Of Stepping Out on the Ledge & Not Jumping

Y’all were probably expecting the second half of the BSB Drinking Game, right? Well, I decided for my first post in god knows how long, I’d take this blog back to her roots. Mental health & sharing my struggles with it.

Last August, I started at Emory University’s Medical Imaging program (learn how to take x-rays, MRI, CT, etc.) Over the summer, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right about the situation. It wasn’t just nerves or worrying about being at a fancyass Southern Ivy League school. It was something more. I chalked it up to Imposter Syndrome & started the semester. For scale – I wanted to be a doctor since I was maybe 10 or 11. Those plans got derailed in college. I went back to school in 2016 to go to pharmacy school. That plan failed because I couldn’t pass calculus. I’d already eliminated being a nurse because of my CNA training. So Medical Imaging seemed like a good healthcare option for me. This should have been right for me. This should have been my place in the healthcare bubble.

I was miserable almost from Day 1. I lost weight, I wasn’t sleeping, the classes were mind numbingly boring, I didn’t like the teachers, & didn’t get along with 2 of my classmates out of a class of 15. I stuck it out thinking that once I got to the last 2 weeks of the semester where we’d have full on clinical experience, it would get better.

My mental health has never declined so quickly in 24 hours in my life. EVER. That includes after Daddums died. I had a breakthrough seizure 3 days into the first week & that’s when I knew it was time to pull the plug. I had suicidal thoughts on & off all semester, but kept them to myself. When I told Mark that I had to quit the program, I told him the truth. I told him the only reason I didn’t do something stupid was because I didn’t want him or Mommums or my sisters to spend the rest of their lives asking why. Could they have done something? Could they have said something? Could they have stopped me? I wasn’t going to put that burden on them, so I lived. Until I couldn’t live like that anymore. I walked away & never looked back.

Immediately people told me how much happier I looked. I could wear nail polish again. I dyed my hair purple. I already knew that I couldn’t fit into someone else’s mold for long. Having to wear black scrubs with a long sleeve shirt underneath to cover my tattoos, no nail polish, & brown hair suffocated me. I got yelled at for wearing fun socks for chrissakes. I was suffocating. I was dying. I may have lost 10 lbs, but it was in all the wrong ways. They stole my identity & for what? A foolish idea that tattoos & purple hair mean I’m incapable of doing my job? That’s not who I am & not how I choose to live. I’m not one to spread sunshine & rainbows, but I do believe that happiness is found by embracing who you are. If that is brown hair, no tattoos, & black scrubs don’t let me stop you. Don’t let someone else dictate who you are or what you should be. It’ll kill you. Trust me, I know.

Another hurdle I had to jump recently was for this past weekend. Daddums has been gone 18 months. It’s gotten to the point now where the numbness has worn off & the pain is more acute. I spent pretty much all of Saturday & most of Sunday sedated. I had to. Then on Monday I got up & had the emotional energy to do my makeup. That was crazy. I took it easy on myself & my body rewarded me.

You’ll all be happy to hear I’m in a much better place now. I’m taking a class with a professor I adore just for shits & giggles. I’m working one shift a week at a part time job I love with people I love. I’m applying to a Master’s program in Applied Linguistics. I have an appointment to meet with a new therapist next week after going without one for over 2 years. Life isn’t perfect. I still have bad days. My brain chemistry still gets out of whack. I’m not standing on a ledge deciding if it’s worth jumping or if I’ll just end up seriously injuring myself.

XOXO!

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Of fathers and the advice they offer

Lately when I’ve been talking to people, I’ve noticed a lot of “My dad told me…” or “He instilled in me…”.  After almost losing him this year, I’ve taken what he’s taught me more to heart than ever. Since I love lists, here’s a list of things I’ve learned from my dad.

*Dress for the job you want, not the job you have

*Be grateful for the small gestures. It still means that person cares enough to try.

*Pick your battles.

*Basic self defense.

*The ins and outs of the working world, especially our industry.

*Recognizing when I’m getting frustrated and when to walk away.

*If someone breaks my heart, no matter how much he likes said person, he wouldn’t give a second thought to killing them, burying them face down in a shallow grave, and making sure that person is never heard from again. 😉

*Don’t take the world too seriously.

*Getting older is required, growing up is optional.

*You can never say “I love you” too much.

*The strength to take a deep breath, get up, and keep going.

*If you insist on throwing things during a tantrum, make sure it’s soft and you’re not aiming at anything living.

*Graveyard humor (as it were).

*There’s no shame in sobbing into someone’s shirt (read: his)

*Know your flaws and be patient with yourself. Don’t let someone else bring out the worst in you.

*Laugh

Now is the time to start planning something ridiculously over the top for his 60th birthday. I’m thinking Vegas. 😉

XOXO!

Of going home and trying to get comfortable

I do apologize for my hiatus, lovely readers. It’s for a very good reason.

My dad is home from the hospital. 😀 They let him loose last Saturday. Six surgeries, a raging antibiotic allergy, and over 30 days in the hospital later, he’s finally home. He’s certainly the happiest of all of us. It’s times like these I’m glad I live close enough to my parents to help out. I took my dad to one of his (many) doctors’ appointments yesterday. They weighed him for the first time in several weeks. He weighed in 8 pounds (3.6 kg for my metric system readers) more than I do. He’s 6’3″ (191 cm). I’m 5’9″ (179 cm) Which brings me to the topic of today’s post.

Here’ what’s gotten lost in the shuffle since my last super positive body image post. Now that winter has skipped straight to summer here (spring?! what’s that?), it’s time to pull out the summer clothes. I was super excited to be able to wear a pair of pants I bought from Anthro last spring. I lost a little over 20 pounds this time last year and had to buy a whole new wardrobe of bottoms because the old ones were literally falling off. I tried to put on the pants & they wouldn’t even go past the bottom of my thighs. Out of curiosity, I weighed myself. I weighed in 6 pounds heavier than I was the last time I weighed myself. That number is 15 pounds higher than my “goal” weight. Mind you, my “goal” weight is virtually impossible for me to maintain without almost starving myself and working out obsessively. A lot things have changed since this time last year. I’m not going out and walking during my lunch break, which I did in the past. Now that I’ve been promoted to management and get more and more responsibilities, it’s hit or miss when I can go to dance classes. Some days it’s totally fine to walk out at 430p. Other days, I won’t be leaving until almost 6. I’ve never been very good at vigilantly watching what I eat. I try to stick to moderation, but rarely succeed. Not being able to fit into a pair of pants did a lot of damage on my psyche than I expected.

I do my best to remind myself that health is much more important than a number on a piece of fabric. I tell myself that weight is how much the world loves me and wants me to pull me to its center. I start to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I stare a my lower stomach and wish it less squishy. This is ignoring the fact I’ve seen women half my size with the same roll of fat. Biologically, it’s necessary. Gotta pad the babies somehow. There was a picture posted on Facebook by a woman I know is in ridiculously good shape. She posted a picture of her butt and she has cellulite. To beat the already dead horse, bodies are different. I overheard someone talking in the changing room at the dance studio a few weeks ago. She was talking about how the teacher had them go in groups so he could see how they were learning the choreography. She said she was nervous until she realized she would never move the same way he did. It’s just not possible. We can mimic all we want, but ultimately, our bodies move the way they were built to move. She said it made her feel better when she put it in that perspective. I think those were very sage words. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change the way I’m built. Poorly aligned knees and all.

Time to hit the “off” button on my brain, do the best I can on any given day, and take it, quite literally, one step at a time.

XOXO!

 

Of pain and progress

There’s a lot to be said for knowing when to say “no”.

I decided to not go to the memorial service tomorrow. I’m not in a place where I can handle death right now. I’ve been through an emotional meat grinder for the past 6 weeks. Our relationship was so far in the past, I’m largely emotionally detached. When I’m alone. In a group of people who knew him better and were closer to him, I don’t know how I would take that. I don’t know how I would handle their grief. I’m not willing to test that either. My way of saying good bye will be a donation to the charity of his choice in his name. That’s the right choice for me. Which brings me to…

More complications with my dad. I spent half an hour in my little hiding place at work crying and texting back and forth with my nearest and dearest. I finally got up the courage to stand up, go into the bathroom, and clean myself up. I have incredibly fair skin so my face turns bright red when I cry. I splashed some cold(ish) water on my face and looked at myself in the mirror. I said to the puffy, red eyed, leaky nosed mess looking back at me “You can do this”. I was sorely tempted to walk into my boss’ office, tell him I was going home, and drive away. I chose instead to go back to my desk and do the best I could with what I had. My boss wanted to show me something when I got back and he asked how my dad was doing. I told him I didn’t want to talk about it. He gave me a pass on productivity for the rest of the day. It’s the small gestures (and the benefits of proving myself to be an industrious worker) that mean the most. I was so out of it by the end of the day, I almost missed my exit off the highway. Twice. I ordered pizza for dinner because I didn’t trust myself around knives and stoves. Not because I would intentionally hurt myself, but because I have maybe 10% of my normal functional level right now. I figured $20 for pizza was better than a trip to the emergency room because I sliced open my finger or absentmindedly stuck my hand in a blender. Yes, it’s that bad.

It hurts like hell, but pain is progress. I know that sounds like some silly motivational poster in a CrossFit gym, but it’s true. I was thinking back to the beginnings of my relationship with Boy. I was in so deep, I literally didn’t have the energy to cry. There were moments when I really, really wanted to cry. Nothing came. It was only after I began to get better that the tears came. It’s hard to remember when I’m in the middle of sobbing my eyes out. Feeling like someone reached into your chest and ripped out your heart isn’t any fun. As I said, at this point, I’ll take a hot poker to the eye. Pain isn’t weakness. Pain isn’t a failure. Given the choice, I would take physical pain over emotional pain any day. The emotional pain days seem endless right now.

Let us end on a positive note (and the Benadryl is kicking in, so I should wrap this up before I go totally loopy).

Things that make me smile:

  • The cat dreaming
  • Pizza pizza!
  • My amazing friends who have offered to move mountains for my family right now
  • My equally amazing office crew who are ever patient with me
  • An infinite loop of Chris Brown & Will.i.am on my tablet
  • Finding erotic romance books that don’t make me want to tear my eyes out and apologize on behalf of English majors everywhere (The Submissive Trilogy – check it)
  • Slowly mastering the art of accessorizing well
  • Benadryl
  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Shoes I can dance in

XOXO!

 

Of negative voices and overly effective methods of torture

Apologies for my lack of posting lately, loyal readers. I was in Las Vegas for 4 days. Yay vacation! But that’s not the topic of this post. Once again, it’s negative voice time!

For those keeping score at home, they discovered my dad’s brain tumor on February 19. He had surgery to remove the tumor on March 3. On March 12, he went back in the hospital for an infection that had spread into his left hip (the side missing all the lymph nodes from his cancer surgery in 2007). Once they figured out it was an infection over a week later, he had to have surgery to scrub it out. Then it spread to the right hip and another surgery to scrub that hip out. He was released on Apr 1. On Apr 5, I get an email from my mom saying he’s back in the hospital for pain in the same hip at the surgical site. I checked in yesterday and he was in surgery getting a partial hip replacement. Some unholy combination killed the bone in the socket part of the hip.That’s 4 surgeries in 5 weeks. Every time things seem to be looking up, another hit comes.

Of course, my old pal the negative voice shows up. “Why the hell are you upset?”. “Stop crying and apologize, you’re bringing everyone else down”. “What part of stop crying did you not understand?”. “Apologize again. You’re making everyone else’s day worse”. Hey, negative voice, can I ask you a favor? Really, it’s just a small one.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

I had a rather epic meltdown driving home from the airport last night. It’s a good thing I was alone, because I would have scared the living hell out of any passengers. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m scared and hurting for someone I love deeply. I feel totally helpless. That’s a hell of a lot more painful than if it were me. Believe me, I’ve offered to switch place more times than I care to count in the past month. I know he’s not going to die. Plenty of people get hip replacements. Plenty of old people. He hasn’t cracked 60 yet. I don’t need an excuse to cry. I don’t need to apologize for my feelings. I really should recommend this to governments for “enhanced interrogation”. It’s really damn effective. At this point, I think my whole family would quite happily give up pretty much anything to get off this roller coaster from hell. It’s digging up my unhealthy coping mechanisms which, again, doesn’t help anyone.

Let’s end this entry on a positive note before everyone else feels the need to draw a warm bath and slit their wrists (graveyard humor, happens in these situations):

*Spending the weekend in Vegas with the other man I love most in this world.

*Being able to come in late to work without penalty. Management has its perks.

*A very fat cat jumping on my chest this morning. I’ve been welcomed into the household.

*Wearing my pedometer lately and seeing just how much I walked in Vegas. Longest day – over 6 miles.

*Sparkly nail polish and DIY pedicures.

*Unexpected checks and / or presents.

*Lush moisturizer after 4 days in the desert.

XOXO!