[Journal] Tonight is a bad night

There’s simply nothing to make one feel more alone in the world than knowing that if you publicly ask for help, all the wrong people are going to answer.

Tonight isn’t a good night for me. It’s now almost 3am and that means I’ve been sitting on the very cusp of a full-blown anxiety attack for almost 9 hours. Despite taking all my medication and two beta-blockers (which are supposed to help with the fight/flight response), I’ve not been able to calm down. I’m on the edge of tears over nothing at all. I literally cried because I watched an episode of My Little Pony. I don’t know, really.

I’m in both physical and emotional pain, the latter being the worse of the two tonight. I’ve tried everything that normally helps. Everything. Hell, I’ve tried to go out and do a thing, have a social life and expand my brain a bit. Just shrug off the fear that some kind of horrible doom is impending or that life as I know it will crumble before me. I had a thumping heart and adrenaline rush the whole way there, the whole time I was there and the whole way home. I’m somewhere between proud of myself for achieving what I have so far, and filled with crippling doubt and emotional exhaustion.

Tonight is one of those nights where I wanted desperately to reach out to a friend, but because of the time and the day, nobody I want to talk to about something like this was around. I don’t hold it against any of them. I spoke to manthing, but sometimes you just want to talk to someone who hasn’t heard it all before, and I feel like the ones that were available would hear me, but wouldn’t actually listen.

I’m hesitant to write about personal issues and things involving friends on my blog these days, namely because I know that a few follow it through one way or another. A major fear of mine is that, in revealing how I really feel about things, I’ll face repercussions for it in person. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve deliberately kept this blog entirely anonymous. On that note, I will expect any individual that knows me in person to show me the respect I deserve here and not confront me over my views and feelings. If you respect me as a person and, indeed, as a friend, you will understand that sometimes one simply can’t be upfront and honest in the way we intent. We don’t want to hurt feelings or upset people, but to deny our own reactions and emotions is exactly what put me in this shitty place tonight to begin with.

I have some bad people in my life right now, and it really comes to the fore on a night like tonight when there’s a stark realisation that all my mental health support network no longer exists. Once upon a time, I had a ‘family’, I had close friends, I had people I called brother and sister and I felt safe. I felt like, even though I might come across monsters in the dark, I would always have those people behind me. In the last year, everything changed. People I trusted abused my emotions in the worst possible ways. In unforgivable, selfish, twisted ways when I begged for help and respite. My needs were shunted aside when I needed people most, while they marched up and dumped their life on my doorstep and looked at me expectantly. People I trusted beyond what I probably should have. People that I respected and gave a little bit of myself to. “Keep it safe, please”. Instead, they used it as a front door to my emotions and time. They played on my emotions and my intrinsic need to have people in my life when it was obvious to everyone but me that this was doing more harm than good.

So tonight, when I need someone to turn to, someone to tell me that “you know what, it’s going to be okay. I know you’re afraid now, you’re allowed to be afraid, but it’ll get better and you won’t need the fear tomorrow, so leave it here”, I have a crushing sense of loneliness. Even when manthing is one room over. I need these people in my life again. The friends, the lovers, the family, and I have only empty spaces where my impression of people once stood; their figures having wandered somewhere far from here, leaving only disappointment and child-like pain in their shadows. I find myself on a night like tonight struggling with demons that often feel lager than myself, and instead of people that listen, I have people who hear what they want and talk about themselves. I have people that tell me they understand and, on nights like tonight, I find that more of an insult than a comfort, because they don’t. They can’t feel my heart beating into a cavity the child in me has carved out with scratching nails and wild eyes. They can’t see the way it’s filled with terror from everything – named and nameless – and they don’t understand that the one thing I need tonight is someone who will truly listen and simply say “I am here for you. Please talk to me. Let me listen”.

Instead, I have people that ignore my outright plea for help to substitute it for something else that they find more fitting. Instead of understanding that, ultimately, I need to walk through this on my own, but want someone to wait for me at the other side, they walk next to me and tell me about all the woes and troubles they’re facing and do nothing but load the wagon I’m dragging down an already rocky road. I know if the wheels fall off, they won’t stop to help. They will take my stopping as a queue to simply heap more baggage on. I say this with experience.
Any other night I take that on willingly. Any other night, I grit my teeth as a simple greeting becomes a segue for them spewing their grief on me and expecting me to be a therapist. I’m not, and I likely never will be, by choice. I find my friendships abused time and time again by people mistaking my concern for their welfare for an open invitation to dump their life story on me and then demand I fix it for them. But not tonight.

Tonight I have been afraid of making it known that I need help, because the people that will answer are the ones with an agenda – they’re the ones time and time again that will see my unhappiness and take that as an excuse to ride the misery wagon in what they seem to think is tandem. The problem is that they don’t help me pull, they sit and expect me to do the work, and I’m finding that time and time again, that hurts more than all the fear and heartache in the world – knowing that this person holds their own issues in higher regard than yours but wraps them up in paper and presents them to you as a gift, and expects you to say thank you.

I have some beautiful, wonderful people in my life. I have the people that tell me that I’ve always got someone on my side, I have the ones that DO understand because I know they’ve walked that road before. I have people that respect my boundaries and, while we can commiserate together, they know that everyone has limits, including themselves. Right now, however, is one of those rare times when I feel that none of these people are around. They very well might be, but in one of those silly moments where I want to show them the same consideration they’ve shown me as a friend, I find myself very hesitant to message someone at 3am just to talk. I suppose this is somewhat of a self-dug hole where I find myself placing the needs of others before my own, but friendships are about give and take, not clinging to a drowning man and expecting him to take you back to shore.

Tonight, I am unwell. I have a sickness, a malaise of the mind and heart that is just as real as any other kind of injury or disease. Tonight I am going to crawl into bed, curl up close to manthing and do the same thing I would do for any cold or flu – sleep it off and hope I feel a little better tomorrow.

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Selective exposure and when helping isn’t really helping

This is an issue I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, but due to circumstances on my end I’ve been unable to either find the time to do it, been in no headspace to write about it or haven’t physically been capable of doing it. I’m hoping that taking the time out tonight to sit down and get this out of my head will mean my brain will stop charging through at a million miles an hour.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been party to a handful of events that got me thinking. Some were good and some were bad, but they all ended up at the same two destinations in my head – the idea of selective exposure, and when helping isn’t really helping.

Most of the time when people see me, it’s usually within certain parameters. Somewhere between the “I’m feeling great” end of the scale and “I’m not feeling awesome” end. Anything beyond that and I usually rule out any form of social contact for a number of reasons. Have you ever tried to sit through a conversation and remain polite and chatty while someone’s trying to rip your toenail off? How about trying to have genuine interest in what someone says while you’re exhausted enough to actually fall over out of your chair? There’s only so far I can fulfill my social obligations on a day when I’m in above-average pain, my fatigue is playing up, or any other number of fuckery my body likes to pull.

What this basically means is that when YOU see me having a bad day, that may not necessarily be the same as MY bad day. That’s not to invalidate anything I’m feeling at the time, but my sliding scale for social activity stops at “Fucking ow”, but my whole scale goes all the way past that up to “Oh God Why?”

The bit that really frustrates me about this issue is that so many people seemed to assume that what I felt stopped at what they saw. Like, when they didn’t see me using the cane or with a visible limp, clearly I was in no pain at all, and when I did have the cane, I was still obviously okay because I was still up and talking.

I’ve had to explain to several people, some friends, some family and some other random people on the street that, when you see me out and about, when we come over for games or when I go out to get lunch, it’s a very controlled thing. I MUST be within point X and Y in order to function as a semi-competent human being and any deviation from that usually means I’m suck at home and in bed, in a world of pain. What you see is NOT what you get with me, but that doesn’t seem to stop some people thinking I’m leading them on or I’m some kind of liar.

That’s the problem with these invisible illnesses. They’re kind of just that. You don’t see them. You see reactions from them. You see the implications of them running amok in people’s bodies, but it’s not like we turn purple or grow horns. You basically have to take our word for it and actually believe us when we say we’re not well.

And now on to my next point. When helping isn’t really helping.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with over the last few months – longer, in fact. Just about as long as I’ve been sick, to be honest – is the idea of wanting to help. For the most part I try to be gracious about the whole thing and thank people where I can for stepping in. However, there are other times when people overstep boundaries in eagerness to help the cripple or, assist the female or even lend a hand to the friend.

First and foremost, there are two different kinds of help I want to identify, and there aren’t always defined boundaries between the two.

The first is helping because they need help. This is usually the case easiest identified by the audible “Can I have some help, please”. All sarcasm aside, it’s fairly easy to see when someone’s struggling with something and you want to step in and lend a hand. It could be a case of them needing help getting up the stairs, or opening a jar, or changing a light globe, remembering a birthday or even recalling what they walked into the kitchen for. There’s usually some kind of body language on the part of the helpee and an acknowledgement of some kind on the part of the helper.

The second kind is a little different. This involves helping because you THINK they need help. This one can be done for different reasons. Sometimes because the helper wants some kind of feeling of gratification for “doing what is right”, sometimes it’s because they think that the person they’re helping is a lot less capable than they really are and sometimes it’s genuinely out of desire to assist another human being.

Now, the problem with the second kind of help is that it’s not always called for. I had an incident with a friend the other day (which we talked through and we’re back to normal again) but it made me think about the other times where I’ve had similar situations and what all my experiences combined have taught me. People have assumed I have needed help and have gone out of their way to do this, without actually asking me if I needed the help first.

Unfortunately this division can be really hard to navigate for some people and toes end up getting stepped on.

One of the issues I find most frustrating is that we’re taught straight off the bat to assist those less able than us. In my situation I can be either more or less able in a lot of areas on any given day, so I’ve found people wanting to go out of their way to make life ‘easy’ for me without taking into account my choice on the matter, while other people that obviously require some help are left to fend for themselves. One thing that a lot of people seem to forget, though, is that (for all my cripple-ness) I’m a highly independent individual and take fierce pride in my ability to self-manage. The beautiful humour in that being that, on my bad days, I need help to dress, shower, use the bathroom, etc.

What this means, however, is that I usually don’t want help until I directly ask for it. I’m no stranger to asking for help, even if I can be a little sheepish about it at times, but when you’re stuck in body that takes a toss at a dart board to decide what you can and can’t do on any given day, you treasure those things that you can still do on your own, without help of any kind. You’re fierce about those things. You don’t want help pushed upon you because someone else thinks you need to be helped. You want to do it yourself because you’ll be damned if you can’t wash your own hair, or dress yourself today, or even go for a walk.

When someone comes along and helps you out with things they think you need help with, it crosses a line where they start robbing you of that independence. Suddenly, you’re no longer strong and capable in that area because someone else has just come along and done it for you. You’ve had the rug pulled out from underneath you and yet we’re still taught that we should say thank you because this other person only had our best in mind.

The problem is that when you live a life where independence is such a flippant and fleeting thing, rather than being preemptive help, sometimes you’re robbing that person of part of their identity. Part of who they are. That last part of the strong, capable person they were before they got sick, and that’s where things go wrong. That’s where frustrations break and feelings get hurt and it’s incredibly hard to explain a concept like this to someone who’s never known dependence on another individual. It’s hard to explain how something so well-meaning can have such a vastly opposite effect on an individual’s life. Sometimes helping really isn’t helping at all.

Far be it from me to discourage assistance when required, perhaps first ask if your person would like help with what they’re doing. If it’s not a routine you’re used to or they haven’t asked themselves, perhaps ask them if they want assistance before you jump ahead, and don’t be offended if they say no. It’s not said to reject the support you offer at all, but instead is perhaps their way of maintaining some form of normalcy over an otherwise abnormal life. Furthermore, it’s always far easier to ask first than to have a negative reaction to your good deed.

[Journal] A catch up

Once again, I managed to fall behind in my blogging schedule.

The last few weeks have been pretty full on. It was roughly a week after my toe procedure before I could walk again. It’s been almost three weeks now? Honestly, I have no real concept of time. But I’m finally able to wear socks and loose shoes. Thankfully, this means no more cold feet when we have our chilly weather snaps. I’m down to weekly visits to the doc so he can look at the mess that is my big toe, though I no longer require a dressing, and I can confirm that it still hurts like all sodomy. I was clever enough to drop my cane on my toe during the doctor’s visit today. I’m nearly in tears over it, Manthing is trying not to laugh at my misfortune and the poor GP doesn’t know what the dickens is going on.

My new GP decided that we needed to go over a complete and thorough patient history. I’m in two minds about this. On one hand I really appreciate his dedication to the task at hand and to giving me the best care he can. On the other hand, I seriously hate the fact that I had to go through all the other shit about my history, stuff I either was or wasn’t told growing up and the whole mental health side of things. He’s suggesting I see both a psychologist (which I’m undertaking in my own time) and a psychiatrist regarding the antidepressants and stuff that I’m on.

I had to get my dose of Endep lifted due to ongoing anxiety issues, panic attacks, negative thoughts, etc. The sort of shit that seeps into your brain like a leaky pipe. I can deal with everything in due time, but when I’m busy fighting my own brain, not sleeping because I’m afraid of the dark and having major panic attacks over nothing, then no progress gets made.

Speaking of panic attacks, I had an interesting experience this week. Albeit regrettable, it was worth noting that I have a new and identifiable trigger for my panic attacks. To simplify the situation, there was a great disagreement with a group of friends due to one being a selfish prig. The whole situation got out of hand, this person in question couldn’t see past their own nose, they threw around a lot of hurtful names (I may be many things, but I am NOT a bully, especially not to someone that I treated as a sister) and the whole thing boiled down to them acting like a spoiled, selfish little child. We were expected to be mind-readers, fortune tellers and have superhuman empathy because we should simply KNOW when this person was upset, rather than them using their adult skills and… well, you know, telling someone. They refused to accept responsibility for damaging property out of carelessness, I was called names for disbanding the gaming group (because it was THEIR group and how DARE I, despite the fact that I was GM) and any attempts to talk rationally to them ended up in them putting on the water works and involving a friend’s parents. I don’t deal well with conflict situations at the best of times, so when this all blew up on Sunday before our Pathfinder game, you can imagine just how pleased I was.

This week has been pretty shocking for pain levels and I’ve spent far more time out of bed than I should have, so when some ungrateful tit turns around and starts carrying on like a child, and tries to tell me what I can and can’t do, you get the idea. To sub up this person’s attitude over the weekend in regard to other people, “HER panic attacks? Her anxiety? What about MY anxiety? I get anxiety too and none of you care!” Suffice to say if I see this individual again, it’ll be too soon.

On the plus side, I’m feeling a little artsy tonight so hopefully I’ll have some new comics for you all. I’ve got a few old ones to put up still (one in regards to a ‘request’ journal I did a while back) and, as always, still taking inspiration from readers if they want to suggest something in particular, or challenge me.

The fine line between pleasure and pain

A War of Nerves

A War of Nerves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, as you many have gathered, I spent Saturday night at a kink event. It was a very tame event in the scheme of things with a few play areas and more of a emphasis on dress and atmosphere than actual action. Now, kink is still a fairly new thing for me. This was maybe the 8th event I’ve been to, give or take a few, and at each event I go to, I make a point of trying to push my boundaries. I started off as a VERY coy, very reserved religious girl and since then, I’ve been able to use kink and the fetish lifestyle as a way to empower myself. I’ve been able to grow from my experiences and do a lot of learning – about both the world around me and the inner workings of my own mind.

Now, as mentioned, I have nerve issues. I have hypersensitive nerves to be precise. Do you ever get the horrible sensitive patches of skin when you get sick? What about sunburn? When you have a burn, touching the skin is a very, very delicate procedure. For me, I have good days and bad days. Some days I’m more or less like everyone else. On my bad days, however, the simple sensation of clothing is enough to hurt. If manthing were to lovingly stroke my arm more than three times in the same spot, it causes physical pain. A gentle bump, a change of temperature or even ongoing pressure like leaning on one’s hand can be enough to cause trouble.

This raises a big question: How does one manage these nerve issues when you’re kinky as hell?

One of the things that got me thinking last night was that my nerve issues mean that I’m pretty different to most people and it’s a lot more pronounced in the kink scene, especially when a lot of ‘play’ involves setting nerves off with various sensations.

While last night was a wonderful experience, at one point I ended up getting the business end of manthing’s riding crop across my back side. Now, this in itself was a novel experience as it’s the first time I’ve bared my bottom to a room full of strangers. It was by no means a “show and tell” event – everyone was going about their own business – but there were a handful of people in the room. Some would unabashedly stare at the unfolding scene and others would look over from their conversation with varying degrees of amusement and curiosity before going back to their discussion. I’m rather self conscious, so having strangers analyse my bare cheeks (as I’m convinced that is what they were doing!) is a bit of a terrifying prospect. However, the sharp impact of a riding crop makes for a fantastic distraction from this line of thought.

Now, being my horrible cheeky self, I wriggled my bum. I do that when I’m pleased. Kind of like a little bit of a tail wag and a grin. Unfortunately this time it was poorly timed on my part and meant that manthing’s swing of the crop landed outside of his target zone. As a matter of fact, I was the unwilling recipient of leather right to the… well, the butt hole. For a brief moment, it felt like Satan himself had violated me. I squealed like a stuck pig and clutched my bum. Once manthing worked out what had happened, he (and the people around us) laughed. I was laughing albeit in a “oh god, did that just happen?” way.

There was a woman sitting next to the chair I was leaning over, highly entertained by all of this. When I leaned back over the chair to submit myself to another round of buttock-beating, this time without the assault of my chocolate starfish, I had a playful bitch about manthing being more gentle this time. Now, he knew well that I was merely poking fun at the situation and smiled. However, the woman next to me responded with “Just bend over and take it already! Stop complaining!”

In hindsight, I’m sure she was only trying to do the same – make light of the events that had unfolded. To put it bluntly, shit happens and it’s a real test of character as to how you deal with an accident like this one. I wasn’t badly hurt or bleeding, I wasn’t in tears. I was just very self conscious and had my pride rather battered. When I heard her comment, a thought occurred to me: These people don’t know about my nerve issues. They probably think I’m a complete bitch and can’t handle even light pain.

From that moment, the fun stopped. I immediately felt like shit. Manthing and I stopped playing and, though I was still smiling and laughing, internally I felt awful. Like I was some kind of fake for having put on that little impromptu display. I sat back down in my chair and reserved myself to quietly watching the faces and actions of other people in the room like I could somehow gauge their thoughts of me from what I could see. The woman that had made the comment got up and walked off without a second thought. It was an offhand remark that was of no more consequence than that friendly nod she made to a familiar face as she walked off down the stairs.

I fretted.

So many thoughts flooded my head. What’s the point of even playing with manthing if my nerves cause me so much trouble? Surely he can’t be having any fun. How can I engage in any impact play if this is the result? How on earth can I then handle needle play? It doesn’t make sense. Has this issue been affecting my relationship with manthing this whole time? I feel like shit because of all of this. Surely I have to deserve the feeling, right? How will I ever be able to play with someone outside manthing? Would anyone even be willing to understand my issues?

I’d be too much work.

So, I sat in the corner and went through what was bothering me. For one, manthing wouldn’t play with me in the first place if he didn’t get enjoyment out of it. Yes, he has to be careful and yes, I do have some limitations that vary from day to day. But this has never made him go “No, I don’t want to do this with you.” I trust him enough that if something like that came up, he’d talk to me about it.

Needle play? Impact play? Any kind of kink activity that involves stimulating nerves needs to be approached differently with me. I can look at this issue one of two ways. On one hand I can adopt the “Life and everything sucks” attitude where I look at how my condition impacts me negatively – like only being able to take so many floggings, or having areas that make me cry and others I can barely feel. OR, I can be a champion and look at things this way:

I’m different. I am fun. If you learn about my nerves, you can have me utterly melting with a single nail to a nerve line. If you take the time to appreciate and learn how different I am, we can both have SO much fun! I have a nerve between my legs that, when hit, makes my entire right leg twitch. It’s hilarious and enough to drive me nuts in a good way.

I’m the one being hard on myself here. Frankly, the opinions of the people in the room don’t count for shit. I’m not in a relationship with them. They have NO impact on my life at the moment and since they didn’t even take the time to say hi or ask my name, they can go and rotate. The woman that made the remark doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know how amazing I am. She will likely never know how fantastic and incredible my body is because I’m so different. Balls to her. All the balls. Big, sweaty, hairy ones on her forehead.

The same thing goes for potential play partners. I won’t have time for anyone that won’t spend a while learning about me and the way I function. If they don’t want to learn, then that’s it. I have no obligation whatsoever to play with anyone I don’t feel safe or comfortable with and, in this situation safety involves knowing ME. It’s about more than just being able to swing a crop. It’s about developing a connection with your play partner and making sure ALL parties involved are having fun.

Now, thanks to a weather change here, I feel awful. I’ve been hit by a truck at some point today and due to the lack of sleep, my painkillers are making me feel pretty close to drunk so I’m not really certain how articulate I am right now, or whether anything I’ve said makes sense. Point is, I feel good about myself and I managed to put down an entire blog post today.

Yay me 😀