Dear Lip-pickers Anonymous,

Confession: I pick my lips. And not just absentmindedly. I mean I really pick at them. Until they bleed. I have no definitive reason for why I do this, only that it’s a nervous habit, brought about by… who knows? Sometimes, I’m not thinking of anything at all. I just…pick. My husband will ask me, “Are you anxious?” No, why? “You’re picking your lip.” Half the time, I’m not. Actually, that’s not true. I’m always anxious, but no more than usual when I reach up to expertly peel the top layer of skin off my poor, mistreated lips.

I’ve been picking my lips since I was, gosh, 8? And every time I leave them bleeding, puffy, and tortured, I think to myself, That’s it. No more. But there’s always more, isn’t there? As is any habit, it’s hard to break. It’s a compulsion, a product of neurosis. I mentally and physically cannot help it. And if we’re being honest, I haven’t tried that hard to stop. Why? Because it’s just too easy to say, OK this is the last time. 

This is my last cigarette. 

My last drink.

Our last fight. 

I’m gonna get better after this one…last… 

And the people around us know we’re fooling ourselves…all the while fooling themselves too. We’re a society of addiction. Whether it’s cigarettes, Marvel movies, or lip-picking, we can’t stop. Just give us more one more Iron Man movie. Just one. That’s it. And when the Avengers fizzle out, some other huge franchise will take its place. And Fast and Furious will still be going strong…somehow…

That’s humanity for you. Beautiful, isn’t it? And addiction has been the villain since the beginning. Adam, Eve, and the apple? Addiction to curiosity.

And I’m addicted to runaway trains. Let’s get back on track.

Maybe I pick my lip because I’m perpetually losing focus and picking at the tiny irregularities of skin that no one notices except me brings me back. To the present. OR it allows me an escape. I’ve noticed that when I pick my lip, my mind goes blank and I have trouble focusing on what’s in front of me. If I’m having a conversation, I zone out. Half my attention is elsewhere. And I make this weird lip-picking face that made the kids in my 5th grade class laugh (I wish I could say with me).

18 years. That’s a long time. It will be quite a habit to break, but the day will come. If there’s any consolation, it’s that I’m not alone in this. There’s a whole community of lip-pickers out there. All dead-set on breaking their bad habit but waiting for the “right time.”

That right time is now…

…she says whilst picking her lip.

Sincerely,

A hopeless lip-picker

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Lesson #15: Depersonalization is not forever, Part III

[I’ll add pictures later, I promise. WordPress was being a dick…]

The worst thing about depersonalization is believing that it won’t ever go away. Until it finally does. Time really is the best medication, but the thing about time? You can’t control it.  Unless you can see the future, you can’t count on it. You just have to wait and see. 

I had made the mistake of researching depersonalization (DP) online, where of course, I found people who were equally as freaked out as me. They talked about having DP for over 20 years, how it would never go away, how it had ruined their lives. It’s easy to believe that kind of stuff when you can SO relate. It felt like DP was forever–maybe it was…

And then I decided I needed to stop reading all that negative stuff. I didn’t need that. If you believe it’s gonna turn out fatal, you’re setting your fate. It WILL turn out fatal.

So I looked up DP recovery stories, where I found loads of different stories online from people who had somehow gotten past DP–oftentimes, just by keeping a positive attitude. Taking care of yourself. Changing your diet. Finding your passions. Exercising. Most importantly, stop thinking about DP so much.

So I tried all that, and it took a while. Longer than I wanted it to. I wanted immediate results after all. Don’t we all? And then I practiced patience. I sought out volunteer opportunities. I started writing more, specifically on this blog. I got a cat–my precious little Peter Pan kitty. I took Yoga classes at the encouragement of a friend. I confided in people who cared. I found a new therapist. I’m now teaching tap classes. I. Took. Action. That’s the most important thing. Be patient. Give it time. And take action FOR YOURSELF. Learn to love yourself. Learn to love what you have. Take time to meditate. BREATHE. SLOW DOWN.

DP is a defense mechanism. If you don’t slow down, your brain will stay in that place, where it thinks it’s safe. Show your brain a world where you can BREATHE, where you have TIME to love your life.

That’s why I’m where I am today. Not depersonalized. Excited about possibility and life! I can’t promise you or myself that it won’t come back. But knowing that I’ve gotten through it before, I can rest somewhat easy knowing I can do it again. Depersonalization IS NOT forever! It may feel like it, but it’s not. But YOU HAVE to take action.

I won’t say I feel blessed for going through what I did, but I did learn a lot about myself in the process. I was forced to better my attitude and my life. I might not have done that otherwise. So, yes, I’m thankful. Use those challenges in your life that you think you’ll never get over to learn valuable lessons and better yourself. And then, one day, you’ll wake up in the morning feeling so much better than you did two months ago. Not perfect, mind you. But better.

I won’t tell you how long it took for me to get over my DP, because everybody is different. The worst thing you can do with DP is compare yourself to other people. Your healing period will happen as it needs to. It will take as long as YOU need. But please email me if you have questions or need help. Reach out if want support!

Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. Be healed. 🙂

Lesson #15: Depersonalization is NOT forever, Part II

In Depersonalization is NOT forever, Part I, I told you about how I came to know depersonalization. I told you about the mysteries it created in my life. I told you about the fear I experienced, at simply not having answers. And then I found my answers, in this article.

And I believe that’s where we left off.

This article helped me simply because it gave me a name for what I was experiencing.

Do you not feel real? Yes!

Do you almost feel like you’re dreaming while awake? Yes.

Do you feel like you’ve been dropped on another planet? OMG YES!

Does it get worse when you focus on it? HOLY COW, yeah!

CONGRATS! YOU HAVE DEEEEEEEPERONSALIZATION (DP)! 

Learning that DP is simply a defense mechanism in response to “recent trauma” or “cannibis” took an immense weight off my shoulders. I urged my mom to read it, as well as my boyfriend. I finally had answers, and the whole world ought to know!

The article goes on to console those people like me who think depersonalization is forever. It gave me tips for “getting rid of it.” For instance, to stop thinking about it, by not talking about it, being aware of it but not giving it my attention. It all seemed so easy! The solution is easy yes, but it’s just applying it that got so hard.

After reading this article, I felt good…for a week or so. I still felt my little friend DP on my shoulder, whispering strange existential questions in my ear, but instead of freaking out over them, I simply reminded myself that this was just my mind’s way of coping with the scary world.

And then it got harder again. I thought maybe this whole DP thing WAS forever. Suddenly, I didn’t want a name for my issues! I just wanted them to go away. I was angry at myself for smoking the pot. I felt like a virgin having sex for the first time and then finding out she contracted HIV. I felt like one decision has ruined the entire rest of my life.

Journal entry from 4/29/15: Anxious. Anxious. Anxious. Feel trapped. And scared of feeling this way forever. The world seems so scary & dark when I’m like this. I can’t deal with death. Thinking about it, it makes me wonder what the point of it all is. I feel hopeless right now, but I know it’s not forever. Everything just feels so distant from me.

I laid in bed, staring at my ceiling, feeling alone, thinking about morbid stuff like death. Good, clean fun. Nothing felt real, and it was isolating, living alone in my own little world, separated by the rest of the REAL word by a thick veil. I read message boards (BAD) about people who had had DP for 40+ years. Oh God, I thought. That will be me. Of course, it was THAT kind of thinking that kept me trapped in DP-land…

I was still able to work and go about my life, but without fail, at 6 p.m., I’d go to my room and brood. Again, nothing about this was helping me. Also, there was other stuff going on in my life that wasn’t making my healing process any easier.

I sought out a psychiatrist, hoping he’d have some kind of answers for me, but not many people know about DP, which makes it all the scarier. That’s really the main reason why I sought out answers online – because it was the only place I could find them. But, eventually, I realized I needed to stop. I needed to stop reading about people who were “ruined” forever from one stupid mistake with drugs and assuming I was just like them. I tried to be positive, and I relied on my boyfriend and my mom like crazy, but they didn’t understand.

My psychiatrist tried me on different anti-depressants, which didn’t seem to help with the DP. Quick tip: Changing your meds won’t help with DP. DP is a state of mind, and it’s foundation lies in anxiety. So yes, I suppose it could help a little, but really, time and a positive attitude are the only two real therapies for DP. Realizing that can be hard. I’m a control freak, but knowing that it was up to me to get rid of DP intimidated me. It was easier just to assume I’d have it forever. But that’s a defeatist attitude, and it won’t get you anywhere, folks! Patience is a virtue–truly.

It looks like I’m going to have to do a “part III” for this topic, because it’s getting to be too long.

In “part III,” I’ll talk about how I came out of DP, and how I’m thankful to have gone through it. Seriously. As corny as that sounds… it forced me to find peace within myself, which takes a lot of freaking time. I’m still in the process… but to be honest, DP essentially motivated me to start this blog because I learned SO MUCH “in my fight” against it, and I wanted a place to share it. So, with that being said, UNTIL NEXT TIME!

Lesson #16: Depersonalization is NOT forever – Part I

It’s true. Depersonalization is not forever.

This particular lesson means a whole lot to me because it hits close to home. I’ve touched on depersonalization in a previous blog post, where I claim it’s safer to assume you can’t be cured of anything because, if you lead yourself toward false hope, then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.  I still stand by that statement. Things in life always have a way of coming back when we least want them to. What’s that old saying? “Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best”? I respect that idea. It goes without saying that life is not perfect, and it’s certainly not predictable. The best we can do is prepare for the worst, and hope the worst doesn’t happen. But wouldn’t you rather be prepared if it does?

I developed symptoms of depersonalization after a bad high. I’d call it a “trip,” because that’s what it felt like… Believe it or not, I had made it through both high school and college without smoking a single ounce of pot. My parents always told me, “Honey, you won’t like it. You’re an anxious person already.” But I was always curious. Besides, as an aspiring writer, I figured I needed to experience all there is in life. Typical writer excuse. So I tried it, and it was okay the first couple of times–nothing special. But I had my boyfriend monitoring my intake to make sure I wasn’t doing too much. And then, one night, he handed me the bowl and I took a hit, a much bigger one than I intended. To make a long story short, I spent two hours on the floor that night feeling like the room was spinning and wondering why my voice didn’t sound like my own. It was an absolute nightmare. From that night on, I vowed never to do pot again. And I haven’t.

A month or so later, I started to feel generally uneasy. I felt vulnerable, scared. Mundane thoughts began to throw me for a loop. I remember my brother asking me a simple question about numbers and me feeling a sudden rise of panic as I pondered the significance of numbers inside this small reality and why we operate by them. Real existential shit. I remember going to an amusement park and looking at chickens, wondering how it was possible that I happened to live on the same planet as “the Chicken.” REAL EXISTENTIAL SHIT. Almonds! I questioned the lines on an almond! Let’s just say I was high without being high. Naturally, this freaked me out. Life began to feel unreal, as if I were floating above it… I couldn’t connect quite like I had before.

Journal entry from 3/17/15: While do I feel like I’m losing touch? With reality? Am I just anxious? Is this just normal anxiety? Everything–well, not everything–but most things seem wrong. What’s the matter with me? I don’t want to be like this forever. 

When I looked out the window of my apartment, everything outside looked like the backdrop on a stage, sort of 2D. And all the while I grappled with big questions like: Who am I really? What’s my purpose? And the worst… What’s the point?

I had no idea what was wrong with me. I’ve had bad anxiety since I was 17, but this felt different. This just felt wrong. I felt like an alien dropped onto a foreign planet. Half my brain lived on Earth; the other half had floated away, and I had no idea how to bring it back. There were times I looked at my parents and felt like I hardly knew them, as if I hadn’t spent 21 years under their roof, as if they weren’t my best friends!

Journal entry from 4/6/15: Why do I feel like the world isn’t real? Maybe I’m just too focused on that. Maybe I’m just letting it get to me. Everything in front of me is real. I think I’m just scared of it, because no one else will understand it. Hell, I don’t even understand it. And that’s what’s so terrifying. If I don’t understand it, then how can I fix it?

I remember writing that. I remember because I had a REALLY bad panic attack right after. Everything around me felt like it was falling apart. That night, I ended up going home to my parent’s house. I had to work from there for a week, because I was too freaked out by what was happening. But amazingly, I kept it together. A part of me wondered if maybe I was feeling the aftershocks of my horrible high, but I didn’t put two and two together until I started researching online. The best and worst thing to do, folks.

That’s when I came across the word “depersonalization.” This article to be specific. I encourage you NOT to read the comments on ANY depersonalization/derealization forum; it won’t do anything but freak you out. I know because that’s what happened to me. And it caused a WORLD of hurt. Lucky for me, and lucky for YOU, that hurt is NOT forever.

(To be continued…)

Lesson #12: Rise above the insecurities

Rise above the insecurities. This lesson might be  my most important; though, I’m not quite sure how to apply it yet. It’s proven to be my MOST difficult.

But as they say… once you recognize the problem, you can work on the solution.

I am an insecure person… and as a 23 years old, I’ve never been more insecure. Ironically, it’s at this time in my life that I crave an ease of confidence in myself–an ease that can take me places to discover new things, about myself and the world around me.

But alas… So, with that being said, it’s never been more important for me to rise above the insecurities. How? That’s the part I don’t know.

It’s been a year and a half since I moved out of my childhood home, to live forty-five minutes away from my parents and brother–three people whose lives I covet more than my own. My dad is the funniest man alive. My mom, the sweetest and most selfless. And my brother? Well, there’s something about him, that I can’t quite put my finger on, that I just adore. I often ask myself, Why did I ever move away? I was so happy around my family. I felt loved. Have I simply humored the ideas of society by taking the next logical step–which, apparently, is moving out of your childhood and into your adulthood within the first few months of graduating from college, an hour away from home, and shit-out-of-love? I guess?

I say “shit-out-of-love” because I’m used to living around people who love me unconditionally. But here, in adulthood, I can’t find that. I don’t feel wholly loved–loved so fully that it surrounds me, like a protective shell. Here, on the island of adulthood (or maybe childhood was the island), on which I’ve been ship-wrecked, stranded, left to my own devices, I can’t help but feel alone, truly left to my own devices. Vulnerable. 

People tell me I should be loving my life right now. I should be celebrating my youth and independence. But I can tell you right now, I am not. I am not content. And for that reason, my insecurities are filling the gap my confidence left behind. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve grown in my confidence in other ways. I think I’m great at my job, and I’m pretty good, to a fault, at self-analysis, but when it comes to my self-worth, I’m shot. And all I want to do is be a kid again, when love was never hard to find. When imaginary friends were more loyal than real ones.

(I swear this post ends on a positive note, so keep reading…)

My first instinct is to blame the world and everything/one in it. Don’t we all wanna do that? It’s safer. If we can blame the world, we don’t have to blame ourselves. But as I’ve said before, I am always the problem. No matter what hand we’re dealt, we have control over how we move forward–how we rise above the insecurities.

Let me give you a list of some of my insecurities. Not because I’m a masochist, but because it’s important for us to recognize our shortcomings. That way, we know what areas need the most work.

  1. My looks. I have good days and bad days.
  2. My reputation.
  3. Feeling significant. This is a big one. Most of the time, I wonder if anyone would notice if I simply disappeared. Sad, right?
  4. My future.
  5. My own conscience. I don’t trust myself to make my own decisions.
  6. My words, my motives, and my feelings. I can never tell what’s right and what’s wrong.
  7. Right and wrong.
  8. My brain, because anxiety/depression are a bitch, and I don’t think most people understand it.

I could think of more, but there’s no need. I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not all together sure of myself. And I could make a list of ALL the reasons, all the external stimuli, which have led to my insecurities, but it won’t matter. I can’t brood on the past.

So, now we get to the How? How will I overcome the insecurities? This isn’t some easy task that can be righted by morning. This is HERCULEAN. And anyone with horrible insecurities will understand. Insecurities are their own mind-sets, and they are extremely convincing. If I begin to feel like my friends don’t love me, I WILL BELIEVE IT. I’ll begin to ask myself why my friends haven’t been texting me and assume it’s because I’m boring, or unwanted, or expendable. And whether it’s true or not, my brain IMMEDIATELY comes to the most detrimental conclusion. I’ll begin to feel sorry for myself and say, Well, maybe I’m better off alone. And then, slowly but surely, I’ll begin to resent the world for not meeting my expectations. But you know what? I can’t expect anything from the world.

So, to combat these feelings and find peace within myself, I’ve been volunteering at an Animal Shelter. I’ve started teaching tap classes. I’ve tried to blog more about the lessons I’m learning on my journey of self-discovery. I’m trying–TRYING– to forgive myself and my feelings. I’ve been thinking about pursuing my photography. I’ve adopted a cat simply because I wanted one and named him Peter Pan (we’re the best of friends). I’ve been putting more time into making others happy (I would advise you to limit this, though, if you’re not first happy with yourself. This is something I’m beginning to realize…)

There’s a reason imaginary friends are more loyal than real ones.

Because imaginary friends are YOU, which proves that the only person who can love YOU the way you need to be loved is YOU. When it seems your friends don’t love you, it doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean they hate you or don’t want you around; it means you need a different kind of love right now. It means YOU need to love YOURSELF. You need a Bing Bong.

1923_BingBong_InsideOut_501_copie

At this vulnerable time in my life, I want to be happy. And I can’t rely on others to help me with that. It’s up to me. 

Lesson learned: I have to rise above the insecurities…on my own.