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 July 30th 2018- First Week of Dietetic Internship and I Have a Shopping Problem…

Monday, July 30th- Another Shopping Day

First news of the day: we have to be in Ponce (an hour and a half car trip away from where we live) at 7am on Wednesday, the first day of our dietetic internship. My apartment mates and I do not have a car. However, we figured something out with the three Puerto Rican girls in our program who do have cars.

After this news we (Robin, Gia and I) went for some retail therapy. I got a calendar from Walgreens, The Fault in Our Stars at the bookstore next door, Robin got some shoes at Journeys, I got shoes at the Croc’s store, a fruit basket, professional backpack, and spoon rest at Marshall’s, and we all splurged on cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.

The best part of this trip was probably getting a nail cutter from Walgreens. I’ve learned to appreciate a lot of things since I moved. I went to the gym with Robin then, at home, called my mom and read The Fault in Our Stars to her.

Tuesday, July 31st- Lazy Day and Grocery Shopping with Karen

I lazed around all morning. Axyl talked about going to Costco when Gia came by. We talked about the meal plan homework. Then she left, so I lazed around more. Really spent the morning doing nothing until Karen asked if I’d go to the local grocery store with her. Uhhhh more money, but I went and found a ton of stuff to buy. I bought the ingredients I need to make orange chicken. Too tired though, I made Quesadillas for dinner. Yum. Then I read to my mom. Still so hungry. Strange.  Must get up early tomorrow….  *cry cry*

Wednesday, August 1st- Mandatory Hospital Trainings

Woke up early at 4:59am. Well, Axyl woke me. One minute before my alarm. That’s why I remember. Two of the Puerto Rican girls came to pick us up. Robin, Axyl, and Gia went with Gean. Karen and I went with Sue and found Amanda (another fellow intern) already in the car. She had returned to her hometown and last we’d heard she was finding her way back to Puerto Rico. Interesting.

What was not interesting was the mandatory hospital training we had to attend. It was so cold in that room that it was all I could think about. They started late and ended late, so we were an hour late to the next hospital meeting like this one at our local hospital (an hour and a half away). We just caught the tail end of it. They may count it. I mean, I think it’s common sense not to stick your hands with needles or touch other people’s blood, don’t you?

At home, I was so tired, I didn’t even make it to my bed. I crashed on the couch and fell asleep. When I woke up, I was so hungry, but still so tired, that I made quesadillas. I was still hungry. Why have I been so hungry lately? Then I read to my mom over the phone and ate moldy grapes. It’s the second time I’m eating grapes and suddenly notice a couple of moldy ones in the container. Ugh. Still so tired. Early time tomorrow too.

Thursday, August 2nd- I Held Karen’s Toothpaste Captive

Got up. Robin was in the shower. Then Axyl showered. So I had breakfast because I forgot we would get breakfast at the event. Then I went to take a shower. Twenty minutes later, Karen knocked. I thought she wanted to shower and hadn’t realized it’d already been 20 minutes, so I hurried- she barged in the second I opened the door. To get her stupid toothpaste. Now mad, she rushed out the door and the guys followed her. My hip tried to jiggle out of place. That happens to me periodically. So, I hobbled down the stairs as fast as I could. Which wasn’t that fast. Luckily my femur got back into place by the time I reached the bottom of the stairs.

We got to the infant nutrition and lactation conference super early. We listened to several presentations that advocated lactation. Karen sat apart from us, obviously still upset. At the end of the conference she stormed off and so did everyone else. I was by myself, when Amanda found me and offered to share an Uber with me. I accepted, thinking they’d all left me. They hadn’t. They were downstairs. Everyone expect Karen and the girls with cars. Amanda had already gotten the Uber, so I left with her anyway.

Once home, I walked to Starbucks and read there with a coffee for a long time. At home, I read to my mom. Then I chatted with Robin who gave me a slice of his pizza and some chicharrones. After this, I wrote for this blog, listened to music, and chatted with Axyl until my dad called. I’m contemplating moving out. Amanda said she was going to live with Gia as the third roommate, but she bailed and now Gia needs another person. I’m the fourth person in my small three bedroom apartment. It’d work out logistically.

Friday, August 3rd- Ladies Are Required to Wear Makeup. Why?!

Another day on the job. We (when I type we and don’t specify who, it means all of us ten dietetic interns) went to the health department and got a lot of references and books we will need throughout the year. We also got the order that us ladies must wear makeup everyday that we come to work. WHAT?! I don’t wear makeup. Any makeup. So, I asked what the bare minimum would be. Foundation and lipstick. …I don’t own foundation. No idea how that works. I respect that others wear makeup. I am not familiar with it, and would rather not put stuff I don’t know much about on my face. Ugh.

Anyway, we also heard from some of the preceptors (dietitians we will shadow throughout the year). That was interesting. Today it was someone from elderly centers in the next town over who also research Alzheimer’s. That’s fascinating. Then someone who does retail dietetics at a grocery store. That’s a relatively new field. Seeing as I’ve worked (and not loved) my cashier job of the last three years, I’m a bit more excited about the first rotation. After the talks, we went back to the local hospital from Wednesday to do more trainings and to make up the one we’d missed.

After our unpaid work, I attempted to make orange chicken. Succeeded, but Axyl and Karen were a bit scared about the oil I had to use to fry the chicken. Karen quizzed me on what to do in case of an oil fire. I, to mess with her, told her, “put water on it DUH!” She was scared. HA! Never throw water on an oil fire! Smother it. Water will make the fire worse. Depriving it of oxygen, by covering it with a lid will smother it and thus stop the fire. Her reaction was hilarious! I did burn the rice, but not the apartment, so I think that’s a success.

Saturday, August 4th- And More Grocery Shopping… What Do I Even Buy?!

I wanted it to be a lazy day, but Axyl invited me to Marshalls and Gia invited me to the grocery store. I have a problem. Even though I’ve gone to the grocery store about five times in the past week and a half, I still spent lots of money. I found a few items that reminded me of home, like Mexican candy and Tajin (fruit chili), and iced tea that reminds me of my college town in west Texas.

After that, I didn’t want to leave the house anymore, so I spent a while singing in a corner of my room while Robin and Axyl went to the mall to get suits. I’m still struggling with the make up requirement thing. Ugh. So I put some lipstick on to see what it’d be like. I felt like a clown. Ugh. I’ll probably write a post dedicated to why I am so uncomfortable with the issue of makeup.

After my singing session, I went to make more orange sauce for all the left over chicken I had from Friday. Then I read to my mom. I feel like Axyl listens in when I read out loud. He came into our shared room just as I’d started reading and would comment periodically. After reading, I went to bed a bit worried because I hadn’t taken off the lipstick and some foundation Gia donated to me. It started raining, so I got up to close the window and take off the makeup.

Sunday, August 5th- Homesick and Mopey

I’m homesick. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way. Maybe it’s the iced tea and Mazapan talking. They remind me of my past. Which at the moment seems better than the present. Everything here is new and unknown. Memories are old and familiar. No wonder people get homesick.

I spent the day lounging around, as I tend to do when I’m not feeling super peppy. I read ahead from the book that I’m reading to my mom (The Fault in Our Stars). It may seem redundant, but it really helps so I know what tone to read things in and how to pronounce tough words. Plus, I didn’t feel like going out or socializing. I posted something about being homesick and all of the support (especially when my best friend, Lyza, texted me to check up on me) made me cry. I tell you: if you want to make me cry, be nice to me.

I watched a movie (The Big Sick) and then, finally, convinced myself to shower. My mom called so I could read to her, so I did, before reheating my leftover orange chicken and white rice and beginning my laundry. I swept and mopped my side of the room and cleared up my desk where I currently sit typing this. I also organized my make up bag, seeing as I’ll have to use it tomorrow. Ugh.

 

Notes:

  1. Back to two or three paragraphs per day. I’m not going to describe my whole day anymore. Just one or two instances within it that were interesting. Or I will describe my whole day, but a very condensed version. Not sure yet.
  2. Views on my blog are down and so am I. I miss home. I wish we had a solid internship schedule already, so I’d have something else to focus on.
  3. I decided not to move in to Gia’s extra room. I will stay here in my tiny shared room with Axyl. I don’t know why. It sounds better to have my own room, be on the first floor, with people that cook less than I do so I can use the kitchen more, etc. But… I don’t know. I have a feeling that I should stay put. I hope I’m right about it. Whatever it is.

Why I am Self Conscious of my Belly

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL AQUÍ

May 26, 2018

I need to stop talking to this friend of mine. He can be really invasive. And I like that. It’s nice when someone wants to get to know you better. It’s even nicer when they want to know about the ugly, damaged parts of you too. It means they want to understand you. They care about you enough to want to know more than just the good things about you. So, I welcome probing questions from friends. I take it as an honor to be asked.

He thought I would be upset with him for asking. But he asked anyway. He asked, “why are you self conscious of your belly?”. “Because I have gigantic scar”, I should have said. But this wasn’t the first time he’d asked. No point shrugging his question off. I gave my typical answer first about societal pressures to be thin and beautiful. He asked for more. So I thought a bit more about it. In my mind, I usually stop at the society reason. I think it’s more than enough reason to be unsatisfied with my body. But it wasn’t enough for him.

After a few moments, I pull a slimy, repressed memory from its hiding place. It wasn’t even terribly hidden. Imagine a ratty stuffed animal poking it’s ears out from behind a dingy pillow in a corner of a room.  When I was young, I was skinny and beautiful. I was even popular in school, imagine that! Everybody loved me. Or so, that’s the way my mother tells this story. Though she just uses the word pretty (not skinny) to describe me back then.

However, the fact remains that once I was not skinny, I began to dress myself in slouchy too-big shirts and muck colored clothes to hide my outwardly growing body. This is when my mother would reminisce. She’d say it with a yearning as she tried to motivate me to do something about my appearance. What she refused to understand is that I would not dress any nicer unless I was comfortable in my body. And to be comfortable in my body, I believed I needed to lose weight.

My dad isn’t completely devoid of involvement either. He used to tease my brother for being overweight when I was young and thin. I saw that and partook. I still feel bad about it, though I understand that I was only mirroring the behavior around me. That’s when I learned that fat isn’t favorable. I also learned through the media, through T.V. shows and books, that fat people get bullied. I was only attempted to be bullied on once. Because of my freckles, someone called me a cheetah in second grade or so. I smiled real big and thanked the kid who made this clever observation. I used to love running around and my dad affectionately called me cheetah. And I’m so glad for the coincidence. No one ever tried to bully me again.

…Well, there’s the guy that would spit at me on the bus in middle school, but he was just weird. It wasn’t personal. Thanks Dad, for sparing me the cycle of bullying. In my later years I reflected back on the cheetah moment and some helpful tips on T.V. and books that recommended laughing in the face of bullies. The sources said bullies seek a reaction. You don’t give it to them and they won’t want to mess with you. You won’t be fun for them. Somehow, this worked.

What I mean by this long, rambley post is that I learned at a young age, through various sources that thin=success. It equals happiness. My mom would talk about her weight regretfully. Say my dad prefers thin people. As if the T.V. screens weren’t screaming this preference of thinness loud enough at me. At the same time she and countless others sang me praises when I did lose weight in high school (only to gain it back the summer before college). So, it became something to resent, my belly. It became a sign of my failures. What is keeping me from success. Because it’s much easier to think “all I have to do is lose this weight and then my life will fall into place” than the reality, which is that life is multifaceted.

If I want to be successful, I have to go to the dentist, continue learning everyday, brush my hair, spend time with friends, and a billion other things than just diet and exercise. There are so many parts to life. While it is important to health, why should weight loss be (ironically) such a huge part? It’s usually my first item on goals I want to accomplish. It’s not that I don’t know how to lose weight. I practically have a Bachelor’s degree in that. (My Bachelor’s is in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics.) There’s other personal factors in the way, like the fact that I put thinness on the pedestal of success. If it’s so important, it’s also very intimidating to work on.

I don’t know what is best: working on the underlying issues or the problem itself. I am medically obese. I know, doesn’t help my credibility to admit that. Who believes fat people? They’re just lazy bums. (<– A half joke.) I don’t know if I should work on changing the way I think or pushing forward and adopting a healthier lifestyle. I’m afraid that by focusing on my thoughts I’ll only come to accept what can actually be adverse to my health (mainly being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle).

Obesity is a precursor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes and puts you at higher risk for certain cancers like breast cancer. I don’t want to be comfortable in my excessive weight. But, I also fear changing my life to a healthier one where I am within the normal parameters of weight for me and am physically active. I fear looking successful, but still being broken in my beliefs. I don’t want to change my outside if my inside doesn’t change too.

So, I am at an impasse. The solution, as I see it, is to work on both my faulty beliefs that thinness equals success and on my unhealthy habits like not exercising. If only it were that easy. Thank you. I sincerely thank you Richard for asking that invasive question. By answering you I find the answers to my indecision. I’ve been stuck in this place of wanting to do something about my weight and not wanting to do anything without knowing why for years. I see now that it is a matter of opposing factors (my perception of thinness, what it means to me, and the reality of weight as a factor in correlation to health).

Now I just have to convince myself to start. Maybe I’ll go on a run and then compliment myself for taking the initiative. After all, progress (not thinness) is success.