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.

Struggling to the Top, Again.

To be perfectly honest, I’m tired and I want pierogies. Or sushi. But since I don’t have a car today, sushi is out of the question and I have a feeling Ken might be all sushi’d out. It’s all I want lately. So shortly I will attempt to stand long enough for some pierogies which will most likely evolve into pizza rolls, and I will then hit the bed like I have been doing manual labor all day. The truth is however, I haven’t been doing much manual labor all day. I caught up with a great friend today…. I MISS YOU KURT IRBY!!!!…..I cleaned the kitchen up a bit, and I have been exhausted the rest of the day.

We found out yesterday that I was denied round 1 of SSDI approval. While this was actually expected, my psyche is actually taking it as a blow. Those fuckers have NO IDEA what I deal with everyday, how I struggle to physically and mentally remain here on this earth and try to find a purpose in my life. How I DO NOT want to ask for help, yet I know I’m in no position at this point to make it on my own anymore.To someone on the street I may look like a normal human, but I assure you every step I take is calculated, every activity planned. Everything revolves around having the proper rest and pain under control to carry on. My goals aspire to be the girl who can support others like me from home, while taking care of myself, to let them know they are not alone, there are people out there willing to connect with them. But it cant happen if this stress in my life over where my next meal is coming from continues to be a problem. I need a little support myself so I can give back to those who need support as well. Is our system so broken that this can never be a possibility for me? I hope not. In the meantime, I need a lawyer and advocate to get me through these appeals so I can continue to fight this fight until I can bring some relief to myself and to Ken who is my steadfast supporter no matter what we face, or the outcome. I need to live up to this for him, and myself at this point.

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.

 

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Are We There Yet?

It’s been awhile eh? (i’m feeling Canadian in honor of my friend Laurie today.)

Move 2014 has been successfully executed. This is mine and Ken’s 8th move since we have been married in all of 5 short years. Between Army duties, deployments, moving, school, health issues and regular marital stuff, our marriage is really really exhausting. I feel like its been an uphill battle the entire 5 years, and I’m with a partner who loves me and who grins the whole way. This move was no different. He put up with my neuroses of starting to pack 6 weeks ahead of time. Though color coding and labeling all the boxes. He helped me purge the extra items for a 15 box donation to Purple Heart. On move day our pep talks went a little like this:

Him: “Deep breaths, we will make it. We are already there!”

Me: “Please don’t punch my dad when he says/does something infuriating.”

Outcome? I didn’t die, and he didn’t punch my dad.

Of course over all the people that came to help were pretty extraordinary to move all our shit that fast and pretty cheerfully at that. I am thankful. After everyone left Ken and I still made another couple truck runs for last min stuff and to clean the house, before we were able to fall down and do nothing last night and survey the disaster that is the new house.

My hips ache. I can barely keep my eyes open and the nausea is pretty constant, and the fibro fog is getting the better of me, but other than that, I came out in one piece. This is going to be a pretty short blog because I am passing out at the computer as I’m typing. I just don’t have it in me to bust out some Pulitzer Prize stuff right now.

If That’s Movin’ Up than I’MMM….Movin’ Out!

Big things have been brewing here at the Woodlands. Ken finally got the call that he would be starting his clinicals at the VA Hospital, starting…..today. We have been waiting for this phone call since the beginning of January and were growing worried he wouldn’t get in and therefore NOT graduate on time. HUGE sigh of relief. On the stressful side this means 10 hour days, and no car for me at home for him to catch up for time lost, but we will take it. Anything to get this done.

However in the same day we also had to make a HUGE decision. Our current lease is almost up so we were sent our lease renewal papers. The new rent was just too high to justify paying for the house we are in and all it’s problems. So we have decided to move, or transfer units. We were lucky enough to get a renovated unit, that while it’s only two bedrooms, it has a basement rec room, so it’s actually a LARGER floor plan for the same amount of base rent that we pay now. Having two furballs though to pay rent for is going to raise our rent uncomfortably, but at this point we have no choice. Until Ken has a steady job, we can’t prove income to move anywhere cheaper. It’s more important than ever I win my disability case.

So we are moving in April, and I’m already obsessively packing and purging. I have a huge donation for Purple Heart, a veteran’s charity, of clothes and household items we really have no need for, and so much of our stuff is getting packed away because it’s just clutter it’s unbelievable. I’m so stressed and excited to have a new house and floor plan to play around with, but I want it to be nice and clean, not overstuffed and cluttered. I’m a minimalist, Ken is the pack rat. My therapist probably thinks I’m a special kind of nuts at this point because to be honest, I’ve been freaking out over the stresses of the possibility of moving since October, and now that it’s actually happening, Ken’s going to have to hold me back from falling over the edge. We have moved 8 times in 5 years, yay Army! , and I’m so moved out I have a complex about it now. So, there might be some moving talk coming up if I forget to take my Ativan.

Peace out.

We’re Still Having Fun, And You’re Still the One.

Five years ago today woke up next to my best friend. We got dressed, ate breakfast with my roommate, she went to work like it was just another day. It wasn’t for us however. We proceeded to do the scariest thing I’ve ever done. We went downtown and got married. Yup, just like that. There was a moment of cold feet in the courthouse elevator but other than that the story was short and sweet.

In five years, we have moved 8 times, were separated the first 4 months of our marriage, been though the countless struggles and issues with my illness, craziness of the military, spent almost 3 years as a poor college couple and survived a deployment. I came to realize that though all of this, we have never fought, REALLY fought not even once. Mind blowing. I was raised in an environment where knock down blow out fighting was the norm, and taught that early on and throughout a marriage it was to be expected and for 5 years I’ve been waiting for that ball to drop. I realize now, this warped expectation of relationships has caused me great anxiety when really I have the healthiest relationship right in front of me. We are being our own example and I didn’t even know it.

So, today, I’m still waking up next to my best friend. And we are going to get dressed, eat breakfast, and celebrate today the best thing we ever did in finding each other. Committing to it long term.

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Some of you may remember this, but for those who missed it, here is my wedding story.

I feel like we are that couple that no one ever knows quite what to do with. It’s marvelous. He’s this super nerdy nice guy who’d jump in front of a train for a total stranger…..or a puppy. I’m a headstrong sometimes bitch who will cut you if you dare abuse the niceness of my husband, or try to legislate my uterus, whichever. We were brought together during such outwardly mundane circumstances (work). He was a small town boy (LIVIN’ IN A LONELY WORLD….sing with me!) who joined the military and ran into me, a city girl (WHO TOOK THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN GOING ANY-WHERE!), working at the Pentagon. We clicked, and that’s all she wrote.

Actually, that’s not “all she wrote.” We actually have one hell of a story of an evolving friendship and quite a backstory to go with it that’s led to this incredible thing we rightly and proudly call a not so traditional marriage we have today. (DON’T WORRY INTERNET, IT’S TOTALLY LEGAL AND NOT PERVERSE, AND THERE ARE NO ANIMALS INVOLVED, RAND PAUL).

What I love the most about our story is this: IT’S OURS. Some people know the abbreviated version of events. Our closer friends know more of the intimate details. However, there are only two people on the planet that know some of the most important memories of all involving how everything came to be when we started legally sharing the last name of Woodland, and that’s Ken and I. I intend to keep it that way, because I’m complicated like that.

But I’ll tell you this. Our original wedding rings were purchased by hopping off the Red Line of the Metro at Union station and bought from a street jewelry vendor. We took a cab to the courthouse in Arlington and were legally married in a law office underneath a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza. No one mentioned God, nor did we bear any vows to a religious nature. (Gasp! No! Those Atheists have gone and ruined the sanctity of marriage!) We promptly had 5 shots of Jameson at an Irish bar to celebrate after. There were no witnesses. And I was married in my sneakers. Hell yes. I love the city.

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Letters From Quarantine

It’s been 5 days since the quarantine at House Woodland began. We arrived home on Sunday with Ken feeling pretty bad, sore throat and congestion. After a terrible sleepless night, for me, due to his snoring and angry retorts when I tried to move him he was full on sick the next day. We managed to attend a doctor’s appointment and head to the grocery store for what would be the last time in the near future.

Day 2, Ken had moved to the couch so I could get some rest, but it didn’t matter. Whatever this was, I succumbed to it anyway. Sore throat, nose at a full stop, and chest congestion out of nowhere. Migraine city had come for a visit too. I am glad now I withheld my Enbrel this week because that would have only suppressed my immune system more and this hell would have gone on a lot longer.

There was soup to be slurped and Netflix to be watched, and dual moaning was heard across the Woodland abode.

However in an effort to brighten our spirits we did make one kick ass french cut crusted rack of lamb for New Years dinner, that was hands down the best thing I have eaten all year. Being sick wasn’t going to suck ALL the joy out of New Years even if we did pass out by 10 and there was no toasting or kissing.

Stir crazy began to set in the next day and between coffee, naps and TV we proceeded to make one hell of a dent at purging the junk on our downstairs floor for our upcoming move. I’m more than proud of us, and doing it while sick? We are beasts. We are now slowly working on aspects of the second floor believe it or not.

Like previously stated, it’s now day 5. Symptoms have improved on both of us, but we are not ready to be released back into the world just yet. We gaze out the window longingly but the harsh freezing temperatures of the outside air would harm us should we venture out I’m sure. I hope we survive this. I’m writing to document our last days should we turn on each other and fail to successfully co inhabit this domicile any longer.

Peace out.