Still Fighting

So it has been quite a hot minute since I last wrote anything here, huh?

Well, I’m still alive.

I’m still anxious. Still depressed. And still ADHD. Those thing have not changed, and I don’t think will ever change. I think I’ve finally come to terms with that and have decided instead to take each day as it comes.

That said, I’ve been really busy with school, mostly because I am a such a slow programmer that the last time I had a Data Structures assignment, it took me an entire 2 weeks to finish programming it when it took my friend less than an hour to do the same thing (then again, C has been coding for a year more than I have, and he spends at least 60 hours of coding a week. While I spend maybe 10… Or less…). So really, my busy-ness is merely due to my lack of skills, and knowledge.

Due to that, I haven’t been able to log in to WordPress to write or read anyone’s blog. 😦 I’ve missed the mental health community here in the blogverse. I’ve been wondering how everyone’s doing – especially Q, This.Shaking, skinnyhobbit and PaperDoll. I think about these wonderful people often enough.

Not writing in my blog makes me miss my advocacy work – I have recently been way more active as a Peer Educator but since a lot of our programs lately have been on sexual health, and sexual violence, I haven’t really been talking about mental health as much. Also, I’ve been feeling guilty about my recovery progress – of the times when I’ve slipped up and regressed, of the times when I’m less than a model Peer Educator, or the times when I don’t seem to embody the message I want to share.

Other times, I feel guilty for being better. I think I feel that way because then it’s like others see me as somehow “more successful”. But then again, I’m pretty sure I’m just projecting.

S and I have been continuing our work, and lately, I’ve been getting paranoid about termination, merely because I feel like I’m getting better, so that must mean I don’t need therapy anymore. The child is still in there, still scared. Despite realizing that she has the capability of being strong, and moving on, she’s still scared. She still wants S.

On that front, therapy has been going well enough. I am still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce, but it has been months since I’ve cried over the ex. It’s also been a while since I last spoke to him. I cut all ties with him some months ago (I don’t even remember when!) but from time to time, I still think of him, of the things that have happened, and of some of the better times we’ve had. Yesterday, I stumbled upon an old album that had all kinds of photos of us and for the first time in months, I broke down and cried seeing it. Then, after seeing it and feeling all at once angry, hurt, disgusted, and sad, I deleted all the photos that had him in it. It was painful to do it but the more I deleted, the easier it was to face the pain. This incident merely reminded me of the fact that this rip in my heart will probably never fully heal. There will be scar tissue, which means that I’ll probably always hurt whenever the scar tissues get aggravated. Thankfully, they don’t get aggravated all that often.

I’ve also been working hard in group therapy. Ever since I spoke up and told people how I actually feel about them, I have not been able to stop. It is almost like an addiction now – to say, “To be honest… This is how I feel…” and just say my mind. It feels great every single time because of how liberating it is not to have to keep secrets. The response from my group members have been positive, and it has helped me see that conflict, when avoided, often brings pain when not resolved. And that despite how uncomfortable it is to confront someone about something, it’s also equally uncomfortable to hold it inside. I have also learned that if you tell the truth, and give people the chance to tell their truth, and then both of you decide to give each other a chance, then things will work out.

T, the co-facilitator, told S of my progress in group. According to S, he expressed his awe, and admiration at my courage, and how hard I’ve been pushing myself in group. He also told me in person in the last session how excited he is to see my progress, and how happy he is every time I open my mouth to offer my opinion. He asked me if I now feel burdened by this – my answer was yes. I feel some pressure to perform – to be courageous all the time. To always be vulnerable, to always face my fears. It is stressful because now that I know I can do it once, I know I can do it again – but I don’t always want to. And that is another uncomfortable feeling I have to live with.

On the more personal front, my relationship with Cherie has been going well. We had our first huge fight recently that felt very scary and threatening to me due to how I always blame myself whenever a conflict arises, and how fearful I am at a loss of connection. Instead of letting the conflict tear us apart though, we were able to work things out. It is becoming clearer to me how much I love this woman, and how much she means to me.

I sometimes freak out though because of how I just don’t know how to do relationships – so being in a stable, and mature relationship with Cherie unnerves me because I don’t really know how to be. For 8 years, I was a certain kind of partner but that is me at my utmost dependent, weak, and whiny state. Now that I’m with someone who works hard on her mental health, and is a strong independent woman, I keep doing things that I find to be annoying such as being whiny, child-like, and dependent. I drive her insane sometimes because I can’t stop asking her if things are okay between us. I push and push and push because I feel insecure.

S and I have been talking about this a lot too – we discovered that I have such deep separation anxiety that it makes me so clingy. However, S has been reminding me for the past 3 weeks that I need to be kinder to myself and not immediately call myself names like, “Childish”, “Weak”, “Loser”, but rather recognize that uncomfortable feeling of being in conflicts, or the uncomfortable feeling of feeling like something’s wrong in the relationship when there really isn’t, and embrace that; hold the pain in my mind, and sit with it.  That has definitely been happening a lot more for me than it has ever been. Whenever I am aware of my issues, I try to sit with whatever uncomfortable feeling it is that have brought me the issues.

I really miss posting here because this is a space where I can word vomit, and not be judged for it. I can provide as much context as I want. I can speak freely and express my thoughts and feelings. It helps me process my feelings, and situations. I think not being able to write here has been detrimental to my progress because I haven’t really had a way to express all the pent up analysis that goes on in my head – and when I share the thoughts with Cherie, it often ends up at a point where I get super clingy. This blog is my space to just blah, without any expectations that anyone is even going to read it. And that’s fine because I think this blog keeps me sane.

Anyway… Overall, I’d say that I’m well enough. I might still have suicidal ideations but at least, the degree in which I’d act on them have definitely decreased. S is keeping an eye on my mental health. Cherie, and I are also doing the same. My group members have been supportive, and while I still have trouble in school, I am feeling a little better about programming because I feel like I’m slowly starting to understand some things. Unless there’s a huge trigger, I am usually feeling much better than I have been 3 or 4 months ago.

I think I’ll visit here more whenever I can. It really does free up a lot of mind space in my head when I write all my analysis, thoughts, and feelings down. So I hope all of you reading are well, as well, and I hope that I can have some time to check out the things you guys have all been up to as well then.

Positive and Productive

I’ve been having some major financial difficulties following the divorce (because I have a lot of credit card debt plus having to pay for a car as well as for rent), and as a result, I am technically working 3 jobs. That leads to my inability to focus in school because I’m staying up late to finish homework and assignments while not having enough time to absorb and process what I’ve been learning.

This leads to a lot of anxiety because I don’t know what my next paycheck will look like or how I’m going to manage everything. I feel like someone who is out of time. I feel like a candle burning from both ends, trying to juggle everything.

I had been contemplating filing for bankruptcy to get out of all the debt but at the same time, I know that the consequences are pretty dire following a bankruptcy. I was suicidal yesterday because I was overwhelmed by these things and these concerns.

So as you can see, my life is a series of domino effects. Stuff I can’t control but try to and then end up freaking out over everything.

Anyway… This morning, I went and spoke with the Health Promotion Coordinator of the Office of Health and Wellness, who is one of the people who helps run the Peer Educator program that I’m a part of. I was told by one of the Peer Educators that she has a background in financial related topics.

In our meeting, she revealed to me that she has an MBA and that she has experience in financial wellness. So I went to the right person. For the next hour and a half, she told me all the things I need to know to maintain a healthy financial state. She also taught me how to create a budget. After the hour and a half, I felt calmer. I felt more organized because she had helped me put all the fragments of “To-Do”, ideas, and thoughts into a more cohesive whole. Though I’m still in debt, and still going to struggle, suddenly, I feel a little better about my chances of making it through this semester without killing myself. All because someone took the time to help me organize my thoughts.

After that meeting, I headed to the room that had been built for student organizations to have their space in. I was supposed to be at the Peer Educator’s office – to maintain office hours in case any student wished to visit for information on the 8 dimensions of wellness.

When I got to the Cube, the name of the space that the student organizations are based at, I was ecstatic to see the space that the Peer Educators had been given. We had the corner of the Cube which meant that we had plenty of sunlight streaming in to the space.

hwppe_cube-1

Our bulletin board filled with information on various health topics.

hwppe_cube-4

We got a really big space with comfy chairs!

hwppe_cube-3-copy

I was really excited to be at our office. (Sorry for the crude Photoshopping skills. I did it to hide the name of my University).

I told myself as I sat in the office that today is going to be a good day – why? Because I’ll make it so. It turned out to be exhausting but productive, and positive. I was able to finish my Discrete Computational Structures assignment, and while I was at it, I got to tutor someone in Calculus for Business Majors which is actually not a subject that I’d ever taken but since I’d done Calculus, I was able to tutor her. (The only problem I encountered was the fact that she is very attractive and it’s so hard to focus when all I could think about was how cute she is…) I also got to spend time with a couple of my coworkers who were also students at the same University I’m attending. It felt good, especially since one of the coworkers is someone I really relate to and see eye-to-eye with.

Overall, I had a pretty decent day. I was on campus until 11.30pm though because I’d lost track of time while working on my Discrete assignment. I think if I could have more of this kind of days, I’ll be able to pull through this ridiculous hump.

Tomorrow, I’ll see S. I wonder what our session will be like…

 

Peer Educator as Role Models 

​Volunteering and being accepted into the Peer Educator program has to be one of the best things that has happened to me at school because it’s motivating me to want to get better in my mental health. 

One of the expectations that the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP) have is that all Peer Educators should be role models for other students. So, with that in mind, it’s encouraging me to want to practice self care and to maintain my health and wellness! 

I’ve not been wanting to get better for the longest time. A part of me still really doesn’t and is still resistant. But… After an entire afternoon and evening of talks, planning, and team building exercises, I’m becoming more open to the idea of being okay with getting better. 

I think I’m becoming less afraid of the idea of being better. I’m becoming more confident that I’ll be okay being a strong, independent, well trained, and intelligent woman. That I don’t need to have a partner in life to inform me of what I need to do or how I should think and live. That I’ll be fine by myself. 

I’ll post more once I’m back home in civilization where the Internet is not the speed of a dial up connection and where there is phone reception but I couldn’t sleep until I post this short reflection. 

I saw a shooting star tonight and the night sky looks beautiful with all the stars that I can’t normally see because of all the light pollution. So, right now, my anxiety is not as strong and I’m feel much calmer. It’s really nice for the Office of HWP had decided for our retreat to be out here in a recreation camp site! It’s good for me to get away from the city from time to time. 

Anxious Thoughts

I have an important post about therapy that I want to write but I haven’t had the time amidst all the courses and work that I’m doing. I’m also headed to a Peer Educator’s retreat for the weekend, to learn how to be a good Peer Educator and to support the campus non-academically.

So I’m just going to write this short post about my anxiety that has been wreaking havoc in my life lately. Since I’ve been suicidal and severely depressed, my anxiety hadn’t really showed itself but since school started, anxiety has been taking over my daily mental head space and has been pushing me closer to the edge each day.

I try to combat it by distracting myself with self-care and coping strategies like skateboarding, hanging out with people, studying, and so on. They’ve helped some but S noted that in doing so, I’m not acknowledging that I’m anxious – that I’m not allowing myself to feel the entirety of that feeling, which then makes it come back with a vengeance the next time.

I get what he’s saying but if I allow myself to feel the anxiety, wouldn’t I devolve into a panic attack mess? I don’t know… I haven’t yet really allowed myself to be anxious.

This morning, I woke up with the anxiety that I am just no good if I can’t do 15 credit hours. It just sank in on Thursday that I am doing 15 credit hours. I feel so overwhelmed by the fact that I have 5 classes on top of my 2 jobs, and my responsibility as a Peer Educator.

So I texted my close friend, C, and suggested that maybe I should drop the Server Side Programming for the Web class. We both take that class together and I miss being in the same class as C (he’s way more advanced than I am now despite the fact that we both started together in Spring of 2015). However, at the same time, having 2 already very intense “weed-out” classes is stressful enough without having to add another class that I barely know anything about into the mix. As it is, due to my lack of experience and knowledge, I am having to study HTML and CSS outside of class just to be able to learn the PHP and SQL that I’ll be learning in this class. Every time I think of school latey, I just want to break down and cry.

I feel thoroughly overwhelmed. I know that dropping this class will be good for me – it’ll be a healthy thing to do, right? But at the same time, see the doubt? Anxiety is telling me that I’m so behind. That I’m not going to graduate in time to get a good job because the market will be flooded by the time I finish. That I’m just such a loser for not doing 15 credit hours and beyond. That I was able to do that in previous semesters.

I try to tell Anxiety that I didn’t have extraneous circumstances in the past – I wasn’t divorced, I wasn’t questioning my sexual orientation, I was moved out and living alone, I wasn’t stressed about my finances, and I wasn’t so severely depressed. At the moment, it’s not helping. I know I have to practice the mindfulness technique that S had taught me – that is, to sit down quietly, visualize a river flowing calmly while leaves float by, put my thoughts onto each leaf, and let the leaves and thoughts float by.

Damn, why is it so hard to deal with this?

Fall Semester Begins Soon

T-minus 1 day and 1 hour until school reopens. Eep!

I’m both nervous and excited at the same time – nervous because the semester I’ll be starting in the Fall is called the “Gauntlet Semester” where I have 2 classes that are known as the “weed-out” class – Computing 2 (where I’ll learn 3 programming languages at once!), and Discrete Computational Math (which is a more complicated math for Computer Science). On top of that, I’m retaking Calculus 1 (because I want to learn it right with a better Professor and I want to be good enough to be promoted to the the Calculus level tutor at the Math Assistance Center (MAC)) and an elective called Server-Side Web Programming which should be simpler than the other two classes. The final class I have to take is Introduction to Mentoring which is a compulsory class I have to take as part of my contract to work at the MAC. It is to train me to be a better tutor/mentor.

I am worried that my performance will drop due to the sharp dip in my mental health and emotional state following my divorce and myriad of other stressors. I am also worried that since I’d goofed off and worked my butt off at the restaurant all summer, that I won’t remember how to code and how to think like a computer scientist. I’m worried that I’ll start from Square One again. It’s hard for me not to worry and maintaining good grades is very difficult to do – although, now the pressure is a little less great because I know for a fact that I’ll never be able to get a 4.0 GPA in my final transcript due to my B in the last semester. I can only bump it up a little bit from the 3.8 that I have currently.

Anyway, I’m excited for some of the things that I’ll be doing such as being actively engaged mentally, being a Peer Educator officially (I was just training last semester), working at the MAC as a proper tutor, meeting new people and new friends (fingers crossed), making more connections, skateboarding around campus, seeing old friends, and going for a retreat with the Peer Educator group.

Tomorrow, the MAC Executive Director is holding a meeting for all the staff and I’m excited to attend because I love being and working at the MAC! I’m going to bust out my Pi shirt and wear that again. I hope they’ll let me retake my profile photo because the girl that’s featured on the website now with my name on it looks so different now. I want the spunky girl with the mohawk on the profile page instead.

Last night, my friend explained a lesbian lingo to me. It’s called “Stem” and when I asked her what that meant, she told me that it’s a mashup of the word “stud” (Masculine looking lesbian) and the word “femme” (Feminine looking lesbian). She said that she is a “stem”. I reflected on myself and wondered if I’d be considered a “stem” as well. When I suggested that, she said that she thinks that I’m more of a “stud” than a “stem”. When she said that, I felt pleased. I’m not sure what that means – that is, why I felt pleased by that. It was an automatic response from me – I didn’t think about it. I just started smiling and felt pleased. I don’t know if it’s because I identify as a more masculine looking woman, or whether it’s because I like how the word “stud” just sounds so positive. XD

Anyway, wish me luck in my new semester! I am looking forward to seeing how it’ll all go down since this semester, I’ll be doing everything by myself and learning to not only rely on myself but to also take care of myself as well.

Fall 2015 Grades

Full Grades

Fall 2015 grades

Not bragging but I received another 4.0 this semester and I’m extremely grateful, especially since as you all know, I’ve been struggling pretty badly emotionally and psychologically this semester.

I don’t know why exactly but this semester had been a mostly downhill rollercoaster ride and I had been more depressed than I’ve ever been in my life. I was also more anxious than I’ve ever been and more unfocused and impulsive than I’ve ever been. I don’t know if those are just a result of higher stress or whether it’s because therapy is shining a light on these issues and so I’m more aware of it – by being more aware of something, it’ll seem more severe in many cases.

I’m grateful for all the encouraging people I’ve met this semester who have had a part to play in my success in school – of course my ever faithful husband who bears the brunt of my emotional upheavals and instabilities, my patient and insightful psychologist, S, and my new friends, El, R, M and E who have been extremely encouraging have been consistently there to support me. Without them, I doubt that I would’ve achieved all A’s in all my classes.

I’m also grateful for my instructors who had been understanding about my difficulties as a non-traditional student whose English is a second language who also struggles with ADHD, Anxiety and Depression. They had been gracious – especially my Color and Design instructor who had allowed me to turn in an assignment a couple of hours later because my ADHD-addled brain couldn’t remember that I had an assignment due. I’m also grateful to my Speech instructor who encouraged me to speak my mind and allowed me to share my experiences in mental illnesses. I am grateful for the reconsideration of my grade for one of my drawings in Architectural Presentation as I felt like I could’ve definitely done better on that drawing but was allowed to make up for it anyway. And I’m definitely very thankful to have met my Algebra and Trigonometry 2 instructor because if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have applied to be a tutor for math or have even gotten the 107.69% grade and “Best in Section” title for that class. He is by far the most passionate math teacher I’ve ever met and I’m so glad to have been able to be a part of his class.

Now, I just need to calm my anxiety down because it’s already telling me that I won’t be able to keep this up for yet another semester. Hubster exclaimed, “But that’s what you said last semester remember? And see how well you did this semester!” and I countered with “Yeah, but I’ve got Calculus and Computing next semester!” to which he responded with, “Oh whatever. I know you can do it. You’ve proven that you can!” A mutual friend had also said to me, “You know Jules, you really prove that with a will, there’s a way!”. I truly believe that now. That if I want something bad enough, I will achieve it because I will work hard to do so.

I also need to remind myself that if I can do this well when I’m struggling with being emotionally unstable, what can’t I accomplish when I’m better? It’s a good reminder to keep fighting. I may have added three more scars to my arm from the self harm but I know that someday I will be able to overcome that – even if it means having to fight every single day against that impulse.

Beginning a New Decade of Life

Today is my final day in my 20’s.

I have to say that it’s a very bittersweet feeling because it’s the end of a huge chapter on my life.

I feel like it’s almost fitting for me to being my 30’s in a more stable emotional state than when I began my 20’s.

I’ve done a lot and experienced a lot. Reflecting back on my decade of being 20, I think that I’ve come a long way in discovering myself. I don’t think I’ve got everything figured out yet, I don’t think I will. But, I know now what I like and don’t like, how my ADHD can complement my diverse interests, how important mental health is, corrected a lot of misconceptions I’ve held and just generally grew as a person.

I’d like to think that I’m more mature now than I’ve ever been. I’d like to think that despite a lot of negative experiences this past decade, that I’ve learned a great deal. I hope to not repeat some of the painful mistakes I’ve made and continue to grow gracefully.

So, here’s to another new chapter in my life; a new decade and hopefully more adventures! I hope I’ll always remember that my story isn’t over yet and that I need to keep going.

((On an exciting side note, 3 other people and I sat down today and talked about setting up a new club on campus. I came up with the idea that non-traditional students need support and that there isn’t any emotional or friendship support for older students. So with that in mind, I wanted to organize a small get-together so that older students like me can feel like they’re not alone and that they can make friends.

One of the friends I sat down with today was one of the only friends I’ve made last semester because he and I were like minded. When I told him of my idea, he thought it was a “genius idea” and persuaded me to make it into an official club. I was reluctant at first because running a club is a huge responsibility and with my mental state, I didn’t know if I could handle it. But he was very good at persuading me so today we sat down together to talk more about it.

I have to say, after we did, I was very thankful that he had convinced me to say yes to setting up a club. After the meeting, I realized that I didn’t have to do this alone and that with the support of these 3 other friends, I hope that the club will flourish! We already have a list of events planned ranging from orientation for older students to study skills seminars and fun hangout sessions (I hope that we can maybe even go paintballing, whoo!).

So, yeah, now that my weekend’s over and I’m back in school, my week is looking like it’ll go up again.))