Tuesday, September 26, 2017

visit to psychiatrist

Today, I saw my psychiatrist. He is an interesting man. He appears very, very sure of himself and also sure of my abilities. But somehow this just resulted in me feeling unheard.

When talking to a psychiatrist, I try to let down my guard to let them see in, let them know what is going on. Sometimes, they respond helpfully. But there are a few responses that I am not so fond of. Like, "You can't let that bother you in your line of work." Seriously? I give you an example of anxiety getting in my way at work, and you tell me I can't let it bother me? Well, you can't let your cough hurt your throat, doctor! (He had a cough today and said it bothered his throat. I wish I had thought of such a comment! Only, I don't know how he would respond to that kind of comment, so I guess it is just as well that I didn't.

He told me that he thinks people with OCD each have their unique method that they can escape their anxiety through. I said, so you don't believe in Exposure-Response Prevention. He was too smart for that. He knows ERP is the top dog. But he thinks that the escape method can be used to get away from the anxiety while you are preventing the response. I'm a bit suspicious that his escape might turn into a compulsion itself, but who knows.

But really, "You can't let that bother you?" Allow my sarcasm to respond: "So sorry, doctor, I let things bother me on purpose, because it is so much fun. I like spending the better part of an hour worrying about what I said, and then going back to it on and off throughout the morning. It just fills me with pleasure. In fact, I love feeling depressed, too. There is something about feeling like life is too hard and not having the energy to fight it that is just so pleasant. But now that you've solved my problem by telling me I can't let it bother me, why, I think I won't need any more medication. No-one has even suggested such a simple fix as to not let something bother me/not be anxious/not be depressed. It is a brilliant solution! The next time I get discouraged and start questioning life, I'll just remind myself of that simple little phrase; you can't let that bother you."

Well, he did clarify that he did not mean his escape method was easy. At least he recognized that. But he still seems to think I'm some sort of super hero in my ability to get rid of mental illness. Which begs the question, what is wrong with me that I am still struggling?

Last night, I dreamed that I went to my psychiatrist, but he had retired. Instead, I was going to see someone new who had taken his place. But then somehow it morphed into an inpatient program. I was getting ready to be discharged before I woke up. I think the one thing about inpatient programs that I sometimes wish for, well, isn't actually guaranteed in a residential setting, either. But I sometimes wish that I could just put aside all the to-dos and work and school/homework and focus on getting better.

Well, now I can't wait to speak to my counselor. Hopefully, she can help me make sense of this cluttered, chaotic world inside my brain, along with the doctor who believes he knows the solution.

Why do I still have mental illness? Maybe I haven't worked hard enough. But my counselor would disagree with that. She says I'm among the hard-working clients who do their homework. Speaking of homework, I have something due for a college class. So 'bye for now.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Viewing anxiety and life

When seeing my counselor this week, she commented on my anxiety being less. I was feeling quite tired, so I figured I just wasn't showing it. But then she commented on the difference between how anxious I was when I started seeing her compared to now. I've been thinking about that.

When I started seeing her, I was just learning to recognize anxiety and OCD and even depression. Now, I get that yucky anxious feeling and recognize it. I think, oh, no, another anxiety attack. I know that high anxiety does not have to be normal life. I know it takes extra energy and I can recognize at least some of the times that it interferes with what I would be doing if I didn't have it.

It goes back to the prescription glasses metaphor (which is actually its own true story). I think that my eyesight was pretty good when I was little; the eye doctor said I would probably need glasses later, but not yet. Time passed, and I went to a dance performance by a dance group from a different country. The music was not in English. Something was projected on screens - I think I even knew it was the English translation from the music. But I just assumed that no-one could read the words from the balcony. When we left, I said that I wished I had known the words. My oldest sister said, "You should have told me that you couldn't read it; I would have read it to you." I replied that I had assumed no-one could read it from where we were. I thought I had normal eyesight and did not know that I was missing out. Now that I have experienced the wonder of seeing details at a distance, I sometimes question if I am missing out again, if my prescription has changed much, too slowly for me to notice.

With mental illness, I used to think what I had was all that could be had. Then I found out that I had a mental illness and that life could be so much easier. So now, when I recognize depression or anxiety, I am upset with it, because I recognize it as an interruption. So it might feel like I am anxious more often, but some of that is just having learned to recognize it.

Tonight, I'm a strange mix of tired and emotional. I cried over a junior high movie about a girl learning to find her way in junior high and unintentionally making decisions that broke up her friendships. I'm not sure if crying over a junior high schooler's experience means I haven't grown up yet, or if actually, the dilemmas of junior high still follow us as adults. Making choices about fitting in, doing what people say, being used by people, accidentally offending people... But the girl in the movie had a happy ending. I'm in my late-night "wish there was a way to solve this thing I cannot even define" mood. Tomorrow, I have to get blood tests for my physical. Boring. But it means fasting. I used to get super anxious about that. Now I'm only mildly anxious that I'll somehow screw up the results by just eating pizza and carrots and apple juice for dinner (relatively healthy for me since it actually included a vegetable). And a bit more anxious that maybe my sore throat and tiredness and almost-achy-ness is from the beginning of a cold instead of the persistent smokey air that has been hanging around. Would that mess up your blood test? I was trying to look it up and then found out about a negative side effect that (presumably rarely) happens sometimes with getting blood drawn. I didn't read the article, just enough to know it looked scary. So I abandoned that research experience.

Interpersonal stuff. That is what I wouldn't want to write about with much detail, since this is a public blog. But I think about it. Scheduling with school and work. That sets my anxiety high since I value both a lot and my control is limited. But that isn't really interpersonal, except that more than just I am involved in it. Making friends, keeping friends, taking care of yourself, being "true to yourself." Okay, so it is like the junior high story after all. Life is not always simple. A few people might use you, some might treat you wrong, some are probably pretty good friends. A little forgiveness can go a long way. And I'm tired. I guess that about sums it up.

And now I'm hungry. The joy of fasting blood tests.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

It's going to be okay

Today, I did a little homework, tried to help a friend, had lunch with family, said goodbye to a family member whose visit ended, did a little shopping, had a little trouble with my parking skills, missed a friend who moved away, temporarily called it quits and curled up on my couch, worked on a puzzle, and watched Netflix. I don't know if it has to do with starting another 5 week summer session of graduate classes, or staring at the uncertainty of how I'm going to make schedules work with classes the rest of the year, or having friends move away, or just plain, stupid, depression with a side of anxiety, but I'm struggling. Trying to keep everything going, and it just isn't working to my satisfaction. But is there a satisfaction for me? I mean, would a change in circumstances really change anything? I hate depression. Or whatever it is that has my eyes leaking. I'm tired of pushing and pushing and pushing. I'm halfway through my degree, but it is stinking hard! Not so much the work itself. Just getting myself to do the work. My college dilemma one more time. It's late. I'm tired. But I did eat; I didn't skip a meal. I just delayed supper by a few hours.

It's going to be okay. That is the story I sing for myself. Day after day. Because ... I'm not sure why it's going to be okay, but I'm going to keep believing it. And maybe calling my psychiatrist. We'll see.

Monday, June 26, 2017

homework with depression?

Well, I've spent many hours partially on homework. I know that sounds a bit off. But I haven't exactly been focusing the whole time. I've also been taking breaks to watch tv shows or videos or do anything that isn't homework.

They say depression influences your thinking and cognitive abilities. It is, therefore, an easy scapegoat if not an actual reason I am having trouble with my homework. I'm doing okay on facts. Give me a true/false or multiple choice question on anything I've read this past month, and I can likely get the answer right (unless you ask me which article the information is from). But to summarize what I've learned? Uhhhhhhhhhhh. I know it is about what the class title says it is about. But summarize everything? Most of that information is hiding behind a gray fog. So I can pull pieces out here and there, but do I really have a good summary?

And then there is the whole quality issue. Would it be devastating to get a bad grade on this paper? Do I care? And then there is the false dichotomy; either I want an A - or even a B - or I want out. Well, that makes sense. NOT! Oh, depression how I love - I mean loath thee. I guess I should try to imagine more end results. My paper gets 50 percent of possible points. I've gotten high enough grades in everything else for this class that - guess what; it doesn't matter! I still pass the course.

But just for a minute, let's consider the thought that seems so completely upsetting. What if I fail a class? Really, what if I fail? Would the people who have helped me pay my tuition want reimbursed? There was no such deal. I've given an honest try, and I'm not returning the money - mostly because I can't. Well, I'd have to re-take the class. How would I pay for that? Well, I could apply for a loan. Yuck. But hey, why not. I think I've still made Satisfactory Academic Progress, so that would still be an option.

And "worst case scenario" wins again. Failing a paper or a class wouldn't be so bad after all. Hopefully with some of the pressure gone, I can write better. And I need to stop trying to produce perfect work. It is not helping me!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I don't like...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Putting together puzzles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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