Clingy

I like things to stay the same.

I like when people stay the same.
I want to be a clingy clingy girlfriend, but I can’t even really do that because he isn’t physically here, and it is hard to be clingy when you don’t see people in person. Because I want to just curl up in a ball all day and have boyfriend hug me forever, but I can’t because he isn’t here. That’s a once-a-week-thing, if schedules coincide and work out well.

I want someone to direct my life again. It was so nice when I was home and I did not have to decide the structure of my life. When food was just automatically produced at the times to eat. Time to sleep and time to wake up was generally predicted. Activities were planned.

I want to cling to things that are the same.
I don’t want to be a new real adult person.

I don’t want things to change.
I’ve been watching Arthur because it reminds me of things staying the same.
Always the same intro. 
Always the same people.
Always the same age.
It’s comforting.
But that’s not real life.

I have no idea how I am going to get through the self-structured-self-ordered grad school life for the next undetermined-amount-of-time-that-is-probably-between-five-and-seven-years.

I want structure.
I want order.

I want someone to tell me what to do.
I try googling for answers. But google doesn’t answer “what should I do with my life” or “what should I eat for dinner” or “what is wrong with me” or “please help me” or “what should I do now” or “I am lonely” or “why is boyfriend still at work” or so many other things. 
Google is not at adequate support network.
And the worst part, is I know that I have one. But I don’t utilize it. I know I can call my parents and talk. They have told me that several times. But Sundays are the day I call my parents. That is the day that I call them. And I don’t—can’t—tell people about this blah-ness, this I’m-not-sure-what’s-wrong-but-I’m-lost, the something is wrong.
I can’t ask for help when I don’t even know what is wrong or what I need help with.
Clingy clingy clingy clingy clingy clingy clingy. I just want things to be right and not wrong, so when I find moments that are more right, I want to grab them and not let go.
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not knowing what feelings feel like

Emotions are hard. I don’t understand them. I can’t figure them out. There are very very very few of them that I can recognize in myself. I have written about this before, and it is something I still have so many struggles with. Alexithymia. It is one of the things I hate most about the way my brain works.

It would be so much easier sometimes to figure out how to fix things if I knew what was wrong.

For instance, right now.

I know something is wrong. My stomach hurts, but not in a throwing-up/sick sort of way. More in a tied-up-in-knots way. My brain is jumbled and going every which way. I have been lying on the floor for the past… hmmm well, it has actually been over 4 hours. But I have been watching Scrubs, so it hasn’t been all useless. [Lying on the floor, admittedly, in itself isn’t necessarily a bad sign. My family lies on the ground all the time (partially because we never had enough chairs in our family room growing up, so usually at least one person has to sit or lie on the floor.] I haven’t cried, and I don’t think I want to cry.

I don’t know what this is.

I don’t understand how people can just know that they are nervous or jealous or embarrassed or tired. I’ve tried asking people. No one can explain it satisfactorily. They just “know” that that is what nervousness “feels” like. It is extremely unhelpful.

I want to know what I feel like right now. I want a name for the specific emotions. Because when you can give things names, then it is so, so much easier to start addressing them. I want to be able to categorize and classify my emotions. Because identification and classification are the first step to fixing something.

I want to be able to answer boyfriend when he asks me how I feel with more than a “good” or a “bad” or a “not sure”.

I don’t understand how this works for other people. I know the temporary solution. It’s on my giant flow chart in my closet. I haven’t eaten recently (because it is 2:19 currently and I ate dinner several hours ago). I need to eat. And it is after midnight. I need to go to sleep. But those are both temporary solutions to a feeling that I have had since before dinner, before midnight. Admittedly, the temporary solution is what I need now, because it is attainable. But I want a fix. I want this to be fixed. I want there to be a way that I can understand emotions that are happening to me and name them, because that seems like a basic self-aware thing to be able to do.

I don’t have words for them. And I know there are words that exist for them. I even know what the words are. But I have absolutely no idea how to map them on to the actual experiences that happen or the actual sensations that I assume are emotions.

Some random updates

It’s time for a Friday night update on my life. Why? Because I am still testing the hypothesis that blogging makes me happy. So far it has been another fairly good set of weeks, but it is sort of difficult to tell if this is because of the blogging or the talking to people or what, because I don’t really want to do the sort of controlled experiments necessary where I try weeks without any of the coping mechanisms to use as a control, so I am really trying to go with the methods where I throw all the new coping techniques or correlations up at once and try to maintain all of them if at all possible. But mostly right now I am working on the blogging regularly part. So I’m going to give an update on my life in list form, because list-format makes sense and is good.

The good:

(1) Told my roommate I was autistic. Mostly happened in passing in a conversation we were having about how we were good at teaching. That was fairly uneventful. Pretty much she asked, “really” to see if it was a figure of speech or not and I said “yup. for reals.” and then we continued our conversation.

(2) Also finally told my roommate about how I prefer text-based communication a lot of the time. So that if I am seeming quiet or non-communicative (because she said she was worried that I don’t talk enough) that she should try g-chatting me or something. Because I looovvvee g-chat. I am very talkative and friendly through g-chat almost always, even when I am non communicative verbally. And that also went well, I think.

Yes, I will go play with animals all break.

(3) When this lease is up in August, I am moving. And I am getting a pet. Hopefully a dog (I just need to work out a few details about Christmas, but boyfriend and family live in Chicago, so hopefully they can watch it) so I can go on walks and cuddle and because I love dogs, but if not, at least something adorable and furry and lovely.

(4) It’s spring break so I am going home to California! And I am going to go see these beauties. And also the sun. And warmth.

(5) It’s also finally starting to get warm here again. I can go outside without my parka. (Still wearing a coat, but not my giant, knee-length puffy coat!) Spring is coming. And spring means daffodils and tulips, which are my favorite flowers.

The bad:

(1) My computer is dying, so that is no good. It decided to quit on me all night yesterday which is of course just what you want the day before the end-of-rotation presentation. So that presentation went not-all-that-great, as I hadn’t been able to practice it, but I didn’t actually cry during the presentation, and I bribed everyone with brownies that I made the night before, since I had a lot of time since I couldn’t work on my presentation with a nonfunctional computer… It hasn’t made funny noises since my presentation, though, so maybe it has decided to improve. I know they have limited life spans, and this one is 5 years old, almost, but I don’t want to have to replace it. Also computers are expensive.

Why yes, this happens every time I try to
put my curtains up or take them down.

(2) My curtains hate me. I swear that they have a conspiracy designed to drive me into a non-functional state of rage. (That hasn’t actually happened, but that is just because I am smarter than my curtains. It’s close, because they are pretty tricky, but I think I am winning just slightly.) So my curtains actually spend a lot of time on the floor.

I think they technically aren’t curtains, but are shades or something like that, but that is probably a mostly-irrelevant piece of data.

Also, they are luckily close to my bed, so I can climb on my bed and the window to put them up every night when I go to sleep. But it is still super frustrating and also I am climbing on windowsills while sleepy a lot, which is not the best idea.

(3) I’m 23 now, so I’m technically too old to be on my parents car insurance anymore, so I am going to have to either stop having a car (which I could do. I don’t really need a car, but it is nice having one) or pay for car insurance myself soon once the insurance company realizes that I am too old. And that adds even more costs onto having a car I don’t really need but that makes my life a lot easier to the point where I am almost not sure I can justify it.

(4) I have to do taxes soon… or have boyfriend do taxes soon, at least, and this year I have to pay taxes instead of getting a refund, because my graduate school stipend won’t take the taxes out directly like most jobs (and they also only pay us 4x a year, which is stressful because you have to manage money well throughout those three months because you don’t get paid all that frequently.) So I am going to have to write big checks to the government, and that is no fun.

The neither-good-nor-bad, but just things that have been happening:

(1) 2048 is the best and worst game ever. I want to play it all the time. But I discovered it during finals/presentation week.

(2) I am not tired because I took a 4 hour nap today (which was good). But now it is 1:30 and I am still awake (which is bad). But tomorrow is a Saturday so it doesn’t matter too much.
~~~

I’m getting through pretty well right now, overall. The goods outweigh the bads, generally, at this time. (Admittedly, at this moment, my computer has also decided that it is going to function and has been for a while, so that is a big plus. Probably currently the biggest factor in my happiness is my computer’s inconsistent behavior.)

Well, that’s all that’s really happening here.

Faded

Warning for mentions of suicide/depression

my number friends have faded
I can’t tell if it is the antidepressants
or if we’ve just grown apart
I no longer spend time and days and dreams with them
There used to be beautiful complex ideas or colors or sounds or feelings or something that words now just can’t recreate that missing sensation linked up to the words and now it is mostly gone
The colors and sounds and feel of the rest of the world are
different
faded
distant
There’s only a few that I remember
            Like the dependablity of 24 like drawers and boxes and storage
                        or
            the colors and curves of egotistical
                        or
the taste of swears
It’s worth it
(mostly)
for the end result of happiness
for being functional
for staying alive
for wanting to stay alive
because not wanting to live makes the colors seem pointless
enjoying a less colorful world is better than not enjoying one at all
but still
sometimes I miss the links and strings and connections that faded away
maybe someday I’ll recover

and they’ll come back

~~~
I feel like my synesthesia has faded since I started taking antidepressants. As side effects go, it is live-able with. I didn’t really notice it for the longest time, until I started reading up on some other things people were saying about synesthesia, and realizing that’s sort of how things used to be… but not anymore…  I suppose it could also be unrelated to the antidepressants, because I don’t have any strict sort of time scale.

But I think that is the story I am going to stick to (in my head and on the internet, because this isn’t something I really talk about much in real life), because then it seems like a choice, instead of just another thing I thought of that I don’t belong in. I don’t want to be on the edge of something, where I was almost good enough. And given the choice between the connections and not wanting to die, I would choose happiness every time. 

So even though I miss the mixed-up jumble of senses and sometimes get confused as to why something is incomplete, I’ll stick with my antidepressants for now. It’s an annoying side effect, but practically the only long-term one I have noticed, so I think otherwise things are working out.

Thoughts on food

Just a heads up, I will be talking about eating habits and food and various related topics in this post. I havent had any really big struggles with food as a whole, but there are definitely some issues that will pop up now and then. Sensory issues and executive function issues mostly. 

So I like food.

But, like really. I like food a lot.I spend a lot of time thinking about food. When I am happy, I like to bake and cook fancy things. A large portion of my time with my college friends was spent baking cookies and cakes and brownies and bars and cinnamon rolls. Probably a good 50% of my Facebook posts are recipes. I have an ongoing cheese commentary with one of my friends.

Sure, I’m a picky eater. I like very specific foods. It’s probably more accurate to say that I have very specific dis-likes.

Like tomatoes.
And food with green bits in it. (Unless they are green onions. I will eat those, now.)

Only recently did I learn that there is a difference between not-liking a food and gagging when you eat it. I thought when people didn’t like foods, that is what they meant. That the only way to eat it was to mask in in something else, whether it was eating the cooked spinach in a giant cup of milk so you couldn’t taste or feel it (as in taking a giant sip of milk immediately after to allow me to swallow the spinach.)

I thought that meant I did not like spinach. I assumed when other people said they hated certain foods it meant they also had physical difficulty swallowing it. Or that it made them actively gag.

Admittedly, I didn’t think too much about these differences. If I think about it closely, there is a difference for me between foods that I cannot will not eat unless I hide them in something so my mouth doesn’t have to feel or taste them, and foods that I find unpleasant. Probably.

There are certainly foods I prefer not to eat, but I will eat them if they are offered to me* or are part of the dinner made my my parents.

I think I have a high bar set for disliking food versus being indifferent to it.

I also like to store food. I’m afraid of running out. It is illogical. I have never had a significant food shortage in my life, other than all the food is at the store and I am not at the store.  (And even then, there has always been some food at my apartment, just not the food I want, so it is really more ‘all the food I want to eat is at the store’). So when I have good food, especially good, easy-to-make food, like Trader Joe’s potstickers and Trader Joe’s everything and costco stuff, I don’t want to eat it. Because maybe there will be a day later that I need it. So I should save it.

Of course, then when I am tired and hungry and need a quick meal, which is why my mom got me these TJ’s stuff, I still won’t eat it. Because I need to save it for an emergency. Which is quite silly because the food is replenish-able. Sure, TJ’s is a bit inconvenient to get to, but I have a car. I can do it. Also, I still have tons of it before I have to worry about a shortage and the need for a refill trip.

Maybe I am a little tiny bit possessive of my food. I maybe used to hide the good leftovers in the fridge so no-one else would eat them. (I knew I didn’t have a fair claim to them all, so I could only eat so much at a time, but I wanted them so if I hid them, people wouldn’t notice them as much and I would be safe.) Also, when we were sharing the dessert at our birthday dinner, I realized I was being possessive of it. But I shared, and I even let him have the last bite. It was difficult. (When I commented on my dessert-possesiveness, he told me my whole family is a bit dessert-possessive. Which I believe. We take dessert very seriously in my family.)

And also there is the issue of making food.

It is just so difficult.

It requires me to be out in the kitchen. The kitchen is not as safe as my room. My room is the safest place. Admittedly, I have been doing lovely recently, and even talking to my roommate, but I feel self-conscious about cooking when other people are there. Also, more importantly, I do not want to share. (I would be fine with sharing if we maybe both took turns making meals, or even if she sometimes occasionally made meals, but all she makes is soup.) Because, again, I am possessive of my food.

And then there are all the steps involved. Decide what the meal is. Prepare the ingredients. Cook them. Eat it. Clean the dishes. The first and last steps are usually the ones that I get stuck on. I won’t be able to decide what to make. Or I won’t want to clean dishes. Or all the pots will be dirty from my roommate making soup all week (or admittedly, they can be dirty from whatever I made last, too) and I won’t want to wash them. I guess this is maybe a little bit of the executive function fun coming into play here.

I need to make a menu. When I decide what I am eating for dinner before I head home, I actually make dinner that night. And sometimes it will even be healthy.

And I like eating vegetables, too. But there are just more steps involved in eating and making them, usually involving chopping, so if I don’t have that planned out in advance, if the kitchen isn’t empty, then I will not make them.

Or I will just end up eating yams. But yams are good for you. And also the most delicious thing in the world, so really, I am fine with eating lots and lots and lots of yams.

I like food.
I wish it would magically appear in meal form again, like it did at home.
But in a few weeks I am going home for a week, and then it will magically appear at dinnertime (and probably lunch and maybe even breakfast, because my parents spoil me) and then that will be just lovely and a nice break from being a real grown-up person.

~~~~~~~~~
*Although, honestly, I will try and eat everything that is offered to me if I am a guest, because that is The Rule If Food Is Served To You and refusing otherwise is Rude and Has Consequences, but my family does have weird hospitality/guest traditions that don’t seem to be common in the US at least, so I am probably ok not eating tomatoes at other people’s houses instead of very carefully destroying and hiding the offending items in other pieces of food, and thus destroying the good qualities of the good food in order to make the meal consumable and Avoid Rudeness. But that is another complicated issue that luckily doesn’t come up much, especially since boyfriend has told me that it is Not The Rule for his family, so I don’t have to eat food there that I do not like.

Correlation, Causation, Happiness and Imperfect Metaphors

I’ve been analyzing patterns of happiness, and trying to identify ways to stay happy (well, non-depressed, more precisely. I am fine with being unhappy, or not-happy, or bored, or things such as that because those are part of a range of human emotions, so they happen). 

All I have is correlative data, and so I cannot conclude any causation. But I’m going to hash out a couple things, and maybe make unfounded extrapolations, and use a bunch of probably-unclear-if-you-aren’t-me metaphors and say the same thing multiple ways until it makes sense to me.

The first thing

I know that when I am happy, I tend to spend time with people. When I am sad, I tend to hide in my room and stay away from people, except a very special few (boyfriend). The tricky thing to tease out, though, is if being around other people makes me happy, or if when I am happy, I have enough energy to spend time with other people.

So if we look at a simple correlation, we would see this.

So hey, you might say, this seems like a pretty good correlation. Maybe even causation, eh? When you are happy, you spend time with people. Maybe then, to be happier, you should spend more time with people.

But wait… the plot thickens.

This is not actually the complete graph. Anyone who knows me should know that I have an upper limit for time I can spend with people. The first graph I showed you was incomplete! It actually only included a small part of the scale! When you look at a larger range, you actually see this!

Was the first graph even necessary? Well, I do like drawing these graphs, so I am going to go with ABSOLUTELY YES.  But (shhh) these graphs are actually not assembled using any “real” data, just general observations I have gathered from my life. Don’t tell anyone!

Being with people all the time is not a good thing for me. I need alone-time-breaks, where I can just chill out quietly and read some books or watch Netflix or spin in circles or look at leaves or swim or other things. There is an ideal ratio of time that I can spend with people that will result in maximum happiness ability. It is also more complicated because the amount of time varies depending on who it is.

Also, there are other factors that do affect this. It is a self-perpetuating cycle, a positive feedback loop, in many ways.

When I am sad, I do not have enough energy to do daily things (like eat or brush my hair or things like that). Because being sad seems to use up energy by itself, somehow. When I am happy, I do have enough energy to do daily things AND I have a surplus of energy. I can then spend that extra energy on fun things that make me happy.

What I think the answer is…

(1) Spending time with other people makes me happy
(2) But it also uses up a lot of energy
(3) Running out of energy results in meltdown, results in sad me
(4) Being sad also means lack of energy (possibly caused by lack of energy, is tricky to determine the cause of that)
(5) When I am sad, I do not have enough energy to make myself happy.

And now for some Terry Pratchett

It is sort of like this. (But with happiness instead of money. And the spending money is instead effort. OK, well, it is a complicated metaphor, and I’m not sure I can completely explain it, but they are the same colors and flavors and feelings of arguments, and I can’t really explain better why they are the same, but they just are.)

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money. 

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. 

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.  

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

(I have maybe possibly been on a Terry Pratchett spree recently… But this is from Men at Arms and it is wonderful just like all the other books.)

Happy people seem to have more energy to be happy.

Comparing happiness and showering and enzymatic reactions

It’s sort of like taking showers. I actually really love taking showers. I love water. I love the sound of it and the feel of it. Taking a shower will result in me feeling better, almost invariably. Because water is just that amazing. But the amount of effort it takes to initiate a shower is just not always there. So even though in the end I know I will feel better, I am not able to do it.
Thinking about it in another way, it is like I am lacking the activation energy. I am missing an enzyme to lower the activation energy. But somehow other people are able to do the thing. And because they have the enzyme, it works. It is easy, maybe. But it just doesn’t work for me.
It’s not perfect, I know. Like there is the increased energy of the state of the molecule/intermediates that is supposed to correspond to the level of energy I have. And then the lower-energy end-product (although that will vary depending on the reaction). People who are good at chemistry, I am sorry if there are other problems in this that make your head hurt.

Another warning about correlations and causation

And so this is the problem I face when I am going through a bad streak, when I am trying to regain lost happiness. I know what I do when I am happy. I tend to blog more. I hang out with people more. I bake. I sing to myself a lot. I’ll explore and take walks. I exercise. But this is all correlation. Are these things that make me happy? Will they lead me back to happiness when I have lost it? Sometimes they do. Sometimes I don’t have enough energy to try.
I only have correlational data available on my life, when I am looking for causations.

So I will muddle through the correlations. Run some experiments (try some new coping mechanisms). And honestly, the correlational data is important. Because not only does it give me some hints about what might be causal, it also helps me identify emotions. Because that’s also not something I’m the best at. It helps to be able to recognize that I’m not doing great before I am doing awful, because it’s a lot easier to stop things before I’m headed at high speed down to the land of sad-and-confused-and-upset-me. Because when I am doing not-great, I still have the energy to fix things.

Aquariums

I went to the aquarium! To the AQUARIUM! There are so many fish at the aquarium. It was my birthday present. A visit to the aquarium. All the fish. THE BEST PRESENT EVER!

There were so many fish. Everywhere! All the time.

We saw all the fish. And a giant anaconda. And so many pretty colored poison dart frogs. And then there were big frogs and salamanders. And a bit of a kelp exhibit to remind me of home. And there were whales, and they were so excited. They kept jumping and talking and saying hello. The dolphins were swimming around and upside-down and darting up and down. There were otters and they were somersaulting! It was adorable! And there were signs and words and reading all over. But we saw everything. We read every sign. Because that is how we do aquariums (or museums). Thoroughly. (Admittedly, some museums are so big that you can’t see the whole thing in one day, but you can take it section-by-section.)

There were lampreys which are barely vertebrates, phylogenetically. They are jawless, but still vertebrates. Moray eels! With their double sets of jaws. Electric eels, which are always cool. There was a sign about GFP by the jellyfish! I love GFP! It makes science so much much much easier and prettier.

See! GFP! (Although actually this picture is a really
 bad picture data-wise and I think the colors are all weird
 and this was me learning how to use imageJ
… and not completely succeeding with it) Oh undergrad.

Admittedly… the aquarium was loud. My voice got tired. So by the end, it was mostly me pointing and jumping and acting out the fish that I wanted to show boyfriend. I need to work on my sign because all I really remember is fish and big/little. Or at least for the ones related to the aquarium.

A bit overwhelmed at the end. (It was loud there, because there were a lot of small children, and they are loud.) But we took quiet breaks and snack breaks and then went to an early dinner, where we had some of the most amazing food ever. And boyfriend talked to me on the way back on the train, and talked to all the train people, while I just signed yes or no in response to him. Or napped. Napping is also good.

This morning, I was talking to him and he told me how autistic and cute I was in the aquarium. Flapping around and jumping and pointing and happy. My happy is very noticeable. It is certainly not hide-able. When I am happy, it is strong and bright and obvious and wonderful. I had forgotten the all-consuming, bubbling flavor and feel of happiness.