Sunday, December 1, 2013


Chronic anxiety is a lot like depression in that no one really understands that saying positive things garners no result in improving the plight the sufferer is experiencing.

You may be asking yourself, Who are you to tell me how to not improve someone's bad day, and I will reply simply by saying, trust me.  I am someone who has chronic anxiety.

It is really that simple.  The first time my anxiety began to manifest itself was at the tender age of 11.  My mother decided that she would go on a three week long sojourn out west to find herself, and that was a great and beautiful thing, except the fact that I had a complete mental breakdown when she left.  To this day I am not sure if it was just coincidence, or if her leaving was merely the straw that broke the camel's back.  I think it's safe to say I was a pretty nervous little wreck of a kid, but as opposed to really feeling emotions throughout childhood, I sort of picked up on what everyone kept saying I must be feeling, and then tried to make a self-facsimile from their descriptions.
Unfortunately, I had been having "feelings" all along, and I just thought I wasn't having them.  When my mom left, I guess those feelings decided to parade throughout my psyche in the form of crippling anxiety.

Now, when most people describe a period of time in their lives that may or may not have been mentally challenging, I generally hear a lot of things that I experienced during my breakdown as well.  This isn't about a pissing contest to see "who is the most crazy."  I have no idea what childhood was like for any of you.  All I know is what I went through.  If any one has experienced the same thing, I am truly, truly sorry.  Because it was unpleasant.

First there were the nightmares.  The nightmares started it all, and got me worked up so that I had the pleasure of the physical panic attack in the middle of the the night. 

The best way I can describe it is like this: Have you ever been awake in bed at night, and all the lights are off, but an outside light is casting a shadow in your room that is sort of scary?  And at first it is only a little scary, but then you keep staring at it until it gets extremely, exceptionally, undeniably scary?  Finally it is so scary you can't take it any more and you walk up to the hat hanging on the door catching the light from the streetlamp and you go AHA! And the shadow ceases to be.  And your fears are subdued because AHA reality has finally taken over your paranoid imagination.
Well, having chronic anxiety and panic attacks is that scenario, but instead, the shadow you keep seeing is just in your mind.  So you are fixated on something that is imaginary in the first place.  But the problem is, even though you are scared to death of the mind-shadow, there is no way to be like, AHA! JUST A SHOE!  Or, AHA! TOOTHBRUSH!
You KNOW in your heart it is just a shadow, but the concrete moment of confrontation just can't happen, because there is no physical way to shine light on whatever is in your head. tell somebody about what you are feeling.  Really, the best way to eliminate a stupid, paranoid anxiety is to just say it out loud to another person.  Because that person can be like, OH! You have a MIND SHOE/TOOTHBRUSH/HAT and your crazy streetlamp brain is tricking you!
Unfortunately, you can never know for sure if THEY know for sure what they are talking about.  What if they only think it is a shoetoothbrushhat when in reality it is an evil, wicked beast intent on devouring you and all your loved ones?
So your moment of relief is oftentimes overwhelmed by your inner knowledge that you have to just trust this person to be able to identify scary objects.

Unfortunately, this identification often results in mockery.  And it isn't that anyone means you any harm, it's just that to them, your conviction that you are being hunted by monsters is kinda silly when it is extremely obvious to them that you were just seeing the broom hanging out of the closet.

Thus, you are laughed at, and you are constantly under the impression that no one can ever for sure guarantee that you aren't about to die. The best thing to calm anxiety is time.  Time truly stands as a marker against fear.  The longer your fears fail to manifest into realities, the stronger your conviction that perhaps they were brooms after all becomes.

Which brings me to hypochondria.  After grappling with anxiety so powerful that I experienced violent physical reactions to even the most mundane of experiences (eating at restaurants, brushing my teeth, spending more than 1.2 seconds alone at any time,) my body finally got sick and tired of shaking constantly and puking after every meal.  I think my body became so annoyed by my mind that it sort of short circuited my ability to feel fear for a while.  I grew out of the dissociative feeling that had been preying on my consciousness for so long.

During my adult life, I experienced bouts of anxiety, but generally with good cause.  I never really considered that I was experiencing a return of my head-shadows-condition because I always had a REASON to feel so damn freaked out all the time.  Life was nuts.  My brain was doing everything it could just to keep up with day to day requirements.  It never got so bad that I broke down again, though.  So I figured, yeah.  I am over it.  I am strong.  Things are okay upstairs.

Now that college is over, now that I have a stable job, now that I have a nice apartment, and all the trappings of a good life, one would imagine my days of anxiety would be long, long gone.  But it appears that this was incorrect.  The "good life" as I imagine it, is in fact the root of my anxiety.  Without constant obstacles to
 overcome, my brain has decided to invent new ones to play with.  The head shadows return, with full force, by way of an inventive new avenue.  Hypochondria.

And no, I don't mean to say that I think I have colds when I don't, or that I sneeze and assume I have a sinus infection.  No, no, no.  It means that I have bouts of insomnia, night after night, an inability to sleep, and a need for constant self-medication, because I am convinced I am dying of rabies and don't have long to live.
I called the Health Department.
It sounds funny, right?  It isn't, really.  It is sad, actually, that my boyfriend had to hold me while I fought away shuddering blasts of nervous shakes and psychosomatic pains and fevers because I had convinced myself that a small animal bite had resulted in my inevitable death.

Not having health insurance, my inevitable need to simply see a doctor finally became so overwhelming that I forked over the cash and went for it. 

But the problem with hypochondria is that a part of you knows how ridiculous it is for you to even wander about whether or not you are dying in the first place--and thus you have no desire to see a health care professional about it at all.  From the get go I could have simply gone to a minor med and had myself checked out, but I was so ashamed that I resolved over and over that I had no choice but to quietly die.
I finally convinced myself to go only because of my fear that I had spread my rabies to my loved ones.

Yes, the Health Department laughed at me.  My doctor laughed at me.  My friend who is a nurse laughed at me.  Everyone that I encountered with some credibility scoffed at my unfounded fears.

And I started feeling okay about it eventually.  But the hypochondria beast does not want to die.  No.  It must latch on to the next best thing.  A genetic disease I could have manifest at an older age because of a corneal graft I received as a youngster.  Pneumonia because I had a cough for a couple of weeks.
Now, AIDS, because I saw a movie about a guy with AIDS.

You see, I know how ridiculous it all is.  I am a perfectly healthy person.  In fact, compared to the people around me, I am an exceptionally healthy person.  SO WHY DO I CONVINCE MYSELF I AM DYING?

I have no idea.  I wish I could perform my own tests at home, for free.  But then I would just constantly test myself.  In the rabies scare I ended up buying a thermometer and proceeded to take my temperature every hour for two weeks.  Not literally.
But close.

I really need something to do, something to keep my mind from wandering.  I suspect that if I was able to just go to college every day for the rest of my life, I would be happy as a lark.  Alas, I don't have that option.

I am open to suggestions.  I don't know if my relationship will continue to survive my chronic anxiety.  Especially not "AIDS."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm in Love:

And thank god T.J. doesn't mind.  In fact, he's even described it as "charming" and "sweet."  He's more than likely just impressed that the same guy's been coming around the house for more than two or three weeks.

It's now been three months, and my charming, sweet boyfriend has moved in.  It's a little crowded in the house now but being a good brother, T.J. doesn't complain.  I complain a lot, about everything, but T.J. is nice and quite.
Today, I sent my lovely boyfriend out on a grocery run alone for the first time today, and despite our health-conscious diet (with the occasional exception for bouts of ice cream,) he came back with Frosted Mini Wheats.  I thought it was funny- I started going off about it, because I know that he never eats cereal except when he wakes up at 4:00 am, almost every night, craving a snack.  My boyfriend is quite muscular; I suspect his body is constantly in a state of hunger but he hides it.  At 4:00 am, he thinks I'm asleep, and won't know.

T.J., hearing my endeared rant about the cereal, related a little tale to me that inspired this next comic.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 things I'm pretty sure I miss about having a girlfriend.

It occured to me today whilst grocery shopping that as much as I enjoy single life, there are a few things lacking from my existance that I have sadly taken for granted. They include:

10. Coupons. Seriously, I don't know what sort of whichcraft you ladies have, but I've yet to be in a serious relationship with a woman whom a.> does not get the paper delivered to her and b.> never fails to have coupons for whatever it is I think is needed from the grocery store. Even condoms. Condoms. Really? What are you? A freaking magican?

09. Free haircuts. While admittidly this was a pre-2005 phenominom, I always seemed to date someone whom knew how to cut my hair, and make me look at least slightly less like a tool. Granted, for a while I was either rocking my long luxerious locks of olde', or a mohawk, but still; pretty damn awesome.

08. Going to see kids movies without having to bring my younger siblings. Although I can generally get away with Pixar flicks by myself, you just get a funny look walking into see the new "Whinne The Pooh" movie.

07. Feeling useful for being tall. I bonk my head on things quite often, and generally don't fit quite right into the backseat of most cars, but all that is forgotten when someone asks me to change a lightbulb. Hells yeah, I can do that!

06. Going halfvsies for presents. While I may still be single because I've occasionally said "halfvsies" in public, it's pretty awesome to split the cost around hollidays.

05. Spelling. Fun fact: ALL women spell better than I.

04. Birthday sex. Yup, it's pretty awesome.

03. Having someone to text pictures of random things I find on the side of the street to- at 0300. Although for the life of me I cannot fathom the person whom wouldn't want me to send them photos of a neat, old, busted up radio abandoned on the side of the road at oh-dark-thirty.

02. Staying in. Don't get me wrong; I love eating Gibson's Tastee Doughnuts with all of you at 2 in the morning, but there's something to be said about cooking a nice dinner, and wasting away the evening with an awesome movie or series every once in a while. When I do it by myself, I just feel like I'm being anti-social.


01. Not having to check for monsters under the bed. It's not that I think she'll keep them away, it's just that I know I can run faster. Worry not! Once I'm done pissing myself, I vow to fight smaller monsters and level up. When my limit break is charged, I will return to avenge your gruesome and untimely death!

While I'm not entierly positive this means I'm ready to start looking for a potential paramore, I sure do miss having someone to eat the pineapple off my side of the pizza.

Hearts and Ponies;

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sarah II

Some time ago during one of the many incredibly beautiful days Memphis had last year, my good friends Natx and Cass decided that we should hop onto our bikes, and bomb on down for some Pho Binh (If you live in Memphis, and have not yet frequented this place, shame on you. All the Vietnamese food you can eat for $6.50, and weather or not you're a carnivore, you'll still dig the tofu.) and that amazing cafe' with the condensed milk. (Again, try this if you have the opportunity.) During the process of consuming my many, many plates of food and planning our trip for a local burn, we caught sight of a group of young girls sitting not too far from us.

Well, to be fair, it more happened along the lines of me competing with one of the tiny young ladies for a plate of that amazing spicy tofu. Looks were given, glances exchanged, guttural warning growls issued. In the end, we split the difference, and hightailed it back to our respective seats to hungerly devour our mutual spoils.

It wasn't until we were out the door, and unlocking our bikes when Cass gave me "the look".

Me: What?
Cass: Go ask her for her number.
Me: Wha? No! Women are scary! And um, mean. Except you. And Lydia. And...
Cass: You're stalling. No balls, dude.

This of course turned me on my heels, and striding determinedly into the restaurant, I loomed over the tiny punk rock Mexican, my former rival in food, and sized her up for a moment. Her friends all looked up in suprize, falling silent. Sarah continued to munch on her food, looking up curiously. I can, at this point in time, assure you that there are very few things which will phase her enough to stop her from eating, one of the many, many traits we have in common.

Me: Do you drink... COFFEE?!?
Sarah: YES!!!
Me: Here's my number! Drink coffee with me!
Sarah: Yes!

To this day, Sarah maintains that I was asking her out on a date. I suppose, in all fairness, that I was, though I won't admit this in person. In my defense, however, she began excitedly texting me not fifteen minutes later, something that nearly got me run over when my phone went off, and startled me while biking in midtown late afternoon traffic.

Oh, I should probably mention at this point that out of the table of girls, I picked the one lesbian. Of course. But I didn't know that at the time...

After (barley) surviving the ride home, we decided to meet in a couple of hours at Republic Coffee, and upon greeting each other once again, began an immediate and earnest discussion of our mutual hatred of pineapples.

Needless to say, this was a big deal.

Other things discussed included foam noodle fighting tactics and formations, Popular Science back issues, Japanese animation, music, and of course, food.

Our night moved from location to location, both of us encountering mutual friends, and sharing in the adventure until we finally concluded our evening at Gibson's Tastee Doughnuts. Here she confessed her sexual orientation to me, almost as if she were worried it would mean that I wouldn't be as interested in hanging out with her if I knew that we wouldn't be sleeping together. I don't think she, or anyone else for that matter, expected me to laugh as loudly as I did that evening.

A week later we nearly moved in together, and have been the best of Platonic friends pretty much ever.

She's helped me through so very, very much, and I'd like to think that I've had somewhat of a positive influence on her life as well. She's still my partner in crime, and we're convinced, a tiny female clone of myself. When she introduces me, it's as her older brother, and no one questions this.

So even though to her face I'll deny this all day long, in all reality, it was the best first-sort-of-date-but-not-really-ever.

Happy late Valentine's, Sprau.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sibling rivalry:

You know, I think that most siblings born within ten years of each other go through this decade long phase of arguing with each other incessantly over absolutely nothing.  This period serves several purposes:
1. It proves which sibling is better.
2. It drives parents, cousins, friends, pets, furniture crazy.
3. It gets useless arguing out of your system.

Sometimes, siblings just don't have this sort of "rivalry" while growing up together.  Lots of factors can influence this--your parents' marital status, your school life, your extended family, the growing availability of internet, etc.  In the instance of my brother and I, all of the above factors kept a sort of distance between us that bred fondness for the others' company, a fondness that is rare between younger siblings. 
But we aren't young anymore, now, are we?

Don't get me wrong.  My bro is my favorite dude on the planet.  Literally.  He's amazing.  And so when we decided, hey, we should live together, it seemed like THE. BEST. IDEA.
Hindsight is 20/20.
There is no one I would rather live with, and I mean that, honest.  But I'm starting to think that maybe because we missed that nice little decade worth of horrible fighting and bickering and hair-pulling and going na-na-na-nu boo- boo at one another, we are swiftly reentering a second childhood where proximity has forced us into an uncomfortable tense phase of "relearning" who and what we are, and what we mean to each other.
This has been rewarding in a lot of ways.  One, I'm really learning what it means to have someone in my ADULT life related to me by blood  who I trust implicitly and know will take care of me and love me no matter what.  I've really got this horrible fear that all the love I experience with the exception of my best friend, dad, and mom, is conditional.  Finding this awesome dude who has orbited my life but rarely directly influenced it has been an amazing experience over the past few years.  We've lived together now for three months and all the pluses are great.  Some of the minuses though can be rough.  Admittedly, it's mostly my fault.  I tend to nit pick with the bro for no reason at all.  He is tolerant of it.  But sometimes, he intentionally antagonizes me to combat my bitchy, cynical nature. The below comics are demonstrations of actual events.  Enjoy.

"If you give me snacks I'll reward you by no longer invading your personal space!"  -Teej