Strange Social Behavior

I’m drained.

Burnt out.

Stressed out.

I’m all kinds of not-doing-well, I guess. I flip-flop between being okay, and not okay throughout the day and some of the time, just feeling nothing at all.

I’m a little nervous about seeing S this week – not only because it’s a change in routine (he had something else going on during my regular appointment time – we have been changing our scheduled time around A LOT this semester. He had apologized and told me that he hasn’t gotten the hang of managing his schedule yet – but also because I’ll be making a solo trip out of state the next day, as well as the fact that I have so much to talk about but just not enough time in the session to do so.

I’m also nervous about what had happened on Saturday. I feel a lot of shame for my behavior and I had contemplated not writing this post.

On Saturday, my university had the biggest annual event of our campus. We had a kayak racing competition for all the students, alumni, faculty, as well as staff. It’s a huge deal here in our campus because it’s a day where everyone on campus gets to get together and just have a great day.

It was a beautiful day to have a 1/2 mile kayak race down the canal too. Even I, who hates being outdoors and under the sun, enjoyed myself being outside.

I was at the event at 10am and had a great time just being at the canal. It’s beautiful there, even if the water looked really gross. XD I had a great time just skating up and down the sidewalk next to the canal. When the race started, I had a great time just cheering the random teams on.

This was my first year attending the event – I hesitate to name it because I don’t know if I’ll be revealing my school’s name if I did since it’s a pretty unique name, so I think I’ll just call it “the event” for now. I was excited to be there just because I had never been to this annual event and yet have heard of it ever since I joined the school in the Spring of 2015.

I was also excited to be there because I knew that CAPS had two teams representing their department. I was excited to see how the staff at CAPS would fare in the race and I was also thrilled at the chance to see them outside of the dreary CAPS building.

When I saw D, the receptionist (whom I now realize is actually an Administrative Secretary – I think they changed her title recently), I told her “Good luck!”. I said hi to T, the co-facilitator for my group, and nodded at Y, whom I had seen once before for a walk-in. D was excited to see me and cheerfully thanked me. 10 minutes later, the teams were all loaded up in their kayaks and within minutes they were all racing down the canal.

I hopped on my skateboard and followed them down the canal. I stopped halfway through to wait so that I could cheer them on as they changed rowers. When the CAPS team came by again, I recognized S, and B (she was the lead psychologist for my previous group) and I felt my heart catch in my throat. I didn’t realize that S was going to be in this team. I thought that he would be in the other team. I felt pleased that I could see him.

And suddenly, I found myself feeling like a creeper or a stalker because as the CAPS team raced by, the rest of the department were following them on foot – cheering and screaming their colleagues on. I hopped back on my skateboard and followed them.

I was totally creeping on them. My curiosity drove me onward. I felt a mix of guilt, shame, and giddy excitement as I followed them. When I arrived at the docking area, I saw that CAPS had gotten 4th place. I was very impressed because these are professionals who spend all day sitting on their office chairs in front of their computers as well as sitting on their couches/armchairs across from their clients. For them to beat some young people was an impressive feat. I felt proud for them.

I watched from 20 feet away as they disembarked and excitedly talked to each other about the race. As they started talking to each other and walked away from the docking area, I realized that they were headed towards their families.

I followed them and I saw their families. It warmed my heart to see them with their kids, spouses, and partners.They all looked like they had picture perfect families – of course, it’s just an impression but everyone looked very happy to be there. None of the kids were crabby or complaining and it looked like everyone was just having a good time. It looked like a picnic scene from a movie. It was great!

Now here’s where the shame comes in.

I felt ashamed of myself because I just stood from afar and observed them. S and I had not discussed our boundaries when it comes to school events so I didn’t quite know how to act. I didn’t know whether it was okay for me to go up to them to say hi or not – although C, the Office Manager, did recognize me moments before the race had begun and had said hi to me. Though she is the Office Manager, and not a Psychologist so the rules don’t quite apply to her. I didn’t know if any of the psychologists had noticed me or not and if they knew that I had been observing them.

I tried to be as surreptitious as I could. See, I have a huge fear of rejection – I’m so afraid that things I do and say could cause people to judge me or to not want to talk to me again. I’m always afraid of causing friction with others because I’m not always sure of how to act. So, because of that, I tend to just stand from afar and observe people, gathering knowledge of them without ever having to expose myself to the vulnerable position of potential rejection.

I think I might have stood around for maybe half an hour to an hour just observing everyone. Now, doesn’t that just sound like something a creeper would do?

I started beating myself up the longer I watched them. The more I criticized myself, the worse I felt, until finally, I snapped out of my trance-like observations and told myself that I needed to run some errands before I headed to work. As I drove to the barber’s for my desperately needed haircut, I told myself that I was being such a weirdo.

Then something else happened that was somewhat unexpected – which lends credibility to my thought that I’m really improving and recovering.

I suddenly stopped myself from criticizing myself and instead said to myself, out loud in the car as I drove, “Jules, you need to stop beating yourself up. You were curious about them. You were particularly curious about S and his family. You wanted to know what his wife looked like. You wondered if he had a mixed race family, or whether they were all Caucasians. You wanted to know what his children looked like and you wanted to confirm for yourself the gender of his youngest. You’re just really curious about him because you don’t have access to him on a regular basis. And you just want to see him in that context because you wanted to know more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know more about someone. It means that you care about them. You didn’t do anything weird or creepy. You and S didn’t discuss what boundaries you should have during school events so you stayed away so that there was no potential backlash. After all, the director of CAPS was there. She could have deemed your actions inappropriate and S could’ve gotten in trouble. So it was good that you stood far away and didn’t engage them”

Every time the critical voice came back, I would speak to it and say, “It’s okay. You felt what you felt. Your curiosity was burning. What you felt was valid. It’s okay…”

When I calmed down, I marveled at how I had handled that. I was so distressed when I left the canal. I felt disgusted at myself but later was able to recognize that yes, I was creeping, but that I was not doing it out of malice or inappropriate reasons. I was/am curious.

The only thing is now… I don’t know how I’m going to bring this up to S. I don’t know how he would feel knowing that I had seen him and his family. I just know that he would want me to talk to him about this. There definitely are underlying issues behind my creeping behavior as he isn’t the first person I’ve done this to – I’ve done this to everyone who’s been heavily involved in my life at some point or another. My intense desire to connect with them, and be a part of their lives overwhelms me and I obsess over them. I don’t know how normal or abnormal this behavior is but I just know that in my case, it’s a sign of deeply rooted issues that I have yet to process.

So that makes me nervous to see S on Thursday.

I hope things work out and I’ll be able to figure out why I’m so obsessed with people and how I can work through that.

Psychologists Are Humans Too

I find it ironic that therapists/psychologists are so very calm, collected, and seem to have their life so perfectly balanced when you see them in their office – their comfort zone. However, once outside of that space, they are just like all of us with insecurities, fears, dreams, hopes, and such.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that they’re just as human as we are, especially when we sit across from them in their office and we’re the ones getting their help and expertise. It’s so easy to forget that they too have their own preconceived notions, their opinions, their strong emotions, their principles, and their own lives essentially.

I hold my psychologist to a high regard because he has come through for me multiple times and he’s shown me that he deserves my trust and respect. He is also essential to my growth as a person, as it is because of his help that I am who I am today. Sure, I did a lot of the leg work myself, but without his gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudging, his patience, his calm and collected nature, and his great skills, I wouldn’t have been able to do the work.

I have developed a strong attachment and some very strong emotions towards S as a result. Initially, I saw him as my rescuer – the person who came through for me when I needed someone the most. I put him on a pedestal as a result. For the longest time, I couldn’t ever be angry with him, or have any emotions that in any way were negative because of how highly I thought of him. Even when he messed up one time and reacted in a way that made me think that he was dismissive of my thoughts, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him or to even accept that he had messed up.

Then, as therapy progressed and I started to learn and grow, I started being able to speak to him more about our relationship. Slowly, through the months and weeks, I lowered the pedestal until now, he’s someone who I deem as my partner in this journey of recovery. He’s finally on solid ground with me and though I still hold him in high regard, I am no longer idolizing him as I once did. I’m able to speak more candidly about how I feel about him when the situation arises. I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I could do that now.

At our session today, I was actually able to finally reveal my strong emotions towards him. I even said, “I have great affection for you, S. And sometimes, I even say to myself, ‘I really love S’. But it’s not the kind of love that you’d think. I mean, it’s like you’re someone I really hold dear but I’m not attracted to you – well, that’s the thing you see… I don’t think I am. I’m sometimes confused and that’s why I’ve never really brought this up before. I have a lot of fear that I may be attracted to you so I don’t want to be that person. I mean, first of all, you’re married. And secondly, you’re my therapist! I mean, I don’t want to be that client that crosses the line… So I’ve always been afraid of my own feelings towards you…”

S looked bemused. I was somewhat babbling because I felt like I had to make myself as clear as possible so as to not cause any misunderstanding. I truly did care and even love him, but not in that way, you know?

“So you have these strong emotions for me. This strong attachment with me. And somehow, you feel that it’s wrong. And that you shouldn’t have these feelings…” S said. He wasn’t reacting in a way that I thought he was going to (i.e. freak out). He was in his comfort zone after all – every week, he is in charge even if it may seem like I’m the one who brings up issues for us to talk about but really, he’s the one in control of the flow of the conversation. I wonder if the situation would’ve been different had I revealed this to him while we were outside of CAPS.

“Yeah… Because I’m confused you know? I mean, I don’t think I’m attracted to you but I didn’t want to take the chance… I was afraid… I don’t want to ruin this relationship!” I said.

“So you push the strong emotions away. You try to bury it. And you tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel this way,” S said.

“Yeah… Because transference seem to be a kind of stigma in the psychology community – that if your client has transference, it means that it’s bad… I mean, from everything I’ve read…”

“So you’re getting all this from the psychologists’ perspective,” S said.

“Well, not just psychologists but also clients who have  had bad experiences by crossing the line…”

“Jules, it’s okay to have these feelings. And I don’t think that it’s the case here with you, but even if it’s sexual, that it’s okay to have these feelings. What’s not okay is what happens after you have these feelings. It’s not okay, for example, for you to show up at my house. It’s not okay for us to engage in anything inappropriate. Or to blur our boundaries. But your feelings are valid. Those emotions are there so that you can better connect with people. When you push them all away, you don’t get to fully experience this connection because you’re holding back,” S said.

“We’ve never really established our boundaries before,” I said.

“Yeah, I was just thinking about that recently and realized that we never really did…” S said.

“Yeah, so I’ve sometimes been confused about that. Whether something is okay or not. And then I feel bad about stuff…”

“Well, it’s my job to set up these boundaries. It’s on me to do these things. Like the time when I told you that maybe you shouldn’t bring me anymore Starbucks. It was on me to make the call. It’s not on you to do that…” S said. It made me feel a little better because he was taking the responsibility that I had taken on myself. “I do want to check in with you about last week…”

Here we go, I thought to myself. I nodded.

“How did you feel that went?”

“Well…” I said, hesitating. “A part of me was thrilled. To be honest. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit… I mean…. Yeah… But I was thrilled because I don’t think we’ve ever been outside of CAPS together for a length of time”

“Nope!” S said.

“Yeah… So I was thrilled because I got to see you again. And this time, outside of your office. I wanted to talk to you again so that was nice that I was able to. But I’ll be honest… I was actually expecting you and so I was prepared because I overheard the grad students talking and they let it slip that you were coming to relieve one of them. So I had time to prepare myself… But it seemed like you weren’t expecting me”

“Yeah. I wasn’t expecting you. But ever since I found out that you were going to be a Peer Educator, I had already thought to myself that at some point, we’d bump into each other in one of these events.” S said.

“Yeah, I know. And I was determined to not make it weird. So I tried really hard not to be awkward. But… I did feel like you were awkward around me,” I said pointedly.

He sheepishly smiled and said, “Yeah… Yeah I was… Let me normalize this… I don’t think any of us are really comfortable seeing our clients outside of our office. I think it’s definitely awkward and that it’s normal. We usually just go with the client’s lead and see how they respond and we’ll act accordingly…”

Aha! I thought to myself, I knew it! He was being weird and awkward last week during the Alcohol Screening event. He seemed a little embarrassed by it. I then explained to him that I just wanted to be able to treat him normally, like I would any other person. I also told him that when I see him outside of the office, though he’s still my psychologist, he’s also at that point just S, who’s getting lunch, or S who’s getting a drink, or S who’s manning an outreach booth, etc. I said that I was fine with him interacting with me normally.

“Yeah. Well, we can say hi to each other and talk. Say we’re at the campus center and both of us are getting lunch. I can talk to you but I can’t be your friend. This means that I can’t go and sit with you and have lunch together. We can’t have dual roles – so that means we can’t be friends because I’m your psychologist.”

I nodded. I knew that. I’d done my research back when we first started working together and learned about the fact that psychologists aren’t allowed to be anything other than a psychologist to their clients.

Anyway, I then told him that I was glad that he outlined some of our boundaries. It’s going to make it easier for me to know how to respond to him or how to act around him. I was glad we had this talk because it’s been a long time coming. It only took a year and a half for us to finally address the elephant in the room. XD

After today’s session, it made me realize that S felt vulnerable last week during the event and so acted awkwardly around me. It made me realize that S too experiences these negative emotions, the way that I do. It makes him all the more endearing to me because it means that he’s as real as real can be. I appreciated our candor and our time together.

Today was a validating session – despite the fact that I still shed some tears because I had brought up some difficult emotions – I left feeling largely stable (though unsettled by how stable I was feeling) despite going in to the session thinking that I was going to leave with distressing feelings and thought as I usually do because we’d been “stirring the pot”.

It was a pleasant feeling. It was a feeling that I haven’t really experienced in a while now since my depressive episode had lasted 9 months now. It felt good to be calm and stable.

Exhaustion

I was supposed to come home and study/finish my homework or assignments. Guess what I did instead?

I browsed through Amazon for things that I shouldn’t be buying and wasted all the precious time on that.

It’s like I have an unconscious desire to fail in school. It also seems like with the self-harm, I have an unconscious desire to be forced into a psych ward. I’m not sure why that is but I’m self-sabotaging for sure.

I wonder if it’s fear… I’m afraid to take responsibility for my own actions – so perhaps if I was forced into a situation where I have no choice, then I can say that I didn’t have anything to do with it. That it was someone else’s fault that I had failed.

I don’t know exactly what it is but a part of me thinks that it’s hugely influenced by the fear I have.

Sometime tomorrow, my ex is going to be married and I need to take my mind off things. My friend, El, told me to focus on coding. I thought about how unmotivated I am to code. I’m not sure why. She speculates that maybe I just don’t enjoy it and so that’s why I don’t want to do it.

Thing is, I feel tired. Every time I think of homework or assignments, my mind feels heavy and my body feels fatigued. Every time I think of having to do something that could potentially be overwhelmingly stressful, I have the same feelings of fatigue. I’m groaning, I’m dragging my feet, and my eyes are heavy with drowsiness.

Every time I talk to S, I bemoan the fact that I’m tired. I keep telling him that every single time I am in session. “I’m tired, S. Just so tired…” I don’t know how to fix it. 😦

I think it’s been 4 weeks since I’ve last had a day off.

Reflections From Today

So I saw Dr W today, my psychiatrist. I told her how I don’t like being on Strattera and how tired it makes me feel. I also told her that it’s not working all that well anymore because I haven’t been able to focus or concentrate on anything lately. She asked me about my stressors and I revealed to her that I have many.

It’s the first time I’ve ever really been that forthcoming with her. I usually withhold just how badly I feel or how depressed I really am. I don’t tell her how often I have suicidal thoughts. All this because I know that she will prescribe me more medication.

I was right in my assumption because today, she upped my Zoloft dosage to 100mg because of all the things that I’m suffering through lately – with my move, my divorce, my terrifyingly difficult semester (which is only going to get worse as the semesters progress), my abandonment issues, my fears, my hectic schedule, my unstable financial situation, and work. She thinks that my loss of focus and motivation is due to these stressors and she hopes that by fixing my mood and anxiety, that the Strattera will start working again. She told me to give it 3-6 weeks and if nothing changes, then we should reconsider the Strattera.

To be honest, although I hated the heart palpitations, the sweaty and cold hands, the constant sweating, the flushed face, and the anxiety that Ritalin brought on me, I liked the other more positive effects like how it boosts my energy, how it keeps me going strong despite not having had a meal, how it helps me stop my sugar craving, and how I can control my diet better. Strattera makes me exhausted – all. the. time. – and I feel sluggish, my mind gets foggy easily, and my dry mouth symptom is the worst thing to deal with since I have to talk a lot – being a server, you can’t not be talking to your guests.

Anyway, so now I have to give Zoloft another try. It hasn’t really been doing anything for me. I doubt it will do anything even with 100mg.

After the meeting with Dr W, I headed to group therapy in which because the lead facilitator wasn’t able to attend, the co-facilitator was more inclined to let us rant instead of just focusing on how we feel at any given moment. One of the group members was having difficulty letting go of an unhealthy relationship, and the rest of us fervently encouraged her to love and respect herself first. To put herself first. As the session grew, we all started getting more and more “rant-y”. Near the end, the group member who had brought up her issue of unhealthy relationships talked about her career fears and insecurities now that graduation is approaching. She is Asian, like me, and we both share starkly similar backgrounds where our parents were concerned. Her rant about her parents brought me into the fray and before long, the two of us  were pretending to be our parents and saying things that Asian parents would say (things that people usually turn into memes). This prompted another member, a Caucasian, to express how angry he was that any parent would do that to their children and how it must be that his lack of cultural understanding is what is making him so angry while the other member and I are just accepting it as a lost cause.

As the group filed out the group therapy room, I said to T, “You totally just let us rant, didn’t you?” while chuckling.

T smirked and gave me a mischievous look.

“Well, it just seemed like Steph (not her real name, obviously) really needed it…”

“Yeah… She did… And I guess we all did…” I said with a smile. Most of the time, T had sat back and just listened, from time to time, he had an amused look on his face. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in therapists’ heads. I know S smirks to himself from time to time as I speak – it always makes me wonder what it was that he was smirking at. I never had the guts to ask him. I’m building up to it. One day, hopefully soon, I’ll ask him why he smirked or why he looks so amused.

When group therapy ended, I felt a great tug in my gut – I wanted to see S so badly. I saw that his door was closed with the “Do not disturb” sign hanging on the doorknob. It meant that he was with a client. I was upset.

And of course, like always, whenever I’m upset, I spiral downwards.

I thought about the rope that I had. I thought about the noose that I had tied last night. I thought about the anguished email I wrote to S. Then I thought about something I read on PaperDoll’s blog about how she realizes that her therapist isn’t her crisis line and that she shouldn’t be messaging her during crisis. I thought about the email that I had sent S this morning at 3.30am when I couldn’t sleep and the suicidal thoughts plagued me. It was a wonder that I didn’t get up from out of bed and hung myself then. I realized that I shouldn’t be sending him emails like that. He can’t answer me through email and technically, I shouldn’t even have his email address.

I want to hear from him constantly. It kills me that I keep thinking about him because I know that I shouldn’t be relying on him all the time. I need to grow up. I need to be the support I need. But of course, it’s easier said than done.

I waited until S was done with his session with his client. When I saw that his door was open, I took the bundle of paracord rope and marched to his office. I was going to ask the receptionist, K, if I could go talk to S but there was a line at the reception counter. I figured that if I didn’t go see S then, I probably wouldn’t. Besides, I am at CAPS so much that I didn’t think that anyone would stop me if I went down the hallway towards S’ office.

I was right because although T was walking down the hallway towards me, he didn’t make any moves to stop me. Neither did P, another psychologist that I had seen before for a crisis intervention session. In fact, she smiled at me. I think both T and P, who were both S’ office neighbors, knew that I was headed to S’ office.

My hands shook as I lightly knocked on his ajar door. S was at his desk. He looked up from his work and smiled at me.

“Hey…” He said.

“Hey… Um…” I started, not sure if I should explain what I was doing there standing at his door. I decided not to because I already felt quite awkward to stand there. My hand shook as I showed him the bundle of rope. “Can you… Can you please take this from me?”

His eyes widened a little when he realized what it was that I was holding. He quickly sat up in his chair and leaned over to reach for the rope. I had half a mind to pull my hand back as he reached. I didn’t want to be out of that option – if I were to die, I wanted it to be my choice.

“Yeah!” He said, as he took the rope from me. He then looked a little concerned. I clenched my jaw. My hands continued to shake. “Were you waiting? I just finished with a client…”

I wanted to say that I knew that but I didn’t want to come across as a stalker. Yes, S. I know. I’ve been watching you from outside of your window. Eee heee heee heeee heeeeee….

“Um, no… Yeah, I know. I saw that your door was open. So I thought… I could try to see if you were here…”

He hesitated and looked like he was going to say something else, but he didn’t and I could tell that he was gauging my facial expression and body language. Probably trying to figure out what it was that I wanted from him. I wanted to say more but I realized that I was standing outside of his office which is inappropriate. So awkwardly, I said, “Yeah… Okay… See you”

“I’ll see you next week, Jules…” He said.

“Yeah… Yeah you too… Take care…” I said as I wandered away, my hands still shaking. As I left CAPS, I wanted to punch things and scream in anger. I think I didn’t want my autonomy taken away – despite the fact that technically, I was the one who decided to give up that autonomy. I knew I had to do it. I’ve been toying with the suicidal thoughts too much lately. So much so that I learned how to tie a noose.

My week has been terribly hectic and when I pulled into my parking space last night, I had promptly burst into tears because thoughts of my ex crossed my mind, and thoughts of me being so lonely crossed my mind. They triggered an outflow of tears that were uncontrollable. A friend said that I am stressed. I feel like I’m at the brink of a mental breakdown. It feels like it’ll happen soon and when it does, I’m sure people around me will be surprised.

Thoughts From Therapy #78 – Craving Attention

I have found from today’s session with S that when I’m sleep drunk, I’m actually very effective and productive in therapy because it lets the child take over and talk more freely than when I’m fully awake.

I had woken up this morning in the middle of REM sleep which caused me to experience a moderately severe disorientation that lasted hours. I was so disoriented, I almost walked into walls and things like that. It was a wonder that I was able to drive. I thought for sure that I would’ve ruined today’s therapy session because of it. In fact, I had woken up 10 minutes to 10am and freaked out because despite now living closer to school, I would never have been able to make it to CAPS on time. Thankfully, S had an opening at 11am so I was able to push my appointment back.

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Thoughts From Therapy – #75 – Relinquishing My Weapon and A Change of Style

The session with S went well enough… At the start. Near the end, it took a turn for the worse because the child was craving more attention while the adult wanted to keep us safe.

So the adult said to S, “I didn’t want to tell you this….” I paused because the child started to protest. After a few moments of hesitation, the adult regained control and continued, “I actually bought a knife…”

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Thoughts From Therapy #70 – The Rageful Child

**Note: This was supposed to be published last Thursday but I got too busy to finish this uber long post so now it’s out of place.**

S and I make a great team. I’ve known that for a while now because of how almost effortless it is for us to hash things out and to come to well founded conclusions about my psyche.

Today’s session though, completely confirms that notion that I’ve always had about us. We had a huge breakthrough – a huge win that I have been desperately needing since my world came crashing down a couple of weeks or so ago.

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I haven’t stopped crying since Monday and yesterday’s session was just me fighting through my tears to speak. I was crying so hard and so much in S’ office yesterday that I was shaking and my voice was so cracked and shaky that it was hard for me to even say words.

Today’s session was accompanied by some tears but I was completely rational, heck intelligent even, in my analysis of things and my ideas about myself. I shed tears when we were at certain points that elicited some strong emotional response but overall, I’d say that I was pretty collected for the most part.

This, like all my other “Thoughts From Therapy” posts, will be a long one. But boy, what a win! I was so excited because I felt, for the first time in a very long time, light. Sure, I was still carrying all my burdens but somehow, I am able to carry it better this time. I don’t know how I’ll feel later in the day or even tomorrow but for now at least, I’m stable.

I felt so light that while I was waiting for my Starbucks order, I couldn’t stop the H in my ADHD from being out of control. I kept trying to talk to the barista who obviously didn’t want to talk. I was hyper. I bought 4 Green Tea Lattes – one for D, the receptionist, one for S to thank him for his efforts and support, one for me and one for my friend, CG, my coding buddy and the first friend I ever made in college who believed in me so much that he never stopped bugging me about joining him in Computer Science.

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