stressed but couldn't figure out what was going on.

I remember my stomach hurting a lot at a young age, my chest feeling tight and being near tears often but I'd plow through life. Elementary school was full of learning, so I didn't want to miss school in fear I'd miss out on all the things they were teaching. I was close to my teachers but didn't interact with the kids too much that I recall.

Looking back as an adult, I know that I was a sponge. I was soaking up all the energy around me. At home, it was wonderful. I could do what I wanted, my mom took care of my every need and I had little to be desired but I was isolated at the same time. We didn't live around children my own age, so I didn't know kids very much until I was entering Kindergarten. My brother being so much older than I was didn't help in that aspect. We had a gap, wherein I was a kid and he was on the verge of being a teenager by the time I was starting to understand much of anything. I had two cousins in my age range, we were close but it's not much to draw from.

My parents came from large families. However, my dad had all brothers. They were these gruff, roughnecks who had loud voices and thundering personalities. They weren't great around kids for the most part, especially not a shy scrawny girl who clung to her mom's leg at family events.

My mom had siblings too but the two of them that were in her age range were bachelors, yay more uncles right? My aunts were absolutely amazing but I only got to see them such a limited amount since they were much older and out of state. My cousins on my mom's side were mostly adults by the time I came around.

I would go to family gatherings at my dad's parents house and it was packed, so noisy and so busy. I hated the smell, the cloud of smoke that would form and the sounds of everyone talking over one another. It felt like I was invisible, sitting at my moms feet picking at the carpet, listening to grown ups talk about God even knows what they were talking about.

Christmas was it's own form of torture. We'd go on Christmas Eve. The same packed, chaos and thunder. Only on top of that noise, there was the act of "gift giving" going on. I remember the feeling of greed in the air, it was palatable to a sensitive kid like myself.

I have to say it outright that I knew my Grandmother, who I typically call "my dad's mom" at this stage in life, didn't like me much. She was close to my cousins though, which cut me even deeper. As a kid, you don't know why but you pick up on things that adults do and favoritism rather easily. I was ahead of the curve at a young age, I still didn't know WHY until much later on in life.

The Christmas that I always think about and seethe over is when "Grandma" got my cousins these decorative boxes, basically toy chests with a latch. I didn't get one. That's the end of it. I always got things that never registered to me because they had no thought behind them.

It's such a small thing, it happened decades ago and still to this day I cannot stop being angry about how you leave a child out. There were 3 of us at that age range, it's hard to forget the other one without it being on purpose.

The extended family, the lack of awareness and being able to fade away into the background so easily was what started my anxiety to pile on top of itself at an early age. Adults who didn't care at all that I existed or never bothered to let it be known for the most part at least.

My mom thought I was shy and catered to it. She just wanted to protect me, not force me out of the comfort of her care. Sadly that started the cycle of withdrawing into myself, hating myself, thinking I wasn't worthy of attention. If your own family doesn't reach out to you, then who else is going to? Surely not the vibrant little kids at school, who would have their grandparents, aunts or uncles and assorted adults of all varieties around. They were the kids that adults liked and cared for. I was just the awkward redheaded kid with an amazing set of parents, who just couldn't figure out why I'd wake up in the night screaming or my baby teeth were stubs by the time it was time for them to fall out.
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August 2015  

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