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??

Best and Worst Experiences during Clinical Rotations in High School: Why I’m Not a Doctor Part 1

I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger, but I gave it up because I didn’t want to lose my humanity. In high school I, essentially, took a year long, intensive, crash course in anatomy and (more so) physiology. I was a sponge. I absorbed everything. (Except vitamins and minerals. Those were not interesting to me at all.) It’s amazing how knowledgeable I became from that one year. I remember sketching anatomically correct hearts and coloring them for fun.

I also remember going into clinical rotations the following year (11th grade) and feeling incredibly awkward about it. I was wicked book smart, but catastrophically inept when it came to people skills. (Still not great at it…) Which means 90% of my clinical rotations went like this:

 

Dr.:

“…and that’s what we do in [insert area of hospital here].”

Catastrophically Inept at Social Skills 17 Year Old Me:

*nods*

Both of us:

*AWKWARD SILENCE*

 

It was almost worst if the medical professional I was shadowing tried to converse with me. Most of my answers were short and direct. Example:

Dr.: 

“…and that’s what we do in [insert area of hospital here]. What area do you want to go into or what are you interested in besides medicine?”

Me:

I’m not sure yet. Um, I like to read.

Dr.:

Oh, that’s okay. It takes time to figure that out. What kind of books do you like to read?

Me:

Uh, really anything as long as it’s fiction.

Dr.*Sees I am most definitely not the conversational type*:

…that’s nice. Yeah, when I was younger [insert personal story here to fill up my silence]

 

The worst example is when I made a conscious attempt to be more conversational because I had read somewhere that it’s good to take interest and ask questions. That gets people talking according to some self help text I read. So, I mustered up some anxiety ridden courage and asked the cardiologist I was with that day a question (who, to make things worse, happened to be the father of one of the girls in my clinicals class). It went like this:

 

Dr.:

So, we evaluate patients using a stress test.

Me.: *Thinking: Don’t let the silence hang. Say something! Ask a question! Show him you are interested in the topic and want to know more!*

So… what does a stress test consist of? (…yes… I actually spoke this very formal way back then. Even around friends. It was sometime this year that I began simplifying [read: dumbing down] my speech.)

Dr.: *Stares at me for a second* *Responds in a this is completely obvious, I don’t know why you asked that question tone*

It’s a stress test. We put the patient on a treadmill and stress the patient.

Me:

*feels stupid* *silent for the rest of the day*

 

…But I digress.

Before the flood of vile flashbacks, I planned to recount my best rotation. For that, let’s backtrack a bit. In high school, I didn’t study. I just learned in class. And retained all of the information. When it came time for a test I simply reviewed (read: quickly read through) my notes from class and presto! high A’s. Here’s the best rotation I had:

 

Nuclear Medicine Dr.:

See here?

*points to a patient scan with some mass or other abnormality*

This patient had [insert some diagnosis that I’ve long since forgotten]. Do you know what [insert some medical term related to the patient’s case] is?

Me: *Enthused this isn’t a personal question and is something I can answer with much more ease*

Yeah, that’s [insert correct answer].

Dr.: *Intrigued I got it right*

Right!

*Continues discussing case* *Brings up new scan*

Now this patient had [insert some other diagnosis that I’ve long since forgotten]. Do you know what [insert some medical term related to the patient’s case] is?

Me: *Glad for another question I can answer*

Yeah, that’s [insert correct answer].

Dr.: *Very intrigued now*

What’s [some medical thing]?

Me: 

[insert correct answer]

Dr.: 

What’s [some medical thing]?

Me: 

[insert correct answer]

He was rapid fire quizzing me now and I was gaining confidence with every correct answer. A couple questions later:

Dr.:

Where are the thyroid glands?

Me: *Nervous because thyroid glands were only briefly mentioned in class. Once.*

*Hesitates then uses both index fingers to point to my throat on a fuzzy educated guess*

Dr.: *Satisfied at last, asks with genuine interest*

What area do you want to go into?

Me: *Still buzzing because I got the last question right* *Confidently answers*

I want to be a nurse.

Dr.:

A NURSE?! You have to aim higher! It’s better to struggle at something difficult than to excel at something easy. Don’t you think?

Me: *Thinking about doing very well in my regular level classes and just well in my AP and IB classes, but learning things on a much deeper level*

*Thinking about the fact that I took those higher level courses because I truly believe it’s better to challenge yourself and do okay than not to and breeze by.*

*Tentatively* Yeah, I think you’re right.

Dr.: *Gives me an encouraging look and a hint of a smile*

Don’t conform with being a nurse. Be a doctor.

 

Then he gave me his business card and urged me to contact him if I ever had any questions. I assure you no other doctor gave me their business card. Nor did I ever impress another doctor. Not surprising, since I probably said as many words to the Nuclear Medicine doctor as to all the other doctors the rest of the year combined. And no, I am not omitting his name for privacy reasons. (I’d give him a pseudo name, if that was the case.)

I actually lost his card sometime after that school year. I was not able to remember his name, let alone call him when I began doubting the whole doctor thing when I began university. Not that I would have called him anyway, because… you know… severe anxiety. I did go over to the nuclear medicine department at that hospital sometime before going off to university though. I had hoped to run into him, but I didn’t see him and I didn’t even know his name to leave a message. :/

 

If you’ve read the My Life Now section of my blog, you know that I’m here in Puerto Rico as part of a dietetic internship instead of in med school.

I’m sorry, Nuclear Medicine Doctor, high school clinicals teacher Ms. Dee, all of my clinicals classmates who expected medical greatness of me, all of my teachers that swore up and down I’d go on to excel as a doctor, my AVID teacher Ms. Dar, my parents, and myself. I’m sorry.

~*~*~

My next deterrent from medical school wasn’t the crushing fear of losing my humanity. (Though that was always present.) It was a wrong click when I enrolled to university. Come back for part two next week to read about fateful click!

Note:

Picture is of my physiology class material sophomore year in university.

 

 

 

The Mock Interview

Originally Published February 18, 2018

Look! Another old blog draft. You’ll probably be able to tell where the draft ended and where I added the ending, but I hope it’s still entertaining. Here it is:

Let me tell y’all a story…

Today, I went to my university’s career center to do a mock interview. It’s for a class and not a big deal. So, I wake up early. I think, “Yeah, two hours before my interview is enough time to shower and get ready for this thing”. Fast forward to 7:00 in the morning. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. I didn’t get up until 8:15 am. My interview was set for 9:00 am. Yep. I got dressed, lazily printed out a couple of resumes and searched my whole apartment for a belt and decent jacket. Finding neither, I start walking to the door. I have approximately twenty minutes to get to my interview which is, conveniently, a mile away. Now, I live relatively close to my university, but a mile is a mile.

I shyly slide into my roommate’s side of the apartment hoping not to catch her as she’s brushing her teeth or (like a couple weeks ago) watching YouTube videos au naturel. Luckily she was doing neither of those things. She was just going through her closet like a normal human being when I asked her about the parking situation for the building I was heading to. Upon discovering that this would not be an option for me I start to walk away. Like the good human being that she is though, she scolds me about not taking a jacket and goes ahead and gives me one. She also gives me a belt for bonus points.

Quick side note about my roommate. Let’s call her Mariah. She is one of the sweetest most caring person I have ever met. But she believes in tough love. You’ll hear more about this in coming blogs, I’m sure. Alright, back to the story.

So, with borrowed jacket and belt donned, I take off. 17 minutes. That’s okay. I planned to ride my bike anyway. One mile has nothing on my Huffy Cruiser! I cross the street and go to grab my bike, but it’s not there. That’s when I remember I moved it closer to my college. It’d be more convenient I had said at the time. Great. Just great. 15 minutes now and still .8 miles to go. I could sidetrack and get my bike but that’d be about a quarter of the journey I already had. No! I decided. I will walk! I will walk, and I will make it on time!

Somehow, I do arrive exactly at 9 am. But, what’s this? This isn’t the career center! It’s hospitality services. A few paces ahead: student housing. Oh gosh. I’m late.

After this whole ordeal to make it to my mock interview I end up flying through it and getting multiple compliments and a few pointers for the real thing. It was extremely surprising to hear that I have nothing to worry about in a real interview. The mock interviewer said I seemed relaxed and natural. I’ve never thought people skills come naturally to me, but it’s moments like these that make me pause and think, “hey, maybe anything is possible…”.