Thinking Out Loud

So here I am, upright and alert at 1 am. The upright part is a constant struggle, but the alert part, happens a lot. I told myself I was taking a hiatus from blogging, and I certainly have kept true to that. The problem is, the mind didn’t stop writing. For me, I find myself composing a million entries in my mind, but not having the willpower to physically bother to just type it out. It’s like that is one step too much a lot of the time the past few months. So I lay there and think about things. Religion, politics, the state of my health, family drama, sometimes zombies after watching too much of The Walking Dead. I craft it all out in my head, what I would say, IF I was writing. Telling myself that the therapeutic value of writing is something that I have found helpful in the past, but still, not actually getting up and doing anything about it. So, still in the fashion of not making promises to myself I don’t know if I’ll keep, I sit once more trying to jumpstart the disconnect between my brain and putting it down on paper (or blog as the case may be)

I have been though a lot since I was doing this as a regular thing. My health has been a roller coaster of coming to terms with the way things are and trying to manage life as things get thrown at me. I spent three months recently not eating enough to sustain energy to function, because Gastroparesis decided to take over my body on top of the Rhuematoid Arthritis becoming increasingly hard to manage. Spending days on end fearing and steering away from food, having my joints uncontrollably ache to the point of needing extra assistance walking and surviving in general just sum up a pretty miserable winter by most counts. We have been adjusting to Ken working nights, sleeping days and not quite knowing where I fit into all that. Digging out of financial issues, trying to retain a tether to friendships I haven’t been able to keep up with, and going into a pretty deep depression have dominated all in the past few months. At one point, I just wanted to curl up in the most remote corner of my house, with a blanket and just not think anymore. The freedom of stretching out in bed seemed even too overwhelming some nights. I went off pretty much all my medications and am currently struggling to get back into a regimen that keeps me as functional as possible. I had plenty to be thankful for, yet bringing myself out of the pit was something I just could not seem to undertake. Sometimes its hard to think about the reality that it probably WON’T be the last time I go through this sort of thing. That I just have to keep moving on and letting myself take the time to rest and reorient as needed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

At the moment, we are dealing with the logistics of having our car damaged in a car accident, dealing with insurance and the waiting game of getting our car back. Ken is on his way out the door for two weeks military assignment in Hawaii, which doesn’t include me, and I’m jealous about that. He better look sufficiently sad in every picture he takes, the nerve. I have to mentally and physically prepare to drive up to DC for a few days, mostly to help out my grandmother with some stuff, maybe feel good enough to enjoy a few things while I am there. It certainly helps that the rental SUV we have at the moment, I thoroughly enjoy and I might have to give it back with great sadness when all things car are completed.

In other news I have been craving eggs on my burgers lately, and its kinda been non stop on that end…I want one right now actually. Which reminds me, our oven is broke and I need to call that in.

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It’s Hard Admitting Real Life Behind The Facade.

So it’s been a month since Ken graduated. And things are hard for us. REALLY hard. I’ve never felt this uncertain before. Ken keeps going on positive interviews and then not hearing any news for weeks, or in one case an internal applicant suddenly popped up and got priority over him. Everyone is impressed with his resume, he is a friendly interviewer, AND he has the degree with 12 years experience  there is just so much competition out there apparently. As his wife, I want to just bust into these places and tell them what talent they might miss out on because I used to work with him as a colleague as well, but ……that would be inappropriate. So here we sit, bills piling up, my SSDI case on appeal, no jobs, being bailed out by the greatest family member in my life. And I feel horrible about it.

It’s why I took my friend’s advice and started this therapeutic art thing. Its kinda what’s keeping me  engaged at all with life, even if I’m just focusing on a piece of paper, a pen and the creative side of my mind. It’s working for the anxiety at that moment. That’s also the problem. After that moment is over, it’s anxiety city up in here again, and I start getting manic because its one of my natural actions to anxiety. Either I want to soothe myself with going and playing with the world, money and consequence be damned, or I go into the dark depression where I want to be swallowed into a black hole and ignored by everything with a pulse for days on end. I have anxiety meds, but i really only use one of them at night to sleep. I worry about the other, because I’m just on so much medication for other health issues it kills me to accept one more. I don’t know WHY think the Ativan is less important than the 17 other pills I take (by last count), but something in my subconscious feels its something I can sacrifice.

It doesn’t help much either that Ken will be leaving for a month in a couple weeks for Ft Knox and we are going to be awaiting some more orders for him to be gone another 3 months to Ft Sam in Texas. But hey, its pay right? We are even looking into going back on active duty on the reserve side because a place may be opening up in his current unit, but that is in its baby stages of being worked out right now. Don’t want to jinx it.

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Up Shit’s Creek Without A Paddle.

My cat has conjunctivitis.

I feel like leaving this post just at that sentence alone, because that’s just the overall tone of my week. Everyone is laying around sick trying to give what they have to the next person (or cat). The lethargy in this house is epic. Ken and I have been sprawled out in bean bag chairs in the basement, pretty much just drooling, looking at the TV and willing there to be a magic fairy that would bring us food. And that fairy must know what we want, because we sure as hell didn’t.

I was shown the way into some totally free college courses by major universities this week as well and I’m pretty excited about the prospect, but to be honest, I don’t know how much I can handle at this present moment. I have registered for two classes, and I’m checking out two archived ones, but the commitment terrifies me even though its totally self paced. I haven’t been able to sign on but one night this week and only for like 30 min because of all the sick going around. But I want to share this resource for anyone interested in learning just to continue learning. Some of the programs will give you legit completion certificates at the end, and they will grade you and take your assignments serious as a college course should be taken for an extra small fee. edX.org is the website.

Also I have taken up some stress relieving meditative art. I’m getting into zentangle, which is kinda like creative pattern doodling, where you just make patterns and go with it, creating this wonderful masterpiece as you go. Mine are still on the new and crude side, but the really good ones are truly beautiful works of art.

I really need some stress relief in my life because financial relief isn’t coming soon enough. Ken has been going on interviews and there is good interest shown, but the hiring process potentially takes so long we are drowning in the meantime and have been turned down for every state assistance I have been able to apply for. Losing round 1 of my SSDI case was really a huge blow even though it was a long shot to begin with and I STILL have to appeal that. I don’t know if I have the strength to move on and do it, I’m just broke down right now really. The last thing I want is a legal battle. Just like the last thing I want is an eviction. And both of those are on the table it seems, when you are disabled and no one has any income coming in or help to offer. Things were supposed to get better. College degrees open doors right?

I feel like such a failure at life.

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My First Zentangle

Therapy By Abe Lincoln

Sometimes the best outings are the impromptu ones. Last night I just looked at Ken and said “Let’s go out.” Not even hesitating, he nodded and said “yeah, let’s do it”. Just like that we packed my camera bag, hopped onto the metro at 7pm and headed into the city. After one transfer and some metro reminiscing we ended up at the Smithsonian station, where we just started walking and photographing the National Mall. My DLSR gave out around the Washington Monument, and I had to iPhone it from there but whatever, we were having fun. We walked the Vietnam Memorial, and ended it with sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial is a special place for me. I’ve spent a lot of time there day and night, sitting on those steps. Thinking about my life when i was happy, sad, anxious about things. Staring at others doing the same. The tourists, the solo people, people eating lunch on their lunch breaks. Its just one of those places where you can people watch every type of people imaginable and yet be lost in your own mind all at the same time. (and no one thinks you are insane if you run down the steps screaming JEN-NAY!!!!! and racing toward the reflecting pool. However security frowns on trying to get IN the water to meet up with the imaginary Jenny from Forrest Gump.)

We got our fill of sightseeing and tourist madness, (even met a couple willing to take a rare picture of us and is emailing it to us later!) and decided to walk to a different metro station to soak up a little more of the city before getting our grub on in Chinatown. Basically in Chinatown you just walk into a place and start eating and the place we chose had the usual chinese and sushi fare, and was pretty decent. We even went all out and split a bottle of sake. What’s nice about the city, is that kitchen’s are still booming at midnight so you can pretty much get a full meal anywhere on a Friday night, depending on what you want. We also discovered a THREE STORY WALGREENS with gourmet food in it, in case that’s of interest to anyone out there, because we were fascinated.

The impromptu night out was just what I needed to pretend I wasn’t in the pits of depression for a few hours, maybe even help me climb out with a little inspiration. That I can always come home, see my happy places and things can be ok for a few hours, when I can muster up the energy to get it together and try to get to them.

The Doldrums.

Well, I have to admit, I’m currently on the downside of the bi polar roller coaster. I have entered the pits of despair depression. Most of the past view days I’ve functioned as little as possible, mostly in bed, or curled up in the bean bag chairs down stairs, taking Ativan, crying and waiting for Ken to come home. He’s done this huge thing, finished up clinicals, graduated college, and I’ve gone from, ready to conquer life, decorate my house, be the supportive superfriend, to barely being able to take a shower and care if I eat from one day to the next. Today’s food conversation went a little like this.

Ken: What do you want to eat?

Me: self-pity salad

Ken: and drink?

Me: Sobbing soda.

And instead of this making me laugh at my own jokes, I literally burst out sobbing and apologized for being who I am to the husband I love so much. Who I don’t deserve, not when my prognosis in body and mind is going to be this for the rest of my life. I know it’s not normal or ok to grasp onto that tiny piece of happy mania when I’m so sad I can barely pick myself up off the floor, but I just want a tiny spark of life to return. I hate this feeling. HATE IT. It’s been such a player in my life for as long as I can remember, because my depressive moods tend to last longer than my manic ones, all I have are memories of despair, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, hopelessness and fear.

I’m going to DC tomorrow to spend some time with my family. My niece and nephews always help my spirits, and my grandmother always comes through for me to help our needs, and I enjoy being with her. I just hope that while they work their magic, I can let them in enough and not have a total meltdown and go mentally comatose while I’m there. I’m afraid of that now. That family is going to start seeing the real me, the crazy me, because I’m trying to be truthful about that person and get her as healthy as I can.

And I’m going to take my friend Kate up on her suggestion on investing in crayons and drawing therapy next week and try out some mandalas and zentangling myself.

My Husband, The College Graduate.

Today is a rather big day in the Woodland house. It’s the last day of Ken’s clinicals, but that signifies something larger for us. It means, that after 3 years, KEN IS FINALLY A COLLEGE GRADUATE. He’s earned his degree and done with school (for now) and it’s time to move on to the next phase of our lives. We have trudged through financial aid, student loans, GI Bill benefits, all night studying and keeping the weirdest hours on the planet, and survived with our relationship in tact. I’m so proud of how he’s been excited through the whole thing, given it his best and been recognized for his hard work along the way. Personally I would give him ALL THE DEGREES, but then again, I’m biased I suppose. Now onto the job market with us, which is a daunting place and already proving to be somewhat of a nightmare.

It’s hard knowing that now you have next to no income coming in, bills to pay and a time limit until you could possibly be out on the street. We have been struggling for 3 years teetering on the edge of this, but now that school is over and absolutely no more loans or aid is coming, it just ups the stakes to epic proportions of stress and scariness. And with my SS denial, my health taking a major crash lately, and life that doesn’t stop just because you have problems or are sick, I’ve cycled down into a depressive state of my bi polar roller coaster. It’s definitely not mania anymore. I just want to curl up and disappear from the world to take my existence away from being a burden from all those my life effects. At least temporarily until I have something better to offer them, to make up all the craziness that has come out of my being alive. I do appreciate though the support system I’m building with a few people who understand and are even experiencing the same types of struggles. This is honestly a first for me. I’m glad I’m not alone, even though I can’t fix them, or myself in the boat we are all in together.

But we should be ok this month, and that’s what I’m going to remember when Ken gets home today, and for the rest of this week. This week is a celebration of an official college graduate at Casa Woodland.  ❤

One Box a Day

Do you know how hard it is to limit yourself to one box a day? But right now, it’s about all that I can handle. I’m so exhausted from the move on Saturday that my days look a little like this:

5:15 am wake up, fight some vertigo, stare at the ceiling and think about how much my hips hurt, my shoulders ache, and the fact that I don’t know if I have the strength to roll over today…… go pee, take pills,  make coffee (all hail mighty Kuerig!)

6:15 drive Ken to work. In my pajamas. Who needs getting dressed this early?

7:15 Arrive home and fall down to rest, fight some vertigo until about 9:30-10:30, because  driving exhausts me that much

10:30 try to unpack one box until the task gets too overwhelming and I end up on the floor sweating, in pain and almost in tears.

11:30 Stop to eat, take more pills, start preparing dinner, or maybe run an errand or two. Try not to die from pain, exhaustion or a combo of both. With a bit of anxiety thrown in, just for fun you know.

1:30-3:30 pm – it’s time to lay down and fight some vertigo whether I like it or not. Set alarms so I don’t sleep right though getting Ken from work.

4:00 Call my grandmother, who without her and Ken, I don’t know how I would pull through the day sometimes. I get my pep talks through them, or I just vent my frustrations of being sick, fatigued, in pain, you name it. I need the outlet sometimes.

4:30 aaaaannnnnnddddd…….I’m off again, to pick Ken up from the VA Hospital, for his shift is over. I try not to zone out and just focus behind the wheel, but admittedly it’s hard at this point. I’m very foggy, and as much as I love driving, I don’t trust myself a lot in the car anymore. It depresses me that I have lost joy and gained fear in something else in my life. I always end up letting Ken drive home, because I’ve used up all my reserves just to get there safely to pick him up.

5:30 Hopefully, if I’m on top of things, I’ve planned dinners for the week already and taken steps to pre prepare them with Ken’s help on Sunday or at least the night before because if not, starting from scratch, I’m screwed. We end up eating like crap. And I have spent all day fighting nausea anyway so it’s hard to find an appetite.

6:30 Resting, working online on a project, helping Ken unpack a box, running an errand, take your pick because I could be doing any of these things. With a little fatigue and vertigo thrown in.

8:00 Finally, I’m in bed. But i can’t take my pills yet, it’s too early. I’ll wake up like its morning at 1 am if I do. Must stay awake until 9. Finally at 9 I take my pills, and pass out.

Wake up at 10. Wake up at 12. Wake up at 3. Wake up at 4:30. Give up sleeping, and start thinking about the day over my coffee from the almighty Keurig again.

One box at a time. It’s all I can handle right now. I just want to be normal.

 

Wintertime Blues.

I’ve been out of my mind feeling like I have been dropped on my head for weeks. I feel like my meds stopped working. I’m not in my deepest darkest depression, but I feel like a shell of a person just walking around my house, looking for something to do, but not feeling like doing anything. I watch the hours slowly tick by and wonder if drinking will help the days speed by any faster. Nothing seems amusing, but I’m not super emotional in the opposite direction either. Most days I look forward to the washes of fatigue so I can just shut my body down for a few minutes to make time speed up. I have no desire to write. I have hit a brick wall.

Today, I realized, I think it’s winter. Just 6 weeks ago even I was feeling MUCH different, thanking my doc for finding the right combo of meds for me, as I had never felt better. In general I was seeing hope for life despite my struggles. Then the bitter cold, shorter days, and the rain and snow started dumping. I’ve been sick, quarantined and cooped up in the house due to my autoimmune issues. I’m so done with winter but I really have no idea how to perk myself up right now. I really don’t have friends in Richmond. Life has been so stressful with school, my illness and the Army that we haven’t had a real opportunity to make any. Especially since I’m a pretty introverted person, I find it hard to initially put myself out there and build connections anyway. I guess I’m just feeling the downside of that pretty hard right now, when I look at my phone and realize I don’t even have anyone besides my grandmother to talk things out with anymore. My call history contains 3 people, and all of them are family. 

I know I have turned this post into a total pity party, but its been weighing on me. I need to change some things in my life come spring. I need to find the zest for living again. Remember my hobbies. Try to figure out how to adjust my physical needs to be able to accommodate a social life. Figure out how to get a social life. Until then, I’m going to keep holding on and hating snow. 

 

The Light at the End Of the Tunnel?

So things have been cooking over here at Casa Woodland. While the government is having its own crisis, we have been having our own financial crisis ourselves. It’s tough to write about, so there won’t be many details, but we are poor people living off of financial aid, grants and loans with a wee bit of military pay at the moment, and well, EVERYTHING went haywire and as things sometimes happen, the money wasn’t coming in on schedule. Imagine me first waiting by the window for the mailman like a dog. Progress that image to me fighting Ken in a race to the mail box every day to get to it first to see if “today was the day!” I could stop dying inside and pay the power company who I was sure were going to personally drive over with huge scissors and cut the power to our house. Now at the end of this ordeal, I was asking moral questions, like, “is it wrong to inflict violence on the mailman or others if no money comes? Should I put the weapons away, or look for more household items to wield into battle gear?” Seriously, it was getting all survivalist up in my head.

But FINALLY we got a break and in time we received relief. Which of course I promptly cried like a baby after paying all those bills I had been terrified over and watching that money quickly fade away, and the rest fall carefully into a budget that will once again require us to resort to some ramen eating days in order to be “fiscally frugal” until the spring semester.

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In other news, I woke up one day last week and felt that click in my head and KNEW my Welbutrin/Abilify combo had finally kicked in and my world was clearer than it had been in years. It was like a blanket was lifting off me finally and I can kinda see my way out from underneath. I don’t hate everything as much. It’s encouraging to know I might be on a path to stable. Panic is still a huge issue and we have decided to add a long term medication, Lexapro to see if we can knock that down to a functional level (I would LOVE to drive my car without it being the drama of the century in my head) and maybe make me all around a little happier too. I’ve still got my old benzo friends though for random onset attacks, and to help me sleep.

There is more…. But I’m pooped and written out. And I’m making navy bean and ham soup that needs attention. I’M COOKING AGAIN BITCHES!!!!!

Brought by the Letter M.

Sooooo, a murder victim was found behind my house a couple of days ago. Like directly behind my house they dumped the body. Thankfully I don’t go into my backyard area much or my therapist would have a whole new set of issues to deal with.

As the story officially goes now, a guy killed his girlfriend in a fight and then tried to dump the body behind my house. And someone came across it. When the police went the the woman’s apartment her baby was still inside. And they arrested the guy. I appreciate how everyone in our neighborhood was also notified of the situation via letter in our doors, like when you get a Chinese menu in your door. Only this one was like “FYI, there was a murder today….”

I would also care to mention that this happened when I arrived home from my appointment with psych where I was told officially I had General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and Bi Polar disorder. It was a LOVELY day. But there we have it folks. The official reports are in on what I have been going through the past few years that have exploded the past few months. I took the weekend off to process the information, even though I’m not surprised and I was prepared for what much of the personality assessment had to say. It’s just so, sobering, to see yourself, what makes you tick on the paper. The good, the bad and the ugly, and agree with it because you do know its true. There were things I was proud of on that paper, traits I wouldn’t give up, but also things on there I would trade in a heartbeat not to have to ever feel again. If only letting go were just that easy now that I know about it. If just seeing it could cure me and free me of this mess. It’s just not like that.

So instead, I’ll be meeting with a doctor to work out a plan to stabilize my moods and control my anxiety, and I’ll work on learning how to cope and process information in a healthier way with my therapist. I think the next question down the road is, will knowing all this be a opportunity at a last attempt at communication with my parents, or will it be the last break for me before I have to say enough for my own health and really move on in a more drastic measure?