Tag Archives: panic

ANOTHER ROUND OF EXPOSURE THERAPY

bodamain

Hey everyone out there with anxiety and panic! Have you ever said to yourself,

“Gee wiz fellas, you know what I think would just be too great for my mental health? Extremely small, confined spaces, that are dark, smelly, and require lots of physical exertion?”

Well then, I have I got the place for you! 

Do you know those Escape Rooms that are so popular?  Well did you know that there is a chain called Boda Borg?  It’s like a Chucky Cheese playpen for adults. You go in and it’s literally 20 escape rooms. Very elaborate, long, multiple-roomed escape rooms. Some are more mental, some are more physical. Some require both.

I’ve made a good group of friends here at Harvard through a gaming club. And it’s been discussed that we should do a Boda Borg day sometime. And well, yesterday ended up being the day.

 

***A brief history for anyone reading this post who hasn’t read my blog in the past***

I’ve struggled with depression since I was a kid (bullying and being gay in conservative America…blah blah blah, you get it.)  And then after years of not taking care of myself and never addressing the depression,  I started breaking out into anxiety attacks at 20. By 23, I was full-blown agoraphobic. That’s when I started writing this blog. And from there I started the very long, bumpy road of recovery from completely insane, to regaining my humanity in an attempt to live my life rather than hide from it…

 

So anyways, when I arrived at Boda Borg yesterday, I was like… Oh holy fuck. 

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Have you ever watched those claustrophobic movies like The Descent? Or how about weird torture movies like SAW? And have you been like, thank god I don’t have to go through that?  Then great news! In Boda Borg you can do both! 

descent

 

 

Our first “Mission” was called PLATOON. And we walked into this room and had to find the supplies that we were told to get.  Once we found them, A tiny little door that you had to crawl into was unlocked. And when I say tiny little door, I’m not kidding.  Here’s an example of what the door-openings look like:

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It was practically pitch-black inside, with only a few little orange lights to add just enough light to allow to see where the walls were.

Inside this dark box, you realized you have to crawl and snake your way between platforms UPWARDS in almost complete blackness. You climb your way all the way from crawling-height on the first floor, up to the second floor!  (I graciously made a visual representation for everyone below)

 

ENTER

 

Oh and I forgot to mention!!!  So, every time you progress to a new room in Boda Borg, the door closes behind you AND LOCKS! So, we get into this cramped area and the door locks behind us, and it’s tight, and dark, so sort of disorienting. I try pushing the little door open to get some light in, but it’s locked… Now, I don’t believe in God. But in that moment, I silently said to God, or the Universe, or whatever, “Look, if you allow me to have a panic attack in front of my newfound friends, I swear, I will fucking kill you.”

We started snaking our way up the platforms, on our knees, bending our bodies, lifting ourselves up little by little. I could feel panic at my side. I could feel it just wanting to break loose and cause havoc. But, I stayed calm.  Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift!  Up to the next platform I went. Then I crawled over to the next opening. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift! When we finally made it to the top and I could see the light of the room (which, the rooms themselves can be claustrophobic to some, but after snaking your way through thatthe rooms are a refreshing wide-open expanse.

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But soon you figure out that Boda Borg is filled with nothing but these panic-inducing tactics.  Almost everything requires crawling through tight passageways, or climbing up tight passageways, or climbing across tight passageways (as I found in one tube that had monkey-bars running through it. The tube itself is lined with sensors, so if your body touches it at any point, you fail and have to restart the entire mission.)

 

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As the day went on, it began to get fun. It’s like a panic attack actually.  When you start getting panic attacks, you’re like,

OH MY GOD I’M DYING!!!!!!!

But after a hundred panic attacks, you’re like…

OMG WHATEVER, THESE HAVEN’T KILLED ME YET. I’M SO OVER IT.

It’s just like that.  Another room, another insanely claustrophobic space that you’ve been locked into.  But they haven’t killed you so far, right?

I started loosening up. I started really enjoying myself. I started to have a lot of fun!  We ended up being there 8 hours! You can buy a 35 dollar day pass that allows you unlimited access the entire day.  And we we’re determined to beat all 20 missions.

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Here’s a great example btw:  When I say these spaces are tight, I’m not kidding.  They’e like the scenes in Alien where they’re climbing through the ventilation ducts

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But here’s one thing I will say: Having friends there helped so much. Knowing that you were there with friends as a team, was amazing. Because you weren’t alone. You weren’t abandoned. And isn’t that really the root cause of most of our anxiety and panic anyways?  It’s always the fear that we’re going to be helpless somehow?

But with friends there, it’s fun. You have support. You have laughter. You have fun!

And that’s so true with mental health in general.  Humans are social creatures. We need meaningful interaction with others, otherwise, we lose our fuckin’ brains. I know a lost of us like to think that we’re the lone wolf or whatever, but take it from someone who literally had to be a lone wolf for some much of my life…

It isn’t fun and it isn’t glorious. It’s fucking miserable. 

I fully believe that support is the number 1 key to helping us stay sane and happy.  And I’m glad that I’ve made some friends here, and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can challenge my depression, anxiety, and panic.

What do you guys think helps you the most when confronting your fears?

 

~ The Dark Horse

(And no, this isn’t proofread. It’s summer vacation, and I aint proofreading shit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life After Mental Illness?

open

 

So, I wrote a post last week about how I was about to stand in front of a crowd and host a show… the first time getting in front of a crowd since life was completely turned upside down by crippling anxiety that got so severe, it turned into constant panic attacks, which then led to agoraphobia.

I was in therapy for a long time. The first goal was to get me to a point where I could walk outside of my apartment. Then the goal was help to me in public spaces, like grocery stores and malls. Finally, through exposure therapy, the goal was to make me feel comfortable anywhere.  Me and my therapist wanted to completely get rid of that fear of the outside word.

In the beginning, it felt like I was stranded in the middle of an open ocean. Endless water. No shore in sight. It was overwhelming. I felt like I would drown in the outside world, with no place to rest my tired body.  And I won’t lie, I did in fact have many a panic attack during the early stages of therapy.   Dude, I was legit a fuckin’ mess hahah! I can’t even believe how crazy I was when I look back at it now.

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And why do we have those panic attacks? We fear that beneath the surface, there may danger. Like something is about to go wrong…like the world is about to fall apart.

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But over time, I got better. I got stronger. I grew brave. And after a while, the outside world didn’t scare me anymore. I realized that I allowed my agoraphobia to go on longer that I should have because I never challenged it. I allowed it to control me.

 

But then I stopped.  And do you know what happened last night?  Absolutely nothing. I went onto that stage and owned it. I didn’t shake. I didn’t freeze up. I didn’t even sweat. I was the best me I could have been, and it was amazing.

 

And guess what, I had a great time!  I loved the event last night, and it will be a memory I will always have!  Looking back, I’m like…I could have been doing this all along! I could have been experiencing all this exciting stuff for years now!  Why did I let anxiety control my life?????

And you know what happens when you stop fearing everything?

…you’re then able to realize how beautiful it all is.

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It’s never too late to live your life

~ The Dark Horse

Feeling like you need help?  Call your local Lifeline support line. Another great resource I love is an Aussie website called Beyond Blue

The Best Mental Health Resource You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

beyond

 

So, one of the best resources for depression and anxiety I’ve ever experienced is an Australian website called Beyondblue.  Now, since most of you reading this have never lived in Australia, you probably have never heard of Beyondblue, hence the post!

It’s a great site that is friendly and fun (which really there isn’t enough of when talking about mental health).

The best part is that it covers EVERYTHING there is to cover.  If you scroll down on their homepage, you’ll find this:

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Who cares if this website wasn’t designed for our country, it’s great!  Plus it’s fun and funny.  I mean, just look at this video:

 

Now, this is not a paid advertisement I’m writing here  (although, fuck that would be amazing if I actually made money from this little blog)   But why I’m writing about this is actually because it is so important. 

Everything: Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and Panic.  They’re all so scary to go through alone.  They’re extremely distressing.  That’s why it’s such a relief to go onto a website that is bright colorful, friendly, and funny.

We need that stuff!

We need more people telling us how to prepare ourselves for the bad times, how to live through the bad times, and how to thrive after them.   I hate always having people look at depression and stuff as like, “Well, my life is over…too bad.”

But that isn’t the case.   I remember when the show Lady Dynamite came out on Netflix there was a review for it that said, this isn’t a show about living with mental illness, it’s a show about thriving with mental illness. 

And I love that.  Let’s all learn to thrive.  It’s hard, sure.  But damn, it’s gotta be worth it!

Check out Beyonblue below!

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety

The Importance Of Having Role Models With Mental Illness

carrie

 

So, I just finished reading Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, and it was actually a really great book!  One thing that i really loved was open and honest she was about her life.   She spoke so openly about her friend dying beside her in bed, and about how she used drugs to numb her intense emotions.   Granted, I don’t agree with a lot of what happened in her life (I don’t do drugs or drink, so the idea of my mom coming to me at age 13 and telling me to smoke up with her was incredibly strange), but that isn’t the point.

 

The point is that this woman is not only an amazing storyteller, but also shows one of the truest signs of overcoming your problems:  

The ability to talk openly and laugh about them! 

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This then got me thinking about how great it was to hear someone be able to be so free, and so open.  And also, how great it felt to just know someone is out there talking about their mental illness and making waves in our culture!

And so then I set out to find other celebrities who have been open about mental illness (whether it be PTSD, panic, anxiety, depression), and some of the things I found were a bit shocking!

 

And the answer is, shockingly few.   I found a few articles on HuffPost and Buzzed and stuff, where a celebrity says they get “anxiety” (cough cough) about something every once in a while or some other kind of bullshit like that,  but none of it seemed to be what I live through.  For me, depression and anxiety are these massive weights that pull me down everyday.  They are always there and always trying to ruin me.  That is why Wishful Drinking was such a great read.   It wasn’t Amanda Seyfried talking for one paragraph about how she sometimes get upset thinking about her son possibly dying or something.  It was real, life-destroying mental problems, and I loved reading it!

 

So there needs to be more talk about this stuff I think.   Mental problems of all kinds: Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Panic, all of it!   We need role models out there telling their stories.  Telling us it’s going to be ok.  Letting us know there is a life outside our issues.    I hope to be one of those voices someday.  I know it will be a rough and long road, but there is a severe lack of this kind of talk in our society, I hope to change that!

  • So what do you guys think?  Where do you stand with how society views mental illness and do you think we need more role models?  Or do you know of any great stories about mental illness to read?   Feel free to tell me everything in the comments!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

(This was like 10% proofread!  ya baby ya!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebuilding Your Life From Ground Zero

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Alright.   Im starting from scratch here people.  I’ve been back in my hometown…. working part time in retail….living at home…..

I have been a complete sack of useless shit.

Ive just been questioning everything about my life.   Regretting all of my past.   Dreading my future.   Hating my present.  Masturbating twice a day everyday is the only excitement Ive had the last few months… I have been pathetic.

Does anyone else know that feeling?  Anyone out there know what its like to want so much from life, but you’re just stuck in the craptastic shithole called your life?   You’ve dug yourself into a bad situation…. which is hard enough to get out of on its own…..but combine that struggle with trying to do all that with depression and anxiety…. and FUCK life sucks

But ok, Ive got a lead.  In January I’m going to start taking classes at Harvard.   So Ill be moving to Cambridge next month.   A chance to restart my life.  To do everything over again.

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A chance to learn new skills.  Make friends.   Move to a city with opportunity.

But Jesus fucking Christ I’m scared.  Im so scared that I’m going to fuck this up too.   That I will ruin everything.   That this won’t go well for me.     UUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

Ok my fellow Mentally Ill friends.   Does anyone know this feeling?   Its like Im so happy to have a new opportunity.  A chance to finally make things right.  To learn from my mistakes.   To finally start building a life that has meaning! ….And yet, where most people would be through the roof for this opportunity, I’m sitting here going:

~ I NEED TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST CASE SCENARIO BECAUSE I KNOW THAT THE WORST CASE SCENARIO HAPPENS…AND QUITE REGULARLY 

~ WILL PEOPLE HATE ME?   WILL THE TEACHERS AT HARVARD THINK IM STUPID AND BENEATH THEM?

~ WILL I MAKE FRIENDS? 

~ WILL THIS BE ANY DIFFERENT FROM MY PAST ATTEMPTS? 

Well, I won’t know until I try right?

There really is nothing to do now but hope for the best, because negativity and dread hasn’t gotten me anywhere in life yet right?  So, lets open our arms and take a leap of faith.

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~ The Dark Horse

And no this wasn’t proofread because I was eating a sandwich while trying.   (it was a turkey reuben and it was delicious!)

When Life Continues To Give You Nothing But Lemons

lemon

 

Oh life, you fickle little fuck. You just never know when to quit do you? So, Im working in retail right now. Which means this week (being Thanksgiving) should be the busiest of the year. And yet, Ive had 2 shifts cancelled this week. And I had a shift cut last week….

So now my parents are giving me a bunch of shit. Telling me what a failure I am. Being a 26 year old, living at home, who can’t even hold down a minimum wage job.

I talked to my boss yesterday, asking if Ive been a bad employee or if Ive been doing anything wrong, and she said no. It was just bad timing because she thought we were going to get a lot of shipment these last two weeks, and we didn’t. So she had to cut shifts.

Which still sucks, but at least I know I still have a job….

Still, doesn’t help me talking to my parents. They’re convinced Im a failure. And you know what? They’re kind of right. Im 26. Ive never had a “big boy job”. I can’t seem to ever find love. Nor can I manage to find long-lasting happiness.

This morning I told my dad I had a shift canceled and he responded with, “You don’t even have a job….”. I had to walk away and go back to my room because I was going to cry.

I have depression. I also have severe anxiety. They ruin my life. Times like these only add to the problem.

If I believed in God. In a higher power, and an afterlife, I would have killed myself by now. But you know what? There is no God. This is it people. There are no pearly gates waiting for us on the other side. Therefore, when the fake God above throws you nothing but lemons, you have no choice but to turn them into lemonade.

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Because we have no choice.

Im not going to give up. Im not going to believe that Im stupid. That I’m lazy. That I’m not worth things better than what I have right now. Because I know that isn’t true. I know I work hard. I know I really try. Have I burnt almost every bridge Ive ever crossed? Have I ruined so many situations because of my insecurities, low self-esteem, and belief that I wasn’t good enough? Yes, absolutely. Have I been too afraid to really try to live the life Ive always wanted? Yes.

But that all changes people.

IT HAS TO CHANGE

So look lemons you dirty bastards, Its lemonade time!

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I have been accepted for a Creative Writing Masters at the University of Denver.   So I know someone wants me.   On top of that, Ill find out December 2nd if I’m going to Harvard.    Im playing with some weak cards here and I understand that.

I know that with my history of constant failures, trying to pick up the pieces will be hard.   because who wants to take the chance on the underdog?   But, something’s gotta’ give at some point.   Think of celebrities like Kathy Griffin, or Sheldon from Big Bang Theory (Who is actually like 44 years old).  Some people don’t find success until later in life  (I really hope at least SOMETHING goes well for me before 44…. but hey, trying is all I can do).

I mean, hey, I got through all of last year, and I’m here…..

Keep trying, I know I will!