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!)

Stop Telling Me What I Want!

One day when you meet the right man, you will.

You say that now, but later on you’ll change your mind.

Your biological clock is ticking.

…all when someone hears that I don’t want to have children.

It’s not that I don’t like kids. I mean, I’m not particularly fond of most of them, but I love my nephews to death. But seeing my siblings raising them, seeing the issues that they have to deal with, it all just reassures me that I am not meant to have children.

I’m not patient enough. I’m not selfless enough. I’m just not enough to raise a child full time. I mean, I can babysit, but long-term, I think it would be a real struggle for me. Not to mention that I don’t particularly want to pass on my genes or my mental issues. Having PTSD, I just know that my paranoia would mess with a kid’s brain – being constantly on edge, hovering over them, watching their every move to make sure that nothing bad ever happens to them.

Also, things like tantrums and potty-training. Not my thing. Changing diapers for years? No, thank you. My mom did the math; between the three of us kids, she was changing diapers for seven years. SEVEN YEARS?!? No way. That’s too much poo for me.

So, thanks, but no thanks. If I ever feel like I want kids, I’ll adopt or do foster care or something. But I doubt I’ll ever even do that because I really don’t feel that urge to want to become a mother. And I never want to be told I’m making a mistake, I haven’t met the right man… blah, blah, blah.

It’s almost as if my identity as a woman is tied to whether or not I have children or that my worth/value is whether or not I have children. But it’s not! So stop asking people why they don’t have children! It’s a personal choice and oftentimes it’s for a personal reason that just because you asked, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to an answer. Deal with it.

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.

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!

Podcasts

Podcasts aren’t really my thing, but this one is different. This podcast gripped me from the very beginning and held on tight. If you haven’t heard of it, you should really give it a shot. Make sure to choose a full episode, not the mini-sode.

A full episode is when each host brings a story and tells it. A mini-sode is when fans and listeners send in letters with their stories.

My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

They don’t just discuss true crime. They also talk about mental health and how to stay safe. And they’re just hilarious people. They manage to take true crimes — scary, horrible stories — and lighten them up making it very entertaining without being so morbid. I don’t think I’m doing it justice, but if you’re at all interested in true crime you’ve got to try them out! They’ve got a website, fan cult, and a book.

They’ve got cats, hilarious stories of their lives, and a great sign-off…

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered! SSDGM!

APA Paper – Veterans and PTSD

I’m in an Orientation class and they’re teaching us how to write an APA style paper. Coming from an English major to Psychology major means switching from my well-known MLA style to the foreign APA style. Anyway, so I’m learning that. We get to choose our own topic. I chose veterans’ suicide rates and PTSD.

I’ve done lots of research and reading statistics and government produced documents. The point is… the state of the government and public’s relationship with veterans is pretty bad. The suicide rates and extremely high and getting higher. The ages of those committing suicide are getting younger and younger. And it seems like there’s a lot of talk and everyone agrees that something should be done and veterans should be taken care of, and yet nothing is actually being done. Not enough anyway.

It’s time for the public to stand up and demand better treatment for our vets, better facilities for them, and better education and training of the people working in these facilities. They need a bigger budget to accommodate this.

I’m ranting, but something should be done. Vets should be a much higher priority than they are now. They shouldn’t be homeless. They shouldn’t have trouble finding jobs. They should be able to get help from educated people dedicated towards their mental health. There should also be some kind of education, training, preparation for families of vets coming home with PTSD or any other mental illness.

Okay, I’m done now. But come on… America, the greatest country in the world but if you look at the state of veterans, we’re pretty low. Not enough people are speaking out about it. Certainly, not enough people are doing anything about it.

Done now. For real. But seriously… like if you agree.

Woman’s Best Friend

Cammie now, aged 6

There’s no way to describe the bond between a dog and its owner. This little pup just always wants to be by your side, barks a little when there’s someone in front of the house, and will only eat her food if you’re eating. Now, that may sound like a needy dog, but for a person who was suicidal it’s perfect.

She warns me if someone’s coming to the house so the doorbell or knocking doesn’t send me into a panic attack. She reminds me to eat a meal every now and then because I’m making sure she’s eating. She never lets me feel alone because she’s always with me or if I’m in my room, she’s across the hall watching out the window to the front of the house.

She’s a smart dog. I know all owner’s say that, but it’s true. It doesn’t take long to train her to do something (like not jumping on you when you come in the door, shaking your hand, sitting and laying down with hand signals only).

She’s really the perfect dog for me. With all my mental health issues, she balances them out. When I’m down, she comes and lays with me. When I’m getting into a manic phase, she’s there to help me let out the energy in a safe manner. She seems to know when I want to self-harm and she puts her head in my lap.

If you’ve got problems, if you’re lonely, I highly recommend looking into getting a dog. Make sure you can handle the responsibilities and everything that goes with it – money for vet visits. Get it neutered/spayed. And look from a shelter. Those dogs may feel exactly like you do and just need a home and some love. So if you’ve got love to spare and money and are willing to try, adopt a dog. Cammie is a rescue and I couldn’t be happier.

Another Diagnosis

My psychiatrist doesn’t live in my state. She used to, but then she moved and now we have our appointments online. I don’t need to leave the house which is something that I love, but it’s also a problem. Part of the problem is that I stopped going to therapy. I just felt like I wasn’t getting anything from it and I sat in an uncomfortable chair, in a too warm office for an hour and complained. I don’t know if I’m doing it wrong or what, but them’s the facts.

My new diagnosis, I’m sure you’re wondering what it is. Well, it’s dum, dum dum! … I’m now diagnosed with agoraphobia! What’s agoraphobia, you ask? It’s a type of anxiety disorder where you avoid things that make you uncomfortable, that could bring on a panic attack or other things that you don’t like.

Having PTSD, it makes leaving my house a little difficult and very exhausting. Being on constant alert, not trusting anyone even if they’re just shopping the same aisle in the grocery store as I am, I’m wondering if they’re going to try to steal from me or hurt me, what do they want? The answer: nothing. They don’t care two figs about me. I know this, but my brain doesn’t when I’m in the moment.

So basically, my agoraphobia means that I don’t leave the house. And when I say that I don’t leave the house, I mean literally I don’t leave the house. I’ve gone into the garage a handful of times. I’ve been in the front yard three times and the back four times. That’s all been since mid-July 2019? I have left the house I think twice to go to my sister’s, but that’s in straight into the car and then straight into her house for the remainder of the trip. Other than my sister’s, I went to my brother’s once late at night to pick up his dog (his baby was in the hospital-whole other story I might tell you later).

Being agoraphobic in this day and age isn’t all that bad. I mean, all the streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube TV) and I can watch literally anything I want. I can have a meal delivered to me from almost any restaurant. And I’ve just recently learned that grocery stores will do the shopping for me. I pick out what I want from online, someone goes around and picks it all up, I pay for it online and then it miraculously shows up at my front door!

So while it isn’t all that bad for me, it actually is that bad for me. Because it doesn’t force me to go out and do things, leave the house. It’s much easier to sink back further into my hole. But since I’ve decided that I’ll be posting something on here once a week, I’ll have to get out and do something. Something that I can talk about. So don’t worry! I’ll try to keep this the least boring blog as possible.

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!