Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy as One, Two, Three

I'm not sure that I want to post this. It's some pretty personal stuff that I'm not sure I feel entirely comfortable sharing in a public way. But I'm also not one to shy away from something out of fear. I do know that I need to write this all out. If you want to stick around and read, let me warn you. This is not funny stuff here. This is just me working things out.
Apparently I have anxiety. I probably knew that I did, somewhere in the back of my mind. Especially since I have a psych degree, after all. But my excuse for that is I focused on evolutionary and cognitive psychology. Now that I'm confronted with the fact, it's so obvious that I have anxiety. I have constant nervous behaviors (cracking knuckles, fiddling with my hair, tapping my feet, drumming my fingers, biting my lips, etc). And then there is what goes on inside my head. I overanalyze everything, to such a degree that I will have entire fictional conversations in my head based on an offhand comment.
I've always considered myself a fast thinker, joking that my hands can't keep up with my brain to explain my poor handwriting and typo-riddled typing. Is that part of my anxiety? Is that something I'll lose when my meds start to really work? I don't want to slow down my thoughts, I just want them to be more productive and let me focus on important things instead of reliving a conversation from two years ago and thinking about the things I wish I could have said.
I also wonder how much it will affect my memory. I've also always had a poor memory. I suspect that I have a short-term memory deficiency, but I've never been able to empirically confirm that. Most short-term memory tests utilize pattern memorization, which is something I'm quite good at, so getting an accurate assessment of my actual memory forming abilities is tricky. I do know from experience that I have a very hard time correlating events with when they happened. I can't say off the top of my head what year I graduated from college. I have to do the math, and even then I'm not positive. I can't tell you which year I moved to Florida, but I can tell you that I've lived here for a little over two years. But that sounds wrong to me, because I moved here in either September or November (that's another issue I have; keeping the months straight) so I've had three Christmases here and it feels more natural to say I've lived here for three years.
Are my issues with memory and time something that will be aided by medication? If so, I would welcome it. My life wouldn't be as entertaining, but I would be a lot more organized and functional.
It's not very likely that will happen though, since I'm pretty sure that I have mild dyscalculia and I'm equally sure that's unrelated to anxiety. I joke a lot about how I'm terrible at math, but the truth goes deeper than that. I can do quite well with algebra, because that is logic based. Any other math activities, like calculus or percentages or doing math in my head or even telling time on an analog clock just do not happen in my brain. I've tried to learn them over and over and they just do not make sense to me. I have never been able to do even simple addition or subtraction in my head. I have to use my fingers as an adult, which is beyond embarrassing. I've developed a very discrete way of doing it if I'm forced to in public, but if you watch closely you can see it. I can do most calculations if I'm given a pen and paper, but if you listen to what I say and compare it to what I write, nothing makes sense. I'll say "seven minus four" out loud, but I'll write "9 - 5" and either one of those can match what I'm supposed to be doing. Or not. Word problems are my nemesis.


McKimmey said...

I'm super anxious too! I've got depression as well.The medication helps, but there is always that fear that it may stop working or what it's doing to me besides helping. My first blog post lists all my issues, if you are interested. I've been thinking about making it public, but so far only internet friends and my hubby know about it.


stardust said...

A few years ago I was a lot more anxious than I am now. It didn't get to the point that I needed medication, but if I had stayed on the track I was going for another six months, I would have. My family has a history of mental illness, so the right conditions could push me past the line of "normal" and "clinical". I can't say for certain if I ever exhibited the nervous behaviors that you have, but I had the racing thoughts and over-analyzing tendencies to the degree that they were beginning to interfere with my life. I still tend to over-analyze but I can clamp down on it a lot more effectively than before. For me to get better I had to make a complete change in my life. It started with getting out of the juvenile justice system and into sales. Then I realized that I was eating all shitty and had to stop. And finally I realized that I was completely sedentary and needed to get some exercise. If I weren't so dense it wouldn't have taken me a year-and-a-half to realize all of this. I think the thing that finally helped me to break through was yoga. No lie, my anxiety levels plummeted when I started doing yoga regularly.

So, I guess this is my long way of saying that to some extent, I feel ya. It's not to make it about me or tell you what worked for me will work for you; everyone walks the path that is right for them. Just to say that change does come and though there will be a lot of days that seem the same, one day you will look back on the past and say, "Holy shit. I never thought I would feel like a 'normal' person (whatever the fuck that is anyway), but here I am.'

stardust said...

Ugh, I sound like some sort of smug "diet and exercise" bitch, but that's not how I mean it. You know what I mean. I got your back. 'Jibette Power!

Mike F. Clark said...

Not taking pleasure in your troubles, but I'm happy to finally know someone else who is chronologically challenged. I can manage to remember birth dates and holidays fairly well, but please don't ask me how long I've lived in this town or how old my dog is. It takes all kinds mental gymnastics to try to link the event in question with a date I DO remember. I just get frustrated and think, "Dammit, this is supposed to be a lighthearted conversation! Why do you need to know?"

It's sad, but I have a hard time with seasons, too. When is summer, you ask? It has to be around July. I know it's hot on the 4th of July. When is fall? Must be close to Halloween, right?

So many times I've told Stardust a story only to have her ask, "When did that happen?" I usually reply, "Sometime between birth and just now."

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