Back in Therapy

This all started when I had to get a new doctor because mine was no longer doing teledoc or Telehealth or whatever it’s called. I finally found one, and he got me in to see a new therapist. I was dreading the first appointment – you know, going through everything that happened and why you’re there and whatnot. It’s exhausting. I came home ate dinner and fell asleep on the couch.

The thing is, despite it being exhausting, I felt like it actually went really good. As far as I can remember, the first appointment – you don’t actually get anything out of it, just giving the therapist all your background information. This first appointment, however, went quite the opposite. I feel like not only did we go through the background information (the difficult parts and the boring parts), but I really felt like I got something out of it, you know? She helped me some. She gave me a name of someone to look up who had interesting and helpful views for me in my situation.

I feel like we really clicked. Normally, or at least in my experience, the therapist doesn’t talk about themselves at all – which I completely understand. But she gave me some information about herself (only as in how it pertained to me in the context of what we were discussing). It made her seem like a real person and made me feel like how I “experience the world” (for lack of a better phrase) isn’t so alien at all. It’s one thing to know that everyone goes through something, and there’s someone who’s gone through the same thing I went through, but it’s something else to have that proverbial “someone” be a real person that you actually interact with. It was a really nice feeling. It helped me to think that I may not be as horrible a person as I think I am.

Where I’ve Been

So many things have happened since the last time I was on here. My grandmother has health issues and is going in for surgery. My dog had to have surgery and is still recovering from it. I had to scramble to find a new doctor which took a surprisingly long amount of time and caused a lot of serious anxiety. So that was fun. Right now I’m so tired, I have no doubt that I’m missing something, if not more than one thing, that has happened to keep me from the blog.

Anyway, so many things have just piled on top of me that this blog has had to take a back seat. Hopefully that will change soon. Until then, I’ll see you around! (I might be able to keep up my Friday posts…we’ll see!)

Isolation vs Solitude

Solitude: the quality or state of being alone or remote from society; a lonely place (such as the desert)

Isolate: to set apart from others; to select from among others, especially to separate from another substance so as to obtain pure or in a free state; being alone; an individual socially withdrawn or removed from society

Solitude lets the enormity of our brainscape roam free. solitude allows our most sensitive feelings and memories and self-judgments to surface. Solitude frees us from what psychiatric science calls the spotlight effect: the tendency that we have in public to overestimate the attention others pay to our accomplishments, our errors, our appearance, and the words that come out of our mouths. Solitude unshackles us from the compulsion (for some, an addiction) to curate and display our lives on social media, thus allowing our interactions with ourselves, others, and the natural world to be entirely what they are in themselves, not superimposed upon an artificial narrative for which we seek validation and approval. Solitude allows our brains to form interconnected neural root strands beyond those we typically utilize.

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

My whole life I have always preferred solitude. Maybe that was part of my mental health issues, but even so. When I was growing up, I don’t remember ever having people spend the night at my house. I don’t remember going to anyone’s house to spend the night. My birthday is in the middle of summer so I never had friends from school for my birthday party. It never bothered me either. I didn’t mind it. My birthday is two days after my sister’s so for many years we shared parties. For even more years we were always with family. (I know that sounds pathetic probably, but at the time I really didn’t mind or feel bad about it.)

It is important to distinguish between positive solitude and unwanted isolation. To be beneficial, solitude must be willingly chosen, and there has to be an out-the option of returning to societal life if needed or wanted. The effects of chronic social isolation are grim, including a 26 percent higher mortality rate for people isolated from human company due to life circumstances than those who live with a modicum of human company

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

The thing is, I was okay with solitude. But now after so much solitude, it’s turned into isolation. During the pandemic, it’s been nice for me because I’m lucky in my situation. I don’t have to go to work. I did online schooling. I still live with my parents so I don’t worry about groceries. I know I’m lucky. I know I am, but it didn’t turn out so well for me because I never had to go out, so now my anxiety is worse. It’s a struggle for me to go outside. That is not good for someone who wants to move away for graduate school for my masters. I have to be able to get out and go places. I know that I’m an introvert though, so even as I force myself to go out, I have to remember to give myself permission and space to be in a positive, healthy solitude.

Finally Coming Out

Pride Month started to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. It started out as just a march on June 28, 1970 – the anniversary of the the Stonewall Uprising – but pretty quickly spread to the entire month of June. The Stonewall Uprising started like a typical night – a police raid on a gay bar. What was different this time was that the gay patrons fought back! LGBT History Month is in October.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the acronym LGBT. But there are other variations of this acronym. LGBTQ, LGBTQIA+, LGBTQIA2S+. So what do all those letters mean?

L is for Lesbian – a homosexual woman

G is for Gay – homosexual (usually specifically about men)

B is for Bisexual – sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women

T is for (1)Transgender, (2)Trans, or (3)Transsexual – (1) denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex; (2) denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex; (3) a transgender person, especially one whose bodily characteristics have been altered through surgery or hormone treatment to bring them into alignment with their gender identity

Q is for (1)Queer, (2)Questioning – (1) denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms; (2) the process of a person determining their sexual orientation and/or gender identity

I is for Intersex – a person born with a combination of male and female biological traits; a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male

A is for (1)Asexual, (2)Allies – (1) a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction; (2) a person who is not LGBT but who actively supports the LGBT community

2S is for 2 Spirit – a third gender found in some Native American cultures, often involving birth-assigned men or women taking on the identities and roles of the opposite sex; an umbrella term across American Indian and First Nations cultures for a person who embodies both male and female spirits within them

+ is for – used to signify all of the gender identities and sexual orientations that are not specifically covered by the other initials (pansexual, demisexual, agender, gender fluid, non-binary, polyamorous, sapiosexual, etc.)

This post is to give a small taste and explanation about what Pride Month is. I live in the south, so there’s not anything done for Pride month where I live specifically – nothing that I’m aware of anyway. But there’s something else.

I’m bisexual.

I told my mother that for the first time a couple weeks ago. I was so nervous coming out. I felt shame because everything in my culture and society said that what I am is wrong and means I’m going to hell. I didn’t want to upset my mother, stress her out, or hurt her. For a long, long time I said that I was sparing her the potential pain and trauma of knowing that about me, thinking that she would never need to know. But over the past several months, I’ve felt this need to share it with my mother, my best friend, the person I’m closest to. I started to cry before I even got the words out. And what I said in the beginning didn’t even make sense to her.

“Mom, I’m not straight,” I blubbered.

“Straight about what, honey?” she asked, all concerned and worried because I’m crying.

“I’m bi.”

“By what?” I continue to cry. “Oh! You’re not straight.”

That’s how it went. I had had two cups of coffee so my anxiety was through the flipping roof. I was scared. I felt like a child. But my mother took it with grace and love and made me feel secure and safe and loved.

She did add that I was the one who had to tell my father. Which, as of writing this, I have not done so yet.

My mother explained her position like this. God made us all the way we are. We don’t choose who we love, it’s not a choice whether you’re LGBTQIA+ or not. And if God made us that way, why would he not love us? And if he loves us, who are we to judge and condemn someone for being who they are?

It was really hard to not cry at that for me. She explained it so easily, so simply but with so much love in it. I really am very, very lucky. I’m blessed.

Below is a version of the bisexual pride flag. It’s also my phone background now. For Pride Month and in honor of my (at least halfway) coming out of the closet.

Happy Pride Month!

Honey and Hiking

The other day I went hiking with just my dad through the state park that’s near our house. It’s usually a nice hike (if you have bug spray), but this time we didn’t have bug spray. It also happened to be the worst time of the year for these biting flies. It was horrible.

There’s my snuggle-buddy Cammie looking out over Beaver Pond.

Despite the bugs attacking constantly, it was a nice hike. It was very hot and very sunny. But a little easier to bear in the shade of the trees.

My dad was working (from home because of COVID) and he was getting work calls and I know he had a lot of work to do. I didn’t realize this until we had already left the house and entered the park. He really didn’t have the time to go on a morning hike with me. But he’s been trying to encourage me to go out more and I’ve been trying to get out more. Thanks to my PTSD and anxiety of various causes, I’ve developed agoraphobia – which is enabled by the pandemic and avoiding going out for health reasons. So the whole reason he went was because I asked the night before, not knowing how much was actually on his plate. I have really great parents. I know I’m lucky. I also know that I don’t deserve them and I don’t appreciate them as much as I should.

On the way out, we bought some local honey that the park sells. And that honey, by the way, is delicious. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever had honey that tastes so good and fresh. If you can buy local honey, you really should. It might be more expensive than the honey in the grocery store, but it’s better tasting, supports your local community, and helps support the local bees (which, as we know, are dying out). So buying local is best! Buy local! Buy small! And go on a hike!

Technology is not my friend

My ASL 1 class has just started. Since it’s online we meet our professor and other “mentors” (other people who also teach ASL who we practice with) via Skype.

I may have mentioned this before, but technology is not my friend. I can do some things, but a lot is over my head. For example, I just rejoined Facebook as a way to be involved in the Deaf community while in quarantine (thank you COVID-19). There is so much about it that I just don’t understand and don’t know how to do things. I try to stay off it because I don’t want to do the wrong thing somehow and post something or something like that and embarrass myself with it.

Needless to say, Skype is also over my head. I just recently received a 0 because I couldn’t get my Skype to work to contact my mentor with whom I had scheduled the weekly meeting as per instructed. I hate making bad grades. I mean, I hate it. With my anxiety over other things, bad grades on top of it just stresses me out. When I get stressed out, I shut down. I sleep a lot. I don’t do things. I avoid, avoid, avoid. So that’s what’s been happening for me.

I’ve got a new appointment with a mentor scheduled for this week and hopefully I’ll have figured it out and don’t miss it again. Other than my issues with technology, I’m loving the class, learning the new signs and everything. So interesting and the nerd in me says fun too!

Moment By Moment

I heard, or rather read, something recently that hit me. You know sometimes you can hear something a thousand times and it doesn’t sink in, but one day you hear it and it does — whether it’s a different phrasing or you’re ready to hear it. That’s what happened to me.

Being a Christian, I think of all the things I have to do to be a “good” Christian. But what I heard struck me. I can’t remember the exact phrasing, so I’ll paraphrase it. Every day is a decision to follow Jesus. That hit me. Instead of thinking of the whole big picture which overwhelms me and makes me feel like giving up and why even bother when I know I’m going to fail already? But looking at it as a choice every day made all the difference in the world.

Each day in the morning I wake up and open the Bible app. I read a devotional and listen to the audio version of the Bible verses being discussed. Then I tell myself, “Today I’m going to follow Jesus and do what He would do.” Of course, I still fail in small ways if that makes sense.

My mother always says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” to me whenever I get stressed out about something I have to do. That’s what it is. Take each day as it comes. Don’t worry about tomorrow or the day after.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.

Matthew 6:34 NIV

Doctor’s Appointment Pt. 2

I posted about this earlier, but here’s the continuation. Here’s how the appointment actually went…

First off, I wasn’t alone. My mother came with me. In a previous appointment (at a different doctor’s office) I had a panic attack while on the table with the doctor in the middle of doing her work and jumped off the table and sent things flying. Needless to say, I never went back there again. To keep that from happening again, my mother (so kind and supportive) comes with me.

Secondly, I still cried. Silently, but there were still tear marks on my face even though I tried to catch them before they fell. Embarrassing.

Third, the doctor did tell me everything that she was doing and that really helped. I was prepared for it, or at least as prepared for it as I could be. And she was very, very fast about everything.

All I kept thinking about was that if I were normal and nothing had ever happened to me, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. I wouldn’t be a grown adult who still needs her mother to hold her hand. If I were normal… And that’s what really hurts the most, I think. All the things that might’ve been if what happened to me hadn’t happened, if I’d been in a different place at a different time… all the potential I had wasted because I was afraid of my own shadow for a while. Which made going to school impossible. So I’m in online university which is great and I know what I want to do and that’s nice. That might’ve not been the case if what happened to me hadn’t happened. That’s what I have to tell myself. The silver lining…even if it is a little tarnished. Anyway…

I’ve just gotten home. I stopped at Starbucks on the way home and got myself a little treat. My therapist, when I went to equine therapy, told me that when I go out and do something I don’t want to or that causes stress and anxiety that I should reward myself. So that’s what I did. Starbucks is my reward.

I’m glad the whole thing is over. Don’t have to go back for another year. So glad it’s a once a year thing and not a 6 month deal. Anyway… That’s how it went.

Doctor’s Appointment Pt. 1

This may be too personal.

As a victim of sexual assault, going to the OBGYN once a year is very difficult. It’s one of the most dreaded days of my life. I don’t know how to explain it really. I just feel like enough people have seen the most intimate part of me, and I don’t want anyone else to see it. If that makes sense…

I have a great doctor though. She believes me when I say I’m not sexually active. She tells me everything that she’s doing before she does it, just to prepare me. But there’s just something about it that every single time makes me cry. And I hate crying. Especially in front of people. Especially if those people are virtual strangers.

But it’s something I have to do whether I want to or not. Like going to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist but still have to go.

I’m posting this now to compare my feelings about going before I go and then I’ll make a post about going after and what the appointment was actually like. My appointment isn’t until later in the week, but it’s already giving me borderline panic attacks.

As I’m typing this, the doctor’s office literally just called to confirm my appointment and my heart rate just went through the roof – just talking on the phone with the doctor’s office. I feel so pathetic.

Expect another post soon…

Busy Busy Busy Bee

For the past few weeks, my life has been crazy busy. I’ve been gone from home more than being at home. I stayed with my sister and her baby and fell in love with him completely. (not posting pictures for privacy) I may be biased but I think he’s the cutest newborn baby I’ve ever seen. He was absolutely perfect.

While I was there, my school term started! In a matter of days I went from not being a student to applying, being accepted, registering for a class and then it started! I mean, it was less than a week – the whole process. I was amazed. Promo note: If you’re ever looking for an online university that’s a legit university – Troy University is the best. They work with a lot of military so they’ve been doing online for years as well as having an actual brick and mortar university and different campuses. I’m just starting week 3 of my course and I can say that so far the professor an advisors have made my transitioning so easy. They answer questions quickly and thoroughly. It’s just a great university.

Anyway. I’m doing my class, I’m waiting for a specific job opening that would be perfect for me, and currently I’m cleaning out all my stuff, going through everything. So it’s been a busy time, hence the absence on here!

But I love being able to say, “Yes, I’m a student.”

I want to prove my high school teachers who all told me I’d never graduate college wrong, and I want to get my degree. I want to prove that little voice in my head wrong, the one that says I’m worthless and can’t do anything right. I want to show that even people with mental illnesses and PTSD can be successful!

I’m doing it and you can too!