Category Archives: Anxiety

You’ll stand through the pain, you won’t drown, and one day what’s lost can be found

(Stand in the Rain – Superchic[k])

 

So…things you can learn from me instead of for yourself: don’t wait to go home until there is under an hour before your usual bedtime when you are running on around 20 minutes of sleep. On the positive side, the worst I did was mostly run a red light…I mean, it stayed yellow like 90% of the time I was in the intersection…and I didn’t run into or even almost run into any of the other big iron things on the road, so I mean the whole point of having rules is to provide a structure that keeps us safe, so even my lack of following that one particular rule of the road didn’t jeopardize the intent of the rule…not that that makes it okay in any sense of the word.

 

In my defense, I really did intend to leave earlier. My goal was to be away from school and to eat dinner and to avoid sitting FORever in traffic and to definitely not be home when everyone else was eating dinner since I already said I wasn’t planning on being home for dinner. I told myself that I could leave when I finished another piece of bread or I could trade that for finishing the goldfish crackers…except I didn’t wanna, because technically I already did eat dinner. I had an egg and a slice of bread and a cup of apple juice and some skittles…except even though the package might say a slice is a serving, pretty sure the average adult shouldn’t be eating a single slice of bread as the carb group for dinner especially after taking a long walk earlier in the day. So I decided the second piece was mandatory too, but whiney brain wasn’t having it. But then I looked at the time and realized I had to get my butt into the car and get home…but on the positive side I did manage to get that piece of bread in my mouth before I put on my pajamas and went to bed. All is well that ends well.

 

While I was sitting in my happy place, one of my friends came to talk to me and that meant a lot to me. She is so awesome. Anyway, she asked me how my week was going, and I think I probably had my deer in the headlights selective mutism face on because she started supplying me words (also appreciated because clearly I was too exhausted both emotionally and physically to make coherent conversation). The words were “it’s hard to say.” Which is true on so many levels. First because quite literally I couldn’t get words out. Second because I was at that moment in time numb. Third, because I am lousy at decisions. Fourth, because I am ALWAYS okay, especially when I’m not. Fifth, because I don’t want to be a downer, and I don’t want to be a liar, but a lot of this week was really frustrating because even though some of last week I started finally being able to go numb, this week hasn’t been as successful. Likely that is largely because of the huge stressor of attempting to actually apply for jobs, but either way, it isn’t fun to be crying in the middle of class and crying in front of people, and feeling the pain so acutely and deeply for so much of every day. It’s hard.

 

Sometimes when everything is so hard, tiny ant-sized problems seem like giant Tyrannosaurus Rex-sized problems…case in point: I finished eating and was getting ready for bed. I turned off the lights and was really confused when my room wasn’t illuminated with my nightlight (I usually keep my nightlight on the light activated setting so when the sensor doesn’t sense enough light it starts glowing to create the appropriate amount of light). I turn the lights back on and discover that my night light is not plugged into the wall. This sparks a search for my nightlight. Is it on the floor next to the outlet? No. Is it in my bag? No, I know it was forgotten today and I double checked and it is not there. Did I leave it in the kitchen or bathroom this morning? Well, it is not there now…and eventually after checking everywhere I could think to check I had to admit that the nightlight was definitely missing and I wasn’t staying up any later looking for it…and I’d been doing a good job all day not crying, and that is what set off the angry frustrated tears. It shouldn’t be a big deal. When I’m asleep my eyes are closed to it doesn’t matter if the room is light, and my room right now is small enough that I can certainly find the light switch easily and the room is all mine when I’m sleeping so I know nothing will be on the floor in my way (although that is not a guarantee at home). But that nightlight was like my security blanket. I got it for my birthday and I love it. And my world was crashing apart because of a nightlight. I am way too old to be getting anywhere close to that upset over a nightlight.

 

That was a time when being numb would have been helpful and created a more normative response. There was one occasion on Wednesday though when it would have been nice to be not numb for just a few minutes. My team won second place in trivia, and it was nothing to me. Part of that is that winning or losing has never been a huge thing for me, but I still should have been a little excited for a few minutes. Instead it was just one more situation to pretend my way through. I really enjoyed the night, and I really needed to be there, but it would have been awesome to have just a few minutes of excitement.

 

I also found a calculator online for helping you figure out how to eat to be the weight you want to be when you want to be it. That was a bit of a downer…so, I decided by graduation was a good time to be at my goal weight. The calculator popped up a warning that it couldn’t do that because that wasn’t a safe amount of weight change in two weeks. Even once it pushed me into a third week (because that is the shortest time it would let me choose) it wanted me to eat over 2800 calories every day! I’m not very good at calories so I don’t really know how much that is, but I know that a “typical” diet is 2000 calories, so I have a pretty good idea that 2800 calories is a LOT…and that was without anything more than just the light activity of daily life…it’s not like I said there was any chance of me exercising. On the positive side, my wrist is now big enough again that I can wear bracelets without worrying about them falling off and getting lost. I might lose my head if it weren’t attached, but that’s why God created us with necks 🙂

 

And when it rains it pours. I was so busy freaking out about my nightlight that I forgot that I ate the skittles from my car for dinner when I didn’t *want* mini oreos for dinner…which means there aren’t any skittles in my car for if I need them today…Hey, on the positive side, at least I showed up at school with lunch, water bottle, phone, computer, and all the things I can think of right now that I might absolutely need…not that that means I didn’t forget something that I am not thinking of right now…And there weren’t any garbage or portapotty trucks on the road today…lol…like the newer superchick song, we take life 5 minutes at a time.

 

More awesome lyrics:

“Drowning out the sound of her sorrows, she’s finding it hard to exist. She keeps running into herself, hoping to find somebody else. She keeps running into herself hoping to find somebody better.” (Pennyless – Plumb)

The best laid plans can go upside down if that’s lady luck’s intent

 

(Accidents Happen – Thomas and Friends)

 

Things don’t always go how they go inside my head.

 

I was going to do a video with a teacher…instead I got pulled into a meeting about background checks and discovered that it is finally going to be a lot less expensive for students now than it has been for me. Then I got pulled into helping with looking through preceptor of the year awards.

 

I got out of my last event of the day super early and I had the great idea that I would go swing on a swingset….umm…yeah…it was thunderstorming and I didn’t get very far on my way to my car before I realized swinging in a thunderstorm was a Very Bad Idea.

 

So instead I decided to go find someone to talk to…except everyone was busy…

 

It is easy to forget me…especially when I never made it known I needed anything…

 

But some things do go right. Sometimes God answers prayer with yes. There was a garbage truck that happened to turn onto the road in front of me. Oh c**p oh c**p oh c**p are the last words coming out of my mouth before trying to hold my breath as long as possible…then I forced myself to breathe while thinking about if there was anywhere I could get some bleach and clean myself and all my things. And I was frustrated because clearly if I can barely touch the steering wheel while I drive because everything is contaminated then eating is going to be super difficult…so I did the only thing left to do. I prayed my heart out the rest of the way to school…usually I’m also singing myself songs (usually inside my head…), but not today, and shortly after getting to school I was actually doing okay again!! Maybe I don’t have a job and I’m still alive because I’m not a good enough Christian.

 

I’ve been listening to the book “In the Water they can’t see you cry.” As a former swimmer and loving the title SO much, it was totally worth the fact that it was like 10 hours long. Amanda Beard was the topic of my french paper in seventh grade. I was a little disappointed at first because the book wasn’t like I thought it would be, but it actually is pretty good. It is so familiar that I feel like I’ve read it before in like actual words, but I’m pretty sure based on the publication date that I haven’t read it before…I suppose there is probably a good chance that the majority of the story I read from the Splash magazines a little at a time. I read those things religiously cover to cover until they stopped coming. Anyway, I am so glad I read the book this week. It was something I could totally connect with. Someone else who had very similar problems to my own and experienced it similarly…and she got through it and ended up with a BABY!! Mostly it was just me having someone to commiserate with who wasn’t going to be overwhelmed or anything seeing as how it was only a person on a recording, but there were tiny bits of hope that if she could do it maybe I could too.

 

Sometimes life is frustrating. I wanted to go to yoga today. I had lab until 6:30, so even worst case scenario I’d make it to the second half. Then the teacher for the class I had before lab said unless I wanted to be in class that I might as well leave because there wasn’t going to be anything useful for me in class. I took that invitation and left. I probably should have done something useful with my life, but instead I went on a walk…a five-mile walk. Yeah…that was stupid. And that is why I am unable to go to yoga. I don’t think it is safe for me to be there. Either it will be slow stretching yoga in which case I will be tempted to pretend I am totally able to do what everyone else seemingly can and intentionally do things that will leave me in physical pain to drown some of the emotional pain, or it will be some type of fitness yoga that will similarly be bad for me because I really shouldn’t be doing anything that is going to burn extra calories when I am trying to gain weight…especially seeing as how I am already having trouble with my dinner today. I was super efficient in lab moving people around and grading papers and alphabetizing at top speed so that I’d have plenty of time and I was pretty proud of myself for finishing at 5pm. But then I realized that it wasn’t a good idea to go to yoga. But I also couldn’t go home. I already said I wasn’t going to be home for dinner and it is always awkward when I say that then show up at home…especially because a lot of times dinner when I’m not there is fish and so people feel bad that I can’t eat with them, because that is one of the things they are aware that I do not eat. Besides, I had enough food for two meals in my lunch box and extra snacks in my car. So I started getting dinner ready, but I didn’t really want to eat it. So I went to my happy place so that I wouldn’t be tempted to show up to show up at yoga. Now I am trying really hard to finish dinner. It is frustrating, because I feel like I should be over this by now. But I’m still struggling. How long does this last? I’m tired of holding on.

 

Umm yeah…so we’ll just end with some good lyrics:

“When does a scar become a tattoo? When does the sky turn back to blue? When will this heart that’s broken and bleeding beat again? When do I stop feeling this burn? When will it stop? When will I learn?…I’m right here, standing in the pouring rain; tick tock hours all feel the same.” (Say your name – Plumb)

Why would he let it hurt so bad

(Don’t Worry Now – Britt Nicole)

Some days are not good. I’m supposed to have two projects mostly completed by Tuesday. I am barely any farther than I was Friday. It isn’t for lack of trying…it’s just that I’ve spent more time today crying than working…

…and when I was working I was really having trouble getting through the work. I am really worried about this rotation because the quality of my work is umm…decidedly not ideal…and at this point I’m having trouble having even just SOMETHING not even necessarily something good to turn in. Everyone said this rotation would be easy…I don’t think everyone knew A) how hard grieving and keeping up with school would be and B) that I would be engaged in meetings and classes from at the LATEST 9:30 until at LEAST 5 on some days and 6:30 other days in addition to new homework being added to my plate every day. It is starting to get to the point that I am not sure I will successfully complete this rotation, which is terrifying, because lack of success means delaying graduation which would be really hard to explain to a potential employer someday…at least it would give me longer to look for a job somewhere?

All I’ve eaten today was four chocolate chip pancakes, a granola bar, a couple ounces of orange juice, half a bottle of grape propel, and maybe a cup of water. I’m trying. I really am, but today was a hard day and without prompting I was really struggling to eat. I know if I was eating I might be able to focus better and I probably would be less emotional, but the pain of the grief was really heavy today. Today is also going to be my first Passover celebration. I am not sure how much food that involves…I just hope that no one expects me to drink wine, because this definitely is not a good time for my first alcoholic beverage.

I think the problem is that it is getting very close to the day I find out the results of phase II. I don’t think anyone is going to want me in phase II, and the closer the day comes, so too does the possibility of repeated failure. There is still a possibility of a miracle until Wednesday and the closer that day comes the more anxious I am becoming. It still hurts more than words can express.

I don’t know if I can take another failure to match. I clearly haven’t really recovered from phase I yet. I thought this pain was too much and I am getting closer to the possibility of even more.

Complicating the picture, Wednesday is also the second Wednesday of the month which means I will need a new place to park my car and will probably have a longer walk to school. My friend said I should park at IKEA. I need to figure out if the route from IKEA to school will put me on a safe path. Okay, if I am being super honest, I am afraid that if I don’t match Wednesday I will be thinking so poorly that I could make a bad choice and get myself killed. If there is a train crossing that is between school and IKEA I doubt I will be paying enough attention to keep myself safe. Intersections aren’t so bad because cars generally will stop for me if I am not paying enough attention and end up in the way, but trains aren’t supposed to be watching for that. I don’t want to hurt people by getting dead. As much as I would be thrilled to no longer hurt so bad, I don’t want to eternally feel guilty for hurting people either…(umm, actually I’m not sure you can feel guilt once you get to heaven…but it’s the principle of the matter…)

And that isn’t to mention that not matching in phase II further decreases my chances of getting ANY job.

I don’t know why God put me in this place. I don’t know why he won’t take me home. I don’t know why he lets me hurt so bad. But I know that God is good. I know that God exists and cares…I wish I could go to bed, wake up, and be in elementary school again and tell myself not to make too many plans so that I wouldn’t have plans and dreams that could be crushed. If my goal in life was just to work at McDonalds I could probably make that happen with not too much difficulty. And then I’d have free McDonalds! Yum!

I ain’t like no one you met before

(Sold Out – Hawk Nelson)

So today I realized that I graduate in 92 days and my intern manual (required to get a pharmacist license) was lost again…if there were a prize for the most lost manual, I’d be the biggest loser and therefore the winner…on the positive side, it is found again…but I also forgot to get my hours form signed for this rotation…and I seem to have lost the precious few hours forms I actually did remember to save and therefore may still have some difficulty getting licensed…someday I will be a more responsible adult…
See, if my memory serves me correctly, I got my intern materials in the mail the summer my life was spinning out of control. I didn’t really have the brain space to read and process all the paperwork in that envelope and it all sat in the envelope it came in for months on the back burner. I got as far as remembering that the manual existed and that there were forms that needed to be signed. It wasn’t until this summer that I actually went through that paperwork and learned that I was supposed to have been saving a copy of each pre- and post- experience hours form.
I don’t have much of an excuse for my manual continuing to get lost aside from the fact that it is really hard to keep track of anything when you don’t consistently live in the same state and are constantly packing up and moving multiple times per year…
So I now have a half completed manual and two hours forms which add up to 400 hours…of the 1600 required hours…Yeah, we better hope the board of pharmacy keeps track of the forms too and really saving them is only suggested for disputes over hours…I admit that I shouldn’t have let that stuff stay on the back burner so long.
As for the form I forgot this rotation, I think that should be an easily excusable offense although it truly is idiotic from the outside. See, last Monday I had an interview and was out a little late getting home from that. I gave a case presentation on Friday and was mostly caught up on sleep then I flew out to another interview that took place on Monday. Sunday night I was up like 15 minutes late because I fail at telling time. Monday night I was up late because my flight got in a little late and so by the time I got home it was after midnight. I usually go to bed at 9pm. Tuesday I left my rotation a little a lot early to head back to the airport. That flight got in on time, but it was scheduled to arrive at 8:57pm so obviously by the time I was at my location for the night it was after bedtime and by the time I got to bed it was between 30 and 60 minutes past bedtime. Then Wednesday night I had a super tight connection. At the airport I started at I learned that the gate my connection was leaving vs the gate my first flight was arriving at were the two most distant points in the airport and my directions were to run, get on the moving sidewalks, and push people out of my way. That was before my flight landed (2-3 minutes) late. I ran like my life depended on it. It was like the mile run in school where there was no way of knowing how long you had been running but they threatened to fail anyone who couldn’t finish within 12 minutes and even though I knew they probably wouldn’t do it, I was terrified and ran my little heart out despite how much it hurt. So there I was, running full speed through the airport on the moving sidewalks, gently pushing people out of my way, heart and lungs burning so so badly. I made it to my gate with probably less than a minute to spare before doors closed and showed the dude my boarding pass (which at this point was a little crumpled and sweaty). He looked at me and I half asked/half demanded to board. The airline dude was like we aren’t currently boarding. Inside my head I was freaking out because I thought I missed my flight and was super frustrated, because control freak that I am, I was sure maybe I could have pushed just a little harder and gotten there a few seconds sooner and gotten on that plane. Luckily, while my brain was catching up and processing what to say to get my butt back home ASAP, the dude saw my confused look and asserted that nobody was boarding anywhere because the computer system went down.
Y’all, there are a lot of idiots and jerks in the airport, but there are also some really compassionate people. Some people offered me a seat and encouraged me that I worked really hard and didn’t miss my flight. Eventually I did board the plane and get home. When we arrived, the flight attendants made a very important announcement that this was the very last flight in for the night and therefore do not forget anything anywhere because everyone will be leaving behind you and no one will be available to help you retrieve lost items…hearing that I was super thankful that I was on that flight and not stranded in an airport far away. I may have been wearing a top that was just barely more than a tank top and the temperature may have been approximately 0 degrees, but luckily the towel in my backpack was clean, dry, and easily accessible, and became my cape to stay warm. I finally got home. Let’s just say that when I was already crashing on top of my computer before the first flight started that by this point I was so extremely sleep deprived that there was no hope of organized thoughtful processes occurring.
By the time I got home it was around 1:30am. I was getting read for bed when of course the sleep deprivation started sparking a level of anxiety I couldn’t ignore. See, my overactive imagination determined that someone might have thrown up on the last flight I was on and I was terrified and my fried brain couldn’t process that there really wasn’t any good evidence that had happened and that even if it had that there was a good chance it was just motion sickness and no more dangerous than the person coughing a row in front of me. I wanted Lysol and didn’t have any. Instead I had to compromise with myself and use a Clorox wipe on my hair and skin before I could go to bed. By the time I had done this, brushed my teeth, put on pajamas, I had about 3 hours before my mom woke me up (because of course I slept through my alarm). I raced through showering and throwing random food in the mini-lunch box I’d left on the table on Tuesday afternoon that had previously been used for a frozen dinner and apple and pepperoni on Tuesday when I was also in a rush trying to catch up on a few minutes of sleep. I got to rotation on Thursday and had a preceptor I didn’t click well with and was so frustrated that a couple times during the day I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to cry and calm down. I gave my journal club presentation, and as you can expect, it didn’t go super well when I had almost fallen asleep during the other student’s presentations. I also hadn’t remembered to bring handouts. That morning I’d been so tired that I had trouble leaving because I couldn’t remember where the door was (and my parents have lived here since I was in second grade)…I went to bed at like 6 or 7 on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough and even with more than one alarm set I managed to sleep through them and be in a rush again. And that is how after having a few pieces of pepperoni an orange, and some cheerios I was too tired to eat for lunch on Thursday, having the rest of the cheerios for dinner, then having skittles, pepperoni, rice, almost pudding (I didn’t have cow milk to make instant pudding appropriately), and a pecan pie flavored sucker for lunch, I failed to even remember that there was a form that existed that needed to be signed much less to actually ask to have said form signed…my lungs still hurt at that point from running through the airport, and I was still fighting to stay awake. Finally today my lungs and heart don’t hurt anymore!! (And this is why I will never ever ever have any interest in becoming a runner. I like my bike. I like swimming. I like rollerblading. I do not like running).
On the positive side, as I was getting ready to take a nap so that I could safely drive home without risking falling asleep, I realized that it was only legal to park where I was parked until 4pm and it was currently 3:40pm, and somehow that triggered me to remember to turn in my nametag before I left, because the original plan a week ago was to park not to sleep, but to have somewhere legal and free to put my car while I was turning in my tag. So I did at least turn that in so that I don’t automatically fail the rotation for failing to turn in my nametag!! Unfortunately that used up all 20 minutes of my legal nap time…so I came home, luckily with only almost running into other big iron things, and napped and it wasn’t until now that I realized I had other responsibilities that had not been performed.
And with that, I am going to sleep now, because I am still desperately short on sleep hours.
Maybe with some sleep it won’t feel anymore like no one is going to want me for a residency…I try really hard, but I am lousy at interviews and I know it. I feel no one is going to want to take a chance on me. Because of that fear, I also plan to rank every program I applied to even if I am not a super fan of the people there or the program. I am desperate to just get SOMETHING.

Take some time to kick back

(Holiday — Britt Nicole)

Today I am learning that sometimes I need to recognize that when I am maxed out that trying to keep going isn’t going to be productive…yep, as of right now I have spent almost 3 hours doing absolutely nothing because I couldn’t think slow enough to actually open up the tabs on the internet I needed to do homework and then read said tabs…

I think I know what happened…based on screening trainings I’ve done over the years, I have learned that my blood glucose sits right around 70 despite the high levels of sugar I may consume…in high school I went to a camp where they let me have popsicles and all sorts of other junk food items for breakfast. Right after that we did blood glucose screening, and the person teaching me asked me if I felt okay and if I had eaten anything at breakfast because my number was so low…I know that low blood sugar (particularly <70mg/dL) can cause anxiety and panic attacks.

My theory is that because I sit so low at baseline, that any excursion brings me low enough to induce anxiety. I didn’t really eat breakfast this morning because I forgot, so inevitably there was a good chance of going low. By the time I got as far as presenting my patients to my preceptor before rounds I was already feeling kind of zoned out and overwhelmed…then during rounds I pulled up my email and found out I was not going to be interviewed at one of the places I applied for residency…then I found out I got an interview somewhere else…on a Monday…they stated that they expect me to drive…it’s almost 11 hours away…almost no airline seems to fly there…

Topic discussion was switched to something I wasn’t prepared for. Noon lecture was about something I should have known about and the presented knew that I should have known, but my mind was blanked out. I checked my email right before I left for the day and I had another two programs tell me I was scheduled for an interview date…the same day and almost the same times as the first one…

To add to the stress, my mom has a cold and she is always super whiney when she has a cold, and she doesn’t seem to have ever heard of covering her cough, and she touches everything…and add that to the fact that any time I am starting a new rotation I become hyperaware of cross-contamination…added to the fact that on my second day the preceptor’s first words to me were that I should have wiped down my area before sitting anything down or touching anything…and I was bound to become maxed out eventually…

…and spotify doesn’t want to work and so I can’t have good calm down music playing to keep me focused…somehow singing “Harold the helicopter” to myself isn’t conducive to study time…

Lol…now that I’ve taken some time off to think, I feel a little more ready to work on attempting to actually study for a little while. The world isn’t going to crash and burn in the next few hours, and I know God has a plan even if it feels like that plan is precluding me from any chance at the residencies I want. Maybe I’ll learn to say would you like fries with that…or better yet, I could work at Caribou and have a free drink every shift!! Yummy smoothies!!

hand up worries down

(love and the outcome—God I know)

BTW, I LOVE this song right now.

So I just realized I have about a week left of this rotation and a lot of work left to do, so I’m gonna try to write all the things that I have half written on scraps of paper and stuff but do it FAST…lol…

 

You know you are still a social learner and still using scripting when it is 8:01 am and you wish someone a good night. Yep, did that. Well, on the positive side, I did use words that were not strictly required, which is a lot more than I used to do. After that experience I tried really hard to modify my script to a good DAY rather than a good NIGHT. Once I practice it into a script it is hard to change, but mostly I have switched over to a more appropriate greeting for the morning. Also on the positive side: one of the pharmacists at my rotation site told me that she thought my social skills were fine!! Y’all, that seriously means like the world to me. Every preceptor so far has given me the feedback that my clinical skills and other knowledge are great, but that my communication and social skills need some development. I wholeheartedly agree, and am very thankful that so far each of them has been willing to modify my grade so that it didn’t hurt my GPA. I don’t think anyone has ever told me before that I had reasonable social skills!! The closest I’ve ever gotten to that was first year when my friend literally got out of her chair and jumped up and down out of excitement when I used the phrase “I haven’t thought about that” instead of “I don’t know.” So yeah, a comment that there wasn’t a problem in that area was one of the most amazing things someone could say to me. It was a recognition that my hard word was starting to pay off. Sure, I am still practicing conversation with myself in the car and I am still doing a LOT of observing and mimicking and watching for cause and effect to figure out how to communicate, but I used to do all that and still be obviously impaired. Now, apparently, I do all that work and it makes me seem like a normal girl. Yay!! I wish someone had realized there was a problem and gotten me help before I became a college student who fended for herself and when necessary communicated primarily in writing, but I can’t take that back and can only move on from there. In the past few years I have learned to talk on the phone, text, email, and speak normally enough to pass as a normal college student. There is still evidence that I used to struggle, but it isn’t glaringly obvious anymore, and rarely does anyone see the deer in the headlights girl when there is the potential for words being necessary. Occasionally I do kinda avoid answering the phone when I am on rotation, but that is stemming more from knowing that there is a 95% chance I won’t be able to help the person on the other end rather than the pure terror of the phone that fueled my pretend inability to locate the phone in the past.

 

Speaking of improving social skills, it is sometimes unfortunate, because as I’ve learned to enjoy in person social contact, I have begun to crave it. No longer is looking at a facebook profile picture enough to satisfy my social needs. It also means that when people leave my life it actually matters a lot more. Which makes it hard when I am moving every five weeks and therefore leaving behind friends constantly. I hate goodbyes. Sometimes I wish I could crawl back into my shell where someone leaving my life didn’t matter very much because I never knew how to get overly connected to anyone—even my best friends. Now I connect and have to let go.

 

Change in subject, I found out this morning that I am not the only one who has ever had physical manifestations of anxiety. In high school there were a few times I vomited because of test anxiety, and even since then I do sometimes have stomachaches because of anxiety (which is unfortunate, because the anxiety is usually surrounding fear of getting sick…). Not that I ever would even wish my enemies would feel sick, but it was good to know that my friend had a stomachache because of anxiety, because that normalized it for me. Okay fine, and it made the whole situation a lot less scary because my OCD decided to flare this week. I know exactly what happened: I was still super sensitive because of the recent move to a completely new environment. On Sunday someone had said she had just thrown up. A few hours later someone said it was flu season and they were pretty sure someone was going to start vomiting. At the hospital I think it was on Monday but it might have been Tuesday I saw and heard someone throwing up over and over and over and over. That is what broke me and I almost didn’t eat lunch that day. I took my lunch break because the anxiety was so high that I was struggling to do the basic task of alphabetizing and dispensing prescriptions. I went and got some food because I know better than to skip lunch and was determined that OCD was not going to win. I stared my food down for a few minutes before putting it into my mouth, but I was wildly successful. I started putting food in my mouth, and as I did, the anxiety dropped far enough that 95% of the food made it to my mouth. Food is my drug.

 

Speaking of anxiety, I know that lack of sleep can make me vulnerable, but I learned yesterday that if I am exhausted enough then it is like I don’t have the energy to feel anxiety and the mute button goes on. It makes it a lot easier to give presentations that way. I am not saying that intentionally not sleeping would be a good idea for presentations…in fact, it probably makes the presentation worse because I can’t track what I am saying long enough to even get to the end of a sentence and know where I was going with it when I was at the beginning of the sentence, but it is really nice to be able to give a presentation with no fear. I will note that it was not intentional that I didn’t get much sleep. I was up a little late because two of my friends were going to leave soon and I wanted to get in as much time as possible. Then at midnight I woke up to a lot of beeping. I thought someone was texting. Then I realized I was the only one in the house and if someone was texting then it must be an intruder, so either there was an intruder or there was an unidentified noise that I should probably ignore. I decided I would get out my computer and look up the number for security just in case I needed it then I would try to figure out where the noise was coming from and if I could get it to go away…well, as it turns out, the sound was my computer. It apparently had come open in my bag and among other things was trying to send an email without the recipient filled in and therefore continued to beep about an error. Craziness. So I solved that problem, reset all the settings that had gotten screwed up on the computer, plugged it in because it was now almost completely out of battery, and tried to go back to sleep. Hahaha good luck with that. There were train whistles almost constantly until about an hour before the alarm went off. Needless to say, I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep, waking up in just enough time to my rotation on time but not enough time to do any of the practicing I intended to do in the morning.

 

Fear is a funny thing. I am scared of a lot of things…but not the things I should be scared about. I drove around with my gas light on not knowing where I might find a gas station and I stopped half asleep in the dark at a gas station in a city that may or may not be overly safe. And I had no fear about this process…yep…I can be terrified of things that shouldn’t matter one day and have no fear about things that do the next…my mom has always said that normal is a really low standard, but I still really believe that I’d like to be normal some day.

If you work all day and you never get paid

(The Mom Song—Go Fish)

I should be either writing a paper or practicing for one of my three presentations this week or doing some other pharmacy related activity. Instead, I am taking a break…(yes, I did just take a four hour break like 15 minutes ago…but my brain is tired). Besides, most of that break still required using my brain, because I am still working hard on learning how to be in a group of people, so everything I do and say is still very calculated. There are things that I am getting better at, but for the most part I am working really hard to pull myself just high enough for people to not wonder why that girl is so awkward.

I was thinking recently that I now understand why mostly the transfers at school all form a little clique and don’t really usually have any interest in mingling with the traditional students. See, it is all about being new at or near the same time. Here there are quite a few people who are here for only a month-ish at a time and a few of them started just a couple weeks before I did. Because they intimately knew what being new felt like recently enough to remember, they quickly invited me to more events than I could possibly ever attend. They became almost instantly close friends. The people who are here long-term I know and they are fine people, but I am not nearly as close to them as I am to all the new people (who are soon to disappear). The one I met first already left and I miss her. It is hard being a student and constantly moving and meeting new people just to leave them behind a few weeks later. I love my new friends. The other new people are leaving this week, but I am making some new friends that are staying here. I wish I could stay here like forever. I feel accepted here and I don’t have to be scared of who might be planning something to hurt me next. I love that I have so many chances to be proud of myself when the cafeteria serves something scary and I get at least a few bites in. I ate half a hot dog on a different kind of bun than I am used to a few days ago. I want so badly to just get to keep the friends that I make five weeks at a time.

Although staying could be a problem considering the less than ideal washer and dryer situation (no cold water setting, dryer takes 4 hours to get at least mostly dry, they seem to beat up the clothes pretty good)…Also, I have reached the point where it is hard to keep making and maintaining friendships, because I know at this point that I am leaving really soon and will have to leave behind the friends I make. Friendship is hard, but girl was not made to be alone. There are so many amazing people that I have met here. And some of them have kids at really awesome ages. (Yep, I do fit in better with the 0 to 3 crowd…especially the younger side of that group, but as my social skills have grown, I am a lot better at fitting in with older kids and even people my own age—the people my own age thing has always been the very hardest part for me).

I have learned how to be the stereotypical college student…no one wanted to come over and have dinner with me and I didn’t want to make a scary food and be obligated to eat it all myself and couldn’t think of anything normal-ish I actually wanted to eat, so I popped a bag of popcorn and ate peanut butter with a spoon directly out of the jar. It was delicious.

If I told you my story you would hear life

(My story–Big daddy weave)

Two stories from this weekend:

Story 1: You know, I never expected the service part of going to church to ever be terrifying. I really like how friendly everyone is at the church, so I don’t intend to leave over it, but that was not a comfortable experience.

So everything was going okay…awkward pre-service community time that is honestly a hard part of church for me even at my home churches which is a piece of why I prefer to serve at every service at my home churches…then worship…you know, all the usual pieces of going to church…

Until they stop worship and ask people to come up if they want to heal people or teach people or just know Jesus more. Although, I mean, I would endorse those goals, something held me back from going up even though seriously 90% of the church was up there. It was a little frustrating at first because it felt like anxiety coming back, but as I saw what was going on up there, I realized it was really God protecting me.

There were a couple of people up there touching everyone’s faces. It wasn’t like a quick touch, but like a multiple minute thing. I have no problem with physical touch, and I am even okay with people touching my hair, but my face has a personal bubble. Maybe it is just me, but there are very few situations in which it would feel okay for someone to touch my face. It isn’t even a germ issue—just a personal space issue.

And it became terrifying when they stopped to announce what they were doing and it looked like they were going to do it to everyone instead of just the people up front. Luckily that was not the case and I escaped unharmed, but for a while I was questioning whether this was some kind of cult and if it would be safe to come back again next week.

If it weren’t for how friendly they were, I would be so outta there, but since they won my heart first, I am willing to overlook a really strange occurrence and just make sure I assert my needs if anyone tries to invade my personal bubble.

 

Story 2: I had an experience of feeling anger about someone’s depiction of OCD today. There is one particular blogger who I know will rile me up (because she has never had OCD and is not any kind of mental health professional yet writes as if she knows everything about it and how to appropriately treat it, but very much does not) so I don’t read that one, but this was just some random person on The Mighty and seemed like it’d be good—looked like a blog on building community to bash stigma…all was well and good until I got to the last paragraph where the author states his/her child climbed a tree, and doing that cured him. Really, I guess it was jealousy—perhaps it worked for her kid, but I doubt it is a solution that will cure many (if any) other people. If only it were that easy. I was angry that she would spread the concept that freedom is so easy when for me, it wasn’t so easy…so in other words, I was basically a hypocrite because I claim that I think everyone’s story matters….except apparently the ones that are too easy. Fail.

Live and learn?

I try to be good enough

(Jason Gray—Savior Please)

Sometimes I am really proud of myself. On Tuesday when I tried to explain something as me being a picky eater, someone said they knew I wasn’t a picky eater because they’d seen me eat. To me, that was the hugest compliment she could have given me!! I have been working really hard to earn that comment, and hearing it made me realize something about myself I hadn’t realized before.

I have always been an exceedingly picky eater (yep, I have even refused to eat mac and cheese because it was the wrong brand…my mom was so frustrated at that one, because my favorite food was the kind in the red box…except she was at a different store and she looked all over for the kind in the red box and didn’t realize it was a different brand that also came in a red box…it didn’t taste the same and I didn’t eat it). I was the one who stopped eating lunch in the school cafeteria because once they took out the free vegetables, I was paying the exorbitant school lunch price for a pile of food, of which I probably was only going to eat the one noodle at the edge of the bowl that didn’t have gunk on it. The lunches were already excessively overpriced to make up for the people on free lunch, and were even more overpriced once you considered how much of it I would eat. I tried for a while only buying school lunch on days the menu sounded good, but then they would have last minute menu changes and I’d be stuck, I liked chicken strips if they weren’t soggy, and I’d usually at least try to eat chicken nuggets, but I couldn’t even make myself try chicken giggles after the first time they were served, and to the school, substituting chicken giggles for chicken strips was one of the most benign changes they ever made. Moderately unrelated, but I really wish I could have documented a fake milk allergy, because a documented milk allergy earned you an apple or grape juice for free every day and I LOVE juice, but never got permission to buy it a la carte…especially since I wasn’t eating the other stuff I was paying for anyway…

So anyway, that paragraph got a little off topic, but the point is, it never really bothered me to be a picky eater until partway through college. Sure, I recognized life would be easier if I ate a wider variety of foods, but it never was a big deal to me or anyone else. It wasn’t anything I felt was at all important to change. It wasn’t at all tied in to my self worth. I ate what I ate, and that was the way things were.

Then things changed when someone used the fact that I was a picky eater to support her made up argument that there was something wrong with me. At first I fought it, but then eventually it wormed it’s way into my heart as something that made me not good enough and something that would keep people from liking me and something that made me less than. Because I am constantly meeting new people this year and because of my unstable living situation, it became especially important to me to learn how to be good enough and eat what everyone else eats. I wanted people to like me.

Some people think of picky eating as a kid thing, and the fact that I already LOOK like a child made it all the more important to me to be able to eat less like a child…a difficult proposition when goldfish, animal crackers, and cheerios are favorite snacks and I’m still constantly in possession of snacks because food security keeps my anxiety from returning. As I have grown older, not a lot has changed with my picky eating. Sure, I learned to tolerate things that are hard for me instead of whining about icky smells and crying about having to try things I didn’t like (useful skills since today the person sitting next to me decided to eat lunch in front of her computer and it smelled REALLY strongly of salad dressing and I wanted to put my nose and mouth inside my shirt and run away). Unfortunately, what I actually like hasn’t really expanded, so yeah, I’ll try a slightly larger number of things, but I won’t like it.

I think of food as on a continuum. One side is foods I like, then foods that are “meh.” I don’t particularly like them, but I don’t dislike them. Continuing down the continuum you reach foods I do not like and then at the opposite end, Not Food. Things like ketchup fall into that category of not food. Asking me to eat a fry with ketchup on it is equivalent to asking me to eat a fry with conditioner. Neither belongs on my food or my fingers or anything, but if I am starving I will attempt to find a way to wash off the not food to get to the food underneath.

I have been working really hard on this and doing a really good job on increasing my ability to eat. I am proud of myself for the hard work even though I have still felt like I wasn’t good enough. A couple days ago, the lunch served to me was grilled cheese and tomato soup. Luckily the soup didn’t look like the picture on the can of Campbells tomato soup, so while it was right on the border of not food, I was willing to put it in my mouth and try it. Grilled cheese also falls firmly into the category of scary foods I do not like. I wanted so badly to be able to just eat and not just throw perfectly good food away, so I incentivized eating. I took the container of emergency skittles out of my bag and for every reasonably sized bite of grilled cheese in my mouth, I got a skittle, and for every spoonful of soup I got a skittle. I got through the entire sandwich and half of the soup that way…but I couldn’t make myself eat the tomato chunks in the soup, and eventually I just couldn’t force any more soup in my mouth or else I was going to cry which would be really weird in the break room in front of the people who work at this rotation site, so I threw the rest away. Today’s lunch was more successful. I could peel the vegetables off of the cheese and pull the cheese off of the chicken to get most of the nutrition in. I used skittles to get some of the bread in, but the bread tasted like butter and there wasn’t really any way to eliminate that taste, and after a couple bites I just couldn’t do it, so I gave up and had cake instead—hey, it’s really just bread with a little extra sugar in it :).

Someone suggested that maybe the issue is texture. At first that made a lot of sense—a lot of the things that really bother me are similar textures (salad dressing, ketchup, mayo, mustard, barbecue sauce), but some of the things I really like are the same textures (applesauce, pudding). Texture also doesn’t fit into the picture because I like applesauce watered down a little with water or juice, but applesauce with mandarin orange juice in it made me cringe. Similarly, I love clementines, but the actual pieces of mandarin orange were still gag worthy a month or so ago when I attempted them. I can’t figure out anything that ties together the things I don’t like. Someone suggested sour tastes, but I LOVE sour patch kids and lemon.

It is really frustrating that I work so hard and make what seems like so little progress, but I am learning that people liking me isn’t for what I do and don’t eat. Having to re-learn that is one of the things that makes me really wish I had been able to escape sooner before the abuse sunk in so deep…and I ‘spose I am also learning that scary foods won’t kill me. I am strong.

It would be helpful, though, if alcoholic beverages did not fall into the category of things that smell really disgusting to me. It’s another thing I am learning to tolerate, but the older I get, the more often I am exposed to people drinking alcohol in situations in which it is inappropriate to put my hands over my nose and mouth to protect myself. Just sayin’

Totally unrelated like for reals, but my intuition can be scary accurate at times…after just a couple days with this one person who really gets on my nerves, I thought maybe she was on the autism spectrum…and then I found out she actually was…glad to know it isn’t just me thinking that…doesn’t change how much she gets on my nerves and how hard it is to hold my tongue when she is mouthing off and telling everyone around how wrong I am when I know I am 100% correct, but I suppose it is good to know that it isn’t necessarily that she is trying to be hurtful. She just isn’t very good at her job and probably feels threatened by having someone around who does know what is going on. I am learning to keep my mouth shut and nod and say mhmm and keep my frustration bottled up inside. Lol…did you know that apparently according to her even if your kid is throwing up you should be sending them to school because they aren’t supposed to miss school for that? Did you also know that apparently the endocrine society doesn’t know anything about treating vitamin D deficiency? Oh, and apparently 10.7 – 4 is not less than 7…who knew?! I am learning so much!! (True statement, I am learning how to hold my tongue. In fact, I was pretty impressed that my judgement told me in time that I shouldn’t make a joke that the very literal person sitting next to me would interpret as an insult…). Oh, but on the positive side, it is awesome to not be the last to get a joke or pop culture reference!! Yep, I definitely did laugh at something I recognized as a sex joke and then listened to her whine that we all needed to slow down so she could understand the joke. (We’re going to ignore the fact that it isn’t that appropriate to laugh at sex jokes, and revel in the fact that I got it and she didn’t–see, I am not hopeless…and maybe my lunchroom lessons by a certain person who made it his job to “help” me learn that kind of crap were moderately useful).

Also completely unrelated, but I am really glad I use wordpress hosting, because I have exactly zero access to blogspot hosted blogs on the internet here unless I take a walk to the park to get on some normal wifi. I can access SOME wordpress hosted blogs, and although my own blog is not one of them, I can access my wordpress dashboard to be able to check stats and create posts which I wouldn’t be able to do with blogspot. The wifi here is a bit frustrating. Usually facebook has absolutely no pictures, but once in a while the pictures come through. Pinterest, twitter, and Instagram are completely un-accessable without a walk to the park. I do still try to get on every day just in case I get lucky, but so far I haven’t (gotten lucky that is). I miss all the blogspot blogs that I was following, and I miss the possibility of one of my favorite pasttimes—soft research on blogspot.

 

Who I am is moving on

(Josh Wilson—No More)

I know exactly what I want to say, but not how to say it…which if you read the rest of this post you will understand why that is a very common experience for me…lol, intro sentence introducing the topic…

I read this article today and I think you should too. This is eerily similar to my story and makes me think maybe the SM (selective mutism) I saw on a differential for me in my records wasn’t too far off. Sometimes I knew exactly what to say, but couldn’t make words. Sometimes even now, writing someone a “quick” email can take hours of deliberation and maybe a couple days to psych myself up to hit send (thankfully not constantly—mostly just when I am stressed out for other reasons). Sometimes even the nonverbal communication arena was far outside my abilities. If you didn’t know me then, I do want to put out a quick disclaimer that I know people who primarily saw me in silence wondered how I managed to make it through life, but it definitely wasn’t overly unpleasant. When you live that way you quickly learn how to survive and even thrive with minimal communication. I also was very lucky that the classroom was one of my most comfortable settings so even before I was much of a talker, I never had too much trouble with academics (aside from speech class…I have passed most speech classes with insane amounts of efforts to at least pass the speeches combined with doing anything possible for extra credit to boost my grade into the safe zone…let’s just say that most people probably don’t practice their speech until it is good enough record it on an mp3 player and listen to it on repeat during nearly all waking hours for the month prior to the speech, but that is how I passed my college speech class because there weren’t extra credit opportunities). Now I am a talker and it is thrilling to be able to communicate a lot more readily. If I am being honest, I still have a lot of roadblocks in my way. Some of them were not placed by my brain, but I would be lying if I said that I am 100% extravert 100% of the time. I do still sometimes fall into the role of observer. I do still sometimes watch from the outside wishing I were on the inside. A lot more texts get written than get sent. A lot more words remain thoughts than are shared.

This is going to sound like totally off topic, but someone remarked recently that younger people have to be able to learn a lot faster than older people have ever had to learn. Every day new things are discovered about the world. Once we are older, we mostly just need to keep abreast of these new developments, because we have learned the baseline knowledge already. Younger people, on the other hand, are still working on the basics while all these new things continue to be discovered and there is infinitely more in that baseline than there ever was for us because it now includes all the things that have been discovered daily up to that point, yet education is still supposed to be completed in the same or a similar amount of time.

So to bring it back to clearly on topic, I thought about that and realized it is kind of where I am with communication skills and social skills. I have always worked hard to learn these skills, but in middle school it started being obvious to me that there must be some secret to these skills that I was missing and I was falling behind. Retrospectively, I think that secret was the lack of social anxiety. (I could be wrong—maybe there was another secret and because I didn’t know the secret and didn’t have good skills the anxiety developed secondarily—I didn’t really experience it as anxiety until probably late high school because I was an avid avoider and mostly didn’t have to face the situations I was bad at…it really only manifested as frustration with myself until late high school). Anyway, my peers still learn more about how to effectively communicate daily, and I am behind and having to try to catch up because I am missing a lot of the basics they mastered over a decade ago. It is really hard sometimes, especially because as my social skills grow, so too does my awareness of how far I still have left to go, but thinking about that statement about younger people needing to learn more rapidly, it makes me really proud of myself. I have worked really hard to be where I am today. While I may not be at the top of the heap socially, people who are just meeting me generally no longer have any reason to think there was ever a time I wasn’t able to communicate on a reasonable level. I certainly have plenty of room for improvement, but the difference between my peers and I is no longer so wide that I am discounted before I am ever given a chance. That is probably the thing that bothered me the most when I wasn’t a good talker. I hated being told what I couldn’t do or being excluded to my face. It might have been harder for me, but I wanted a chance to try. I may have needed a little adaptation or a little flexibility in how “good” the verbal skills had to be, but I wanted to be included. Inclusivity has always been really important to me, and I think it is very much because of how often I was excluded either unintentionally by people not realizing I wanted to be involved or not knowing how to include me, or intentionally when people didn’t want me or assumed I couldn’t do it anyway. I am sure some of that was a well-intentioned attempt to not place me in situations in which I was bound to fail or otherwise was certainly not intended to hurt or limit me at all, but the result was that I learned how it feels to be on the outside and developed a passion for preventing others from being left out.

I refuse to be ashamed of where I came from, because I worked hard to get to where I was even if it wasn’t quite good enough, but I am so proud of where I am now. I certainly wish I was better than I am now, but I also know I have worked hard to get where I am, and that is something to be celebrated. I refuse to mourn where I am not when where I am was such an accomplishment. This concept seems hard for some people to grasp, and I have likened it to the learning of a child, but another example would be that while the straight-A student might be devastated with a lower grade and not be that proud of that grade or even their other grades because that one grade is not so good, the straight-C-with-occasional-D’s student is thrilled to be graduating and celebrates his or her accomplishment with pride. It is all about perspective. If you had told me a few years ago that today I would be asked to give a presentation about two minutes prior to the presentation and I would be able to confidently say that the presentation went pretty well, I would have told you that was a lie. Actually, no I wouldn’t, because I would be busy laughing my head off. Or, no, I probably wouldn’t, because I would be so terrified I would just stare at you blankly and try really hard to smile politely. That is just something that would very likely not be possible at that point, and I don’t think I really believed the light at the end of the tunnel was that close…I actually don’t think I realized at that point that even an AWESOME communicator could even do that. It was just so far out my realm of reality and possibility to even be considered as an option. But yeah, that is a true story. My preceptor told me her idea of something for my to present to the pharmacists. I agreed to do it and asked when this presentation was going to occur and the answer was in about two minutes. I quickly brainstormed what I was going to say, then I presented it with no practice run, and no preparation aside from the previous two minutes. I really did rock it! I was so proud of myself. I can’t say I would ever volunteer to spontaneously give a presentation, but it was incredible to realize that I could do it, and it was probably really good for me to have another opportunity to practice presentation skills. In reality, not having the topic and details in advance or even knowing it was going to happen more than two minutes before it did happen meant that I didn’t spend hours upon hours working on what I *should* say or obsessing over whether it would be good enough. It saved me tons of practice time and re-working time. It is definitely a little more nerve-wracking to go into a presentation so blatantly unprepared, but at the same time knowing that my preceptor anyway knew that this was impromptu (even if I’m not sure anyone else did) greatly decreased the stress level as I knew that with the minimal guidance on what was expected and the minimal prep time that there was a definite limit of what could be realistically expected of me. I think I actually might like the idea of an impromptu presentation, because it evens the playing field a bit, because I doubt that there are more than a handful of people who would choose to do a presentation without first practicing, so it is taking anyone out of his or her comfort zone. Side note that I was so far behind on communication skills in high school that even impromptu speeches couldn’t bring me all the way up to where everyone else was—even though I did practice in whatever ways I could prior to days I knew there might be impromptu speeches. God has done some pretty incredible things in my life.