An Open Letter

A digital journal

Hi me. Sweet lord am I stressed right now. I just found out I have a mandatory grad student orientation, exactly at the same time as a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning. I don’t know if I can cancel or move the doctor’s appointment in time, as the office is closed so I am very worried if I will be able to make it to the mandatory orientation. I also am faced with the potential decision of reapplying to UCSB as a computer science masters student, as currently I am doing computer engineering – the same as my undergrad. The problem I didn’t foresee was for masters, the departments are fully different so I am unable to realistically take CS courses – which is the thing I am interested in. I can either tough it out for two years and get a masters in a field that I am not that interested in compared to CS – or I can somehow reapply as a new master’s student next year and restart my master’s program – adding on another year.

I shut down often with decisions like this, and I don’t know what to do. I’m leaning towards just toughing it out, as it is the path of least resistance, but I’m afraid of regretting it down the line. I’m pretty scared at my own incompetence, especially since growing up I was never the one to make decisions as I had a helicopter mom. This is a huge anxiety trigger for me, but thankfully over time I have gotten better at it; it still sucks a ton.

While sitting at the lookout point at the end of my walk the other day, I was thinking about which is worse. Being depressed, or being anxious – two big things therapy helps me with. Anxiety to me is feeling too much, and depression is feeling nothing good. At the moment, while I had been depressed for the last few months, I felt anxiety or stress was trivial compared to an overwhelming lack of pleasure in life. I also was aware that it was biased due to me forgetting what stress was like – I, unfortunately, can no longer say it’s a forgotten feeling.

One of the last things I asked my therapist last session was for her to tell me that things were going to be okay. I know this isn’t something she can necessarily tell me, and she did the thing of asking me to answer my own question (and I said yes things will be ok). I sometimes wish someone would give me that reassurance on it.

It’s been a while, might as well do some CBT with the whole doctor fiasco

Situation: Doctor's appointment on Monday morning, and just found out a mandatory orientation is on Monday morning and the office is closed – so I don’t know if I can reschedule in time.

Thoughts: I have no more options, it is over. There is nothing I can do, I am going to be faced with a huge cancellation fee that insurance will not cover.

Feelings: I feel hopeless, overwhelmed, and ultimately like my life is falling apart. I feel impending doom and dread filling my body.

Behavior: I increase stress levels to an unhealthy amount, constantly panic and freak out, and do not allow myself to enjoy anything or feel ok for the next few days.

Now for something better:

Thoughts: It is what it is. I can try to contact the doctor’s office, and I have already emailed to see if I can skip the orientation. Worst case, I call at 8 am on Monday morning to tell them the situation and try to reschedule the appointment to another day or to later.

Feelings: I feel stressed, but I also feel a bit more reasonable. I feel more okay, as I am doing as much as I can do, and excess stress doesn’t help me.

Behavior: I calm down, don’t put up a mental block on doing anything to help the situation, and act through it reasonably. I don’t stress excessively.

That does sound better, doesn’t it? Also more rational – a big point is excess stress doesn’t help here. I love you QWERTYsuman 💟

Whenever I smile only the left side of my face creases. Every time I smile the left part of my lip curves up, my cheek in tow – all while the right half of my face stays the same. I’ve beat myself up looking in the mirror about it, and I’ve also fixated on it in photos I’ve taken of myself. I for some reason don’t feel that bad about it anymore. It’s a little quirk my body has, and in a weird way, I can somewhat fall in love with that part of me.

Maybe the things I considered flaws could be good. Sure a smooth stone is nice but a chipped crystal creates the most beautiful rainbows.

A thing I wanted to talk about was the realization at the last stages of a suicide plan. For me, it manifested in me sobbing staring up at the night sky, with the only lucid part of my brain trying to call the emergency hotline for my school’s mental health services. I remember I had been long out of tears, sitting in the Uber to the hospital quietly holding the phone to my ear where the person was there helping me get myself checked into inpatient care. I remember they had taken my phone and other belongings, and I was alone in the room with only the bed, sitting there feeling like a husk. My actions had shown me I regretted it, and maybe it was self-preservation, divine intervention, or whatever else you could possibly think of – but something had convinced me I wanted to live, if not just for a little bit longer.

I was no longer hysterical or crying when I talked to the doctor, and I remember how calmly rational I was while explaining my motivation and reasoning. I still to this day think it was irrational for me to back out then, as I still don’t know why I decided against overdosing with the pills I had been stockpiling. The thing I realized however at that point was I was willing to do whatever it took to live. I ended up convincing them I was fine without needing inpatient care, and after a few hours, they let me go after giving me some resources and helping connect me to a mental health clinic. I sat outside the hospital in downtown while waiting for the Uber to come pick me up, there was a sloped section towards some lower level, and I was sitting on the side bricks. Some women walked past me enjoying the nightlife, and I stared at my phone with nothing on it to try to act normal. Eventually, the Uber came and the driver was a friendly man who tried to small talk with me, asking if I was fine coming back from the hospital. I think I said I was fine and shut down the small talk – but I was touched and I still do appreciate that warmth from him. I eventually started therapy, and I still attribute that to be the best decision I have ever made. I have therapy with her again tomorrow, four years later.

I talked with a close friend last night, and he asked how I opened up to the therapist – as we both knew how hard it was to talk about feelings or to be vulnerable as men. I didn’t know my exact answer, but the sentiment boiled down to it was either that or I try to commit suicide again. I for some reason didn’t want to die, even though nothing had changed. I went into therapy with no armor, and fully left myself open to inspection with the hopes of a better life. That sentiment hasn’t left me since I constantly have the thought pop into my head about how I will do whatever it takes to want to live. I have a nightly routine of 5-6 different tasks, I force myself to exercise rigorously to the point of exhaustion daily, and I’ve built up the mental discipline to force myself to do things my body refuses to do. I spend a few hours each day actively fighting my mental health, and I am constantly trying to learn more or try new things when older tactics stop working. Recently I’ve been trying to do research on things that will chemically increase my endorphin levels, and I might incorporate another few things into my daily routine.

I think if I hadn’t sat down on the grass overlooking the lagoon that day with the full intention of quitting life, I would not have understood how far I am willing to go.

I was texting a close friend and they said how the fact I have this blog where I’m radically open and on full display is a “brave” thing, and for some reason that didn’t sit right with me – I couldn’t accept that as a compliment. I sat with the thought and tried puzzling it out a bit more on why I felt that way, and I concluded that I am this open in a selfish and unhealthy way.

For context, I grew up emotionally neglected by my parents and ended up learning very unhealthy ways of coping with emotions. I didn’t know how to reach out to friends, or how to ask for support so I would hide little “cries for help” in any way I could, with the hopes that someone would go out of their way to see them and come care for me. This unhealthy habit persisted throughout my life, and it would manifest in me posting cryptic descriptions on my private Instagram, leaving coded messages, or trying to have visible signs of me struggling. None of these things ever worked, and it was a weird cycle where instead of realizing how unrealistic this tactic was, I believed I simply had to leave more clues and do more of the same behavior.

Now, I’m better at this – I can reach out to friends, talk to my therapist whom I see weekly, or do any of my numerous other coping mechanisms, but I guess this blog still reminds me of those cries. I would be lying to say I haven’t sometimes fantasized about certain people reading this blog, recognizing the things I’m too cowardly to confront them with or realizing how I could use some extra support. I’d like to think through conscious effort I’ve moved away from that – part of my proof is how I no longer want a friend to follow through on their word of them subscribing to this blog, (still love you sheepy!). That being said, I still feel like it’s familiar enough to evoke those same feelings of longing for that care and attention I wasn’t given as a child.

The other reason I realized I felt comfortable putting my shameful parts on public display was that I realized no one cares about other people to this extent. Maybe if someone is your partner or someone you are incredibly integrated with they would consciously follow you and be invested in your thoughts – but outside of a very small handful, people are so preoccupied with their lives to give you that much time and effort. I feel like this comes off as incredibly depressing and lonely, but to me, this is an incredibly liberating thing. I don’t feel concerned about how people perceive me, because they’re more focused on themselves to care if I go out wearing pajamas for my morning dog walks. I can be incredibly vulnerable and expose myself on this blog with virtually no consequence because no one who I interact with often cares enough to read the sheer volume of text I pump out. This could either be a sad, lonely feeling, or it could be a freeing and joyous realization. For me, I choose the latter.

I walked outside and the sun was bright. There are birds flying, people walking around, the trees are green and swaying.

I didn't want to be happy, I don't get anymore what I want.

I wish there was something I could make, say, paint or do to just put myself down somewhere. I wish I could convey how I feel, down from the highest nights to the lowest days.

I wish I could put it in such an unadulterated way, untainted by concerns of perception. I wish I could somehow put every piece of me down there to capture that feeling of wonder, and that feeling of overwhelming fear that comes as a consequence of that freedom.

I wish I somehow could

Today I was in a musical mood. I played guitar for over an hour and recorded a good amount. I sent a friend a snippet of a verse from the song 2009 by Mac Miller, and for once I was kinda happy hearing my voice. I used to sing a LOT, I even did choir for about 6 years, but then my voice changed and I suddenly was in between ranges and was unable to really sing. I still love to sing, but I just sound bad and I’m pretty embarrassed. But anything worth doing is worth doing badly right?

I’ve been socializing out of my mind, and I’ve been making a lot of casual friends recently. I now live in graduate student housing, and most of the people here are significantly older and are fully about the academia life. I’ve met cool people, but virtually all of them are very low-energy. I like the part of me that’s electric, on fire, and full of life. I don’t see myself being that person around them – and that makes me sad. As much as I want to build a larger social network, I can’t help but feel like I won’t find my kind of people. I guess I’m a bit afraid of that, and it feels discouraging. I love going on long walks, and I like reading, but I also love being a chaotic dumbass, and a 30-year-old PhD student doesn’t always feel the same way.

I guess to avoid being discouraged I'll do a bit of CBT on this.

Situation: I haven’t met any high-energy chaotic friends recently.

Thoughts: I feel like I will never find friends who satisfy that niche for me, and I should just give up. I also feel like I am in the wrong for not letting my inner child die yet, and I should just thug that shit out and become a permanently mature, serious adult.

Feelings: I feel discouraged, sad, and ultimately a bit alone. I feel like my emotional needs are not met, and they will not be met.

Behavior: I don’t try to socialize or meet new people, and I end up acting in a way I don’t want to around others.

Now for a different view on the same thing:

Thoughts: It’s been a small sample size, it’s only been a few days! On top of it, if I am a grad student and I am like this, I am not the ONLY person in the world to be like this. Yeah, it might be a bit less common, but there will definitely be people like that I am looking forward to meeting them, as since it’s rare it will be that much more exciting! I can also make friends with undergrads, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Feelings: I feel a bit tired, but more at peace. I feel like things will be fine, and less ‘doomsday’ about it. Sometimes it be like that, but it doesn’t mean it will stay like that.

Behavior: I keep pushing myself to meet more people, as I realize how absurd it is to make friends in the first place. I don’t give up, and I stay my authentic self.

Shit's weird man, but I’m glad you felt good today – even if it was the medication. Proud of you Timothy Green 💖

About an hour ago I went and tried to cry in the parking lot behind a field near my new apartment. I was going to write down some shit about regret, and how I don’t want to regret not telling someone something before I don’t get a chance to again. I told a close friend I love her (platonically) today, and I’m glad I did. I texted my entire family I love them also, and it meant a lot to specifically my mom, who was struggling with her mom’s suicide.

But I’m not sad in that way anymore, and so I feel like anything I’d write would be disingenuous. So I guess I’ll ramble a bit.

I’ve been talking to two girls right now, just in the talking phase so I ethically feel fine. I honestly don’t feel that immediate aggressive spark I sometimes feel, but I think that’s a good thing, as those relationships burn out quickly. I wanted some more experience with dating, and I can’t really practice that with my “soulmate” can I?

I also feel like I’m realizing a bit more how said close friend doesn’t really care about me as much as I’d have hoped. I think this is an irrational thought, so let me CBT this in a second, but first – I’ve noticed she doesn’t read all of my messages, and she responds to messages very slowly. To me, if she texts me I prioritize that over other mundane things, and overall I do this with everyone. I hold this unrealistic metric, as I know everyone is not the same in this. But sometimes it sucks to think how someone doesn’t really want to reach out to me to tell me things, and how it’s the other way around. I think it’s unhealthy in the long run for me, as I should deal with this issue – but I do wish at least immediately she would reach out to me the same way I reach out to her. Same with my other friends. At least with other people who use stuff like TikTok, they send me videos once in a while so I know they think of me. I don’t have that assurance with this person. It sucks sometimes.

I wonder if my defense against this is to just accept it and not care. I don’t think that’s a good way of seeing life, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt as much. I sometimes just wish someone would give me the excessive care I try to give others to retroactively fix my own issues.

CBT time.

Situation: My friend doesn’t text me the same way I text her, and she doesn’t respond to my texts as fast as I respond to hers.

Thoughts: She doesn’t care about me how I care about her. I’m just not as close a friend to her as I would have thought. If she cared about me she would text me more things, and she would also respond faster the way I do. You’re an idiot for thinking people could love you the way you want. You are unloveable, but by your own standards – which are unrealistic. Nothing will change.

Feelings: I feel like shit. I also feel like she doesn’t care about me, and by extension, none of my friends care about me. I feel alone, and I feel like a loser. I feel so fucking alone. I also feel like this is all my fault, no one else is at fault for anything. This pain is on me, and me alone.

Behavior: I isolate myself from friends, and I stop reaching out to her. I also feel bad whenever I reach out to her, or text her anything. I feel upset when she doesn’t text me back within a few hours, and I just believe she doesn’t care about me. I don’t try to maintain the friendship or anything of the sort, and I self-fulfilling prophecy in my life again.

I refuse to live this way, not for anyone else – but just for me.

Thoughts: Listen you fucking idiot. Take this to heart. She DOES care about you. REBT double standard tek – think about the friends who text you first. Do you care about them any less? No. They are the friends who come naturally and don’t require effort, and god I appreciate that tremendously. Yeah it sucks that maybe she won’t reach out to you the same way, but to her nothing is wrong – so there is no reason to change. Either accept and be content with it as is, or ask her to do things differently. You can fully ASK her to reach out to you once in a while and check in on you, or you can also just reach out yourself! You have control over communication, if you want more then text her on Instagram more. But also to debunk the other thoughts:

  1. She doesn’t care about me the way I care about her – You are using a specific test to try to confirm this behavior. She has been there every time you have needed her. She has given you more than enough evidence for your own selfish therapy – at no benefit to her. She has seen your flaws and shortcomings and still values you as a close friend. BELIEVE THOSE LAST TWO WORDS IDIOT.

  2. I’m just not as close a friend to her as I thought – Honestly, you could be true here. That is not at all the end of the world, this is something you need to get the fuck over. Even Lauren mentioned scarcity, and I know this is the problem. I could be a fucking acquaintance to her, and would that change anything? No. It’s just a label that you put on things to try to monkey-patch scars from childhood. Let that sit – you could be an acquaintance to her, and nothing would change. Stop being entitled to a label or more. Want will kill any joy you have in life, and this is included. Enjoy the relationship you have instead of mourning things you don’t.

  3. If she cared about me she would text me more, and respond faster – Nice moving goalpost. Specifically in this relationship, she has her own shortcomings and flaws as a friend. That doesn’t involve you; also take a second to put yourself in her shoes. She is incredibly busy in person and in a fully new environment with new people and a full life. Think about when your life gets busy, how certain relationships attrition. She has put in EFFORT to maintain this relationship. Think about how stupid you’ve been here. Someone who is so incredibly busy is staying up and putting aside time EVERY DAY to respond to your stupid messages. If that’s not love what is? She doesn’t owe you enough to drop everything and respond while life is in full swing. This isn’t a bad thing, this is a “she does care” moment.

  4. You’re an idiot for thinking people could love you the way you want – lmao yeah I agree. Be more reasonable, and understand how stupid you can be. I know you think you’re smart and self-aware, but check yourself. Until you sit down and really take time to process through things with CBT look how fucking dumb you can be. Keep doing this, and think about things better. Do better man. Fight.

  5. You are unloveable, but by your own standards – which are unrealistic. – I’m going to take a second to look over my evidence list. RAH MAN. RAHHHH. Remember why Beth wanted the dick? Kindness. You’re loved more than you’ll be able to believe for a while. Think about how much your friends will entertain you with unreasonable things. You’re an incredible friend and more than that. People love you. Think about how many people would cry if you killed yourself lmao.

  6. Nothing will change. – Remember who you’re talking about.

Checkmate. Chin up. Take a few seconds, sit in her shoes, and weep for how stupid you’ve been.

Feelings: I’m tired since it’s 1:18 a.m., but I feel content in a weird way. It’s fine dude. A little bit of tough love today, but I want this to seep in. I feel warm, I feel ok. I feel more loved than before, especially by this friend. What I feel more than anything else, however, is a determination to change. I’m grateful to be so incredibly weak in these aspects, as if I was normal I wouldn’t have any reason to work this muscle out. But god damn will I become shredded. No rest days needed here.

Behavior: I stop acting like an insecure little bitch about it. I enjoy my interactions with her, and I don’t feel entitled to more. I also don’t feel like I need more, as I can be content with what I have. I won’t ruin this friendship but rather foster it more. I lifemaxx better.

So much for a small ramble, but goes to show how useful it is to do some daily journaling and CBT. I love you Timothy 💗, don’t forget that

A random girl on yik-yak saw my Instagram and noticed we were friends with the same person, and told me how her friend had feelings for me. I still don’t believe it for some reason, I cook up elaborate reasons on why this person doesn’t exist and how no one could have feelings for me. I genuinely think she’s lying to me. Everyone I’ve talked to has said I’m unreasonable for that, and most likely it is real. I just can’t accept it, so here I am – to CBT.

Situation: A girl told me her friend has feelings for me, and because of that she didn’t want me to find out who she was as it would give away who the friend was. She also kept mentioning how her friend would say how kind I am and how she would take it with a grain of salt, but after interacting with me believes it and has a lot of respect for me.

Thoughts: She is cooking up an elaborate scheme to not interact with me, and this was just her way out. There is no friend who has feelings for me, she just wanted an excuse to not talk to me further. People don’t and won’t have feelings for me, believing this would just be me lying to myself, and I know it.

Feelings: I feel betrayed by myself for believing I am desirable, and I feel unattractive. I feel like people could not romantically be into my personality and that people will only like me if I put on a persona.

Behavior: I just reinforce the belief from childhood that I am unloveable. I will pull away from any sort of interaction or relationship, as I believe it is not genuine and not possible. I will kill off any crush or feelings I have for people, as I do not think they could ever be reciprocated. I make this issue worse, by feeding it more.

Now for a potentially more rational take

Thoughts: Her friend has feelings for me. That’s it lol. I don’t know who the friend is, but then again I am somehow very well-known and recognized, so it could very much be someone I’m not thinking of, or even someone I am thinking of. But also, to be rational about this:

  1. A very close friend has told me I’m both attractive and a very nice person, and that they fully believe people can love me

  2. I have had several women have feelings for me, to the point of even asking me out

  3. I am now pretty hot, I’ve had multiple women approach me about it and have shown genuine interest in me

  4. I have a full list (on instruction from my therapist) of instances where women have found me attractive

  5. I think I would make a great partner, and multiple women have told me that also

So with all of this evidence, I feel like this is VERY much within reason. On top of it, even if this IS a lie, it is reasonable and believable. I can use this as prime evidence to counter-condition these thought patterns and there is no harm.

Feelings: I feel a bit apprehensive, but the fact that I know that my thought pattern is that I am unloveable, and this is just me feeling pushback against that. I feel like it’s reasonable, and even though I don’t see it I feel like it can fully be true. I want to believe it.

Behavior: I start to heal. I also allow for positive feedback and engage with the people who are interested in me. I feel better and start to address this long-seated important insecurity.

It’s not lying to yourself, you’ve been lying for so long it feels like the truth. Remember that and be strong nV 💘

So this is just going to be a fully disjointed journal entry, I fully turned off my PC planning to sleep, and forgot to do my new routine, so finally ending with this.

I guess the first thing on my mind is body dysmorphia. It’s kinda back lmao. I realized while at the gym, or looking at myself in the mirror, I can see definitive changes – but at the same time the thought pattern seared into my neural pathways reminds me that I’m unattractive. I find it funny because every single person who has seen my physique now has complimented it, typically in resoundingly genuine ways. For example, a girl from my school saw my physique today and sent me a message saying how I was hot. She ended up getting my IG and, unfortunately, turned out to be a somewhat problematic person (but that’s another story). But also, several other girls have mentioned how I’m attractive, and other guys have mentioned how I have a nice body. I haven’t had any negative feedback, and positive to resoundingly positive feedback only. But I still feel unattractive, and like nothing has changed. When I look at myself while wearing clothes, or while not flexing, I see nothing different at all. Other people do, but I genuinely don’t get it. I still feel like I’m the unwanted child.

It’s frustrating in a silly way because on the one hand, I know how I’m being completely delusional and irrational, but on the other hand, it feels pretty miserable. Feels like Sisyphus if he wasn’t strong enough to even nudge the boulder. Oh, and Sisyphus is NOT happy. I might CBT here and just hide away the other thought at the end.

Situation: I feel like nothing has visibly changed with my body unless I am either naked or revealing stuff.

Thoughts: I feel like everything is futile, and that nothing will change. I am unable to become more desirable, and the lack of feedback confirms that. I am simply just unattractive, and people could not be into me.

Feelings: I feel like shit. I also lose confidence, and will behave as someone who thinks they are undesirable. I feel ugly, and I feel unloveable.

Behavior: I self sabotage. I won’t even try to pursue relationships, and on top of that I will avoid people who are interested.

Thoughts: Problem with earlier thoughts is I HAVE resounding feedback. And it’s all good! People find me attractive now, and people genuinely are attracted to my body. People can tell the difference, even if you don’t recognize it.

Feelings: I feel better. I feel a bit more loved by myself, as it’s more reasonable to believe this even if it does feel new. I’m loveable.

Behavior: I have more confidence, I pursue people, and am open to people showing intrest towards me. I have a much better chance at a happy relationship!

I’m always surprised how logical it comes off after I just apply this framework. No gaslighting needed! Love ya feet pics ❣️

Now for another sentiment I’ve held for a bit, and hopefully they don’t read. I realized one bad trait of someone close to me is how their word doesn’t mean much. It’s usually for harmless benign things, but it does feel a bit weird and it does make it easy for anxiety to get a hold on my mind at times. It typically is pretty small, like them saying the will do something or promising something and forgetting and not following through, but for some things it does make me sad. At one point they said they would email subscribe to this blog, after I pushed myself WAY out of my comfort zone to ask them to on advice from my therapist. They never did, even though I reminded them a few times. After the whole blog post series about that, I’ve come to terms with it and am fine with it, but it does kinda suck to know that something that meant a lot to me, and that I did my best to relay how important it was becomes something that’s forgotten and another empty promise. Kinda sucks, but in another way I’m glad they’re flawed too. It’s nice to know I’m not the only fallable person sometimes, and this is in a relatively harmless way. I am a bit worried though about how if something is important to me, and means a lot like it did then – I don’t think I have a way of making sure they don’t forget without being clingy and constantly reminding them. I feel like if they knew they wouldn’t mind, but I don’t feel comfortable asking if that’s fine. I spent a lot of time and effort on their birthday present, and they said they would take it with them overseas – I really hope they did (I don’t think they did).

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