I realized that it has been almost been a year since I wrote on my blog. I’ve been neglecting it for a couple of reasons:
For one thing I got busy. I actually had work guys! Yey for me! Cheers to more street cred!
To be honest though, I also went through something hella traumatic.
Ok…. here is where I struggle:
On one hand, I don’t like posting cryptic hugot on social media.
What. Is. The. Point.
If you’re out to throw shade, people are too caught up in their lives to care that you posted a pointed status message. And if you’re just having a cathartic moment, a bunch of people would be up on your biz. And you don’t want that. So in all angles- futile.
But on the flip side: I don’t like going all Kris- Aquino-open either. I may be an over sharer – but I do have my limits. Besides- been there, done that when I was a melodramatic 20-something. And it provided for a lot of cringe-worthy Timehop moments.
So there. A part of the reason why I wasn’t writing was because I was trying to find a balance between annoying lord-is-nothing-sacred oversharing and annoying why-bother-writing undersharing: I’m a big advocate of staying authentic. Because the only way you can really connect with people is to share a little part of your struggle. But at the same time, I feel like part of adulting means having the self-control not to air out your dirty laundry, because too much toxicity is just as distracting and your message gets lost.
Things came to a head when last week, I just got a bill for maintaining my site. All of a sudden, my kuripot genes kicked in. Sayang pera!
Besides, who am I kidding? I have a whopping 5 followers. WTF am I so worried about? Hahaha.
So game. Let’s just write and see how this goes.
If you’ve ever met me in a person, it’s probably obvious that I have anxiety issues. I ramble and get jittery, I over-smoke and I over-drink. In short, I’m one big ball of awkward, nervous energy.
My anxiety comes from being an overthinker. Ever since I was a kid, I always had an overactive imagination.
The overthinking part of my brain even has a name: He is called Clyde. (Yeah, yeah I’m weird. But we all know that. So..)
Anyway, my anxiety is usually strongest in the morning, right after any sort of social activity. (And mind you, doesn’t matter if I had fun or I was with really good friends: The effect is the same). My heart starts thumping. I get all these paranoid thoughts about saying the wrong thing and offending whoever I was with. It gradually snowballs into me thinking that people close to me are doing things behind my back.
Gradually though, through time, I have learned to handle Clyde better. The physiological manifestations are still the same – thumping heart, cray-cray thoughts. But I learned to recognize it for what it is- absolutely baseless paranoia.
So slowly, I have learned to be all like, “Oh, hi there Clyde! You back? K. Gotta work though. Can you just hang out while I finish stuff? Will deal with you in a bit.”
And usually, Clyde answers back in one of these three ways.
a. “Nah, we gotta do this now.” In which case, I linger in bed for an extra hour or two in staring at nothing, consumed by paranoid thoughts. At a certain point, I’m like, “Okay, can I go now?” and I get up and go on with my life.
b. Other times, Clyde’s pretty patient. He lets me go about my day with just this tolerable sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach. When it’s time for my nap (yes, I still nap every day. Don’t judge me), he comes out full force and I indulge in a bit of a.
c. In my better days, I do b. But when it’s time wallow, Clyde’s like, “You know what, we good. I’ll leave now.” And things just go back to normal.
And that is why, for all my neurotic weirdness, I have never felt the need to really pursue therapy. Besides, Clyde isn’t all that bad. I mean sure, he’s responsible for my anxiety, he’s also responsible for my hyperactive imagination and my rich inner life. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to come up with my children’s stories without those. Clyde is also the reason why I handle external crisis well – he keeps me on my toes. We buds. So why bother asking for help?
Despite my overthinking brain, I seem to still have good gut instincts. It’s going to sound braggy I know, but my intuition has always been on point.
For me, it’s just heightened empathy. My old professor, Fr. Bulatao (may he rest in peace) used to say that people emanate energy. And if you are still long enough, you could sense from that energy what they’ve been through. Sometimes, that energy is so strong, that it leaves a mark in a place where they frequent.
So I guess that’s all it is. I could instinctively sense how people really are and what they’re feeling and I could also sense if a place had recent happy or sad memory.
In the spirit of fairness, since I named the overthinking part brain, I feel I should name the “gut instinct” part too.
I now dub thee, Bonnie (Bonnie and Clyde. Patting myself on the back for the clever tita pun).
So why am I telling you this? I have a point a promise.
ON BONNIE AND CLYDE
Another reason why my anxiety never reached epic proportions was because Bonnie usually kept Clyde at bay. In my better moments, Bonnie and Clyde are the perfect love team. They feed off each other.
Because of my overthinking brain, I’ve become quite observant of myself and of other people.
Clyde helps heighten Bonnie’s tendencies to instinctively feel out situations. I could find patterns in events, in how people behave, in what they say and mush them all together to have a more or less good idea of how someone would react in a given setting.
More importantly, the combination of Bonnie and Clyde has helped me read myself, find patterns in my own behavior so that I could realistically discern the best way for me to react given certain stressors.
Remember when I said I could recognize when my anxiety is just baseless paranoia? That’s actually Bonnie working: When Clyde goes overboard and makes a freakin’ mountain out of a molehill, Bonnie could sense that it’s all drama.
So bottomline: Bonnie and Clyde both work together so I wouldn’t be complete nutcase.
(They also come in handy when I’m watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Catching a perp before the episode is over makes me feel like I can wipe the floor with Mariska Hargitay)
ON BONNIE VS. CLYDE
Last year though, I noticed that things started getting worse.
Clyde became harder and harder to control. All of a sudden I would wake up in the morning in tears. And the crying fits would last for hours.
It used to be too, that my anxiety came at predictable times- after social gatherings, when I’m about to prepare for a trip etc. So it was easy to brush it off and discern that it was just Clyde messing with me. But then, it became increasingly erratic. I would get anxiety attacks even when I’m supposedly having downtime.
All my mental energy was consumed by all these worries. I started fretting about events in the past that I thought I had come to terms with, I was anxious about all these things happening in the present and was freaking out about how it would affect my future.
To make it worse, I was convinced that some of my closest people in my life were manipulating me.
That absolutely drove me nuts. My relationships mean the world to me. I’ve always prioritized them over everything in my life. I always said that it didn’t matter if I didn’t become Oprah-rich or if my writing career didn’t fly – as long as I had my peeps, I was good.
So just the thought that there was some sort of betrayal was enough to make me an obsessive, nail-biting freak. Like I said earlier, I would have these even before, but somehow I instinctively knew that they were delusions. This time around, it felt more real.
Usually, when Clyde gets this way, I rely on Bonnie to calm him the f*ck down. But here lies the rub: My anxiety was so loud that it drowned out my senses. All of a sudden, I couldn’t tell whether it was Bonnie giving me warning signals, or if Clyde was just being a high-strung prick.
Here’s another thing that complicated things: I was born with an active imagination. But it wasn’t as if I was born anxious. Actual crappy stuff happened to me. So the fear was not totally baseless.
I couldn’t help but wonder, is Clyde seeing a legit pattern right now? Or is this just him being paranoid?
I know I’m trying to be quirky and all by naming different parts of my brain, but make no mistake- the feeling was horrible.
You could tell by the ridiculous amount of time that I spent describing Bonnie and Clyde that I’m proud of my inner posse. They literally kept me sane and anchored on reality.
It’s one thing not to trust your inner circle. But when you can no longer trust yourself, when you question the very thing that you think makes you who you are, your reality gets warped.
I felt like I was truly going insane.
ON ANSWERED PRAYERS
So that’s how it was for a good portion of last year. I would go about my business- work, hang out with friends, see family – all in an effort to ground myself in my daily routine so I would feel some semblance of normalcy
But when there were no distractions, I was completely overwhelmed.
The thing is, when you have no one left to trust, not even yourself, you kinda rely on a higher power to pull you through. So I prayed. Not exactly sure what I prayed for- because I was constantly praying. Sometimes I prayed for strength, sometimes clarity, sometimes protection, sometimes it was a can-you-just-be- with-me? sort of prayer.
Finally, towards the end of last year, my prayers got answered.
It’s funny. But usually, when you think answered prayers, you would think God gave you exactly what you wanted. In this case, He gave me just, well, answers. It may not have been what I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed. (He was like that loyal best friend who would pull you in the bathroom to tell you the you have cauliflower stuck between your teeth, or that you’ve been gallivanting around with your skirt tucked in your underwear.)
Again, not going to overshare, but suffice it to say, there was “a betrayal going on” (not a typo, but a private joke that maybe one or two people would get, but couldn’t resist).
My first reaction, believe it or not, was relief coupled with a tinge of smugness. “Holy crap.. I’m not going crazy after all! My worst fears really are coming true! Bonnie and Clyde are the sh*t!”
But very quickly, things started sinking in: My worst fears have come true. I’m living my worst nightmare.
So what do I do now?
For weeks (or was it a couple of months? It was all a blur, I can’t be sure), I literally just went with my instincts. I cried hard. Raged even harder.
Sometimes I would have thoughts of retribution. Sometimes, I had magnanimous thoughts. But I didn’t act on any of them. I just felt (ang baduy but it’s true).
Gradually, though I realized, I can’t go on like this forever. I needed to figure out how to move from here.
But for the first time in my life, I had no idea how to do that.
Like I said, I usually get through a crisis, because of Bonnie and Clyde, my imaginary posse. But they were giving warning signals for a good year. And I didn’t listen to them because, plain and simple, I was scared. I was too scared to confront reality even if my mind was screaming it loud and clear.
So how could I even trust myself to make decisions? What if I let my fears get the better of me again?
That’s when I realized that I needed help. It was time for me to go to therapy.
(TO BE CONTINUED, AS ALWAYS)