Relationships, Dating, Sex

All names in this entry have been changed.

In late elementary school there was Sam. We played soccer together at recess. He liked me. I don’t remember my feelings for him, but I didn’t have a problem with him. I gave him my email address, which was also my mom’s email address. I didn’t have my own yet. He sent me something that I gather was in some way sexual. I never read it. My mom got to it first. I wasn’t allowed to talk to him anymore.

In middle school there was Jay. We were friends. He wanted to be more than friends. I kept thinking the boundaries were clear and then he’d break them. I’d not talk to him for awhile, then eventually he’d apologize and we’d be friends again. I’d hear rumors saying that he and I were dating and get upset. It eventually became apparent that he was the one starting them. This dynamic continued into early high school. He invented a cousin who supposedly had a crush on me. Supposedly his cousin had met me a number of times, but for some reason I couldn’t ever remember him. Probably because this cousin didn’t exist. Jay would make sexual advances toward me on AIM and when I’d get mad he’d claim his cousin had hacked his screen name and apologize. Jay also was focused on converting me to Christianity, despite my clear disinterest. He’d say things like “I want you to be Christian so we can be together in heaven forever”. It was pretty creepy. Eventually I stopped putting up with him, but I should have broken off contact much sooner.

My freshman year of high school I had my first, and only, official boyfriend. Matt and I dated for 6 months. He went to a neighboring school and neither of us could drive, so I only saw him about once a week. I believe if we’d gone to the same school the relationship would have been significantly shorter. Everything was drawn out because our interaction was so far apart. I hadn’t yet realized I am gay, because I hadn’t yet realized what it meant to be sexually attracted to someone. I viewed Matt more as an accessory than anything else. He’d always want to talk on AIM between our dates. He was the emotionally needy one, and I the emotionally detached. On our dates we’d usually see a movie, there was minimal talking. He didn’t believe in sex before marriage which worked very well for me since I didn’t want to have sex with him. I did confide things in him. I told him about my self-injury. Years later I learned he’d been sharing things I confided in him with friends at his school, thinking I’d never find out, because I’d never meet them.
At some point he decided he could fix my depression by giving me an orgasm. He presented me with this idea and I shot it down. Eventually I was talked into it, through a bit of deception. He told me he also self-injured. Somehow that made me feel more of a connection and decide to go along with his idea. The whole situation was incredibly awkward. I didn’t know what was going on. I was very naive. Lots of awkward fumbling around in each others pants, never removing our underwear. I later realized that I didn’t have an orgasm that night, but that didn’t stop him at the time from telling me I had. I’m pretty sure he broke my hymen with his finger then, but he doesn’t think he did. Later when pressed for more information he backpedaled his statement about self-injury. He said he’d gotten hurt accidentally and just hadn’t been bothered by the injury. Not the same thing!
There was a period of time where he didn’t get a lot of sleep. He became paranoid. He was worrying that I would run off with a certain Japanese rock star and abandon him. Looking back I realize this was likely a reaction to him realizing he was much more interested in me than I was in him. Around this time we broke up, on AIM. I was fairly unaffected by it and I’m told he moved on not long after.
Years later at a high school graduation party I saw him for the first time since before the breakup. We talked, things were a bit awkward, but civil. He had heard that I’m gay and worried for a time it was his fault. It’s not. We friended each other on facebook. He now lives less than 10 blocks from me. Occasionally we get lunch and/or play video games. There’s always a bit of awkwardness, I don’t feel 100% comfortable being alone with him. He’s been respectful though. I don’t like that when we eat places it’s a battle to split the bill. He always wants to pay. That feels too much like a date. I do like free food though and he tends to take it personally to not accept him paying. I’m never fully clear about if he does this with all his friends, as he claims, or if our history is a factor. He pays with credit card, so I battle him by picking places only accepting cash and then I pay for both of us. He’s a nice guy, despite some issues we had when dating. I can see why of all guys to date I picked him. He’s very meterosexual.

After coming out of the closet I went to a lot of youth pride type events. ‘Youth pride event’ is code for ‘All the queer kids hook up with each other event’. I’d go to a dance, see everyone pairing up and feel left out. So I’d find someone and we’d start kissing. Numbers would be exchanged and then nothing would ever come of it.

I had a friend, Kim, who I went on a couple of dates with. We mostly sat in coffee shops and checked out other girls together. I’m pretty sure that’s not how dating’s supposed to work.

At pre-college there was Molly. It was again one of those situations where I naively wanted just to be friends but she felt differentially. I have a small lag time with processing auditory information. A lot of times pretend I understood information before I really did. I’ll hear sound and know an response is needed and will smile and nod, while still working on understanding the sound. I made the mistake of doing this when she asked me if I wanted to go out on a date sometime in the future. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, since we were friends, I decided to deal with the situation by not backtracking on my earlier response and just making sure the date never happened. Pre-college would end eventually and all would be fine.
One day we went out to lunch, not a date, and she asked me if that could count as our date. Feeling trapped, I decided to go along with it, because then at least the date would be over with. Then she kissed me and next thing I knew, we were making out on her bed. I won’t deny I was enjoying it for a bit, but then I panicked and spent the rest of pre-college hiding from her.

My freshman year of college there was Rachel. I met her via Craigslist. I made a post that started off by saying, I am a self-injurer. I figured I could get that part out of the way while I was anonymous. If someone had a problem with that, they didn’t need to reply. The rest of the post was filled with fun random facts out me to offset the self-injury information. Rachel responded, also referencing a history of self-injury. After googling her email to confirm she wasn’t a serial killer, we went on a date. Then we went on another date. The day of the third date, I was feeling depressed. I considered canceling, but decided going would be better than staying home to mope. We got sushi and were having a good time. She had an errand to do after and I tagged along because I was enjoying her company. She invited me to her apartment to watch a movie. I accepted the offer. I didn’t realize this meant having sex. If I’d been watching this interaction on TV it would have been obvious, but in my real life where I’d not had any physical contact with her besides a hug, it didn’t occur to me. We ‘watched’ a movie in the sense that there was a movie on, but neither of us was watching it. We kissed, a lot. I was enjoying myself. Then she misinterpreted a hand movement as an attempt at trying to remove her shirt. So that came off and well if her shirt was off, then mine should be off too, right? So then there was no clothing. I was feeling out of my comfort zone, but also curious. Things, kept progressing. I’m sure if I’d said I wanted to stop that she would have. I wasn’t pressured. I just never said no.
Post- sex conversation was about Cascading Style Sheets and other areas of web design. I think this is an excellent sort of post-sex conversation. I headed home, trying to process the past few hours. I ruminated excessively on it. Also keep in mind that I’d been feeling depressed prior to the date. I felt overwhelmed and panicked. I wish I could better describe it, but I don’t fully understand my reaction still. A week later I was hospitalized for the first time.
Rachel visited me when I was in the hospital. It was really nice of her. She didn’t know the role having sex played in my being there, I never told her. Her visit helped bring me a bit back to reality. I’d forgotten how nice she is and had been viewing her as threatening. Then I was kicked out of school for the rest of the semester, so I wasn’t living near where she lived.
When I returned she’d left. Then I left to transfer to my new school and she returned. She invited me to visit her. I mentally prepared myself. I knew we would have sex and I wasn’t going to let myself freak out about it. I was going to enjoy it. And I did. It wasn’t the most amazing thing ever, but it was some fun.
She suggested changing our facebook relationship status. I was thinking “It’s complicated”, since we were living far apart. Somehow it became “In a relationship”. Once it’s on facebook it’s official.
We made plans to visit each other. None of them happened. We hardly communicated. I was fine with the minimal communication to an extent. I so easily feel suffocated. I didn’t feel suffocated here. A girlfriend located over 4 hours away with conversation less than once every 3 weeks. 5 months into the ‘relationship’ she sent me a facebook message breaking up with me. She pulled the classic ‘it’s not you it’s me’ and cited the lack of communication. I wasn’t suprised or terribly upset. I adjusted my facebook status and that was it.

I’m not interested in dating anyone at the time being. It doesn’t seem worth the effort.

Outgoing Introvert

The other day one of my professors described me as ‘outgoing’.

I consider myself very introverted. On the surface the two terms might seem contradictory, but I think together they describe me accurately; despite Definr listing ‘outgoing’ as a synonym of ‘extroverted’.

I view being introverted as having a lower need/threshold for social interaction than extroverts. It is a separate trait from social skills, being socially anxious or talkative.

I can understand why my professor would think of me as outgoing. I talk a lot in class. Probably to the point where it’s annoying to classmates. In the moment I don’t appear anxious. I beat myself up after about everything I said awkwardly when I get home, but in class all is good. I am smiley, bubbly and engaging.

What she doesn’t know is that the talking I do in class is the majority of the social interaction I have in an average day. Most people consider class to be disruptive to their social life, for me it is my highlight.

I like to think that I give the impression of having a lot of close friends, that all the acquaintances I interact with think I have many close friends; I just happen to not be as close with them in particular. I think I succeed fairly well at this. I am on good superficial terms with a lot of people, it gives the impression of greater friendships than I really have.

I do enjoy social interaction, it just wears me out a lot. I can’t keep it up for as long. I need to be by myself to recharge and organize thoughts. I love how college is broken up into pieces. I don’t usually have things planed straight through 9-5. Usually I am able to head home in between classes.  I believe this recharge time is one of many factors explaining my improved academic performance in college compared with high school.

Sitting in a room quietly with a person next to me consumes more energy than sitting in the same room alone. I don’t know if this is how everyone feels, but I know having a lower amount of social energy to use makes this type of energy expenditure more signifigant.

After a long chunk of social interaction I badly need to be by myself. Living with my parents, many fights between my Mom and I occurred from her inability to respect this need of mine. Usually this resulted in me screaming to be left alone, while she persisted with asking questions about how the day had been. She knows, I hope at least, that given an hour or so alone I’d be up for talking, I just needed my recovery time.

I don’t mean to give the impression I don’t get lonely. That’s not true. I do. Sometimes. Usually I’m not. Quitting therapy initially created loneliness. Losing 2 hours a week of talking was a very significant dent. I was able to make some adjustments in my schedule to fix the problem.

I also don’t mean to give the impression that social anxiety isn’t a factor at all for me. It plays a role, a more minor one, but a role nonetheless. I just believe that it is a separate trait from introversion. My problem is more anxiety in general and some happens to fall into the realm of social anxiety.

The most important thing for avoiding social anxiety for me is structure. I need a clearly defined role. In class I don’t feel anxious speaking. I’m expected to be there and to speak, my participation grade depends on it. In a job requiring interacting with people it’s the same way. I know what I should be doing and have no problem doing it.

On the other hand, If I spot an acquaintance in the cafeteria I’ll likely smile and say ‘hi’, but I won’t join him/her unless directly invited. I’d worry I was invading their space. The role is less clearly defined.

I like the internet, because it allows for controlled social interaction. If I need a break all I need is to go to a new webpage.

Being a secret introvert can be useful in comparison to being a non-secret introvert. I feel my mental health problems are less likely to be suspected. The loner image is generally not positively viewed and makes one open to suspicion.

I’ve always been introverted, but there are life events that have added to my isolation. Having friends over to my house was a stressful experience. It wasn’t so bad in elementary school, but in middle school problems began with the way my Mom would behave when I had visitors. The details are for another post, but long story short, in early high school I decided it wasn’t worth it to have friends over. I had a lot of people I socialized with I school, but the majority of the friendships (there were some exceptions) were superficial. I feel like this caused me to miss out on some of the typical experience of gaining closer friends.

My experience of getting kicked out of school for mental health reasons also contributed. In the over two years since that happened I’ve become significantly more withdrawn. I feel terrified of the situation repeating itself and hide much more than I hid prior to it. Directly following that situation I had my trust in a couple of friends shattered. My ability to trust has been badly damaged. I hate it. I want the limits I have with social interaction to be only from my introversion, not because of my paranoia.

I made a friend recentlly. It’s exciting. I like her a lot and we share many interests. But there’s a limit for how close I have ever let her get. We may get to the point where it seems to her like it is not a superficial friendship, but for me there will always be a limit of what I can share.

My outside doesn’t match my inside.

Whoops, I got a little off the introversion track at the end there and more into trust issues, oh well. I’m sure you can deal with that.

General life update stuff:
-I finally called my old therapist who is awesome and made an appointment. He was totally fine with me meeting with him, even for only the summer. It’s a relief.
– I got into an honors psychology society thingy. Yay.

Self-Injury

I was a freshman in high school. I sat in a bubble bath with the shower curtain pulled shut, adding an extra layer of protection added to the closed, but unlocked bathroom door. The lock didn’t work. Few of the locks in my parents’ house worked. At any moment my mother could rush into the bathroom unannounced.
At the time she was occupied screaming with my father about something, most likely related to my above average, but not up to her standards, academic performance.
I needed the shower curtain shut so she couldn’t see me with a shaving razor in my hand slicing open my leg, watching the blood mix with the bubbles.
The first dozen or so times I did this are mashed into one entity in my head. I want to know, what was different about that night that made me cut my leg open instead of just crying? At the time it didn’t seem at all significant. Now I wish I’d written something down.
I love having records of things. Without records I feel like maybe something didn’t happen. I want a physical representation of experience. I document. I write, I take photos and I make scars.
Scars leave records. A scar is easier to live with than remembering the details of why I have a scar. For this time period I have neither. The scars have faded and I wrote very little down.
Within weeks of the first injuries to my legs I began taking apart shaving razors. I didn’t want to keep all that plastic designed to “help” prevent me from cutting myself. Each shaver gave me three little blades. They were so tiny and seemed delicate. I hid them in a makeup compact.

It’s over 6 years later now. I still do it. Not as often as in the early days, but often enough that I identify as a “self-injurer”.

I don’t feel the same way many do about self-injury. I don’t think it is a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is a wonderful thing. It has flaws. In moderation, I think there is nothing wrong with self-injury. I don’t want to stop. I just want to stop the feeling that make me want to do it.

I used to be one of those people who mentally beats themselves up after self-injuring. No more. I’ve enough other things to mentally beat myself up over. I don’t need to add another.

I have never needed stitches. I have never lost a dangerous amount of blood. I have never gotten an infection. I am careful.

Much of my therapy has been a struggle. I want to not feel upset enough to want to cut. They want me to stop cutting, without fixing the underlying problem. The priorities are different.

Those same therapists will advocate the use of klonopin when I want to cut. I consider klonopin a worse way of dealing with stress than cutting. In my hierarchy of not-so-positive-ways to deal with stress klonopin rates worse than cutting. When I cut I can see the damage being done. With klonopin I can’t.

I wouldn’t advocate it to others. I realize there are negatives. I have scars. I deal with the pain the following days. I consider these negatives to be acceptable for me. I realize most people dosn’t feel this way.

I also realize that most people who self-injure consider it a struggle. For me the struggle is what leads up to the self-injury, not the self-injury. But I do support those who feel differently.

Self-injury helps me stay alive. I can short curcuit negative thoughts spiraling downward. I can prevent my mental state from further deteriorating.

In my first hospitalization the doctor drew a picture of my cuts. It’s in my records It amused me quite a bit that going to med school resulted in her drawing a picture of my cuts.

scanscarrealcropped01

I believe on the right is supposed to be a drawing of the bruise that was on my hand from punching the floor.

The tic-tac-toe one is my 2nd favorite, the first being the skull. The tic-tac-toe one has some faux symbolism that’s so corny I can’t even say it with a straight face. “The X’s represent life. They won before I could make a move” See it started out one day I decided to do a tic-tac-toe board. No particular symbolism or anything. It’s hard to make curves with the knife so I just made Xs, no Os. I cut over the same spots many times. Eventually I gave that meaning to it, despite the original purpose being visual, not symbolic.

Visuals are important for me with self-injury. I have to see what I’m doing. If I punch a wall I need to see the bruise. Otherwise it is not as effective.

I like the skull because I think it is cute. One the left leg cuts must be parallel (the skull is the exception). The right leg allows chaotic criss-crossing cuts.

I’m rambling now so I guess I’ll stop. I’ll just end things by saying that for me self-injury is helpful. Often times mental health professionals ignore its adaptive function and try to eliminate it without fixing the problem or understanding it. I fight them every step of the way. And then I get labeled as difficult. They worry excessivly about the risks, not realizing that I am careful. If they paid closer attention they’d realize that my anxious, obsessive traits carry over into my self-injury. I’m much more likly to panic and over react thinking a cut is far worse than it is than I am to underreact.

Psychology Scams

A handful of times I’ve learned of acquaintances falling for psychological diagnostic scams. The most notable are a urine test telling neurotransmitter deficiency and a brain scan to diagnose a mood disorder (Amen Clinic).

I can understand wanting a definitive diagnosis. I know how frustrating it is to go from doctor to doctor with a new diagnosis each time.
When hearing of these two scams, my initial reaction was skepticism and interest. Why had I never heard of them before? Why had no one ever recommended them for me? Quick searches for more information revealed why I’d not heard of these tests.

Neurotransmitter levels in urine do not necessarily reflect the amount of the neurotransmitter in the brain.

We don’t know enough to use brain scans for diagnosis of most psychiatric problems. There are a lot of studies finding differences between the brains of healthy controls and people with a specific problem, but a lot more research needs to be done to use it diagnostically.

Of course there are things that can be diagnosed with brain scans, which makes the Amen Clinic’s service seem legitimate. We can spot brain tumors for one. I even have a friend who had his schizophrenia diagnosis confirmed with an MRI. It’s important to realize that he would have still been diagnosed with schizophrenia regardless of what the the MRI scan showed, it just provided additional evidence for the diagnosis. Also, schizophrenia is a disorder with a larger body of MRI research.

We are no where near being ready to look at a persons brain and tell them they are bipolar.

Unfortunately one of my friends doesn’t realize this and shelled out a lot of money (looks like $3,375.00. according to the website) for this procedure. This clinic also takes a general history. I’m betting that’s where the bipolar diagnosis came from, not the overpriced photos of her brain.

If someone has a lot of money they don’t mind wasting they should go into the two different locations and tell different fake symptoms and then leave with two different diagnoses.

I wonder if the people running these know the science is shoddy? Maybe one person at the top knows and the underlings follow blindly.

If I thought these tests worked I’d get them done in a heartbeat. I want concrete answers. I want to know what is wrong and exactly how to fix it. The guesswork is exasperating. It’s unfortunate that this desire gets taken advantage of.

The people I know who bought into these scams to do not know the tests are bogus. They were given diagnoses and a recommended drug. What do I do? Do I educate them? Or maybe the damage is done and I should leave them be?
They were told in fancy sounding terms what FDA approved drug to take. The treatment plans they were told were nothing dangerous. It’s possible they are getting placebo benefit from this. I’d hate to ruin it if it’s helping them.

But, what if the drug isn’t the right fit? Are they going to feel trapped into taking it when alternatives might be preferable? Or feel hopeless/un-fixable if it doesn’t work?

I also have concern about them advocating the test to others. They share in common this enthusiasm about the test, thinking they’ve uncovered this secret hidden away by the medical community. Should they be told, so others are not dragged into this?

I’ve decided to mind my own business, but I feel a level of guilt over it. As a not-very-close-friend I feel saying more would cross a line.
I wonder how a therapist would/should handle a patient who begins therapy armed with this false information. It’s going to be hard to form a therapeutic alliance by shooting it down at the start. But if the information doesn’t fit with the best treatment plan then something needs to be done.

What do you think? Have you heard of other similar scams?

Grades Obsession

I need to get out of this mindset where I think an A- is a bad grade.
I wasn’t like this before.
My first semester of college I got a mix of As and Bs and I felt quite good.
My second semester I got all As I was thrilled.
My third semester, again I got all As.
By my 4th semester I was thinking ‘wow It’d be neat if I kept this all As thing going, and again all As
Now it’s my 5th semester. It’s no longer just an neat thing, I feel I have to do it.

Right now my GPA is being pulled down by an A- (the Bs from that first semester transferred to my new school and don’t factor into GPA).
This pattern started because I was enjoying classes and putting a lot of time into them as a result. Now this pressure is destroying my ability to enjoy the learning.

I just want so badly to watch my GPA to creep up closer to a 4.0, undoing the damage of the A-. I want to discover if there’s a point where a 3.99999999 can be rounded up to a pretty 4.0. How many decimal places are needed?

I need to keep telling myself ‘You don’t have to go to an Ivy League school for grad school.’
I’m not even sure the particular Ivy league school I’m thinking of has the type of program I want.
I guess as long as I get into grad school it’s okay?
No. I need my little bit of elitism. As long as it’s not a state school (No. <3 you Emi. Do you even read this? We can go to state school together. Future Alumni of Generic State School ftw?)

I’ve had a series of academic disappointments this week. When school is your life that makes them bigger
-The student I tutor got a D+ on her test. Which makes me feel awful, since it’s my job to try to keep that from happening. We’re going over it tomorrow to see what happened. I feel really bad, especially because I though she had a good sense of the material.
-I didn’t get into a really interesting class I wanted to take.
-I got an A- on a paper. I realize that isn’t awful. I just can’t consider it good. I lost some points because I didn’t italicize the volume number in my APA citation. It’s worse when it’s something that preventable.
-I had two peer writing workshops that were useless. I’d been looking forward to them, because I’m excited about my paper and wanted feedback. I don’t feel like my classmates took it seriously. The only constructive criticism was spotting a few typos. Rip my paper to shreds please? I can handle it I promise. As long as it’s not a bad grade, I’ll find it helpful.

I hate that I’ve become one of ‘those people’. I wasn’t one of them in high school. They say if you graduate high school without doing drugs it’s unlikely you’ll start after. I guess the same doesn’t apply to being obsessed with grades.