Tag Archives: anxiety

I’m At a Loss


I’ve been finding it difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, which is why this blog hasn’t been very active lately. As such, I’d like to leave it up to the readers: what would you like us to write about? Would you like to know something specific about our atheism? Do you have an argument that you’d like us to address? Would you like us to discuss a particular book? Do you have any questions about Philosophy, Biology, or History? Would you like to know our stance on a particular feminist issue? Is there something else you’d like us to write on? Let us know in the comment section.

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Anxiety Does Not Make For an Easy Life


Lately I’ve been struggling quite a bit with my anxiety. I barely made it out of school with my sanity. I haven’t been able to care about much, because everything is just too intense. But that’s what anxiety is.

Anxiety is the need to do everything, but the sense of being overwhelmed with everything that causes you to do nothing. Anxiety is the deep rooted fear that something is terribly wrong even though you know that nothing is wrong. Anxiety is the fear that success is impossible for you no matter how hard you try. Anxiety is the feeling that people don’t actually like you regardless of what they say or do. Anxiety is the fear that everything you do is somehow wrong. And on top of all that, anxiety is the knowledge that you fears are irrational and the inability to stop them. People with anxiety know that their feelings aren’t based in reality, and telling us this doesn’t help. In fact, it just feeds our fear that we aren’t liked or are thought to be stupid. But anxiety isn’t built on rationality or logic. It is a malfunction of the brain. Reason can’t stop anxiety. I wish I could just reason my way out of an anxiety attack.

My anxiety has gotten worse. It’s bad enough that I have to go get blood work done to see if it has any physical causes. It’s bad enough that I get to discuss medication options with my doctor after the blood work is done. It’s bad enough that I actually look forward to the zombie-like feelings that come with most anxiety like medications. I look forward to it because I can’t function. I want to blog, but when I think about writing a post I think of everything else I need to do and I get overwhelmed until I do nothing. I want to write, but I can’t find the motivation or the words to say. I want to get a job, but that’s overwhelming to people who don’t have anxiety. So instead I binge watch T.V. shows because that doesn’t overwhelm me.

Anxiety is a crippling mental illness. One that I wish people would take more seriously. One that I wish wasn’t so stigmatized. Sometimes it feels like I’m expected to put a band-aid on a broken leg and just walk it off.


Parents: Support Your Children


This seems to be something that a lot of parents fail at. I spend a lot of time with people who identify as LGBT to one degree or another, and they all receive different levels of support from their parents. I personally don’t receive much support from my parents. The atheists that I know also receive different levels of support from their parents. Many of the people I know were raised in secular families, so they have no issues, but this is not the case with all the people I know. Even some of the people who prefer not to label themselves aren’t always supported. As such, I know a lot of people whose love for their children is very much conditional. I find this very sad.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your children. When your children turn away from the beliefs that you hold, or when they do something that goes against your beliefs, it is understandable to be afraid for them. But abandoning your children, or neglecting them, or making them feel as though they can’t rely on you, is not a solution to this problem. Be afraid for your children if you must, but love them unconditionally regardless. Hurt your children as little as possible, even if you feel hurt by them. You are their roll model. You are the person that your child should be able to turn to in times of need. I don’t remember the last time I was able to rely on my parents for anything. And I know a lot of people who don’t have the support of their own parents.

As a result of my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I refuse to allow myself the possibility to love them conditionally. I want to be there for any children I have. I want to be the first person they turn to when they need support. If they choose to become theists, or they get into a lot of trouble (these are the only two things I can think of that would genuinely bother me), I’m not going to let that get in the way of my relationship with my children.


Does Anybody Care Anymore?


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Lately I have been struggling with the questions “how do we get people to care?” and “how do we get people involved?” I go to university, which is a place where people tend to be highly motivated and interested in getting involved. We are in a highly competitive environment and we’re all trying to give ourselves that boost we need to get us our desired career. As such, we do a lot outside of classes. But this year…well, it seems as though motivation is lacking.
I think a lot of the lack of motivation is due to the problems people have noticed on campus. Our president is the highest paid in Canada. She makes a ridiculous amount of money. In fact, it seems as though it all goes to her. Since I began attending the university, they’ve added another 1500 students yearly, which is a lot, but they haven’t really done anything to improve the buildings and increase the amount of space we have for studying. Just trying to move around the school is a nightmare because of the number of people in the hallways. The university has even made it more difficult for clubs to get out into the campus community and be seen. We used to be able to book classrooms and equipment for free, but now we have to pay for equipment and we can only book a few rooms a year. This makes throwing events difficult. As such, I think people are genuinely disappointed with the state of the university and unaware of the clubs’ existences.

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But it seems that there is more to it than that. Normally first years come to university and immediately try to get involved. Some look for the more social groups to make friends, and others look for groups that help them get ahead in their field. Many get too involved and end up dropping a few things. But the first years haven’t done that this year. In fact, from what I’ve heard from others, they haven’t even been getting that involved with their classes. And it seems as the students who are graduating have become highly apathetic too. Usually those graduating want to go out with a bang, so they put a lot of effort into their activities in the last year. This is partially because it’s the last year before heading out into the real world and partially to add some extra padding to their resume. But not this year. It seems like those of us who are graduating after spending years getting involved are just exhausted. Nobody cares any more. It’s all very strange.
But this creates a dilemma: how do we keep everything from dying? A number of clubs have already shut down. The Interfaith may be shut down in March if I can’t find people to take over. Even the Freethinkers is struggling, and it’s a well established club. I keep trying to find ways to bring people in and get them to care, but all of my efforts have been in vain. So how do I get people to get involved? How do I get them to care? And how do I save the clubs that I put so much of my time and energy into?

TEAM


Family


Family is one of the most complicated things in life. In many ways, they can do no wrong. So long as you know they love you, you can ignore the little problems. But some times family…well, sometimes it’s tough to have them around.

I love my parents very much, and my step-dad too. I love my brother and I care about my step-brothers (though I don’t know them very well). I grew up very close with most of my extended family (there are a lot of them), and many many of my cousins are more like siblings. I have two aunts who were teenagers when I was born, so in many ways they are like siblings too. I’m glad to be so close to so many people, but I wish I were close to all of them. Unfortunately, some of my family members have isolated themselves for various reasons.

I love my family, they are relatively good people. They try to do the right thing, and they usually succeed. But I’m starting to feel myself pulling away from them. I try not to isolate myself from my family, but there is too much that I can’t tell them.

I have a very Catholic grandmother on my mom’s side. She is a wonderful woman. She is very loving and kind. She is one of those people that will welcome anybody. And, while I know she feels homosexuality is a sin, she has never once said anything bad about a member of the LGBT community. However, to my grandmother’s mind, a person has to believe in God to be good. She doesn’t care if they are Catholic, but they must be Christian. She believes that atheists are trying to ruin the country. Nothing would upset my grandmother more than finding out that I’m an atheist, so I don’t tell her. In fact, I don’t tell that side of my family. None of them are that religious, but they love to gossip. The last thing I want is for somebody other than myself to let slip that I’m an atheist. My grandma’s in her 80’s, so I figure I can tell my family after she’s gone. But it is painful to keep that part of myself from somebody I love.

My dad’s side knows I’m an atheist. They were never very religious, so they don’t care. However, they are very conservative. I can’t tell them I’m genderqueer. They wouldn’t understand. If they did, they would try to change me. They believe that gender and sex are the same thing, and they believe that the traditional gender roles should be upheld. Since my fiance is male, they wouldn’t care about the demisexuality part. As far as they’re concerned, I’m straight. They are also quite anti-feminist. I don’t keep that one to myself, but it seems that any conversations I have with them along those lines just turn into fights. In fact, I recently took my dad and brother off facebook for that very reason. They’re happy to push their views on me, but they aren’t willing to listen to my views. The same goes for my political views.

I do have one uncle on my dad’s side who is a conservative Christian. Like, Evangelical, homeschool your children, avoid all things secular, Jesus Camp Christian. He and his wife separated themselves from my family when I was about 6 when my aunt was pregnant with their first child. Apparently my uncle wanted my grandpa to make the family Christmas gathering about Jesus, but my grandpa wanted to keep Christmas about the family. They stopped visiting after that. As a result, I’ve never met my four cousins. My uncle and I tried to have a facebook relationship for a while, but it didn’t work out very well. He has terminal cancer, so I doubt there will be a chance to fix things. I’d love to meet my cousins, but, given how sheltered they are, and given their family’s views, I doubt they’d be so keen to meet me.

I have never told any of my family members about my abortion. My mom’s side would be against it and my dad’s side, while they would allow me to make the decision, would have wanted me to keep it. I wish I could have called my mom as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but that wasn’t an option for me. I had to make the decision without her.

All of the things I can’t talk about make it difficult to be close to my family. I try to visit everybody once a year, since I live quite far from everyone, but between not having money and feeling tense about saying the wrong thing and causing a fight, it’s hard to motivate myself to keep in contact with anyone. Like I said, families are complicated.


Let’s Talk About Trigger Warnings


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Trigger Warnings make for difficult discussions. Many people think they’re great, but others think they’re a waste of time. Any conversation about trigger warnings can go down hill very fast. And they often lead to people mocking social justice warriors. But I think the discussion is worth having.

I’m not easily triggered. I’ve been through things that would traumatize people without any real lasting affect. As such, I ofter forget to put trigger warnings on my posts. Nonetheless, I think trigger warnings are important. There are people who have gone through a traumatic event, whether recently or years ago, who are easily reminded of their trauma. Sometimes the reminder is bad enough to send them to the hospital. A lot of people say that those who are easily triggered should just get help and stay off the internet. But these people generally are getting help. Many of them see a therapist weekly, or even daily. They are on more medication than most of us could even imagine. Some even find themselves going in and out of psych wards. They are dealing with the trauma, but they will always have the scars. To tell them to get help is presumptuous and dismissive. And, what’s more, it isn’t always possible to just stay off the internet. We rely too much on it as a society. It could be the only way to contact people, it could be the main source of entertainment, or it could be required for work. So to tell someone to just avoid the internet is also presumptuous and dismissive. Especially since a person could do their best to avoid triggers and just happen across one because someone posted something on Facebook, or their was an ad in an article, or because a comment was made in a chat room. Triggers happen, and the person who experiences triggers shouldn’t be blamed or dismissed for having those triggers.

Which is why I believe trigger warnings are necessary. Trigger warnings take no time to put at the top of a post. They let anyone with a potential trigger know that they might want to avoid reading the article, but they don’t prevent anyone from reading them. Whether you experience a trigger or not, you can read posts with trigger warnings. You are in no way inconvenienced. So, if no one is inconvenienced by adding a trigger warning, and no one is inconvenienced by seeing a trigger warning, but someone could actually be harmed by the lack of a trigger warning, isn’t it best to add a trigger warning?

There is an issue with certain people being triggered by the trigger warning, but it seems to me that the trigger would be worse if they were to read the article. It has been suggested that “soft” trigger warnings could be used which go more along the lines of “Trigger Warning: r-word” instead of “Trigger Warning: rape.” I’m not sure how helpful those with triggers will find that, but, so long as people with triggers are requesting trigger warnings, I think it is only fair to add them when necessary.


When Do You Feel at Your Weakest?


Social situations are hard for me. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and find crowds particularly daunting. When I am in a social situation with a lot of people that I don’t know it is really easy for me to shut down. I have to fight really hard to talk to anyone and, often, have to fight all of my instincts to keep from running out of the room. Noise is the worst. If everybody is talking while I am surrounded by people, or there is loud music playing, it can be too overwhelming for me to handle. These situations are when I feel at my weakest. The biggest problem is that people don’t understand. People often say things like “everybody is uncomfortable, you just have to ignore it and start talking to people.” Often I want to shout “why aren’t you listening to me? It’s not that easy” at them, but what good would that do? People don’t understand because it’s not something that they deal with. It’s a mental health issue, so it is still highly stigmatized and ignored. Many people assume I’m lying when I tell them my issue, so I have only really just begun to trust people enough to talk about it. 

My volunteering as well as my interest in writing have forced me to have to fight my anxiety in order to attend conferences and galas and other such events. I’m lucky to have one of the more mild forms of anxiety. I can sit in a room with 10 people and not know any of them without feeling much in the way of anxiety. I ca talk to the people around me and enjoy myself. The anxiety doesn’t tend to be unbearable until there are about 100 people around. That is when I begin to panic. But even then, I don’t have a lot of the issues that others have. I don’t become physically sick, I’ve never fainted. Given how weak I feel when I am suffering from my own anxiety, I can’t imagine how bad that feeling must be for those with the worse forms of anxiety.

It is hard for my partner as well. When we are at a conference we are there to meet people. It’s a networking event. My partner wants to walk around and talk to people, but he feels tied to me. I view it as a victory if I manage to talk to a hand full of people in a day, because it’s more than I used to be able to manage. But for my partner it is a wasted day. He could have talked to three times as many people on his own. It is upsetting to me, because those are the days that I am at my strongest. Those are my best days, the days when I feel like I have conquered my fear. When I am at my weakest, when I feel like a failure, is when I can’t get over the feeling of being overwhelmed. The days when I separate myself from the crowd and don’t talk to anyone. 

When do you feel like you are at your weakest? How do you conquer that weakness?


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