Saturday, December 21, 2013

'Tis the Season to use my mental health toolbox

Yup. Suddenly my brain is on it's "something is not just right" kick. I should turn off the music I'm trying to learn for church tomorrow and brush my hair before I write this, so I can concentrate better. Besides, the cheery music is wrecking my discouraged mood.

I backed out of a hike with my family when the snow stacked up yesterday (the hike was for today). My previous delight at actually being ready to celebrate Christmas my mom's way (and actually really going for it) is being dulled by the unexpected surge in anxiety. And the anxiety doesn't even have the graciousness to focus on one thing. If it was all focused on a fear of light switches (and causing a fire) for example, I'd know to do an exposure on that. But no, it has to randomly attach itself to various things. The only unifying measure seems to be the "just right" feeling that is lacking and the elevated feelings of anxiety. So that makes exposures easy, right? I just do things just not quite right. Persistently. And the anxiety will go away, right? Soon enough for me to have a just right Christmas vacation, right? Oh, shut up, OCD/anxiety, whichever one you are.

Anxiety and depression are friends in my case. Well, it isn't quite a fair relationship, because if the depression is super duper strong, it can overpower the anxiety. And depression doesn't necessarily cause anxiety. But anxiety almost always brings a rise in depressed feelings.

So there I am, with depression and anxiety hitching a ride for another holiday season, or at least the pre-holiday work up.

So I'll just have to get my toolbox out, anxiety monster and depression monster. See, I'm really quite skilled in fighting you. I mean, I hate fighting you, because it is hard and requires effort and the experience generally isn't fun, but I'm not stupid. I learn tools and can dig them out.

Let's see. I have a list of things to do today. That's a good tool. A couple things could even be fun (which is a good way to say, "So there, anxiety/depression, take that!"). What else? I can choose to have fun today. I can enjoy the music that I'm slowly learning while writing this, that I'm going to help play tomorrow. I can enjoy my time on the computer (take that!). I am getting my laundry done (take that!). I'm going to watch a fun tv show and/or read a book later today (take that!). I might clean my apartment a little (take that!). And breathe deeply (take that!).

And basicaly keep living, intentionally and with enjoyment. This could be fun after all.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

fall semester finished, tv off for the evening...

Well, I'm practicing a new skill under the heading, "Self Control." This skill is called "turning the tv off." You might look at me (or rather, your computer screen) like I'm strange, or grew up under a rock (I've been asked), but let me explain. I just got a digital-to-analog converter for my tv. So now I am in control of a tv in my house that actually can play something besides dvds and videos. After being bored by boring shows, I finally found a few I wanted to watch... followed by a few more. Until I was watching 3plus shows a day. Which might not be so bad if they were 25 minute shows. Actually, some of them are, but in those cases, they show two episodes back to back, so we are back to talking about 3 plus hours.

I do enjoy zoning out that way. Really enjoy it.

But due to practicing my new skill, I have time to blog.

Sort of. Meaning my eyes are tired and should be released from staring at electronic objects.

Anyhow, I just finished my semester this evening! I think I got A- in both classes, which is above my B goal (which was remarkably easy to not be content with). I actually got 100% on the test I thought I wasn't prepared enough for. So that was nice.

Now I have one more semester, and then I graduate.

On the positive progress from OCD side, I managed to sign the graduation application as a natural matter of course (after long deliberations over whether to finish this spring or not, but the application was not a problem). On the still human side, the second paper they sent me to sign reminded me of the intimidating task of finishing and graduating (not sure what is intimidating, except for their very specific language that you must do xyz or you wont graduate). Anyway, I think I'll be able to fill out that paper with minimal distress as well.

Lots different from my worrying for what might have been years over whether or not I had answered the residency question correctly on my application for community college. Why did I worry? I was afraid I had answered it wrong, and that it somehow invalidated my whole degree. Aren't you jealous of my questioning mind? It comes with easy As in many classes, along with needing a few hundred dollars' worth of medication every month. And don't even think you can get my easy As without my mental problems. And that is why I'm not sure that a high IQ is really something we should be to quick to wish on anyone.

Actually, I suppose there are people with high IQs that are free from mental disorders. You can aspire to be one of them, and hope your children will be among them. But I think average IQs are quite fine.

Actually, I've never tested my IQ. Perhaps I have an inflated idea of what mine is. Moreover, I don't know what it is like to have any brain except for my own, so this comparison stuff is a bit silly.

Really? I'm writing this on my blog? Maybe I should turn the tv back on. Just kidding.

Or go to bed and observe the blank wall while I don't fall asleep. Nothing like delayed sleep for the last two nights to make it hard for me to go to bed the third night.

Aside from that, life is going pretty good.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Insert OCD here. And add tiredness there. And who knows how understandable this post will be.

A blog friend wrote about cooking and OCD here.

And I started writing a comment, but decided my comment would be too long, long enough for a full post. So here goes.

My mom decided to make sure that all of her children knew how to cook. Actually, it is a remarkably positive-sounding goal. Reading it now, I wonder why I have sometimes resented it.

But I know why. OCD.

Say I was in charge of supper and I have to use ground beef. I got to go through cookbooks to pick something to cook. Say I picked shepherds pie, or, as we called it, Deep Dish Hamburger Pie. So there was browning the ground beef. Insert OCD here. Gotta take care of all the raw meet germs, and all the raw meet germ splatters on the stove, and debate whether or not the spatula that I used at the beginning of browning the meet got cooked enough as I stirred the meet, or if I needed to stop and wash it, introducing more raw meet germs into the sink...

Then there are the potatoes. One time, my sister and I didn't take off the eyes that were growing, so mom had us take them off after the potatoes were cooked, at the dinner table. No, maybe that was green on the potato, which apparently is poisonous. Well, again, that wasn't so unreasonable, except that I felt disgraced and determined not to ever have that happen to me again. Insert OCD here. After that, there was staring at the potatoes to see if there was any green on them, and trying to decide if the eyes had started growing enough to need removed or not... I found that so confusing that I usually just took them all out.

Okay, now this post is too tiring. Because it is after 10 at night, and I worked a full day, followed by a two hour training on SIDS prevention, which is still rather emotional for me after the toddler died of SUDC (the much rarer version for kids over 12 months old).

So a quick summary - what I probably should have just commented? OCD has gotten in the way of my cooking. So has a dislike of cooking (probably largely influenced by OCD). And now, I haven't cooked raw meat in my kitchen probably in over a year. And it will probably stay that way until I'm ready to cook raw meat again. Which probably wont happen soon. For one thing, I have dirty dishes from an unknown number of weeks ago sitting by my kitchen sink. I should probably wash those first. Not to mention the fact that trying to get rid of raw meat germs that are hiding on a cluttered counter could be difficult... just kidding. I did develop some skill in getting raw meat directly into the frying pan, skipping the counter all together. So that doesn't need to stop me.

Being tired, though, can stop me. Good evening.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Where is that magic antidepressant medication that makes me feel better? Hey, wait, I was supposed to be on it, right? I was happy. I was enjoying life. I was working full time.

Well, I still am working full time.

But I'm overwhelmed. The good old, I don't want to go to bed because something (I don't know what, of course) isn't resolved. I suppose it is that sense that something is wrong. Hmm, wonder if it is depression or OCD.

Because recently I was thinking that it looked like depression, smelled like depression, tasted like depression, so it might be OCD. Or perhaps more likely, OCD fueling depression. What would I do without my two faithful companions who have gotten me through so many years, the sober depression and the agitated OCD? I mean, who can enjoy life for a whole year straight through? What a ridiculous thought.

Today's sermon was on that passage in Luke where Jesus said, "Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh." The pastor said something about us not trying to get out of sad times - we didn't have to seek them, but we didn't need to try to get out of them. I'm probably not saying it right. But I wondered, no actually I thought, I think it is okay to try to get out of depression. I don't think we have to stay in sad things without trying to get out. Obviously, we have to get out appropriately, but we can try to get out. I'm not into meaningless suffering. I'm not into sitting around with depression if I can get rid of it (well, not into permanently sitting around; I do tend to do lots of sitting around when I'm depressed, though). I thought about asking the pastor about that, see if he agreed with me. But I didn't.

Well, I can hardly think straight because I am so tired and hungry (yes, I ate supper, but my stupid appetite came back). So good night for now. Thankfully I'm seeing my counselor this week, too, in addition to last week. I think I want to see her more frequently for a little bit.

Friday, November 1, 2013

an absence of angels in the scrapbooking world

I learned something today. I learned that apparently, people don't scrap book about funerals or memorial services. And if they do, they don't get to put stickers of pretty angels in sparkling white on their pages. Unless maybe those are only in bigger cities or something. Because I couldn't find any angel stickers in white with sparkles. Actually, I didn't find any angel stickers. I still have some Christmas angel stickers from last year... I'll check into those. And I finally settled with buying Christmas cards with angels on them, with the plan to cut the angels out and add sparkles.

I realize that the biblical accuracy of this angel picture in my mind is questionable. But I don't really care. I want to think of angel people in white - with sparkles, because I like sparkles, and I think heaven has sparkles - I want to think of these angel people holding my toddler student, carrying him up to heaven - well, I guess that would have already happened if my scenario is at all accurate - and bringing him to Jesus.

I want for it somehow to be all better. For there to be sunlight and sparkles and safety. And love that doesn't just dead-end into brokenheartedness.

I want to scrap-book a few pages for the little boy. Well, really, for me. He doesn't need them. I've printed out the few pictures I had left on my phone and computer. I got some stickers relating to his life. And I'll have pages about the memorial service, too, because I can. Because that is the most recent thing of him that I have. And I don't want to loose that.

I went to see my counselor this week. And in the waiting area, what song was playing? A song from the memorial service. Go figure.

There isn't really so much to say, is there. A kid died. I'll have to work through it. That is fine. That is part of my grieving process. One of those incredibly unnerving, emotionally disturbing simple facts of life that is soooo simple and yet beyond what I can grasp.

And now to change subjects suddenly (except that now you have warning), I have plans this Sunday that are my closest yet to a real date. Actually, I think it kind of is a date, sharing characteristics of a blind date, a double date, and just visiting friends with a friend of a friend there. Only, there is no commitment beyond just meeting this person and talking this one time. I'm excited. And it is still far enough away that I'm still more excited than nervous or anxious, usually. :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's throwing me off a little

I called my counselor today. I had an appointment scheduled for two weeks from today, but I finally decided it was worth calling her to see if I could get in next week. I briefly mentioned having a former student of mine pass away, and that it was throwing me off a little. Thankfully, she is able to get me in next Tuesday.

See, in many ways, I'm just fine. I work, I... Okay, so work is the most normal thing in my life now. I enjoy my job still. I enjoy my kids. Etc. Of course, there is, um, challenges sometimes, too, when you work with toddlers. So I get that, too. Let me assure you that I get plenty frustrated some moments.

Then there is the rest of my life. There is eating. There is upset stomach. Really? Couldn't you just settle down. My life is hard enough right now. And there is budgeting, which always seems to turn around and give me eating issues. I don't want to "waste" my money. So then I think, I have extra weight right now. I don't need to buy such-and-such food. That works until I get too hungry, and then I have to change plans. Of course, right now, I'm kind of anti-eating. I still eat all three meals and some snacks, so don't worry. I just think eating is a nuisance.

Then there is sleeping. First off, I am forever tired, day in, day out. Secondly, I don't go to bed. Until late. So that would not help the tiredness issue. But yeah, getting myself to get up and go to bed seems to be my biggest issue right now.

There is cleaning my apartment. Or rather, not cleaning it. I did clean up one corner of my room. It looked pretty good. Of course, now the garbage bag and bag of grocery bags are getting fuller and fuller. Because taking out the garbage is too much work. Of course, it has been for a good while. I've actually done laundry recently, so that is pretty good for me.

There is schoolwork. Like the paper I turned in today. I needed to write a page on the biggest two issues facing children with hearing loss. So I did. I rambled on. I wrote it straight out of my brain, as opposed to trying to research it. (It wasn't a research paper, though. It was simply "a paper," so I decided to write an opinion response paper.) I actually turned it in by eight o'clock this evening, which is another impressive act. It was due tonight, but I was expecting I would finish closer to nine.

Let's see. That pretty much covers it.

You know that song, "You are my sunshine"? It was played at the memorial service for my little former student. I have it on a CD at work. I sing it while I put my toddlers to bed for nap. And I...

Well, sometimes I'm sad. Sometimes I want to show friends the child's picture. Sometimes I don't quite know what I feel. I'd like to get through whatever the process of grief is quick, so I could get back to my normal life. Yet, I'm sure not ready to forget my little child.

And I'm praying for the family, which makes use of my troubling thoughts, yet is emotionally taking its toll. Who knew that praying for people was such a burden? Because there's the child's family, then another friend of mine had two friends die, so prayers for her and her husband, then another friend was in the hospital... It is just so sad.

Well, I'd better eat something so that I have a chance at sleeping sooner (hunger can keep me awake). And turn on music besides "You are my sunshine" to get my thoughts into lighter places so that I can relax and fall asleep.

Friday, October 18, 2013

death and life

A child I used to care for passed away. Surprise. Unexpected. I cried already. I've smiled at memories. I tried to forget while at work, and it worked by the end of the day, until my boss sweetly told me she'd pray for me.

But it just seems so surreal. A non-compute. Because little kids aren't supposed to die.

Going to bed is tough. I can plow through the rest of the day, but going to bed seems almost wrong somehow. Like it is carrying on as if all was normal when it isn't. Like I should be doing something for him or his family or something.

I worked. The first hour or so felt really weird. A disconnect from the kids I work with that I am currently reminded could die at any time. Basically any person or animal could die at any time. And I expect death when people or animals get to old. Not that it doesn't still bother me.

Actually, I feel a lot like I felt when my grandpa died. Including happening to have a cold or something on the side. But minus the guilt that I hadn't flown back to visit him (my grandpa) like I had said I might or something like that (at least OCD was convinced I had broken my promise to him). So at least that guilt isn't there.

Not that OCD isn't there. People seem to have some sympathy when things go wrong like somebody dying. But not OCD. It jumps up and says, "Are you sure you should have canceled playing guitar at the women's retreat from church this weekend in the interest of keeping your cold to yourself, getting time to recuperate, and then the added memorial service? Maybe that was the wrong choice."

You'd think it could give me a break.

Instead of saying, "Maybe you drove over your neighbor and the thing that looks like a person inside the glass door isn't really him." Nice, OCD. Really sweet of you.

But at least as the day went on, it seemed to slack off.

So that is where I am now. Scatterbrained and somewhere between my normal life that is going well and the broken comprehension that a little kid's tour on earth has ended. With a cold on the side.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Advice for advice givers

Well, I recently had the stomach flu. With a low grade fever and generally feeling rather miserable, though in a different way than mental illness. Thankfully, it didn't last long. But it reminded me of depression in how I just felt very yucky in a very concentrated way.

So anyway, from that experience came my advice for people wanting to give spiritual advice to people struggling hard with depression and/or anxiety. Here it is, straight from where I shared it on Facebook (not so sure how good an idea it was to put it on Facebook, but maybe I'll find out):
It is Mental Illness Awareness Week. So for today, let me share advice for advice-givers. If you want to give advice to someone really struggling with depression or anxiety, run it through the stomach flu test. If this is something you would like someone to tell you while you try not to puke, it is probably fine to share. On the other hand, if you wouldn't like being told to read your Bible more, pray more, and for goodness sakes, trust God more while you are trying not to puke, then don't say that to someone struggling hard with depression or anxiety. "Let me know how I can help" or "hang in there; I'm rooting for you" or even "I'm praying for you; God cares about you right now and so do I..." that is probably okay.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Nothing like coupling recovering from the second stomach flu in a month with an overwhelming class assignment due in several hours to bring on depressed thinking. Remember that HALT acronym, Hungry Angry Lonely Tired. I don't know who invented it; it wasn't me. But I've got Hungry down since I'm low on food since my stomach is just starting to accept food again after rejecting it thoroughly on Thursday. Then add some Angry - an assignment I'm a bit mad at myself for not doing earlier. And then, if anger doesn't need to logical a reason, how about I just say I'm mad that I'm in school, mad that I feel stuck in school because I am unwilling to drop out (i.e., I choose to finish), mad that bachelor's degrees are seen as so important and that I went along with it enough to try and get one, mad that I don't know the information for the class better, basically mad at myself since I don't think it is fair to be mad at the instructor for this assignment that actually requires some effort. Add in lonely... I've been hibernating with my lovely flu, with the exception of working yesterday afternoon. And then put in TIRED in capital letters, because getting over an illness plus lack of food plus having to work on schoolwork plus working a full time job generally equals a good bit of tiredness by the weekend.

I see my counselor this coming week. And I'm really glad. And really tired. And if she was the sort of person who said "I told you so," then she could. Because working full time and taking classes is rough. I'm just... tired. I get to see my psychiatrist next week, too, because that is how the schedules finally worked out. What will I tell him? Probably that I'm doing okay except that I'm really tired and I hate the clouds (which thankfully are taking a break this weekend so far) and the darkness and being "weak" enough that the stress of working a full time job alongside schoolwork leaves me tired. Even though I know it would leave anyone tired. Actually, I'll probably skip that last part, because it sounds a little stupid to me. I'm tired because I am doing something tiring.

Well, maybe when I eat more, I'll feel better.

But then there is the post-flu eating issue: will I feel sick if I eat such-and-such. And right now, the answer seems to mostly be yes. Yes, I'll feel sick, but not so sick as to throw up, and I need the stupid food, so eat it anyway! How is that for my current weight loss plan - a plan that has gone on hold due to the lovely stomach flu.

Well, let me go back to my case study and arguing in what seems like it might be a slightly stupid way since I'm not Super-Know-It-All-High-A-Student in this class and I don't know everything. I get to argue about hearing aids. Not my specialty, but you have to take a bit on audiology to get a Communication Disorders degree. It is actually interesting, and would be more so if I was just more positively motivated (telling myself, "You idiot, why don't you hurry up and write something stupid so you can turn the paper in" isn't positively motivating even if it is still very slightly motivating) and perhaps feeling better and had more time and again, cared about it more.

I will say that I like trying to use jargon, which is basically what you aren't supposed to do. But I still forget too much of the jargon, which is then hard to look up without going back to the lectures. Thus, my jargonized sentences must be cut short. Oh, well. Back to the assignment.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

An unseen illness

Well, to continue a train of thought started at 71 and Sunny's blog, lots of my OCD has been, well, invisible. Every now and then, I'd spout off an imitation of my brain's on-going monologue, and either be regarded as worrying about stupid things or be regarded with a bit more respect. My brain jumped topics pretty well, too. I'm not sure if that is typical with OCD, but it usually was with mine. Like while driving.

"I wonder if I offended so-and-so last night in our conversation. Oops, I went over a bump. Was it a bump, or a person? Check mirror. Looks like nothing, but maybe there was a person lying in the depression in the road. Well, probably not too realistic. But wait; I wasn't paying attention for the last moment. Better check the mirror again. Rats, checking the mirror meant I didn't pay perfect attention in front of me. Quick, check it again. No, don't look that long, now you have to look again. This is not going to work. Look further ahead, look behind. Look further ahead, look behind. Some people drive around the block to check the road. I don't want to do that. If I did, well, when would I stop? Check the mirror. And that conversation last night, what did I say again? Maybe I was too sarcastic. Did she understand I was being sarcastic? Check mirror, look ahead, check mirror. Maybe if I had worded it differently. Check mirror. Is the car behind me a police car? Check speed, check mirror, look ahead, check mirror. Well, as long as there's a car behind me, and they stay behind me, that should mean that I didn't run over a person. Because if I did, they would notice, and they would stop. I wonder if I should talk my friend again on Sunday. Just broach the subject, test if she's offended or not. Hmmm, will I be able to do that before church, before the Lord's Supper? If I don't get to it until after, should I not partake in the Lord's Supper? That verse about fixing things with your brother before you give an offering, just how does it apply to the Lord's Supper? Check the mirror. That car is completely gone. Empty road behind me. Wow, what kind of lousy attention am I giving this? I don't know when the car turned off. I should pay better attention. Look ahead, check mirrors, look ahead, check mirrors, feel for and push button for radio, check mirror more carefully to make sure I didn't run into anything."

Well, that is a fictitious example. What I might have done 3 and a half years ago. When my drive to work was maybe 45 minutes one way. That sure added up for time spent obsessing or compulsing. And when I'd detail my thoughts like that (such an example could also be dreamed up while driving - I was a daydreamer, spending lots of time imagining conversations and things I could write and such), I could see, no wonder I was having a little trouble.

I didn't know until I was in the hospital that such run-on thoughts might be considered racing thoughts. How exhausting to have had racing thoughts, and I didn't even known it.

But guess what. My brain is quieter now. Not that it never jumps into action over an anxious thought or two, but it isn't usually consumed with solving problems. Now, an OCD exposure might take 3 minutes, and then I'll forget about it until it comes up again. Actually, that happened with accidental exposures before. The difference being, in the past, I usually forgot one OCD issue while stumbling into the next. Now I might forget one to move onto... living. Trying to provide Indirect Language Stimulation for my toddlers (that's a fancy phrase I got to learn from my college classes), playing peekaboo, without the sinking feeling in the back of my mind and stomach that I may have done something terrible, but I was going to try not to think about it for the moment. Yup, increased health. Even if my mind did decide to bring up my worst obsession recently. There is still improvement, like in how I handle it.

But I was supposed to be writing about an unseen illness. So I guess I did. Most of the thinking I've described would be invisible. If not all of it. And believe me, I'd try to put a smile on top for the kids I worked with at the time. And the adults. Thankfully, now the smile is usually hiding less.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

caution signals

You know the whole, too tired to go to bed, problem? That's me right now. I'm plenty tired. And taking a shower just seems like too much work. So I'll blog instead, and keep myself up later. Maybe my blog title should go back to being UNreasonably rational.

I'm pretty sure that the stomach flu didn't help things, but I've gotten pretty tired. Add in the growing darkness, chilly weather, and dry skin from hand-washing (and this potentially without OCD hand washing; I tend towards dry skin, especially in the winter). The weekends are too short. School is too much, even though it is only a few hours a week. The children are trying my patience.

And weight! The annoying issue. I still seem to be gaining a pound or two a month, which adds up. But I'm plenty hungry. Plenty hungry. Though that seems to finally be evening out as I get further from the flu. Now I'm simply really hungry and have gotten past the urge to try to fill myself up with potato chips because I was sick of being hungry.

But in short, I knew I was pushing it to take two classes and work full time, but I did it anyway. I could still ask for fewer hours, but I still don't want to. So now I'm a tad worried, but still hoping it will all work out.

But my main problem is just feeling super tired except when I'm at work (the kids keep me more in the moment). So that could still get better.

And I'm working on using my Happy Light more. That should help.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

fighting back against anxiety by having fun

Today I decided it was time to fight back against the anxiety monsters. My anxiety got worse over the course of my stomach virus and then my recovery. I'm sure the lack of food (and appetite) followed by the incessant hunger that keeps coming back didn't help.

But anyway, conveniently for me, my anxiety really likes to get on me for things like spending money and having fun. So the good news is that exposures for me can be things like buying things I want from the store and going out to eat and going to a movie. So I actually had a really fun day. I got a new sweater, squirrel salt and pepper shakers, a kitchen towel that wasn't perfect (the design didn't make me feel "just right"), and a dress-up hat for my toddler class. And I went to a birthday party for a 6-year-old. Going to a kids party as a single, childless adult has a certain amount of awkwardness in it, but I enjoyed my cupcake and hanging out with adults who weren't single and childless. So it worked out well. And I went to a movie.

This is where I have trouble; the mental review. I can play the reassurance game: "Yeah, you 'splurged' by purchasing a discount movie ticket. See? You were still thrifty." I can basically do that with every purchase I made. But that might sabotage my exposures, not to mention taking out any perfection I might have attained and replacing it with semi-failed exposures.

So then, reviewing without reassuring myself. I mean, hey, can't I think over my day, relive a few good moments, process and enjoy the memories? But what do I do when the OCDish thoughts come back. Take the "You wasted money" thought. Is repeating it to myself an exposure, or a form of trying to punish myself? I kind of settled on the idea of replacing that taunt with something perhaps more accurate, like "You spent money on things you enjoy."

And now I've got my anxiety on again about having written the wrong thing on my blog post. I could post it quick, or try to think of something else to add. I think I'll stick with posting, especially since I want to move on to something else now.

Convenient, hey? One more exposure that is actually a fun thing to do; posting a blog entry.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

trusting myself

Well, I stayed home today for my little flu again. And then I found out other staff had gotten it. And I thought to myself, "I wasn't making it up." Apparently old habits die hard. Not trusting myself. I mean, as if the physical symptoms of the stomach bug aren't enough.

Oh, well. I think I am still improving, so I'll be content with that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I went home sick today. Stomach something. Now im wishing for a keyboard on its side so that i could type more easily while laying down. As it is, im a onehanded typist.

ive also been doing schoolwork. including these quizzes that i have two attempts for. got 9 out of 10 on the last two. and then i lay here contemplating how quickly my goal of getting Bs this semester changes to getting 100%. But im too done in to actually put in the work right now. Stupid stomach bug or bad milk response; cant my appetite come back now? I really dont want to miss more work tomorrow!

Friday, September 13, 2013

moving on to other topics...? Toddler teacherhood, for example

I think I want to change the name of my blog, but I can't remember how. I did it on my other blog (the one that died a silent death but is still sitting around in cyberspace), so I know it is possible, but I'll have to figure it out again. Unless one of you would like to share the secret. I'd appreciate that.

Anyway, I don't want to stop blogging, but my focus in life is no longer mainly on my mental health. So I think my blogging topics will need to start exploring alternate subjects. So for those of you who suffered through my mental health updates, (if there are any of you left), rejoice. And if all you want to read about is how I deal/dealt with OCD and depression - that is okay; I've been there to. But you might have to look into older posts. There are only something like 390 of them, so you should be able to read for a while. Or you could follow other blogs, since there are lots of great ones.

Anyway, my subject for today is being a Toddler Teacher.

You might be a Toddler Teacher if you have almost as many board books as the local library, and you still go out and borrow those, not to mention haunting thrift stores for "good" board books.

You might be a Toddler Teacher if you have proved to yourself that washable paint really does wash out.

You might be a Toddler Teacher if your nick-name for Lift-the-Flap board books is "Easy-to-Rip" board books.

You might be a Toddler Teacher if you just want to forget about that stuff for a moment (i.e., until you get into the next store selling supplies you are on the lookout for) and enjoy (or sleep through) your weekend.

And if you are a Toddler Teacher, or if you like cute little homemade stuff, you might appreciate my latest toy-making results. Rest assured; the paint is non-toxic. And some of it has gotten a bit messed up in the wear and tear (i.e., slime and teething) of toddler play, but they are still looking good. And think of how much money I saved making them out of scrap wood and painting them with paint I already had. I think I did go ahead and buy a new permanent marker to finish up, but I use permanent markers, so it wasn't just for that. Oh, and if I actually published this picture before and then forgot about it, my apologies.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Well, I'm back to working full time! And I finally purchased internet for myself so that I can access it from home. Ah, now I can write late night posts without having to be out somewhere late at night. This may be a blessing, but it might also turn into a problem... (gotta keep some pessimism in my life, you know).

So work is going great. Now I'm trying to settle into a school routine. Actually, it is pretty much like the previous semesters. Mostly, it is much less work than I expected. The information is much less new than I expected (i.e., I probably know 50 - 90% of the information already). Somehow that keeps happening. And there are moments of worry surrounded by lots and lots of procrastination and good grades.

Take right now. My scores are all perfect so far. (positive). I'm approximately where I should be (i.e., a little behind, but not too far). (positive). I'm scheduled to take my first proctored exam on the evening of the last possible day because of schedule conflicts. (negative.) And I have an assignment due in a week and a half that requires 3 interviews, which depends on more people than just me. (negative.) But for the most part, I'm still feeling positive.

Well, that is the end of my brilliance for this evening. Perhaps evening posts aren't such a good idea. Then again, if you like reading short posts, it might be good.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

a new place in life

I guess I'm trying to determine what being "well" is like for me. What does it mean to move past the point of expecting to relapse into depression at any moment. To move past living on the edge of an emotional cliff. To move past being depressed.

I know a little of what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that I can't feel depressed or even be depressed at any given moment. It sure doesn't mean I don't continue to fight anxiety.

I think I know a little of what it does mean. It does mean that my life focus is... (drum roll or trumpets please) ... no longer consumed by desperately trying to secure emotional health or something closer to it.

It means that my gut desire to keep working full time while taking two classes might have actually worked - I've now changed my status at work to being willing to go back to full time, though, for now, we're sticking to the three quarter time we had planned.

It means that driving to the neighboring state to see my OCD-specialized counselor is becoming a nuisance. Can you believe it? I was so willing to make that trip for three years straight. But now? I want that one evening a week back. I want to be able to work on schoolwork or get with friends or (perhaps most likely) randomly shop or watch TV.

So... I just saw my counselor and told her I was ready to drop down to seeing her once a month. And in the back of my mind is the plan to follow my next visit with a two-month gap and then a three month gap. And my Psychiatrist? How about twice a year? And I'm fine with it. I know what I think. I know what I want. I'm okay with myself. I'm happy with life.

The anxiety still plays in, but it doesn't rock my whole world anymore, at least not for long. I guess it still upsets me pretty much every day, but I feel like I know how to handle it. I don't feel like I need my counselor to handle it. She taught me how. Now I just use the tools I'm ready to use when I'm ready. So I guess if I let her, she could still push me towards speeding up my exposures. But I don't like to be pushed. I like to do it when I'm ready.

So now, I don't feel like writing about my mental health journey as often, because I'm out in the sunshine on pretty stable ground. I'm trying to learn the new balance of Support Group attendance and moving on. Because sometimes support groups remind me of things I'd rather put behind me. I guess I'm finally "that person" that I disliked and couldn't understand who would actually try to put their mental illness experience behind them and act like it never happened.

I don't want to act like it never happened. Hey, the fight took three years of my life. I want to be a more understanding and less judgmental person. I want to support others when they slog through the mess of depression. I guess what I'm not sure how to do, though, is be there for them without slipping into the mess myself. In other words, I guess I'm still afraid I could relapse at any moment back into the mud pit of depression.

Oh, and in case someone is like I probably would have been a year or two or for sure three years ago, in case someone is afraid to blog, or to comment on my blog lest they "get me down," please don't worry about that. Because when I blog, I can choose what I read. And I can choose whether or not to read comments. And I know that blogging about mental illness and mental health means that sometimes I'll see and hear other people's stories when they are still lost in the black part of the journey. That is a "risk" I'll take. Or perhaps more of a privilege that I'll accept. And I'm so grateful for everyone who did that for me and who may end up doing it for me again.

I guess I almost feel lost because, at least when I was feeling a little bit terrible, I felt like I "belonged" at mental health support groups. And now? I'm one of those inconceivable people who actually finds their life relatively pleasant, who isn't trapped under the inexplicable fog of depression.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Doing well, well, as long as anxiety doesn't disqualify me

I feel like I've reached healthy, at least depression-wise. Not perfect, but healthy. Now the anxiety, that keeps visiting. But hey, I tell myself, I know how to deal with anxiety. Basically, give it some bad word people wouldn't think I'd ever give.

This morning, the anxiety just kept trying. It was like I'd find myself starting an anxiety rollercoaster about one issue, I'd figure it out, I'd step off, and a few moments later, the ground would start moving beneath me and I'd find that I was on another anxiety rollercoaster. So I'd step off... and find myself in another. The good thing was, I'd pretty much forget the last potential rollarcoaster pretty much the same moment I'd step off. And there were enough rollercoasters that I had lots of opportunities to practice stepping off.

There's a wedding coming up in my family. Really, really soon. And I volunteered to help with music. But last night, I started thinking, but I want my relative's wedding to be perfect, well, at least the music that I play to be perfect; I don't care so much about the rest being perfect. So I have to give up the idea of my playing perfectly, because, face it, music is rarely (if ever) played perfectly. No, music in real life has mistakes, it is just that most people don't notice the mistakes.

Anyway, I'm pretty distracted right now; I stumbled apon an art fair (I knew it existed, but I forgot it was today until I drove over here for something else), and I want to go. Get some sunshine and color and joy of the day. Just what my counselor would suggest, if she was here to suggest it. Just what the doctor would suggest, if he was thinking about my mental health issues that are doing so well. Just what I want, since I'm here and I actually know what I want.

Oh, and I'm trying to learn a song in a second language that is very lively and I might be playing at said wedding. It is distracting to listen to it and blog simultaneously.

P.S., I am entering 4 things in the fair this year, in two different chategories; thus my enter-something-in-the-fair-every-year tradition continues for the third year, and continues to expand.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

graduating

A couple months ago, my counselor was recommending that I try EMDR with a therapist trained in it. Now she is telling me I could cut down to counseling every other week.

Three years into the medication thing, and I think I've finally landed on the right combination. I finally called my psychiatrist last week to make sure it would be alright to stay on the higher SSRI dose instead of doing two weeks up and two weeks down, since I felt better on the higher dose. Of course, he was fine with that. And, once I got over the fact that I was raising the dose one more time, to over the "normal" prescription level (which isn't so strange for someone like me who has OCD, too), I'm good with it, too. Imagine! Not expecting to have my mood drop sometime this week because of lowering my dose again. Expecting... health.

Actually, when my therapist recommended cutting my counseling sessions in half, I started crying. It seemed like a big, scary change, even though I agreed with her that I was ready. She's been with me for three rough years of my life, cheering me on, supporting me, helping me learn new skills. And it isn't like she's just going to disappear because I switch to every other week appointments. Hey, I know that some people only get every other week appointments even when they feel really bad. I've been blessed.

But it does remind me that my therapist wont be there forever. And, as she said, I don't really NEED her to get along right now. I just really like knowing she's there. She told me she'd still be there if I needed to add in an appointment if things got rough. Basically, it is as easy a transition as I could imagine. Actually, it feels like it might be easier to completely move away (i.e. relocate far away so that I COULDN'T visit her every week). But I don't want to do that right now.

She ended up just telling me to think about it. And I thought about it. And here is the deal I'm making with myself. I'll drop down to every other week for the summer, but give myself full permission (i.e., somewhat planning on) going back to every week when the fall comes. That seems doable. But I will miss seeing her every week.

On another subject, I set up a sticker chart for myself! I read something about how rewards can help you make new habits, not to mention how they are used for kids (if they work for kids, why not for adults). So when I do chores, I get to put up another sticker. Oh, exercising counts as a chore. And when I fill the chart up, I get a reward. I don't know what yet, but I don't need to know; I'm sufficiently motivated by an unnamed reward and stickers! Actually, I added lots of stickers since this picture; I did lots of chores yesterday.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Entitlement issues?

I happened to be there for a conversation between a deacon from one church and someone who had worked in the outreach program at another church that helped people with needs like rent and utility bills. Skilled in the art of standing up for myself, ... I kept my mouth mostly shut, because I wasn't up to hearing that the case I presented was the exception rather than the rule, that people with mental illness could handle doing such-and-such, etc. So instead, like all "good" bloggers, I'll just post my opinion on the internet.

Entitlement issues. How often have I heard that saying about "my" generation. And who would have the most annoying entitlement issues but the ones with the most obvious needs? Lets just take folks with mental illness. And over generalize, since the "other side" is overgeneralizing too.

So, do people with mental illness have entitlement issues? I mean, when they ask for help. I mean, more than a normal person. I mean, do these people have outstanding, unreasonable entitlement issues?

Well, you could stick all of us in locked hospitals, but that isn't advantageous either to those locked in nor to those who remain on the outside. For the outside, it is expensive. For the inside, it is... unpleasant, humiliating, exhausting, etc. So let's just agree that neither the complainers nor the "entitlement issues" people think hospitalization across the board is a good idea.

So let's get back to asking for help.

Some people with mental illness, especially when their illness is strong, would rather die than be a burden. But are they allowed? No. So what can/should they do instead? What if their mental illness is such that they can't work or can't work full time? Well, let's see. They could go to the government for help (and be seen as having entitlement issues). They could go to churches for help (and be seen as having entitlement issues). They could ask friends or family for help (and be seen as having entitlement issues).

What do the complainers (i.e. those who judge others to have entitlement issues) want? On the one hand, believing we have a right to food, a home, light, heat, medical care, etc., is considered an entitlement issue. But on the other, believing we don't deserve food, a home, light, heat, or medical care, etc., is considered either super spiritual or a symptom of a mental illness and generally an unhealthy outlook. I have found such a "non-entitled" viewpoint not conducive to life, that state which we are supposed to stay in.

So I tell myself that I am worthy of food, my own apartment (still not quite believing that one), light, heat, medical care, etc. That, in a sense, I deserve it based on my status as a human. Thus, I intentionally foster what might be construed as an entitlement issue. I will try to be polite about it.

But suppose I went to the one church for help. Let's say I was super depressed, hanging on by my fingernails, with plenty of anxiety for good measure. And let's say I worked up the incredible courage and humility to walk in and ask for help. And they said, "We love you, but this isn't our problem. THis is your problem, and you should have done something earlier." At this point, I'm ready to crawl beneath the earth (well, I already would be just with the depression and anxiety, but this would reinforce it). And they said, Well, we'll give you such-and-such money if you work so many volunteer hours and/or attend certain church sponsored meetings. So then, I suppose I'd be exhausted, further humiliated, ready to cry, shutting down communication. I say okay and speedily walk back to my car - the one I don't deserve to have and that I don't need since there is free public transportation, even if it is pretty scanty. Suppose I have myself a cry and go hide under my covers at home. Suppose a week later I get a final notice for my rent or utility bill or something. So desperation prompts me to call back. And they say, well, you have to go to two meetings and do some volunteer work, and then we'll give you money. And they feel bad, but they know they have to hold the line. Otherwise people like me would take advantage of them.

So there I would be, under my covers, unable to afford my life, seen as having entitlement issues, potentially wishing for death.

Yeah, we'd better worry about entitlement issues. Let's put that at the top of the list, over rent, utilities, medical bills, hey, even being able to afford medication.

Or what if we just talked about manners and phrased our requests politely. Which is hard to do the more often you have to request and the less often anyone responds.

Well, I'm glad that was a ficticious what if. It was rather depressing.

Now I'd better return to my factual life, the one that has a Human Anatomy Final tonight. The one I should study for before going back to work.

Monday, June 3, 2013

first day in my new classroom

Well, the first day teaching my new class in my new classroom has arrived. And I think it is going well. Not perfectly, but who would expect that? But well.

I felt relieved when I started in and knew what to do. Relieved that I did know what I was doing, that I did have experience, that I was going to do a good job.

I think I might be taking ibuprofen for a while though with headaches that might be stress related. But as long as they don't get too bad (hence, the ibuprofen), that will be okay, too.

I love working with little kids. Crazy as I may be for feeling that way, it is still true.

Well, on to homework while I'm on my lunch break. And then back to my new classroom to watch more kids and tape on name tags and all that good stuff.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

depression dip / performances

I'm dying to tell some one my secret; I'm playing at a talent show tonight, but I haven't picked out the second song I'm supposed to sing.

It didn't help that I'm having a depressed but busy day. Busy isn't even bad. It is the performing thing. I just finished my dance recital. I got compliments, but of course, in my depressed state of mind, the compliments felt empty. Eventually, enough people complimented me that I concluded I did a good job after all.

Then comes this talent show. Point blank, I'd rather hide in my house or my garden today. But no, I agreed to do this. So instead of being this great, joyous occasion where I can sing in front of people, it is an act of service. Seems mixed up. That's my depressed brain for you.

I think I got too tired. I blame Wednesday night for a lot of it. I fell asleep, but it was the partly-awake kind of sleep. So when I woke at 2:20, I had the brilliant idea of getting up and eating something. Sometimes (usually) doing that helps me fall all the way asleep. Instead I was awake until 4:20, at which point I realized that I forgot my Seroquel. No wonder my brain refused to stop.

Once I figured out that the problem was forgetting to take medication instead of the medication "failing" me, I felt better. But it still took an hour or so to fall back asleep after taking the forgotten Seroquel. So basically, it was a 4 hour of sleep night, with much of that time being not very restful sleep.

Thursday, I developed a pretty anxious view of my new job. I wasn't going to be good enough. I felt so incompetent. Then I slept that night. Friday, my outlook was oh, so much better. I'm excited to start my own class again. Basically, sleep is super duper important.

Then Saturday, I let myself sleep in. Good choice? Bad choice? Mediocre choice? What does it matter. Add in some hunger. And getting off a week learning my new job. And performances. And just my brain being depressed.

But it is just one day. The depression dip could go away tomorrow, or even tonight. So it is okay.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The OCD monster doesn't take humor very well (cartoon)


I made this one completely on the computer. I need to work on the monster's color - it is too pink for my liking. And make the writing more readable. Bigger font? It really needs more definition, but I don't know how to give it that.

Turning over a new leaf?

Well, I found the weekend to be tougher than I expected, until Monday. Saturday and Sunday I was winding down from my busy, stressful week. Saturday, I tried to do alot, too, so I kept Sunday and Monday for rest. But when Monday came, I decided I wanted to clean my house. I just tried to keep my stress level down while I did it. So now my house is almost too clean - it seems that while too cluttery is overstimulating, too clean can be, too. I don't want to mess it up. Actually, I've gone a full twenty-four hours of keeping up with my dishes. Remarkable, really.

But the cleaning and the schoolwork and the new job make it easy for me to get into a go, go, go, go mood. Do this, do that. But right now, I feel better. Me and my computer and the internet. Quite nice.

My former boss informed me that she didn't need me last night, so there was a quick rearranging of my plans (I was planning to work 2 more days). But my new boss was nice and let me come in with my slightly complicated schedule (I still had things scheduled for the afternoons since I hadn't expected to be at my new job yet).

This morning, I got up early enough to do something more than rush around madly before leaving for work. That is part of the new leaf I'm trying to turn over. Well, it worked this morning. Of course, I wasn't very tempted to oversleep since I was waking more and more often to check the clock. Afraid of oversleeping. Occasionally that happens to me.

Well, I'll have to be intentional about rest with my new, busier schedule. If I can do that, I think I'll make it fine. I don't actually have that much schoolwork to do. The rest is the big thing. And I don't mean sleep; I mean relaxing and letting myself be off duty.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Well, a lot has been going on. I started my new job last Thursday! I'll be finished with my old job this coming Wednesday. And at my new job, I ended up getting the toddler teacher position after all! So now I'm collecting craft ideas and tossing around schedule plans in my head. Like Father's Day gifts. Hint for new child care workers - start gifts early, because you don't know what will happen and who will be out sick when the time gets short.

I'm rather tired, but I still wanted to get up this morning. I wanted to take my next Human Anatomy quiz. I got a B on this one. Just one more quiz and the final are left, now.

I rearranged my house - maybe I already said that. It is cleaning up okay, though I do it in fits and starts and small steps.

Today the anxiety came for a visit. I'm not surprised. Actually, it isn't too bad at this point. And starting the new job conveniently coincided with the half of the month when I take a higher dose of my antidepressant - what had been the worst part of the month seems to be becoming the best part of the month.

Well, I'm still around even though my posts have slowed down. I wish you all a good long weekend.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

a new job!

I got a new job!

I gave my two weeks' notice today. I was aprehensive about giving it, and aparently, with a bit of cause. All I really got was one last guilt trip. At least I'm hoping it is the last guilt trip. Now I'm trying to be really sweet and nonconfrontational, because I would like a pleasant last two weeks.

The new job will be full time (40 hours a week). I'm nervous about that. But hopeful, too. I'm thinking the stress level will be lower, and I wont be a lead teacher, which is slightly disappointing, but also a relief. That should lower the stress level again. (I'm still going to be working at a childcare center.)

But this is me going back to full time work after my battle with the depression and OCD monsters. Still with two classes on the side. But I don't think I'll have to put that much time into the classes. Anyhow, it feels momentous; going back to work full time. Which doesn't make me a better person, but I guess part of me still thinks it does. Anyway, just maybe it can help me realise how much better I'm doing now (or that I can't handle that much yet, but I'm hoping for the first option).

Now I want to re-arrange my apartment (since that is the logical response to getting a new job?). It has to do with some ants visiting my kitchen. Not that rearranging is sure to change any of that. But it is spring/summer now. I don't need to have the heater clear and ready to heat my room. So I can rearrange. Maybe I just like rearranging.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

51% on a quiz

I did it; I got 51% on a quiz.

Which just might indicate the lazy side of my academic self.

Basically, I don't want to be taking this course. But I do want to pass it, so I'll study a tad harder for the second midterm Saturday. I want to get a C in the course. How's that for aiming low (I'm usually an A student).

Actually, I'm hungry, so hungry I'm not quite thinking straight. But I can't blame the test results on that. Too many questions were on things I just didn't know.

Today, I got home from work, and then went to a spur-of-the-moment interview. Hence part of my hunger - I didn't eat all my lunch. Regarding the interview, on the positive, it would have been to work with older little kids. That would be interesting. Nonetheless, I have doubts about if it is the kind of place I want to work at. I'll have to do some more thinking on it, but I suspect I'll end up giving a no, thanks, answer.

I'm looking for a job situation that would have both me and my employer happy. That would be the best, for both of us. So I'll keep looking.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Saturday's post, posted late

I've been sooo tired this week. First I was house sitting, so I blamed it on that. Then came a flurry of interviews (i.e., three between two companies). Then came panic about getting one of the jobs. Then came disappointment when I didn't hear back, which quite likely means I didn't get the job. And some relief, because this job would have taken more hours, and I was hopeful that I could handle it fine, but I was also nervous about it.

Now I'm feeling out of touch with the world once again, without house sitting to blame. I think I'll blame being off on my reduced medication dose, but it could also be blamed on a few bad headaches, possible allergies, high anxiety on Thursday and Friday, or something else. Last night, for example, I woke around midnight and then around 2:30 for a migraine. I've tried Tylenol, ibuprofen, psuedofed PE, eating, eating fatty foods, eating sugary foods, eating chocolate, sleeping, watching tv, sleeping on a couch, reducing my antidepressant dosage, and so on and so forth, with no clear or reliable cause or solution, except when stopping an antidepressant fixed it.

Well, I think it is time to go shopping. Happy Saturday to you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

off

This weekend, I am house sitting. I am glad that I am capable of doing that now (i.e., emotionally). But I am finding it somewhat challenging. I feel off because I'm not following my normal routine. Ungrounded, because I'm not in my normal places.

On top of that, I have an interview coming up this week. Good thing, but would involve a slower transition (i.e., they would not have enough work for me right away for me to leave my other job, so I'd have to work both for a time). So I have mixed feelings there.

And then there are the migraines. At least, that is what my regular doctor thought these headaches were. And I've been getting them when I raise successful antidepressant SSRIs too high dose-wise.

I've had one yesterday morning and one this afternoon. I'm still hoping they are from allergies, yesterday from the house I'm taking care of (i.e., the pets?), and today from working in the garden in the hot sun. However, I'll drop back to the lower dose for the low dose part of the month (it was time anyway). I hope it isn't my SSRI, though, because I was feeling so good.

Positively, did I already say this, or not? I'm working on affirming myself - i.e., positive self talk. It is going well. Writing some positive statement (or coping statement) and hanging it up in my apartment seems to help. For example, one says, "It is okay to feel impatient; this, too, shall pass." Somehow I forget both pieces of that statement. But it helps to remember it during the stressful times at work.

Now I must close because the building is closing (and I don't have internet at home). Have a good week!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

mistakes, observations, and my garden growing

I got my car back. And here is something annoying: If I had gone ahead and let my friend put in the new battery we bought, I probably wouldn't have needed to get my car towed. See, we did this experiment where we tried to jump my car directly from his battery, not going through a battery in my own car, (i.e., the jumper cables connected from his car battery to the cables that would have connected to my car battery). The result? Nothing. So, not wanting to waste my $105-plus-tax dollars I had spent on my battery, we didn't put the new one in, just in case we wouldn't want it, because once you put it in, you can't return it.

My choice didn't really make sense; we'd already gotten rid of the old battery (which I am still pretty confident was thoroughly dead). So I would need a new one. I was just afraid that if it was the wrong battery or something? Anyway, my friend talked to someone they knew who suggested putting the battery in, but by then I had already scheduled the towing, not to mention a busy day in between time, so I left the battery in the trunk.

The towing was covered by my insurance. At least, I'm pretty sure it was. But I'm still annoyed that that money got "wasted."

So I keep telling myself, "it takes experience to get experience." I know better for next time. So this is my most thorough exposition on the matter since it came up Thursday, when I learned what did need done with my car. It just became one of those thoughts in my head tormenting me even while I tried to ignore it. "You wasted money." "That isn't smart." "You might not be able to get a towing that you need to be covered since you wasted your coverage on this."

And then I reply, "It takes experience to get experience." Like a mantra. But perhaps it was really a compulsion?

So ERP? Yup, Abigail, you wasted money, maybe around $100. So terrible. Maybe your insurance will charge you for it since you made the mistake on how to deal with your battery. Maybe, maybe, maybe, I'm not coming up with anything that bad. Nasty anxiety, growing out of proportion behind my back. Hasn't it learned not to do that to me yet?


And now to completely change the subject. My doctor and I are trying something where I take one dosage of my SSRI for half the month and a higher dosage for the other half. I think it is worth a try, but I have some reservations on how well I think it will work. Take two weeks ago when I dropped back to the lower dose: a few days later, my mood got worse. Sweet thing. And then Friday I upped my dose again. Only to get the extremely tired feeling Saturday that I associate as a side affect to this SSRI (even though this one doesn't usually cause tiredness or weight gain; it just decided to do the unexpected with me, but still work pretty well). I don't like the idea of getting so extremely tired once a month when the dosage ups and side effects visit for a moment. But we'll see. I guess I'd even put up with that if it really solved my roller-coaster (slow motion roller-coaster) moods.


And to completely change the subject again, my peas have sprouted!


And to change the subject again, Thursday night, I got a text from my boss regarding something that happened at work, without my knowledge. So Thurs night, despite trying to reason with myself that it wasn't more likely to be my mistake than any one else's, I was anxious and had a bit of trouble getting to sleep. But then Friday, when I talked with her, I learned that her best guess was that the mistake occurred when I wasn't even there! She just asked me on the off chance that I knew something. So my "mind-reading" cognitive error was definitely wrong! I was so relieved. I'll have to work on my "assuming the worst" habit. How, I'm not sure. Except maybe by working on positive self-talk. That might help. I could try to assume the best about myself for a change (forget what other people are thinking; deal with myself for starters!). And remember that relief again. That felt so good.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

People-pleasing or a healthy need for people?

Today, my time limit isn't a library computer timer; it is the light outside.

Because my car decided it needed a rest. An expensive rest, but cheap and fast enough that I wont ditch the car (as if I could afford a new-to-me one now, let alone repairs).

So I've been accepting rides and asking for help and such things that are hard for me to do, but easier when I don't have so much choice in the matter. (Oh, and biking 5 miles one way to work is an option, but I'd rather accept a ride from a friend.)

Seeing my counselor again yesterday, I was relieved that I was the one bringing up EMDR, not her. She suggested it, but I don't think she'll push for it much (unless I really go down hill).

One interesting thing that came up in our session was this; the issue of people pleasing with a surprising other perspective (i.e., something other than how it is idolatry).

Someone in my life was careful to pass on that people-pleasing was a trap. True, when carried to an unhealthy conclusion

But on the other hand, my counselor brought up, there is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. And Love and Belonging are in there as pretty important (she said most important, but Wikipedia's picture has it in the middle. I'll put it back in my mind as close to most important, because I think it is pretty important. With depression, for example, it just might be essential for life).

I think that this person in my life sees people-pleasing as a trap and a sin because 1) in its extreme, it is a trap and unhealthy, 2) according to this person's strict religious perspective, it is idolatry because it puts people as more important than God, and 3) because if you don't need people, maybe it wont hurt so much when they let you down or back stab you.

But when my counselor was talking, I started seeing another perspective. Pardon my religious terminology (or skip my post; that is really okay, too). But I thought of it like this; God made us people to need each other. Like my counselor says, we try for that belonging and love by trying to be "as good a person as we can be." You can jump all over that and call it legalism and conditional love and on and on. Or we can set that aside and remove extreme thinking from it (ha!) and think, our living pleasantly with people makes it easier for them to live pleasantly with us. It facilitates the process of all of us belonging and loving and being loved. I don't mean door-mat pleasant - that doesn't work out so well. But not calling people names, being polite, being real, and so on and so forth, is it wrong to do that, hoping to fit better in the community? Okay, trying to get this too detailed isn't working.

But basically, I don't have to judge myself for wanting friends, for even feeling like I need them. Just because someone important to me had a worldview that made them something of an island (depending
"ultimately" on God to meet these people-met needs - which is technically correct, if you see it as God meeting our needs through people but don't use it to separate yourself from needing people), anyway, just because that is someone else's view whose view means a lot to me, doesn't mean I have to see it that way.

So, friends, who have extended love to me and helped me feel like I belonged in this OCD blog community, I'm gonna try and embrace needing people and depending on people. Hopefully not to an unhealthy extreme. But just maybe I need to risk that extreme so that I can quit falling off my current side of the bridge and come back onto the bridge where the people who I need to be with are.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Time to add a therapist?

It was great to see my counselor today. I thought I was having a pretty good day, but still ended up crying during my appointment. "And this is me on a good day," I told her. But she said, "No, I've seen you on a good day, and this is not it." I guess she was right. Especially since I often don't cry during appointments.

Anyway, I also talked with my psychiatrist on the phone on Tuesday, and we have it settled so that I'll take a higher dose for part of the month and then go back to my regular SSRI dose for the rest of the month and see if that helps even out my rollercoaster.

I did show my blogged "letter" to my doctor to my therapist, and she told me to mail it to my doctor. Except that she said I should clarify the ending. Apparently when I wrote that I was running out of time (meaning my allotted time on the library computer was just about up and the computer would soon shut me off), it sounded too much like I was running out of time here on earth. Which wasn't the case. At least, no more than it is the case for every living creature on the planet. So I'll mail that, even though the one time I brought in writing to show him, he turned it down, saying he wanted to hear how I was doing directly from me. The problem is, I'm not communicating it well enough in spoken words. So hopefully he will read my writing.

I also feel like a charity case now that he has reduced his rate so much for me. I'm afraid to suggest an appointment earlier than he does, because I don't want to take advantage of his offer. But that is getting in the way of my getting my needs met - and I don't mean to sound selfish; I just mean that for my sake and the sake of people around me (perhaps with the exception of my psychiatrist, who might "loose money" on me if I see him more or take more of his time), I want to recover as much health as possible.

Anyway, my blog title is really to try and have a catchy title, too see if more people will read it (truly, that is an interesting phenomenon that I try to observe; the better titles seem to get read more), but it is also because of this; my therapist suggested that EMDR might help me, only she isn't trained in it. I've only turned down two therapists who are trained in EMDR so far. And I don't intend to go back to them. But I'm reluctantly planning to investigate the matter again.

Because I'm really frustrated. I'm nearing the third year mark with therapy, and I want to have gotten further. I'm a little afraid that I've gotten stuck in a rut with my current therapist, who I trust lots, who understands me pretty well, and who is pretty good with OCD and exposure response prevention.

Anyway, she said I could think of it as adding a therapist instead of switching therapists. I don't have to stop seeing her. I could see her in the middle, or call, or go back to seeing her afterwards.

Anyway, once again I'm running out of time (on this computer reservation at the library before the computer shuts down on me), so I need to wrap up: Do any of you have experience with EMDR, either positive or negative or neutral? Anything? Or any other type of therapy other than cognitive and behavioral? Thanks in advance for any input.

Movie ratings for mental health

I added a tab to my blog, "Movie ratings for mental health." I might change the name to something better worded. But here is the idea:

A friend and I were talking about how there should be warnings for movies that have suicide and mental hospitalizations and stuff like that in them. These can be triggers some of us want to avoid.

Well, if you know of something like that; please share! I have no need to reinvent the wheel. But if there is no wheel yet, then this "Movie ratings for mental health" is my small attempt. There is probably a more efficient way to make such a thing, even just randomly on the internet, but oh, well, this is what I know how to do, and it is a start.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My therapist did call me back yesterday. She got permission for me to raise the dose on one medication, and she said that my psychiatrist would call me Monday. She said it would be helpful for him if I can tell him the exact days that I tend to go downhill and back uphill (since I think there is a pattern going on).

Talk about a nerve-wracking proposal. I mean, a marriage proposal would qualify as more nerve-wracking, so maybe mine is a little petty. But to think of my doctor calling me, and my trying again to communicate over the phone what I apparently failed to communicate in person... And exact days? It is one thing when I am frustrated and tired and crying to inform my counselor that I'll probably start feeling better soon for about two weeks and then get worse again for another two weeks. But exactly? Oh, wait, she said "exact" in the normal interpretation, not the OCD version.

What can I say? I've gone over it, but here it is again.

Doctor, I've had a taste of what I hear mental health feels like. I've actually been glad to be alive. I've been able to handle washing the dishes in my sink and cleaning my bathroom. It felt like the sun came out. And now I know the sun is out there, and I don't want to settle for less.

So, even though work, school, and church are going well on the surface - and indeed going pretty well - and even though my original worst obsession has pretty much left me, I get frustrated with missing the sun, with having this feeling of abstract sadness that I had begun to hope could actually go away. I get anxious about little things, and it makes me mad. Because I know it is a stupid issue, with the part of my brain that isn't overreacting. Because I know it doesn't have to be this way.

And not every day, but still too many days a month, it takes work to exist, too much effort to wash those dishes stacking up on my counters. And cleaning the bathroom? What a joke. Not near high enough on my priority list.

I can look on my mood chart, and I see my mood getting worse and better and worse and better, and actually, when we increased the Lexapro dose from 15mg to 20mg, I continued in my better and worse flow without any particular change in my pattern, though two weeks into it I felt better again for a few days.

And this up-and-down mood, I get frustrated, because one moment, I can't believe how happy I am, and a couple hours later, I am down to considering whether or not I want to be here on earth. And then in a few hours or days or weeks, I'm back to being oh, so happy, only to drop back down in another hour or day or week or two. I'm frustrated because I can't keep the figurative sunshine in my life.

Maybe I'll even cry, but chances are, I wont cry until after he hangs up. Yay. My counselor says, "You don't have to act in front of him."

I'm not usually trying to. But I guess I do follow the ingrained "don't cry in front of people" message in my head. Let's not forget how "terrible" it would be to cry with the purpose of influencing a person. That's probably a sin. Therefore, crying in front of my psychiatrist must be wrong. Not. Really, how do you share what you feel with a psychiatrist in 3 minutes or less? Make that 5 minutes or less?

I doubt myself. I wonder if I really feel bad. I wonder if this is all there is. I wonder... I'm afraid I'll accidently mislead you, doctor. I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing. I'm afraid I'll cry when I shouldn't or not cry when I should. I'm afraid I'll do it wrong, even though I don't know what right is. I want something better, and I've heard that there is something better. But then I live up to that annoying word, "functional." So I can go to work, take college classes, go to church. But if my stress increases much at all, I'm wishing for death again. I want to be further from that cliff.

I want a miracle. But I know that maybe I can't have it. Only, I need to keep hoping for one, even if it is a slow-moving miracle.

And I'm going to keep seeing my counselor. And I'll keep working on improving my mental health. But if medication can't fix it, how can therapy? How long are we going to blame my "issues" from growing up. I look young. And I am young, but I'm not a teenager any more.

Peter Kramer talks about fighting depression until it is gone. That's what I want. That's what I wish from both you and my counselor and myself.

And I'm running out of time, so goodbye for now.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm glad I called my therapist. She talked with me about it (see previous post), and she offered to call my psychiatrist the next day (today). Some of my thoughts were not substantiated since I hadn't asked him particular questions. But I think I still present better than I might feel when I see the psychiatrist - actually, I tend to feel pretty good when I see him and only want to cry afterwards. Anyway, my hope was given a boost when I talked to her.

And my anxiety was given another thing to bug me about. Did I say the right things, am I making too big a deal out of this, etc.

But no problem; my anxiety mostly switched topics to my current virus. Saw my regular doctor again today. I wanted to know how contagious I am and what precautions I should be taking. So somewhat OCDish. But after talking to him, I have somewhat solved that issue (not OCDish, since OCD likes to keep bothering you after you get clarity on an issue). So I feel better about that.

I plan to plant my garden today. I have to stop by the store to get some seeds and some violets. Possibly, the frost will return and kill my violets, but I think it is worth the risk. I want to see flowers blooming in my garden, now! :)

And I don't have to freak out about sharing my germs. I just need to avoid kids and not shake hands until Monday. Other than that, I can be around people. What a relief. Grounding myself to my little apartment wasn't helping my mood, especially since this virus is more annoying me that making me feel flat out sick. Sore throat, bit of a rash. Doesn't stop me from wanting to be out and about.

And my therapist said she'd call me after trying to contact my psychiatrist. So things are looking up for the moment. And next week, work will start back up to distract me until my next counseling appointment Wednesday.

Oh, and school is looking up, too. I really should be able to graduate next spring without taking more than 7 credits each semester. Hurray!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Depression - treated "good enough"?

I was just over reading Tina's blog post relating to the seriousness of depression. Fits right in with my current thinking and reading. My current reading is Against Depression by Peter Kramer.

And then my appointment with my psychiatrist. I showed him my pretty graphs of my mood. He noticed how my sleep was pretty steady. I'll agree on that. My sleep has improved to a pretty nice spot and held. Other than that?

Guess what; I'm functional.

Do you know what that means? It means that the doctor can say things like what he said, "Sometimes we use medication to keep you steady so that you can do the work in therapy."

Uh-huh. Since, obviously, my mood is getting better from my therapy while the medication keeps me steadily in the never-never land between health and severe depression. My mood ratings are the same, whether I show the paper to my therapist or my psychiatrist. Face it! My mood has plateaued for the winter (i.e., since December), with ups and downs, and it is a little worse than last summer.

But I should be okay with that. And if I'm not, I should just thank Freud for all his hard work providing a therapy that doctors can send me to when they are done messing with my meds. Because my psychiatrist thinks I'm still dealing with "issues" from my childhood and my family and upbringing.

Uh-huh. So year after year, the story remains the same. "You are growing up. Learning to be your own person. When you get settled, you will get better. Probably eventually wont even need medication."

What a pity that the people who actually talk about mental illness with me happen to be in it long term. (P.S., if you are reading this, and you talk about mental illness, and you're in for the short term, that is fine, too; I'm glad you are here, too.)

So is it that I just want to be in long term care?

Uh-huh. You want to be in long term care. That, Abigail, is why you want to be all the way recovered instead of just "held stable enough." Because you just love this experience.

Well, so I'm kind of angry. I don't necessarily mean that the Dr. should change my medication. Or maybe I do. Now that I'm not in danger of killing myself, the medication is working well enough.

Haven't we gone through this already? "This feeling you have isn't normal; you can feel better."

"You are feeling better. Now we just hold things steady."

Yeah. Steady. So what do you mean? That this is it? This is my mangled piece of pie for my life?

Oh, no. Psychotherapy should help. I mean, forget that its track record isn't so much better than medication (if better at all). Forget that combined therapy and medication have left me on this beautiful plateau. Something will make me better soon. Since obviously, near on three years of weekly therapy isn't enough, but in a few more months, I'll be better.

I guess I'm unfair to my psychiatrist.

I wish I could have an appointment split over two days so that I could think on his words and then come back intelligently with my issues.

Hah! My issues are no longer enough. No longer worthy of the psychiatrist's time (catastrophizing, anybody? Abigail?). Now I'm "healthy" enough. Suck it up, wont you, Abigail? Like really, what were you expecting, joy and happiness and sunny days in your mind every day? Hah, wanting to really live? What a joke. That was a myth. We tell that to people in the hospital. No, wait, we don't tell it then, either. The "suck it up" line works so much better.

Forget the health risk. Forget my increased risk of heart problems. Forget the holes that might be developing in my brain. I'm just too "sensitive," wishing for something that isn't. See? It is a "God-sized hole" after all, and if you'd just love Him enough...

Oh, good, what is this, day three of crying? Keep this up and you might qualify as being a bit depressed, enough that you should go talk to your counselor and get over your childhood and move on with your stupid life.

How is this, nasty commentator, defender of stigma against depression, encourager of doctors leaving depression on hold once it is "stable" enough. My new assumption that I actually wanted to live was based on the fairy tales that things get better, that lots of people actually want to live, that my feelings were depression, that they weren't a character defect. If you want drama, I suppose I could give it... But really? You told me I didn't need drama to qualify for help.

Okay, I'll try to believe you again. I'll call my counselor. The one I didn't get to see yesterday because I canceled because I'm sick with a virus or something.

And, just to be clear, I'm quite safely within the choosing to live range. I'm just annoyed. Well, the stronger version of annoyed.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My merry-go-round

I've been keeping a mood log since sometime last May, or maybe June. I've done it on the OpenOffice software similar to Excel. This means I can do cool stuff like make charts and graphs to see how my mood has swooped around over the last year. This last week, I found that you can also put in a trend line over your chart. This was neat, but disturbing. I used it over charts made from week averages for the last 10 or 11 months. I learned that:
  • My depression at its best (each day, then averaged per week) is getting better.
  • My depression at its worst (each day, then averaged per week) is getting worse.
  • My anxiety is getting worse.
  • My sleep time is increasing.
  • My exercise time is decreasing.
Or, in short, my worst is getting worse. So then I wonder if I'm using the same standards to judge my mood as I was using in May last year. After all, the mood ratings are subjective, done each day, or occasionally every few days. But what if anxiety that I called a 5 in May would be called a 6 in my current rating system? And guess what, I don't think I can answer that question.

So then I'm left with feeling low about how my mood is getting worse over all instead of better. That isn't right! I should be feeling better. I don't have as much suicidal ideation as I did prior to my current medication selection (which started over a year ago, though with some dosage change). But stress keeps coming up. I wonder if I just always push myself to my stress limit (and when I don't, circumstances come in to help me stress more). For example, this winter. Stress at work, stress starting a new semester. Stress about one group project part A. Stress about the other group project. Stress about the first group project part B. Stress about needing a new job. Stress about... Well, I've tabled the new job issue. I'm scheduled for 4 days a week right now, and really, three day weekends are helpful (except for the lack of income). So that issue is off. So why am I blue now? Oh, the clouds and my sad charting discovery. And my messy house. And the fact that it feels like work to exist again. No, now I'm talking about depression, not outside stressors. Change, change, change. Oh, family time. That can be a stressor, even when things go well.

Now, I'm actually hungry, because I didn't eat enough for lunch. So my thinking is a little extra clouded. And the sky is cloudy, so I need to go home and sit by my therapy light. Maybe that will help.

Anyway, I see my psychiatrist Wednesday, so I get extra introspective leading up to that because I want to be able to give him an accurate picture of how I'm doing (and yes, I know OCD may see that as an open invitation to apply perfectionistic doubts to my brain).

I feel frustrated, too, because my mood is all over the place. I get some good news and I'm SO, SO, SO relieved. A little later, something bothers me, and the worse depressed thinking pops in for a quick moment. But I might be happy a little later and sad a little later, and blah a little later, and confused a little later. Welcome to my merry-go-round.

Oh, and my charting mentioned up above? My mood also does this scalloped thing where it rises to a peak, swoops down and then rises again, like a sketch of the ocean. That is one reason that I don't feel like I'm that depressed. The worst stuff doesn't last forever. None-the-less, according to my charts, the ocean is crooked, with an over-all trend going up for my worse depression and anxiety, down for my better depression, and I already told you that information.

Well, happy Sunday. Really. I think mine will be okay, too, because I plan to go home and sit on my couch and watch dvds. I think I can handle that and even enjoy it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

this, that, and photos

Do you ever start clicking back and forth from one window to another to another and back again in your internet browser? I do sometimes. It is irritating because it slows the computer down on top of being inefficient and basically a way for me to spin my wheels and get nowhere. Indecision? Absentmindedness? Forgetfulness? Who knows. Maybe it is visible evidence of my brain's decline as I try to multitask. Pardon me as I go check out the square foot gardening page again.

Back again, while I wait for a new page to load.

Anyway, I worked a 5 day work week, which is very good for my paycheck. And okay for me. Thursday, I thought it was my last day, so I had that encouragement through the (rough) morning. Then I got home and felt sad about what I was going to do with all my time with the long weekend, and then I got asked to work Friday. So that is just about perfect, especially since today was a pretty smooth day.

Mood-wise, I feel all mixed up this week. Relieved one minute when something scarey is resolved, happy the next (resulting from relief?), but then a little later, something will bother me, and I'll be thinking depressed thoughts. Perhaps a little like the weather... rain, clouds, sun, wind, dry, wet, cold, warm. Yup, sounds like me and the weather both.

I finished collecting my Playmobil family for my dollhouse. Which reminds me: when in doubt of what to say, upload pictures!

I think I mentioned my new furniture made from one of those kits with wood pieces you put together into models, or in this case, doll house furniture. "Staining" the wood with watered down paint was fun, but seems to have lightened after it dried - probably wasn't fully dry when I took the photo. The wood sink and high cupboard in the background are the original wood color.
More of my wood furniture - I've only painted the piano and stool in this picture, and I haven't finished the keys on the piano yet.
And the daffodils are just a bonus picture unrelated to my dollhouse except my their aesthetic quality.




Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Cleaning

I, who put off washing dishes like the plague, have been bitten by some sort of cleaning bug. Incidentally, it hasn't helped the dishes. What a pity.

It has helped me throw out stacks and stacks of paper. Like tax papers from 5 plus years ago, that had disturbing OCD strings attached. I suppose it was a hidden compulsion. Save your papers so that if you ever need to go back and redo the tax papers you must have gotten wrong, you can. Year after year. Self torture. Well, them papers are in the garbage, with guinea pig cage-cleaning leftovers on top.

And my papers from my time in Puerto Rico? Well, it only took me almost 6 years to face that closed door in my life. (I spent three trying to reopen it, before it was shut finally, and the next 3 years amusing myself - I mean working on dealing with OCD and depression, which is amusing, but is not always pleasant, though there are nice moments). So, I got my PR papers into ONE GIANT NOTEBOOK! Plus the paintings reproduced on cards, which sit politely in their box - they didn't fit in the two inch, bulging notebook.

And my papers from high school, hence, my last post. But I didn't tell you the second act to that drama - the one that let it end happy. The second act went further back, into my stuffed "Special Saves" files. These had cards and lots of pieces of paper that triggered pleasant memories.

Like when I was little, and our back yard was "Elkton," and we made deeds. Printed out on the old printing paper with the tear-off edges that have holes in them to help feed the paper through or something like that. There were properties for the older five of us marked out in pen. And a note in red with multiple exclamation points stating that these deeds weren't FOREVER but were subject to change. The important, in obvious things that must be written on a child's deed. I ended up aborting my sort through of these happy files; I had already combined my two file boxes into one, so I just kept the rest of my happy files.

But am I content yet? No. I started to defrost my freezer, which is not separated from my dorm-sized fridge, so I only defrosted as long as I could bring myself to keep my milk sitting out, which still leaves lots of ice for next time. And I bribed myself to wash a few more dishes in the "wash the dishes so that you can go clean out that tub of miscellaneous stuff you want to sort through" way.

But, the plastic tub did not contain the birthday present I purchased for the sibling who's birthday is very, very, very near. So I don't know where I put it, which is frustrating. It might be in my car, which has not yet benefited much from my cleaning/sorting streak. Well, I want to publish this before my computer starts alarming about low battery, so that will be enough for now.

Oh, post script. I've been thinking recently about how long I'm going to lie low and fight the mental illness monsters as my main goal or one of my main goals. I think I might want to push it down to third or fourth place (still really important, but not the driving force). I think I might want to dare dream again and pursue the sort of job I dreamed of instead of settling for less. I mean, I might not find the dream job, and I might stay here, but the attitude is different. Not living in fear of the mental illness monster (though sticking to locations with mental health resources available).