Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rabbit in the headlights

I've made a doctor's appointment for Tuesday. That's just as well - if my pills run out I could end up in a bad way rather quickly.

So I should be getting some more Venlafaxine next week. The big question is: will that be enough? So far, with the possible exception of my time in France ten years ago, I’ve always resisted the temptation to self-medicate. My dislike of being out of control has something to do with that. But if my stress levels stay elevated for much longer the urge might prove too strong.

If I’m to avoid going down the slippery slope, my best bet is probably to get some beta-blockers prescribed. I’ve got a couple of packets of them with me but a Google search tells me they’re well beyond their shelf life. The good news is that, as far as I can tell, you can combine them safely with my antidepressants. I last took beta-blockers in 2001-02 and they were great! Sure, in the first couple of months I had a few feelings of unreality (unreal, man!) and I got tired a lot, meaning I couldn’t really perform that well, but my increased self-esteem more than made up for those side effects.

When I see the doctor on Tuesday it’s vital that I’m put in touch with a support group of some kind.

This moving thing was all so ungoddamnecessary. For most of my life, being myself has meant being by myself. The Asperger’s group and the men’s group had gone a long way towards changing that, but thanks to the move, a return to people-are-very-scary-and-must-be-avoided seems inevitable. My work colleagues are nice people (although I’ve yet to stuff up any spreadsheets so perhaps I’m jumping the gun a bit there), but they still have the potential to be quite judgemental. The constant feeling of being judged is exhausting – I feel like a rabbit in the headlights. When I got back to my apartment last night I had no energy or inclination to look for flats or carry out any of the other tasks on my to-do list. I just wanted to curl up into a ball.

These feelings affect my performance at work too – they dominate my thought processes, leaving little room in my brain for dealing with the matter at hand.

I never felt this tension when I was doing the earthquake work. I could just turn up, do my work and go home, so I never felt under pressure. But in my new job I have to, you know, talk and shit. Well just talk I suppose, although I’m so nervous that frequent trips to the loo are an added bonus.

I don’t know why I never thought of this before, but I might well have Avoidant Personality Disorder. Wikipedia gives these six symptoms:

  1. Persistent and pervasive feelings of tension and apprehension;

  2. Belief that one is socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others;

  3. Excessive preoccupation with being criticized or rejected in social situations;

  4. Unwillingness to become involved with people unless certain of being liked;

  5. Restrictions in lifestyle because of need to have physical security;

  6. Avoidance of social or occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.

I've got all six of those, except maybe number four where "certain" would be too strong for me. We’re social creatures so having this disorder isn’t conducive, unfortunately, to living any sort of normal life. That’s assuming I’ve got the disorder; maybe I’m just a bad and selfish person for wanting to avoid other people.

Wednesday was my birthday. As it was only my third day at work, and I didn’t want the attention, I didn’t tell anyone. Besides I wasn’t au fait with birthday protocol and I’d fallen foul of that before in 2004. That evening I went round to my cousin’s place; she’d baked a rich dark chocolate cake. Where she found the time for that I don’t know. On top were two candles: a number three candle which she’d used for the boys’ birthdays (and can use again for Jack’s next birthday) and an astronaut-shaped candle to represent the one. After we’d all hoed into the cake, 60% of it was still left. I couldn’t eat the rest of it myself without being sick so yesterday I came clean about the whole birthday thing and took the remainder to work.

I’ve now got a long Easter weekend. I want to hibernate but will have to force myself to go on some kind of flat-finding mission I guess. I know that staying in my apartment wouldn't be clever in the long run. Last night the Canadian woman behind the desk at the internet café was trying to translate some French; I helped her with a couple of words. This morning I chatted for a minute or two with the pom in the three-bedroom apartment next-door – he’s also just arrived having lived in Auckland for several years. So I can talk to people in short bursts without much effort. Social situations and building relationships are a different ball game entirely.
I saw on the news last night this bloke who turned up to a Britain's Got Talent audition dressed like a slob (à la Susan Boyle, kind of) only to produce a stirring rendition of Tracy Chapman's Fast Car which has had two zillion hits on YouTube. Great song. Perhaps I'm missing the point of it but I've always thought it's about hopes and dreams: "I can be someone."

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