I'm an Aussie who moved to Ottawa, Canada in 2008. I'm always having a moan about something. This is where I moan and whinge about things. Enjoy.
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
OK, so first off I was going to write a post about a parking ticket I'm taking to court, but at the moment I don't really care about that. I also wasn't going to write about this subject at all, but I'm having a shitty time with it, and I'm either going to write this post, or I'm just going to have pay tons of money to talk to a psychiatrist again.
Hopefully this post reads coherently, I've just sat up all night writing it. I also hope that anyone referred to in here doesn't get upset, if you read this and do, I apologise, I've tried to keep it as vague as possible, and no names are mentioned.
Over the last few years, I've discovered I have some strange issues when it comes to interacting with other people. I have anxiety when talking to most people in anything other than a professional work related situation, and while I'm not as bad now, I used to have crippling shyness when speaking to single women.
ie Raj from Big Bang Theory, who's unable to speak to women without drinking, he's a popular culture representation of a disorder called "Love-shyness".
Girls had never taken any interest in me, or at least none that I could tell, so when they did, I immediately felt far more attachment to them immediately than I should have.
As Jim Carey's character Joel says in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; "Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?" Which pretty much sums it up.
Back in 2006, I was pretty unhappy with things. I was 24, and I'd only had one brief relationship, in 2001 when I was 19, which had caused me so much stress from my crippling shyness, and the drama the girl or her father were constantly causing me, that I ended up giving myself a psychosomatic liver disorder. I was in the shower one morning, and I was trying to work out why my skin was a tone somewhere in between yellow and green.
I took myself to the doctor for a series of tests, they couldn't work it out, other than telling me that it was jaundice, what the cause was. I did some research, and found "Gilbert's Syndrome", which I went back and asked about, they did some more tests, and confirmed my diagnosis.
Apparently it meant I had limited liver function, so I wasn't suppose to consume alcohol, or greasy food, or a bunch of other things. It turned out it was completely mental.. when the broken relationship I was in finally broke down completely and ended (by her dumping me), all those issues went away, and I went back to my previous diet with no issues whatsoever.
So in 2006, I decided to make some changes. I tagged along with my best friend on a tour of North America, and as I'd spent some time researching and reading how to deal with my chronic shyness, I decided to put some of the theories I'd read into practice. One of those theories was that I could try to not be shy, and try to talk to women, but by doing it in a completely foreign environment, if anything went wrong, it wouldn't matter, because I'd never be there or see any of those people again.
I went through the itinerary we had planned; Montreal, NYC, Las Vegas, LA, Seattle, Vancouver, Honolulu, and home. I got on a dating site, and I browsed girls' profiles in each of these cities, and I sent messages to a girl in each city, introducing myself, telling them my situation; that I would be travelling to their city for a few days and I was interested in taking them out for a coffee or a drink and a chat, in return for them giving me some tips on things to see and do in their cities while I was there.
Only 1 girl responded positively. Others either said they weren't interested, didn't actually live in the city, or didn't reply at all. Due to the timezone differences, I didn't get to speak to that girl much in the following weeks before travelling over, but briefly enough that it seemed like we were getting on.
Weeks later, after visiting Montreal, I'm in NYC, things were setup for me to meetup with her one night. I went to visit a friend I know in Upstate NY, but didn't realise that due to the distance I wasn't going for a daytrip and would be up there overnight, and due to my shyness and anxiety about the whole thing, I didn't want to explain to my friend what was going on, so I didn't get back down to the city in time, and I didn't ask to use his phone (since there's no mobile coverage), and so I stood her up.
I felt really bad, and figured that I'd screwed all that up, and I might as well just give up and continue on the rest of my trip. When I got back to the city, I was feeling sorry for myself, and really guilty about what I'd done, and my best friend intervened, he took my phone and called the girl up, and sorted things out for me, which there's no way I could have done.
She agreed to come out and meet up with me, on my last night before flying to Las Vegas. We met up for coffee in Times Square, and even though I was only there to have a chance to practice talking to a single woman, I fell in love with her.
We flew to Las Vegas the next day, then on to LA, Seattle, and Vancouver each few days. I couldn't stop thinking about her. Finally, in Vancouver, after just having arrived there, I decided I really wanted to see her again. I offered to fly her to Hawaii to hang out for the few days I'd be there with my friend (which in hindsight seems a really creepy offer to make to someone you've only met once for a coffee), which she gracefully declined. I decided to go back to NYC instead of spending time in Vancouver, so the next morning I got up early, went to the airport, booked a flight at the check in counter (who does that?) and I flew back to NYC.
She thought I was crazy for doing that, and looking back, I think I was too. We met up, and spent a day together wandering around NYC, and I felt great. I was feeling some of my normal shyness and anxiety issues, but they weren't terrible, I pushed through them, and was only slightly awkward. We went for a drink that night before parting ways.
When I got back to the hostel where I was staying, I felt awful. I had the worst anxiety attack I think I've ever had in my life. I think all the stuff I'd pushed through all day had just come back to bite me. I was up all night vomiting, I couldn't hold water down, ended up vomiting up bile, and I couldn't sleep. I finally passed out around 8am for about 1/2 hour from exhaustion. When I woke up again feeling like I was going to die, I took myself to the hospital.
I was so dehydrated they had to inject me with 2 litres of saline solution to rehydrate me, they gave me an anti nausea injection to stop me vomiting, performed an ultrasound on my liver to work out what was wrong with it (they couldn't find anything, because perhaps they should have tried scanning my head), gave me a sandwich, charged me $600, and sent me on my way.
I didn't tell them what the actual cause of my issue was, because I was embarrassed. I passed it off as being travel fatigue, since I'd been travelling for over 2 weeks at that point, drinking a bit, not getting much sleep due to being in different timezones constantly etc.
I met up with the girl again after leaving the hospital. I had been starving, but when I went with her to a diner to get some dinner, my anxiety and shyness came back, and I lost my appetite. That went on to happen every time I spent any time with her.
I left NYC the next day, flew to Hawaii for a day, and then home. I didn't want to be home. I wanted to be in NYC, spending time with her and working on my anxiety and shyness issues. We kept in touch, a few weeks later she told me she'd started seeing someone, which I got really upset about, which really didn't make sense.
I let the contact lapse at that point, to try to separate myself and get over it. A couple of weeks later we started talking again, and we were talking for hours almost every day or night (due to the timezone differences).
While I had this interaction going on, I used it as an excuse to not attempt to pursue any relationships locally. A girl I worked with expressed some interest in me, but I brushed it off, which I later came to regret.
After a couple of months of almost daily conversations, I decided I wanted to be with her, and I did, but I think I was also using that as an excuse to change a lot of things in my life that I wasn't happy with. I didn't feel like I was going anywhere, I was stuck in a rut, sick of my job, not achieving anything.
I went through trying to work out how to move to NYC, there was no visas I could get that would allow me to work there, I could only be a tourist for 3 months. I found I could get a visa for Canada easily though, which would allow me to stay for a year, and work in Canada. I figured by doing that, I could move to Canada, work there, and commute down to NYC a few times a month to be with her.
I put in my application, and had my Canadian Working Holiday Program visa issued in January of 2007. I was ready to leave, but I couldn't because of work commitments. These dragged on, I really wanted to leave, and go be with her, but I couldn't, I felt trapped, and in April or May I ended up having a minor breakdown, and being diagnosed with depression, and put on anti-depressant medication.
In June, I went back to NYC to visit. I wasn't sure what the deal was with the guy she'd started seeing, I didn't ask, and she didn't tell me. I had my anxiety issues again, but they were manageable, and I'd even been skipping taking my medication to see if I could function. I went back home, and we continued conversing.
I continued working towards finalising my job, and preparing to move to Canada. When I would explain to people what I was doing, I usually didn't include all the details. When I did, people told me that I was making a mistake. I felt that I knew better than them, since I was blinded by the way I felt about her. I should have listened to what people told me.
I pushed on, I got everything organised, sold, gave away or got rid of almost everything I owned, loaded what I could in a backpack, and off I went to Canada in January of 2008. I got here, I got settled, doing all of this forced me to deal with my anxiety issues in talking to people, and that's one thing I don't regret, because I'm a hell of a lot better with dealing with that stuff now than I ever was before.
In February of 2008 I went back down to NYC to see her. She told me that she was still seeing the guy. I then in a passive aggressive way gave her an ultimatum, by way of leaving, and telling her I wasn't going to talk to her for a while. I came back to Canada, and I realised I'd made a huge mistake. Here I was with no reason to be here, but no real reason to go back to Australia either. I also felt that by giving up and going home, I'd be admitting defeat. As long as I was still in Canada, my efforts hadn't been a complete failure.
I spent the next few months in a funk. I had managed to find a few friends here, but really didn't have any purpose, and was just floating along. Then one day she popped up, said she was breaking up with the guy, and wanted to start talking to me again. This gave me purpose again, and perhaps a way to avoid having my efforts all turn out to be a failure.
We started talking again, I'd been trying to find reasons to be here, was working on getting a motorcycle, and finding volunteer opportunities to give me something useful to do with my time. She invited me to come visit Iowa for July 4, so I cancelled my volunteer shifts with a music festival I'd signed up for, got my bike ready, and off I went.
We met up in Iowa, things seemed to go well, albeit me with my appetite issues as usual when around her. I told her I was going to find a way to move to NYC so we could see how things went with me being there. She said she wanted some time on her own first, which I agreed to, even though it was a really hard thing to do, when I all I wanted was to be with her.
I continued on my motorcycle tour of the US and Canada, over the next 6 weeks I went from Iowa to San Diego, up to Vancouver, and back to Ottawa. Once I was back, in September, I got all my stuff together, gave notice on the place I was renting, loaded up on my bike, and headed to NYC and find somewhere to rent, even though I wasn't supposed to be living there.
After being there for a couple of days, and her acting all weird around me, leading me to try to work out what I was doing wrong, she told me she'd been seeing someone else casually in between me having seen her in Iowa, and moving to NYC. She'd only just ended that, and wanted some time to herself.. the time I'd already given her.
That was the final straw. I loaded up my bike again, and headed back to Ottawa. I felt like shit. The awful failure feeling I'd gone through already came back again, but this time worse, since it was final.
I spent October and November in a completely useless state. My Canadian visa was going to run out at the end of January. Since I still felt I had nothing to go back to in Australia, and still didn't want to have to admit defeat by going home, I decided to renew my visa and stay in Canada.
In December I was hanging out with a friend, and a friend of hers. She showed interest in me, but I was in no state to be pursuing anything, so I didn't, but the interest stayed in the back of my mind.
I went to the UK for Xmas and New Years 2008/2009, as a change of scenery and to try to get things back on track. The girl who'd expressed interest and I starting corresponding while I was away, and I started to feel for her more than I probably should have, since I barely knew her.
When I came back to Ottawa in January we started hanging out, but because I was still in a rough state from what I'd gone through, I said I wasn't ready yet, and that I was interested, but that I needed some time. That didn't come across the right way, she got upset, and we broke up.
My mental state declined. My medication wasn't working. I couldn't sleep. I didn't know what to do, I felt helpless, but I didn't want to ask for help. After a couple of weeks of not sleeping, I was in a really rough state. At about 3am one night I put some vague Facebook status up like "I'm a lost cause", quoting Beck's song from the SeaChange album, and I finally fell asleep.
My parents saw this, tried calling me, I didn't answer, since I'd finally fallen asleep, probably from exhaustion after weeks of getting about 15 minutes/night sleep. They called the police, they kept trying to call me again, eventually it woke me up, I answered, I was confused, I thought I was in a hostel in Montreal.
The police came out, they spoke to me a while, and decided I needed to be taken to the hospital. I was taken there, and over the next few hours they took all my stuff away, interviewed me, and told me that I either needed to admit myself for psychiatric evaluation, or they were going to involuntarily commit me, as they felt I couldn't be trusted on my own not to harm myself, and that I was having a nervous breakdown.
I spent a day in intensive care being monitored, the admissions for the psych ward apparently weren't open until the next day. I was then transferred into the psych ward for 4 days, while they gave me all sorts of medications, and I spoke to different psychiatrists and psychologists.
Not having any health coverage in Canada, this ended up costing over $10000.
I spent the next few months on different drugs and attending followup sessions with a psychologist and psychiatrist, but these were about $80 each, and so I stopped going, maybe I should have gone a little longer.
I got back together with the girl I'd been seeing a little while after I came out of the hospital, since I knew she was still interested in me, but after a few months back with her, including a couple of months away, while I motorcycled across the US and Canada for a second time, I realised I had a new issue, and that was that I couldn't really feel anything for her, and certainly not what she felt for me.
I knew when I first got back together I wasn't feeling anything, which was worrying, but I thought that if I just gave it some time, then I would start to feel something for her. After 6 months, I realised this wasn't the case, and this made me feel guilty. I was wasting her time.
I explained this and ended our relationship, and I decided I still wasn't ready to be in one. I spent the next year single, and I concentrated on trying to just make friends, and be able to function without all my anxiety issues, and to overcome my shyness, which had improved, but still had some way to go.
About a year later, in mid 2010, I met an another girl, and I actually managed to initiate that, rather than it being a result of her showing interest in me, for the first time. We started a relationship, but instead of shyness and anxiety being my major issues, I now had to deal with not being able to feel anything, and with some trust issues thrown in for good measure.
This caused a lot of friction between us, and while I understood why, and tried explaining, it didn't fix the issue. We decided to take a break.
I'd recently started my first job in Canada, and one of the girls I was working with there was showing interest in me. I initially ignored it, since she was a bit younger than me, and now knew of my new trust and feelings issues, but this just seemed to encourage her more.
A situation ended up occurring between us which probably shouldn't have, which she instigated, and then when I tried to find out if she was interested in pursuing a relationship, she had no interest in that, and the rejection of that caused me to resent her, which went on to cause a major shitstorm at work of gossip and lies, and I ended up having to quit that job when she started threatening to make unfounded claims of sexual harassment against me, just because I was trying to apologise to her.
I was still talking with the girl I was on a break from, and when I told her what was going on, she supported me, and we ended up getting back together. After a few months more, it ended up being a repeat of the first time, I still couldn't feel anything, she got angry at me for that and in early 2011 she dumped me.
At that point I pretty much gave up on attempting a relationship, figuring that now that I'd dealt with most of my shyness and anxiety issues, I could start relationships where I felt nothing for the other person, and that was even worse than being single, since now I was wasting someone's time, and toying with their emotions, which isn't fair.
Another year and a bit later, during which time I just concentrated on work and minding my own business rather than trying to start broken relationships, in mid 2012, I met a nice girl through a mutual friend. She showed some interest, and I immediately had feelings for her.
I thought this was a good thing, that maybe I was finally ready to have a functional relationship. After going on a couple of dates with her, which were a little awkward because some of my shyness and anxiety issues had come back, she told me she just wanted to be friends, and that really sucked, because I liked her, and had feelings for her, and I'd been excited about finally having a good relationship.
It took me a long time to get over that, too long. I went on a couple of dates shortly after that, but I didn't feel anything for them, because I still had feelings for her, which makes no sense. I gave up again, feeling broken and hopeless.
As you might have picked up from my recent posts and behaviour, I've just gone through this again, another year and a half later.
Going into as little detail as possible about it, a girl I've known and liked for a couple of years expressed some interest, and I went all in with my feelings again for no good reason (or maybe because I've been single for 3 years now, and everything's reverted back). The result of this was that I then ended up becoming really jealous due to my trust issues, nearly causing me to have another nervous breakdown and we hadn't even been on a date, let-alone been in a relationship.
All this has now lead me to go back to reanalyse everything, hence why I wrote this out, and to try to understand what the hell's going on. I have no issues putting this all out in the open, and I hope no one else does, but I'm sick of bottling it all up and carrying it around. Most people around me have been subjected to hearing bits and pieces of all this anyway.
I almost need to put together some Venn diagrams here. I can either have shyness, anxiety, feelings, or trust issues, or any combination of the above. I've also made some bad decisions in the past.
On top of all this, I've been doing a lot of reading recently, and I think I'm a "Highly Sensitive Person", and I have some neuroticism to go with it.
I guess now I'm going to spend the next year and bit working on how to cope with these traits, and find some way to manage them, along with my shyness, anxiety, potential lack of emotional feelings, and trust issues, and then perhaps I'll be ready to try having a relationship again :-S
Maybe I just need a new drug,
One that won't keep me up all night
One that won't make me sleep all day
One that won't make me nervous
Wonderin' what to do
One that won't make me feel too bad
One that won't make me feel too good
One with no doubt
One that won't make me talk too much
Or make my face break out