What’s Going On?

And so I cry sometimes
When I’m lying in bed just to get it all out
What’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar

-What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes

I lost a lot of hope today. I’m not overly proud of it, but it happened. After a couple of amazing days, things just crashed down on me this afternoon, and I cried and cried. I am still weepy and I don’t know if it will stop until I have answers. I know I should do the feelings chart for my therapist, but I can’t seem  to think of what I need to do to stop catastrophizing the things going on. 

I found out that the hospital where I am supposed to have my CT scan done lost my chart again. It’s all fixed now, but what I thought was a scan to see what was causing my optic nerve to swell is actually to see if I have an aneurysm in my brain. People have told me that I don’t as I have no symptoms of one. And no, I don’t have any symptoms of a burst one, but I do have symptoms of one sitting in my cranium. Not all of the symptoms, but there are some. 

Then I double checked my blood work results. The test for “clots” as many Google searches showed me, assured me that the extremely high number I got on the test means I could have a clot. The high number has freaked me out. 4,000 is high. Mine is over 10,000. Hence, severe anxiety. 

I probably don’t have either of things, but as someone with OCD and generalized anxiety, my head won’t let go of these things. Every headache today has me worrying, my increased heart rate, every time my swollen leg had pain, each time I felt some pressure in my chest, my lovely anxiety ridden OCD brain spiralled a little bit farther.

I went to restorative yoga. I breathed. I imagined a calm scene from a fanfic I am currently reading. I kept saying one of my favourite lines from Chirrut or Yoda or some smart Jedi or Jedi wannabe. “All will be as the Force wills it” keeps going over and over in my head. And yes, I do believe in some greater power or “force” out there for lack of a better word. I am trying to believe that it will be okay. 

But the part that has been the hardest, is the part that I can’t quite get past. I don’t want to go through all of these appointments alone. I don’t want to go through this alone. Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing people around me who will be there for me, and help me out, but I still come home to an empty house and sometimes I don’t want it to be empty. I just want someone to sit with me as I am crying and tell me that I’m okay and that they love me no matter what. I know that not every human is fortunate enough to have this partnership with someone, but I crave, no ache for it, and I am terrified that I will never have the chance. 

I have no answers about what’s happening to me. I just keep imagining the worst possible scenarios. I realize I may need to go see my therapist early as I traipse through my own confusion. I just want answers so that I can keep moving forward. I want to believe that whatever is wrong is fixable, that it won’t interfere with camping plans, that I won’t disappoint my mom again by “wrecking” another holiday. I want to believe that modern medicine will have answers for me. Really though, I just want to know what’s going on.  At least the 4 Non Blondes gave me an anthem. 

And so I wake in the morning                                                                                                                                                                          And I step outside.                                                                                                                                                                                               And I take a deep breath and I get real high.                                                                                                                                              And I scream from the top of my lungs.                                                                                                                                                 What’s going on?

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New Dawn, New Day

Yeah, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me…

And I’m feelin’…

Good

-Feeling Good by Nina Simone

Summer holidays. Two months away from the identity of teacher, two months of freedom from routines and expectations of others. Two months to put my plans in place, to make the smaller changes I have been making into a larger reality, and to take action on some of the things I have learned about myself over the last 7 months. 

It is time. I have been living with the ghost of my father since he passed away almost 17 years ago. His ashes have been in my house for 14 of those years while I waited for decisions from my family on what to do with him. But I know he wanted to to be buried, so this summer, I will find where his mom is buried and start the proceedings to get his ashes dealt with. Time to lay him to rest. On his birthday this year, I had a major meltdown after my therapy session, and once I talked about it with my therapist last time, I understand why it happened. I understand why I needed to drive around and visit the ghosts of my past. (See this post for more on that day) I will always mourn the loss of my father, but I don’t feel the gut wrenching abyss anymore. I believe that I have finally said good bye to him. I feel like the connection has finally….ended. So it is time to bury him physically, and to move on. 

I haven’t only been living with the ghost of my father, but I have been consumed by a house of my past. When dad died, I kept so much of his stuff to try and hold onto him a little longer. When mom retired, I willingly took a lot of her teaching stuff that didn’t sell at her sale because I felt like it was important to let her feel that her collections mattered. They did, to her. But not to me. I have so much of her stuff that I have to sort through. I have toys from the shared childhood of my sister and I, furniture that was in our farmhouse, paintings that do not reflect what I like or what I am interested in. I have, quite honestly, kept so many things that I have attached value to, that I am drowning in stuff. 

But, it’s a new day. I have realized that is time to let go of so many things. To purge my existence of stuff that I really do not need nor want, in some cases. I am going to try to go through it all over the month of July. I won’t be able to purchase new art and furniture yet, but it will happen, and I am starting to look for things that reflect me. My goal is to decrease the amount of stuff in this house by 40%.

I am heading back to yoga this week. I am going to put on my suit for swimming, not for lounging at the pool, and go to the pool so that I can walk lengths in the water. I’m trying for Wednesday on that. I may need some courage there. It’s been a while, and I am nervous. I want to work on going to bed at a decent time, and not sleeping the day away. I want to get through a night without the glucose sensor going crazy. I want to go for a walk, outside, and not feel pain and embarrassment at my physical fitness. I know these things will take time,  but I have two months with no job stress to start adding these healthy habits into my day. 

Tonight, I am finishing the last of the treats I bought and used as my emotional crutch to get through the end of one of my hardest teaching years. Tomorrow I go back to my healthier choices, and back to writing about my feelings and anxiety on the feelings chart my therapist provided for me. Today, I rested and read fluff and watched Netflix and just did nothing. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is a “new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me.” And you know what? I am excited to start. 

I’m feeling good. 

The Cluttered Chaos

Another post of struggling. I seem to only write about the hard times, but I also find it is the only thing that helps right now.  In this chaotic mess of my mind, there are so MANY things that I want, need, and crave to blurt out here for my own insanity, but my list of “have to” is growing longer every day.

I have to write report cards, have to clean my classroom, have to get files done, have to make room for my new teaching partner, have to do laundry, have to clean, have to get groceries, have to, have to, have to. And all I want right now is to curl up in my bed and deny the world’s existence; to read the books sitting on my shelf or check out fanfiction or watch and rewatch Sense8.

So I am sitting in front of my screen, trying to come up with comments for the last time on a group of students who I love, but who have frustrated me and brought me more chaos in this brain of mine. I can’t focus. The intention is there, but the fingers stumble, and I blame my cold hands, so I make tea, and then find the focus linger elsewhere by the music playing. Every emotion I have right now wreaking havoc on my anxiety and causing tears to well every 5 minutes. But I HAVE TO.

And I really, really don’t want to.

People have unknowingly added to my plate this weekend, caused the anxiety to increase, to develop new layers that I do not know how to handle. The shaky feeling inside is back and I do not have the time for it. I should be yoga bound, but I cannot spare the time; I should try meditating, but I do not know if I can handle my own thoughts.

So I write. A jumbled, tumbled, messy write. Something that would not pass any muster of criticism or judging. I want to scream to the universe, to cry until there are no tears left, to rip the crap that surrounds me, physically and mentally, out of my head and my space, to get it gone so I can find some semblance of calm.

But I cannot, because there is no time, no space. And always, always there list of “have to”.

How Do You Keep Fighting?

A couple of weeks ago, during my therapy session, my therapist gave me what I considered a HUGE compliment. He said, “You seem like a Star Wars kind of person. Someone who is determined to try to save the Galaxy.” I thought it was awesome. Now, the rest of therapy ended with me as a raw and emotional mess for three days afterward, but that phrase, oh, that phrase, made me happy. I felt like a proud member of the Rebel Alliance (or the Kindergarten/Play/Let Kids Be Kids Alliance). I could CHANGE THE WORLD! 

I have been trying to affect change. I changed my practice. I have learned, read, researched, gone back to school, adapted, planned, gutted stuff and recreated. I have joined committees, meetings, planning events and spoken up with a loud voice for the rights of the child, for the importance of play in the curriculum, for the importance of authentic assessment and reporting. I know I have pissed people off with my opinions and my rantings. My soap box has been pulled out more times than I care to count. I have been told that I don’t think anywhere near the damn “box” that we are supposed to think outside of. 

And today, it seems like all of my advocating, soap box talking, arguing, and more has fallen again on deaf ears. I can’t go into more detail without giving away confidential information, but how do you keep fighting, when your battles are constantly lost and you never see any evidence of change? At what point do you just decide to trudge along with the rest of the world, and just do what you are told? It sure looks easier, and I am tired. I am tired of hearing about the testing of young children and of forcing more academic learning on younger and younger students. I am tired of play being removed from the lives of children, and of the continued insistence on tired assessments. I am tired of seeing sexism, racism, anti-environmentalism, discrimination, and people just being……MEAN. 

How do you keep up the fight? 

Random Episodes of Negative Self Talk

Yoga class tonight. It is the first time that I have come out of a yoga class not feeling…….settled. It wasn’t the teacher, it wasn’t the class, it was just me. 

I can’t even throw my anxiety out there for this one. It was a completely different part of my mental health screwing with me today. My negative self-talk came RUSHING into my brain today. What triggered it? Who the hell knows. I am learning that , much like my diabetes, my anxiety and negative talk comes without warning sometimes. The wind changes direction and I am suddenly a bag of self-loathing. Okay, it’s probably not that dramatic, but it feels like it. 

I admit the class was harder than normal, with stretches I struggled with, but my whole body felt off tonight. Like I couldn’t even attempt a downward dog, like child’s pose was a trial, and then I stupidly looked around and saw all these wonderfully bendy people doing what I was attempting, and it just brought more negative talk to my head. Enter a low blood sugar reading, and I knew I was done for the night. 

But once I am in that well of loathing, climbing out is hard. I keep looking for some sign of results from 2 months of an almost complete lifestyle overhaul, and I don’t see them. Sometimes, I think I see some progress, but it’s hard for me to tell. I am looking for “non-scale victories” but I really just want the stomach to shrink a little bit so my damn capris fit looser. I’d like to see a result in the mirror.  Maybe I can’t because I have seen this version of myself for so fucking long. 

Logically, I know that 20 years of weight gain, stress, and emotional eating will not change in 2 months, but I think I am just looking for a sign that something is working. I have been so afraid of failure every time I tried Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, that I would start to do better and then I would sabotage myself. Two months in and I think I am dealing better with the emotional eating. I did not drive to a Dairy Queen and order a Blizzard as I sank into my self-pity. I went home, had some water, a nectarine and a square of 85% dark chocolate. 

I looked at my weird ass affirmations. Seriously, I cannot even have nice normal ones.Mine all come from movies or one particularly deep therapy session. I decided to vent on here, to let it out, and to just write my frustrations, my self-doubts, my fear that all this change will amount to nothing. I wish I believed in psychics just to have one tell me that it will work. I wish someone could show me an image of myself a year from now, with a stronger, leaner, lower A1C version of me. But they can’t.

Instead, I will try to go for a walk IN THE OUTDOORS tomorrow. (I don’t tend to go outside because there is sun and bugs and people and no bathrooms). But I’ll try it. And I’m going to back to the yoga classes I am signed up for, and I will keep working on my mantra of “I am enough”. Maybe one day, I will start believing it. 

I have to remember that each day is another chance for me, and they are not spent. I will not give in. 

How?

This weekend was hard. It was a long weekend. It shouldn’t have been hard; it should have been productive. It wasn’t.

See I had a therapy session on Friday, which was also my dad’s birthday. I was doing okay with dad’s birthday until my therapist and I met. Even after, I was okay. I met up with friends, had a drink, toasted my dad, and talked a bit about what my therapist and I discussed. But when I got home, I couldn’t settle. I ended up driving around my town, initially seeking take out, but I ended up hunting ghosts. I drove out to the farm I grew up and saw the little farmhouse I remember from my childhood. I was too little to really remember the first house I lived in, but I remembered the farm.  The house my parents designed out there where I felt like the luckiest child alive because I had a big room, with a brass double bed, and a cool toy cupboard. I couldn’t see the house, as the hedge is too high, but it’s still there. Then I did what I haven’t done in almost 17 years. I drove to the last house I lived in with my dad. The house where he got his diagnosis, which happened to be on his 60th birthday. It’s the house he left from to go the palliative care ward, and where he never returned. The house where he and I put up Christmas lights every year, where he would critique my lawn mowing skills, where we had a competition on his  computer tetris game.

(okay this not where I was initially going with this….)

All of this came about from a talk in therapy which I never saw coming. I had done my homework and was ready to talk about my negative thinking patterns or how I can re-frame my “inadequacies” into strengths, but I wasn’t expecting to talk about allowing myself to open up, to show vulnerability to others, to allow myself the opportunity to actually possibly meet someone and have a relationship with them. It was hard. I love my friends, and I think I have been getting better and being open about things and about asking for help. But opening myself up to the possibility of dating? That has been a no. Just no.

And I think talking about that opened up the floodgates of my thinking “but everyone leaves”. See, in my mind, everyone leaves. My hero, my dad, died far too young. And when that happened, I shut people out. I don’t know if I’ve ever really let them back in.  Then my beloved uncle and aunt. Another death of an amazing man who had taught me and whose daughter had been one of my closest friends. For almost two years, there were a ridiculous amount of losses. I remember thinking that everyone I loved would either leave or die.

So how? How does one “open up to the possibility” of being loved when one fears the loss of others? Hell, how does a person even try to put themselves “out there”? Online sites give my Spidey Sense the chills, and I have no idea how to proceed. The idea of opening up scares the crap out of me. I don’t even know where to start, or how to start. We talked in therapy about the idea that having someone to be there is a good thing, and I don;t disagree, but, its not a fricking movie with a suitable male lead sitting in the wings ready to be cast. I guess I’m just wondering how one does this? How?

There Is More Than One Prison

There is more than one prison. I think you carry yours wherever you go.”-Chirrut Imwe, Rogue One

If you were to tell me that I have taken Rogue One too seriously, I would probably sit you down with a nice cup of tea and try to explain myself. That could take hours, so I thought I would try to explain some of it on this blog. Here is one of my explanations. 

The above quote got to me. Deeply. I have a friend, who over the past year has been with me through some trying times. She has been through my anxiety attacks, has encouraged me to find a therapist that works for me, and so much more. But she made a comment to me that, well, it hurt a little bit but mostly because it hit really close to home. She commented that she felt badly for me, that she couldn’t live with the kind of daily fear I have, with the crippling anxiety I carry. I really hadn’t seen my life as fearful or anxiety ridden until I looked at it with her eyes. I didn’t like what I saw, and it reminded me of this quote. 

Please understand, I have had a good life so far, and I really want to continue having a good life. I have a good job, a home, friends. But I have put myself in a self-imposed prison.  

I’m not going to sit her and tell you that I ever though of myself as fearless or adventurous. I am not in that much denial about who I am, but what I have realized lately, is that I have let myself become crippled by fear.  Yes, I have type 1 diabetes, and have had it for 36 y ears, but I have let my fear of what could happen because of it prevent me from living. I am terrified of dating someone, because I have this idea that no one would want to be with someone who has to wear medical devices 24/7. I have denied myself the freedom to think that an ache or a pain is simply the by product of getting older; I always assume it is a catastoprophic medical diagnosis waiting to happen. The discovery of what I call ‘brain grape”, a 3 mm lump in my brain has sent me into the far reaching cells of my prison, where I am convinced that it just waiting to implode and kill me. Every time I get sent for a medical test, I panic, thinking this is the day that I find out I have lived so “wrongly” with this disease that it is now going to kill me. I have locked myself into a prison fearful of dying before my time. 

But this is not my only cell in this prison. Yes, I lost my dad when I was in my early 20’s and suffered more family losses in the months following. To my over anxious mind though, I have convinced myself that anyone I love will just leave me anyone, so why bother to try. I have convinced myself that I am a great friend, but not “enough” to be loved by someone wholly. It is another aspect to my prison; this idea that I am not worthy enough for some guy to look at and, well, to love. The idea of opening myself up to another human being who could be important to me almost cripples me. The idea of dating strikes absolute terror. I hate it, but there it is. The thought that someone, besides my friends, could find me attractive enough, funny enough, smart enough, talented enough, just enough for them seems improbable, impossible, unreal. The fantasy of finding companionship, of love, is comforting; the reality is terrifying. This cell in my prison has become safe from emotional hurt, from loss. It protects my heart. Hell, I won’t even get a puppy or cat because I am scared of loving something that I will either leave or that will leave me. 

My therapist is working with me on this prison, but it is awfully challenging to find all the keys for these locks. Yet. 

I have started to look at my life, my accomplishments. He has asked me to look at the long list of inadequacies I place on myself, and to look for strengths in them. I am trying. Yes, I have been “alone” for most of my adult life, and yes, I am lonely, but I know how to take care of things. I completed my Masters, for Force sake, on my own (okay I did have friends cheering me on-thanks folks!) I have survived moving out, and living on my own with this disease that I hate since I was 25, and I am doing okay. I have cried and raged through strikes, and while I have received some help from my friends, I managed to stay afloat with no help from my family. I have a strength and an independence that I need to be proud of, but I have a vulnerable side that I need to let show more to others. 

I will probably always carry some portion of this prison, I think we all have one. For now though, I am trying to release mine a little. It is starting with  going to yoga class, playing piano again, and saying no to things. It is trying to ride the anxiety wave and to live in the now. It is me trying not to see the future and not imagining the most catastrophic things possible. It’s a start. 

It is hope.