Why am I not enough? (Remembering to put on a fake face to survive in the “real” world)

I’ve had problems with depression and anxiety …also probably paranoia and anger management at least since 8th grade. Everyone has traumas. Mine happened when I was 10 years old. It was no one’s fault. Who was I to be angry at then? I think humans need to blame someone or something or else all that anger gets internalized. At least that’s what happened to me.

 

Brief Overview of my Life Growing Up

I’m not ready to write about what happened. I don’t want pity. What I want is to explore its effects. At 10 years old, I learned that loved ones aren’t a given. They can be there one day and not the next. (No one passed away, if you’re wondering.) But I learned no one is a sure thing. Not even my parents. However, through this turbulent time I still had my teachers and classmates. I learned that was my constant.

Middle school years

That’s all that I carried with me: my school friends and academic success. (More so my friends, but at the end of the day I chose academics and switched schools.) 8th grade. New school. I don’t know why since I’d always been the kid who had a friend by the end of the first day of school, but I didn’t make any friends that year. I didn’t feel the need. I wasn’t interested in talking to other people. So I didn’t. Academics. That’s all I had.

High school

I tried, but by now it wasn’t just a lack of desire. It was full-blown anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone. I’d only talk when teachers called on me in class. Even then my heart worked overtime from the stress of being called on. Academics. That’s all I had. Not having friends, I dreaded school breaks. Winter break, spring break. The worst was summer break. My mind would over think. I’d get into existential crises. At 15 years old, I knew I needed a distraction. I needed a purpose. Without school, my life, I feared death. Or maybe I feared not living.

I lived (arguable choice of words) like this for 3 years. By senior year of high school, I began to wonder. What if I didn’t treat academics as my life. What if I did poorly? I felt my parents weren’t proud of me with all A’s. (My dad praised anything and everything, while my mom questioned my A+’s for not being 100’s.) Would they freak if I got C’s? So, I stopped trying. I tanked my GPA in the last year. Began failing tests. (I’d never failed an exam before then.) And. Nothing. Happened. They were disappointed, but they didn’t lecture me. Just told me to try harder.

Or maybe they did care. I don’t even know how I felt. I’d say I didn’t care, but I did because I was worried that they didn’t care. I was nervous watching my grades drop and them not bat an eye. I wanted them to care. I wanted to matter to my parents. Not that I didn’t. I knew, intellectually, that they cared about me, but at the time I needed to proof to believe it. My dad’s praise was so frequent it meant nothing and my mom’s was nonexistent. Positive wasn’t happening, so I sought negative attention.

But I didn’t get it.

Then I went to university

I’d made a friend during those last two years in high school. I’d stopped trying so hard to keep my grades up and still passed. My priorities shifted. I learned the wonders of human connection. School didn’t matter. I had friends! Maybe it was my depression or paranoia or broken trust in family stability (no one got divorced either, in case you guys are wondering). Whatever it was, I could not feel or believe that my parents loved me. I knew that as a fact. Not as a feeling.

But I knew my friends liked me! And that feeling was indescribable! A feeling! That itself was surprising! I was numb all throughout high school. The only time I felt anything was during that short-lived flirty time with the boy I snuck off to the library with (blog post on that here). Often I remember anger. But that was it. Anger or nothing. It was like I wasn’t alive. Emotionally, at least.

But in university, I made friends and felt emotions. The most important of which was happiness. I’d had that spark of nervous flirty happiness with the boy in high school, but not like this. Not from friends, and later happiness all to myself, from myself. I found freedom in university. I wasn’t always at school or at home surrounded by people. Being watched all the time. Or not, but that’s what the paranoia told me. I had my own space. It was scary at first. I still struggle to do things by myself. I don’t think I was ever allowed to be alone growing up (bedroom doors were not allowed to be closed in my household and I didn’t go out with friends, much less on my own). University was life changing.

I learned what happiness is. I learned what friends are. I learned who I am. When no one was watching, I knew who I was and amazingly, I liked myself.

What did books matter when I was learning all of this?! They didn’t. And while I was learning who I was, I had to decide on a career. (Blog post about how I came to that decision here.) And now I’m here. In Puerto Rico. A place I knew nothing about when I decided to move out here for a year. Much less did I know anyone here. All the interns in my program were strangers. Now, I wish some of them still were.

I’ve learned that people can be mean and care only about themselves. I’ve learned people can be indifferent or too interested. I’ve learned people can be angry. They can be distracted. They can be cruel. And they are hypocrites.

I knew these things as fact before. But now I know them as feeling. …It makes me wish I didn’t have emotions again. It’s an empty wish and a common one of mine, to go back to the numb high school days. But in those moments with friends, some with romantic interests, and others through my own personal accomplishments,  I’ve learned what positive emotions are and I believe they are what makes life life. Only being able to feel anger, which later morphed to sadness, is not life.

When I was in high school, it was a numb, unfeeling depression. In university, with happiness, I learned sadness. Harsh, deep sadness. The peak of which occurred in my senior year of university. This year I lived with a great friend of mine. And I hurt her. Before her, I always had a facade up. An act. It wasn’t to be cruel. It was to be kind. I didn’t want to expose others to my sadness. But with her…

Life Changing Friendship- Learning to Trust and that it’s Okay to be Myself. Flaws and All!

To Mariah I gave all of my trust. I let go completely. I let her in as far as she wanted to go. And she went far. She saw me at my worst. I’ve never been that depressed since. Even though she’ll deny it, I know I ruined (or at the very least) inconvenienced many of her days. We spent Thanksgiving (2017) angry with each other and that weekend trying to drag me out of bed, literally. I made her suffer. It wasn’t on purpose; it just goes with depression. With depression and anxiety and paranoia and anger issues and what ever other labels exist for all the not positive aspects of my personality.

But she refused to give up on me. We’re still friends. I know that woman would do almost anything for me. And I don’t know what I did to deserve her. I don’t feel like I deserve her. It’s rare, someone like that. So loyal (against their own good even). And I was spoiled.

Post Graduate Nutrition Internship- Learning to Distrust and that it’s NOT Okay to be Myself. Flaws Should be Well Hidden.

Now, I’m here in Puerto Rico working on a dietetic internship (when I doubt I want to work as a dietitian for the rest of my life) almost attached to the hip with my internship partner. I go from rotations where I’m supervised and evaluated. Hello, paranoia and anxiety! Oh, there you are anger! To an apartment where everyone has beef with at least one other person. The environment is toxic. Doesn’t help my depressive tendencies.

Sorry I can’t be positive and supportive 24/7. I still try. It hurts, but I try. Thing is, I can’t give what I don’t have. Every day I feel more paranoid, more anxious, angry, and sad. Or then I’m manically happy! But one misplaced comment and I’m underground again trying to dig myself out. Or not. Sometimes I don’t ever want to surface. (Related blog post here.)

I let myself believe, due to my experience with Mariah, that people can be trusted 100%. I can let go and be my completely flawed self and not worry about the repercussions. But I now know how truly lucky I am to have someone in my life like that, because that’s not the case with anyone else. I already had trust issues. Maybe everyone does. However, I was healing. I was learning to trust again.

But now, I feel as if there is nothing to learn. From my experiences here, no one wants the real me. No one wants my flaws. I am, as I always feared, an inconvenience. I have to pretend to be only the best parts of myself, because that’s the only parts people care to get to know. That’s understandable to me with the preceptors who supervise and evaluate us, but I mistakenly thought it wouldn’t be the case with my fellow interns. I was hopelessly optimistic. And I was wrong.

I have to learn how to fake it. Something I wasn’t 100% successful at during my customer service-y job as a cashier during university breaks (2015 to 2018). I could do it, but only for so many hours a day. Here, I share a room, I go to rotations where I am supervised and evaluated 5 days a week with my internship partner plus travel to the site and work on assignments outside of those 8 hours with her and I come home to an apartment where people aren’t happy to see each other.

 

Constant People, Constant Need to Fake It (to fake sanity/happiness)

The only saving grace is that I feel that genuine care and friendship from my roommate. But, he’s still another person I am around every day. In university, I had space. I had freedom. Now, it’s back to how it was when I lived at home. Constant people! But higher stakes! The only time I’m alone is when I go out by myself. Remember my friend anxiety? Don’t forget depression! To motivate myself to go anywhere is difficult enough. To not change my mind is another thing. Depression tells me it’s not worth it. Anxiety tells me it’s all going to go wrong anyway, so why try?

I don’t wish to blame my hard times on these mental health issues, but I know they are a big factor. And I feel like I have to keep them to myself now. My struggles and thoughts should remain my own to not affect others. Even then, there’s nothing I can do about my energy or aura. If I’m that depressed and empty inside, it doesn’t matter how big I fake smile. I’ve lost my ability to act believable. Thank you Mariah, for making that ability obsolete in me and damn you.

I’m truly going to have to fake it and hope I make it. Seven more months until the end of this internship. Wish me luck, please.

 

 

Note:

Featured image is of me last Halloween (2017). I’ve always loved goth fashion, so I enjoyed expressing myself that day through dress, hair, and makeup. I use it as the image for this post because it represents how I feel at the moment. I am in no way saying goth culture equates to sadness or anything like that, but that’s how most people seem to take it. And I feel like this is how I come off to people without make up and even when I do put on non-goth makeup. I feel like no matter what I do outwardly, all people see is my obvious sadness or negative aspects of my personality. And what can I do about that?! (Nothing overnight!) Why am I being punished for that?! Isn’t the depression, anxiety, paranoia, distrust, anger, and self loathing punishment enough??

Week of November 5th- Intensive Care Dietetic Internship Rotation (Freakin’ Phonies! I Miss my Diverse America)

I’m tired of thinking of this week. Here’s the basics: I spent the week actually trying to small talk with the preceptor. She is a busy woman, essentially left us on our own after the first day. Made a big deal of keeping a clean lab coat and of cleaning the mud off our uniforms (it was raining and me and Gia got mud on our uniform). On Monday, the preceptor told me she liked my evaluation notes. She asked how old I was the next day and was shocked. Said I’m a baby when I answered 23. Feel like she didn’t treat me the same after that. Less respect.

Anyway, they gave us breakfast and lunch at that hospital, so that was nice. The preceptor gave us a ride to the train station after the rotation which saved us an hour bus ride. Nice. But on evaluation day, she rated us on pretty much every category “needs supervision”. Like I said, she was super busy and left us on our own most of the time. If what she said were true, our patients would be even more ill than when they began. Lies. She also said I needed improvement on my appearance. Yet, she used me as the example to Gia on how to do her hair (slicked back and tied up). How does that make sense?

Oh! And she told Gia that she understands there was a language barrier because we are from the U.S. … Gia was raised in Mexico. Gia told the preceptor that. Just because she went to university in the U.S. doesn’t mean she’s American and her first language is English! What the heck! Also, why does being raised in the U.S. mean I don’t know Spanish?! I may not be an expert, but I’ve done what I can to be decent! (7 years of Spanish classes beginning in high school) I sure as hell can speak it and understand it!! What language barrier?! Geez! I’m sick of being judged for being American. It’s not my fault my parents chose to move to the U.S. when I was 7 months old! That’s just my life. And I’m not shunning my culture. I came to do this internship in Puerto Rico to be able to practice my career in Spanish! I want to be able to use my education to help both English and Spanish speakers! More if I was able!

I don’t appreciate the racism! Because that’s what it is! As far as I remember, there was not a time where I didn’t understand what the preceptor said, or in anyway insinuated that I had a barrier with the language. That’s a judgement about me based on my being American and, as far as the appearance needing improvement, I do believe my nationality had a hand in that poor evaluation. The preceptor practically told Gia as much! She told her that she knows in America dietitians go to work in Crocs and generally don’t put as much importance on their appearance. What!? What a naive expression!! Ugh! I did my hair, retouched my makeup like it was a nervous tic, and did everything I could to work on that this week. For nothing! I might as well have not tried!

I’m sick of this. I’m tired of being judged for not being from here! The first word out of my mouth and people know I’m not from here. They always ask, where I’m from and as a follow up question, if I’ll be going back after finishing this internship. Why? So you can do whatever you please to me, knowing you’ll never see me again?? Seems like it! I’m sick of it!

Oh, and we have to wear a skirt during clinical rotations. I know mine fits comically long. But… this preceptor. Geez. She mentioned the fact that I don’t wear pants due to religious reasons. … Um. No. I didn’t wear pants, because the clinical uniform is a skirt. Believe me, I would gladly wear pants instead of a skirt, nylons, and heels we are forced to wear to hospitals!

I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of caring, only for it to all go out the window at the first sound of my voice. I have come to believe that all people are racist. Not always in a mean way, but almost always at least in an unconscious way. We like what we know and are weary of those who are different. I miss America, where there was always a little bit of different. So much so, that it was commonplace. I had teachers and friends whose parents (or themselves) were Vietnamese, Mexican, Korean, Texan, European, African American, African, Indian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Lao and more.

Yet! We all considered ourselves American. We were all different, yet similar. From my experience, we all appreciated our differences and wanted to learn about each other’s customs and different ways of life. Someone taught me a little Hindi, another taught me the joys of seaweed and sticky rice. I miss that sharing. I miss the diversity. I miss not sticking out for being different. I wish I was home. (Or at least not being judged here.)

 

Week of October 29th 2018- Obgyn Dietetic Internship Rotation (Favorite Clinical Rotation Yet)

Monday, October 29th– Another Rotation, Another Dead-End Day

I know I do this to myself. I know I’d be less stressed if I didn’t procrastinate. But that doesn’t stop the procrastinating. Today we went to the hospital in this town about an hour and a half from where my internship partner, Gia, and I reside in San Juan, Puerto Rico. If you haven’t read the drama about us getting down here. Read last Friday’s blog here. The rotation itself is fine. We are evaluating pregnant women or women who’ve just given birth. This is the first rotation that did not train us at all about how to do the evaluations. The dietitian who’s supervising us (our preceptor) just gave us an evaluation form and took us up to the floor. For points, she did tell us where to find some basic information in the medical file. This isn’t the interesting part of today though.

Now, I know spies read my blog. Despite me telling them not to and her agreeing not to. So, because Karen is most likely still reading my blogs, I don’t feel at the liberty to tell y’all the really interesting part of the day. I’ll just say this: the grand majority of us don’t want to be here. The preceptors (dietitians who supervise us in one of 20+ areas we rotate through), they make us feel small and worthless. We are educated people. Every one of the ten of us interns have at least a Bachelor’s degree. Three also have a Master’s degree. We aren’t stupid. And even if we were, we’re human beings. Why treat us like we are a beaten-up Roomba?

It sounds weird, but that’s what it feels like. They look down on us and give us just the kick needed to get us going and no more. Then we are on our own. Picking up after their messes. And being told we went in the wrong direction when they didn’t give us any instruction other than do something.

Oh, and those assignments due on Friday? We explained to our Trauma preceptor that we aren’t in town due to a rotation this Monday through Friday. She very kindly gave us until Saturday. At 8am. Our rotation ends at 4:30pm on Friday. … I hate my life. Now I have to rent a car and drive us back Friday right after the rotation. …….I hate my life.

Tuesday, October 30th– The Best Part of Today was the Impromptu Pasta I Made

Preceptor was out today. So, we had a substitute supervisor. Since he does things differently, it doesn’t matter if we followed the instructions from our preceptor yesterday to the letter. He would correct us. Oh well. We only had two patients. Seems most of the Ob/Gyn floor is pretty calm this week. (Please don’t jinx anything!) Afterwards Gia and I walked back to the Airbnb we are staying at and took an hour-long break before starting to read the new guidelines for diabetes management during pregnancy that we have to present together this week.

In the middle of it I made some delicious pasta with some $3 meat, some salt, pepper, butter, and a lime. Oh! And sour cream! That finished it off! That was great. I’m learning how to cook with whatever’s at hand. That’s super useful. After this impromptu meal, we finished the presentation on the diabetic guidelines and I fell asleep against my will. I planned to work on this brochure I have to make, buuuuut…. Nope. My body demanded sleep.

Wednesday, October 31st– 5th Halloween in a Row without Giving Out Candy to Trick-or-Treaters

~Another wonderful day in Puerto Rico!~ That was sarcasm. *sigh* I want to go home. But instead, I woke up and began looking for pictures of pregnant women exercising. It’s for a brochure I have to make. It’s not some weird thing I’m into! Anyway, soon after, I got dressed and walked to the hospital with Gia. We were assigned two patients which we finished evaluating before noon. Then the preceptor gave us the choice to either take up another patient or work on our assignments. Assignments, DUH! However, I fear she’ll take that choice as does not show initiative. Oh well. I needed it. I finished that kinky brochure…erm… I mean, that brochure on physical activity in pregnant women. *ah hem* and got an outline of the case study presentation done.

Another trick question from the preceptor: she told us we could go home for the day to continue working on assignments. I trust no one. I don’t want her to cut my hours. I do NOT want to explain that to the director. I’m on a tight string with her as it is. So, currently, I’m typing this at the hospital. Gia left about half an hour ago and I still have another half hour before 4:30pm when we are supposed to leave. Afterwards, I plan to pass by the grocery store to buy some Halloween candy. It’s my favorite holiday and it stinks that I don’t get to hand out candy. …For the fifth year in a row. ☹ That’s my favorite part about Halloween. I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but the children get so happy! Plus, since my family never spent too much on candy to give to random kids (AKA trick or treating) I usually gave them something else. A couple years I gave out balloon animals and another I gave away my collection of Goosebumps books. (Kind of regret that second one, but hey, I gave the gift of reading that year.) Ahh, happy children. I haven’t been blessed by that on Halloween since before I went to university. Maybe next year… 6th year’s a charm?

Thursday, November 1st– Taking the Time to Educate a Patient

Things got a little crazy this weekend, so actually it’s November 5th when I’m writing this. But that’s okay, ‘cause you’ll get only the more important information. Today I got a patient from the labor and delivery floor. This is different than the maternity ward where women go when they’ve already had their baby or before they give birth. A woman isn’t expected to suddenly give birth there. They are in the labor and delivery floor! Luckily, that didn’t happen to my patient today. Because of patient confidentiality, I’ll just say this: my patient had gestational diabetes and seemed interested in the medical nutrition therapy AKA what to eat to make you feel better when you are sick. That’s the essence of a clinical (hospital) dietitian’s job. Interest in our services is rare. Most people look at me funny and ask if I’m going to put them on a diet when I tell them what I studied in university. It’s not funny. Not then, not now.

Anyway, she was interested, so I gave her some generic handouts then, after a moment, asked if she’d like me to come back after I calculated her diet and show her how I’d divided her carbohydrates for the day. (Carbohydrates are recommended to be distributed consistently in patients with diabetes to avoid severe spikes or dips in blood sugar [glucose].) She said yes, and after finishing my work for the day, I wrote out a little how to guide on carbohydrate counting with her diet as the example. All by hand on a blank piece of paper. *phew! Minimal white out, so a success. I went back to show her and briefly explain it to her. I hope it helped.

Later that night (read: the whole night) I worked on a grant proposal due for my internship. I had a crazy change of heart and mood which gave me the energy to work through the night on it.

Friday, November 2nd–  Last day at Ob/Gyn …I wish I’d gotten a hug from the preceptor

Today, the preceptor told us we’d just have to present the new diabetes nutrition care guidelines to the staff and then we could leave. This was great news for two reasons: able to travel back home to San Juan early and so that I could sleep a bit before working on the assignments due for the Trauma rotation. But…She gave us patients. Trust no one. She also gave us our evaluations. Which is nice since most of the preceptors don’t. Blah, blah, blah I need more leadership skills, I’m quiet, blah!

Welp, that was over! I wanted to hug the preceptor. She’d been so nice. This was the clinical rotation I’ve enjoyed the most. The staff wanted to learn from us. It wasn’t just doing assignments to do them. I regularly used the handouts from previous interns to educate patients. The case study I presented was on lupus and I know it was probably the first refresher in a long time about that disease for the staff. (Lupus is not unheard of, but it’s not common.) I felt good about the work I was doing there, so I wanted to do it and I wanted to do it well.

Ultimately Gia and I went back to San Juan in an Uber. Expensive, but worth it to sleep a couple of hours on the way. With that, our out of town rotation adventure in Ob/Gyn was over!

Saturday, November 3rd– After Two All Nighters, A Day of Sleep

We got back around 8pm on Friday and I arrived to Gia’s apartment to work on the Trauma rotation assignments from last week due today at 8am. I worked all night. Second all nighter in a row. Gosh. After turning it in, I fell asleep around 2pm and didn’t wake up until 6am on Sunday morning.

Sunday, November 4th– First Volunteer Event of the Internship and Water Shut Off

No immediate pending work. So, I spent the morning anxiously relaxing. I was still buzzing from the last couple of all nighters and assignment panic, so I couldn’t truly relax. At 3pm Gia and I went to a diabetes volunteer event we’d almost forgotten we signed up for. It worked out though, because Karen couldn’t get the shower water to turn off, so they had to bring a professional to shut it off. Until Monday. After the volunteer event, Gia and I worked on a hand out for next week’s rotation: Intensive Care. *~* It took until 1am. So tired.

 

 

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Notes: Sorry it took so long to post. As you have read if you made it to this point, it was a busy weekend. And it gets better… Next week Gia and I go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Rotation. Since it’s Tuesday as I write this, here’s a teaser:
  • Gia and I are forced to talk to the director. Remember she had said she needed to talk to us last week? Yep. Here’s that talk.
  • Gia and I play in the mud. Actually, we just kind of sank in it. In our hospital skirts and heels. XD That was hilarious!
  • I have a casual conversation with Karen for the first time in a couple of weeks. Before essentially telling her she’s being too loud when she starts ranting to Gia (who came over to give me a sheet of paper). And it’s only Tuesday when I write this!