Thursday, June 15, 2017

I don't like...

I'm just recovering from bronchitis. Last week passed in a blur. I worked most days, had a fever most nights, took lots of pain reliever/fever reducer medication, got the most essential schoolwork done, and watched Netflix. I was sick enough that OCD usually left me alone.

This week, I'm feeling better. Which means OCD/anxiety/depression re-enter the picture. The monsters. Today, I took off work to get more schoolwork done. And what do I do first off? I sleep through nearly the entire morning. It is quite probable that this sleep will help me get over bronchitis, thus not being a waste of time. But there is enough of a possibility that I wasted time that my anxiety has stepped in. What if sleeping in was the wrong choice? What if my boss would judge me for how I spent my time off? My coworkers? What if I don't get my homework done on time or turn in sloppy work because I wasted too much time? What if I was wrong to cancel seeing my friend with a very young baby? What if my cough isn't contagious? What if I'm just selfish wanting to get more homework done this afternoon? What if my friend reads this? I really do have a cough. I really don't think it is a bad idea to wait another week before hanging out with a very young baby. I really also want to get schoolwork done.

I don't like anxiety. I don't like being tired. I don't like coughing until my head aches and I fear I will gag. I don't like the feeling of a shadow hanging over my life.

I don't like wondering if I was wrong about the whole mental illness thing. I don't like wondering if it is just spiritual warfare and I should just be praying it off. I don't like feeling alone and cut-off because I'm not like my friends even though they think I am. I don't like wondering if I am making a cosmic mistake.

This is when I should start into gratitude stuff, I bet. Being thankful that I at least got the day off. That I got to sleep 12 hours. That my fever is gone. That according to the calendar, I'm half way done with this summer session. That somehow, things are going to work out again.

That is all probably true, but so is that I am behind on homework, ready for another nap, needing a shower (and those are something I almost always dread). Well, I'm off to stare at my homework again. Enjoy any sunshine that gets through your clouds.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy "Just-in-case-you-need-a-reminder-that-you-still-don't-have-a-kid-even-though-you-want-one" Day

Last night, I dreamed that someone broke into my garage. They mixed my stuff up and even took the garage door down. And they left me a baby. I called the police, and they already knew I had the baby. I was given a contract to sign, but I got to keep the baby, at least for now.

And not too long later, I woke up, and it was Mother's Day. People are funny (funny strange). Some call every women a mother of some sort, which I can sort of go for. Someone called my job (childcare worker) that of being a professional mom. I know it is very different from having your own kids, but I can complain about potty training, too. Or putting sunscreen on toddlers. Etc. Then there is the person at church who hands you the gift being given to all mothers. I looked at her strangely because I didn't put it together that it was for mother's day. She said, "We have enough for you to have one, too." And she is a wonderful lady, and I am certain she did not in anyway mean to make me feel like an "other," but she did. I got a gift because they had extra ones. (Actually, that isn't true; I'm pretty sure that the originators of the gift meant it for every woman in the church. This lady just managed to pick less than ideal wording.) And then there are all the people that treat you as your pet's mother. I'm not my pets' mother. One of my pets is the other one's mother, but I'm neither mother nor grandmother. I'm more of a zookeeper. Hopefully the good kind that takes good care of the animals.

So, yeah, there is the Mother's Day issue.

Then there is the "You no longer fit in the young adult group at church" issue. Granted, hanging out with kids just out of high school assured me that in truth, I did not fit in this group any more. But you know what is next? The singles group that runs from as early as you are willing to come to all the way through, well, when you die, or are in poor enough health that you can't make it, or something like that. I went once with a friend and we sat with people old enough to be our fathers. I went again, and sat at a table with women most of whom could have been my mother. Not saying they shouldn't have a place. Maybe the singles group belongs to their stage. But just what are we supposed to do when we are too old for "young adult" groups and too young for "singles" groups at church? If you haven't met someone by the time you graduate from "young adult group," are you just stuck until you are in your fifties? Or maybe for that ten or twenty years, you should depend on bars or online dating?

Well, I really like complaining, but it isn't exactly a desirable trait. So maybe I should... well, I could clean, but that's not happening. Maybe watch another movie. Who knows.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Putting together puzzles

It has been a while. I guess I got tired of blogging for a while. We'll see how well I like coming back.

I started putting puzzles together again. I used to think that 500 piece puzzles were too hard, but I did one yesterday and one today, so maybe those unrelated graduate classes are paying off.

Change coming my way again. I struggle with change. My depression thinks it is the perfect opportunity to launch another attack of depressed cognitive distortions. And my anxiety - well, it is hard to keep track of that. Maybe it's taking a vacation.

I'm hungry because I decided to eat cereal for supper. Silly me, I know better. But it was yummy. Unfortunately, now I'll have to eat something more substantial after 10pm at night, which the doctor does not recommend for acid reflux. Of course, I'm eating for my brain and to stop feeling nauseous (although I've heard that sometimes the nauseousness is actually acid reflux, not hunger).

I'm putting puzzles together because it takes up my full brain. Because wading through my thoughts is an intimidating thought, kind of like cleaning my house is intimidating. Although cleaning just might be easier. Anyway, "they say" not to stuff my feelings, so how about I write several disjointed paragraphs and act like that is getting my feelings out.

I've reached that, "I'm tired" state that is more than tired. It is weary. Weary of the daily struggle. Therefore, I sit and watch preschool tv shows or kids' movies while putting puzzles together. I like problems to resolve in 22 minutes, although within two hours is okay, too.

Tomorrow, it is back to teaching. Back to being patient. Back to trying not to eat too many chocolates that somebody very sweetly gave me for teacher appreciation day. Back to doing my best throughout the work day and coming home exhausted. The plus side is that at least I won't have schoolwork to do. Not until after Memorial Day, at which point I have signed up for a very optimistic number of classes. I really want to finish this degree. Or give up. But mostly finish the degree. Dear brain, please don't betray me. I know I ask a lot from you, but I don't know what else to do. The degree will let me keep doing what I love while being more financially stable, hopefully. That will be good for you, brain, to not have to weigh each purchase you make, to not have to depend on gifts to get by. Brain, you can do this. Just go take a shower and go to bed. Oh, and eat somewhere in there. You are strong. You can do this.

Actually, I'm wondering about that whole, "You are strong" argument. I'm considering something else, like, "You are weak right now, so I'll ask as little of you as possible and take as good care of you as I know how, and somehow we'll get through this." Maybe it would work better. Because I get tired of hearing myself tell myself that I am strong.

Well, if you are reading this, I hope you got something from it. I got a little more calm, so I think that is a success. I feel like my mental health is on the fence, easily tipping into trouble or into doing pretty fine. And I feel like I might have some say in which way I fall or if I fall, but I'm not sure how much say, or even if I would use as much say as I have.

I find that when you cannot solve the questions of the evening, it just might be time to go to bed. Which can require a lot of effort. Showering? Yuck. Feeding guinea pigs? Bother. Flossing teeth? Time consuming. Brushing teeth? All that water and toothpaste dripping... And then there is still taking medications - do that before brushing teeth since one of my pills usually feels stuck in my throat, so I eat afterwards - which I needed to do anyway since supper wasn't enough. And putting on chapstick. And setting alarm clocks and checking them. And hand cream, and devotional reading (I don't mind short), and some silly game to put my brain to sleep (twenty questions with a robot/toy or a rubiks cube). And then trying to sleep. And then having to wake up the next morning. Ugh! So much work. But tomorrow afternoon I can put together another puzzle.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

choosing peace? (warning, contains some election politics thoughts)

There is plenty rattling around in my head right now. One category is election results. Four years ago, I supported a democratic president, as I did two days ago (gasp). But eight years? I can't remember for sure, but I think I voted republican. Do you realize how inconvenient this is? If I had stuck with the same party, only this election or the one eight years ago would disappoint me. But since I switched parties, I'm doubly disappointed (although I was happy with the results four years ago). So just being pragmatic, be careful about switching sides, because the presidency typically switches back and fourth between the democrats and the republicans, with grave voter concern about the potentially devastating results.

Of course, this election is supposed to be "worse." But I'm thinking part of that is because this election is now, while the others are passed. That doesn't explain all of it, but it may explain some of it.

And then, there is the fact that 6 or 7 or 8 years ago, I was terrified of "Obamacare." Now, I'm one of the people who benefits significantly from it. And now, I'm afraid of it being repealed. Will I have to give up my preferred psychiatrist? Stop seeing my beloved counselor? Change medications, risking a decent into suicidal ideation day in, day out until we find the next passable solution?

And that ties into my health insurance worries, independent of the elections. The plans changed this year. I was afraid I would have to change counselors and psychiatrists, since I cross state lines to visit them. After talking to an adviser yesterday, I know that two companies would let me keep seeing them, probably. But the Seroquel XR dose that I'm on? One company has a Step Therapy requirement, and the other doesn't even have Seroquel on its formulary. So now I get to call the two companies and see if I have to change this medication that has been helping me for 6 years (presumably, but we never really know for 100% sure that any improvement or lack of deterioration is from a specific medicine, especially when we take multiple medications for the same illness). I have to compare whether each company requires prior authorization for counseling, and what those requirements might be. And somehow, at the end, I have to choose one, knowing that one option will cost me twice as much monthly as the other (although I might save more in another area). And I have to choose it before too long, because there are deadlines.

And that ties into my struggle over "still" seeing my counselor. See, the insurance company I am with this year had this brilliant (NOT!) idea of averaging out how many counseling appointments people with various mental health diagnoses generally used. Then, after I had used up most of the lesser quantity (they had two quantities and I should have qualified for the greater quantity, but whatever), they sent me a note saying that "most people" with my diagnosis wouldn't need to keep going to counseling.

That, and the fact that I had a couple good weeks during the summer where I started to get close to being ready to space my appointments out two weeks, brought the whole issue up. I think my counselor hasn't quite understood me, but I felt understood by her last night. She wants to support me if I want to decrease frequency of appointments, so she kept stating that we could try it, and if it didn't work, we could go back to full time. But I finally communicated that I don't want to decrease appointments right now and said that was fine with her. I've been fretting over making myself decrease appointments. I've been angry with myself when I've been too hesitant to actually do it. I've been angry that I'm not as strong as I wish I was. I've wondered if I am just lazy. But last night, my counselor and I agreed to table the concern. I said for a little bit, she said I could table it forever. Not as in, I had to see her every week forever, but that I can stop dealing with this self-imposed guilt trip over weekly appointments. I cannot express how relieved I am to stop worrying about it. I'm just not ready to stop seeing her weekly, and that is okay. Of course, I still have OCD and excellent anxiety skills, so I expect to fight through this some more.

But sometimes I can rest and take care of myself and trust myself that I'm not just being lazy. And it is such a relief.

So lots of anxiety-provoking stuff in my world, but I'm trusting that I'm going to be all right. Now for watching TV... :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

limits

I don't want my mental illness to slow me down. Ever. To impose limits on what I can "handle" without too many adverse side effects.

But that is not my reality. I'm struggling through the semester, doing great on paper, but not so great in person. I usually work seven hour days, but today, I took off work to do 5 hours of observation instead (I got to sleep in!). By the time I got home, my digestive system rebelled. So then I spent several hours deleting e-mails from one of my e-mail accounts. I deleted thousands of e-mails. And I did a little tiny bit of homework. And I watched TV. I love my TV time. And random internet searches. Meanwhile, my stomach slowly settled mostly down. And while it tried to settle, I wondered if I was sick, if I will be contagious tomorrow. I'm thinking it isn't contagious, but I really can't know for sure.

Basically, mental illness gets in my way from working as many hours as I would like, from studying as much as I would like, from coping with life as well as I'd like. And sometimes I push the hours and studying anyway, but guess what; I pay for it in my mental health. The depression and/or the anxiety is like, "Yippee! An excuse to get worse!"

And I get more and more tired,

So do I just plow through and get the degree while not being healthy for the next year and a half? Might the degree be worth it? It should help the financial and job opportunities if I can finish the degree.

I was afraid of not finishing. That was one reason I put off starting a master's degree. In deleting thousands of e-mails, I went back a couple years, and I've been toying with the master's degree plan for three or four years, but didn't commit until May. And now? Making progress, while placing too great of demands on my medications, therapy, and myself.

:(

Well, now for searching for the most edible food, least likely to cause another stomach rebellion...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Perfectionism entering the fair

I had a hobby whereby I entered something in the fair every year, usually trying a new category, too. Last year, I missed. I might have missed the year before, too.

But this year, fair entering time perfectly coincided with my summer class ending and my fall classes not yet starting. So while I was still used to putting concentrated work in after my regular job, I made some crafts.

I enjoy being creative and making things that look nice. But I also don't like messing things up. The duct tape purse had some sticky moments, but turned out mostly a success, with one particularly annoying error, but I literally ran out of that print of duct tape and was not going to buy more (assuming I could even find it again). So the error persists. But maybe the judges wont notice.

Card making was a little more difficult. I would put off starting working on it because I didn't want to mess things up. And when you are sticking things together, sometimes you get a re-positioning option, but other times the paper is too thin or the glue/tape is too sticky. And then, some of those times, it doesn't go down like I want it to. But I managed three cards and might finish one more tonight or tomorrow before I enter them in the fair. I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to risk mistakes if I wanted to make something nice.

Then, being particularly ambitious this year, I wanted to enter photography, too. Now, this category is especially tricky, because cost enters the picture. I printed out a landscape picture. I really liked it on Saturday. Today, only two days later, well, it is nice, but I am more doubtful that it could win anything. I also printed a photo of stuffed animals, which I carefully set up and repeatedly took pictures of, finally choosing one. It is fine. Might even be good. I think the competition was a little less in the still life category than some of the others (aka landscape, flowers, and such), so I might have a shot. I printed each of these two photos only once, and purchased mats for not too much. Totaling around $9. Not great, not horrid.

And then there were photos of my guinea pigs. First, I cropped two pictures too small so that they were enlarged too big, so that they were not crisp on the details. Cute, but not very good. Then, I was like, no, I'll just stop now. I don't need to enter guinea pig photos. I'll be content not entering them. Then I changed my mind. I really wanted to enter them. I didn't want to regret not entering them, like I regret not entering a photo of baby goats last year (or the year before; I forget). So I reprinted one, not blowing it up any more than necessary for the size specifications for the fair. Still not clear and sharp, and it wasn't centered right. So I took half a million more photos of my two guinea pigs. But unlike the stuffed animals, they moved around and got irritated and one even got snippy with the other. And they produced animal red-eye often, when I used the flash, but were usually fuzzy when I didn't use flash. They don't exactly stay very still unless they are sleeping, and they tend to sleep far from each other, while I wanted them together. I kept trying to choose between detail and good composition, but I was unsettled, so I kept taking more pictures. Finally, I printed another one. It is sharp/clear enough. Very nice that way. Composition is so-so. But then, when taping it onto the mat, I was very slightly off center, which worsened the composition balance. Frustration mounting, I tried to pull it up, knowing it almost certainly wouldn't work. I stopped when it started to tear the photo. So now, not only is it off balance (slightly), it also has a tiny tear (most people probably wont notice). And when I tried to press it down with my fingernail, I added a line... (again, most people probably wont notice). And one of the guinea pigs is sporting purple eyes - basically her version of human red-eye, although the angle produced purple. So this photo of my piglets, which is sentimentally the most important to me, isn't quite right. I guess I could spend two and a half more dollars trying to get it right, but when do I stop?

So that's me tonight. Anxious about tiny details. But what if that tiny tear costs me a ribbon? (Who cares that much, really?) And it being off balance, what if that bothers me for the rest of my life - I mean however long I decide to hang it up for? That is a bit silly, because I actually don't care that much if my pictures are hung straight. So it is really an artist issue, not strictly a positioning issue. Not that my anxiety issues care too much about the difference. They seem to jump on any opportunity to build anxiety.

On a positive note, I was super anxious about two hours ago. And it finally receded! And now it is building again. Stupid anxiety! Do I take my as-needed medication or not? Because you are supposed to teach yourself that you can get through anxiety, like I did earlier this evening. But on the other hand, if I take the medication, I'll probably be more relaxed well into tomorrow. Like probably into the afternoon. My theory is that it cuts the anxiety build up, restarting me more thoroughly than just sleep, so that I have several hours before the anxiety rebuilds to the more irritating level. My other theory is that it is like taking over the counter pain medication for a headache. Yes, I could usually live without it just fine. And sometimes I do. But other times, I let myself take the medication in the hope of temporary relief. And I don't grill myself and debate the matter (well, not always) like I do with the anti-anxiety medication.

Ayeyey. I'm a little surprised if you are still reading. Thank you. I was hoping that writing this out would help me feel better, but no. I'm still wondering, pay more money at another shot at centering the picture, even though the picture itself will never be exactly centered? Or let it go? Maybe I should take that medication and see how I feel about the photo after it is working. The irritating anxiety would have to get in the way of my fair entries. Grrr!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Let's just spend a few minutes blaming OCD

I was trying to do schoolwork. But I don't know how to cite my source - it is some confusing web page where you aren't really sure who wrote what. Therefore, my OCD has been officially invited - or at least it acts that way. And I'm frustrated. And angry. And tired. And this stupid piece I have to write is worth hardly anything. OCD likes worthless things - they are more fun for OCD, because it adds an element of ridiculousness. Because if I'm all worked up about something inconsequential, OCD probably gets extra points.

I was going to write about how I am finally starting to like my new psychiatrist - the first time I saw him, I got pretty upset. But now, I feel like he is starting to understand me better. Like when I explained how I feel morally guilty for not finding a better paying job. I know that isn't quite logical, but OCD likes that, too. Extra points, you know. And then the Psychiatrist starts saying something about how he hopes eventually that I'm able to work any job, regardless of how much or little I make, without feeling morally guilty. And I think I might have interrupted (OCD likes to tell me I interrupted inappropriately - actually, some kinds of "interruptions" are not inappropriate or rude). And then OCD was like, "You were getting awesome reassurance from your psychiatrist that you can stop feeling guilty about not making more money, but then you interrupted him, so you don't get reassurance, even though you could have, if you hadn't blown it by interrupting him..." OCD also likes to repeat things, like the word "interrupt." Oh, and yes, I might be blaming OCD for every single thing right now.

Anyway, the Dr. is putting me back on an earlier SSRI, and for the first time, I'm okay with the concept of repeating SSRIs. I think it was the combination of realizing that even if something new and untried would work for me, it still has a good shot at quitting working in several months or a few years. A very good shot a stopping working. The other thing I've been learning from this psychiatrist and maybe others is that you can just rotate between a few different SSRIs that each work for a brief amount of time. So if this SSRI I'm restarting will work for 10 months or so, then I can switch to the SSRI that worked for over a year, and then I can switch back to this one, or we could try something else. So basically, instead of trying for one single miraculous med combination, I'm now trying for a few temporarily miraculous med combinations that I can switch back and forth between. Which means dips in mood between them, I suppose, but maybe we can keep them from going too low.

The Dr. also finally caught on to my fears of the PRN (as needed) anxiety med he prescribed. Last visit (2 months ago), he just told me that the less I used it, the better it would work. So I've used it a grand total of 4 times in three months, despite many sleepless starts to nights (I fall asleep eventually, just not as soon as I would like). This visit, when I asked how often I could take it without it wearing out or screwing with my cognitive abilities, he said I could take it a few times a week. (OCD is slowly wearing away on that memory - "How many times? Are you sure? Are you sure? You will need it more often than that. You are going to have trouble. TROUBLE. And I will make sure you stay mostly miserable. Because this is MY SUMMER. Not yours. This is the summer of OCD! And P.S., please don't start that SSRI. It might impede my progress.")

So basically, this was a sort of nice break, except that my OCD thought it should help me out with blog writing, too. But now I'm going to make my "best attempt" at citing that stupid page (actually it is a quite nice page; I'm just frustrated). And publish the stupid post (I can call my own post stupid, right?). And enjoy the unwanted, not-asked-for exposure. And try to figure out what else I'm doing tonight.

P.S. I'm supposed to call my doctor for another of those tests for when things aren't necessarily right but they aren't necessarily wrong, either, but the Dr thinks the test is worth it. I think OCD will enjoy accompanying me to another medical test. Oooh, maybe I could take the PRN medication so that the test doesn't scare me as much... (Oooh, but that was one of my frustrations with the PRN medication; I wanted to be able to handle life myself, without the aid of medication. Although I do take ibuprofen easily enough, so maybe I should be more fair. I should call my PRN med the ibuprofen of mental illness.)