the Shadow People pt. 2

Tuesday, March 21, 2017. 12:00 Midnight.

I felt uneasy and stressed the whole night. The previous day, I had a disagreement with my dad. Finals were coming up, deadlines were coming up. It was dark outside. I got into my boyfriend’s car as he was driving me home, I was seated shotgun side, shut the door, placed my backpack on my lap and put my seat belt on. The car light went out. I felt something, like a presence and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as if someone was breathing on it, and watching me. (My boyfriend told me after the fact that he noticed me breathing heavily and he was calling my name but I was unresponsive, staring straight ahead). He put his hand on my shoulder and loudly called my name. That is when I noticed his hand on my my shoulder, and turned my head to look at him. His hand felt foreign and to be honest, I didn’t recognize him at first or understand what he was saying. (I was told at this point I began hyperventilating).  Then I saw a shadowy human form lying down on the backseat of the car, it’s head on the driver’s seat side so I, on the shotgun side was able to see their whole upper body when I turned my head to look at my boyfriend. As I looked my boyfriend in the eye, in my peripheral vision, I saw the shadowy figure rise to a sitting position and begin to lean forward, reaching for me. I thought it was going to kill me.

(I was told at this point, that my scream and body language of fear was so genuine that my boyfriend actually believed that there was someone in the car. I fumbled and opened the car door, unlocked the seat belt, and jumped out of the car, throwing my backpack onto the wet pavement, and crouched with my back to the car. I was also apparently shaking, crying, and hyperventilating and looking like I was having trouble breathing as if having a panic attack). I do remember the asthmatic-like tightness in my chest as I tried to breathe while trying to look for a place to run away and hide to, and something to defend myself. My boyfriend came around to hold me to calm me down. Eventually I did.

I still had to get home. It was difficult for him to coax me back into the car (because I would starting crying and panicking once I walked towards the car) and we had to check all around the backseat of the car and the surroundings to make sure the shadow person was gone. Finally I entered the car because he turned on all the lights inside the car. It was unsafe, but he drove me home with all the lights on in the car and walked me to the door. I wasn’t planning to let my mom know, but as soon as I stepped into the house and saw her I broke down in tears and told her everything, with the help of my boyfriend over the phone.

It was a valuable lesson for me, despite the scary hallucination. Because I let everyone know of my fear, and they understood how real this fear was, my boyfriend replaced all the old light bulbs in the house, as well as install better lightening to light up all the dark spaces in the house, so it would reduce the possibility of the shadow people appearing. My mom now leaves a dim light on at night so the house isn’t completely dark, and keeps the night lights handy. She also takes extra precautions in case there is a power outage whenever the weather is bad. Dad installed blindingly bright motion detector lights so that the short walk from the car parking to the door is easier (it was previously usually pitch black). It has made everything drastically easier.

However, since that incident, I’ve had to sleep with the lights on in my room. It has caused a drastic change in my sleep schedule as I can’t sleep when it is dark outside despite my room being lit up. I am scared that when I close my eyes, I will feel something breathing on my face and neck again, and when I open my eyes I fear seeing the shadow people in their now more realistic form, hovering over my bed. I can’t sleep at night without fearing the shadow people popping up in my lit-up room because as far as I’m concerned, when I close my eyes and see the darkness behind my eyelids, it is enough fuel for the shadow people. I’m more vulnerable to panicking when I am in the dark since I’ve gotten a taste of how terrifying it is. My heart rate rises when I’m in the dark and I need to turn the lights on or they will come. I am afraid to see something so frightening and fear for my life-like that again. Now I stay away from anything scary, including: YouTube gaming videos of Resident Evil (which I used to watch), horror comics, being careful of ads (in case they are a trailer for horror movies…. which has happened and I almost peed my pants), many things involving supernatural things… ect. Also now I get scared at sudden movements even more, or break down crying when someone (unintentionally) scares me.

I have talked to my psychiatrist about this issue. I have the option of taking some anxiety medications (due to the panic attacks and anxiety symptoms I get, but I don’t have anxiety), or I also have the option of taking sleeping pills to, y’unno, help me get rid of my beautiful dark circles and help me fall asleep before the ungodly hours of 5AM (I’m typing this right now at 2AM). I chose neither. Why? Because I’m a stubborn asshole that thinks she can handle everything by sheer will alone even though my mental state is a fucking mess…. Also I don’t want to deal with the side effects. The lithium side effects are barely manageable for me. I can’t deal with the anxiety ones or the sleeping pills. The negatives outweigh the benefit of the drugs. I am also tired of taking so many medications all the time. I just want to go back to “normal” even though I will never go back to that state of medicine and mental illness free bliss.

My psychiatrist suggested one last treatment option which I am not ready to start yet. It is forcing myself to be exposed to my fears in frequent short periods that increase in length as I get better, and treating myself after each session. Basically I’m making myself into Pavlov’s dog and conditioning myself to get over my fear. Except I’m both Pavlov and Pavlov’s dog…. so does that make me Schrodinger’s cat?

 

P.S. I’ve put this off for a while because I have shitty habit of delaying anything related to my mental health and in writing and in reality. (I mean really, I delayed asking for help last year with my mental health until I literally needed to go to emergency. Go figure.)

 

the Shadow People pt.1

Whatever you do, don’t Google that. I did once in an attempt to understand myself, and it scared the shit outta me, which made everything worse! Whoohooo 🙂

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while, but I just didn’t know how to approach it. I mean, how do you summarize your life experiences and condense it so it is understandable, even though you, yourself doesn’t understand it?

Basically whenever I am in a low/depressed /stressed/tired mood, and I walk past a dark room/ dark area, I feel like there is someone or something watching me standing in that dark spot. I’m too scared to analyze it like a protagonist in a horror movie. My reaction is to GTFO or casually  speed walk away as if everything is normal (but my heart is pounding and the hairs on my body are standing).

They look like faceless black mannequins with no defined body features. Like an androgynous bald shadow. They’re usually standing with legs and arms slightly apart. What would be the face is staring at me, and the head rotates to follow my direction.  I don’t know if it’s the same one each time. But I know if I turn the lights on in that room where it appeared in or shine a flashlight on it, it will vanish/ teleport away to haunt in another lightless place.

Power outages are my weakness. I used to cry and panic as a 10-13 year old. Parents didn’t know why though…. just thought the shock of sudden blackness. As I grew older I managed to hide it and not panic, but my heart would be racing as I tried to find a source of light. (Side note: thank god for cell phone flashlights!)

It’s embarrassing because I’m not afraid of the dark… I’m afraid of the things in the dark. I feel pathetic if I tell someone about this because I don’t want to seem like a coward or be judged. I absolutely hate being called a coward (possibly more than being called short, because height is a fact, and I’ve gotten used to the teasing/ developed ways to calm myself whe pissed at short jokes). It is disappointing because I can public speak, I can kill spiders, I can scream profanities at catcallers, I can do so much, but when I’m sad at night and I turn the lights off to sleep, I am afraid of that thing that appears over my bed. I don’t even know what it wants!! To kill me? Strangle me? Just watch and stare at me all night? Knowing what it wants would help because I could think “What’s the worse that can happen….. (_______) me”? I just want to get things over with… but apparently my agenda doesn’t coincide with that of the shadow people.

Fun fact, when I was 13 or so, I had a dream where I woke up and was still in my bed. A shadowy figure that was shaped like me was standing at the foot of my bed. It jumped up and landed on me…. and I actually felt it. It strangled me and I felt like I couldn’t breathe (sleep paralysis hooray). Finally it took a knife out and stabbed me and I “died” (aka fell back asleep). It has stuck with me ever since as it has been one of the most vivid sleep paralysis incidents with shadow people involved. There has been more than one incident unfortunately.

Seeing the shadow people also gets worse when there is “fuel” for my imagination. Eg. if I watch a scary movie or see a goddamned Facebook Ad for a scary movie trailer that was COMPLETELY uncalled for nor had any warnings *cough*. I’ve tried getting over my fear by using the Resident Evil video game series. But (1) I start shaking the moment I start the game (2) the zombie jumpscares and the creatures the creep up behind scare the fuck outta me (3) watching game plays of it on YouTube help but the gruesome images are stuck in my head (4) scientifically the gruesome creatures are fascinating but not when the lights are out and my imagination goes berserk.

Curiously, I am completely okay with haunted houses. During and after haunted houses I do not get scared. Nor do they provide fuel for my overreative imagination. But I am not okay when I get scared on purpose or accidentally in broad daylight or indoors at home. I do not get scared at school or public places both with or without lights. Public washrooms are an exception… they are public and have lots of people using them BUT if the lights are off/ there is a power outage and there are mirrors in the washroom, I’d rather pee in a bush. All the scares happen in secluded, usually private settings with few to no people other than myself. And of course, without lights. I also cannot look in a mirror in a dark setting. I feel scared of reflections in a mirror and sometimes don’t recognize myself, or fear seeing a shadow person standing behind me in the mirror.

To be honest, I’ve learned to adapt to this. Lights, lights, never enough lights. The price for this is a high electricity bill but hey, it’s better than hallucinating! This hasn’t been much of a handicap until last month, which will be explained in detail in my next post.

Why did I write this at 4AM? I can’t sleep anymore thanks to all those visuals. Ugh

Reasons for switching faculties (and why I am happier!)

I think we still have some catching up to do! Sorry for the boring business matters. I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I have decided to switch faculties from Arts to Sciences. This choice was difficult. Honestly at first I felt like I wasted 3 years of education, effort, and money for this whim that I had. I am still not sure if I even made the right choice …. but all I know is I feel happier now and more passionate about what I study.

When my whole chaotic depression downward spiral began, I was studying Political Science. It was fun, and writing essay after essay is something to be expected in university. But what wore me down was the fact all the essays were something like “discuss how to solve this political issue” or “discuss why (this vague political problem) happens”. I didn’t like how we all sat in class and discussed a serious issues (like homelessness), talked about ways to solve it, then moved on with our lives and on to another class. We. Didn’t. Do. A. Single. Action. It felt so wrong to me. It makes no sense to simply talk about how people in other countries desperately needed healthcare, and how to solve these issues while sitting in $200+ price tag clothes (well for me it was a hoodie LOL ) and sipping Starbucks!!! Most of the issues we discussed are issues that 18-year-old middle class students would never have experienced … though there were many students in the upper middle-class to high-class range.

They don’t understand the fear of walking home alone at night and being mugged (or worse). They have never heard a gunshot outside their house. They don’t care about wasting food because they will always have their endless allowance from their parents to buy more food. But I do. I know the fear. My parents both came to Canada with nothing. My family once all slept in the same room in a tiny apartment in an unsafe neighborhood. Cheese was a luxury, and I’ve never had real cheese in my childhood. Even today, I have the habit of keeping old leftovers. I feel overwhelming guilt if I cannot finish my food and feel the need to finish it all. My voice was overridden by those that did not understand the very issues that I’ve experienced. I was tired of screaming in a room full of people who plugged their ears at the truth. It is not worth sacrificing myself for people who will not bring political change. No one would listen to the insight of a tiny Asian girl who didn’t have a Michael Kors handbag, a Prada suit, and designer heels.

I continued to push myself in Political Science…. “Maybe things will get more interesting”…. “This is just a hump, I can get over it”…. But as we got more and more specialized, I began to lose interest. It wasn’t something I could see myself doing forever. In fact, I realized, I couldn’t see myself doing this as a career to the extent I didn’t even care to plan out my future. One of the few options that a Political Science future held was law school. As I kid, I though law was cool. Now, since I know what it is about (after attending many seminars) I knew it was not for me. I suppose that is when my depression worsened because I thought “this was all for nothing, I wasted my life, what will I do now?”

I am a woman of action. I believe actions will change people’s lives for the better, not writing essays. Personally, I can only put my heart into something when I truly believe it will benefit people. In my high school music days, I was extremely dedicated and successful in helping my peers, because I truly believed music is a magical thing that connects people of all backgrounds. It was a positive feedback look: the more I helped my peers, the better they got, which made me happy and motivated me to help more. I needed to rediscover my passion. I heard of “Doctors without Borders” or something along the lines of that one day in a Political Science lecture. Then I guess that is where my inspiration began. (Actually the story goes, I heard about “Doctors without Borders” that day at school but didn’t really think of it much, went to my boyfriend’s house and had a long depression cry because I felt so lost and unsure about my future, then the inspiration struck me…. I swore that it would be my goal). Judging from my high school musician days, I liked to help people, and felt rewarded when I see people improve. So why not be a nurse? I like biology and science, so why not? I didn’t want to be a doctor because I would like time to be able to live a separate private life and take care of my 5 turtle children. So I decided, “screw it, I have nothing else left to lose“, and set my heart on nursing, and just focus on it with my blinders on.

Problem? I didn’t take Chemistry 12 or Physics 12. In high school I thought that I’d always stay in arts and become a lawyer, and that there was NO WAY I’d switch….. well jokes on the future me…. thanks for screwing future me up, past me. Also nursing has a long waitlist, and I’m not getting any younger. I’d like to move out soon and have a stable income (to spoil my turtles with fresh yummy fish everyday ~ teehee~). Also I want to start working as a nurse sooner so my mom can quit her shitty non-unionized, minimum wage, shady job that she hates. But I’m trying to be optimistic in the time I have before I get in the program and pursue a biology degree/ more science related credentials that will benefit me once I am in healthcare. I do feel quite happy now, not just because of my medications. I am passionate about what I am pursuing, to the point that I’ve been planning out my future…. which is something I never did as a Political Science student.

I see potential in this path, and think it will feel rewarding to save lives instead of writing/ reading essays. I have no regrets.

April 2, 2017- Updates

Hello, long time no post! My apologies.

It has been over 1 year since January 25/26th. I didn’t want to post on that day because I was afraid of relieving my memories of that day. I tend to struggle more around that period, but come April, I usually feel better like I currently do. But over ONE YEAR has passed since I was in the hospital for suicidal tendencies and depression. Wow. It seems so distant and weird. I am glad though, because without it, I would not be currently in contact with a psychiatrist whom has given me the correct (bipolar) medication. I learned that my friends love and support me. Also it let my parents understand me better, and they have supported me much more than I expected. I don’t want to be sappy but things have gotten so much better; I’ve never imagined things to improve too much. Though little improvements still need to be made.

In the meantime I have been:

  • dealing with a malfunctioning laptop (WordPress was not working on that piece of crap and I got lazy of dealing with the slowness)
  • learning how to schedule my life using an agenda (10/10 recommend)
  • Cleaning out my closet, reorganizing my room (I donated 5 garbage bags of clothes/stuffs)
  • Focusing on school, learning how to force myself to study
  • Repairing my relationship with my mom, which was severely damaged due to me cutting myself off from everything in Fall 2014 – the start of my depression.
    • I try to talk to her everyday now, and send her text messages of cute animals. We talk more now and I feel more willing to discuss mental health stuffs with her
    • Now I need to repair my relationship with my dad, which will be more difficult since he is antisocial (as in he likes to garden and take care of his fish rather than gossip)
  • Spending time with my friends
  • dealing with work, quitting my first job
  • Gaining new life experiences…. I went to my first concert!! (I saw Hayley Kioko).
    • It was loud, so many lights, so much people but amazing to sing along with a bunch of friendly strangers
  • Going out of my comfort zone and making new friends, meeting new people and spending time with them
  • Giving my neglected birds and turtles some love
    • During the time I did not feel well, I spent most of my time sleeping rather than give my birds attention and taming them. My parents had to clean my birds and turtles because I couldn’t do it.
  • Trying to not skip classes unless I need to. I have succeeded.
    • I let myself skip one day per month. That is my relaxation day.
  • Soooo many doctor and psychiatry appointments!!!
  • Experimenting with new ways to de-stress!
    • taking a nice warm (scented and bubbly) bath with candles lit is an amazing way to relax. I feel so refreshed and relaxed afterwards!
  • Learning how to cook different recipes! I think this is evident, from my past posts, but I’ve been doing this at a more regular schedule now, rather than randomly.
    • I cook dinner for my boyfriend and myself, usually 1-2 times a week (I am over there 4 days a week. Tuesdays is our lazy grilled cheese sandwich day, where my bf makes grilled cheese. One of the days we sometimes head out for dinner or eat leftovers…. hence I cook 1-2 days a week, and he cooks the other days)
  • Much more but I can’t think of them right now

 

I’ll try to post more often. It is fun and relaxing to get all my thoughts out…. like keeping an online diary. Also it serves as a reminder to myself how far I’ve come and to encourage myself. Although I couldn’t complete my goal of posting once every day, I did manage to improve my mental well-being thus the need to post everyday to get my thoughts out reduced. With that being said, I am NOT starting to post again due to feeling unwell, but this time I am hoping to continue so I can encourage other people who struggle with mental disorders and demonstrate that things can get better. I am working to express myself more and be more social…. I hope being social online counts!

 

1:30 AM – 9 months later, same sleep habits 

I remember in January of this year I told myself and promised myself that I’d sleep earlier; 11pm – 12:30pm. Guess what time it is?!? 1:30am!! Guess who is awake?? ME!!

I also cannot function without at least 8 hours of sleep. I usually sleep 10-12 hours straight if I have nothing planned for the day. I tend sleep 2am until 2pm and just lie in bed until 4pm where I get up/shower/brush teeth/ breakfast. I haven’t improved since January. Or it is a habit that needs to go….

I’m not sure if it is a habit because I am always tired and sleepy. I automatically fall asleep on the bus despite 10 hours of sleep. My brain feels permanently foggy. I’m currently attempting to read and failing. 

If it is a habit, I find habits hard to kick. I have little self control for things like sleep. I love working late at night and the silence of the world in my ears…. no sun to shine in my eyes or reflect harshly on my books. In fact, I work best around 11pm- 1am. But mornings are a killer when you sleep at 2am. 

June 14, 2016

My stomach has still been hurting the last few days. I’ve had to use the washroom often too. I felt nauseous last night and felt like throwing up, but I slept it off. I shall go buy some anti-nausea medicine later. It is interfering too much with my routine. 

Also in the past month or so I have been getting motion sickness. I have never experienced motion sickness prior to starting Lithium so it took a while to identify what it was. It kinda sucks because I’m some one who will gobble up a cheeseburger less than a minute before riding a roller coaster and be perfectly okay. 

May 2016 Recap

Yes I have been missing for a long time. 1. I am not doing much lately but sleeping. 2. When I am not sleeping I am working or trying to head out or keep my self occupied or I am actually busy.

In the last while, UBC has set me up with a psychiatrist whom I am currently seeing every 2 weeks. She formally diagnosed me as bipolar with something called “hypomania”. My medicine from 40mg fluoxetine has been changed to 20 mg fluoxetine AND 600mg of Lithium. We’re going to slowly lay me off the anti-depressants while increasing the Lithium. Lithium and Fluoxetine together causes a risk of Serotonin Syndrome so I would need to change the anti-depressants.

Lithium comes with needing regular blood tests as it affects the blood, liver, and kidneys. Since being on the drug for the past 1 and half weeks, I’ve had to have 2 blood tests. 

I feel dizzy due to the side effects.