Sunday, October 12, 2014

Struggling past my own mind

Well, I've tried twice, but the photo is not uploading. But it is of my new mini fridge. Only the new one is bigger than my old one. And most important of all, it has a separate door for the freezer. For the first time in over two years, I can buy frozen food and actually expect to keep it frozen! My old one had a tiny freezer compartment within the fridge, but it froze parts of the refrigerator while permitting part off the freezer to thaw out. Thus, it was only good for things that didn't HAVE to stay frozen for food safety reasons.

 So that is my happy news.

On the mental health front, I have to "baby" myself. At least that is how it feels. This poor brain here does fine sometimes, but other times the tears come. Which is interesting because it has been a while since I've cried this much. And frustrating because I find myself needing help. Needing the extra hug. Needing to cry with a friend. Very annoyed at needing my friends, but also very grateful to have them.

Today was Sunday, (duh,) which for me involved going to church and Bible study. The sermon was about taking responsibility and serving at church, not as a we-need-help-in-such-and-such-ministry, but as in it will help us grow in our relationship with God. The context was graceful, not legalistic. But through my cloud of depression, I heard, "See? You are sinning by taking a break from helping on the music team." That wasn't what the pastor was saying; that was just what I was hearing.

 Then came Bible study, and more mishearing. This time with tears. Bathroom break! Thankfully my eyes seem good at hiding tears (or at least are good enough that I think they hide my tears, and my perception is most important in this case :-)... But afterwards, I was able to talk to a friend who was able to confirm my suspicion that I was mishearing. Who was able to assure me that it really was okay to take a break from helping with music.

And then I took a nap.

So I am too much in the vulnerable nitty-gritty of mental illness to advocate to the general public about mental illness this year during mental health awareness week (which technically has already ended yesterday). My mental health struggle is generally reserved for people like you who I am fairly confident won't respond with judgement (or will at least keep it to yourself :-) ). Because I'm not ready to stand against stigma right now. Hey, I'm busy fighting the stigma in my own mind. But later, when I'm better, I hope to advocate with less reserve.













Wednesday, October 8, 2014

update

Wow have I been neglecting my blog. I did see my psychiatrist. He raised the dose of one medication. Since then, I've sometimes felt better and I've other times wondered how I could be so extremely tired and yet still exist and get to work and do my job. I switched to taking the higher dose of the ssri in the evening instead of the morning, and that helped at first.


But then I took vacation time from work. Which was really special because I got to help my sister out with her new baby. But my brain out of it's schedule? Not good. So the depression and anxiety increased.


Especially when I found house fly maggots in my guinea pig cage. Eww, gross! The worst, though, was thinking that my procrastination in cleaning my guinea pig's cage had put my pet in this situation (which could - but most likely wouldn't - be life threatening to the pig). So my anxiety had a hay day (however you spell that). My counselor asked, didn't I know my anxiety was going to the extreme worst scenarios? Oh, yes, of course I knew that. Then why did I let myself go there, she wondered. Why indeed? Pretty sure it has something to do with why I have OCD in the first place! Awareness of a mental distortion is much different that stopping it. And even though I rationally knew that I was stretching the bounds of rational, my anxiety was still there. After all, (and how many times have I said this?) anxiety isn't bound by reason.


Anyway, I got through that, and so did my guinea pig, apparently without injury, to my great relief. I got through the vacation time. And I went back to work, which was super nice. And then the super tiredness came back. And the depression spike on the weekend. And so on and so forth. So now I'm not so sure if the dose increase is going to work.


And I'm struggling with justifying my need for help. This is kind of ridiculous, and I deal with it fairly often when my depression is bad but not as bad as it could be (as in, I'm safely on the outside of the hospital). Oh, this drives me nuts. Because part of me thinks I have to get worse to deserve help. And the part of me whose thinking hasn't been so distorted is like, no. Your struggle is bad enough to deserve help. And you don't want to get any worse. So we're going to enjoy every positive left and just not go there, at least not without being drug there by my brain chemicals.


And then, I think there was one more thing. Which I'm forgetting. Oh, yeah. Back to the tiredness. Long ago (as in, a couple years ago) I used to pretend I used super powers to get out of bed in the morning and such. Well, I'm not back to super powers, quite, but I'm back to telling myself, "You're strong, you can do this." See, I have this mental health toolbox with lots of good tools in it. But I have bad memories associated with some of these tools. Because some of them are not needed unless I'm struggling a lot. So if you wonder why someone who has a good toolbox isn't using it, maybe they are like me and don't want to deal with the associated memories.


Especially since I tried and partially convinced myself that since I was young, my depression would go away, at least for several years, not just several months. And being wrong, at least wrong for the time being, is extremely disappointing.


Well, back to work. Semi-super powers are charged enough to get me through the rest of the work day, I think. And then I get to see my counselor!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

lost

Perhaps you've heard the saying about wishing babies/children came with a manual. I would like a manual for my own life. Why am i exhausted? How depressed am i really? Is the naturopathic route for me, or am i pouring money down the drain? How much does it matter which brand of fish oil and multivitamins and probiotics i take? I know the naturopathic doctor doesnt think there is any interaction problem with thesehomeopathic remedies, but is there? One of the (regular, not naturopathic) medications he prescribed that i take two of (and then no more) actually may interact with Seroquel; and even the pharmasist wouldnt have figured that out if i hadnt specifically asked if I could take it at the same time of evening as i take Seroquel. (It could practically make the Seroquel stronger, an effect i wasnt tooworried about.)

I finally, at the urging of my counselor, called my psychiatrist's office to see if I could get in earlier. It feels like defeat; I'm finally admitting that I need/want help again. My 10 or 11 month avoidance of my psychiatrist is over.

When my counselor looked back to see when this downhill slide started, it started in November. Sure, it wasnt constant; i still had good times. But the grey cloud has been approaching for a while. So will it stop now, or get worse? I dont know. I need to think a bit positively; wouldnt want a bad self-fulfilling prophecy on my hands. So we will have to see. My counselor said I shoukd ask Mr. Psychiatrist about the naturopathic stuff.

 Really, with the naturopathic stuff, i guess i felt like if i didnt try it, then my depression would be my fault. The ladies praying for me asked if i would be willing to try it. So i decided ivwas willing. Hey, what could it hurt? But the naturopathic doctor doesnt seem to understand very well about depression. He said something about our goal being to move the depression back to mild. That isnt my goal; i stubbornly hold out hope for depression reaching non-existent. He also said homeopayhic remedies tend to make things worse in the short run but better in the long run. While that may indeed be my fate, there is something infuriating about being moderately to borderline severely depressed and hearing someone's plan for your recovery includes getting worse. Does this doctor not realize that severe depression is a suicide risk? Mind you, I'm being a bit extreme when I say that, because I'm pretty well tied to living. But it still made me mad. And that is why I think the naturopathic doctor doesnt really understand strong clinical depression.

In the mean time, most treatment options involve s lot of time. Which is annoying to me. But at least I can try to be on the right track. And exercise. That would be good, too.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

homeopathic medication?

My recent (as in, the last few months) increase in depression led to talking with friends, which this time led to the suggestion of going to a naturopathic Dr, not to necessarily to replace my psychiatrist and primary care provider, but merely to try another angle in addition to what I have tried. So this time, I did. The visit was nice and long (over an hour), which was very nice. He also did some kind of testing where he tested my muscle strength in one hand while having me hold a container in the other hand. This was fascinating because with some containers he could easily pull my thumb and ring finger appart while with a few, I could actually keep my fingers together. I was impressed. I accepted the remedy he mixed up and took my first dose that night. If you are bored, keep reading, because it gets more interesting.

The paperwork instructions told me to be very observant of how my body responded in the next 48 hours, and to continue with the same dose or change it based on my response. This response was presumed to fall within four categories, but the categories did not cover all possible scenarios, mainly, it did not have an option for nothing at all happening. I found that annoying. Now I find it potentially disturbing.

My "results" might have included better days at work, but the better days might have happened anyway - after all, were I to get an unrelated adverse effect never before experienced, I would be asked if there was any other factor in my life besides the remedy that could have caused it.

My other response was feeling like I was on trazedone by around 7 or 8 at night. Not fun, mind you. But that could be from being plain old super tired.

Anyway, after 48 hours, I was feeling much less comfortable with the idea. So I did a little research. And here is the disturbing, almost hillariosly disturbing thing I learned: "Lyss" was enough to search along with "homeopathic" to find that what I am taking is FROM THE SALIVA OF A DOG WITH RABIES!!! Needless to say, I was not happy. I skipped any dose last night after reading that. But then I had a terrible time going to sleep.

So today, I talked to my friend and got just enough reassurance to convince me to take it tonight. Which is considerably less appealing when I think about what is in it! I just have to make it to Monday when I can call the Naturopathic Dr and hopefully obtain more peace about it. And a bit more clarity on the issue.

But can you imagine the response I'd get if the medication sent me into a psychiatric emergency and I went to the hospital and said I had just started taking a homeopathic remedy made from diluted rabid dig saliva?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

experiencing depressed thinking creeping in

I switched to teaching 3-year-olds. It is going pretty well. I am enjoying working with slightly older kids, working on name recognition and doing parts of crafts that I didn't let my toddlers do (like squeezing out the glue to stick wings on the space rocket). Admittedly, I still had a hand on the bottle most of the time... It is so important to let the kids do art themselves and not to "fix" it for them, but the perfectionist in me is hard pressed sometimes to let things turn out differently than I had planned. But it has been good.

But my life stress level has definitely bumped up a notch. And the depression thinking is kicking into gear. It is like a fever, or throwing up, or coughing. It means I'm sick with a mental illness.

No problem; I know how to deal with that.

As long as I don't freak out. Here is my one paragraph lament; I never wanted to feel this way again! What if it gets worse? I hate depression!

Okay, now that is done. But I think I will call my counselor and try to see her this month instead of waiting until the end of July. See, I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I didn't need to see her every month. When I see her, I'm often doing well - it is between visits now that my depression shows up. So I pull back into my brain the random condemnation some people have thrown into the air, about those people who wont just live their life on their own but have to keep bugging a counselor. Weak people. Or monetarily wasteful people. Or both.

What happened to my belief that seeing my counselor as a preventative measure was okay? I take medication day in day out to keep the depression off, why can't I see my counselor once a month or every few weeks for the same reason?

Because I still want to be able to "man up" and handle my brain on my own. Ah, well. Better humble and happy than proud and depressed, right?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

HALT

Perhaps you've heard the acronym HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. I would add Stressed and Sick to it.

But currently, mine would be more like HLTS, hungry, lonely, tired, stressed. And annoyed, because I told my counselor when I saw her nearly two weeks ago that the way things are going, I should be depressed again in two weeks and fine in a month. I'm annoyed because it turns out I was right. But why?

Hungry - my schedule got mixed up, working late on Wednesday and Thursday and then staying up late (like I'm doing right now) with the weekend, which is longer, so I am more messed up. Tired, for the same reasons, plus not being able to fall asleep last night when I wanted to at midnight (which probably explains my extreme hesitance towards going to bed tonight even though I really, really need sleep. Lonely. It is a long weekend. And I keep eying people's babies with a bit of jealously. I want my own baby. But I don't get that right now. I get my kids at work. And my guinea pig. Neither of which are the same as having your own baby.

And stressed. At work, we are switching from the school-year schedule to the summer schedule. This includes kids moving around to different classes. And since I decided to switch age groups, I'm also switching classrooms (still not sure what room I will be in for the summer). And back to switching age groups, that is something. I've been caring for 1 and 2-year-olds for 5 and a half years. Switching to 3 and 4 year olds is, well, a change. I'm very much looking forward to it. But it is still a change. I just sorted through my large collection of board books at home, setting aside the more baby-ish ones and keeping the ones I thought were still good for the three-year-olds. It is really exciting. Good stress.

Still stress.

Well, I'm going to make a try at sleeping. Sometimes it helps me not stress out as much about insomnia if I have a plan: If my normal routine fails, I can... lets see. I could turn on the tv and watch something fairly boring. I think that would actually work.

And then tomorrow, I'm having lunch with friends that I don't know very well. I'm looking forward to it, but also struggling with my anxiety about it.

Oh, and did I mention my dear, sweet, rusty old car? The one that needs to be repaired before I fill it with gas again, or there will likely be a nice puddle of expensive, wasted gas beneath my car again? And that I'm not in control of it's getting fixed? A friend's husband is going to fix it. When the right part is obtained. And schedules meet close enough. Out of my control, as I said. But the shop I went to already tried to fix it twice. Then I told them I would accept a refund, and they actually gave me one. So my bank account doesn't look bad, but my car... is a bit worrisome.

Anything else? No, just normal things like wondering how poorly I'm doing at caring for my guinea pig (I should clean his cage more often, for one thing...), getting down on myself for dropping my groceries on either side of the short path from my bed to the door and then leaving most of the stuff there, on either side of said path.

So it is time for the toolbox. We'll go for sleep first. I might be better in the morning. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

medication and "you can't save them all"

Well, I've got two things to say. The first is, despite how much psych meds seem to have helped me (after all, it is pretty hard to prove exactly what medication or therapy is responsible for what improvement), and despite my knowing others who have benefited from psych medication, and despite all I've read that supports psych medication, I still struggle when I come up against anti-medication proponents.

Could I be this healthy without medication? Could I have white-knuckled it back to health? Should I have? Should I stand only on ERP, exposing myself to misery so that I can be happy? And not just on a few things but on everything OCD has ever thrown my way, with all the strength it had pre-medication? It is tiring even to think of it.

And the answer? Who knows. I've chosen to include the medication route in my treatment. It isn't always easy. Then again, it can work great. But I am happy now, and that counts for something. It counts for a lot. People say, you wont always be happy. But that isn't the kind of happiness I mean. Well, it includes that. But what I mean is that feeling of not having an invisible elephant riding on your brain all the time. The sense that the world comes in color instead of just black and white - or just grays. The sense that I have value, along with the people around me. The feeling like I belong on earth, like I actually should be alive. Perhaps if you haven't lost and then regained this (or if you never had it and still haven't ever had it), then this doesn't seem so valuable and amazing and priceless. But I lost it. And I got it back. And I am SO, SO thankful. Medication is a risk well worth the chance to regain this after it is lost (or never was). At least to me. However, I could see someone mid-darkness, mid-depression not understanding. And I could see someone who had never lost this not understanding. And then, medication wont work for everyone. And also, I did go through lots of therapy on my way here.

One other thing was said to me today. That saying, "you can't save them all." Sounds cruel to a perfectionist. What? You mean I can't significantly help every single person in need around me? You mean that some people who I try to help wont be helped, or wont be helped as much?

Yeah. That is exactly what I mean. I'll still try to help people, as a friend, as a teacher, etc. I still will try for the most helpful results possible. But if I don't get an A in every endeavor, that is okay. That is life. Permission to fail when success is not really in my control. (And when success is in my control, too. I'm still human, and that is okay.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

of tassels and graduation

Need I say more? Of course, I will say more anyway. :)
 See that big building in the background? All dedicated to Early Childhood Education and Research? (Hear the undercurrent that hints of a future quest for a Master's degree? But not yet!)
 One of my favorite pictures due to the beautiful mountains, but not quite my favorite due to the tassel still being on the un-graduated side.
 My sister drove up and I drove down and we met in the middle far from either of our homes at the college I attended from a 10 or more hour drive away (online).
 I just can't stick to traditional poses. And I'm pretty sure the sun was bright.
After I had lost my tassel. I wasn't ready to wear my hat in this picture without my tassel. That was too sad.

Speaking of the lost tassel, we walked way too long looking for it. I was not dressed for a long walk. And we didn't find it.

But while we are still on the tassel subject, since that seems to be a main theme, and because I want to tell you, I was able to order a replacement tassel, so I now have one that looks just like the original one, light blue for the college of education, with the correct year attached.

And now, here it is; I graduated with honors (magna cum laude) and got my Bachelor of Science degree in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education.

And along with my changing education level, I'm not changing jobs. But I am changing age groups, only not because of my degree, per se. I.e., my degree would serve me well (without any financial advantage) whether I taught toddlers or preschool. Furthermore, good toddler teachers are just as important as good preschool teachers.

Nonetheless, I'm moving from teaching toddlers to teaching preschoolers, same place, same boss, different classroom, different age, slightly different schedule.

And I'm so excited! But now my shelves full of board books at home will need to be sorted through and mostly put in storage (perhaps where it already is; it's expected usage will merely change). And my toddler toys that are too far on the baby side are going into storage. But my brain and my excitement are staying out of storage.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

my version of being a "cat lady" and Easter (the two topics separately)

Last night, I looked around my home and thought, here it is, my sad preschool teacher (in my case toddler teacher) existence. And so I took pictures of it for you. I am not a cat lady. I only have a guinea pig. Instead, I'm a teacher of little kids. And I spend my money accordingly. Well, maybe I should spend it less, but I do spend it fairly consistently with what I care about. So this, my friend, is what a single lady toddler teacher's studio apartment might look like, down to the mess. I use most of my cleaning impulses up at work.
Toys, toys everywhere and not a drop to drink, to misquote Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
This (the cars, people, and animals) is most of the result of one of my larger thrift store purchases. You know my kiddos will be thrilled to play with the cars. At least the ones they consider cool, which should be most of them. But where shall I store them in my tiny apartment? Meanwhile, they are like a constant OCD trigger (I could call them an exposure, but I'm really not so sure I'm doing much Response Prevention, and OCD doesn't want me to risk telling a lie). Did. I. Waste. My. Money??? Possibly. Oh, how terrible. Now where will I store them. My kids will like them. But maybe I shouldn't have bought them. Oh, dear. Now where will I store them. Loop complete. Well, if it could be completed and still be a never ending loop. P.S. I would just love for you to reassure me that it was okay to buy so many cars for my classroom, but you probably shouldn't. Nonetheless, please don't make my exposure any bigger by assuring my OCD that I should not have bought them. I'll just satisfy myself with explaining my predicament and move on to other triggers.
Like my superbly messy studio apartment. Yes, I walk through it as if it was an obstacle course. Because it is, even if I didn't design it to be. Oh, and do you like the stack of pretty boxes on the wire shelves that now hold up my tv antenna? Safe to answer because OCD is busy elsewhere. The stack isn't straight. That keeps annoying me, but I always forget about it when I am up and moving, and Newton's law about things at rest (me) staying at rest is pretty accurate in this case.
And here is my kitchen. Yes, it is pretty much that small. And I am proud to show you how clean it is. There is not a giant pile of dishes from months ago. I think I even washed dishes last weekend.

And now, since people tend to only read one new post at a time (as far as I can tell and have experienced, I shall segue into my second post without actually changing posts, because I want to attempt to keep my audience for both posts that are now one post. This is my Easter post. My upbringing and OCD defying Easter post. I'd rather not say I was defying my upbringing, though. More choosing a different path. A path with Easter bunnies and chicks and eggs. Not real eggs, though, because both OCD and I dislike eggs, though not entirely for the same reasons. Anyway, here is my first Easter basket of my life as far as I can remember:
And here is the neatest, cleanest spot in my whole apartment, because I had to clear the table off to switch out my valentine's table cloth. By the way, if you want an Easter table cloth that isn't fabric but has that vinyl or something like vinyl surface, do not shop for it the day before Easter. At least where I live, they were gone. With the exception of ones that were merely striped or something not specifically Easter and two (and only two throughout every store I searched) oblong ones that were not round (and thus, would not be perfect). Correction, one was square, but it was too much into the yellows and oranges, and as you can see, I'm pretty big on the teal/light blue and the pink and purple. In short, Easter supplies disappear and there probably wont be multiple aisles of clearance afterwards like there can be after Christmas. Thus, I would advise anyone following my footsteps in deciding to begin their drastically different Easter celebration habits earlier than the weekend of Easter.

That about does it for my double post. Except that I want to mention the migraine that came today. It was mild enough that I wouldn't usually call it a migraine except that it was the exact same configuration and it annoyed me enough to still call it one. I am suspecting stress and some really disgusting Easter candy I ate last night along with staying up late and not eating too well. The candy was so not good that I actually replaced it with better candy (that was one cent cheaper - the advantage of Walmart over the dollar store) and threw the yucky stuff away. By the way, the other two kinds of candy that I got from the dollar store were good and are still in my eggs. And I gave up on trying to give myself the Easter-egg-hunting experience, at least this year. Throwing eggs around my apartment might work, especially with my apartment already being a messy obstacle course, but something about having the plastic eggs fall from that high and cracking open just isn't appealing. And I like my basket quite well. And the place mats are perfect, despite being almost a centimeter different in height. Why would you mass produce place mats that are not the same size? (The labeling said they were the same size.)

So, happy Easter. May you enjoy the pastel colors, rabbits, lambs, chicks, and eggs if you want to. And my enjoying pastel colors, rabbits, lambs, chicks, candy, and eggs does not change the fact that Jesus died for me and then came to life again, saving me. Jesus dying for me seemed pretty strange back when I wanted to kill myself. It is still something that I don't fully comprehend, but I'm okay with that. And I am grateful for Jesus making a way for me to come into a relationship with Him and stay out of hell. I didn't want to go to hell, even when I felt suicidal. I wanted non-existence or a better life, not a worse one.





Saturday, April 12, 2014

feeling better

Well, my friends, life has gotten better. Who knows if my migraines were scheduled to fade, or if cooking and eating ground beef for several days together, or if drinking water from a mold-free water bottle, or backing off chocolate, or answered prayer, or all or some of these resulted in the migraines leaving, but they have left. I still get the start of them, or something like them but not as strong, or a weaker version of them, but oh so much better.

And remarkably enough, simultaneously, I have regained (for the most part) my ability to fall asleep pretty normally instead of having to listen to the radio to distract my mind from it's rat race etc.

Thus, I have been sleeping more and eating better (until my ground beef sloppy joe mix ran out Thursday). And feeling much, much better. I tend to feel much better when I'm sleeping better, and if I feel worse and add not sleeping, that is just tough.

And I've read enough transcripts this semester to change my writing style, I fear. As if I'm talking. Or rather, as if some imitation of all the various lecture presenters is speaking. I did try to listen to this week's lecture, but waiting four seconds for every one second of play time (interspersed more or less like that) is painful. (Actually, I wouldn't have bothered trying except that the link to the transcript was missing). So I searched for the transcript, and it sounded like (in my head) a different version of the same lecture, because the introductory phrases were in a different order. So maybe the instructor does it live for the on-campus classes and the one video recorded for us was not 100% the same as the one transcribed for us. So I will confess to you all that I might not have read exactly the right words. My OCD is concerned about it. I am not concerned enough to suffer through a lecture delivered in one-to-three second segments interspersed with long moments of silence (well, actually, it is even better than that; the computer delivers the sound for the three seconds of material, then starts the video two seconds in, ending with two seconds of catch-up visuals with silence. Good for practicing lip-reading?).

I am so close to graduating that I can taste it. May 2, here I come.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Migraines, budgetting, and OCD/depression spike

Recently, I've been getting these headaches that one doctor once called migraines. They have been usually hitting about an hour or two before I need to get up in the morning, waking me up. Then I take over-the-counter medication, eat something (in case hunger is part of the problem), and try to fall back asleep, which, thankfully, has been mostly working. The thing is, even with falling back to sleep, it is interrupting my sleep, leaving me extra tired. Being extra tired is like sending an invitation to the OCD and depression monsters. Not to mention plain old stress.

The plain old stress in a particular situation had me breaking down at work. Just one day. And the people were nice about it. But it was a red flag warning that I need more rest.

Then there is budgeting. Who likes budgeting? But the problem for me is that OCD/depression/cognitive distortions jump it. Thus, budgeting falls into the category of things that are a tad risky for me. More dangerous things include fasting and dieting. Because I don't want OCDish thinking to jump in there and give me eating disorderish thoughts. So I don't fast and I don't go on a strict diet. Apparently, I shouldn't go on a strict budget, either.

Because where can I try to cut down my spending? Food. And is that a good idea? No. Not for me. Because when I am stressed and vulnerable, it is easy for me to not feed myself well. And that becomes a vicious cycle. Feel bad, eat less, feel worse, eat less, feel worse, force myself to eat...

Not to mention "discretionary" spending. You know, things like buying a new water bottle that doesn't have mold in it that I can't get out. Technically, I don't NEED that, so maybe it is a sin to buy it. Good old Scrupulosity OCD. It just loves to come shopping with me. It gives me that "OCD exposure" feeling when I go to check out at the store. It threatens me when I come home and am torn between enjoying my purchases and putting myself down for buying what I did.

So, after two weeks of successful budgeting followed by three weeks of less-and-less successful budgeting (pay day was further away), I sadly give up my strict budget. It feels like failure. It feels sinful. I mean, shouldn't a good person in my situation (i.e. credit card debt and a tight budget) be budgeting, sacrificing my wants so that I can pay down my debt as fast as possible?

But no. It is time to take care of myself. Which means spending money sometimes. Money cannot be the driving force in my life, or it will drive me back towards OCD and depression. And that really isn't cost effective, if you know what I mean. Little things like doctors bills and lack of ability to work kind of get in the way of "monetary health." I suppose only in the extreme, and maybe that wouldn't happen. Maybe I can "deny myself" my desires and live a sad, cost-effective life. But I'm choosing not to go that way. My sad apologies to the people who think I should use my money better (even if "those people" are really just me).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My version of a rant

Today was a tearful day. Not my tears. Toddler tears in the classroom. Did you know that dealing with a child's strong emotions is emotionally exhausting? A child upset about something - I don't even always know what. But some parts of the day just have to happen, whether the child likes it or not. But feeling empathy for my students, well sometimes it's just hard.

Then there are the disagreements that don't involve tears. The very subtle disagreements. Like when I'm thinking, you are going to take a nap, as I rub a child's back. And the child fights as long as possible to keep his or her eyes open. Really? Just go to sleep. Pleeeeeease! You need the sleep. You're body is ready to sleep. I need you to sleep!

There are, of course, wonderful moments. Reading books to children who are interested. The toddler who brings over the toy whale and talks about Jonah (a Jonah and the whale story is rather popular with the class right now). The toddler who gives up a toy car (the kind you ride in and move with your feet) saying it is another toddler's turn. Better yet, the second toddler saying he wants the first toddler to push him in the car. Moments when I think maybe we are getting somewhere in our quest to teach the toddlers to treat each other nicely.

But even wonderful moments don't remove all stress. Nor do they remove staying up late the night before to finish homework, followed by having trouble falling asleep.

I can tell when I've had a hard day when I start emphatically telling my guinea pig to "Sshhh!" I haven't got patience for the noise of his voice squealing repeatedly at me. Or when I get mad at the piece of chicken in my dinner because it isn't cutting and sticking on my fork properly. Perhaps I'm not so different from the child who just couldn't handle various small setbacks (like when I refused to hold the child while I stood up - I wanted to hold the child while I sat down on a chair, which is significantly less preferable to the child). Which loops right back to the empathy issue. I've been where small things have given me much irritation. If I still responded like a baby, I might try lying on the floor and kicking and screaming, too. However, it is no longer a natural response for me.

I'm sure exercise would be a recommended response. But I'm too tired and done in to convince myself to exercise despite not wanting to. So instead I'm left with trying to chill out by watching tv, writing a blog post, and breathing. Breath in, agitation out. Well, at this point, showering and heading to bed might be up there on the "best ways to take care of myself right now" list. Pretty sure they are near the top. So good night for now.

No, wait. Not quite. Figuring out the future. I mean, figuring out how I plan to approach the future. Stressful thing. I don't have to limit myself like I used to because of mental illness. I mean, I can't become a super hero, but within normal limits I can explore. Which is super exciting. And a bit exhausting and stressful. The biggest thing I've found so far is that I can't impose OCD-like time limits on my quest for future plans. It would be convenient to decide what change I do or don't want to make and hurry up and do it, because the idea of future change coupled with uncertainty is great for triggering anxiety. But the fact is, I don't know the answers now, and I'm not going to know the answers now. I'm still going to live now. I need to "embrace change" in my life. Because, guess what, for good things to happen (or bad things, it does go all ways), things have to change. For a church to grow, it has to change, because more people and/or more maturity will mean that things aren't exactly the same as they were. And the same is true in my life and in the lives of those around me. A niece or nephew on the way? I've waited so long for that! But it is change. Change I'm excited for. Finishing college? That for sure is a change. Another change I have longed for, but still a change. Life is full of change. Period, end of story. Or should I say period, end of sentence but with a whole lot more words and sentences to come?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Not knowing for sure is driving me crazy!

Do I have the flu? Do I not have the flu. Is the nausea from stress and anxiety? Or is it the dreaded stomach bug? If I go to work tomorrow, will I get sick and have to go back home? Would it turn out that I should have called in? If I call in sick, what if I'm not sick? Not to mention how work would probably be short staffed because of the lovely bug going around. But if I go, will I spread the bug to other people?

You would think I could move past it. I've been wondering for the past 24 hours, except between 3am and 11:30 am because at 3 I decided I wouldn't go to church so I could sleep in.

Oh, well. Now I've gotten caught up in a tv show. That might help. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Picking up after a flare-up.

Well, it is late and my brain isn't working superbly, but I'll go ahead and try to write anyway. Because I want to.

Recently, for whatever reasons, probably including being sick and cloudy weather, I had an anxiety and depression flare-up. It is dying down now. And it is a relief to see that. There are still extra sparks, like right now, my staying up this late (although it is a Friday night, so that isn't so far off). Or my having trouble getting myself to eat supper (put it off too long, so it got harder).

But there are also signs of returning to normal. My house is slowly getting cleaner. I've almost inspired myself to clean my guinea pig's cage. I actually spent 23 minutes exercising at the gym yesterday.

And then there are the tools that are out because I needed them again. My lists of "5 good things" that I sometimes write every day. My mental health blog. Seeing my counselor this week.

And there are the reminders; I had wanted to see my counselor a week early, but would I actually call her to see if she had time? No. Why not? Because I wasn't sure I felt bad enough for it to be worth it. Oh, the cognitive distortions of worthlessness. I can see it better now, as I come out the other side.

I suspect these flare-ups will follow me for a while, but I am a lot more able to handle them. My brain takes considerably longer (much longer) to jump into suicidal ideation (at my worst, it came up multiple times a day with urgency), and when it does start, I know better what it means (i.e., it means my depression is getting worse), so it doesn't freak me out as much. And...

Oh, I was going to say, I was remembering back to worse days and going through my depression and OCD flare-up, and I thought to myself, "How on earth did I do it?" It takes SO much energy to live in spite of depression and anxiety. Just having a fraction of what I had at my worst left me wondering how I did it back then. So, kudos to all of us who have fought to get through the hard days. It was no cake walk, but we did it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Just Checking, and you know what I found out along the way? I'm still experiencing OCD. Not that I expect that to surprise you.

I saw the new Doctor. My opinion has been put on hold while I do some checking.

She recommended - very strongly - a test.

I agreed, then waffled, then agreed... And did a lot of research. I like to know my facts. Which, of course, boil down to probabilities, not black and white, if you want to be really, really precise. Which, of course, I do.

So finally, I decided to take the test because I didn't think there was any other way to shut my brain up. (Best reason ever for Exposure Therapy, by the way.)

But even that decision had to be checked. Do I feel good about it? Yes. Good. Now, let's check again. Do I still feel good about this decision? Yes? Ah, very good.

Set up appointment. Did I feel relieved? Yes. Good. Do I still feel relieved? Yes. How wonderful. Do I still feel good about it (the decision, I mean)? Yes. But if I keep asking myself, chances are I will at some point answer that I'm not feeling so good about it.

And I'm big on knowing facts like probabilities (not precise probabilities every time, just knowing what is more and less likely to happen).

Well, finally, it hit me. I might have scheduled the test for the wrong time! Oh, that lovely (sarcasm intended) terrible feeling. The feeling of OCD hitting a home run, scoring a touchdown, whatever you are supposed to say in sports that I only know a little about - I know a lot about a lot, but just a little about sports, in case you are checking). The feeling of impending disaster, of the OCD variety.

Well, I haven't been through three and a half years of therapy and multiple medications for nothing. I reason out what I'll have to do to sort through my dilemma. Who I'll need to talk to, in what order...

And then the another strong and familiar feeling from that familiar OCD companion. Urgency. The test is not urgent. My anxiety is. The schedule isn't even so important, although it does include taking time off work which means it involves multiple people etc., etc. But the anxiety? I want it gone. NOW. Well, really, several days ago. And that is why this whole scheduling and test taking tangle is messing with me. It really isn't. The anxiety is.

In conclusion, I still hate anxiety. I still think OCD is a very creative monster (I can appreciate its creativity, though, along with its intelligent ability to follow patterns and generally manipulate me into a knotted feeling in my stomach - at least, the feeling I think people are referring to when they speak of having a knot in their stomach). And I still think depression is a lousy energy zapper that, combined with depression, can leave me in a hole that is not so easy to climb out of. And right now, that hole is just annoying and inconvenient. It is a hole that involves very little housework - not sure why it is so difficult to pick up a few things around the house, but trust me; it is. It is a hole that involves watching TV and surfing the internet and pondering whether or not to ponder deep, philosophical/depressed thoughts. It is a hole that irritates me. And a hole that leaves me grateful for my counseling appointment this coming week. This was quite a long month. I think when I go to schedule my next counseling appointment, I should not be quite so optimistic. Maybe two weeks is too short, but four weeks is too long. Maybe I'll try three weeks. After all, I am an intelligent problem solver, and if two weeks is too short and four weeks is too long, then logically, somewhere in the middle might be just right.

And by the way, Mr. Psychiatrist my first, I have tried to be a creative writer who uses words skillfully to communicate. If that means I have "primitive" communication skills, I'm sorry you think that way. Oh, and I think star people are really fun and star cartoons are a good thing, not a sign of my mental inability to cope.

Monday, February 10, 2014

opening a bit of my medical history...

I've wondered what the psych doctor at the hospital wrote in my charts. But I've never actually gone to read them. Until today, when I was looking through my previous primary care provider's file for me (they gave me an electronic copy so that I could pass it on to my next primary care provider, and said I could make myself a copy...). This would only be the summary. And it was interesting. And it supported my suspician.

My first psychiatrist seemed to have preconceived notions about me. He also seemed to view me out of his particular lens. A lens that said my problems were largely just coping skills. That I had very deficient coping skills and was struggling to live on my own after living at home. And that I had borderline traits. He seemed a bit stuck on that due to my having a relative that he treated who had borderline personality disorder.

And then there is me from that time. The agreeable me. If a counselor said, you might be having trouble living on your own; it is a big move to start living on your own (never mind that I had moved to Puerto Rico for two school years without anybody I had previously known). And I would be like, yeah, it's hard. Of course it is hard! I was depressed!!!

There was the counselor who talked to us as a group about being codependent. I immediately hopped on that bandwagon. That must be a problem I have. I depend to much on people. I even didn't tell one of my friends that I was calling from the hospital (she was a couple states away on vacation and invited me to come see her after she returned). I didn't tell her because I didn't want to bother her. And because I didn't want to be codependent.

Because you know me; suggest I have a problem, and suddenly I can see it. If you give me a few hours including time away from the person suggesting the problem, I might realize that that isn't the case. But if I'm in the hospital for depression? Really? Of course I'd be agreeable.

Which was probably good since I've heard that the disagreeable aren't released as fast.

Anyway, about my cartoon I'd drawn the doctor to try to express myself (I can express myself, but I do so better in writing or in cartoons usually, because then I can think it through without the anxiety of talking to someone changing what I say), the dear doctor took it strangely. As in, he thought I had a strange way of expressing myself, a rather fantasy way. He said, (approximate quote), "clearly" the thoughts I was attributing to the star person were my own thoughts.

DUHH! Okay, allow me to explain something: Yes, Dr., I was trying to express my thoughts to you. No, I was not confused about who was thinking those thoughts. It was late at night, I couldn't sleep, I like drawing star people, I wanted to express myself to you and it wasn't working so well, so I drew a star person cartoon! Seriously? I thought that was simple creativity, not poor coping skills.

Alas, that doctor seemed nice, but I grew to dislike him, and I wasn't the only one. He was a behavioralist with depression. Fix your actions, fix your depression. Maybe cognitive behavioralist. He liked CBT stuff. Change your thoughts, change your actions, cure your depression. Hence, my problem would have to be life stress and poor coping skills. He told me, at my last visit, that if I had schizophrenia, it would be different. If I had schizophrenia, I'd need medication, and that would be about all I could do. But with depression? The medication was just to let me do the therapy work I needed to do so that I could feel better.

That, and the fact that since I didn't respond as wished to two SSRIs then I must have a depressive personality disorder that wouldn't respond to antidepressants, and the marvelous fact that I got onto my parents insurance for a year and a half, is why I switched psychiatrists.

Well, the Dr wasn't all bad. Let's not jump into black and white thinking, since that can cause depression. He did recognize that my counselor was helpful to me. And when he said I was improved when I left the hospital, he was right. And he was the Dr. that passed on another doctor's words... well, actually, one of the hospital counselors did, too... see my thoughts as ships going by on the horizon. Let them come and go. And doing that to my probably obsessive suicidal ideation did actually help me.

And with the counseling I got at the hospital, I did get a jump start into learning to love myself. Which still sounds so contrary to the way I grew up. Perhaps sinful or at least prideful. But now I know it is important.

And finally, remaining from that hospitalization I have something like a $5,000 debt to pay back - it is a no-interest medical loan from my county. So I'm paying it back $50 a month as agreed. And I really am grateful for the loan. Just I'm also a little grumpy knowing that other people have gotten that sort of thing written off... my counselor is in the neighboring state and she tells me it would have been written off by now in that state.

Wow, I wasn't going to end up grumping about finances.

The side story is, I'm really grateful for the new healthcare legislation that has enabled me to get back on insurance. So trash it as you will, but I'm still grateful.

The moral of the story is, my mental health journey wasn't all pleasant. But then again, I don't know how being severely depressed can be pleasant even if there was an absolutely perfect doctor helping you. Reading about my depression and OCD experience from my primary care provider's notes was saddening, too. It was just a hard time. And reading the papers from the other side, I know I wasn't always understood. But sometimes I was understood. And either way, I'm out the other side now, at least for the most part.

And now I get to prepare to see a new primary care provider tomorrow. Yay. Reopen my medical history. I'd better hurry towards bed tonight.

Friday, January 17, 2014

wording - is a qualitative difference indicated by whether or not the title of a mental illness is used as an adjective or a noun?

It's a Friday night, and I can't quite bring myself to not stay up late. Silly, really, and I even know it. But oh, well.

Only, I should go to sleep soon, because I'm supposed to be somewhere by noon tomorrow, however I first need to take my car to the shop. It took up making this absolutely horrible sound whenever I put on the brakes. Which still braked, so don't panic. It just sounded really bad. So I plan to actually get up early (i.e. on time) tomorrow to see if I can get it fixed.

But I just remembered that I have neither oatmeal nor cereal for breakfast. Terrible.

Anyway, I really did have a point.

The informal OCD blogging community has been discussing wording, stigma, and mental illness. So I thought I'd chime in.

When a noun that labels a psychiatric disorder is used as an adjective, it seems to me it is usually being used in the casual, careless way. "You are crazy." "That's crazy." "Crazy kid." In my experience, these don't mean clinical craziness (if there even is such a thing).

But the same thing goes with depressed and OCD. "I'm OCD about keeping my house clean" typically doesn't really mean clinical OCD. "I'm so behind at work, I'm depressed," possibly means clinicly depressed, but more likely means someone is feeling a bit down.

Depressed happens to legitimately hold both a clinical meaning and a non-clinical, every-day meaning. Thus, if I just say, "I'm depressed," people tend to think of the every-day casual meaning. So instead, I say, "I have depression."

Similarly, I might say I struggle with OCD, or I have depression and OCD.

And while I'm pointing out wording, "Behavioral Health" drives me crazy, in the casual, every-day meaning. Leaves me feeling like a naughty person who never learned to behave as a child. Who now is working on "improving" my behavior. And it just seems to encourage the idea already there that if we just did the right things, we would be healthy again. Thus, I'm very strongly in favor of sticking with "Mental Health," even if someone somewhere decided "behavioral health" was kinder to those of us needing such services.

Conclusion: Ha! You can draw your own. PS. I wonder if it is some minor compulsion that makes me want to wrap up all I'm trying to say. Or if it is merely evidence of my superior writing skills. :) My wanting to perfectly wrap up a day, mentally conclude it somehow (there is, of course, no known way to actually completely satisfactorily do this), that probably is one of OCD's deposits on my life. So let me hurry to bed in an imperfect state now. And don't you love the irony of trying to go to sleep mid-exposure? Because planning to cut a potential ritual out of your bedtime routine feels pretty risky, at least on the planning side. (I usually find exposures are much easier to actually do than I expect, with the exception of major issues.)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I really want

There seem to be some mysteries in life. Things that I'm just not going to completely understand at this point. I might just barely understand them, if even that. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't like a few answers spelled out with mathematical clarity.

My small group at church decided to go through a book about the Holy Spirit. Not the Bible, though, just one of those books where a guy tries to express what he thinks the Bible says on the subject. Perhaps you already know my skepticism regarding Bible teachers. Well, that flared a bit. But it wasn't so much that specifically.

I was afraid the book would make me upset. And it did. I got a good cry in last night. Not even so much from what the book said as from what it reminded me of.

I remembered how I felt some church people around me had terribly failed me. Not on purpose. I presume most of them were trying to help, and I appreciate that.

But I remember being so far down, that spot where you are hanging on by your fingernails to life. When the thought of living for a whole day seemed way too long, so I'd stick with an hour or a moment. That point when I for positive sure was past any "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" state - not that people or even one of my psychiatrists were past reminding me to do that.

But what help did people have? "Try reading your Bible more." "Maybe this is an attack of Satan" (actually, that one wasn't so bad because judgement was not implied). "Pray." "Be thankful." "Obey God." Those aren't bad advice exactly. Some of it is very good. And trust me, I did pray. And I was intentional about being thankful. So maybe only 5 things a day instead of one thing every 5 minutes, which I'm sure would be much more spiritual.

But this is what I wanted: I wanted to understand how God could be with me, how His joy could be with me when I longed for my pain to end. I wanted a God who could handle severe depression. Oh, and a God who didn't see severe depression as a moral failing or a lack of surrender to Him. I don't mean that He would think I was completely innocent of all sin; I just wanted Him to understand that I was just ill, at least for the most part.

Well, and here is what I have for you. I believe that my God can handle severe depression. I even think He can handle it without rushing down to scold me for "how stupid I had been to let myself go so far into depression." I think it is an illness. I know He was still with me then, even when I didn't feel it. So here is the thing: I don't understand it. I can't explain it theologically point by point (as if you wanted that anyway - but I sure did/do). I can't prove that mental illness is just another illness effected by our genetics, our environment, our choices, life circumstances, and who knows what else. All I know is that God really is great enough to be there for me when I'm severely depressed. But I sure wish I could reason it out!

Back to the book. I don't know where the author will go. Maybe I'll end up liking his teaching. Maybe I'll just doodle a lot to try to keep my brain from jumping on an angry tirade. Maybe he will have his ducks lined up. Maybe his ducks will be all over the place. From the first chapter and introduction, I'm pretty sure he was making some language assumptions that were incorrect (i.e., he seemed to assume that we didn't experience something because we use different words to describe it). But maybe he will get better. I'd better read the next chapter. I was going to read it tonight so that if it leads me to cry again I can get it over with.

Judgement is so easy. People judge each other so easily. I judge myself so easily, so the slightest judgement from others can feel unbearable for me. So sometimes I just have to mentally walk away. Tell myself, the author doesn't know my particular situation. There are factors he didn't recognize. His life experiences were different than mine. But I can only afford to mourn so much in response to people's unfair judgements. Then I have to move on. Because the clock moves on. And my life moves on.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

a drawn out exposure related to buying fashion boots

I call this a drawn out exposure because I consider any exposure lasting more than 5 to 15 minutes to be long and drawn out. In case you wondered how long I generally engage in an exposure, now you know.

Today, I went shopping. After working on a budget last night, which technically I haven't necessarily blown yet, although I'm close to the edge in a category or few. At first, I made it through the dollar store only purchasing one thing. Then through Walmart only purchasing two things, my internet pass for the next two months, and a pair of leggings.

Then I went on a hunt for boots. Perhaps I should let you in on the fact that my aunt gave me a shirt, but it didn't quite fit, so I returned it to the store here locally, and found a Tshirt and a little dress for less than the original sale shirt (that is why I like 70 - 90% off things... and chance, that I found those two items). Well, that was sort of risky buying those (I have OCDish anxiety about shopping that I'll purchase the wrong thing, and thereby sin). But I was quite excited. Only the dress is short, too short for the winter. So that is why I added leggings to the outfit today. But then I needed shoes to wear with it. I could were my multi-season Sunday shoes, but I'm not sure if that would be a fashion crime. And the lady at the store where I got the dress suggested leggings and boots if I had them.

So I started a hunt for boots. It wasn't exactly an impulse search. I've wanted a stylish pair of boots since I started noticing them in the fall (and especially since one of my toddlers came in wearing a pair of the tall ones). So I figured if I could find one for $15 or $25, it wouldn't be too bad.

Well, at the third store, I found a pair I thought were perfect, except that they were too small. They were about $30 on sale from $80. So I wrote down what specifications on the box label that I thought would help me out. Then I tried the local mall (read very, very small). No success. So I called the department store the next sort of big city over to see if they had my chosen shoes in my size. No, they didn't, but if I went one store further, they did have one pair my size.

I decided to go for it. It would take perhaps 45 minutes to drive over. It would be a good exposure, but actually, it would be an even better exposure because I wasn't sure if I could justify the trip as an exposure (if you have OCD, I trust that will make sense. If you don't, please just humor me...).

Moreover, I would try to be nice to myself on this trip. Since I've been feeling guilty for not being nicer to myself. Oooh, that sounds bad. How would you work an exposure for that guilt/anxiety thought? I mean, be mean to myself so I can keep feeling guilty?

Which brings me to this one, very important bit of information for anyone with or without OCD: OCD specializes in loose-loose situations.

Back to my story. I was actually nice to myself. It was a challenge, felt awkward, and reminded me of when I worked on appreciating myself when I was in the hospital for my mental illness. And I enjoyed the scenery. I mean, a sunset with an expansive view of city lights surrounded by hills that are called mountains or mountains that are really hills or whatever those short tall things are. And the highway with all those cars' lights. I thought it was pretty.

Once I got to the store, I'm sure you will be shocked to learn that I wasn't sure if I really wanted to buy the boots once I got there. I wasn't sure they fit quite right. I wasn't sure they looked quite right. I even went so far as to ask a stranger for fashion advice. (I didn't see it as assurance-seeking then, but I'm pretty sure it could have been, looking back). She said they were cute, but recommended higher cut boots if I was going to wear leggings. So I looked. The other boots were all too this or that. Too high heels, too high of a price (the figure I had in my head, that wasn't strictly based on the aforementioned budget, was 32.99 or less) combined with being too tight on the top, too loose... So then, after I was very hot in my warm winter coat (there are downsides to warm winter coats if you don't take them off), I was left to decide whether or not to buy.

I decided to buy the original pair that brought me the thirty-four miles or so. After all, it was an exposure trip/treat yourself nice trip.

After eating, I drove back towards home. And considered the dilemma of an exposure/treat yourself nice trip, which sounds even more contradictory to me now. Stay in your anxiety plus relax and be nice to yourself. That's what we get told by our good therapists, right? The ones that teach ERP. Well, at least mine. Because, at least for me with my mix of depression and OCD, she uses a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Response Prevention and Mindfulness and Dialectic Behavioral Therapy... a nice good mix, with ERP still the crown (well, alongside medication if needed) in defeating OCD. (She seems to promote cutting the OCD mountain into a hill with CBT etc., and then exposing one's self to the hill, and also mindfulness etc.) So how do I do that? Tell myself, "Relax! Stay with the anxiety." (Heart, go slower and race, please?) I've been telling myself, "It'll be okay." Only at our last visit, my therapist thought even my lovely phrase was a compulsion. Which sort of makes sense. But it is also me trying to relax myself. But then, have you ever tried washing your hands to relax yourself? I have. And I'm pretty extremely sure it counted as a compulsion - or a justfiable precaution. :)

Anyway, I made it back to my home town and went grocery shopping in my new boots. Of course, all the ladies I noticed wearing boots had higher cut boots than the new ones I was breaking in. I had a growing assurance that I had bought the wrong pair of boots. And spending another $30 dollars for another pair of boots would take a whole lot more justification than the first pair. Pretty much, it was a lost cause. So I got to sit with my knowing it was the wrong pair of boots.

By the end of shopping, my feet hurt and I remembered why I didn't buy what I had started thinking was the "right" pair of boots; their heels were too high. So I guess I got the right pair, after all. A pair that will give me a few more exposures before I can finally forget the decision (if I ever do). Actually, probably any pair would have provided plenty of exposures. Only maybe if I had bought a cuter pair, my joy would outweigh my anxiety...

So that is what I consider a drawn out exposure. One that takes hours. Sure, I thought of other stuff in between, but it was a pretty good one anyway.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Well, here it is, New Year's Day. It feels like I should write a post on my goals for the new year. Or write why I don't make New Year's Resolutions. It seems that the options are perhaps equally acceptable, if Facebook comments and shares are any indication.

Why don't I like to make New Year's Resolutions? Because they fire up my guilt-producing machine. You know, the one that OCD has fun with. I'm guilty because I don't budget my money (or because I don't budget it better). I'm guilty because I ate too much for supper (never mind that I was forever hungry all day until then, even though I kept eating). I'm guilty because...

Oh, really? Well, actually, I cleaned my apartment today. My sister from a few states away was visiting and we had our day together, or afternoon together. Which was lovely. And which inspired my house cleaning. I even made it all the way to cleaning out my car. I give myself gold stars for all that.

And the time with my sister? You know those times where you enjoy the moment, but keep having pangs of awareness that this is the last time you are going to be with someone you care about in person for several months? I mean, my other two sisters, who knows when I'll be with them in person next. But I still struggle with the one sister leaving for a few months. (To be fair, it isn't that easy to tell any sister good-bye for a long period of time.)

And while I'm being sad and sentimental, how about writing Christmas letters? I'd get stuck on my former toddler student's untimely death. One of the more notable moments in my year. But put it in a Christmas letter? "Hi, friends, here in my one official letter of the year, let me tell you it was great. At least the second half, when my psych meds were working at their best. [The first half of the year seems lost in a fog already, possibly partially related to the meds not working their best.] And then there was the time when my former student passed away at the advanced age of... two years." And there goes my desire to write a Christmas letter.

So when words fail, send pictures. I'm not kidding - this is a good trick if you are ever an overseas missionary. So I sent pictures. But then, even that seems a little strange, so some people got a scribbled note. The kind that has only a paragraph about my year, that doesn't mention the kid that got to heaven before me.

Wow, have I gotten off New Year's Resolutions. I guess I got busy wrapping up the old year. And saying goodbye to my sister.

Well, this new year is here. This year I hope to graduate with my Bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education. That's pretty exciting. And I expect to keep teaching one-year-olds, along with figuring out how hard it will be to pay on student loans while working a toddler teacher job. And I hope to keep my weight steady - hopefully I've finished gaining my medication-related pounds, or my later twenties pounds, or both, whatever it is. Only, sometimes I question that goal, because I don't like being hungry all the time. (And P.S., trust me, I'm not underweight.) So money management, weight management, and dishes management? Those sound pretty resolution-y to me. Only, the resolution term still rubs me wrong. So how about this. I have a few areas where I wish for guilt-free continued effort to be placed.

But I "resolve"... no, I still don't like that word. But I ... want to keep reminding myself that plain old living is important. You know, the going to bed, the waking up, the eating meals, the going to work, the little things that make up my life. The little things I've worked so hard to be able to continue to do. I hope the depression never makes another strong appearance (I could do without the weak appearances, too, but I think that is too unrealistic), but I am grateful for the appreciation it gave me for being able to live life and even kind of enjoy it.

Oh, I should probably make this sound spiritual or something. No, I probably want to add something to this appreciation of life statement. Like, "and I'm so, so glad that I'm living more easily now, and still with God's arms wrapped around me."

Now for the pictures, the ones on my Christmas/New Years cards.
Happy Holidays! And for those of you who don't like holidays, happy end to the holidays!