Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lowest Common Denominator

I'm so tired!  I went to bed at like 8 last night because I was starting to have a pre-migraine sparkly aura and was so sick to my stomach I thought I was gonna throw my sushi up.  It did not occur to me until this morning that the migraine was causing my nausea.  I was awakened at 1:30am by the migraine and the nausea, took some aspirin, some ibuprofen, had some yogurt and grapenuts and water, but could not go back to sleep.  I watched episodes of 30 Rock until 6am when I had to start getting ready for work.  I took more aspirin and ibuprofen at work, and the headache mostly went away except any time I coughed or sneezed.  I drank a half a cup of coffee and took my vitamin, had a delicious Jimmy John's sandwich for lunch but the nausea never really went away and now that I'm home it's returned full-force, although without the migraine.  And we have the kids tonight, which I only learned after I got home from work.  I'm very glad I'm off tomorrow to recuperate and relax and get some things done, but I'm going to get in bed like right now because I feel like crap.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One in Thirty(ish)

Mysophobia, also known as germophobia,  may develop after an individual experiences a traumatic event that links germs or dirt with a negative emotional response. This event can be a first-hand experience or a second-hand experience; mysophobia can also be triggered by a seemingly benign situation such as a scene from a film or television show. The person contracting this disorder may have a pre-existing tendency to worry, and it is likely that anxiety and depression run in the family.  When exposed to germs or dirt, the individual may experience breathlessness, nausea, heart palpitations, or a fear of loss of control. The individual can also feel ill and start shaking if she fears that she is being contaminated. Mysophobic will tend to avoid situations in which they may be exposed to germs.  Mysophobia results in repeated, unreasonable behavior and actions. These can include:
  • excessive washing, for example, repeated hand washing (an action which paradoxically makes the individual more prone to infection)
  • avoiding activities that are deemed unclean by the individual, such as using public bathrooms
  • declaring the desire not to share any personal items, including utensils and toothbrushes as well as food
  • avoiding social situations which include a close group of people or animals
The fear of contamination can become increasingly restrictive for the individual. She may refuse to shake hands, avoid touching doorknobs directly, or use an excessive amount of soap or hand sanitizer.
Mysophobia can have severe social repercussions. Because the individual is terrified of contamination, she will avoid many social situations for fear of coming into contact with germs or dirt. Also, other individuals may not understand the mysophobe's condition, and think of her as paranoid or hostile, leading to alienation and isolation.*

I'm pretty tired.  Not exhausted, but tired.  Today went really well!  I've jumped right into this job, and although I'm still picking up the little things, I am pretty satisfied with how it's all turned out.  I even felt, briefly, like I had gone back in time to when I was working three jobs in downtown Boulder.  I got a couple of sushi rolls from Hapa for dinner, which were glorious, and the hostess was a girl I used to work there with and she gave me a 50% discount!  It was great talking to her again.

My older sister has called home this evening to tell us that somehow, magically, the restraining order her ex-husband had on her has been lifted and he's been text messaging her.  We are trying to anticipate all the possibilities for this happening, so that we can be prepared in case it's some kind of mean trick.  I doubt that it is, but my suggestion was that she get in touch with bother her lawyer and a mediator as soon as possible just to be on the safe side.

I've got work again tomorrow, and I didn't sleep well last night for thinking and preparing for my first day at the desk solo.  I'm going to start getting ready for tomorrow and get to bed before it's too late in the evening.  5am comes pretty fast!

*"Mysophobia." Epigee Resource. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.epigee.org/mental_health/mysophobia.html>.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sitting with the Aloneness

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – 4th Edition (DSM-IV) recognizes two distinct eating disorder types, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. If a person is struggling with eating disorder thoughts, feelings or behaviors, but does not have all the symptoms of anorexia or bulimia, that person may be diagnosed with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). The following section lists examples of how an individual may have a profound eating problem and not have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
  • A female patient could meet all of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa except she is still having her periods
  • A person could meet all of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa are met except that, despite significant weight loss the individual's current weight is in the normal range.
  • A person could meet all of the diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa are met except that the binge eating and inappropriate compensatory mechanisms occur at a frequency of less than twice a week or for duration of less than 3 months.
  • The person could use inappropriate compensatory behavior by an individual of normal body weight after eating small amounts of food (e.g., self-induced vomiting after the consumption of two cookies). This variant is often called purging disorder.
  • The person could repeatedly chewing and spitting out, but not swallowing, large amounts of food.
  • Binge-eating disorder is also officially an EDNOS category (see separate fact sheet for BED): recurrent episodes of binge eating in the absence if the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors characteristic of bulimia nervosa.*
I slept most of today away.  I am okay with it, too.  I did get up long enough to make myself a sandwich and hang out with the kiddos and bid them farewell.  Their departure went off without a hitch, no yelling, no irritation, just a bit of sadness that they were leaving.

I often feel like I am invisible.  I often wonder if I am the only person who feels invisible about 50% of the time.  I think that I am mostly to blame for this, by sticking close to home, and not going out.  I haven't left the house since Friday, but then again, I was not invited by anyone to do anything, either.  Do I blame myself or do I blame others?  This is tough for me, because I'm apt to blame myself, given my penchant for self-destructive thinking.  I had a brief discussion with one of my far-away friends about this today, and I begin to wonder what I did wrong to repulse all of the people I keep close all at the same time.  I feel like I've been doing really well.  I've been upbeat and positive, I've tried to be helpful and compassionate, and I've tried to treat others how I wish to be treated.  I know that my ability to isolate myself is a huge factor in the relationships I have with others - I sometimes turn down opportunities to go out and be social for the simple reason that I don't feel like going out and doing anything.  I don't like to think that I do that often that people will stop asking me to go out, but that's going to be my best guess as to why I've not been invited to go out and do things much in the last two weeks.  The other reason I'll say no to going out is if I can't afford to, and that's what happens more often than not.  I'm doing the best I can to be responsible with what little money I have, and I can't just go out on a whim and spend $30 or some similar amount of money without really thinking about it first.

I think I'm going to continue to struggle with loneliness and abandonment issues for awhile.  Those aren't things that just go away on their own, and I'm still reeling from the issues I'm dealing with, with regards to Former Bestie.  All I can do is move forward, take things one at a time, and grow and heal as best I can.  I know that I have to sort of build a wall up around my heart to prevent myself from getting hurt as deeply as I've been hurt before.

Tomorrow is day two of my new job!  Another 9.5 hours in Downtown Boulder!  I get to decorate the building's Christmas tree, and I am no longer "training" as I will be at the front desk all by myself all day long!  I'm excited to see what I'll discover about the place and the position and the people, and interested to see what I do with 9.5 hours of time where I'm really just answering phones and making conversation with others.  Here goes nothing!

*"NAMI | Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 28 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=65849>.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's Not Alone, it's Independent

Personality disorders are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms and a thorough psychological evaluation. To be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, you must meet criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published and updated by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
For borderline personality disorder to be diagnosed, at least five of the following signs and symptoms must be present:
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • A pattern of unstable relationships
  • Unstable self-image or sense of identity
  • Impulsive and self-destructive behaviors
  • Suicidal behavior or self-injury
  • Wide mood swings
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Anger-related problems, such as frequently losing your temper or having physical fights
  • Periods of paranoia and loss of contact with reality*

I don't have much to write about today.  The highlight was taking the boys with me and Phoenix to the dog park, where they walked about 2 of the 2.5 miles!  They collected rocks, and pet the other dogs, and did really well!!  I was pleasantly surprised!  On the way home, we stopped for happy meals and shakes at McDonald's.  The rest of the day they spent helping get the Christmas lights ready to be put up outside.  I really do love having them here.  My niece has been doing better this week, not being so clingy to her mom.  Otherwise, today was pretty unremarkable.

I'm sleeping a lot, not having any trouble falling asleep but having a lot of trouble staying awake.  I'm coming to terms with the news about Former Bestie and being much less upset about it.  We were mostly done being friends anyway, and so I'm focusing on that and remaining angry about the whole thing instead of getting sad.  I've learned that it's much easier to be mad than sad, and being mad means that I feel enough love for myself to actually be hurt instead of just being despondent.  

I used to be really good at getting mad.  I'm still really good at getting mad at my family, but I have a lot of trouble getting mad at others.  Most people don't give much thought to their reactions, but since I'm so freaking sensitive emotionally, and my emotions very often influence my mood, I have to be aware of the things that I am doing - how I'm reacting or not reacting.  As for my reaction to the news I got on Thursday (this is that Former Bestie's boyfriend - whom I dislike and disapprove of - proposed to her, and she said yes), I'm sad and angry.  I'm angry because this possibility is something that she and I discussed at length after she got into her first relationship after leaving her now ex-husband.  She is somehow able to jump right into a brand new relationship with both feet, right away, throwing caution to the wind, and not thinking through the decisions she is making until after she's made them.  It was the last week of October that she went back to WA to finalize the custody situation she has with her ex-husband, and it's not even December yet and she's engaged.  I just keep thinking of what my thoughts were when she got engaged the first time, how I didn't like the guy, how I didn't think she should get married, but she just ignored me, and did it anyway, at her peril.  She went through a nasty, contentious divorce with the guy (who is quite obviously a sociopath, ironically), and still has to deal with him to this day because she had a kid with him.  She didn't know the guy when she moved in with him, she didn't pay attention to the signs before she married him that it might not be a good idea, and did it anyway.  She hadn't known him a whole year when they got married.  And the same exact thing is happening all over again.

I know that part of my anger is envy, and I'm willing to accept that.  But the more I think about it, the more angry I get that my opinion apparently means absolutely nothing to her.  I get angry thinking about how I spent roughly 10 years of time and energy, being her friend and being there for her, and she cares so little about my thoughts and feelings that she's willing to disregard them completely and make the same exact decision all over again.  I'm also frustrated because in her family, it seems like the answer to everything is to get married.  Don't have a father for your kid?  Get married.  Scared of being alone?  Get married.  And what have they to show for it?  Each person in that family, with the exception of ONE, has at least one divorce under their belt.  What does that say about what marriage really is to them?  That if you get married, you're suddenly not alone anymore, you have someone you can depend on so you don't have to do the work yourself, but it doesn't matter how well you know the person when you get married, as long as you just do it.  To hell with the consequences.  The person can be adulterous, mean, crazy, immature, not right for them, or whatever, but as long as you're okay with divorcing the person when you finally realize their true nature, it's okay to get married.

I've got a lot of morals instilled in me by my family's example, and I'm not just talking about my immediate family.  There were many times that I thought my parents would get divorced when I was younger and it scared the shit out of me.  As I'm seeing how my sister's kids are dealing with being shuffled from mom to dad, the more it scares me for them and how they'll grow up and see marriage.  Their dad cheated on their mom and knocked up the girl.  Their paternal grandmother continually cheats on her husband, the whole family knows it, but no one says anything.  Their dad's sisters have both cheated on their husbands at least once.  It's so scary to think that they'll see those things as acceptable and act the same way themselves.  And what about Former Bestie's kid?  From age 1, he's seen probably at least 7 different boyfriends that his mom has had and I'll put money on this not being her last marriage.  And so the divorce rate increases because the examples we're giving our kids are complete bullshit - it's as though these people are so selfish that they're not thinking about how their decisions are affecting their children, my sister included.  When she found out how upset I was about Former Bestie's engagement, she kept asking me why I felt that it was wrong.  I tried explaining that I think that there should be no rush to marry someone, and that if you're making a decision to potentially spend the rest of your life with someone (or at least intend to spend a decent amount of time with them - apparently it's too much to ask to stay with one person forever), especially if that decision is going to affect others (the kids), you should really spend a lot of time getting to know that person before you make that kind of decision.  She didn't get it, which frightens me, but I didn't feel like going into it in depth with her.  I told her that I'd be equally as upset at her if she got engaged anytime in the next year, although I said I wouldn't be as mad at her because she spent a decent amount of time with her ex-husband before they got married and they also waited 3 years after they got married to have kids.

I was trained on Wednesday at my new job by the person I will be sharing the job with - her name is Anna, and she's almost 50.  She's gorgeous.  Although I didn't ask, I think she's never been married, and I know that she doesn't have any kids of her own because we had lots of time to talk, and parenting was one of the topics we discussed at length.  She said she's only ever lived alone for about 6 months of her life.  She's got a serious boyfriend who has kids of his own, they live apart, and they're planning to move in together, but not until next summer.  I find it terribly refreshing to meet a woman that age who has not bought into the whole gotta-get-married-and-have-kids idea that seems to dictate so much today.  The possibility that I will never be married is terribly daunting.  I liken myself to Liz Lemon when I watch 30 Rock, because she's constantly struggling with being in her late 30's and unmarried and also being ostracized for it. I'm also comforted though because I know that I can have a full and successful life without ever getting married or having kids.  I know that I don't have to get married and have kids right away, and that while I yearn for love and companionship, I also yearn to discover myself and realize my dreams, and I don't think that is something Former Bestie will ever get to do.  That also comforts me.  I'm sad because I've lost what little companionship I had, and I'm angry that I'm only now finding out that it appears as though I wasted much of that time on someone who doesn't give a shit about what I think or feel.  I'm also relieved because I know that I will continue down my road of self-discovery and healing, and I'm proud to know that I'll be doing it alone and that's really hard to do, especially with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

*"Borderline Personality Disorder: Tests and Diagnosis - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/borderline-personality-disorder/DS00442/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis>.

What a Show!

Mania is the word that describes the activated phase of bipolar disorder. The symptoms of mania may include:
  • either an elated, happy mood or an irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
  • increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • racing thoughts and flight of ideas
  • increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
  • ambitious, often grandiose plans
  • risk taking
  • impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse
  • decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue 
Sometimes individuals may experience an increased frequency of episodes. When four or more episodes of illness occur within a 12-month period, the individual is said to have bipolar disorder with rapid cycling. Rapid cycling is more common in women.* 

Oh so tired.  My little sister and I went to the Channel 93.3 (radio station) Not So Silent Night show tonight.  It was AWESOME.  We got there an hour before the doors opened and spent that hour freezing our arms off (we dressed for the concert, not the waiting in line), but since we got there that early, we saw all four bands in the second row.  However, that also meant being on our feet for 6 straight hours, which was tough for her because she's got mad sciatica right now and tough for me because I'm not used to standing for 6 hours.

We got totally shoved around, slimed by other people's nasty sweat, breathed on, stepped on, and we almost got in a fight with a fat kid who is apparently related to Sean from 3Oh!3 after he smushed me and then called my sister a skank.  I pulled his ear and elbowed him real hard in the gut.  He was really stinky, too.  

We both had a great time, though.  The music, especially up that close, was fantastic.  I really love 3Oh!3's music, like a lot (check out House Party on the Streets of Gold LP).  It's so different from everything else out there, and the guys are really down to earth and very talented, and great performers.  Innerpartysystem was fantastic, so loud and so crazy (American Trash is their newest single).  The Epilogues are a great band, too (listen to Hunting Season - LOVE IT).  They're going to go far, I think.  Oh My Stars was good, too, but the lead singer's appearance took away from my enjoyment of the music, which is unfortunate.

Anyway, I am beyond exhausted.  My whole body hurts from being shoved and falling over and dancing and fighting and being squished.  I'm interested to see how tomorrow goes around here - my older sister is really mad that we went to the show because she wanted to go, too, but she couldn't because we got the kids tonight.  And so we have the kids.  Til Sunday.  I'm tired just thinking about it.

*"NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Illnesses." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 26 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=23037>.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It's not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. Like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes:
  • Brain chemical differences. Some evidence suggests that naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are linked to mood, may play a role in causing body dysmorphic disorder.
  • Structural brain differences. In people who have body dysmorphic disorder, certain areas of the brain may not have developed properly.
  • Genes. Some studies show that body dysmorphic disorder is more common in people whose biological family members also have the condition, indicating that there may be a gene or genes associated with this disorder.
  • Environment. Your environment, life experiences and culture may contribute to body dysmorphic disorder, especially if they involve negative experiences about your body or self-image.
This is a re-post from something I wrote back in September.  I had a great day today, mostly, but I've been very upset by some news I just received, and I think the best idea for me right now is to hibernate.  I hate to revert to this, but it's the only way to stop myself from thinking all of the really shitty thoughts I normally think about myself when something happens to someone else that forces me to focus on my shortcomings. Unfortunately, I'm not a bigger person, and my first instincts are to react very childishly and pettily.  I'd really like to prevent myself from doing this, so that will be my second reason for taking refuge under the covers.

I guess I don't understand why some people (and that entire family, come to think of it) seem to think that marriage will solves all problems, when it's obviously only been the root of all their problems previously.  I highly doubt that I will ever get married.  Ever.  Anyway, I thought this post was relevant:

I've been thinking about relationships a lot. After my own recent dating experience, it's sort of hard not to be thinking about relationships. I've written about my disdain for the seemingly innate "idea" that's been ingrained in me that my whole purpose in life is to find a mate and settle down and have kids. This idea drives me absolutely crazy!! Literally, it's driving me crazy - I can't stop thinking about it.

Throughout time, men have been notoriously cheating on their "significant" others (and I put significant in quotations because if they really were significant, men wouldn't cheat), and this day and age is no exception. I never thought I'd be so close to someone whose marriage was ruined by adultery. It's almost incomprehensible to me, but I guess for people who were raised by parents to whom cheating was a regular occurrence, to sleep with someone other than your partner in marriage isn't such a stretch. But it's not just adultery that stumps me. Commitment in general is confusing. At 25, the closest I've ever been to getting married is talking about it with my only two serious boyfriends, but I know of enough people that I could count them on two hands that are going on marriage number two that are under age 30. On Friends, Ross was SO stigmatized because of his THREE marriages by his early thirties, but apparently that fiction isn't actually that far off!!

I understand getting hurt. I understand getting back on the horse and healing old wounds and learning to love again. But to make the same mistakes time and time and time again is absolutely inconceivable to me.

I struggled for three and a half YEARS, wasted THREE AND A HALF YEARS of my life hanging onto someone who was only bound to hurt me nearly irreparably, making the same mistakes over and over again with the same person, but in retrospect, I can't imagine doing something like that again, even with several different people. Yet there are so many people I'm aware of in my tiny little world that continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, hoping for a different outcome each time. Is that not the definition of insanity? I'd been told by a therapist once that people often experience some form of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder after the end of a relationship, and I truly believe that. Do some people not experience that?

I'm a year out from the last time I saw my "psychological debris," and about 7 months out from the last time I spoke to him, and I am STILL terrified to get into another relationship with another guy! I am so ridiculously damaged from the last one, that I wouldn't know how to behave in a new one!

The gist of it is this: How can some people get hurt, get screwed, get angry, get cheated on, get dumped, get in and out of relationship after relationship without coming out the other side damaged in some way that prevents them from jumping into yet another relationship with both feet without first taking stock of their past? How can some people selectively remember only the good things? How can some people refuse to learn from their past mistakes, and continue to plague their friends and family by making the same mistakes over and over again? It's one thing to be bitter and negative, but it's entirely another to make an ass out of yourself by dating people who are not right for you time and time again.

Is there no happy medium?

*"Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Causes - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 25 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/body-dysmorphic-disorder/DS00559/DSECTION=causes>.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some Different Things are the Same

PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.
2. Avoidance symptoms:
  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.  It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.*

Boy, today was indeed a long day.  9.5 hours at a desk the day before Thanksgiving is BORING!  But I survived, and what's better, I didn't fall asleep!  I'm very proud of myself today.  I went into this job enthusiastic and positive and I got great feedback.  It was like riding a bike, this answering phones for 30 different companies thing.  I really like this job.  I don't have someone breathing down my neck (ahem, former boss), and I get to talk to and interact with tons of people, and all doing it while letting my attention wander here and there  because despite appearances, I am capable of focusing on more than one thing at a time - in fact, I'll be forced to multitask, which I excel at doing.  I can also streamline and organize this position a lot into what it's supposed to be, because I've done it before and I fully understand what it's supposed to be.

I've also been basically offered a second job - a financial planner in this building needs an assistant for approximately 15 hours a week, and I know and am familiar with financial planning (e.g., retirements, IRAs, mutual funds, annuities, etc.).  I will be discussing it more at length next week with the guy, but I can't even believe this opportunity.  On top of all that, my starting pay is a whole dollar more than I was told it would be in the interview because a.) I have experience in the position, and 2.) I am awesome.  When you suddenly have money, it seems as though all is right with the world.  I will be able to buy decent Christmas presents, I'll get a better tax refund, and I'll be able to pay off CU a little quicker than I had anticipated, as long as I am being responsible with my money.  Maybe I'll even set myself up with a couple of mutual funds.  I'm going to use some of my down time to actually get to writing the book I want to write and expand on living with mental illness and being surrounded by mental illness, and there is even a publisher in my new building! 

So, needless to say, I'm stoked on this new job.  There are definitely some marked differences from my previous executive suites job, but there are also some different perks.  There's a workout room with a steam room and a sauna and there's a rooftop veranda where they have drinks and parties in the summer.  I get to decorate the Christmas tree in the lobby on Monday.  The parking garage to which I have a pass is literally across the street.  The owner of my favorite sushi restaurant has an office in the building.  I'll be working at least one 40-hour week in the next few months.  I might even be able to bring Phoenix to work sometimes.

It's difficult for me to believe that just a couple weeks ago I was really upset and stressed out about the possibility that I might be job and moneyless by this point.  My situation has turned around so quickly and so much and the novelty I'm not taking for granted.  I find myself in a fantastically lucky situation!

Alas, my first 9.5 hour working day has tired me out, not excessively, but enough to the point where I plan on simply vegitating in a semi-conscious state for the remainder of the evening. Aaaahhhhhh.......

*"NIMH · What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?" NIMH · Home. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/what-are-the-symptoms-of-ptsd.shtml>.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Beginning in the End

Scientists still do not know the specific causes of schizophrenia, but research has shown that the brains of people with schizophrenia are different from the brains of people without the illness. Like many other medical illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, schizophrenia seems to be caused by a combination of problems including genetic vulnerability and environmental factors that occur during a person's development. Recent research has identified certain genes that appear to increase risk for schizophrenia. Like cancer and diabetes, the genes only increase the chances of becoming ill; they alone do not cause the illness.* 

Welp, it's a short post for tonight because I have to go to bed early so I can be out of the house by 6:45am.  Today was a good day.  Last day of work at KW, and it was good.  I'll be back there to say hi and everything so it wasn't too bittersweet.  I had therapy too, and it was a good session.  My therapist says I'm doing really well dealing with all the different stressors in my life right now, and that makes me feel really good. We also discovered that I'm starting to give myself positive reinforcement for things I've been doing well, and that's an enormous step, since I usually look for positive reinforcement from other people.  I'm hoping that this new job will allow me to start a new chapter of my life - one without my Army Ex in it, and one where I'm dependent solely on myself for the things I've been looking to other people for up until now.

I'm setting some goals for myself that I think are pretty easily attainable.  Obviously, paying off CU is a big one.  It would be easier to do if I were to continue living at my parents' house, but that's not an option as far as I'm concerned, so whatever tax return I get this coming year will go entirely to CU.  Moving out is another goal.  I'd like to be able to pay for my car to be fixed with minimal help from my parents.  And then I'll just throw in losing 10lbs just for kicks because I know that is a goal that I will more than likely miss, but it will be a challenge for me just the same.

I've decided that the best way to be able to get up early and get going is to get as ready as possible the night before, so I'm getting ready NOW.  I hope I'll be able to sleep through all this excitement that's seeping out of my pores!!

*"NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Illnesses." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=23036>.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things are a-Changin'

Depersonalization disorder is marked by a feeling of detachment or distance from one's own experience, body, or self. These feelings of depersonalization are recurrent. Of the dissociative disorders, depersonalization is the one most easily identified with by the general public; one can easily relate to feeling as they in a dream, or being "spaced out." Feeling out of control of one's actions and movements is something that people describe when intoxicated. An individual with depersonalization disorder has this experience so frequently and so severely that it interrupts his or her functioning and experience. A person's experience with depersonalization can be so severe that he or she believes the external world is unreal or distorted.

I don't have much to write about today.  The remnants from yesterday's mini-meltdown are gone, which helps lessen the tension in the house.  Today was my second-to-last day at my current job, and that's just fine with me.  It was brought to my attention that my boss has been talking about me to people around the office, and not in a nice way.  I'm honestly not at all surprised, given the experience I had with my boss when I was working at the front desk last year.  She's most certainly the person I'd have really not liked in high school, because she'll be syrupy sweet to your face, but then turn around and tell people how much they don't like you.  One of the reasons I was almost fired last year was because I had posted on my facebook status something along the lines of not wanting to go to work one day, and she saw it and told my bosses, who in turn called me into their office to have a "talk."  So no, I pretty much expected that she was talking behind my back.  I told my parents about it, and my mom made a good point - that when you don't participate in workplace gossip about others, it doesn't occur to you that they might be talking about you to others.  I hate workplace gossip - I've been burned by it more than once, and so I do my best to be as nice as possible to every single person.  

When it comes down to it, I just want to be treated exactly as I treat others, and so I don't talk about people behind their back if I can help it (my sister notwithstanding - that's a totally different thing).  I go into every situation expecting nothing less than honesty and respect from anyone, and I think that it the best way to do that.  I don't like when I first meet someone and they try to influence my perception of another person just because they don't like that person for whatever reason.  I like to form my own opinions of others based on my interactions with them.

And so I prepare for the new job mentally!  I know I'm going to struggle with being stuck at work for 9 and a half hours with no real break to eat or nap, and I have to leave the house at 6:45am!  OUCH.  So I'm going to go read for an hour tonight and go to bed, then wake up a little earlier tomorrow to practice.  I woke up at 7:30 this morning!

Oh!  I'm SOOOOOO excited for Friday!  I really wanted to hit the Black Friday shopping way way early in the morning, but I am not going to have too much money to spend, so I don't know if I will end up going.  It will totally depend on the deals I see in the ads on Thursday.  But that's not entirely why I'm excited.  I'm going to Not So Silent Night put on by channel 93.3, this year featuring 3Oh!3, Innerpartysystem, Oh My Stars and The Epilogues, all of which I love!!  I've never been to a show like this and I'm super duper excited!  It's at the First Bank Center, which is literally 4 minutes away from my house, and I'm taking my little sister, and I'm going to make her go early and get right up front by the stage!  I've been to several shows where I've gotten up close and that's really the best way to do it.  It's going to be CRAZY!

Also, Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday.  You don't have to stress out over buying gifts for people, you don't have to go to church, and it's a holiday that celebrates food.  What could be better??  We don't do anything fancy.  We just spend all day cooking and watching football and the Macy's Parade, and napping and reading, and each one of us participates in the food preparation.  We used to play a board game or two on the evenings after dinner, too, more often than not a Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game.  It's totally nerdy, but I have the very best memories of Thanksgivings past.  There are even a few where we got together with a family that we knew when we lived in Florida, who moved up to Colorado back in the 90's.  Those were great, too.  I have almost no bad memories of Thanksgiving, which says a lot considering my sister and my dad's propensities towards anger and rage.  I'll probably have to eat those words after the last couple months we've had, but I'd like to hope for the best because there's not a whole lot of pressure to perform on Thanksgiving, the way there sometimes is on Easter or Christmas.

I didn't write too much about how wonderful it was to see the kids yesterday, I was really preoccupied with what was going on at the moment.  It was absolutely wonderful to see the kids.  The boys are a bit bigger than I remember them, but not too much.  I don't want to use their names on here, so I'll refer to them as Z and H and S, which are the first letters of their names.  Z and H, the boys, are hilarious.  I don't remember seeing my parents laugh at the things we used to say, but the things that come out of their mouths are often quite hilarious.  Z is more sensitive and artistic, although H will surprise the crap out of me by suddenly jumping on my lap and snuggling.  He even got really excited yesterday when I said he could have a sucker and he grabbed my face and kissed me on the lips 5 times, which I of course just love.  They're so energetic and so boyish, fighting "bad guys" and "pirates" and "monsters" all the time.  H laughs at things like farts and poop, and Z and I played foosball for awhile and he loved it.  Meanwhile, the baby, who is 11 months old, was exhibiting major signs of separation anxiety.  She would hardly let my sister out of her sight the whole 30 hours they were over here.  It was only towards the end that she started relaxing and being more affable, but it was brief because she started getting tired and cranky.  Losing those three months with her is going to really affect the relationship we have with her over the next 6 months or so.  She's going to be here at least once a week, which is probably enough to get used to us, and to learn the routine for living here, but it's got to be extremely stressful for a baby to have gone so long without her mommy and then be thrown back into the mix as though nothing has happened.  It makes me angry to no end that my sister's ex-husband's actions have forced this horrible situation.  He's the one who cheated, knocked up another woman, and my sister is the one who is suffering for it just because she reacted as any other woman would react having been cuckolded.  I talked for awhile with my little sister yesterday who was not here for the whole mess that happened last night, and she said that at this point, there's nothing that any of us can do, and that being the case, it's silly to fret over it.  That's exactly the explanation I've given myself time after time when faced with a situation that I have no control over, and being able to accept that you're not in control and that nothing you do will make the slightest bit of difference is very helpful for the abatement of my stress.  It's one of those things that is a lot easier said than done, but once it is done, the change is exponentially better.

I'm done for now.  I guess I had more to write about than I thought!

*"NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Illnesses." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 22 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=26975>.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Will it Take?

Intermittent explosive disorder is characterized by repeated episodes of aggressive, violent behavior in which you react grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, and angry outbursts or temper tantrums that involve throwing or breaking objects may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder (IED).  People with intermittent explosive disorder may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. Later, people with intermittent explosive disorder may feel remorse, regret or embarrassment.

The exact cause of intermittent explosive disorder is unknown, but the disorder is probably caused by a number of environmental and biological factors.  Most people with this disorder grew up in families where explosive behavior and verbal and physical abuse were common. Being exposed to this type of violence at an early age makes it more likely for these children to exhibit these same traits as they mature.  There may also be a genetic component, causing the disorder to be passed down from parents to children.  Additionally, there may be differences in the way serotonin, an important chemical messenger in the brain, works in people with intermittent explosive disorder. Higher levels of the hormone testosterone have been associated with intermittent explosive disorder.*

This is going to be really short because I have a headache that is just waiting in the wings of my head to powerfully explode.  Much like my father's anger.  At the end of the day, I can say it was totally wonderful to see the kids again, and it's entirely possible that we will not see them again.  They got here about 1:30pm yesterday, and everything went pretty well.  They stayed until 6pm today.

As they were leaving today, my sister got all huffy and puffy because her baby girl, who is 11 months old and having extreme bouts of separation anxiety - and rightfully so - began screaming because my sister was more than an arm's length away getting the boys ready to leave.  Because my sister got agitated, so did my dad.  As my dad moves terribly slow due to his weight and the fact that his joints have mostly stopped functioning correctly, he got in my sister's way, and she yelled at him to get out of her way, and he in turn screamed at her, "DO YOU WANT ME TO SMACK YOU?!"  This scared the shit out of the kids, the older one especially because he's the sensitive one, and there's a great big chance that the kids will go home and tell their dad and their other grandparents about it, and we will not get visitations again.  Of course, I'm being very black and white about this, things may be just fine, but that's a very small possibility.

I have a lot of very confusing feelings about this whole situation.  I don't know how to feel or what to do, or if there even is anything I can do.

I am so ready to move out, because I know that my stress level will decrease exponentially once I'm gone.  I know that with some self-control, I will be able to save enough money for a deposit and some rent and get the hell out.  But there's a voice of reason that's telling me to be responsible and save some extra money to be able to pay for what will inevitably happen - a car accident, or Phoenix gets hurt or sick, or my car breaks down again, or whatever.  I just don't know if I can hang in there long enough.  This last month and a half have been HELL.  Threats to call the police, burns, cuts, bruises, threats against my dog, my dad screaming at me for "instigating" when my sister goes batshit crazy, having my money stolen, my mom screaming at my sister; I just don't know what else could happen at this point that would surprise me, but I can guarantee it will happen and I will be surprised.

I could hardly stay awake all day, so I'm going to take some aspirin and go to bed.  I was really hoping I'd be able to relax and get mentally prepared to start my new job this week.

*"Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Definition, Causes - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 21 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/intermittent-explosive-disorder/DS00730/DSECTION=causes>.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Post, or Lack Thereof

Despite this being my *50th post*, I'm not writing tonight, I'm spending what I've discovered is extremely precious time with my nephews.  Today has been exhausting, albeit truly lovely.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Chosen One

The most dangerous and fear-inducing features of Borderline Personality Disorder are the self-harm behaviors and potential for suicide.  An estimated 10 percent  kill themselves.  Deliberate self harming (cutting, burning, hitting, head banging, hair pulling) is a common feature of BPD.  Individuals who self harm report that causing themselves physical pain generates a sense of release and relief which temporarily alleviates excruciating emotional feelings.  Self-injurious acts can bring relief by stimulating production of endorphins, which are naturally occurring opiates produced by the brain in response to pain.  Some individuals with BPD also exhibit self-destructive acts such as promiscuity, binging, purging and blackouts from substance abuse.   It is important for the client, family, and clinician to be able to draw a distinction between the intent behind suicide attempts and self-injurious behaviors (SIB).  Patients and researchers frequently describe self-injurious behavior as a means of reducing intense feelings of emotional pain.  The release of the endogenous opiates provides a reward to the behavior.  Some data suggest that self-injurious behavior in BPD patients doubles the risk of suicide attempts. This dichotomy of intent between these two behaviors requires careful evaluation and relevant therapy to meet the needs of the patient.*

SO TIRED.  I did not sleep well last night and I have not gotten a moment to relax since I got up (minus the hour I spent waiting at the movie theater for Harry Potter and the two and a half hours I spent watching it).  I'm just plain exhausted.  I went with my sister to the storage unit to rearrange in preparation of the arrival of her POD (portable on-demand storage unit) which we will be unloading and arranging to fit in the storage unit my parents have rented along with my things, their things, and my little sister's things.  It is going to be a disaster, mostly because my dad will want to be in control and will be fighting with my older sister for control the whole time.  We're anticipating my dad to have an aneurysm over our rearrangement job, and spend most of the three hours huffing and puffing and bitching about how poorly we did stabilizing all the boxes and oddly shaped items.  My sister's storage unit has the entire contents of a four-bedroom house in it, including an entire bedroom set, which is huge, a large flat-screen TV and an enormous living room set which we will be forced to find room for in this unit the size of a one-car garage that is already half-full.  

Then after spending the whole morning doing that, I GET TO SEE THE KIDS!!!!  For the first time since August, I get to see them and play with them and squish them and love on them and kiss them and tickle them and hold them and feed them and scold them and just generally enjoy all the hilarious words that come out of their mouths.  My little sister and I are the only ones who have not gotten to spend any time with the kids since the whole incident in August, and we both are beyond excited.  I love those kids as though they are my own.  I was there in the room when one of the boys was born.  The last time I saw my niece, she was just about sitting up on her own and now she is pretty much walking.  She turns one exactly one month from today.  Those kids really are the light of my life and I enjoy the shit out of every moment I get to spend with them.

And so I will be retiring shortly.  I need all the energy I can muster tomorrow, but thankfully, I've been building up my exhaustion tolerance and can now spend all day awake and mobile, which I love.

*"NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Illnesses." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=44780>.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On the Road Again

A large body of scientific evidence suggests that OCD results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. For years, mental health professionals incorrectly assumed OCD resulted from bad parenting or personality defects. This theory has been disproven over the last 20 years. OCD symptoms are not relieved by psychoanalysis or other forms of "talk therapy," but there is evidence that behavior therapy can be effective, alone or in combination with medication. People with OCD can often say "why" they have obsessive thoughts or why they behave compulsively. But the thoughts and the behavior continue.  People whose brains are injured sometimes develop OCD, which suggests it is a physical condition. If a placebo is given to people who are depressed or who experience panic attacks, 40 percent will say they feel better. If a placebo is given to people who experience obsessive-compulsive disorder, only about two percent say they feel better. This also suggests a physical condition.  Clinical researchers have implicated certain brain regions in OCD. They have discovered a strong link between OCD and a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps nerve cells communicate.  Scientists have also observed that people with OCD have increased metabolism in the basal ganglia and the frontal lobes of the brain. This, scientists believe, causes repetitive movements, rigid thinking, and lack of spontaneity. Successful treatment with medication or behavior therapy produces a decrease in the over activity of this brain circuitry. People with OCD often have high levels of the hormone vasopressin.*

Today was a good day.  Pretty much any day when I have more energy than usual is a good day.  I got up today and went right into working towards helping clean up the house and move things into storage to get ready for the kiddos.

We (being my older sister and I) (yes we are speaking) (out of necessity, not choice) made two trips with the truck full of things to the storage unit, and put the crib together and cleaned it, helped with dinner by making the delicious apple waffles, then swept the kitchen and vacuumed the house.

I also went to Louisville twice - once to pick up Jonas and once to pick up Jamie from work.  They're having some car(s) trouble and they're without phones at the moment, so I'm doing whatever I can to be helpful, and I honest to God did not mind doing it one bit!  Being needed, however briefly, is nice.

When I have some energy to burn, I like feeling productive, and I definitely feel like I was productive today.  When I'm being productive, I'm also busy, too busy to think about my life.  Even in the little down time I had today, I didn't think about my situation at home, my minutely decreasing debt, or even the stress of telling my boss that I've been re-hired somewhere else.  I also didn't project.  Projecting into the future, and being worried about there not being enough time or enough money for me to accomplish whatever I feel I need to accomplish is my downfall, every time.  I'm not really thinking too far ahead into the future right now, and I like it.  I was thinking, when I was in the car with Phoenix, and he seemed totally thrilled to be in the car with me, how great it must be not to be worrying about the future all the time.  Phoenix doesn't worry about whether or not he'll eat again, or when he will get to go to the dog park again, or when he'll get his next rawhide, or even really when the next time I leave is going to be.  He's thrilled with the surprises and upset when he discovers I'm leaving, but he only reacts at the moment, not before anything happens.  Obviously I have to be thinking about food for my future, and money with which to buy that food, and money to keep a roof over my head, and money to buy Phoenix food, but really, that's all I need.  I like being surprised by my own actions and my own high energy levels, when they happen, and I don't like worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow.  I don't think it's possible to not worry at all, but I like the state of mind I'm currently in.  If I can figure out a way to prolong it, I will.  

And as much as I like(d) "Dane," I've found that my life is less stressful without him in it.  When I'm not being constantly reminded of some of the qualities I really like in him, I think less and less about him, and that's working for me really well.  I've also come to the conclusion that no communication with my ex for about the next year will be just fine with me.  I've been keeping in contact with him about once every few days, and dreaming about him.  I am not getting any kind of excitement from him that I even exist at all, and that is not okay with me.  I have plenty of people in my life that are excited that I am alive, and I'd rather give them the pleasure of my company and privilege of my attention than to waste it on someone who could give a shit.

Slowly, but surely, I am learning my own self-worth.  It's a lot of work on my part, and I've still got a long way to go, but I'm getting there.

*"NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Illnesses." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=23035>.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knowing the Difference

Generally, people who have schizoaffective disorder experience psychotic symptoms — such as hallucinations, disorganized thinking and paranoid thoughts — as well as a mood disturbance, such as depressed or manic mood. They tend to be very antisocial and shunned by the people around them.  Psychotic features and mood disturbances may occur at the same time or may appear on and off interchangeably. The course of the schizoaffective disorder usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by an improved outlook. To establish a diagnosis, a person must have demonstrated, at some point, delusions or hallucinations for at least two weeks without evidence of mood disorder symptoms.  Most commonly, the mood disorder accompanying the schizophrenic features is either bipolar disorder (bipolar-type schizoaffective) or depression (depressive-type schizoaffective).
Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include:
  • Strange or unusual thoughts or perceptions
  • Paranoid thoughts and ideas
  • Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices
  • Unclear or confused thoughts (disorganized thinking)
  • Bouts of depression
  • Manic mood or a sudden increase in energy and behavioral displays that are out of character
  • Irritability and poor temper control
  • Thoughts of suicide or homicide
  • Irrelevant or incoherent speech
  • Catatonic behavior — lack of response, sometimes with an extreme agitation that's not influenced by the environment
  • Deficits in attention and memory
  • Lack of concern about hygiene and physical appearance
  • Changes in energy and appetite
  • Sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep*
I don't feel like rehashing the whole drama of yesterday that briefly short-circuited me.  Today, my arm hurts like a bitch, mostly because it's cold outside which makes it necessary to wear shirts with sleeves, and the sleeves keep rubbing up against the scratches, which aren't quite scabbed over yet.  I am really surprised by the blueness of the bruise still. Showering the morning was quite painful, and that was after I had to peel the gauze I wrapped over the cuts last night off the open wound.

For the positive: I received a phone call today from the office where I interviewed last Friday and again yesterday, and was offered the job!  After I left the interview yesterday, I had a really good feeling about it, and was about 90% sure I was going to get the job.  I'll be starting next Wednesday, and I'm a little nervous because the hours right now are three days a week from 7:30am to 5:00pm.  That's a long time.  It's a long time to be sitting at a desk without a formal break, and it's a long time to leave Phoenix at home.  But it's also a lot of hours to be racking up in three days.  I'll really have to work hard at reminding myself that I do still have four days each week off to catch up on sleep.

I'm also really nervous because I want to do a really good job and I don't want to ever have to be called into any offices to have "the talk" where I'm reprimanded for being late too many times or missing work too many days.  However, I know for a fact that I can do a better and more formal job than the person who is at the desk currently, as I sat observing her for the ten minutes I waited yesterday because I was early.  I'm definitely worried, though.

What I'm most excited about is that I feel like I'm opening up a new chapter of my life.  This will allow me to stop taking unemployment, and move out of my parents house.  I need to be looking at this job as the job I will be working in for the next couple of years of my life until I can get my shit back together and finish school.  This is also a great opportunity for me to make enough money to pay CU off, so that I can have my student loans deferred by going back to school, and I'll also be totally able to actually spend a couple of days each week attending class all day.  I think this is a really wonderful change for me.  I've already started looking into places to live, contacted a few people and I'll be looking at a few places in the next few weeks.

This is my chance.  To be the grown-up I want to be and to make the changes I want to see in my life.  Obviously this is not the best job or the most grown-up job I could have, but it's enough to get me on my feet again and prepare me for what's ahead.

I'm so excited.  I loved working in Downtown Boulder, more than I loved working anywhere else.  I'll be getting a parking pass, so I can spend a little more extra time there, and if I move there I can walk and ride my bike places again.  I can walk out the door and smell the intensely fresh air, I can be the only one in the office on days when it's snowed 3 feet because I lived so close I could walk, and I can make new friends and meet a whole ton of new people!  What could be better??  Okay, working as an EMT might be, but I'm starting out here making more money than I'd make working for an ambulance company.  I've been told there is a lot of down time when I'm not assisting tenants and answering phones, so I'm going to have time to read and work on my book and my break-up kit business.  I honestly cannot think of one negative aspect of this new job!!

On top of that, Jamie got her first vet tech job, and I am beyond excited for her.  I know that she will do so fabulously!  The fact that she and I both got offered jobs on the same day, when we've both been struggling so much for quite awhile, gives me hope that things (not just in my life or her life, but the big picture) are getting better.

I feel strong and confident right now, which is a nice change.  I've been feeling strong and confident lately, but last night's meltdown really made a dent in my resolve.  As for right now, we get to have an overnight with the kiddos, all three, on Saturday night, and I haven't seen them since August, so I'm even more excited, if it's even possible!!

In order to lessen the disappointment I may be feeling at any given time in the next few weeks, I'm going to stick to my mantra - one thing at a time.  Right now, it's to end my current job and start my new job.  I'm really wanting to dive into planning to move out, but I have to staunch that before it bleeds all over the place.

Today is my parents' 31st wedding anniversary.  They've never had an opportunity to do something big and huge and fun for an anniversary and I have wanted to be able to send them on a trip or something since I was about 20.  I'll probably have to do it without the help of my sisters, at least until my little sister graduates from college, since my older sister will never be able to handle a large amount of money without blowing it on insignificant shit.

So it's on to bigger and better things!!!

*"Schizoaffective Disorder: Symptoms - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizoaffective-disorder/DS00866/DSECTION=symptoms>.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Straw

A personality disorder is a type of mental illness in which you have trouble perceiving and relating to situations and to people — including yourself. There are many specific types of personality disorders.  In general, having a personality disorder means you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking and behaving no matter what the situation. This leads to significant problems and limitations in relationships, social encounters, work and school.  In some cases, you may not realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you, and you may blame others for the challenges you face.*

I can't write tonight.  We're in the middle of yet another meltdown caused by Hurricane Angie (this is what her name will be in the book).  Here's what she did to me tonight after I walked away while she was yelling at me - she chased me down.

She also tried to take Phoenix with her at least three times tonight.  I want it in writing that the next time she threatens my dog, I will punch her in the face, call the police, then file by a restraining order against her.  Damn the consequences and whether or not she sees her kids again.

*"Personality Disorders - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/personality-disorders/DS00562>.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm on a Self-Improvement Kick, All Right?

According to the DSM, there are four basic types of bipolar disorder:
  1. Bipolar I Disorder is mainly defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, the person also has depressive episodes, typically lasting at least two weeks. The symptoms of mania or depression must be a major change from the person's normal behavior.
  2. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.
  3. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) is diagnosed when a person has symptoms of the illness that do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. The symptoms may not last long enough, or the person may have too few symptoms, to be diagnosed with bipolar I or II. However, the symptoms are clearly out of the person's normal range of behavior.
  4. Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia, is a mild form of bipolar disorder. People who have cyclothymia have episodes of hypomania that shift back and forth with mild depression for at least two years. However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for any other type of bipolar disorder.* 
Some people may be diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. This is when a person has four or more episodes of major depression, mania, hypomania, or mixed symptoms within a year. Some people experience more than one episode in a week, or even within one day. Rapid cycling seems to be more common in people who have severe bipolar disorder and may be more common in people who have their first episode at a younger age. One study found that people with rapid cycling had their first episode about four years earlier, during mid to late teen years, than people without rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Rapid cycling affects more women than men.

We just had an incident.  My older sister spent most of today sorting through the mounds and mounds of crap that take up most of the extra space we have in our full basement.  She's attempting to create a "living space" for her and her kids so that they have some privacy and some of their own space when they are staying here half of the time.  I have about 10 boxes down there, a couch and a chair, a couple coffee tables, and my dining set, which is being used as a sewing table by my mom.  The rest of the crap down there is stuff my dad has hoarded over the years, and that my mom has whittled down to three full rooms of STUFF.  My sister has been irritable, as I get and as my mom gets whenever any of us tries to go through the things down there and get rid of things, but the difference is that when she gets irritable, she gets manic.

As I sit here right now, my mom is stalking around the house trying to find her pink fleece jacket.  We've all seen my sister walking around with it on, and it's obvious that wherever it is, it is not in the house.  As horrible as it sounds, I'm thrilled to see this "turn of events."  Something that belongs to my mom is nowhere to be found, and is more than likely currently residing in my sister's van.  I keep telling my mom to go ahead and ask for it back, so that my sister can throw a fit (literally THROW a fit - she throws things) about having to put an inordinate amount of time and effort looking for it in the trash heap she also uses as a vehicle.  Moments ago, my sister tried to walk out of the house with a coat my mom gave me last winter after she decided it didn't fit her right.  This is a nice black suede coat with a faux fur liner, and I use it as a dress coat when I need to be warm.  I saw her wearing it and I said, "I'm sorry, no," after she looked at me pleadingly.  She then ripped it off and threw it at me (it's heavy so it didn't go far) and stormed out of the house saying, "Fine, Beth, I give up!  Good night, I'll see you guys tomorrow."  My first reaction was THANK GOD she's giving up - although I know she has not nor will give up (whatever it means to her to "give up"), and good riddance!  She's pretty much made it a habit of not sleeping here at night, and we have no idea where she is sleeping, or with whom.  I asked my parents if I should just tell her that when she stops being careless and irresponsible when "borrowing" my stuff - I put "borrow" in quotes because I think she thinks that means "have, and do with what you will" - that I'll start letting her borrow it again, or if I should just keep saying no to her.  I've mostly stopped speaking to her unless it's absolutely necessary, which averages out to about one time every day. 

It annoys and pains my parents to no end to see me behaving this way towards my sister, but it is the only form of self-preservation I know.  If I allow myself to engage with her, even for a moment, I will get sucked into whatever drama she's encapsulated herself in, or I'll have a moment of weakness and allow her to use something of mine.  This cannot happen.  When I ask for my things back, she loses her shit.  When I ask her to perhaps stop putting the gross drain-hair on the side of the bathtub and instead put it in the trash can, or to put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher after her late night munchies blitz (it's not munchies for her, it's the equivalent of two meals), she loses her shit.  She's taken to bitching whenever I ask her to do something along the lines of straightening or cleaning up, only she does it in a manner befitting a 5 year-old, stomping her feet and yelling.  And in turn, I ignore her pretty much whenever she talks.  I don't want to hear about her latest sexual escapades or the fight she and her friends got in at the bar last night, or whatever trivial shit is momentarily keeping her attention, not even a little bit.  This evening, she did get upset when it became obvious to her that I wasn't listening to her, which surprised me a little.

Something that my sister has been doing her entire life is expecting to be the center of attention at all times, and refusing to take responsibility for ANYTHING.  There have been countless times since she has resumed living in this house that she has simply walked into a room, blatantly ignoring whatever is going on in the room, and started talking as though she were more important than whatever was going on before her presence.  Tonight was one of those nights.  My parents and I were sitting, eating my dad's delicious chili, which was perfect for a night like tonight, and watching the NBC nightly news, rapt on the story about how airline passengers are beginning to react more and more negatively to the TSA's screening practices, when in walks my sister, talking obnoxiously loud, and about something that has no bearing on the conversation at hand, nor to the situation.  I have absolutely no idea what she began talking about, as I said before that I ignore her most of the time, but all three of us looked at her not in the way of people becoming interested in what she was talking about, but in annoyance of her total lack of tact and her selfish assumption that we needed to hear whatever random thing she had to say.

I'm sure it's pretty obvious that I'm beyond annoyed with my sister right now.  I'm working exceptionally hard to not allow her behavior, actions and words get to me, and mostly I'm doing a decent job.  By decent, I mean that I still cannot pretend she's not here because she is my sister, the mother of my niece and nephews, and I do have some interest in her life.  I try very hard to go about my business as though I'm not exceedingly irritated at her apparent complete lack of consideration for the other people in this household.  I hate having to be so guarded in my own home, where I'm supposed to be able to relax and live comfortably.  I'm not supposed to have to hide and lock up things of value - which at this point includes whatever small amount of spare change I have - in the place where I live for fear of their theft, misuse and destruction.

I have to remind myself every day that it is illegal to murder others, and frowned upon to murder your own family members.  There's matricide, and patricide, but what is the word for killing one's sibling?  I'm sure it's a biblical term, for Cain killed Able, but whatever it is, I can't come up with it.  Every day when I have to sift through the piles of crap she leaves sitting out on the bathroom counter, including the quarter-inch thick layer of hair,  I repeat my mantra, "It is illegal to kill your sister."

Now, it sounds as though I am holier-than-thou, perfect, never leave a dirty dish in the sink, never leave things sitting on the bathroom counter, but I'm not, and that I act that way annoys the hell out of my family.  I'm overly observant and sanctimonious when it comes to the space I occupy.  I am super-organized, to the point that when I wasn't paying attention when I was popping my week's worth of birth control pills out of their foil to put in my pill organizer last Sunday, and I dropped a pill.  I forgot about it until Saturday night when I went to take my meds and noticed the absence of my little blue pill.  I remembered where I was standing when I dropped the pill, and was able to find it amongst two large laundry loads of clean clothes sitting in the basket over which I dropped the pill.  I know exactly where I keep everything, I know exactly as I left everything, down to the positions I've left things in, and so I am able to see when something has been moved or changed in some way.  Perfectionism is part of my personality, both a flaw and a strength, and I adopted the ability to remember how I left things after the first fight I had with my sister when I was 11 after she had taken things out of my room without asking.  So perhaps it is not adoption so much as adaptation to my surroundings that I developed this skill - living first with her for the first 16 years of my life, then with a boyfriend and then with a series of random roommates.  Either way, I can tell when my sister has used something of mine without asking, whether it is because it is in a different position or because it reeks of cigarette smoke.  I'm not stupid, in fact I'm exactly the opposite of stupid, and it is extraordinarily insulting that she things I am (and that my parents are) so stupid that we don't recognize when she steals, destroys, and abuses our things.

On a different note: I'm having a really hard time not wanting to stay in constant contact with my former "boyfriend."  I dreamed about him last night/this morning, and I woke up thinking about him.  Up until he contacted me a week ago, if I dreamed about him, I didn't give it much thought during the following day, but I found myself thinking quite extensively about him today.  I wanted to share the details of the dream with him, and discuss what it might have meant with him, and reminisce over our memories of the time we've spent together.  I want to hear his voice, and hear him say my name and tell me he loves me one more time.  I used to love spending a couple hours on the phone with him sorting out the details of the life we were going to build together, and what kind of ring he'd get me when he proposed, and where we'd live after we got married.  I miss him a lot, and while I felt a major loss when we stopped speaking 9 months ago, it's different from the loss I feel now.  I told him last weekend that I will always have love for him, but I was no longer in love with him, and somehow in a week's time, I find myself having love for him yet again, and I don't know what to do with it.  There are so many things that he and I share; secrets that only the two of us know, places only the two of us have been, things the two of us did together, and I so deeply miss that connection and that companionship.  I have that with no one on this earth, and I greatly fear never having that again.  And yet I know how he can make me feel; so alone, so inconsequential and so crazy.  The conflict I am experiencing is very confusing to me because of the amount of work I've done and the amount of progress I've made in learning how to value myself above other people's opinions of me.

My expansive group of friends has been extremely supportive and encouraging with regards to keeping my guard up against him.  Jonas has been especially helpful because he understands the strange attraction - almost addiction - I have to this person.  I was explaining to Jonas today how hard I'm finding it to not get sucked back into the same situation with him, and I told him that I'm trying to reason with myself this way: I mostly will not tolerate keeping people close to me if they show me any lack of respect.  If I invite someone out to do something and they say they'll be there, and then don't show up, I get upset.  If I send someone a text message that warrants a response and they don't respond, I get upset.  I find it incredibly disrespectful to be lied to or to be ignored, and if someone shows me disrespect in those manners more than once, I will not hesitate to remove them from my life.  I have made a very conscious decision to surround myself with people who not only care about me, but often show me that they care, because I am emotionally sensitive and needy.  My ex, Aaron, has repeatedly lied to and ignored me, and many times in situations when I was in dire need of his attention.  If he were any other person, I would have disconnected from him a long time ago, and for some reason I cannot easily disconnect from him, ever, under and circumstances.  What he put me through when I visited him in Hawaii is reprehensible, and if any one of my friends were to tell me that they'd experienced what I experienced, I'd be aghast if they remained in contact with the person that subjected them to such pain.  So I'm not sure why I find it acceptable to not only allow him to treat me so badly, but to consistently gravitate towards him.

It looks like I have my work cut out for me these next couple of months, both in my everyday life - figuring out my job and living situations - and for building my self-esteem back up from this experience. 

*"NIMH · How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect Someone over Time?" NIMH · Home. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/how-does-bipolar-disorder-affect-someone-over-time.shtml>.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Omnia mea mecum porto

Signs and symptoms of hypochondria include:
  • Excessive fear or anxiety about having a particular disease or condition
  • Worry that minor symptoms mean you have a serious illness
  • Seeking repeated medical exams or consultations
  • "Doctor shopping," or frequently switching doctors
  • Frustration with doctors or medical care
  • Strained social relationships
  • Obsessive health research
  • Emotional distress
  • Frequent checking of your body for problems, such as lumps or sores
  • Frequent checking of vital signs, such as pulse or blood pressure
  • Inability to be reassured by medical exams
  • Thinking you have a disease after reading or hearing about it
  • Avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious, such as being in a hospital* 

I sure do love to cook and bake.  I just wish that they'd make a more cushioned floor for the kitchen (that is also easy to clean and anti-bacterial) because standing around cooking and baking and dish-washing is hard on my legs!  And also, has anyone ever noticed that people say, "Oh, I love to cook!" or "I really like baking!" but no one ever says "I love to wash dishes!" even though dish-washing is an enormous part of cooking and baking?  Personally, I don't like to wash dishes but I don't hate washing dishes, either.  For me, anything that involves the reduction of bacteria and other materials that might be defined under the word "dirt" is cathartic.  Cleaning and organizing, those are two things I give a big thumbs-up.

So today started out with homemade breakfast burritos and the Sunday comics, then it was nap-time.  At the end of my nap, I got a nosebleed.  I'm lucky that I can be a light sleeper because if I hadn't noticed it and awakened, I would have gotten blood all over the place.  It makes no sense as to why someone would get a nosebleed in their sleep, excepting the possibility that the person has a life-threatening disease like leukemia.  I've been tested, I don't have it, but I do get a lot of pretty nasty nosebleeds.  Anyway, I got up after that, and took Phoenix to the dog park.  It was kind of funny - when we got to the dog park, a couple with a three-legged-dog had just gotten there.  Phoenix played with her for a few minutes and we went on our walk around the open space, and when we were just getting back to the car, that same couple was leaving, too.  We followed them all the way to Target, where we parted ways, and I ran into Target to grab a prescription.  Then we hit Petsmart to get more dog food for Phoenix, (and also a probiotic) and we ran into the same couple and their dog there, too!  In retrospect, I feel retarded for not being more conversational with them and letting Phoenix play with the other pup some more, but in my defense, I was retarded in that I did not grab a basket on the way in and ended up walking around the store holding 5 cans of dog food and a bottle of pills in my arms.  Anyway, I should have stopped and talked more and been more friendly.  I feel like I missed an opportunity to make some new friends, plus I have a very special soft spot for three-legged dogs.  I guess if we are fated to meet again, then we will!

Upon returning, my mom discovered that she had a flat tire, so I helped my dad change it (since bending over is extremely exerting for him) and then I made chicken curry for dinner.  It was glorious and delicious!  And so here we are.

I feel like I haven't been overly introspective lately - which is probably a good thing.  I'm always acutely aware of my many thoughts and feelings, but in the last few days at least, I have felt much less anxious.  There could be many reasons for this, of which I am not going to go into because they are too numerous.  However, I have been attempting to do things for myself that are kind and compassionate, including not being so hard on myself and giving myself a break.  I'd really like to be able to be happy in whatever situation I find myself thrown into, and I've found myself thinking about something a good friend said to me in an email recently:  

"I think some of the post-trip angst I'm feeling is what I always feel after a trip abroad:  that the US is an imperfect place, and international travel just serves to highlight those imperfections.  There are certain things that I emphatically DO NOT LIKE about life in this country.  I don't like how impersonal life is here.  I don't like how unconnected I am to my neighbors.  I don't like the fact that a lot of Americans go through life without a strong sense of community or belonging.  I don't like the fact that most Americans are frenetically engaged in the pursuit of happiness, yet most Americans don't seem to be all that happy.  I don't like the fact that we are so materially rich that we take our technology-driven lifestyles for granted.  I don't like the fact that Americans, compared to the rest of the world (with the exception of Japan), are uptight and rushed.  I don't like the fact that our uptight, rushed, technology-driven lifestyle has robbed us of the ability to appreciate simple pleasures.  I don't like the fact that most Americans measure their success by way of material wealth.  I don't like the fact that in this country, life is largely about things, not people.  I don't like my finding that Americans, by and large, have terribly unrealistic expectations of their children and are thus often consumed by frustration that their children are not behaving in the expected way, rather than simply offering the children unconditional love and finding joy in their company."

I think she very eloquently describes all the things that are wrong with America that people in other countries do not experience, and therefore are exponentially happier than most Americans.  I'm taking the points my friend makes and intentionally trying to use them to my benefit.  Why are Americans so obsessed with material things?  Why isn't the joy of good company, and good times with good people enough for most of us?  Why are we always striving for more wealth, with which to acquire more things?  Do the things we acquire really fill the voids each and every one of us has?

I shall forthwith try not to take little things that might bring me joy for granted: Episodes of 30 Rock, any singular moment I spend with Phoenix, laughing with my family, delicious champagne, nights on the town with friends, beautiful sunny days, beautiful snowy days, whatever good book I'm currently reading, fresh air, seeing something I've never seen before, Chipotle burritos, and the list goes on.  I'd like to think that I rarely took anything for granted anyway, but now I must make an extra effort in order to maintain what little sanity I have managed to preserve thus far. 

*"Hypochondria: Symptoms - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypochondria/DS00841/DSECTION=symptoms>.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Something Clever Here

It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental illnesses, it appears a variety of factors may be involved. These include:
  • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
  • Neurotransmitters. These naturally occurring brain chemicals linked to mood are thought to play a direct role in depression.
  • Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result from thyroid problems, menopause and a number of other conditions.
  • Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose biological family members also have the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
  • Life events. Events such as the death or loss of a loved one, financial problems and high stress can trigger depression in some people.
  • Early childhood trauma. Traumatic events during childhood, such as abuse or loss of a parent, may cause permanent changes in the brain that make you more susceptible to depression.
I had to really talk myself out of feeling enormous guilt for having spent some money on myself today.  I bought a pair of boots and a ski jacket.  The boots were more of a necessity than the ski jacket but I promised myself that I'd buy a piece of the gear I'll need to take up skiing a little at a time and I bought myself the pants way earlier this year.  I'm not sure I'll be able to actually take up skiing this winter season but it's more of a possibility with the new jacket.  Plus it matches my pants and it's super warm.  We're talking layers and layers, and for someone who hates snow and cold, it's quite perfect.
    My family (not including my older sister but including my younger one) have spent a lot of time in the past 24 hours just sitting and watching Phoenix interact with my sister's cat, Othello.  The cat seems to have a deep-seated hatred of Phoenix, although it might be dogs in general and not Phoenix himself.  He's constantly running up to Phoenix, while Phoenix is just lying there minding his own business or chewing a bone, and smacking him in the face, and then running off.  I want nothing more than to get it on video because it's not exactly easy to imagine and it's much funnier to watch.

    I didn't sleep well last night because Phoenix decided it was his turn to take up the entire bed.  I woke up at 3am (when my older sister had just gotten home) and had to get him up off the bed in order to stake my claim of the majority of bed-space.  After that it was a little easier to get comfy, but by the time I fell asleep it was 5am.  

    I got a letter from the ambulance company today, saying thank you for applying and testing with the company, but that they would not be employing me.  I will call on Monday to see what information I can get about what the deciding factor was.  I'm assuming it was the driving record.  Which is really too bad, but having prepared myself for this possibility, I'm not taking it too hard.  I'm definitely disappointed, but not to the point of getting upset about it.  I also received my new driver's license today, and DAMN, the picture is pretty good!  Since I have to keep this one for the next 5 years, it helps that the picture came out awesome.  

    I was thinking today about how much I like being able to get out of bed and being able to function normally on my days off.  Even though I was still mega-sleepy, I got up and got ready for the day.  My little sister accompanied me shopping for the boots, and it was nice to get out and about instead of spending the whole day in the house.  As the weather gets colder, staying in is going to be the norm I think, but I really like feeling "normal," by going out and doing things, even if it's just for a little while.  I wish that I never had days when I am incapable of functioning like a normal human being.  It's become almost a habit for me not to have anything to do during the day on my days off, and I find myself not even changing out of my jammies.  I can't express enough how much I liked putting on jeans and a t-shirt today and accomplishing things.  I also like being distracted enough to stop thinking and thinking and thinking about things.

    I do find myself thinking about 75% more about the ex-boyfriend that recently contacted me.  I know that I've changed enough to be able to handle all the different thoughts I'm having without acting on any of them, but it's still sort of confusing for me.  He knows me so well and he knows exactly what to say to me to make me smile or giggle or to get any reaction out of me whatsoever.  But he also has the ability to make me feel as though I do not matter one iota to him.  I can deal with that part of it just fine now, but I think that I needed to have no contact with him for 9 months to be able to come to the conclusion that what he does and what he thinks with regards to me does not matter to me - or shouldn't matter - and doesn't affect my mood or how I feel about myself.  Either way, it's nice to know that I've made progress, and it's helpful to have the skills of self-preservation to understand that just because he got in touch with me doesn't mean it's changing the track I'm on towards building myself back up.  I will be okay.

    *"Depression (major Depression): Causes - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. Web. 13 Nov. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175/DSECTION=causes>.