notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (Default)
ugh. well I got sick today, I threw up for the first time in 5 years and 3 months. yeah I remember every time I got sick. that's one of the perks of emetophobia. woo

I don't really know what's wrong with me. all morning I was super tired and then I started to have horrible stomach cramps and feeling nauseated and having diarrhea and stuff. I thought I was just like super anxious but my anxiety attacks don't usually last that long. neither does the IBS usually. all I had for breakfast was tea and luna bars and some oatmeal which is what I have all the time so I don't know why I felt so sick.

after I threw up I felt a little better but still icky. I haven't thrown up again but I still feel blah. I have a fever and my back aches, although thankfully the extreme abdominal pain is over. I just feel sick now in that undefined way. generally sick. blarg. I have the blarg.

my mom thinks it's a stomach virus and that makes sense because I was just on a train with people from who knows where and I could have picked up anything. but alan says since I haven't thrown up again that it's probably not a virus because he had one recently and he was throwing up like every hour. and it's true stomach viruses usually get worse before they get better. we'll see how the night goes and how I feel tomorrow. I just feel feverish and ughy and like I don't want to eat anything.

I'm at alan's house in pennsylvania and he has been taking good care of me. he and trish went out and got me a hot water bottle and some ginger ale and stuff. and then he watched avatar the last airbender with me which was good for distracting me from feeling bad.

another theory is that it's something in the tap water here. they got me a bunch of mini bottles of dasani so maybe that will help. it's possible I'm just not used to the bacteria in the water here or whatever. stupid traveling. stupid getting sick on vacation.

I don't really know what to do about my meds. if I take pills I'm afraid they will make me feel sicker or they'll just come back up and then what is the point. and I'm not supposed to take them on an empty stomach. but if I don't take them I know I'll feel like utter crap tomorrow and probably get a migraine which won't be good for my stomach issues.

it's hard to be away from my familiar surroundings while I'm sick but alan is being super nice and it's good to have him here.

vacation has not been all disaster though. yesterday we went to a rally in support of wisconsin workers. in erie, pennsylvania! I didn't know they cared. I felt all loved. we didn't have time to make a sign so nobody knew I was from wisconsin but whatever. so many people were wearing steelers jackets that at first I thought they were all part of the same union. heh. steelers' union.

but we had to run to get to the rally and today when I woke up my legs were like WHAT THE FFFFFUUUUUUUU- and then I got sick. my body hates me. blarg.
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (damage may be severe)
I've been thinking about accommodations and disability and school today. Most of the people reading this blog know that I have a LOT of trouble with school--I always have, or at least, I have ever since I started getting a certain amount of homework. (Before then, though, I had problems paying attention in class, so.) Since then, I've had major problems doing my assignments and handing them in on time. It got steadily worse over the years, and college was often a nightmare of all-nighters, crappy work done under the influence of paralyzing anxiety, having to beg for extensions, and getting supremely depressed that I couldn't just do my work the way so many people told me I should. And of course my parents, who shamed and blamed me the whole way, didn't help.

Grad school was worse, though. My college had been populated with people who often rejected traditional ways of learning, even if the professors didn't always agree with them. I knew I wasn't the only one suffering (although it did sometimes feel that way, especially during finals week when everyone I knew was buckling down and I was getting more and more loopy and INTERNET FOREVER). Grad school, on the other hand, was mostly Normal People (i.e. neurotypical, non-ADHD, whatever) who were capable of doing assignments in advance and handing them in on time. And the professors expected that from everybody.

And how could I explain how hard it was for me? Nobody would care. People would be like "tough shit, this is grad school, that's how it is." People would see it as a personal failing, and I had trouble myself perceiving it otherwise.

So, anyway, it was a disaster. I hung on for a semester or two and then started a rapid descent into the usual paralyzing anxiety and disabling depression that happened whenever I had the constant pressure of school and assignments hanging over my head. This time, however, I was an adult, and I wasn't listening anymore to my parents' idea that there was nothing more important than school. My mental health is more important than school. So I dropped out.

It's occurred to me since then that, in theory, I could have asked for accommodations. But what would I have asked for? Extra time to get papers done? It wasn't the amount of time that mattered, because I would always leave it until the last minute no matter when it was due. I didn't need extra time for in-class tests, because I had no problem taking a test when it was sitting in front of me, rather than an assignment I had to motivate myself to work on. I didn't feel like my paralyzing homework anxiety was something that could be accommodated.

Today I am thinking that the entire structure of school is not for me. (At least, not for me as I am now. Maybe as a child, if I had been encouraged to follow my own happiness rather than putting school before everything else, I would feel differently about it now.) I am a great learner. I am an awesome learner. I love to learn. I love to discuss what I've learned with professors and other students. I love to put what I've learned in new contexts and gain new perspectives on it. I can do assignments that have clear instructions and specific correct answers. I can even, sometimes, write papers about things I feel passionately about. But a long paper with vague guidelines? About a topic I'm not particularly interested in? Forget it, that is not happening.

Yet the subjects that I love (humanities, social sciences) often require this kind of paper. Apparently it is the ONLY way to show you've learned about something abstract. You can't, you know, talk about it to someone, or write about it in an informal way, because those are not formal enough and don't have a bibliography. Gotta have a bibliography.

So, the accommodations that would work best for me are things that would go against the grain of academic tradition, and therefore would be considered unworkable. But without them, school and I just don't mix.

A few other things about graduate school:

I had a class with a professor whose voice I just could not concentrate on. It was like the wah-wah voice from Charlie Brown. After a few sentences I just zoned out and had no idea what he was saying. I have slight auditory processing problems and his voice was just the worst instance of that I've ever experienced. I'm not sure if there was an accommodation I could have asked for in this case, except for taking the class with a different professor, but that wouldn't have worked with my schedule. On top of the voice thing, his syllabus instructions were vague and unclear, which pretty much dooms me in any class. I took an incomplete in that class and never finished it.

My favorite teacher in library school was also my official advisor. I liked her classes and they rarely involved long papers, so I did pretty well in them. She was kind of shocked and appalled when she found out how badly I was doing in the rest of grad school. Instead of being sympathetic, she was disappointed and shamed me. That was a huge, wrenching betrayal. Someone I looked up to and admired was basically saying that she agreed with what my parents had been telling me my whole life: that the problem is me, and if I only worked harder, the problems would go away.

On the other hand, I did very well in a seminar with an awesome professor who had studied under my dad. I liked her so much that I signed up for a required class because she was teaching it (online). However, I was pretty deep into my depression-anxiety spiral at that point, and I ended up barely being able to look at the homework assignments for that class, let alone do them. I sent her an ashamed, apologetic email saying that I understood if she had to fail me, because I hadn't done any of the work.

But something extremely unusual happened. She didn't blame me. She did not tell me I should have done better. She did not say she had to give me an F.

Instead she asked if everything was okay.

I cried when I got that email. I'm crying now, just thinking about it. How much suffering could I have avoided in my academic career if more people had, instead of blaming and shaming me, asked if I was okay? If more people had recognized my paralyzing homework anxiety for what it was, and offered solutions that didn't boil down to "just do the work"? I never felt like I could say that something was wrong, because the same thing was wrong every semester and I didn't know how to fix it. (I didn't feel like I could say to my professors "I'm having anxiety problems right now" when school was the cause of my anxiety problems, and I knew I would have the same problem next semester, and the one after that, etc.) I wish someone had recognized that years ago, and been able to help me. I wish I had had the vocabulary to articulate that rather than being lazy and having a bad work ethic, I was in fact dealing with disabling ADHD and anxiety. And that these things are not personal failures.

This shit has followed me my whole life. It's still following me. I'm afraid to start anything new for fear that I won't be able to finish it and the anxiety/depression spiral will start again. I've always wanted to do NaNoWriMo, and I think I might actually have the time this year, but guess what's still hanging around? Paralyzing anxiety. That voice in my head that says that not finishing something is a personal failing and it means I am useless and not good for anything, so I might as well not even start.

did the snows fall heavy in your house?

  • Aug. 3rd, 2010 at 11:38 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (leverage - p/h crazy)
I feel much better since my last post. The kittens are sleeping more, I've been taking care of myself more, and I'm no longer feeling anxious and overwhelmed all the time. I'm glad. I had an anxious couple of days, I got through it, and I was able to keep taking care of the kittens. A good thing to keep in mind next time I feel like that.

They're getting so big. I'm kind of sad that they'll probably be gone soon. Ramona is turning into such a beautiful cat, and the other day she slept next to me for a while, and woke up affectionate and wanting pets. I no longer feel like whoever gets her is going to have a hard time getting her to be nice. She'll still gnaw on you if you bother her, but she knows her limits now and she can be sweet. I think she'll probably always be a cat that needs her space, the way a lot of cats do, like my Hypatia.

Oliver, on the other hand, continues to demand pettings from whoever is around. He still likes to sleep in the crook of my neck. He bites my chin sometimes when he does that--I don't know what that's about. Maybe he's trying to nurse? He reminds me of a little kid sometimes, the way he's always restless before a nap, and the way he resists being put in the cage for the night by holding on to the bars--"I don't want to! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!"--and then whines for a while afterward. "BUT MOOOM!"

I love watching them grow up, but I feel like they should be adopted before they get too attached to me. I don't want them to be all traumatized when they have to go back to the Humane Society. Well, Ramona will probably be fine. And Oliver will have new people to nuzzle and purr at soon.

ease up you're killing me

  • Aug. 2nd, 2010 at 4:58 PM
notemily: A black-and-white kitten looking at the camera (misc - tinycat)
I hit the breaking point last night when it comes to the kittens. I was trying to sleep, and they were making so much noise, and I couldn't sleep and I felt like my room wasn't mine anymore because they were always in it and I have to keep the door closed in order to let them run around and THEY ALWAYS WANT TO RUN AROUND. I felt trapped and couldn't deal anymore and had something of a panic attack.

I felt much better once I left my room, so I decided to sleep out on the couch with Hypatia. I slept extra-well, although that might have something to do with the half of a Xanax I took. This morning I felt much better and more able to deal with the kittens and their demands. They seem to be sleeping/relaxing a little more now that they're growing up, although they still need a lot of running-around time in order to really calm down.

It's hard because I've been trying to meditate--a preventive measure for my anxiety--but it's hard to feel like my room is really a private, quiet space to meditate when there are kittens in it. I could try meditating in the living room I suppose, but that doesn't exactly feel private either. I think I'll be able to relax better once the kittens are gone. This was something I didn't entirely foresee, but it's not an impossible challenge and it doesn't mean I'm a bad foster mom. I just need to be a little more aware of my own need for space, and make sure I get enough of it before the kittens start getting on my last nerve.

And as much as I was thinking I'll be relieved when I can have the room to myself again, I stopped by the Humane Society today to pick up more food for them, and there was a little black kitty in a carrier all by herself and she looked so scared and sad, and I my first instinct was to be like "I will take you home and take care of you, poor kitty!" That's why I'm doing this in the first place--because I can't see an animal in need and not want to do something about it. I think after Ramona and Oliver are gone I'll want a few weeks to recuperate for sure, but maybe after that I will feel grounded enough to take in another kitty.

I get extremely anxious when I feel like I've trapped myself into a course of action. Like when I was with one of my ex-boyfriends and I felt like it was impossible to get out of the relationship because I had SAID I loved him and wanted to make it work, so how could I then go back and say the opposite? Or when I was in school, I had told everybody I was going to school and the professors expected me to do the work, and how could I possibly disappoint everybody? So last night I was like "What if I can't do this, what if I'm just not cut out to be a foster mom, but I've already made the commitment, and I can't just say to the Humane Society that I have anxiety problems, because they'll look at me all disappointed and won't understand, and *hyperventilate, etc*." But then I said to myself, you CAN always quit, you never HAVE to do anything, you're allowed to change your mind, and you don't have to justify your reasons to anyone. And today I feel more confident that I can do it.

That's such a terrifying, free-fall feeling, though. Sometimes people ask me why I'm so cautious (usually in the form of "you're so selfish" or "you never take risks"), and that's why. I have trouble making commitments to definitely do something, because I need to be able to have an escape if things get to be too much for me.

And I feel so ashamed when they do.

Apr. 5th, 2010

  • 6:44 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (little miss sunshine - primal scream)
We took Hypatia to her first visit with her new vet today! We had been putting off taking her back to the old vet for her rabies and distemper vaccine updates, because we didn't really like the old vet. The doctor was fine, but the clinic itself wasn't great about communicating with us when we took her to get spayed.

The new vet is the one my parents take their doggy to, and it's also much closer to our house. Miss H was kind of freaked out, especially when there were some barking noises coming from behind the door, and she wouldn't stay on the scale to be weighed so it was hard to get a reading on that. But she didn't cry out or even flinch when she got vaccinated, just shed black and white fur all over the place. The vet gave her a clean bill of health and said her new vaccines will be good for three years. She also said Hypatia has a great face. <3.

This gets me one step closer to my dream of fostering kittens, because now teh kitty is up to date on shots and certified healthy. I've been so depressed this week, though, that I'm finding myself going "They'll never approve me to foster kittens, my apartment is too small and how could I ever think I would be a good person to do that," and other defeatist messages. I have this vision of the humane society people coming here and scrutinizing my apartment with disapproving looks on their faces. And then they'll turn me down and also never give me a job there because they think I'm irresponsible.

I don't know if the depression is due to the medication change or the fact that for my birthday my parents are no longer helping support me financially so I have to find a full-time job with health benefits (that start RIGHT AWAY), like, tomorrow. I don't want it to be the meds because if it's the meds then my doc will probably put me back on the higher dose of wellbutrin which gave me heart palpitations and shortness of breath. I would rather not have to be on a med that makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. That's not one of those things like dry mouth that's annoying but tolerable. It's more... scary. I feel like I can't exert myself at all, and any little bit of anxiety triggers the not being able to breathe feeling.

(Either that or he will put me on a new med entirely and then I will have to get used to that. While job searching.)

But if it's not the meds then I'm stuck in this endless loop of, I'm super depressed, but i have to find a job, but I don't feel capable of doing that while I'm depressed, but if I don't get a job I can't afford my therapy and meds... etc.

notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (firefly - river/bird)
^That'll be my new country song. I will invent a whole genre of psychiatric medication blues.

The meds-doc, who still doesn't take me seriously and talks over me in sessions but is relatively tolerable, wants to take me off Lexapro. Gradually of course, so a week with half-doses, a week with half-doses every other day, and then nothing. The plan is to see if Wellbutrin is good enough on its own to manage my depression. If not, back on the Lexapro I go, I suppose.

Lexapro was great for my anxiety back in the day. One day with half of it and I am already feeling the familiar tightness in my stomach. It's easier when I know it's just the drugs, but it had better wear off because nothing paralyzes me like anxiety. And I spend enough time being paralyzed.

Meds are so annoying. Like, I want to see if this works, but at the same time I have to go to work and clean my house and make meals and be a person, and the side effects of going on or off meds always get in the way of that stuff. I know the show must go on and all that. I just wish I could get a free pass for this month.

One thing I am looking forward to, if it happens, is feelings coming back. Obviously I am not an emotionless zombie on Lexapro but I did stop crying at movies... I stopped being so sensitive, which is something I always liked about myself. I still feel the same things but... not as intensely. Maybe that's a good thing; maybe it's just part of growing up. But I do feel like I have been numbed a bit and I would rather not be numb. It took pretty dire straits for me to go on drugs in the first place, precisely because I was afraid of losing that part of myself. I had to be almost non-functional before I was willing to make the trade.

But then again I'm afraid of the feelings making me stupid. Making me follow every impulse. Maybe it's safer to just bury it all. No, I don't really believe that, but I don't like feeling like an impetuous child. Suspecting that everyone around me finds me hard to deal with. I already suspect that.

I have to be careful. I just watched one of my favorite CSI: New York episodes and it made me all nervous and stomach-clenchy. I should stick to comedies for a while.

Questions the meds-doc always asks: Crying spells? Thoughts of harming yourself? Feelings of not wanting to go on living? (always, always no, but they have to ask.) What do you weigh? I have no idea. I actually think not focusing on what I weigh all the time is BETTER for my mental health, thank you very much doctor guy. Sexual appetite? Food appetite? Ability to laugh?

These are not the ways in which I measure my life.
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (firefly - river/bird)
 A lot of background anxiety coming up the past few days. Images in my mind, nausea, abandonment, the things I love turning against me like that dumb clown jack-in-the-box in Prisoner of Azkaban (movie). the moment it turns scary, which doesn't take very long at all actually. a feeling that I am being chased.

I think it is because I am making changes. Breaking down walls one crumbling brick at a time. It's bound to bring anxiety, as change does. so I hope I can stay with it instead of shutting down and withdrawing into myself. keep stepping forward or at least staying on the stepping stone I am on, though the water rages around me.

remember my toolbox for dealing with anxiety: deep breathing. tea. meditation. exercise. taking a walk. letting it in, inviting it for tea. remembering that it doesn't last forever. letting myself be anxious. remembering that anxiety lies. the world seems so small and tight around me and my fears. but it's a big world out there, big as I remember it.

I remember when I first saw Lord of the Rings and I felt like I could do anything because if Frodo and Sam could make it to Mordor, who was I to let smaller obstacles hold me back? actually, who are you not to be? your playing small doesn't serve the world.

writing. writing's good for anxiety.

the universe gives you a smack down when you try to change. it's the way it is. doesn't mean we should let it stop us.


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