Realigning

I’m sitting here reading an e-mail, and realizing how close my insecurities have come to ruining – and which may still ruin – one of my closest friendships. I know that I’m insecure, and I don’t want to be, and I don’t want to lose my friendship or my friend because I drove them away. So I need to work on changing some things in my life.

The problem is, I’m not really sure what. Nothing I’ve read has prepared me for this; nothing that I remember from my treatment has made this something I know how to fix, or even where to start. I know that knowing I’m insecure is a first step, but the problem is that, metaphorically, after I take that step, I can’t see where to go from there.

On the one hand, I feel like I might throw up because now I may be losing a friend for good when only a year ago I would have thought we couldn’t be much closer. But There’s also a kind of sense of relief in knowing what my part in this might be, and knowing what I need to focus on – at least, focus on first – to try and mend things. Maybe it’s just bent, not broken, and that just means it can be slowly bent back.

So, I guess what I am asking my readers is this – do you know of any resources (books, online articles, people to talk to) that are reputable and could help me to try to confront and deal with my relationship insecurities? I know that my friendship, in its current stage, is in kind of a limbo space. And I won’t really have a chance to work on that until after I go back to St. Louis in November to help figure out what my parents will be able to take with them when they move. So I have about three weeks to show my friend that I’m making a good-faith effort to try and fix things on my end. Ordinarily I’d probably make some sort of joke about crowdsourcing ways to help my insecurity, but that would just be me avoiding the reality here.

I could lose a friend, and I don’t want to. So if you have any helpful things you can tell, show, give, or demonstrate to me, I’m asking you to let me know.

My first search gets me this: Overcoming Insecurity in Relationships

Messy Days

My feelings have been all kind of messed-up for the last few days, making sleep hard to get and relaxation even harder – I keep realizing that my jaw is clenched for no apparent reason, and it’s giving me headaches. I have a good idea why, but it’s not really something I feel comfortable airing just at the moment. Hearing from more friends would not be unwelcome, though. So instead, I thought I would link to this article, since it’s both interesting and a little scary:

Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

Destiny

Despite the title, I don’t really believe in destiny. By that, I mean that I don’t think there’s some grand plan for all of us. We aren’t necessarily meant to do anything in particular; there’s no greater purpose. Well, at least not to our individual lives. I think we all have free will, and in order for free will to work, there can’t really be a plan for each of us – because if there was, it would mean that everything we were to do had already been planned out, and that no matter what we did it was what was planned for. Which, given some of the terrible things we can go through – and some of the painful, messed-up things I’ve been through in particular – would mean that the plan for me has been pretty sadistic. I’d prefer to believe that we’d been set in motion, but left to find our own way through life and the universe.

Which, I guess, means that there’s nobody I’m meant to be with. It can feel like it at times, but I think it’s supposed to feel like that in a good relationship. But I know that when I feel something, something big and serious like (for instance) love, I can get pretty intense about it. I take it very seriously, maybe too much so. I don’t feel inclined towards romance all that often, but when I do, I guess I go for it all the way. And that can probably be weird and scary for the other person. It’s hard for me to admit how I feel in a romantic sense, and even harder to express it, but I know what I feel. I also know that my lack of ability to express myself can be confusing or disheartening. I can say the words, and I can mean them, but without much of an ability to express myself, I don’t know how real it feels for the other person. Maybe not enough. My lacking in that area has been a part of at least one failure to get a relationship off the ground, and I wonder if that will keep being a failing that will doom my relationships.

I’m just conflicted. I know how I feel, but not how the other person does. Maybe they don’t know, either.I know that I also have a tendency to assume that things that seem wrong or strange are somehow my fault. Sometimes they might be, but sometimes they aren’t, or can’t be. I assume that I am more of a part of things than I am, and that ends up in unnecessary feelings of guilt for me and trouble expressing what’s really going on for the other person. At this point, I don’t really know what to say. I’m confused, frustrated, hurt, scared. Maybe even a little angry. I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t deal well with the unknown. I know it might be none of my business, but it’s weird. I want to help, because I feel helpless. I want to do something, because knowing nothing is driving my anxiety level up the wall.

Life is confusing. And I hate to think that somehow this is all planned. Because if so, it’s a really painful plan.

Worrying

I’m a worrier.

For those of you who know me, this is no surprise. I worry about my friends, my family, the people I care about. High on my list right now is Calla, because I know there’s a lot going on with her, and I wish I could help; I know I still have feelings for her, even though I’ve come to terms with the idea that we won’t have a romantic relationship; there’s a gap between the rational side of my mind – the part that know’s we are just friends – and the emotional side, which spent months building up feelings for her, and is extremely slow to let them go. I’m stubborn like that. I worry about my friend who is switching medications, because she seems to be taking it pretty hard, and it’s not like things have been terribly easy on her. I worry about my other friend here, who’s a single guy and an awesome friend who just seems to have a hard time catching a break. I know it’s coming, but I still worry about him.

I know I worry, and I know it can be intense and annoying. It can cause me to try to intrude more than I should, and just be more of an ass than I normally am.I also know that for a lot of people, this would be a cause of a lot of stress. But I worry because I choose to, not because I have to. I want my friends to be happy, and I worry about them when things aren’t going so well. I’ve had one friend come very close to killing herself – not one of the above friends, a separate one, in Canada – and another actually go through with it – my friend Alice, my took her life in June. I know that I can’t change the past, and that ‘what if…’ scenarios will just mess with my head. But I wonder if having someone to reach out to, or who reached out to her, might have made a difference. So I worry about my friends because I never want to see one of them get to that point again, or if they do, to know that I am here for whatever help or support I can give.

In other news, things are proceeding as planned, and I know that two blog entries in two days is pretty unusual for these times – more reminiscent of my early blogging. But I had this on my mind, and I spent the day at work thinking about it – well, the part of my work day when I wasn’t going through the process of reporting a workplace injury, because I slipped on a loose piece of cardboard and twisted my knee. It’s nothing serious, but I’m going to be limping around for a day or so. Thankfully, I’ve got the next two days off, so I’ll be able to keep things easy on my knee. So, whoever is reading this, don’t worry; it isn’t serious, just an annoyance, and I’ll be fine in a day or two.

Keep On Keepin’ On

So it’s been a while since my last post, but I have good reason. The last week or so has been pretty busy for me; last Tuesday was my third session with my Dungeon World group, and last Monday was the character creation session session for a 4th Edition D&D game that should be starting up soon – I’m not running it, thankfully. Just yesterday was the fourth session of my Dungeon World game, and it went very well – much better than session 3. I think the group works together pretty well, and it’s fun to do, even if it is exercising new narrative muscles in my brain.

I met up with Calla on Sunday to see a movie, and again on Tuesday – we met with some friends at a place called The Mad Potter and painted some pottery, which was fun and a cool new experience. I’m still not entirely sure where things are with her; last year around this time she was essentially placing her life in my hands, and now it seems like – well, I don’t know what it seems like. I know there’s not a relationship in the cards, but it feels like she’s even distancing herself as my friend. It sounds like she’s trying to take on a lot by herself, and I wish she would ask for support if she needed it – but I know how hard it can be to ask other people for help. I spent a long time trying to handle everything in my life alone, because I didn’t feel like anyone else could understand what I was going through – and that didn’t work out so well for me. It took 2 suicide attempts and a trip to Menninger Clinic, as well as four months in a step-down program, to hammer that into my head. My head, as you might surmise, is pretty hard. So I hope my friends don’t do the same thing and try to take on everything alone, when those close to them are willing to help.

Today I was at a workshop with NAMI on learning how to effectively tell my story, to communicate it in ways that would be helpful for advocacy. It’s just another thing to do to work towards getting into the social work field, on the side of mental health. It is so frustrating to me that so many people don’t understand even the smallest things about mental illness, and so I want to do what I can to change that. This blog is a piece of that, certainly, but I want to do more; I want to try to help people the way Menninger and the step-down helped me. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be able to do, but I want to do something; it’s hard for me to see my friends in distress and not want to do more to help. I know I’m not their therapist, and I don’t want to be, but if I can help make any part of their lives easier – and then do the same for other people, while I’m at it.

In a couple weeks I’m going to head back to St. Louis to help my parents figure out what they’re going to keep and give away, sell, or leave behind, and soon after that, I should be an uncle. The next month or so is going to be pretty interesting – and that doesn’t even get inot holiday season in retail. So we’ll see how active I can be here.

Weirdness and Awareness

I was going to try and write a blog post today about being in, or not being in, a relationship, but right now I just don’t know what I can say that won’t be insulting, unhelpful, or guilt-tripping for someone. So instead, I will note that today, according to the International Bipolar Foundation, is Bipolar Awareness Day, and this comes in the middle of NAMI’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. So do what you can to be educate yourself about mental illness and the stigma that those of us who suffer from the various mental illnesses face, and Say It Forward.

Recent Reading

It’s been a few days since my last entry, but that seems to be becoming the norm – for the most part, my mental health status is relatively stable these days, and I haven’t really gotten anywhere with CPS training yet. I am still working with NAMI, though, and I am attending their SMARTS for Advocacy training in about ten days; it’s to help with advocacy for mental health treatment in the world in general, focusing on being able to tell your story clearly and coherently and get your message across to people in positions of power – like legislators – through meetings and letters or calls. It sounds like something worthwhile to do, so that’s where I’ll be spending a day.

Like I’ve said before, since I now work in an area of my job where I can listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts while I work, I get the chance to do a lot of ‘reading’. Recently, one of the better books I’ve gone through is called Extra Lives: Why Video Game Matter, by Tom Bissell. Bissell is a writer who has written on a number of scholarly topics, but in his spare time is also, it seems, a video game fanatic. This book goes through nine games from recent years, from Grand Theft Auto to Far Cry 2 to Mass Effect, and makes a case that while they may not necessarily be art (though they are certainly getting there), they are amazing achievements, and fun ways to spend time. I think I’d recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t play video games, but knows someone who does, and wonders why; it can be a little academic at times, and Bissell is often dismissive of games as an art form even though he is an avid fan, but it goes a long way towards explaining the reasons why gamers find video games so entrancing – they are far, far from the Pong and Asteroids of the early days.

It’s not like Jane McGonigal, by any means – this book does not talk about the traits of games that mean gamers are often learning while they play – about social interaction, teamwork, puzzle-solving, math, and other things – and how they can be used to help make society, in many aspects, better. Mostly, it just talks about why video games are so attractive to gamers, and how they have evolved over the last couple decades into the enormous works – of art, or just design – that they are today. Bissell does use some rough language, and does occasionally talk about his own past addictions – mainly cocaine – in relation to video games, but they do serve the point he is trying to make, even if it can get a little ugly.

Aside from that, I’ve also been listening to recordings (now podcasts) from the last several years on mental illness. The NAMI chapter of Athens, Ohio apparently does a monthly or bi-monthly radio show talking about mental illness topics, appropriately called Conversations about Mental Illness. Each show is only a half-hour long, but they interview a lot of people – either authors, or doctors, or people with mental illness who are living proof that you can overcome it and live a reasonably regular life. A lot of the information is old hat to me, having been through a lot of treatment over the years, but it is still nice to hear that people are trying to be so active in their advocacy for those suffering from mental illness, and the stigma of having it that exists even today.

I’m tempted to do something like a YouTube video talking about my own story, but I’m not sure how to go about it. I don’t really want to sound scripted, but I also don’t want to spend a lot of time just trying to fill air while I process my own thoughts. I’m also a little worried about what kind of reception it would get – would it get back to my employers? Would I have to severely restrict comments in order to avoid the torrent of comments about how terrible a person I am that inevitably comes with such things on the internet? I’m not sure, so if someone has any tips on how to make such a video, let me know.