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Obsessions That Break You Open

I've been missing again. Turns out, the depressive state from last entry turned into an extreme anxiety crash after a relative's long visit. I don't feel much like going into the exact triggers because talking about that stuff is what worked me up in the first place. I tried to hold it in. I tried to just move past it. It would have been nice to have a calender year without an anxiety crash or tragedy. But I couldn't do it. It had to come out. And maybe if I hadn't tried so hard to hold it in, it wouldn't have been as bad. But I'm always scared now that if let my emotions free I'll crash like this everytime. And I couldn't handle that.

As it often happens, my held-in emotions found a temporary outlet in an obsession. This time it was book. A beautiful, lovely, tragic book. It was one that stood out to me instantly when I first ran across it online. It called out to me, begging for me to buy it. So, I did. Then it settled into a spot in the stacks with my other books to be read. And stayed quiet for a couple of years. I knew I'd love it. I also knew it would hurt me. As with many things, I waited for the exact right moment. Or the exact wrong moment. But no, I can't regret any of this.

I noticed a friend was reading the book on Goodreads; that was the reminder. Then she rated it five stars. I liked the update, and added it to my To-Read list. Then we started talking about it. I finished the book I was currently reading (Harry, A History - finally!) and started Forbidden. Our company was still around at the time. I hid in my room and read. And obsessed. Every word hit against my heart, shaking the held-in emotions. It was painful and blissful at the same time. It hurt so good.

Then the company left, and I hesitated to read the last hundred or so pages. I'd known from the start that this book would be one of those beautifully sad ones. The ones I call Lovely Despair. But after the company was gone, I could feel my guard slipping down. My exhaustion was leaking through. All of the depression I'd felt through August had been amplified by incidents during the company's visit, but I had to stay stable. I had to survive. Once they were gone, I was crumbling. I finally read through to the end. And I was broken open with grief.

I sobbed. And sobbed. And all the things that had built up inside me came rushing out. I couldn't control it. I listened to a fanmix, my obsession still strong. Looked up stuff on Tumblr. Tried to make it only about the book. But it wasn't. The obsession had protected me for a while, but as it always goes, that obsession broke me open in the end. And I couldn't avoid the pain and the panic anymore.

My Mom stayed home from work. I had flashbacks of my breakdown in 2010. I felt like those times had never actually ended. That they had stretched all through these years, and I had just been living in an illusion. Panic attacks are almost the worst thing in the world because they convince you they are the worst thing in the world. That the world is ending. That you can't breathe. That you're bleeding to death. Even when you aren't.

The panic came in waves. When I started to go under, my thoughts automatically started back on the book and that grief. I guess that pain at least seemed safer than my real fears, though I always ended up back in my own pain. As part of my recovery, Jill suggested writing a piece of fanfiction for the book. I did. It helped some. I also wrote a book review. I even started a fanmix of my own.

I'm starting to feel somewhat better now, but I'm still really shaky. I'm scared something will happen, and I'll crash back down again. Panic Disorder is such that you find yourself panicking at the thought of panicking. And I have a psychiatrist appointment coming up to worry over. He sometimes makes me feel worse. Often, really.

It took weeks to recover. But here I am, trying to get back to normal. But it's hard. I find myself still obsessing over my beloved Forbidden, which has earned a place in my heart forever. But I have to be careful how long I let myself stay there. Because it's still painful. Because I'm still struggling.

An obsession can help you or it can hurt you. Or it can hurt you to help you. That's what I think this one did. This book would have made me love it and feel pain from it whenever I decided to read it. But I read it now. Why? Because I needed to be broken open. Maybe. It's hard to say that when you're still struggling, still recovering. But I think that's why. It was also helpful to have someone to talk to who had read it and loved it quite recently. Funny how I started out thinking I was reading it now to support her. It ended up being the other way around.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 8th, 2014 07:19 am (UTC)
If any book can break you open, it's this book. I think your falling apart was totally understandable and even if (let's assume) you were going to go into this tailspin anyway, having the book along for the ride can only have been an unalloyed good. It gave you a place to channel your emotions for one thing.

I know we only just met and I don't know much about you or your problems so I just wanted to tell you a little about me. My chronic depression, for which I do receive treatment, has prevented me from finishing my college degree. It's been eight years since I started and if all goes well I'll be done in December, but the shame and guilt has made it so I've lost touch with a lot of my friends because just the fact that they all graduated and have jobs is triggering for me. The self-loathing and just the inability to find a reason to get out of bed is so total, it seems to dominate everything. Anyway, I wanted to tell you I was struggling with mental health issues too, even though they're not the same mental issues as yours, because you're not alone and I know (ha, from experience) that there is very little other people can do when a depressive episode strikes, but I am here, and you know I'd like nothing more than to talk about the book. And anything else you want to talk about.
Oct. 8th, 2014 05:35 pm (UTC)
It would be easy to blame something sad for triggering you. My Mom always blames my triggers if she knows about them. She tells me to avoid sad stuff, even though that's often what I love the deepest. (I didn't really tell her about this trigger. Though I'm not ashamed of the book, or anything I love. I just like to stay away from pointless awkward conversations.) But I don't regret reading this book when I did. It broke me open, but I love it for being there for me. I needed something to hold onto. I still do. And working on the fanmix has made it continue to be there for me.

I'm sorry that you've struggled/are struggling, too. I wasn't able to finish high school because of my issues, and I lost touch with most of my friends, as well. I watch their lives continue on Facebook and find myself depressed and jealous. I used to feel so mature when I was a teenager for all I'd been through, but now, I'm 25, and I feel more like a teenager than I ever did then. I've never been in a relationship, gone to college, or had a job. And my classmates have gotten engaged, married, and even had kids. I've never wanted kids, but I've always wanted a soulmate... as far back as I can remember. I crave that absolute connection on the deepest level. But I keep waiting for that right person, and he's yet to come. I worry he never will. That I was given this longing just to hurt me. And I even struggle to do my "great work" that I feel is my destiny: my writing.

The struggle does seem never-ending. I get myself into a somewhat stable place, then hit a crash like this and any good habits I've formed come undone. Progress shattered. Eventually, I'll get a book finished. But that seems so far away, even with all the work I've put into it.

I really appreciate you sharing this with me. Your comment made me sigh in relief when I read it this morning. That someone cares enough to talk with me and give what support they can. I certainly want to keep talking. About the book and other things, too. And I'll try to give you what support I can, as well.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )