I don’t want to do that again

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about self care and my personal responsibility to take care of my mental health. I don’t want to shame people who have mental health problems that are out of their control because I know that a lot of things just can’t be prevented or changed and that it often takes experience and practice and a lot of bad times to get to the point where you can be proactive about your health.

But at this point, I’m 25 and much of my teens and early 20s were rough. I feel like those years of anxiety and depression have at least taught me some lessons about how I, personally, respond to different things. And I do feel like I have a responsibility to myself and to my loved ones to pay attention to what I’ve learned and to be as healthy as it is reasonably possible for me to be.

For instance, as my depression got better, I limited my treatment. But lately I have been feeling like I get depressed sometimes with no external trigger, so I am stepping up treatment again. And luckily I know now what treatments work best for what situations, which is the type of thing I couldn’t have known about myself without trial and error. I’m also trying to do things that make me feel good about myself, and I’m getting really serious about my exercise routine.

So this is the part where I admit to being stupid still. I’ve been anxious lately, which sucks. There are things I can do to help that and to some extent I’m doing them. But I’m still somewhat in denial. I let myself procrastinate, which is both a symptom and cause of the anxiety. I’ve also been really hesitant to take Xanax because I worry about developing a tolerance or dependency to it. But right now I think I don’t take it enough and let my anxiety get out of control too much. Yesterday I took a dose, but that was after I drank too much caffeine and gave myself a panic attack (which is an example of “I should have known better but did it anyway”).

I have a lot of experience feeling shitty. Enough to know that I want to do everything I can to not feel that way. I know I’ll never just not have depression and anxiety, but I do hope that the worst is behind me. Being mentally healthy will help me in school, socially, and in my relationship. It will also get me back to a place where I can practice non-monogamy again sooner, which is something I really want.

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In which I am an idiot

So yesterday I learned a lesson.

At our last party, Mike and another girl were semi-flirting and talking about setting up rules for a sexy party game for a small group. It never got past the theoretical “this would be fun” stage at the time, and I had pretty much forgotten about it. Then, yesterday, I was at a social event with friends and a guy who is sort of involved with that girl turned to me and asked me a question about when it would happen or what it would be or something. I was confused because I hadn’t heard anything about it for a couple of weeks. Then he told me that the girl had mentioned to him that she and Mike had been emailing each other about it. He was asking for details because he assumed that Mike had told me and I would know things about it.

Well, I was pretty startled and when I went home I was upset. Why hadn’t Mike told me about this? I felt betrayed and nervous that Mike had been keeping secrets. It seemed so uncharacteristic of him that I felt very shaken. Basically I spent the rest of the night worrying.

Eventually Mike got home. He could immediately tell that I was upset and he asked me what was wrong. I explained what I had heard and asked if it was true. I can’t remember exactly how he acted, if he was amused or hurt or what, but he immediately explained that he had sent her a one-sentence message to the effect of “We should make this a thing” and she responded “Absolutely!” and that was about it. He hadn’t thought to tell me about it yet because there was nothing to tell. When he said that I was relieved, but I immediately realized how stupid I had been, so it took me a few minutes to actually cheer up.

I’ve been thinking about it since then, and I know I have no one but myself to blame. Mike didn’t do anything wrong. Our friend wasn’t trying to cause trouble, he just assumed he was bringing up things I already knew, but the extent of the plans had become muddled in translation. I was the one who assumed things were worse than they were. I knew that keeping secrets from me would be uncharacteristic of Mike. If I had just realized that I didn’t know the whole story and resolved not to worry about it until I found out if there was anything to worry about, my evening would have been a lot more pleasant.

I know this story doesn’t paint me in the best light, and I’m honestly pretty ashamed about it. But I’m sharing it because I think it carries some important points. For one thing, if someone has always been trustworthy in the past, don’t jump to assume that they are breaking your trust without solid evidence. Furthermore, keeping speculation to a minimum and practicing calm, open communication can prevent so much conflict and stress.

I’m lucky that Mike was so understanding about it and that he wasn’t offended. He knew that my anxiety jumped in and took over. In face, when I think about it in the cold light of day, even the worst case scenario that I was thinking of last night was that he was planning a sex party, which I would certainly be attending, without notifying me early enough. Even my anxiety-nightmare was still not the end of the world. I’m also lucky that it only took such a minor incident to remind me of what my journalism professors used to love telling me: When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.

Get your party guests naked

In my last post, I mentioned having some people over and playing some games. After I wrote it, I figured I should share the magic of our favorite adult party game. We found this at a fetish party a couple of years ago and adopted it as our own. We call it Kinky Jenga, although you can modify it for an orgy game, a drinking game or a getting-to-know you game.

You will need:

  • A set of Jenga blocks
  • Markers
  • Poster board

Here’s what you do:

  1. Take your Jenga pieces and, using the marker, number them from one to 54. Write the number on the long part of the block, so that you can’t see which number it is when they are all stacked up in the tower.
  2. On your poster board, make a numbered list of 54 tasks. We have ones like “Lick the nipples of the person next to you,” “take a spanking from everyone in the room” or “sit out the next round in a hog tie.”
  3. Set up the Jenga tower and start to play.
  4. Each time a player pulls a block, she or he must perform the task of the corresponding number after stacking the block at the top of the tower. If anyone is unwilling to do the task, they take 10 hits with a paddle.
  5. The person who knocks over the tower takes 15 hits with a paddle.

Anyway, it’s not rocket science, but it’s a fun little game that can escalate a party and get people to participate. And by numbering the blocks, you can change the rules each time you play.

Yeah, I’m kind of a badass

When Mike and I first decided to be monogomish for a while, I was determined to spend that time thinking and pondering and philosophizing until I was the most confident, least monogamous person ever. But then, for a long time, I didn’t. I’ve had a lot of other things going on, some good and some bad, and I just needed a break from thinking about jealousy and insecurity. Instead I focused a lot on other aspects of my life and making myself happier in general.

Apparently giving myself some time to be a healthier person without worrying about my old fears and hang-ups was exactly what I needed.

Last week, we had a few friends over. I happened to be having some neck/back/shoulder problems, so I was pretty drugged up and spent the evening sitting on the couch with a supportive neck pillow. But I was glad to have company, because I’d been feeling pretty bored. Everyone started playing a sort of kinky-type game, but I couldn’t participate because I couldn’t move much. At first it was fine: I became the rules arbitrator and chatted while they played. But as the night wore on, watching Mike get to do lightly kinky, pants-on play with other girls while I couldn’t participate started to feel kind of shitty. Instead of spiraling into self-pity and resentment and acting weird for the rest of the evening, I was able to talk to myself and relax a bit. I was still jealous, but it stayed at a low level where I was still more or less OK. After a little while, I started to feel like if I kept watching I would feel worse. So I told our guests that my meds were making me sleepy and I went into the bedroom and read a book on my Kindle.

After everyone went home, Mike came in and we talked. I was feeling grumpy and left out, so I was a little prickly at first, but we talked until we were on the same page. He reassured me a little and I went to bed happy. I know that all of this sounds so minor. And it really is a silly thing to worry about, like, God forbid he touches breasts that aren’t mine, but watching him flirt and touch other women in front of me would have been a much, much bigger deal just a few months ago.

This was the first time I’ve had to deal with jealousy since we reorganized things and the fact that I handled it better than I would have before made me feel optimistic that we can eventually have a successful transition back into non-monogamy. Even though parts of that evening were hard for me, I’m really glad that it happened because I woke up the next day feeling pleased with myself for my progress.