The Healing Continues

I can’t get journaling done because people are constantly interrupting me because I forget to log out of my social media accounts.  (I wish being logged into Facebook with a tab open would prevent notifications from appearing on my phone.  Too many things going on that I can’t miss anything important so going silent isn’t an option right now.)

This post is going to contain information that happened to me before my previous post was published.  It makes things relevant.

I was supposed to start a part-time gig starting the first week of January that ran through the month of February.  I ended up getting sick at the sink.  I tried to clean myself up which included brushing my teeth which made me sick again.  (That was my fault though.  I don’t know why, but I have a gag reflex when I brush my teeth but I’m fine for throat cultures and dental office visits.)  I called my “supervisor” to let her know I had a stomach bug and wouldn’t be able to make the first of my two visits for the month.  She wished me a speedy recovery.  A few days later she asked me if I was willing to make up the missed time over the weekend, which I agreed to.  The day before I was to go for my first shift, a mass email was sent out saying the program was cancelled nationwide due to no sales increases being seen from the program.  Companies need to learn from this.  Everyone who agreed to these shifts thought they were “simple and fun demonstrations.”  This was not accurate to say the least.  We had been hired on as salespeople in disguise to help promote new cell phone plans at a popular chain.  SALESPEOPLE.  I’m good at “selling” apple berry tarts because the sample speaks for itself, but I don’t know how to sell phones and plans.  Meanwhile, we’ve all been told to keep all the promotional materials that were sent to us and labels would be mailed out so we could return everything.  At this point, the program has been over for two weeks from its original end date and I’m sick of all the boxes laying around the apartment so I have taken it upon myself to recycle and throw the materials away.  I’m disappointed that this gig fell through because I was relying on it as a source of income to help pay for things.

The “intelligent conversations” I talked about in my last post have been happening on a more frequent basis.  Unfortunately they often start late in the evening when I don’t have much time to put into them and they carry on into the next day.  It looks like I’m on my phone all the time, which I’m trying to avoid.  I already realize things are going to get complicated writing about the people who are important in my life.  These conversations are being carried on with someone I will call “Rage.”  Sharing background information might be helpful.  “Rage” and I started talking online back when AOL Instant Messenger was the hottest thing.  We had a mutual friend circle so my parents were fine with it.  Keep in mind I was still in high school when we started talking.  We kept in touch and met in person for the first time in 2009.  We’ve continued to keep in touch and met once again, this time I was not at all happy with their behavior and let them know.  Communication and honesty in my relationships prevented the relationship with “Rage” from becoming extinct.  Like a true friend should, I have forgiven “Rage” for their actions.  If the wind brings “Rage” in my direction, I told them to let me know because it’s my turn to show them around town!

I have been feeling depressed and less motivated over the past several weeks.  I feel like my medications are not working like they used to.  At this time, I’m not too worried because I have the support of a few people who I talk to nearly each day and know me well enough to know when something is off.  One of these people I met in the hospital and have been communicating with since.  She lives not too far from me, since the move, which is nice.  There’s nothing that can be done because it’s an imbalance of medications.  I’m in pain.  My doctor tells me I’m depressed because I’m in pain.  My therapist says I’m in pain because medication dose needs to be adjusted.  I don’t know which theory is correct because I started taking I currently use for depression as an off-label use for pain management.

I’m sick of hiding behind things that I think define who I am.  With my therapist’s help, I’ve accepted what I’ve done in the past does not define me or my future.  I am able to learn from my mistakes and learn from them.  I’ve also defined a few positive things to tell myself each day:  I will accept what I can’t change.  I have confidence in myself.  My mind will remain open.

I am worthy of being accepted for who I am.

Ever since I started journaling, just not as much today, I go back to reflect.  There are certain dates that stick out in my memory.

This paragraph is going to be sensitive.  I’m actually vulnerable writing about this because I don’t think I’ve ever been honest with the details; awkward, embarrassing details.  Half my high school years were spent in an alternative school where the majority, not all, of my peers would try to get me to do things I wasn’t interested in.  I remember one of the females gave me a condom “just in case.”  Just in case of what, exactly?  It wasn’t until after graduation I had seen a penis.  I had conversations with my then friends because I never really got “the talk” from either of my parents.  Within a few weeks, I didn’t understand what the big deal was so I ended up losing my virginity to someone I had just met on August 14, 2004.  There wasn’t much to it.  It wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t bad.  After that happened I met another guy.  And another.  And another.  There’s a double standard out there that it’s okay for men to have more than one partner but if a woman has more than one she’s often given a bad label.  I didn’t understand what the big deal was.  It was sex.  Sex that felt good.

April 6, 2005.  This is the date that really changed things for me.  This was the last time I engaged in sexual activity with someone who I wasn’t in a relationship with.  The story here is quite short.  I met a guy online and we met in a public place, and he being a gentleman takes me out for dinner first.  Once we’re in the middle of it, I take his arm and see he has a tattoo on his arm that wasn’t in any of the photos he shared with me.  I asked him about it.  Still in me, he tells me the truth, that his brother couldn’t make it so he went in his place.  I told him to stop and get off me and that misrepresenting himself was disrespectful.  I told him that I was leaving but he was begging me to let him finish because he drove three hours to see me.  I told him if he was honest with me from the beginning I would have been accepting, but not in the middle of the act.  I didn’t give in and somewhere along the line I lost the ability to stand up for myself in some situations. It was on the drive home I decided I was engaging in risky behavior that wasn’t for me.  The number of partners between August the year prior and that night I estimate to be between 30 and 50.  Years later I find out that I probably did this because I was undiagnosed bipolar and wasn’t receiving treatment.  For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with random sex, or what I was doing, as long as it is done safely and is consensual (duh!).

On January 9, 2007.  I had an abortion 13 weeks LMP.  I remember blowing up one day since I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant or that I had an abortion; my mom was very supportive once I told her about the decision I had been withholding.  I think we went to a one of those silent and don’t talk about it arrangements.  A few friends know.  I’m almost to the point where I’m ready to let my extended family know.  I’m not ashamed anymore.  I’m afraid, for them, for knowing.

August 25, 2007.  I was raped by the man I was dating at the time.  I was seeing a guy for a few weeks and on this occasion I was invited to have dinner with his parents.  (We had met informally when I picked him up for one of our first dates.)  After dinner the two of us went out for a walk and we watched TV and a movie.  One thing lead to another.  I wasn’t feeling comfortable and he wouldn’t get off me despite my begging.  To people who haven’t been in this situation, it’s easy to ask a survivor why they didn’t yell for help or use force against their attacker.  Those people are idiots.  After what seemed like hours, I told him it was getting late and that I should probably go home.  I went straight to the hospital.  I had an exam and was interviewed by the police.  I went home and spent some time with one of my friends who supported me through the ordeal, which lasted weeks.  During this time I lost faith in the criminal justice system and it wasn’t until I went back to school that I realized they were helping me but things didn’t work out in my favor.  Just recently the man who raped me showed up on Facebook as a suggested friend.  What the fuck.

February 22, 2016.  This is the last time I can say I genuinely felt manic.  Months after this date I was hospitalized (go read about it if you haven’t) and given a bipolar diagnosis.  I don’t know how to say it but I feel so bad right now and I want to feel like that again.  I had to pick up a prescription and while I was there I turned in my excess opiates.  Writing the past sentences has brought me to tears.  I’m sure rereading them will make me cry too.

These events don’t define who I am.  But they all have one thing associated with them.  Shame.  The shame of having a mental illness causing me to do things society sees as abnormal and engage in reckless behavior.  The shame of addiction and being stuck in its cycle.  The shame of having an abortion.  The shame of being raped.  I don’t advertise these things to people.  They’re a part of me but they don’t define me as a person.  Once I get over the shame I have for being diagnosed with a mental disorder, I know I will feel much better about myself.

Recently one of the people I’ve been talking to, “Spyder,” randomly told me about their mental illness.  “I’m here if you need to talk.”  That day was just a few days ago and they were supportive.  I then asked them if they could be my mental health “sponsor,” within limits.  They were more than happy to.  Sometimes I feel like the only people who understand what I’m going through are those who have gone through it themselves.  “Spyder” has a very similar story to mine.

There are five people I am completely honest and open with:  myself, my therapist, my psychiatrist, and two friends.  I haven’t told my friends lately, but I love them for being supportive and I’m sorry if I don’t seem appreciative.  “I love you.”

The majority of my depression lately is due to my father-in-law’s disease progression.  Things happened rather quickly, a phone call turned into a mad dash to pack and my spouse was on the next available flight to Minnesota.  I’m supporting my spouse as best as I can in physical absence.  One day his father seems to be fine; the next day not.  Most recently it seems his father has decided to stop all treatment.  Things are made difficult since I am not back home to support him, and we have yet to discuss when or if that will happen.

On to less serious things going on, my computer has been acting up and I’ve been researching my options for a few weeks.  I found I can build a rather nice computer for a decent price.  My case was first to arrive, along with the CPU and power supply.  My cooler and memory arrived last week.  Amazon said it had been delivered to the leasing office but they had no record of my package.  I called Amazon and they offered replacements.  My graphics card and motherboard were being shipped by New Egg.  I ordered these items (along with the case) on Sunday evening.  The case shipped straight away.  The remaining items, however, didn’t seem to ship until four business days later, suspiciously after I called customer support to ask them why they hadn’t been shipped.  If all goes well, I will have all my parts, recycling my external drive, HDD, and SSD, by the weekend.  (After writing this portion, my replacement memory arrived and the original package was found/never missing.  32GB for the price of 16GB, I will not be complaining!)

2-for-1 RAM
Leasing office error in your favor; collect free PC memory.

It has been five years since my thyroid has been removed.  My surgeon did a wonderful job.  I’m very pale and when I scar, I turn pink and the blemishes left behind take a while to go away.  I looked at this image and actually liked what I saw.  It’s what’s underneath that I hate.  It hurts to be honest but I hate myself.  I wish I was told I was beautiful more often.

5 years post-op thyroidectomy.
5 years post-op thyroidectomy scar is starting to fade away.

My mom has been keeping me updated with the search for her biological mother.  A lead came in for her biological father.  Many details in his obituary pointed to details matching her previously-suspected biological mother.  Not only may she have found her biological mother, she may have found her biological father!  My mom thought she was given up for adoption because she was the product of an affair.  DNA testing may now confirm otherwise.  I’m very anxious and excited for my mom.  She has been wanting to find out who her biological mother is for years, and it wasn’t until I had my DNA tested last year that she dove down that rabbit hole with me.

One Year Ago

I’ve made it through January.  I did a lot of reflecting over what’s happened to me, my relationships, and my health over the past twelve months.  I realized I have made a lot of progress despite not reaching all of the personal goals I set for myself.  The biggest improvement in the past year is getting treatment for my pinched nerve.  I never talked about the bad things about being stuck in bed for months.  Thinking about them brings back awful memories and I am thankful for my mother and spouse for putting up with me.  I think it is important for me to discuss the bad things because I know no matter how bad things (true or not) may be for me right now, I have been through rougher times.

I specifically remember the first week without help from my mom was hell.  It’s not that my spouse wasn’t supportive, but he’s never been a good “nurse,” and I’m fine with that.  I was hungry and there wasn’t much food in the house so he went next door to find that Burger King had closed unexpectedly.  He then called me from the grocery store so I could name things that would be easy for me to make while he was at work.  Surprise: I couldn’t even get strength to boil water for the ramen cups.

For nearly four months, my mom took my place and did everything around the house.  She cooked, cleaned, drove my spouse to and from work, shopped for food.  She also did a lot of the embarrassing things that I once assisted people with.  I was reluctant to use the bathroom because sitting was painful and her constant reminders to get up possibly prevented a ton of UTIs.  I couldn’t wipe myself properly after using the bathroom.  Thank the heavens for Mirena because I wouldn’t want to deal with my super long and heavy periods.  I couldn’t bathe or brush my teeth over a sink.  The only decent shower(s) I had was (were) just before surgery dates and even though the feeling afterwards felt amazing, the experience itself was not.  Since I never sat up, my hair turned into a huge rat’s nest.  My mom wasn’t great at keeping up with my hair.  That wasn’t her fault.  I remember she was de-tangling my hair and she was about ready to give up.  I looked at myself in the mirror and was ready to say goodbye to my hair.  That is, until she was able to de-tangle it successfully.

I had little choice in what to eat or drink.  I lost at least 40 pounds in muscle mass.  My mom made sure I was taking my medication and tried to keep me pacified and drugged up by doctor’s orders as best as she could.  (I’m happy to say I haven’t had any opioids since late April.)  The only social interaction I had was with a former friend.  (Please don’t ask me about this; I don’t want to talk about it right now.)  I spent all day, every day, binge watching TV on the iPad because I couldn’t see the TV in bed while maintaining a comfortable position.  (It’s only been a few months since I’ve been able to get back to my normal sleeping position without the need for six pillows.)  My sleep schedule was all over the place.  My spouse was forced to sleep on the couch for weeks, possibly months.  I can’t even remember at this point.

I had a lot of shame.  Interesting, really.  I had a distorted view because somehow I was too young or not disabled enough to not require help, even though I desperately needed it.

Fast forward to today.  What good comes from this self-discussion?  I got through that shit and know I can overcome it again should it happen again.  I was un-medicated, mentally, during that time.  I had a plan to exit this world.  I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve finally found a purpose in life.  It was in front of me this entire time and I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago.  It feels strange to be nearly back to normal life schedule, with a few changes made so I can reach my personal goals.  When I was on the couch and got up and was in excruciating pain, I freaked out.  It was the worst pain I’ve been in since I had relief and all the bad memories started coming back, I started to panic.  I hopped to the bed and laid down.  Thankfully the pain went away after a few minutes and I’ve decided the couch is no longer a friendly place for me to sit or lie down.

The other day my friend asks me what I think of the new abortion law in New York.  I haven’t been keeping up with the news so I asked him to tell me about it.  To make a long story short, this very random question, out of the blue, lead to something I didn’t even know I needed — an “intelligent” discussion.  This was much more than an “agree to disagree,” conversation.  We spent about two hours talking about politics and more importantly, how each of us has had a profound influence on each other.  Something seen as trivial to an outsider is monumental to each of us.  That’s when I said I was dealing with my own problem and I was given suggestions on how to handle the situation.  Sometimes the best solution to a problem is very simple, to do absolutely nothing, but the majority of the time discussion and communication is the solution.

Friends?

I have been neglecting my personal relationships as of late.  I caught up with a friend I haven’t spoken with in a few weeks.  We ended up trading a few baking recipes and discussing what brought us together, our mental health.  She inspired me to do some baking so I cheated and put some cookie dough in the oven.  During our long chat, I explained that my mind has been telling me one thing but my ability to actually do what I brain says has been diminished.  I’ve had a severe lack of motivation.  One thing I was able to do was apply for a job, but I decided it wasn’t for me because I know I’m not capable of working three 12-hour days back to back.  Especially not for minimum wage.  I was told to reapply in the future if I was interested.

I’ve started to open up to a few new people.  One of these people asked me how I am doing, mentally, and that made me feel happy since this person has been listening to what I’ve been saying.  The others gave me helpful advice when I asked.  And then there are a few people where I’m asking myself, “why bother?”  I’m constantly finding myself reaching out and they don’t want anything to do with me.  At least respond to my Skype messages and texts?  This person has known me for years and has fallen off the face of the earth.  I’m also close to losing two more friends because I’m tired of wasting time on nourishing friendships that seem to die.  The feeling is familiar.  Sometimes the gut knows what’s coming but the mind isn’t capable of telling me to stop caring and let go.

My spouse and I went out for dinner last Friday to celebrate our tenth anniversary, late.  I had French onion soup, crab cakes, and grilled shrimp.  The two of us shared mashed potatoes and garlic green beans.  We shared a mini cheesecake for dessert and I enjoyed the fresh berries that were on top.  The experience was different and I felt out of place.  I have no intention of going back there unless we’re given another gift card.

I realized that my journals were tossed in the trash because my spouse thought they were notes.  I should have paid attention to what was being done, but I was fatigued and ended up sleeping the entire day away.  I’m extremely upset with myself for not keeping my journal with “my belongings.”  I discussed this with my therapist and he assured me that I don’t need them if the sole purpose is to look back to see how much progress I’ve made.