Category Archives: SP

I’m fine. But I know it’s a lie…hug me with your arms so I know you know

(The Last Night – Skillet)

TOTALLY UNEDITED EXCEPT FOR THE ADDITION OF THIS PARAGRAPH…Don’t judge and if you are concerned then please let me know. Kthxbye.

I’m trying really hard, but grief is hard, and like I heard somewhere recently, grief cannot be rushed. It takes its time. I had a fine Sunday morning – plenty of kids, a little chaos. In the afternoon I drove to my new apartment. And the low tire pressure light came on partway there. I really didn’t need any more stress in my life. I was just about ready to stop right there and give up on life. But life doesn’t work like that. Instead I called my dad to discuss whether this was really important since it didn’t feel like the tire was flat. His suggestion was to pull over and look at the tires, but I was in the left lane and didn’t really want to get over and not be able to get back over when I needed to turn…and if I stopped and there was a problem, you have to know where you are when you call roadside assistance…so I didn’t stop. Then I was somewhere I totally could have stopped but having already driven another 25 or more miles I figured if there were a real big problem I would have figured it out by then so I kept going. I made it to my apartment building and the stupid garage door opener wouldn’t work. I sat there trying and driving forward and backward trying to get it to work for at least 10 minutes…likely longer…before giving up. At this point I was way frustrated. I got out and all the tires looked fine. I started working on getting things out of my car and when I walked in and saw smiling strangers who were friends with each other in the hallway, I guess that was all that I could take. As soon as I was alone I was crying.

 

I was crying my frustration at the day’s events. I was crying my grief over the loss of my dream job, dream life. I was crying my loneliness of leaving behind so many friends. I was crying my inadequacy of not really knowing how to make new friends. So many reasons I was crying and probably more I am currently leaving out…this isn’t where I want to be. This isn’t how life was supposed to turn out. Years ago, I vowed that after graduation I was never living in an apartment again. Now I am back in an apartment, and yes, it is probably not helped by my negativity, but I am not happy with it. My parents kinda made me buy a TV because I have free TV service here…or I am supposed to. I called the TV service provider because it wasn’t working and they said the property manager needs to call them. I called the property manager and explained the situation. I still don’t have TV service. There is paint on the floor, in the bathtub, in the dishwasher. It was insanely dusty and dirty when I moved in. There are no keys to the door in the apartment and the scan tag locks are really frustrating. I am not that great at using keys, but would probably have an easier time with a key so that is definitely saying something. There are dimmers all over the apartment except not in my bedroom and I always sleep with lights but don’t want to waste the electricity of using the entire light fixture.

 

I am not moved in, really. It looks like I am, but in reality I stopped putting things away and just started piling things up in the closets and drawers – and did the same with the stuff I didn’t have time to pack at home. With closets with only a single shelf I don’t know how to put away all my things.

 

The first day at work was also hard.

 

Someone came and talked about he “just fell into” working at this hospital system. He talked about how the match works and how he originally put some place I don’t remember as his first choice, but a week before rank lists were due changed his mind and put this place first and then ended up at his first choice. That was a really painful story to hear. Such a contrast from my own. The difference seemed to accentuate my failure and my pain. My first choice wasn’t a last minute decision; it was a life-long desire. My match day was not met with excitement of obtaining my first choice; it was filled with sorrow…and then there was phase II with another failure. And the scramble: fail. And the job search where I continued to mostly be ignored and also have failure for the most part. I doodled on my doodle page and prayed no one would notice my tears.

 

I am strong, but not that strong. Sometimes the pain is more than I can take. We did a wellness worksheet. After ranking our wellness on a circle chart we were asked how well our wheel would roll on a bike or car. I answered “it wouldn’t.” I couldn’t help but note that while my wheel approximated a half-circle, that while the exercise was designed to show that you needed wellness is all areas of life that in reality if I were completely devastated in all areas of life then my wheel would theoretically be round and roll well…not sayin’ just sayin’.

 

I try so hard just to continue to live with this pain. I would be thrilled for the world to end and God to come back. This is more than I can take. And just to bring it home that I have absolutely no control in life, OCD struck on Sunday. It was super dumb, because in the morning I was able to handle a kid who climbed on the toilet like a monkey and stuck is hand in the water after using the toilet (oh the joys of potty training) and a kid who stuck his hand in his poopy diaper and was pretty much fine…and then I sat on the couch at home that was vomited on when I was in elementary school and was in a bad anxiety attack. On the positive side, I am super proud of how I handled it, but on the negative side, I am really frustrated that OCD can still own me so easily. I wanted so badly to strip off all my clothes, shower with excessive soap, put on clean clothes, and sanitize all the dirty clothes and spray lysol in the air to get rid of some of the airborne germs and clean the floor where the clothes sat while I showered. I could have washed in steaming hot water until the anxiety died down enough to at least kinda sorta think logically and go on with life. Instead, I forced myself to keep sitting there. So I sat, wanting so badly to hold my breath and run away. And of course because abuse infiltrates a lot of aspects of my life, I then remembered vividly my first exposure with my abuser when as I was trying to calm down she saw a vulnerability and started talking about how her previous clients had thrown up (probably my worst fear, as she knew). You may say that sounds like appropriate exposure therapy, but I need you to believe me that it certainly was not. I knew and she knew that the exposure I had just done was right at the tip of what I could safely handle. I knew and she knew that talking about vomit was something that at that point in my life would certainly cause excessive disruption to my life. She did this right before times up on the session. So yeah, anyway, one more thing to increase the anxiety from an 11 out of 10 to a 12. But I continued to sit there because years of doing hard things growing up socially anxious with a bold mom who didn’t get it taught me how to survive and the psychology I know tells me that avoidance won’t make it better, but doing hard things might. So I sat there and eventually I was able to calm down enough to realize that it was really dumb to be so upset when it had been so long ago that any germs had almost certainly transferred to the entire house including my room by this point and if I was going to get sick from them I already would have. The great thing about OCD recovery though is that by an hour later the event was virtually forgotten.

 

Speaking of germs though…four out of five guys wash their hands after using the bathroom. Someone should really talk to that fifth guy.

 

I was supposed to go to the lab today. I didn’t. Getting to the lab was scary…knowing what to say when I got there was scary. It was more than I wanted to take on and I decided I wasn’t doing it. I know tomorrow is the very last day I can put it off and I am scared. TBH, right now thinking about it I am so scared that I barely feel the pain of grief except that I wouldn’t have to do this if it weren’t for this new job that wasn’t what I wanted. One of the labs they want is one that is very hard for me. I cried and got alternatives at my doctor office at home, but that isn’t an option here. I’ve already had to do it once for this job and now they want it again. It is extremely uncomfortable physically and emotionally for me. Because it is so stressful, I almost cried at my last employee health visit where I had to do it. The first person I talked to said I could interrupt at any time to do it. Being very polite I didn’t want to interrupt, but eventually I was not listening at all anymore and was at my limit and wanted it to be done and said I wanted to go get it over with and it was like 20 questions. Are you sure? We’re almost done here you could wait? Wouldn’t you rather do it later? I was working so hard to hold back tears because no, I was so overwhelmed at this point that I was going to be a crying mess on the floor if it wasn’t over soon. I think the nurse must have eventually understood the desperation in my harsh reply that I just wanted to get it over with and gave in. If I could, there is a lot I would do to not have to do this. I seriously think I would be willing to pay as much as $100 to not do it. In fact, I might be willing to give even more than that if asked as long as it wasn’t going to be a constant thing they were going to want from me. My happiness is worth something.

 

I am working really hard though. I may not have eaten dinner yesterday, and lunch today was really more like a snack because the food was supposed to be provided but the food was so far outside of an acceptable food for me that I had to force myself to even take one bite before throwing away my plate. Yuck. I’m sorry, but it was worse than when SAA ordered Jimmy Johns. They may not have figured out that not everyone likes mayo either, but at least with a jimmy john’s sandwich the mayo is to one side so you can get it out and still have a functional sandwich. The same was not true of these sandwiches. They were drenched in mayo all over from top to bottom. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. Yes, this is stimulus generalization and not a good way to handle my frustration, but as an adult, it is not appropriate to whine that I just wanted a normal sandwich and to not have to eat just the snacks (that I always come prepared with) for lunch. After how nice the person was that told me on Friday about lunch was, I expected something edible and even my snacks weren’t really an appropriate substitute.

 

Luckily starting tomorrow I am in charge of my own lunch and will pack something suitable…I am definitely currently using sugar as emotional currency…and calorie currency…but you gotta do what you gotta do to get through the day.

 

I hope God comes back tonight. I don’t want to go to the lab tomorrow and I am tired of all this pain and I am physically sore (even minimum necessary was more child lifting than I should have been doing and I am back to it hurting just to breathe) and I just want to be done with all this. Then the lyrics of this song would be more true “you say that this will be the last night feeling like this. Just came to say goodbye. Didn’t want you to see me cry.”….but I absolutely love the lyrics of this song…very true of me – I claim I am fine. I am always fine. Especially when I am not. I don’t necessarily see it as a lie because my heart is still pumping oxygenated blood, but I suppose it kind of is, because my emotional lifeblood is pretty much at 1% oxygen saturation completely depriving me of the ability to experience joy in life 99% of the time. Maybe it is time to be honest with everyone including myself. I am not okay. But that isn’t socially appropriate and I work so hard every day at creating socially appropriate communication.

They won’t like me like they did

(lecrae- identity)

I am supposed to be excited to interview at seven out of the nine places I applied, but I’m not; I’m dreading it. It seems so pointless. I am told that the reason places bring you onsite for an interview is to find out how you fit into the culture and community at their facility. That’s all well and good, but no one wants the girl who doesn’t talk. The girl who doesn’t talk doesn’t really fit in anywhere.

I try to think realistically. I know I have grown a LOT. I might look like a middle schooler, but I am no longer the high school kid with very few friends counting a friend as someone she might be able to say hi to maybe 50% of the time if confronted face to face in the hallway. I am not the first year getting high fives and congratulations for saying hi to my friends when I see them. I am not the second year going everywhere with a laptop to type out the parts of conversation that can’t be answered with nodding and pointing.

…but I still think of myself that way. It has always bothered me when people called me the quiet girl as if that were my only identity or even worse “quiet girl” as if that were my name, but that label sunk in deep enough that I still think of myself that way. I have made a lot of progress since then, but I do still frequently think about how to communicate potential needs without spoken words.

Those thoughts, while sometimes absent-minded brain games, are sometimes legitimate preparation even now. Sure, most of the time I am now a chatterbox that people wish had an off switch, and most of the time I can communicate verbally in such a way that no one needs to know that this isn’t how it always was, but not always, and an interview situation is different.

First, an interview is a high stress situation. High stress situations are the situations in which I am most likely to lose the ability to form coherent words. It isn’t cool when “tell me about yourself” is met with a blank stare or when “what is a strength you have” is met with a deer in the headlights.

Second, I have been observing conversation for years to learn patterns and scripting, and am getting better and better at applying what I have learned to new situations so that at this point I seem like a competent conversationalist most of the time. Unfortunately, interviews are not something I have had much of an opportunity to observe…let’s see, I had an interview-ish conversation in middle school when I was getting my first job, but in reality, the boss asked me to apply for the job and the interview was mostly just me filling out the application and getting the information I needed for my first day. I also had an interview at a university I did not attend. That one was a real-ish interview, but was a super fail. Umm, so the person interviewing me was apparently an English professor. She spent the entire time questioning me about one event that I had put on. She seemed to be trying to get some kind of information out of me, but clearly I was getting the answers wrong, because she just kept asking the same questions over and over despite my attempts at answering. The only other interview I’ve had was at school for the interview into third year. That one they gave us the questions in advance, I wrote answers and memorized said answers to regurgitate in the interview. It was scary because as a first year I was told there was no reason for me to even be in school because I was just going to fail the interview into third year anyway. As it turns out, I wasn’t good at interviewing, but if you showed up you automatically passed, and I might be lousy at interviewing, but I am good at showing up.

All that to say, I feel like they aren’t going to want real me. I admit that paper me sounds like a reasonable candidate – okay grades, involved, excited, good references – but, I don’t think that the people who liked paper me will be interested in real me. Who needs a girl who shuts down in interviews? For all they will know, shut down really is my constant state of being.

One of my awesome friends reassured me that confidence and eye contact are really the most important…which I mean is a good reminder that what I say isn’t as important as that I say SOMETHING (which given my history, even saying something is an accomplishment), but it is also scary, because the two things I get the most constructive criticism on are eye contact and confidence. I try really hard, and my preceptors tell me that I have made a LOT of progress (or at least the ones who have seen me present more than once)…and a lot of progress each rotation times five completed rotations is definitely something I should be proud of, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I don’t think anyone is going to want me. I hope someone is going to be willing to take a chance on me, but I feel like they’d probably rather have someone who can consistently communicate and do it well…and when you get a choice, why go second class?

I feel like I am going to have spent all this time and money and all I’m going to get in exchange is the knowledge that I wasn’t enough. I was actually thinking today that maybe I wasn’t too far off thinking I could take a year off and work at McDonalds or Caribou if I didn’t match. Besides the yummy food, those are two jobs in which I would be forced to have constant communication time. Being in pharmacy has pushed me into part time communication, but even then I often get breaks to do things that get me away from direct communication for a little while, which I’m guessing doesn’t happen quite so much in the food service industry.

hand up worries down

(love and the outcome—God I know)

BTW, I LOVE this song right now.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Who I am is moving on

(Josh Wilson—No More)

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

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

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

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

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

And the last words you’ll hear tonight will be ‘I love you.’ Love takes us all of a lifetime to tell

(For he grants sleep to those he loves—Michael Card)

(written at church as an excuse to stay where I feel loved a little longer…posted at home after using the drive time to make sure I wasn’t posting something that was going to get me into trouble later)

I’m not as think as you dumb I am…lol

So last night I wrote on my to do list, “directions.” This morning I saw that and was like no problem, I totally know where I am going, I probably just was super tired and needed to remind myself to bring my directions notebook to my car in case I need it.

Lol, story of my life, as it turns out, I remembered why that was on my list about the same time that I noticed the “road closed” sign. Oh no…so yeah…and that is how I got lost…and how I ended up running down the sidewalks as I realized that I had parked a mile away from where I was currently sitting and could not apparate into the drivers seat…

Luckily, I miscalculated how long it took to get to church from where I was parked, and it worked out. All is well that ends well.

Except, now I should leave church, but leaving is hard because I have friends Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday, but Sunday and Monday and Wednesday and Friday I am alone. I know that changes starting tomorrow, but that is more stressful than a relief of stress, because I tried really hard to be an adventurous eater, but the most adventurous I got was mandarin oranges. And even that was still a challenge as of last week when I was eating them not to cringe each time one went in my mouth.

And then in a week I will be driving to another state where there aren’t any days that I have friends.

I get to have a million friends here at church, and I never want to leave, because I go home to no friends.

In the past, I was still going home alone but it was a needed break after having friend time all day 6 days of the week and I was totally ready to go home and have Sunday all to myself. But then I became a big girl who doesn’t spend all her time at school anymore. I don’t like the real world. Actually, I probably do like the real world—I don’t like moving every five weeks and therefore not having friends at the place I spend most of my time. I miss going to work in the morning and having a million friends there and stuff.

Finally, two quotes that have been sitting on my list of ideas for a while.

“It’s like being on the 100th floor of a building with only stairs and needing to sign an important document. The problem is, all the pens are on the first floor. You know you need a pen, and you know how to use one, but when you’re up at the top, it’s difficult for you the access the pen and therefore, the skill of using it.”

I love this quote. I can’t remember where I found it or to what it was originally referring. I love the analogy. It is so true that sometimes I have the skills and knowledge but not the ability to use them. There are a lot of directions I could go with this. I think the biggest one that I run into on an unfortunately somewhat regular basis is in the arena of communication. Because I was a little late to the game in learning these things, a lot of the time I am completely at a loss as to how to handle things that are in that arena. I studied really hard on the mechanistics of conversation, but studying for one, didn’t tell me the details that I really needed, and two, flies out the window when I am faced with a situation that feels over my head, because I can’t really take five minutes working on my “correct response” to a friend’s wave or conversational comment. A lot of the time once the instance of needing to respond right now is over, I know exactly what the right thing to do would have been, but in the moment I was on the 100th floor, and the pen was on the first floor. I didn’t know how to get myself there.

“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”

This quote was channeled from Kati Morton youtube’s best online therapist and just a really awesome and caring person whom I would love to meet in person some day…not in the context of therapy, but she is actually awesome enough that I could probably feel safe in therapy with her without a warm up period to make sure she wasn’t another one out to hurt me. She got the quote from Mark Suster who has adult ADHD. And probably child ADHD he just didn’t know about it yet.

Oh yeah. I hate the term damaged people. I just think it sounds kind of derogatory. Damaged things get discounted because they aren’t worth as much—no one will pay full price for damaged goods. The pain in my life doesn’t make me worth any less than anyone else. Being hurt deeply by someone doesn’t mean that I deserved it or was less than in any way. Fighting my way out of severe OCD, and social anxiety that bordered on selective mutism means that I do some things a little differently in life, but different isn’t wrong. Experiencing how people responded to the girl who was often on the sidelines but not often by choice gave me a lot of opportunity to learn how to do the same for others. I might not reach everyone, but I can reach someone. Like that starfish story, I might not be able to make a difference for each of the millions of people who need someone, each one counts. “It made a difference for that one.”

So anyway, the point is, at first I looked at that and was like, what?! As I thought about it, it is true. I totally do know that I can survive. I can’t be destroyed by hurtful words and actions or other adversity because I know I have made it through some pretty tough stuff (things way worse than anxiety disorders). I know I can survive. Bravery isn’t not being scared, it is doing it, scared. Because I know I can, I have developed tenacity and resilience. I still see more trees than forests, but I know when I see the tree that a forest is out there. Lol, speaking of forests and trees, I can recognize first that my rows of straightened chairs have a little zig and zag in them, but I can also recognize that when I walk into church I absolutely do not notice the chairs that aren’t quite straight until I see someone straightening them, because I don’t come to church for the chairs, I come to church for the people and to worship my wonderful Father. Doesn’t mean the church should look like a tornado came through, because in the eyes of a visitor that would probably be super confusing, but also doesn’t mean that I am a failure of a volunteer because I can’t make the chairs look perfect like everyone else does.

They walked right through the door

(Noah took the animals two-by-two—the Donut repair club at the zoo)

On Friday my family got fast food for dinner. My parents were proud of me because I went into the restaurant when they got stuff wrong in the drive through. It is really cool, because I am so far removed from my years of silence that I didn’t understand at first what I did for them to be proud of me. Just a few years ago I would have cried and screamed until I got out of it if I was asked to go in. Now I don’t even really think twice. I just do it. It isn’t even the yummy food motivating me…it is just doing the right thing. I might be a little shy sometimes despite my extraversion, but speaking isn’t something that terrifies me anymore. I am still sometimes a communication avoider when I am overwhelmed, but for the most part, no one can even tell if they didn’t know me then that I ever wasn’t loud in most situations. Now I can talk to anyone, not just a few words sprinkled here and there with my closest friends. Starting with writing has helped me learn to use language, and now I can use language both written and oral. I feel like I can connect with people so much better now that I can use words because I am not limited to only the people who have the patience to sit with me until I can speak to them. I was independent before because I didn’t know very well how to get people on my team. I am independent now because I can do more things all by myself. It is less stressful this way.

Where there is a will, there is almost always a way. On yesterday that will was for ice cream, and that way was…umm…well, I expected there to be a bike rack outside Culvers. There wasn’t. My plan B was to park my bike at the pretty building across the street. I was like 99% sure there was a bike rack there. I was 99% wrong. So after looping around the block a few times I thought about going to the doctors office a few blocks away to park my bike…’cause I mean doctors want you to be active, right? Except if I parked my bike there it would be farther than I wanted to walk to get my ice cream and come back…so I found a light pole to lock my bike to…the lock might not have really fit on the right way, and it may not have been 100% legal, but I got my ice cream and my bike was still there when I came back outside…

Total side note, but the really pretty building says in big print on the outside “mental health clinic.” The majority of the walls of the building are windows without any kind of window coverings. That seems like an interesting structural design. There are definitely some times (especially with certain people) that the distraction of a window would have been highly welcomed to pull my mind away from difficult things…and I definitely asked a certain person a few times to please leave the blinds open and my request was denied…but sometimes having windows isn’t such a good thing. Sometimes counseling requires having a serious conversation—as in one not interrupted by my outburst about the pretty leaf I just saw outside…and having a serious conversation is highly hindered by attempting to have it in front of a window—hello distraction. Hi person walking a dog. Hi red car. Hi fuzzy bunny. Lol…I’ve never actually been inside the building, so maybe it is just waiting spaces around the perimeter of the building and all the real room are in the middle…IDK…the designer clearly didn’t consult me when she or he designed the building…

The Lesson That’s Won Learning

(Let’s have  a Race–Thomas& Friends)

A long time ago I had a really awesome coworker (actually I still have a really awesome coworker, more than one of them in fact, just not that particular awesome coworker) who would turn around, close her eyes, and say “I love my job I love my job I love my job” when she had to deal with something going wrong. I still remember that sometimes when things are going wrong in life…I love my life I love my life I love my life…

If things outside of academics could just go away while I was taking finals that would be awesome…

Or just not taking finals would be cool by me too…

And I wouldn’t complain about an open-note, open-partner final…

Also, after being in college for almost 5 years, I think in 50 minute hours…so when you say something will last an hour and starts at 4:30, for example, my automatic mindset is to expect I will walk out around 5:20…it takes conscious adjustment to realize that in the real world, an hour generally means SIXTY minutes…that is something I will miss in the real world when almost everything is measured in 60 minute hours rather than school where most hours are the 50 minute variety with a ten minute grace period to get to the next event/class/meeting…it greatly decreases how much you can schedule in your day when an hour takes an entire 60 minutes…

Also, I was doing homework Thursday and literally LOL’ed…so I was calculating ICER values to determine the relative usefulness of various things, and according to the homework assignment the monthly cost for counseling was $100. Wow…I’m not even sure in what alternative universe that question was designed…also, you know the author’s stance on counseling when medication costs half as much for the total duration of therapy and is twice as effective in the question…

Yesterday I discovered that two of Anne Jackson/Anne Marie Miller/Flowerdust’s books are on Hoopla which is the app I use for listening to audiobooks. I started listening to “Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace” yesterday…obviously doing the audiobook rather than the ebook or the actual physical book means I only get the essays, not the art, but there are so many wonderful quotes. I kinda want to do another book review but I definitely have no time for that since my most important final is in just a couple more days and also it doesn’t feel fair to review a book with art without seeing the art, and I mean, yeah, I saw most of the art online during the submission time before Anne changed her blog and got rid of the old one yet again, but that was a very long time ago…so one quote that I really connected with. “We use the F-word: fine. Everything in life is fine. But it’s not. And guess what, it is okay that not everything in life is fine. In fact, it is okay that quite possibly in your life right now, nothing is fine at all.” I tend to use that f-word, and the associated G-word (good). I started justifying it, because, I mean, my heart is still pumping oxygenated blood and my limbs are still all attached—I am so blessed. I guess sometimes it is just hard to admit that I can be both very broken and hurting yet still so blessed and loved. God really provides every day. I showed up at school Saturday with a bagel but no lunch box. Someone noticed and had enough money in her meal plan to get me some food. I had mini-cupcakes, cookies, and a few handfuls of puffcorn for dinner. Later I went to a goodbye party and there was actually real food there which was also super helpful.

Saying goodbye is really hard though. Not because of the words and my socially anxious history, but because I have learned to hold on to people and have real relationships, and saying goodbye means people leaving my life. I only had maybe two people at the point I graduated high school that saying goodbye to would have been hard—but I didn’t really have to, because I we all knew I would be coming back. There had been a couple people prior to that it had been hard to say goodbye to, but for the most part I really only had circumstantial friends. If someone sat at the desk next to mine they were my friend. If someone let me sit with them at lunch regularly, they were my friend. When the trimester ended and they weren’t next to me or letting me sit with them at lunch, then the relationship was over. I learned more about real relationships in college…and was surrounded by a lot of the same people for at least a year if not more than a year to make it easier to learn to hold on to them. I don’t want to let go of all my friends, but gradually they, too, leave. I miss people, but life goes on. I go on.

 

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I am a yes-girl. I say yes a lot…which is how I have spent a lot of time recently driving people places…I mean, I am the person who agreed to take some kid whose name I didn’t even know to some random store one day…as it turns out he came back an hour later and had decided he didn’t need to go to the store…but I did say no once Sunday…that I wouldn’t hang out before my final. I was super proud of myself. It makes me REALLY happy to make other people happy, but sometimes I need to say no and protect little pieces of myself from the world.

I am also proud of myself because despite the fact that I usually feel more comfortable hanging out with the kids I remained with the adults the entire evening instead of excusing myself to play with the kids and totally neglect the whole party thing. Not that I’ve ever totally missed the whole party thing before…oh wait…yeah, I did skip the entire TA Christmas party this year, opting to play with the kids instead. I am not proud, however, that the little bit of anxiety that has crept back into my life meant that I wanted to take selfies, but didn’t.

I already wrote part of this post last week and forgot to post it, then I wrote notes on what I wanted to write about in the like two minute down time I had Saturday. I have no idea what half of my notes mean.

How you know it is time to start getting ready for bed despite the clock not telling you to start thinking about bedtime: when you start getting obnoxiously whiney at yourself about wanting to wear the fireworks t-shirt that is definitely not among your pile of clean clothes OR in the laundry basket…and is probably, but not necessarily, in a stack of clean clothes at home a few states away…I sure hope it didn’t end up in the giveaway pile a while back when my mom was letting me use my shirts to buy rewards because she wanted me to give a lot of them away and I refused…but probably it wasn’t in that pile, because it is one of my vacation souvenir shirts…I mean, yeah, it was partly stress, but it was definitely also a sleep issue, especially because I woke up still stressed out but not whiney over which shirts were available for wearing.

I should probably stop here before I get too whiny or say too much and regret it later…but I have so much to say.

Sitting on top of the World

(I have no idea who the song is by…but I think it is called “get up”)

So yeah, God has a great way of creating a plan B (or whatever letter of the alphabet we end up on…sometimes it isn’t what I wanted/expected, but other times it is SO much better than my plan…

Like last night. I had this idea that there was someone I wanted to talk to so I was going to hang out in the auditorium and pray this person was there before someone else I was afraid might be there as well. The plan was have a short conversation and hopefully get outta there without seeing person number two…the chances of this working the way it worked in my head were at about 50-50…My plan B was so insane and intricate that there is no point writing about it, because there was only a marginal chance it would even work.

God had a wonderful Plan C. I went to the auditorium and there were already people there…one of whom being the person to whom I wanted to talk! Score! The people in the room were already talking, however, and re-conquering anxiety isn’t on my to-do list until today and tomorrow…so the whole talk thing didn’t happen, but my written communication skills and the verbal skills I had left that late in the day let me communicate briefly…and that worked super well because then I was out of the entire building long before there person number two ever would have been there…

Then one of my friends wanted to hang out. The plan was to talk but she needed dinner so we went out for her to eat and me to keep her company…The agreement was also that I would go but only if I could be back no later than 8:45 and preferably 8:30 because I didn’t want another insanely late night. That didn’t happen. Neither of us can understand how in a fast food restaurant with a couple other customers it can take 45 minutes just to get food…not to mention the wait to order. So, umm, yeah, my friend felt bad and rushed as fast as she could, but we didn’t get back to school until after 9:30, which means it was almost 10 by the time I got home…but on the positive side, distress tolerance is going to be super helpful for my weekend plans. I don’t know what it was about the restaurant, for that matter, I can’t usually place a finger on what it is about a particular object or person that makes it seem contaminated versus safe, but the restaurant felt dirty…and, like you would probably expect at a fast food place, the people there were using things like ketchup and stuff that make me cringe…and I didn’t want to give my friend more reasons to feel bad so I just pretended I was totally fine. And as a result, I am now sitting on top of the world, because if I can spend over an hour like that when I am exhausted and therefore definitely not functioning at full capacity, then I know I can handle so much more than that! Although, you know you need to get more sleep when your alarm goes off for 15 minutes before you recognize that it is going off instead of just listening to it.

So yeah…God is super awesome…

And if you want to figure out for me what the song is, here are some more lyrics:

“Reject rejection and refuse to fear, believe the truth about you. Steal the moment ’cause it’s very clear that you have got some livin’ to do. Impossible you say. Impossible today. Maybe when, maybe when, maybe when I’m old and grey, ’cause impossibility is only possibility waiting for someone like you to believe. Get up. Get in the game. It’s get up. Get in the game. It’s get up. Get in the game. It’s time to play.”

She can hardly speak and so she screams

(Manic—Plumb)

LOL…you should see my page of half-written blog posts…actually, you shouldn’t, because like approximately every third paragraph is stuff I definitely shouldn’t post—at least not the way it is written right now…and the intervening paragraphs aren’t necessarily in order or go together in any way…

I have also really gone back and forth today about whether I should post this. I used to not care much who knew what was going on. I wanted to be the one controlling the flow of information, but when I had a venue for communication people would know way more than they probably cared to know, because I didn’t really have a filter, just an on-off switch. It made me very mad when people shared without my permission, but if it was my choice, people I barely knew would learn my life story via a facebook message…not exactly a good thing, but when you aren’t that good at verbal communication, nor are you good at friendship, you jump all in to relationships because you crave connection. I’m not saying it is something I should have been doing or even that I would do it again if I could have a re-do (though I might), but just that is the way it was. In contrast, now I still want to be in control, but I am much more cautious. I will test the waters and even the people I love and trust the most will probably not know the entire story. I can afford to go more slowly because I have the skills to make friends and do not have to rely on a smile to make or break my day.

So yeah…third year, I also learned shame. Apparently you are supposed to hide the places you need help, and you definitely shouldn’t let anyone know that you can’t reach some arbitrary goalpost intentionally placed way above your head after the game had already ended…

So I don’t know if I want to share this, because I am embarrassed…but I have been telling myself for years that if it is scary then I should probably throw myself into doing it…so although I’ve learned that sometimes fear is protective, I am going to run with this one…don’t laugh at me…

A basal level of anxiety has returned to my life. It is great that I no longer am entertaining myself licking things and that being a little slower to speak makes me a little less annoying to the people around me who would like me to shut my mouth once in a while, but anxiety isn’t so great. It isn’t excruciatingly mentally painful, but it is frustrating, because for so long I thought I was free, and then for a while it was predictable when a flare would occur but aside from a those rare few hours I was free.

I can pinpoint that the burst of extreme anxiety during a particular event almost a month ago precipitated this. I am frustrated that an act of one person can still have so much control over me. Over the course of a week I almost recovered, but a basal level of anxiety didn’t fade. I feel like I am losing control. Which, ironically, it what the fear was designed to provide but is simultaneously taking away. I want to regain control and freedom.

I have plans to fix this…and have through trial and error found some good and not so good solutions…but I am still taking things not day by day, not minute by minute, but second by second. I can handle the next second, and that is good enough for this second. I believe that God is with me, and I believe that he will help me re-conquer this. No matter what, I AM finishing this semester and I AM getting out of here for at least 10 weeks, and I AM graduating and getting outta here. (Sorry to my friends. I love y’all so so so much, and my heart explodes when I am away, but it is SO much better for me to be away, at home where I am safe(r)).

Okay fine…so I don’t really get to fully decide those things for myself…God has a funny way of changing even the best laid plans…and he usually knows what he is doing…for example, I was probably never going to be the most awesome-est usher ever even though I was very upset about giving that up, but I did excel at MediaSHOUT and various other related tasks, and with my nearly silent personality at the time, being special but at the back of the room was a lot better fit.

I can’t pretend that I’m fine…I can’t do this

(I can’t do this—Plumb)

Disclaimer: I wrote this last night…it is crazy what some sleep can do…still true words, but not overwhelmingly knocking me over anymore…

Nearly every day I go through the same rote conversation at least once…often many times throughout the day. How are you? Okay…I know it isn’t just because of all the times I worked on learning conversation by rote memorization, because unless every other person I encounter is okay or good or fine 95-99% of the time, everyone else does it too. In French class we learned responses to that question that were actually honest and how to phrase it to a friend, a family member, a teacher, a boss, and a stranger. I have always thought that French class was so much more useful than English, and this is why…I doubt that I am ever in the real world going to need to be able to underline the adjectives and circle the conjunctions, but in the real world I really do need to know how to properly communicate with a variety of people, and sometimes it takes a non-traditional definition of the word “okay” to make that statement true. I mean, yeah, my heart is pumping oxygenated blood so I am great, but that’s not really the whole picture.

Anyway, sometimes it just feels like I am living a big lie, because I have the routine down so well now that I don’t even think when someone asks me how I am—I just answer…and now that I actually talk with my words out loud, my best friend who used to not let anyone answer with good or okay doesn’t really mind if I say that, because I am making conversation and that is awesome…plus she can read me well enough to figure out what I am not saying most of the time anyway. But sometimes I am not okay.

If I am at a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly whether you know me or not, but if I’m at an eight, for the most part, even close friends don’t have to know…which is great in terms of not making things awkward, but not so great when someone really wants me to try dancing. It does look like fun, but if I don’t really know how to communicate the tangle of words in my head, it just starts feeling really frustrating. I so appreciate being included, and I want you to know how much I’d like to be more involved, but the connection between mouth and brain is short circuiting probably secondary to things including sleep deficit and residual deficits from years of not speaking.

I don’t want to go to school tomorrow. Or ever. I feel frustrated and isolated and alone. Academics are hard but I have to pretend I don’t care that I am not getting it, because it is starting to feel like high school again where it doesn’t matter what I actually said, because all anyone is going to say about school is going to invalidate how hard it feels…it is easier to pretend I don’t care and invalidate it myself before anyone else can do it for me so it doesn’t hurt as much when they do it.

And emotionally it is hard when there are just a few things I want…sometimes maybe even just one small thing that I want more than anything in the world for that moment, and I don’t know how to access it.

…but you know what, I have to remember like the song says at the end to “breathe the air…you’ll be free to do anything.”

Sometimes beautiful houses are built that cause new people to take all the parking spots, and sometimes I leave my headlights on all day, and sometimes things go wrong with school and/or academics, but someday I will be SO outta here. Unlike high school where I knew I was probably going to come back and hanging out sometimes, as soon as I am out of here, half my brain says “but all the people you’ll have to leave behind,” but the other half says “FREEDOM!!!!! LET’S GET OUT OF HERE ASAP!!!!” I might not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it might not be a very bright light, but I have to believe it is there. Someday I might not have my dream job or even a job I particularly care for, but I will be out of here, and I will be thrilled. My heart will be sad for all the people I’ll see so much less frequently, but TBH, as a girl who pretty much only had friends throughout school as a function of who was sitting next to her in classes that particular trimester, loss of “close” friends is something I have experienced over and over, and as long as there is someone new to fill in the gap I cope pretty well…on the rare occasion I go from someone to no one I struggle hardcore, but the transition from someone to someone else is challenging but manageable…especially now that I can use my words to include myself without waiting for someone else to include me.