Potential First Tattoo

So I’ve come up with a design for my first tattoo – which I really badly want, but am not sure when I’ll actually get.

Last night, my temporary tattoo kit came in the mail so I decided to test out the design, and the placement. I wanted to see what it would look like before I actually getting anything.

The tattoo ink is made from the pulp of a fruit called Genipapo, found in Panama. It is similar to henna in how it’s used – the gel-like liquid is squeezed out from a needle-point bottle the way henna is piped out like icing on a cake. I’ve used this product several times before so I’ve gotten used to drawing the tattoo freehand.

I feel like I did a pretty good job, except I got the arrow all crooked because of the angle I was drawing on. The temporary tattoo has developed overnight and it should get darker in the next half a day.

The tattoo design represents many things. Essentially, it’s the story of my life in a few symbols.

The semicolon (made from an enso, and the Fibonacci Golden Ratio), represents my lifelong recovery from mental illnesses; the enso (circle) representing “a moment when the mind is free to let the body create” which also represents strength, enlightenment and life while the Fibonacci Golden Ratio reflects my interest in art, as well as math – this I find beautiful because not only does the Golden Ratio helps artists create beautiful art, it also helps mathematicians do math. I like the intersection of the sciences, and the arts because of how much conflict there is between the two fields (especially coming from the sciences who claim that anyone who can’t do, are artists…). 

The curly brackets represents code – most codes are encapsulated with “{ }” which tells the computer to execute a function from what is in the middle of the brackets. It is a reflection of the field that I’ve chosen to put myself in.

The arrow signifies my strength and resilience because an arrow is useless unless you string it to a bow, pull it back, and let go. This reflects my life because of how all the struggle I’ve been through has caused me to grow stronger, and more resilient – like the arrow speeding forward after it’s been pulled back, I am also moving forward in my life. The arrowhead is the Star Trek TNG symbol representing my nerd/geek side.

I chose the Pi because of how despite it being an irrational number, it is also a constant. It reminds me during my dark times, that despite everything that could happen to me, that the world is still revolving, and Pi is still Pi no matter what happens. 3.14159, always.

The message “Don’t Panic” comes from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and it gives me a message to read when I’m anxious. It’s a directive, pretty simple and powerful for 2 mere words. The “42” is also from the same book, and in it, the number is considered the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. I believe in the theory that the number is actually not a joke as most of us have believed, but rather an asterisk (*)  (since the ASCII value for an asterisk is 42) in programming. The asterisk is actually used by programmers as a wildcard when searching for something, deleting something etc (Example, if you type rm *.* – it means that you’re wanting every file to be deleted from your computer). This means that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is what you decide it to be. 

Lastly, the equal sign is a nod to my struggles as a queer person seeking understanding and acceptance in society. It’s a subtle enough symbol for my sexuality that anyone who knows what the equal sign means, will know how I identify. 

So far, I like the design, and if I can find a tattooist who is okay with using my design (I hear that most don’t like to do that), and who can do good black and white tattoos with clean, crisp lines, I think this might be the first tattoo I’ll ever get. And since I’ll be getting it while I’m in my thirties, I wonder how many people will think this is a mid-life crisis. Haha…

Renewed Passion

After the amazing experience I had at the Office of Health and Wellness Peer Educators’ Retreat, I’ve added one more thing that I could potentially do as a future career. I’m looking at different ways I can combine Computer Science with my other passions and I think I’ve got some ideas what I want to potentially do in the future.
Here are some of the ideas that I’m thinking about:
 
1 – Work for my Director at the MAC to develop technologies to aid in education and to build educational resources for the masses (schools, colleges, community learning centers, etc).
 
2 – Pursue my PhD in Computer Science Education and open a Computer Science Assistance Center using a similar model that the MAC is currently using – it’s super effective!
 
And now, 3 – Work for the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion to develop technologies to aid the Peer Educators as well as the campus, to develop apps/websites/other forms of computer tech to disseminate health and wellness related topics and data to campus citizens, and help coordinate the infrastructure for such reasons.
 
I know all of them sound ambitious but it all really boils down to my passion of wanting to make meaningful connections, to educate others in topics that are important to me, as well as further my passion for mental health advocacy.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how to do these things yet but at least I have an idea what I want to do. I want to make a difference in people’s lives in the educational aspect because the most meaningful time of my life has been when I was a college lecturer.
It’s also made me realize that I have made an impact on others – even if it was just for a day. And that to me is more priceless than money. It’s so important to me to know and to feel like I’ve contributed to society – even if it’s just the campus I’m in.
I know it’s going to be a tough journey because Computer Science is kicking me in the butt hard, but I also know that I’m going to work my hardest to make this a reality. This means that I’m going to have to work even harder than I have to help myself through my recovery. I’m still dependent on S, and hopefully someday that’ll change because I’ll have learned to rely on my own strengths, to practice self-care daily, to self-affirm, to self-love, and to keep growing.
After 8 painful months of suicidal thoughts, self-harm, severe depression, anxiety, and emotional turmoil, I hope that I can cope better and really commit to my recovery.

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?

Tired of Not Being OK

It has been a difficult day. I’ve been struggling with my program all day and I don’t even know what it is that I’m really struggling with. I just know that I know what I want to create but I don’t know how to go about it.

My Computing Professor told us before that when we say we don’t know how to make something, it’s because we don’t really know what we want to make. I’m pretty sure I know what I am trying to do but I’ve had moments where I’ve wondered if I really do.

Of course, all day today I’ve been questioning my place in Computer Science and whether I can cut it. If I am struggling so hard in this class (which is the beginner class), I don’t know how I’ll survive the next Computing class because that’s actually a weed-out class.

I texted the friend who is responsible for influencing my decision to go down this path and he told me that the project that I’m currently working on, “Cryptography”, was also the same project that made him wonder if he was cut out to be a programmer/computer scientist. It made me feel a little better hearing that because he is, aside from my genius husband, the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. He’s so much more talented than I am in the field of math and computer science. So to hear and to know that he had such a hard time with this project a year ago when he took this class, is comforting. Now, he’s one of the best in the program.

This friend of mine, C, tells me that that he believes that I can do it and that I am smart enough to get through Computer Science. Of course, this puts a lot of pressure on me. And today I realized that this is also tied very closely to my problem with shame. I suddenly realized today that I probably feel a different kind of affection for S because he’s the only person in my life who doesn’t have expectations of me. As much as I love the people who make up my support system, I have a self-perceived impression that all these people have expectations of me because they often tell me how much they believe that I can do it. This is related to the shame because I feel ashamed knowing that I don’t believe in myself although they do. I also feel ashamed or at least, I would feel ashamed, if I don’t live up to said expectations. It was an interesting thought – and one that I am looking forward to sharing with S when I see him next week.

Anyway, Hubster told me to take a break from my programming project and go to bed. He said that perhaps sleeping on it will help. I’ve been frustrated all day and earlier when he and I were at the hardware store, I kept looking at all the sharp implements that were in the store and was absentmindedly noting the prices. There was a pocket knife for sale for $4.99 and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s a pretty cheap and sharp looking knife. Cheap way to go I guess…”.

When I caught myself thinking that, I remembered my verbal promise to S that I would call the crisis line or 911 if I am at the point of harming myself. It was a strong reminder for me to not do anything rash. Still, while I know it’s silly to want to end my life over something as insignificant as a college assignment, at the same time, I can’t help these thoughts. I can’t stop them and I can’t escape them. And no one is more frustrated about it than me.

I am tired and no amount of sleep or rest can heal that. Sure, there are moments of color and some brief moments of what I might describe as “happiness” but there is also so much grey and darkness that these moments of color are too fleeting to grasp.

I’m struggling. I am tired of saying that. I am tired of saying that “I’m not ok but I’ll be fine” to people. I think I lied yesterday when I told S that I was feeling hopeful. I really don’t feel hopeful, no matter how much people tell me that things are going to be ok or that I’ll be ok.

Anxiety Takes The Wheel

Anxiety is crippling me today. I’m glad that I don’t have classes to go to because I don’t think I would be able to function if I did.

I’m anxious because the first thing I saw this morning was a comment from an ex-student of mine who means well but completely brought my self-doubts to the forefront of my mind.

As I mentioned before yesterday, I have been thinking about my career trajectory and contemplating a different field than Interior Design Technology. I personally feel like I need to challenge myself to do something I’m not good at instead of just settling for what I know I can do well. So in that vein, I’ve decided that I want to try and learn programming and see if I’m a good fit for Computer Science.

The message I had received this morning was, “I don’t mean to discourage you but there are plenty of programmers out there who are really really good at what they do and they’re 10 years younger than you are. If you had a background of experience in Engineering or IT, it would make sense for you to switch to that field. Otherwise, I don’t think it does…”.

Anxiety kicked to high gear then – not a good way to start the day. Anxiety told me that “See… You’re just not good enough. You wasted your youth and now you’re too old to do anything worthwhile. You might as well just kill yourself now. You won’t amount to anything anyway…”. I freaked out and reached out to three people that I knew would be able to talk some sense into me.

Thankfully, all three people came through for me and told me to not listen to discouraging words from people – especially not when they know that I can and will work hard to achieve my goals. They told me that I am worthy and that they believe in me.

That said, I am still anxious. I feel like someone is squeezing my head really tightly and trying to crush my brain. I am trying to do some math extra credit homework and the first question – which is an applied problem – is making my head reel. It’s making me doubt my application to be a Tutor at the Math Assistance Center. Anxiety told me, “You can’t even do an applied problem. How can you tutor other people math? You yourself can’t figure this out… You’re not going to be good enough. They’re not going to hire you! Why even bother? Just kill yourself already!”

So that’s why I’m writing this. I decided to take a break from the homework to write. Writing in this blog always helps me gather my thoughts. I feel a little less panicky now which is awesome but I know that the minute I go back to my homework, I’ll be anxious again.

I hate that when Depression takes a short break, Anxiety takes over. It’s like my brain is a car that they’re both taking a joyride in and when Depression takes the back seat, Anxiety takes the wheel. They’re taking me to places I don’t want to go and showing me things I don’t want to see.

At this point, I’m struggling. I don’t know what to do. When I’m in this state, any and all coping strategies escape my mind and the only thing I know to do is freak out because I suddenly find myself in a dark place, all by myself.

To Believe In Myself

So I must be in a stable mood this week because for some reason, I actually had a very positive day today despite the minor crisis that I was facing over my future career choice…

I even got to the point where I had believed in myself for a change! WOW!

That doesn’t happen very often especially when my anxiety is in full swing. Just a little while ago, I thought to myself that if there was ever a way for me to send a message back in time and that I only had one thing to tell my younger self, I would tell her to never ever listen to people’s discouraging words or negative comments about herself because if she had believed in herself a little more, she might actually have finished a STEM degree. It’s not that I’m not proud of myself for graduating as a Linguistics major with Honors, but my initial dream when I was a child was to be a doctor.

I gave up on that back in high school because I couldn’t understand anything I learned in math, physics or chemistry. The only subjects I was good at were English and Biology. The thing is though, now that I’m back in college a second time, I realize that school really isn’t all that hard for me because of how hard I work. The problem was that I had allowed people to talk me down and keep me down.

Earlier, I had asked my husband what he thought I should do where my career was concerned and he seemed to think that I am very capable and despite being warned by a couple of different people that Computer Science is a very difficult major, that I should try it out. He believed in me and told me that he has always believed in me. He wishes that I would see it myself.

I wish I could see it for myself too. I truly do. Today though, I had a little sneak peek into that as I realized that I can achieve the things that I put my mind to. After all, look at my math grades. I went to being a failure to an A+ student.

So I’m going to try and learn to code and see whether I enjoy it or not. If I do, I might actually do the switch. And with what I’ve already learned in Interior Design Technology so far, I can actually make it my minor. Win-win, right? We’ll see…

But anyway, this post is really just to share that little moment that I had just a little while ago where I had, for once, believed in myself long enough to make the decision to at least try out programming.

Like I said, I must be feeling a lot more stable this week. Maybe the depressive episode is lifting.