Category Archives: OCD

They don’t know the real you. All the rain in the sky can’t put our your fire

(Gold – Britt Nicole)

 

Today I had some hard moments including some of the OCD fears coming back briefly. Sometimes I feel like a loser or a failure when that happens, but I realized this afternoon that I really have overcome a lot and I have beat the odds, and no one can take that away. Sure, I certainly had a lot of help along the way from people who really cared about me and wanted the best for me, but I can’t forget to give myself some of the credit.

 

This past week I’ve had more difficulty sleeping than usual and had some of the overwhelmed, defeated, trapped, frustrated feelings re-emerge. I cried last night and this morning. Then at church someone mentioned the V-word (vomit) and externally I rocked it (no washing, still touching things), and even internally I wasn’t completely flooded with fear, but there was definitely some very real fear threatening me. Because of that fear I felt angry that someone would enter the room I was in who had been near someone who felt sick. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that I don’t even know if this person ever actually threw up or just felt bad…and considering I can sometimes feel pukey just from my normal hormones and usually can hold back from actually vomiting, I do logically understand that feeling extreme nausea doesn’t even necessarily involve any threat of contamination. The OCD is going too fast in analysis to entertain the possibility of non-contagious nausea and the train going full speed ahead can’t be stopped. And I refuse to believe that once vomit has happened that it is not an infection hazard. Airborne saliva is infectious in my book, and vomit is even more airborne and even more infectious whether it comes from an infectious cause or not…which is why it was not at all reassuring when someone told me one day that I shouldn’t be scared because someone’s vomit was because she was pregnant, not because she was sick…umm, yeah, I had already figured out the cause of the vomit thank you very much, but that didn’t alleviate my fear, because the vomit still happened.

 

A few hours later I am doing totally fine again, OCD thoughts dissipated, but it got me thinking. I am so thankful that a few tears that I was able to stop this morning, and a VERY minor OCD incident are the worst I currently have to deal with. At this time last year I was only a couple weeks away from the deadline I set for God to take me home. I was still fighting every day to get enough food and water in my body, and sleep was much improved from the worst, but still most certainly not the best it could be. I was hanging on each day just thinking if I could hold on second by second would turn to minute by minute and I’d make it through the day and soon God would take me home and it would all be over.

 

Obviously God did not meet that deadline I set for him. He kept me alive. If I could live through that for this long, I know I can continue to face the battles of life. I made it through a pumpkin phase as a baby. I made it through thinking I was the only kid in my kindergarten class followed by a falsified report to ensure I stayed where it was thought would be best for me and subsequently being kept from play and craft time instead being asked to write book reports*. I made it through a second grade where the timeout desk might as well have had my name on it because falling down earned you a timeout and I fell (or got tripped) a lot. I made it through a friend telling me her other friends wouldn’t be friends with her if she was friends with me so we couldn’t be friends anymore. I made it through bullying including being hit in the head with a rolling pin. I made it through a traumatic change of churches taking me away from everything I thought was a given in my life. I made it through changing my college plans only to find out the school I went to wasn’t fully honest about what credits could transfer in. I made it through not getting the RA position I wanted because “I didn’t think you’d want to be an RA” despite the fact I’d essentially been RA’ing without the title or benefits for the past year. I made it through being abused by a counselor at my school. I made it through ending that counseling relationship and the chaos and restrictive punishment imposed on me while watching my abuser receive the princess treatment and continue to hurt me and other people. I made it through failing to match repeatedly, losing my dreams for myself and any self-worth I had left.

 

I will survive.

 

I was going to end my post at that, but something was nagging at me to say one more thing. The counselor that abused me is still at my school and still in a position to continue to hurt people. My school also used mandated counseling as a punishment. I firmly believe that mandated counseling should NEVER be used as punishment. First of all, it will not achieve any real goals and will thus waste the counselor and the counselee’s time and effort. Additionally, for me since it was mandated to do it off campus instead of being mandated on campus like they usually do, it was exorbitantly expensive…for something I had no desire to do. Even if someone did have legitimate mental health needs, those needs are likely to go just as unaddressed in mandated counseling as punishment as they are with no counseling. Let me say that one more time. Counseling should NOT be used as a punishment. Okay, now that we are clear on that, one of my friends was mandated to I think it was 2 or 3 counseling sessions as a punishment. She didn’t know about my getting abused by certain someone because of the gag clause. I am so thankful she is very well adjusted and that she came to me. She was like hey, this is what happened, is this what counseling is supposed to be like, because it felt really wrong. I assured her it was totally not how things are supposed to be and totally not okay. She was given the option of seeing a different counselor for free, but I am so proud of her, because instead she decided that two could play certain someone’s games. She went back intent on trolling certain someone back. Oh, I wish I could have been a fly on that wall, because my friend could be totally sassy, and oh did certain someone deserve to be put in her place. I am still frustrated with my school because they continue to promote certain someone’s “services” despite knowing what she did to me and other students. It angers me that not only do they allow her to continue to be in a position to hurt more students, but they also continue to encourage students to engage with her.

 

Okay, rant over. I just needed to get that part off my chest.

 

*side note…also not originally intended to be part of the post, but just popped into my head as I was about to hit publish…when you are a kindergartner and therefore don’t really have much understanding of numbers with commas, your book about kangaroos (it was actually a book on Australia) becomes quite confusing…how do they not know if the population is 64 or 307 or 599?! I thought each set of numbers was a guess and they just had a bunch of people make up a guess…Lol…It is also interesting being asked to identify the plot points of a book of science experiments…and this is why you probably should at least help kindergartners choose their books…

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Make a big mess and do lots of dishes

(How You Live – Point of Grace)

 

I haven’t been sleeping well. Hydration has been a challenge. Today I got home from work, and cried for about an hour. And that is okay. As much as I wish the grief would just go away and never come back, the fact that my life was irreversibly changed is not going away, and I am learning that trying to hide from the grief might help when I really need to act professionally or when I need (okay, want) to fit myself into the social norms, but giving myself space to grieve is also important. It is okay to hold it in at times now that I can – I am pretty sure it would be a lot harder to find community if I walked into a brand new church with tears rolling down my cheeks, and I might not be employed very long if I couldn’t see through my tears to do my work…but it is also important not to hold it in forever. I know in one of the books I listen to a lot, the author states that if a child’s cries remain unanswered consistently the child will learn in about 30-60 days to stop crying. I also read a heartbreaking article on the internet recently about sleep training. Study found that while the infant being sleep trained does gradually cry less and less as sleep training progresses that the only cortisol level dropping is the parent’s. In other words, the infant’s cortisol level, which is a surrogate marker for stress levels remains at  very similar level, but crying fades out and becomes uncoupled from internal distress. So yeah, after I was done crying, I actually did feel like some of the tension had drained out through my tears. As much as I hate crying, especially the deep painful suffocating kind, it was kind of relieving. I still feel the pain of grief and the sting of loss, but my body feels at least a teeny tiny bit calmer.

 

Before anyone freaks out that I should have gotten help by now if that is what is happening, I guess I should clarify that crying for an hour after work is not an every day activity for me right now. Sure, part of that is certainly that I do want to pretend I am fine, pretend it doesn’t still feel like my world shattered and I am now trying to live in a world of shards that continue to pierce my skin, leaving wounds in my heart, but I promise another part is that I am doing a lot better than I was a year ago…and not just in the amount of control I have over the tears.

 

I think the trigger making it more intense recently was the picnic the pharmacy staff had last night. Mostly because the last staff picnic type event I went to was the resident picnic last summer that I originally intended to attend as an incoming resident…and there has been information sent out about this year’s resident picnic that I can’t really go to seeing as how HR said I am no longer needed and therefore am no longer employed at that institution. I am still not a resident. I am still the reject no one wanted. Also, the picnic was to meet the youngest pharmacy staff family member. Seeing an adorable baby reminded me of how I no longer have any baby interaction opportunities. I really miss having infants to love on.

 

Speaking of the picnic, let’s just say the reason this post got the title it did is because my ability (or lack thereof) to cook is probably kind of impacted by the scatterbrained-ness that grief gave me…patience and measuring are useful skills in the kitchen. I may not exactly have measured the water I was adding to a recipe for a loaf of bread that I figured I’d use to make rolls. So I ended up with a sticky bread dough soup that I tried to fix by adding flour. Well, bread is more than just flour and water, so eventually I realized even though it was still super sticky that if I kept adding flour I probably wasn’t going to end up with something good. I had flour and bits of bread dough all over my kitchen and self at this point and tried to make roll shaped bunches of dough, but mostly ended up with wads of dough which were more biscuit like. And because the recipe was for a single loaf of bread rather than a bunch of little roll-biscuits with not nearly enough rise because of all the extra flour and water, the amount of time they spent in the oven was a lot longer than it should have been. I guess yay me, I tried.

 

I had another kitchen fail a couple weeks ago too…so I tried to make meringue. I started trying to use my mixer in a bowl in which the fluid was pretty close to the top already. Fail. Liquid splashed all over the kitchen. I upgraded to a slightly larger plastic tupperware bowl. That worked for a little while, but eventually as the fluid grew, I was at the top of that bowl too, and flinging sugary goop everywhere again. I’m not sure if I missed a step in the directions, or what I did wrong, but part way through cooking the meringues I discovered that they were completely flattened…and although an hour or so was still left on the timer, they were starting to look dark brown. Yeah, that was great…it took about 2 hours to have kinda sorta clean baking sheets after that because the stuff was stuck on there so much.

 

Sometimes it just seems like my whole life is a fail. I can’t sleep. I can’t stay hydrated. I can’t get a residency. I can’t make rolls…but at least the bits of this fail that I could get off the sheet tasted okay. I wish every fail were sugary. While at times even sugary treats aren’t enough to get me to eat anything, a lot of the time, sugar is a good anesthetic to emotional pain. I’m pretty sure there are some studies that it works for physical pain too…

 

Well, I should probably finish eating dinner and then get packed up since my suitcase has been halfway packed while in the brain fog of lack of sleep and grief and stuff and while I know there are things I am missing that are on my list to pack, I wouldn’t be that surprised if I opened up my suitcase and found no underwear or an abundance of socks without any matches. And since I leave tomorrow I need to do my best to have a usefully filled suitcase by the time I go to bed so that when I arrive at my destination I am not stuck with a target run for a shirt besides the one already on my body…or possibly worse, showing up without any credit card or other way of paying for anything, because girl is going to need a place to park her car and stuff. And I probably need to pack some food, because who knows if I am going to be willing to eat anything I didn’t provide myself direct from its packaging…I think I am doing okay on the germ front right now, but yesterday on my way home I started talking quietly in French (difficult since my vocabulary has contracted from fluent as a high schooler to very limited now), which is a sign that my social anxiety is flaring, and I really think the OCD was 97% really an offset of social anxiety rather than actually being a disorder on its own. As in while I do not doubt I met criteria for a while, I think there is a possibility I never truly could have been diagnosed using the DSM criteria because of that clause they throw into pretty much every diagnosis “the disturbance is not better characterized by the symptoms of another disorder.” The underlying reason I do not want to get sick is not even really the fear of getting sick, but the fear of communication and stuff like that comes with getting sick. I guess I should explain that the way French was taught in school was like if this is the concept you want to express, this is how you say it to a teacher, this is how you would say it to your boss, this is how you say it to a parent, this is how you say it to a friend, this is how you say it to a best friend, this is how you say it to an acquaintance, this is how you say it to a stranger, et cetera…so I started actually almost feeling confident expressing myself in French because I knew the right way to have a conversation with practically anyone. I longed for English to be taught that way. Unfortunately, once you leave the French classroom, people expect you to be able to speak English, and direct translation of the French phrases is likely to sound a bit stilted…but still, I’d work up my courage starting by repeating the French phrase to myself trying to find the courage to translate it conceptually to English as best as I could…

Under Shiny Plastic Steeples

(Stained Glass Masquerade – Casting Crowns)

I recently saw on facebook one of those type this into a text message and pressing only the middle predictive text, finish the sentence things. So, this one started “I couldn’t live without.” My phone finished that sentence with “my knowledge.” That seemed super stupid at first, but after further thought, I think there are aspects of that sentence that might be true. One of my strengths finders strengths as a first year in college was input. In their words, collection and gathering of all kinds of information is important, or in my words, I am a ferocious consumer of information. I have a need to know things and I would have a very difficult time if I wasn’t able to obtain knowledge. So I guess all that to say, I know cognitively that it is okay, and even good, to cry. But I’ve noticed that even when I am completely alone and there is no reason I shouldn’t cry, I still hold in the tears. I think there are a lot of reasons. One is definitely the abuse and fallout I experienced.

 

When I was a third year, the abuse was very obviously worse if I showed any negative emotion. Like it says in the book “Scattered” by Gabor Mate, “conditioned fear learning is particularly resilient…and in fact may represent an indelible form of learning.” So I learned that showing emotion, particularly negative emotion, was dangerous. Once this has been learned, it is quite difficult to unlearn, especially when it was compounded over the next few years. In September, I had to sign that I would not tell anyone what had happened or was happening, including not being able to tell them that I wasn’t allowed to tell them. There is only so much the deer in the headlights look can get you out of. I knew if I was caught crying or otherwise visibly upset, I was likely to be asked what was going on. I couldn’t tell unless I was willing to risk losing my student-hood at least temporarily while the legality of the contract was investigated. I couldn’t truthfully say or acknowledge that I didn’t want to talk about it, because I did want to talk about it. I needed to talk about it, but it wasn’t safe. If anything slipped, there was a direct threat to my security. Sure, at times there were things it would have been reasonable to blame the upset on, but I am truthful to a fault, and if it wasn’t the primary problem I was going to have a hard time using it to cover up the real problem. I’m not saying the sparsity of my tears compared to the depth of my pain this year at not getting a residency was completely my abuser and my school’s fault – it wasn’t and isn’t. Although that is a strong contributor, even before that happened I was someone who was fiercely protective of people and therefore want to avoid burdening them with my issues. Even before that happened, and probably more before than after, I wanted to avoid too much attention on myself. I don’t like being in the limelight, and am much happier working hard behind the scenes.

 

Fear learning explains a lot of things that I wish could just go away.

 

Another concept from Scattered that I thought was interesting was that memories of something happening are stored in our cognition, but memories of nothing happening when something should have are more often stored in our bodies. These implicit memories cause us to feel things that more correctly belong to the past which is why we might not understand our own behavior, reactions, and emotions until we understand the memories we have been storing in our bodies and move those memories into our cognition…just something to think about…I think about a lot of things…like someone I saw on youtube talking about milk and cookies. Her explanation of how bad milk and cookies are made no sense biologically – she explained that milk cause the stomach contents to be too acidic which causes problems. I was only half listening at the time, so I couldn’t put a finger on why that seemed so dumb, until I realized that milk is a base, not an acid. The thing is though, that when the stomach becomes too basic, LES pressure decreases which allows stomach contents to come in contact with the esophagus. Too basic for the stomach is a bit dependent upon age, but in an adult, the stomach pH is usually between 1 and 3. Too basic could be like a 4, which is still quite acidic (to brush up on your chemistry, a pH of 7 is neutral, milk is an 8 or 9). So even the too basic stomach contents is much more acidic than the esophagus is intended to experience for prolonged contact times. That can cause erosion of esophageal tissue which can lead to inflammation. So the person on youtube got the end result correct: inflammation, but the whole series of events to get there was completely wrong, as was the location of the inflammation.

 

This is pretty unrelated, but I recently discovered the facebook feature that lets you see what you posted on today in the past years. Looking back is kind of cringe-y and embarrassing. Umm, apparently as a high schooler I sometimes posted like 5 or more status updates in the same day…compared to now where it is quite rare there are even five or more posts in the same week or sometimes even month, much less the same day. Yeah, once in a while there might be two posts the same day, but it certainly is not common now. Also, it is super obvious that I used written words where my spoken words failed me, which is to say if you didn’t know how I used facebook at the time, it looked like an extreme case of overshare. What you don’t know, is that I said very close to zero words out loud at the time. My primary spoken vocabulary was hi and my name. This was supplemented for in person communication with nods, headshakes, and, well, writing. When writing is your only means of communication, you naturally are going to share a lot more. This is also why I was pretty selective as to which friend requests I would accept…and it is also why it is/was so devastating for someone to block me on facebook. Blocking me on facebook is essentially blocking me from relationship with you. Imagine if someone quickly walked away if it appeared you may speak, and refused to speak with you around. It would feel isolating, wouldn’t it? So anyway, I was looking through the list of posts, and thought today’s were a pretty good representation of me.

 

1 YEAR AGO

…yes I am wearing a soggy t-shirt…it may not occurred to me that if I wanted to wear my back-up pajamas as real clothes I might need to wash the shirt before this morning so that it didn’t smell like pajamas…oops…there are certainly worse things than a soggy t-shirt…lol, like I could call it moist…how many people hate the word moist?!

 

Umm yeah, a year ago at 6:07am I was sitting in my car in my soggy pajamas thankful that the staff wifi reached the street, because I had the ability to show up, but was struggling with the ability to let anyone know I was there. Actually, I used the staff wifi from my car a lot that year, because I desperately needed community, and being right there almost at church was super helpful, but I didn’t really have enough social confidence to actually *be* there, so I’d come, but not actually necessarily leave my car, or if I did leave my car I didn’t actually go inside – just as far as sitting under a tree on the median, or on the curb of the median.

 

2 YEARS AGO

Today if I were going to write an autobiography it would be titiled ppl respond to emails faster when you hit send…

 

Yep, as always, I struggle enough even with written communication at times that by the time I have written the email, I have thought about it so much that I can’t remember whether I’ve actually sent it…and sending it is also hard, so I might have thought about sending it once it was written every day for the past month, which does not help elicit a response any faster…see also why things become emergencies when I’ve had forever to figure them out…

 

3 YEARS AGO

knew I was forgetting a major food group when I bought my lunch today but couldn’t figure out what it was…I had the dessert group, the fruit/veg group, the carb group…yep, it was the protein group…and this is why I usually plan meals in advance…but my juice has 4%DV of iron, and that’s kind of like protein…right?…

 

Yes, when I meal plan, I more like food group plan…which is why I end up with meals like taco meat, gold fish crackers, an apple, and ice cream. None of the foods seem like they really belong together, but I got something from each major food group so it seems like an appropriate meal to me. This post also sparked a hilarious conversation about earthworms versus sour gummy worms. I laughed at work today.

 

4 YEARS AGO

…at least if I was going to really seriously learn that I shouldn’t be attempting to travel while significantly impaired by anxiety I did it in such a way that I didn’t endanger anyone’s life…and hopefully having a real consequence is enough to finally make the lesson stick…someone asking me questions BEFORE rather than AFTER I acted would have been really nice to prevent this, but considering the other ways I could have learned this lesson, I at least found one with relatively lower stakes…

 

I guess I kind of cheated – there were really two posts along these lines, because I posted one on each account and I have two facebook accounts, but they both essentially hinted at the same thing. I was really having a hard day and asked housekeeping to cut the lock off my bike. That was a bummer, because it was an expensive high quality lock. Yeah, my key broke, but I had a few more keys at my apartment…but they didn’t question whether I was sure or what I was going to do without a bike lock until after they cut the lock off. I’m sure watching my reaction was priceless as I explained that at home I had other ke…oh crap…I can act impulsively at times, and I do have trouble with thinking things through when I am really upset. There was definitely the positive side pointed out in both posts that I could have messed up some other way and for example been run over while running a red light…

 

6 YEARS AGO

can let the help desk find out in less than 12 hours why her computer beeps and turns itself off as soon as it is unplugged…hopefully they are less confused than I am…

 

Another one where I cheated and there were actually two very similar posts…so yeah, I have always struggled with technology. In this particular instance, my computer was at like 76% battery life, but would not stay on if it wasn’t plugged in…kind of a problem since I refused at the time to plug in my laptop in classrooms because the plug in areas seemed to germy. I rarely used my computer in class, but there were certainly times when it would have been helpful or even necessary.

 

7 YEARS AGO

“She who trims herself to suit everyone will soon whittle herself away. Stay true to you!” –post-it phrase of the day

 

thinks this weather is stupid…can we please have some weather that allows me to be outside??? My bike misses me.

 

occasionally entertains herself with the call duration information on her phone…in the past 2 months she has talked (well knowing me mostly listened) on the phone (received or dialed calls including voicemail) a total of exactly 27 mins…and the number is probs going to go down now that I can avoid calls even more with texting…definitely don’t use up my share of the minutes…

 

First one: yep, I have always been one who wants everyone to be happy.

 

Second one: classic me, not I miss my bike, but my bike misses me.

 

Third: Another reference to me and my social struggles. I think 27 minutes in two months was actually above average for me, and it was primarily listening to voicemail (usually from my parents) or calling my parents for a ride or to let them know I arrived at my destination if I had driven myself. The other *maybe* one or two minutes being telemarketers and the rare occasion in which a friend called me or I called someone else. Those occasions were exceedingly rare because I would rather send an email or even go across town to talk to someone in person than to talk on the phone (and I wasn’t such a fan of talking either).

And I’m falling apart at the seams

(Have Your Way – Britt Nicole)

 

Yesterday (or at least it was yesterday when I started writing this…IDK how long it’ll have been when I finish the post and hit publish…) my facebook memories reminded me that not too long ago I was 399 days away from graduation and was bouncing out of my seat excited about it.

 

So much can happen in a year. A year later, I was fighting to hold my life together as I was falling apart at the seams. I didn’t really care so much about graduation anymore, because I had bigger things to worry about, and I mean the actual process of graduating wasn’t something I actually wanted to do either way, the part I wanted was the freedom of no longer being bound by that stupid not even valid contract. When my world came crashing down around me, I no longer had much to which to look forward. Graduating meant facing the fact that I either had a job I really didn’t want, or had no real job prospects lined up at all aside from working at Children’s and praying they kept me forever and ever. I tried to be excited about the freedom, but really all I was doing in life was going on rotation, doing homework, crying, trying to eat, trying to drink, trying to sleep, going to church. It wasn’t like I really had any margin in my life for any non-essential tasks. And I’d learned to speak in euphemisms well enough that I could express most of what I needed to express without exactly breaking the rules. I mean, IDK anymore whether the rule was “no talking” or “keep confidential” or however else it might have been worded, but either way leaves it up for interpretation whether a well placed “maaaybe” as an answer to someone’s guess and check of what was going on is okay. My opinion was that was totally valid considering the rules were stupid anyway. I am a strong follower of rules, but you have to draw a line somewhere. For me that usually means my line is so far away from the actual rule that even if you pushed me and I fell, I wouldn’t be likely to cross the line. In this case though, I actually could see that particular line. Besides, if we use Miss Princess’s definition of confidential (which is a definition I think is more like an antonym than a synonym), then that rule would mean I am free to forward on word for word whatever I want to my hundred closest friends…so it isn’t like if I fell across that line they really had a leg to stand on in doing anything about it, especially since her only punishment for the ongoing abuse was that I “got” to stay in school.

 

So anyway, then in another year, here I am. Yes, I am still struggling…and it is super obvious in my current dehydration. I am still eating well, but am having some trouble with the drinking part. Not as bad as last year by any means, but definitely enough that I notice. And I am not sleeping very well…probably partly the anxiety/grief, partly the crazy schedule I work, and partly the dehydration. I’m doing my best, but sometimes my best is not enough. If I was doing better, it would be a no brainer and I would go on a road trip this weekend. I would assume that any increase in intensity of grief symptoms would be easily manageable and mostly covered up by the excitement. But where I am now, I really really wanna go see friends, but IDK if it is a good idea. Sleeplessness plus trying to drive most likely past midnight to get there doesn’t seem like a brilliant idea. And the grief itself can make driving dangerous. Then add to that the more raw the anxiety can be when the grief is peaking. OCD plus social anxiety is a difficult combo to manage. If I can’t handle the germs in an unfamiliar public bathroom but also can’t handle going into a familiar place (if one is even practical at the time) to use the bathroom we have an issue. If I can’t use my words to ask my friends to hang out with me then it is kind of pointless to have even tried to drive that far and back all in a weekend. If any water that I didn’t bring myself feels contaminated and I am already having trouble drinking we could be looking at no drinking at all to make sure that the water doesn’t run out. That is not a good plan. Add in that I am trying to get this figured out in only a few days…and I want to know if people are available, but I don’t want to tell them I am coming if I am not, and even if I am, using my words to ask if they are available is super hard. I think part of it is that I do still reject myself first so that it doesn’t hurt so much when other people hurt me. I still brace myself for the rejection I expect is coming.

 

On Saturday, someone said something that I really appreciated. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I just got the sense from her that she really understood at least on some level what it is like to be told over and over that you are stupid or whatever that you accept it as truth. I think mostly people don’t get it. They don’t get that once you have heard it over and over that it isn’t something that really hurts your feelings so much anymore. Instead it is something you start to believe and accept into your identity. Once it is there it is really hard for it to go away. Repeated verbal abuse is different that once in a while being picked on. You don’t just get over or forget the words that feel tattooed into your heart. And to try, the scar will go very very deep and probably even lose some functionality because of the amount of scar tissue…

 

Umm, yeah, I can’t remember exactly what I started this post to say…but I guess long story short, I wish I still had something to look forward to, still even had the ability to excitedly look forward to something. I wish that graduation could have been the exciting celebration it was supposed to be. I wish that life didn’t hurt so much. I love the song for this post and really connect right now…”Feels like I’ve been here forever, why won’t you just intervene? Can’t you see the tears keep falling?” and it also starts to bring in the little pieces of hope that I am learning to re-cultivate. I am not ready for much hope yet, but I am ready for tiny little bits which is good, because like it sorta says in the Healing Path, once hope has started to thaw, rarely can it totally refreeze again. I love how the pain and unsuredness of the hope is woven in “And you never promised that this life wasn’t hard, but you promised you’d take care of me.” It leaves open whether God is really going to take care of me. He promised he would, but will he really? “And even if my dreams have died and even if I don’t survive, I’ll still worship you with all my life.” When everything had been taken away and I really didn’t think God was good or caring anymore, I still needed worship. Not just because it is what I did, but because even so upset and in a weird relationship with God, innately I still knew that I needed him.

 

Looking for someone to save your life

(Worth it – Francesca Battistelli)

 

Music is an important part of my life. It is how I best encounter God. It is how I like to experience my world. It used to be omnipresent in my world. I realized recently that through this period of grief, music has not been so consistent. Sometimes it was my lifeline, but other times it was absent, the empty soundtrack mirroring the emptiness in my life. But anyway, on Tuesday I was walking home, trying to hold back tears, and singing to myself…”So whatcha gonna do when the bottom falls out and you’re left with nothing but your fears and your doubts to hold to? Who’s gonna hold you?” The lyrics showcasing the desperation and pain and immense loneliness and worthlessness I felt. “And where you gonna run when it’s all on the line and you’re looking for someone to” and then I stopped. I couldn’t explain it. I just inexplicably couldn’t keep going. The tears came as I frantically tried to keep anyone else out on the streets from seeing my wet cheeks. I turned the corner and partially hidden by the privacy of a building I took a deep breath and weakly finished the sentence “to save your life. Save your life.” Those words so hard to say when the last thing I wanted was my life. I wanted so badly to die. But now I am doing better. Now I can move on and start to actually believe the second half of the song. “Love can hear you. Love can heal you if you let it inside. Oh remember now, love’s not easy. But it’s worth it.”

 

So yeah, I thought considering my last post I better hurry up and get something more positive up before anyone got too worried about me. I’m sorry. I do not usually edit my posts anymore now that I am free and don’t need to hide, but that also means I don’t have the opportunity to read my words and wonder if anyone will be legitimately worried about me. I am still trying to heal the hole of grief, and sometimes it is hard. I know my goal was for this year to be better, and crying uncontrollably doesn’t sound like better, but I have to give myself grace. Being able to give myself grace is better than before. And really, I am learning to climb out of the pit I keep being pushed into. I was pushed hard and the wind was knocked out of me, but I didn’t stay down too long. On Thursday, my manager came to apologize to me about the situation (okay, not the whole thing obviously, but the tiny piece he knew – that the PALS class I was excited about was happening without me). He wasn’t going to change it, and wasn’t going to bend the policy about training only being allowed on paid time, but somehow just being brave enough to acknowledge to my face that he understood my frustration was enough to start building the bridge. Like I have always said, there is a lot of power in “with,” and I think that is why that helped. Although I will say that initially breaking the news to me via email was also good, because I don’t really want my manager to see me cry. Vain, maybe, but whatever. Anyway, I might have come home Friday and had skittles and cookies for dinner before going to church, but I had so much fun at the game night that I actually did eat reasonably well and didn’t want to leave…I was up WAY past bedtime and was practically asleep standing up by the end of the night, but I really enjoyed it, and this morning I was feeling so much better.

 

I know that it is not “good” to be fighting life so hard when grief storm hits. I know it is not exactly “normal” to spend significant amounts of time deeply yearning death. I am working on it my own way, at my own pace. I also know that there are some things I am just not ready for, and trying to process with a counselor is still something that is too similar to the abuse for me to be ready to seriously consider it as an option. There is more healing to be done before I am willing to try again.

 

So on that note, back to what I actually originally sat down to write…

 

I know I can’t expect life to be perfect or anything, and sure, I rarely do compulsions anymore, but I do occasionally have more than an appropriate amount of germ anxiety. Yes, I know people do get sick, and the world goes on, but OCD doesn’t make sense. I am so much more free of it than I used to be, but when I am scared I don’t want “better,” I want no fear. Zero. Nada. Zilch. It (the OCD) probably did get worse than it had to because of what else was going on a few years ago, but I am a fighter. Compared to where I was mid to late third year, I basically haven’t had a single problem since the summer after third year…it’s just that I want recovery to mean 100% of the time having zero fear, but that isn’t realistic, because every single person has at least a little fear once in a while. Having some non-disabling fear occasionally and even having disabling fear once in a long while is normal…which is hard to understand when you have spent time in the very black and white world of OCD. Either it is clean or it is not, and either you are afraid or you are not…no in betweensies. So realistically, I probably am totally normal or pretty close, but my perspective tells me it is pieces of OCD back because I had fear…

 

I read an article maybe a month ago about how hard contamination OCD is in the winter and talked about how people with OCD tend to have a radar for signs of sickness and how that can be like a game of dominos. I definitely have a radar for signs of potential sickness and it sets off a theoretical chain of dominos and I end up with a feeling of impending doom. It is terrifying. For me it has always been linked to social difficulties. If you get sick you have to either communicate that you are sick or somehow manage to hide it, which is probably not completely possible (particularly around anyone like me with a very sensitive radar) and is also super disrespectful of other people to not quarantine yourself if you are germy. Communicating it is scary and also means that you have to decide when to come back.

 

I hate winter. I hate germs. I hate norovirus. So far I feel healthy, but my world doesn’t feel stable, and working in healthcare can definitely impact how safe I feel. Plus, the compulsions I had/have with OCD were not just washing, but also “researching” (in quotes, because primarily through social media). So I am acutely aware that a person remains contagious for weeks following the end of symptoms and traditional hand sanitizer is not effective against it, and even cleaning supplies that *can* kill it are often not effective because they are used wrong. For example, I’m not sure if Clorox wipes are effective against noro even if used appropriately, but the way a lot of people use them they might as well be using wet paper towel to clean. Cleaning wipes require a minimum wet contact time to be effective. If the surface doesn’t stay wet long enough you haven’t cleaned the surface and if you *cringe* wipe the surface dry immediately after using the wipe then you have just become a master of the placebo effect if you believe you actually did any cleaning. Frozen noro can remain infectious forever. Room temp noro can remain infectious on surfaces for significant periods of time as well. Very possibly months or more. The number of viral particles required to cause illness is in the single digits. Compare this to the millions to billions of aerosolized particles following a single vomiting or diarrhea episode, not to mention the amount in the vomit or feces themselves, and clearly it is no surprise why infection doesn’t tend to happen in just ones or twos.

 

So yeah, winter can be a really hard season for me as a former OCD-er. I go on a rollercoaster ride from almost certain I am doomed to promising myself that I am safe and back again. Knowing way too much from my former hours of research makes it easy to be fearful. I know how easy noro spreads, so not only do I react to the people in my actual life that get sick (umm, yeah, I have determined my parents entire house is contaminated and am not sure I ever want to go back…kinda a problem), but I also react to the Olympics outbreak in Korea and the outbreak at a college in Wisconsin. I see the dominos. Even if someone doesn’t get sick, suppose somehow an American tourist’s backpack picks up a few viral particles from being near someone who was near someone sick (and realistically there would be a lot closer contact than that). That backpack gets put onto a plane with zillions of other people where the germs are transferred to another person’s purse. That person goes to work and their purse is hung on a hook touching lots of other people’s bags and coats and the germs transfer to the inside of someone else’s coat. That person’s coat comes home. The next day they put their coat on over their pajamas to go to the mailbox. The germs transfer to the pajamas. The pajamas are worn to bed the next night and the germs are transferred either to hands or sheets and then to the mouth. By that next night the person is sick and there are zillions of virus particles everywhere and they are tracked all over the city and people are very mobile, city to city, state to state, country to country.

 

That little scenario I wrote out takes out a lot of potential steps in the process, and drastically simplifies from the zillions of vectors to a single chain, but I hope that it helps understand how easily I can fall victim to fear. It took a lot of words to write that scenario out, but it took less than a second from reading about the Olympics to feeling a sense of lack of safety…and anger. The Olympic committee put out a bunch of hand sanitizer in response. Unless in Korea hand sanitizer is actually pure bleach rather than something like the ethyl alcohol we generally use in America, it will not help prevent spread. In fact, it probably decreases safety, because it makes people feel safe even though they really aren’t. When people feel safe they are a lot less careful which greatly increases the potential for spread of sickness. I want to say that is not okay.

 

But I am proud of myself. So far I have thought about whether I should keep eating and drinking, but have continued to decide that yes I should. Even with all the other things going on making life hard, or maybe because of all the other things going on, I have not come to a panic level of fear. I might be exclusively wearing pajamas in or near bed – not even clean casual clothes, but I am able to go through life seemingly normally at least from the outside, and that is important to me.

 

Although I will admit that I do have a desire to know everything there is to know about what is going on with noro at the Olympics…but that is probably also related to my input strength – trying to collect and categorize all the information available. It really is a bummer that news sources don’t seem interested in reporting full stories. From my perspective they give just enough info to whet my interest and then end the article and cease follow up coverage. It is kinda frustrating when you are someone like me who desires to know the entire story. It’s the same way with a lot of news – like with a school shooting I want to know how people are doing after it’s over. How are things different? What new frustrations are they facing? …ad nauseum…if I had my way we really wouldn’t need much news, because we’d still be getting news updates on the school shooting that happened in December 2012…inquiring minds want to know…

 

Lol…what do you want to know? I would love to do a Q & A post…although realistically I don’t have anywhere near enough viewers for that to ever happen…

Though the world doesn’t care it matters to me

(It Happened – Stephanie Pauline)

 

I’ve seen blog posts after the owner has not written for a long time that simply say something along the lines of “Y’all, I am doing so much better” and that is the end of the post and often the end of the blog. I don’t think I have been away long enough to warrant that and I think I want to keep blogging…and I feel like as a blogger I have always been way too verbose to have a one-liner post…but I am doing a lot better.

 

Four years (ish) ago I claimed that I had absolutely no OCD issues anymore. At the time it was true…but OCD is a sneaky beast. Since then there have certainly been times when the OCD came back…usually it’s just been a few hours or maybe a day and then it is gone again. Considering the sleeplessness and poor intake over the past months since not matching the first time, I probably shouldn’t be that surprised that a more protracted relapse entered my life even though I am doing a lot better with the grief than I was. My body and mind are still recovering even if I want to claim that I am fine. I still cry sometimes. I gained weight to my goal (not all of it back) and kept the weight on long enough to say okay unless there is a concern it doesn’t matter whether or not I keep this weight on. I did lose some of the weight again, but having a lower set point is okay as long as I am actually eating reasonable meals three times a day and not using up excessive amounts of energy without replacing it.

 

OCD makes it hard to be at work sometimes because people call in sick sometimes and the internet says shared pens are disgusting and dangerous and so are phones. OCD makes me vulnerable to computer viruses, because if I need to search the internet for stomach flu stories, I need to click on every single link…which means potentially clicking on dangerous sites…I am fairly certain that is how my yahoo email account started sending out spam emails on its own which I only discovered when it sent one to me…I was so embarrassed because I have no idea how many people it may have fraudulently sent emails to since the emails are not archived in my sent mail folder…and I don’t know whether proper etiquette is to pretend it never happened or to email absolutely everyone I know to make sure I don’t miss anyone in letting them know it wasn’t really me…but then that would be basically another pointless email clogging up people’s inbox…and I really hope they know it wasn’t really me. Speaking of my obsessive searches…I am very much aware that the more I search the more fear I feel, but when the OCD strikes, the need to know overrides all logic, and it *feels* like reading all the things will make me safer…luckily, so far, although I had a bit of a protracted relapse, it never got to a really bad point at all, more of just a very mild hovering just above a normal point for a long time. Just in case though, after getting home from Target to buy my Christmas tree, I allowed myself to wash my hands because I was at a point where I wasn’t touching things and I knew that if the anxiety didn’t calm soon it would be a lot easier to cope if I washed my hands and kept my apartment at least relatively clean than if I forced myself to horribly contaminate my entire apartment…shopping can be hard. Partly because the internet also says that shopping carts are dirty and because people on the internet admit to going shopping while sick (STAY IN YOUR HOME PEOPLE) so all the stuff in the store might be contaminated. Also, there are times when I want to buy bleach, and I know that I am not quite ready to be responsible with bleach. There have been times I would have been ready to go shopping but didn’t because I was afraid I might come home with a bottle of bleach.

 

Sometimes “just relax” or “what’s the worst that could happen” are unhelpful words that show a lack of understanding, because trust me, if I could “just relax” I would. But sometimes I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect…case in point: Thanksgiving. It came into my head that I *was* bringing something to Thanksgiving, so I asked and asked until I finally became in charge of bringing rolls. Easy, right? Well, first I kinda fell asleep after lunch and woke up and realized I intended to start getting the rolls ready a while ago…then I realized the directions were super confusing/vague. As I finally get to the let rise at least 45 minutes I look at the clock and realize that I am falling hopelessly behind the timeline. Remember that not only am I taking extra time trying to understand, the area in which I still wash almost excessively is when cooking…washing your hands doesn’t take a lot of time but do it enough times and it adds up. And I am also realizing that even if I skip half of the rise time I still have nowhere near enough time to re-use the same pan for two batches and I only have one pan that is really intended for making rolls so I’m going to need to come up with a creative improvised solution ASAP to get everything into the oven at one time. So this is the perfect time to spill and/or splatter most of a stick of butter all over my microwave. I don’t know the importance of butter in this recipe – I might just try skipping it altogether next time and see what happens instead of getting stressed out. Trying to make up time while shaking from anxiety makes it hard to get a new stick of butter unwrapped. Just sayin.’ And of course I spill flour all over too. To speed things up I try mixing the bread dough with a mixer…and pretty quickly realize it is a bad idea but for a few seconds freeze which is long enough for the dough to get up into the holes to the point that the eject button doesn’t work and I have to yank the stick things off of the mixer base…so after skipping a few steps I didn’t have time for I tried all sorts of things to get the dough out of the inside of the mixer and am hoping it’ll work again next time I have an appropriate use for it. Anyway, at this point you have to either laugh or cry…so I announced to myself that I now have the most well-greased microwave ever. And as I am looking for more towels to try to clean it up because soaking up some of the drips before they got to the floor with paper towel and napkins was good, but real towels are the only match for the explosion in the microwave, I relax and realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect and my worth as a person is not dependent upon my ability to make rolls. I might feel embarrassed if they turn out bad, but it is not the end of the world if there aren’t rolls for thanksgiving. In fact, I have been at thanksgiving celebrations where there intentionally was not rolls.

 

So yeah. The rolls weren’t perfect and some of them were falling apart. I ended up with a hard to clean microwave and almost every bowl in my kitchen dirty (thank God for dishwashers). I burned my serving tray by pouring the rolls from the pan directly out of the oven into the towel-lined tray. And I was still late to Thanksgiving…but I also still had a wonderful time. Thanksgiving can be hard for me because of my social skills or lack thereof, but I had such a good time. No one made me feel awkward for what I did or didn’t eat or for what I did or didn’t say. It was okay to just be me. I was accepted and included and LOVED it!!

 

Probably a week-ish later I had some time scheduled to hang out with a new friend. Maybe an hour or so before it is time to go I read a text from her that she hadn’t thought to tell me but her kids had been sick. And the way it was worded definitely sounded like the vomiting kind of sick. Full stop. This is basically how I lose friends. Anyone in the home sick pretty much means the person is going to be contaminated for a LONG time. I was determined not to lose my brand new friend. I was terrified because clearly if I hadn’t already been told this is not a contamination-aware home. I am strong. My plan was bring as little as possible in and only things that can be cleaned easily. In my car was a towel to protect my car from germs and spray hand sanitizer. Of course one of the first things that happens as I come in is she is preparing food that my passive can’t reject…and one potentially sick kiddo was helping. So, long story short, I ate throughout the day even with toddler fingers in the bowl. That is not something I really ever expected to be able to do. I don’t know if it would be a big deal for “normal” people, but it was a big deal for me. Yes, I did come home and wiped my flip flops with a sanitizer wipe, stripped all my clothes off into the washer with the towel and my watch band, ran a quick wash cycle while showering, found a new towel and clothes, ran a *real* wash cycle, and worked on cleaning my watch itself, my phone, and the floor where I walked before showering…yes, excessive, but after that I was totally fine again, and that is a huge accomplishment for me. I CAN challenge myself and I CAN do it without falling apart.

 

Do I still have OCD fears? Sometimes. Do I still at times struggle with the grief? Definitely, but I can live life okay with minor contamination sometimes and accept minor risks…and even challenge myself with big risks. And I no longer get up every single morning wishing I weren’t alive. I might not be thrilled with where I am in life, but I am doing so much better than before.

 

I don’t recall where this quote came from, but it’s been on my list of things for awhile… “I needed to live, not live better.” It is easy to be frustrated with myself and see all the perceived failure, but that misses the fact that one of my major success stories is that I lived. There are a lot of really hard things that I have faced in the past year, and even before that, but I survived. Sure, in retrospect it is easy to see how maybe there is some way I could have fought harder and lost less weight for example, but starving short term wasn’t going to kill me. I needed to live, not live better. It took all the power I had to get something in my mouth every day and to keep on making it through each day on almost no sleep. I did my best, and I survived. It really is only by God’s power that I am still here. Barely functioning I didn’t necessarily always remember even the basics of driving like gas vs brake, much less the intricacies…and I was often trying to get where I needed to be while struggling to see through the storm of tears. It wasn’t the best way to live, but I needed to live, not live better…

 

It is crazy to think that at this time last year I was finishing up and submitting the applications to the nine places I expected to interview including the one place I intended to end up. Now I am finally in a job that I do not like, but that I am learning to be thankful for because it pays the bills and has allowed me to grow not professionally, but personally as I learn how to make new friends and stuff…’cause as a resident in a lot of places you get a built in friend of your co-residents who also have just graduated and are in need of friends and with whom you will spend lots of time, so being a real pharmacist I skipped over that hand holding step into the real world.

 

I am really proud of myself. I might have challenges to overcome, but I am a fighter and no one will take away my shine.

I am what I am and that’s all that I am

(Please please like me – Go Fish)

This post was written a couple weeks ago-ish…then I was busy and didn’t post it…and then the grief got so deep again that I kinda forgot about it. But better late than never, right? Also, a lyric stuck in my head right now is “I won’t take the world’s abuse; I won’t give up, I refuse.” And also, I just finished watching a youtube video and it ended with “you are not a failed version of normal.”

The title of this post has been my quote on twitter since I joined in 2013…and I still love it.

You know you are living in a world a bit differently than the stereotypical female when you are thrilled looking up a calorie count that it is a lot higher than you expected. I guess I should back up.

It seems based on my stats that there are quite a few new readers over here so I thought I’d do a quick review on some of the major events that have made me who I am. Super abbreviated, because I want this to be short and sweet, not like one of my marathon posts that ends up way longer than I even would have an attention span to read.

Hmmm, where to start? August 10, 2008 my family attended a new (to me) church for the first time (and stayed). It was really hard being taken away from everything I knew and my plans for my life. On top of that, 90% of my writing and art projects in middle school were swimming themed and that year for the first time I was no longer a swimmer…and for the first time I was struggling in school (although causation is hard to determine so that part might have been a result more than a cause). Those things together really took away everything I had to identify myself. I realized that year I was using self-injury as a coping mechanism as I struggled. It has been suggested that perhaps I have PTSD from that situation. I was never totally sold on that, but considering that even five plus years later it was an extremely painful experience to recall, I do credit it as a difficult experience in my life.

A few people in my life at the new church had suggested that I try out the free counseling at my school when I went to college. I intended to go once, say I did it, then be done, but once I got in I didn’t know how to get out. I was seeing a counselor who was so involved in the social realm that she really wasn’t comfortable and didn’t know what to do with someone like me. I was someone who defined a friend as someone I could say hi to maybe 50% of the time if we passed each other alone in the hallway – and I had very few friends. I didn’t do a lot of talking. Based on my records, it appears there was a question in her mind about selective mutism. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if someone made that label official for that time period. Let’s just say my best friend literally jumped out of her chair to celebrate one day when I said “I haven’t thought about that” in response to one of her questions. She was used to my usual communication of yes, no, I don’t know, and silence…and those first three responses were primarily reserved for my very closest friends after good prompting.

The next year I switched to someone who was a lot better match. I also started having some issues with excessive washing as a coping mechanism. At the beginning it wasn’t overly linked to germ fears, but eventually it was very firmly linked. In any case, I wanted to set rules to get rid of that problem. Every assignment I turned in for a while was bloody and my hands were bright red, but she didn’t think that rules was the right answer. Long story short, she eventually agreed that if I promised to be safe with it I could make rules (and it was wildly successful). That was probably a God-thing though I didn’t know it at the time, because the ability to figure things out on my own with little to no support was going to become important later. Oh, it is also important to note that second year everyone at my school interviews into third year and I was terrified and my counselor had asked me to think about what I might be interested in doing if I couldn’t be a pharmacist. It took months, but I thought maybe I’d like to be a social worker…but I wasn’t super thrilled with that, because all I’d ever wanted to be since early elementary school was a pharmacist.

I planned to transition to a different counselor the next year despite warnings from my current counselor, because she was going to be at a different site and I was overwhelmed at the prospect of going anywhere else and flat out refused to do it. I should have recognized that the counselor I insisted on switching to had already shown how lacking in trustworthiness she was and how unethical she was, but I really thought that I could deal with it because in all honesty what I needed most at that point was an accountability partner and someone I could see at a convenient time in a convenient location. She was emotionally abusive. She had no respect for her clients, and I really want to believe that because I was not a tattletale that I got it worse than other people, but I mean, she was teaching shame to keep people quiet. I could see that she needed love and as a result I worked really hard at loving her well and I guess I thought I could fix her, but I couldn’t. I could go into a laundry list of wrong-doings, but suffice it to say that this is not just me being a pansy, but that her conduct was completely inappropriate.

The next summer she sent me an email telling me how well she thought we worked together and how glad she was to work with me. Not too long after that an hour or so before we had a planned phone session she emailed to say that she wouldn’t be available for the session – I thought we were getting somewhere. Her usual modus operandi would have been to just not answer or to be at least 20 minutes late to the phone session. A bit after that she emailed again that we were done, and unlike what she usually did with those outbursts, she didn’t forbid me from talking with anyone else, but she refused to tell me why. Yes, she had deeply hurt me over and over and over, but I was still trying to fix her and at that point I don’t think I had quite registered that having an accountability partner wasn’t helpful when you are being abused by said partner. In a way that only makes sense when you are as upset and confused as I was, I acted out I think attempting to slow her down to make her think long enough to cool it.

I tried to call to apologize. That took a lot of courage for this girl who will drive across town to avoid a phone call. She hung up on me. A lot of my closest friends took her side and blocked me on facebook – super hurtful when that was one of my primary ways of interacting with my world. I was very upset and the message that I was not good enough and a worthless failure that she had been barraging me with during my time with her started feeling really true to me and to be honest, I am not really sure I would still be alive right now if I had been at school where there are metro trains near campus. Because she reported me to the behavior response team (of which she was a member) and recommended I was too stressed out to be in school, a whole series of new stressors came my way…I didn’t get the okay to come back to school until the day before classes started, and on my way in the first day I was stopped by a security guard who was convinced I wasn’t a student anymore. Not a great way to start the semester. Anyway, I think I am getting into too much minutiae, so back to the point, in exchange for staying in school I was forced to sign among other things that I wouldn’t tell anyone about anything related to what happened and I wouldn’t tell anyone that I couldn’t tell anyone – so I was pretty effectively silenced from any means of getting support for the chaos in my life and had to keep the mask of okay on to protect myself from unanswerable questions. I was still being abused by this counselor, and despite my finally cracking and telling my advocate a little of what was going on, my abuser was never punished and instead was given princess treatment.

Fast forward to January/February/March of this year. I am in the intense process of interviewing and when questions get asked about hardest moments or dealing with unfair situations or conflicts, guess what pops into my head. I have to work extra hard to not just freeze and deer in the headlights. I come up with other answers and push the tears away until I am alone. Then I fail to match in phase I despite everywhere telling me how amazing I am. I struggle with deep grief. On the outside I keep going. I apply in phase II and have an insane schedule of interviewing nearly every day for a little while including leaving at like 3:30 AM to drive to an interview and not getting back until past bedtime and still having interviews the rest of the week and trying to keep up in school. I failed to match again in phase II. I am back to square one with the grief. I am barely functioning. I have been praying every day just crying out to God to please just take me to forever home. I have no desire to remain on Earth. I am hardly sleeping. I am fighting to eat and drink. I lose a LOT of weight. I will admit that I came into this with a little extra weight on my body, but not nearly as much extra as I lost…In the week after Easter I gained 8 pounds (yay!!), but since then progress has been very slow…and sometimes backwards. I still have 10 pounds to gain to reach my goal weight and I think the closest I’ve gotten is 5 pounds away…hence sometimes looking up calories to spot check intake in hopes of getting this under control.

So, I tried the scramble (failed) and also started looking for non-residency jobs. I did finally get hired. The job isn’t exactly as expected and I am bored out of my mind a large majority of the time, but God is helping me through molecule by molecule, not universe by universe, and I really am healing.

So yeah, this is the uber-abbreviated version of my life…obviously leaves a lot out, but you can probably find a lot of the details going through the archives or asking if there is anything you really wanna know…hope this gives some useful background on who I am.

And for my long-time readers, thanks for bearing with me as I repeat a lot of what you already knew. Love y’all 🙂

I cling to your promise there will be a dawn

(Beauty from pain – superchick)

 

–started Saturday…finished not Saturday because even if grief keeps me awake, I am at least going to TRY to sleep at night–

 

I thought I was ready to hope again. I let hope in. The hope grew. And then I got crushed again. I am angry with myself that I even let myself hope again. I should have known better. Living without hope was better than being crushed. It hurts too much.

 

I was thrilled to get my job back and the waiting was killing me but it was the biggest most exciting thing ever. On my phone on Friday I had two missed calls. I hadn’t really been looking at my phone because the computer system controlling our dispensing was down which meant what is usually just me scanning barcodes mindlessly became me logging out logging back in and restarting the computer or the program over and over until it would let me scan a barcode…and hope I got more than one in before it started spazzing out again. That sounds like a nightmare, and in some ways it was, but it was also really good for me because I get really bored at work because there isn’t anything to do, so that made my work take a lot longer.

 

Anyway, I recognized one number as the generic call out number from the Children’s location that was my home away from home where I have a millionty friends. The other I didn’t recognize, but assumed was from the Children’s Business Center where I assumed HR would be calling from. In my imagination my break couldn’t come soon enough so I could listen to the message letting me know that I had my job back. In reality I’m pretty sure one call was junk. The other was my manager letting me know it fell through again. I cried at work again.

 

I was determined not to throw my progress away and thank God that I had a less than stellar lunch so that by sheer determination I could have the success of finishing. Sure, I only had a teeny tiny mini-granola bar and some noodles with a little bit of tomato and a few pieces of corn on top, but it was a challenge. I have fought so hard to gain weight and wasn’t going to throw that away. I almost completely stopped eating and drinking before and I refused to do that again. There is a fire that burns in me most of the time to keep me moving forward when all I want to do is give up.

 

Clearly though, I was not playing with a full deck…I got a little lost on my way home from work…I looked up and was like, umm, there isn’t usually a busy street to cross on my way home…followed by where am I?!…and then oh cr*p, my turn was a few blocks ago and I am soaked and I want to just sit down and give up.

 

Luckily between my ability to compartmentalize, my ability to hide within myself, and that little bit of fire, I was able to actually enjoy dinner with my parents and one of my brothers that night. Maybe not as much as I would have otherwise, but I don’t think they caught on how hard it was for me and I actually did really well and got a full meal in without too much effort.

 

But I can’t contain it in a little well hidden box forever. This morning was hard. Usually in the morning I might pick up my laptop or phone first for a couple of minutes, but other than that, the first thing on the agenda is get out clean clothes and take a shower. And that is why it was almost 4 hours after the alarm went off before I took a shower, and I ended up back in pajamas for another hour and a half after that before I got dressed…see, for most of this year I almost exclusively wore my Children’s logo wear. Today that felt too painful. I probably have like 100 shirts in my dresser, so it shouldn’t be such a problem to get dressed. I am usually the kind of person who takes the shirt on top with little thought as to what it might be. But every shirt felt like a painful reminder of loss and hurt. Even the totally blank solid color t-shirts hurt somehow…and so I got stuck because I don’t like how dress clothes feel and I don’t like long sleeves, but I wasn’t going to go out in public in pajamas. Painting a house in pajamas was moderately acceptable because no one really wears their best clothes for that, but hanging out with friends requires that I actually get dressed.

 

I was very proud of myself for a job well done getting breakfast in my mouth. I didn’t do an awesome job with lunch, but I ate something…I was 7 pounds away from my goal before and that was the only thing getting anything in my mouth for lunch. I refuse to throw away that progress even if it does seem like nothing I do will ever be enough to get me to that goal.

 

I went out with some friends and I am very proud of myself for ordering SOMETHING to eat at all. Because of plans changing I found myself somewhere that I hadn’t studied the menu in advance and hadn’t memorized and practiced my order…and wasn’t with people I felt like I could ask for help. I picked something on the menu that was the very easiest to say and was also something I at least would be interested in eating when feeling good. It was hard work, but I ate my meal. I was thrilled with myself. I worked really hard. Looking at the website now, it looks like there are probably only 160 calories in the item I picked, but I fought for each of those calories, and that counts. And then someone mentioned cookies. That has been the other really hard part of the lack of interest in food…people know how much I love things like skittles or pizza or cookies or whatever, and half of my brain is thrilled, but the other half just feels like it is too much and just can’t do it. Sometimes peer pressure and the remnants of my social anxiety is an incredible thing. Because of peer pressure I managed to order and eat a cookie. That was a God-thing. It was a good cookie even if half my brain was totally not having it. Someday I will have to go back and try again when my stomach and mind WANT a cookie and it will probably be incredible.

 

When I got home I was about to start crying so I got my bike and left because being in motion helps. I figured it was not okay to be in motion with how little I’d eaten and decided I already had a Panera order memorized and might as well go there…unfortunately, it was towards the end of the day, and by evening Panera starts running out of things. I am so thankful for the caring cashier. I had two orders memorized in my head in case of things being out, but I could see that both orders were missing items. I was really struggling with words to order something else. The cashier could tell that I wanted to order something from the display and suggested an item. I had no idea what he was even suggesting, but was so thankful to have the ordering process done that I would have said yes even if he’d suggested tuna with ranch dip (yuck and yuck!!)…but he said the word chocolate so I figured it would be fine. It wasn’t nearly as many calories as plan A and it wasn’t a good deal or anything, but it got food into a bag and that was the goal.

 

I started biking home and realized I had a problem. I really wanted to bike into the intersection against the light. I had (have) no desire to live and figured either I’d get an adrenaline rush that might feel good or I might get to die. That was a scary thought so I decided that whether being in motion was helpful or not, it was not safe and I needed to stop…however, it is not safe to stop in the middle of the road and not advisable to stop on the sidewalk and stay there all night so I was conscious of being careful and went home. I made it there before the tears started falling. I have to be okay because a long time ago I said if I wasn’t okay I would get help…and I know that right now seeing a counselor would make it a lot worse…so I have to be okay, not just because it is socially better, but because I don’t want to break my word. The other thing is that stress lets my OCD start coming back. Luckily this time it has been more of an insidious onset than the sudden impossible overwhelm that often comes…but while I am very familiar with identifying germ-related thoughts as OCD versus normal thoughts, I have had less experience in the other OCD arenas that my OCD hasn’t really dwelled in. I know that OCD can cause suicide like thoughts that are really just obsessive intrusive thoughts rather than true suicidal ideation. I really don’t know if the thoughts I was having were a new manifestation of my OCD or if I really am going down a scary path. I guess either way it is something I need to work on…and TBH I am leaning towards identifying it as OCD because the fact that although the desperation stayed but the harm focused thoughts ended in minutes seems to better fit a pattern of harm focused OCD rather than true suicidal ideation.

 

I do not want to be alive, but I do not have any intention to kill myself. Life and death are God’s job, not mine. Only one entity can have control and I need to let it be God. Everyone says that God has a plan for my life and there will be good, but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like it just hurts. The book I was listening to says that we can do anything if we can be in it just 51%. That last 1% above 50% will get us going in the right direction…but I feel like I am stuck more like at the 49 side of 50. I am trying, but I am failing. Today I put on my pants and remembered that earlier this year the button was re-sewn because I was trying to shove my body into this pair of pants that was a little too tight and the button popped off…and now I can get them off without unbuttoning if I want to.

 

If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

 

I thought about sleeping in my hammock last night, but I was crying so hard at bedtime that it didn’t seem like a good idea to go outside. Being with people really helps prevent the crying, but once I am already crying, being out in public doesn’t necessarily help stop the tears.

 

Today is going to be another hard day…but part of it is completely my fault. I still didn’t want to eat or drink anything, but I had a reward on my starbucks account and figured that drinks are the best solution because you can get calories and fluid in at the same time and my opinion on breakfast is that its purpose is calories rather than filling any particular nutritional need, so anything counts. We had a minor problem: the online menu has a caffeine free version of the pumpkin spice Frappuccino, but the menu at the actual store doesn’t. Yes, I do memorize my order but still need to find it on the menu before ordering. Clearly, words are not my specialty and I had already practiced pumpkin spice so I had to make a decision and that decision was to just add the word decaf to the pumpkin spice that was on the menu. Yeah, my body is already telling me that was dumb. I read on the internet once that caffeine binds to calcium so I got some calcium in, and I found some ibuprofen, but a caffeinated drink probably wasn’t my best option. I tried…and if it gets more calories and fluid in than I lose, it is still worth it…and I do LOVE the taste of coffee…to all you people who can have caffeine and don’t have to think about these things, decaf does not mean the same as caffeine free. Coffee shop decaf generally has about 18mg of caffeine per cup. Most homemade coffee has 3 to 18mg of coffee per cup. I think I read somewhere that Folgers instant coffee crystal decaf is the only decaf coffee to have no caffeine at all. So anyway, compare that to the 40-50 mg in the average can of caffeinated pop, and it is still a pretty decent amount of caffeine…I decided that due to the caffeine level it was okay to not finish because my estimate is that I probably got 300 calories, which isn’t so bad for breakfast.

 

Y’all, it really is not fun being sensitive to caffeine. My whole body just aches and I feel super tired and sick…and now I am definitely feeling why I usually only cheat and do coffee in the evening when I can sleep it off. Why do I do these things to myself?! On the positive side, I do feel sick enough that it is numbing some of the pain of the grief…so there is that…this could be a good idea for bedtime to not go to bed in tears…

 

–updated to add this doodle from church…’cause I can’t sit still and listen without something in my hands…and today I was going to cry if I didn’t have a screen in front of me…I feel bad about appearing distracted, but I figure it is better to show up than to be alone…

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Comfort sings a siren tune…bring us back to life in you

(I can’t find the name of this song on the internet and it was months ago that my PCO access was cut off, so I don’t really have a way to find it out…)

 

The week, my church (and the other churches in the network) met at one time in one location as One Church. I was unable to be there, but I am in the process right now of watching the livestream.20170917_133032.jpg  

One good quote so far that I would be remiss to neglect mentioning: We begin with tears.

 

It was a really cool idea, but I’m not so sure that having the four services of my church plus all the services of the other churches all meeting in the same place at the same time was the most thought out option as they talk about how there are people standing and sitting in any open spaces and the pastor joked about how they caused so much traffic that they basically shut down a freeway without even protesting. I love it online though. I am thrilled to see the familiar faces of my church family even if I can’t catch up with them or hug them or anything. And to be honest, as thrilled as I would be to attend in person this morning, I have to admit that the it is very possible that the environment there would have been something that wasn’t good for me…without being there, it is hard to say, but if it is an arena or mall atmosphere then it could easily be too much for me. (And lol, yes I do also attend a church in a mall right now…it makes me miss my other church, because being on the greeting team I could start church with wonderful music (worship team practice), then small group social time, then saying hi to “all the people.” After that depending on how I was feeling I’d either ask someone if I could sit with them, or go upstairs and sit by myself kinda alone. The service happened, and a lot of the time after that I’d be in the volunteer room either journaling or doing homework or basically just using time and/or processing. After that, a lot of people would be gone and with fewer people there I was ready to have some social time or at least smile goodbye to my friends as I left. I miss the people, but I also miss the environment that fostered my ability to communicate).

 

I really like the service. I definitely appreciate that they started by acknowledging that we might not all agree with each other, but that we will respect and listen to each other to be the church to each other. There certainly were people with whom I did not agree, but you know what I do agree with? I agree that every human has value and should be respected. I agree that it is important to listen open-mindedly. I do not have to agree with what you are saying, but I do have to listen and realize that your value as a person is not linked to how appropriate I think your opinion is. Making people feel heard is a priority for me…and if you can’t do that then I don’t think you will really learn the real meaning of community. Community is people who care about each other. Caring about people doesn’t mean agreeing on everything; it means loving on them even when you disagree with them. Like someone said, we need the church to be diverse because we all know a piece of God and we need the people who know the parts that we don’t so we can see the whole picture of God. I loved that…if you only include those who are exactly like you then you will miss the pieces that others hold. You might disagree with 99 or even 99.99% of what someone is saying, but if that last 0.01% is a piece of God that you don’t have then you’ll be missing out if you don’t take the initiative to listen fully. We can’t write people off just ‘cause we disagree.

 

Totally unrelated, but I met the best grocery store employee ever today. I don’t know if this guy is just super helpful or if he somehow noticed that I’d been to the grocery store every day and left empty-handed, or if it was totally random or what, but I was walking down the frozen vegetable aisle and he was like hey can I help you find anything. I answered with what I came for, acknowledging that the shelf was empty. This incredible employee responded that there was more in the back and he’d go get it now…and then he did and he didn’t just fill the shelf and then let me get what I wanted, he got me what I wanted first and THEN set to work re-filling the shelf. That was awesome. I finally had a successful shopping trip.

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Also unrelated, but I discovered this morning that sanitize plus heated dry was maybe a little too much for this lid…yeah, I had a minor freak out last night and ended up staying up late loading the dishwasher and pressing whatever buttons would make it get as clean as possible. I am now thankful that there wasn’t much in the dishwasher so I didn’t destroy more dishes. But look how cute it is…totally nonfunctional, but cute.

I wish I could be so much more

(Broken Things – Matthew West) 

Before I even knew the name of this song, I really liked how it sounded. Now that I know the title, I like it even better. I feel broken sometimes. 

Today (Saturday), I learned something really important. Do NOT paint on both sides of a page in a notebook. It is a good way to wreck three pages of pictures (and/or words, but all there was on the pages I messed up were pictures…)…I suppose an alternative is not to use water soluble colors on your pages…I learned that painting this picture…which was also frustrating because it isn’t anything like the picture inside my head.

 

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Castle (grace) with gate. Girl, sad, standing forlorn behind gate. Standing in a puddle of tears.

Anyway, I certainly do wish I could be so much more. There are so many ways that I look at myself and feel frustrated about how I am not good enough. I am trying really hard to reframe these things, but the reality is that there are a lot of things that have been hard in my life, and that colors my experience. Someone recently commented that some people think their stories are boring, but other people wish they had that kind of story. I really connected with that idea. I would be thrilled to have a boring story. My story is more like rollercoaster meets tangled up ball of yarn meets train wreck. I don’t want all that “excitement.” I didn’t want to be separated from everything and everyone I knew to go to a new church part way through high school…especially not a church where there wasn’t a choice what class I wanted to take and my assigned class was a clique that didn’t include me. I didn’t want to be abused in college…and I definitely didn’t want to be forbidden from talking about it or letting anyone know that I couldn’t talk about it. I didn’t want to end up at the end of school without a residency. I didn’t want to lose my job…I would be thrilled to have all these things taken out of my life. Boring would be so much better.

But I decided this morning (Friday) I am ready to hope again. Not a lot, just a little, but that is a really big, really scary, step forward. Hope is terrifying. Hope means opening yourself to vulnerability that can allow deeper hurt. When you’ve been living with deep grief for months and have been fighting to get through day by day, allowing the possibility of further hurt is one of the scariest choices you can make…but it is also something I know is probably really important to really healing.

There are a lot of things about my life that have made the grief more devastating already. It wasn’t *just* the loss of everything I had wanted and planned and it wasn’t even totally about being in an unknown. A big part of the loss was that it made me feel unwanted, rejected, alone, worthless, like a failure – the same things that had been drilled into my brain via the abuse. I had worked through some of that stuff before, but this situation was so difficult that I believed those lies were true. It didn’t seem like a feeling anymore; it felt like truth. It felt like identity. It made me think that maybe instead of abuse it was just someone being brave enough to tell me the truth – that I really don’t matter and would never be worth anything no matter how hard I tried. I know now that isn’t true, but it has definitely been a journey coming to this place of understanding, and even though I am here today it doesn’t mean I will feel the same way tomorrow. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was good enough and instead it felt like I did the opposite; I showed everyone how unwanted and worthless and stupid I really was. 

But I am not a worthless failure. Sure, I have lost almost everything that mattered to me, but all is not lost. The same day I hit send on an email to my best friend that I knew I so desperately needed a friend but I don’t really know how to make them without a place to volunteer and I have neither a place to volunteer nor a schedule that lends itself well to volunteering…and not only that, but no one would want to be friends with me while I am struggling so hard to make it and therefore even less of a good friend, God sent someone to be my friend. That is huge. That is God showing me that I really am good enough at communicating to make friends. That is God showing me I am worthy of community. That is God showing me that I do matter to him. 

It doesn’t mean that life magically became awesome though. It is still hard, and I can still definitely tell that I am working harder than I should be to get through each day. For example, yesterday (Friday), I went to the grocery store because I had maybe like a tablespoon of frozen peas left and then would be out of vegetables and the only fruit I’ve had in weeks was juice…but the grocery store was out of the bags of frozen peas that I was going to buy, so I got overwhelmed and gave up and went back home…yeah…I am not so stupid that I couldn’t figure out that there are other vegetables or other brands I could buy, but in that moment the one thing I needed to get done just seemed impossible and there didn’t feel like there were alternatives…this is what happens when so much brain space is taken with struggling that there isn’t space left for processing and responding to practical situations…so I’ll go to the store today and try again…or maybe I’ll find an ATM and then try the farmers market…or maybe I’ll order a pizza and call it a day…we’ll see…like the song Piece of Heaven by Go Fish says, “sometimes it’s hard; sometimes it’s the middle of the night.” I’m learning to give myself grace and celebrate the successes in this period of grief, because being angry with myself was adaptive at first to get food and fluids in and keep going through the motions, but now I am doing well enough that anger just uses up energy that could have been used for something else…and energy is certainly at a premium…it’s not as bad as it was in March/April, but it definitely is still something that isn’t completely back to baseline. 

Y’wanna know what excess stress sometimes causes in my life? OCD resurgences. Right now, it luckily has not reached crisis mode, but there are definitely some thoughts in my mind that shouldn’t be there. I’m scared of the world because I read a news article about enterovirus D68 and how it is causing a lot of respiratory illness this year, and I also read that the flu is predicted to be worse than usual this year…not is worse, just predicted to be worse…and that was one more reason to not travel over my birthday weekend.

 I hadn’t announced it yet, but I was strongly considering road-tripping over my birthday weekend to say hi to friends, especially since I didn’t go over labor day weekend like I originally planned. If I was going to go, this weekend was the cutoff I set for myself to ensure that I had enough time to plan and let friends know I was coming. And so today I decided the answer is no. I want to explain it away as being a combination of little things that make it not the greatest time to go, but if I am being really honest with myself, it is mostly that I feel like no one really wants to see me and would just be inconveniencing themselves to be polite to me by trying to make me feel welcome. I know that is not true, but knowing and feeling are different. If I were having an awesome day today, the story would probably be different and I’d probably excitedly be packing my bags way too far in advance…but the story my life is writing right now is one of being so used to rejection that I can reject myself before anyone else does to save them the time and me the pain of being rejected. It has been really hard because of some things I have seen on facebook. In March and April it was sometimes really hard to be on facebook because everyone was announcing how excited and hashtag blessed they were getting their first choice for residency. Their excitement at getting something I could not even have a tiny piece of was in painful contrast to the sorrow that swallowed up my world. As much as I wanted to be happy for them, it hurt and was a reminder of what I didn’t have…and the whole hashtag blessed thing was really bad for me. I didn’t really believe God was good and I didn’t really believe God cared anymore. I guess I had a pretty skewed view of God through the lenses of my pain, but from my view, if being blessed meant having a residency then clearly I was not blessed and God didn’t really care about me. No one wanted me, not even God. It was painful. It still is painful. 

Now people have started complaining on facebook about their residencies. Oh, how I would LOVE to have a residency to complain about. I would do almost anything to be in their places. I did everything in my power to get myself a residency. I paid application fee after application fee. I traveled to interview after interview. I prepped and interviewed and prepped and interviewed. I tried so hard, and no one wanted me. They just wanted to use up my time energy and money so they could crush me later. It might have been easier to be rejected upfront and not be driving all over the place and buying plane tickets and staying at hotels and airBnB’s than to be given the illusion of opportunity and be strung along. They didn’t care about me, they only cared about themselves and their own enjoyment laughing about me later…okay, so maybe that isn’t exactly what they were going to do, but after the large number of residencies I applied for and interviewed for and was told I was a strong candidate for just to still not have a residency, it sure does feel like perhaps their goal really was to see how high they could get me in order to see how crushed they could get me later. No one wants me. Especially when the whining is all stuff like OMG they made me work the 9-5:30 shift on Friday and it is not fair because I wanted to get out of work sooner to hang out with my friends. I just want to comment look at how blessed you are to have a residency. You should be thankful. There are a lot of people who would be thrilled to be in your shoes and would gladly work 9-5:30 and wait a little longer to see their friends if it meant having a residency. 

Anyway, speaking of facebook, it is often a place where I have to remember that I don’t need to agree with people to be friends with them. It seems that recently a lot of Christian’s have forgotten the command to respect those in authority over you. Even bashing people who kind of deserve it sometimes bothers me because I know how it feels to be bullied and excluded and don’t want anyone else to feel like that, but bashing people who are doing everything they can to advance society, keep us safe, and protect justice is something appalling to me. It has been rampant on facebook people bashing other people and talking about how wrong they are and how unfair it is. Unless you were at the scene of the crime, you do not know what happened. And a jury is for the benefit of the defendant. If the defendant does not feel he (or she) needs a jury then it is perfectly legal to forego that right. The evidence that I have seen does clearly point to innocence. While I am the kind of person who would be more likely to let someone beat me up than to fight back and defend myself, police officers certainly have the right to use force when necessary to protect themselves from a real threat. Someone reaching for a gun is a real threat. People are even speaking as representatives of the church bashing authority. I don’t think God said that we should respect those in authority over us unless they acquit someone the media portrayed as guilty. I am pretty darn sure that last half of the phrase wasn’t in the Bible last time I checked. And someone posted a long story about how the police are so awful. He describes going into a park after it was closed and the police coming and questioning him and his friends before letting them go. He repeated over and over how they weren’t doing anything wrong, but the police acted like they were being kind by giving only a verbal warning not to do it again…my thought is no, the police are not so awful; you were breaking the law and they could have imposed fines or written you up, but instead chose to show you grace by letting you walk away free…and the way you reward their kindness is by bashing them on the internet. 

We live in a strange political climate right now. That strange climate is one of the reasons I have given myself as a “real” reason not to travel. Because my license expires on my birthday, to travel then, I would be traveling on a temporary license. In this political climate, it is not very safe to be white in St. Louis. To be white is to have a target on your back that says protesters, please attack me. I firmly believe that rioting is NOT an appropriate way to express your opinion. If you can express yourself using your big boy or big girl words then go for it, but to use violence to express yourself is wrong. I don’t understand how you can claim racism if a white police officer shoots a black person who was threatening him (or her), but think it is okay and not racist for a group of black people to vandalize an innocent white person’s home and injure multiple innocent white police officers who are simply doing their job of trying to keep EVERYONE safe. That is disgusting. Y’all, we learn in elementary school that humans are different from other animals because we work together to accomplish great things. If you are gonna act like toddlers and throw a tantrum when you don’t get a cookie you didn’t earn, then maybe you need a reminder of what makes us human. So yeah…driving through St. Louis as a white person sounded like a bad idea if it wasn’t necessary, and doing it on a temporary license sounded like asking for trouble…it might be better to wait until people screw their heads back on a little straighter before I go. It seems like the more news I read, the more ashamed I feel of the people I share the world with…

 

I had some other things to say, but I feel like I’ve probably already said too much…

 

So I’ll leave you with this incredible youtube video from Inside Out