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.

Still Alive

Anyone who follows my Facebook, my blog, or knows me personally knows that I’ve been through a hellish year with processing the traumas of my life, processing a painful and messy divorce, battling suicidal thoughts and intents, battling self harming tendencies, processing my sexual orientation and what it means to be Christian despite it, dealing with the pain of intense self-shame, self-punishment, self-defeat, as well as experiencing all those feelings as I project them onto others, working two jobs while contributing as a Peer Educator, and struggling with financial issues.

At the end of the day, we’re on the cusp of the beginning of the final month of the year – I’m still here, after all that shit, I’m still fighting.

I’m going to fail all my classes – in retrospect, that shouldn’t add to more shame for me right?

Then why do I still keep feeling like I’ve wasted an entire semester doing nothing? – Even though, I’ve done more in this semester where my mental health is concerned than I’ve ever done in my life.

The critical voices in my head need to stop.

After all the shit, I should get a medal for still being here. What are 3 F’s in a transcript compared to how I’m still alive?

Crawling Out of The Rut

It’s been quite a while since I’d written and I do apologize but life has been a roller coaster lately.

Since I started crawling out of my post-divorce rut, I had taken a misstep and had fallen back into another rut – the school/academic rut. As I am slowly recovering from the post-divorce rut, I realize how badly I’ve been doing in school lately.

I’m doing 3 classes officially with the fourth class being a supplemental 1-credit hour class and despite only doing 12 credit hours, I’m floundering really badly. I am failing Discrete Computational Structure (which is essentially just Discrete Math) and can’t keep up with the class. I am not doing well in Calculus despite this being the second time I’m taking the same class (the number of homework and tests/quizzes for this class is truly relentless!) and I’m also struggling really badly with Computing 2 (mainly because the midterm project has crushed all motivation that I ever had in me).

All this has led to an unfortunate amount of stress and tension. I kept backing myself into the corner again – telling myself that I am so weak, and that perhaps I need to reconsider my dream of being a computer scientist. That perhaps, I had made a mistake in thinking that I was smart enough for this venture.

Thankfully, through all this, Chérie has been steadfast in her encouragement and commitment to me. Despite all the whining I’ve been doing about school, she has been very supportive – she even sat me down (figuratively since we’re almost 400 miles apart) one day to help me reorganize my schedule. She and I both successfully helped me cut out 8 hours of work from the restaurant as well as 3 and a half extra hours from private tutoring. Just having her sit with me and discuss my plans was very useful. It calmed me down considerably. It allowed me to refocus.

We’ve only been together 2 weeks so far and things have been going really well for us. It’s interesting how well we’re doing and how much we’ve planned and discussed. I suppose that since we’re both in our thirties, it’s not hard for us to be mature in our outlook and steadfast in our decisions. I truly am fortunate to have found such an amazing person to share my life with.

Group therapy had been very interesting on Friday. The issue between Kyle and Brandon came up again (see: A Most Intense Group Session for context) and I pointed out that since this came up again, that the issue must be pressing enough to warrant another look.

This time, the gloves were off as both Kyle and Brandon got heated with their ideas and opinions. Brandon still didn’t understand why Kyle would not empathize with him or just show him some compassion while Kyle didn’t understand why Brandon is so “fanatical” in his beliefs. Brandon took offense to Kyle’s w0rd choice. Kyle responded that he had no idea why Brandon would so arrogantly presume that everyone should see things his way.

As the conflict got more heated, J was good to jump in and diffuse things before they escalated even more. She cut in a lot and mitigated the conflict very well. At one point she said, “Okay, the content of the disagreement is not what we’re trying to discuss here. We’re trying to discuss how we can approach each other when something like this happens!”

She was right. The content of the argument was not important at all. As both men continued to argue, I interrupted them and jumped in. I didn’t think that I would ever have the guts to do something like that but I did.

I said, “Okay guys. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but I can really see both sides here. I can empathize with both of you and I do. Brandon, I am part of the LGBTQ community too now and I understand how you feel. I get how angry you are and how much you just want to punch everyone who even utters a tiny homophobic comment. I get it. It makes me mad when a Christian acts like total assholes. At the same time though, I see Kyle’s point – I see what he means by how the Westboro people are just lunatics – it’s because they are. No matter how much we fight them, we’ll never win because they are not only brainwashed to hate people who are different from them, they are also delusional! Doing nothing sucks but sometimes we just need to have compassion for these misguided people. That said, Kyle, I feel like you’re not really empathizing with Brandon. I mean, this is what I perceive. I perceive that you have a great reluctance to just say that you care for Brandon. There were easy outs and you refused to take any of them. J asked you if you cared to be here and your answer was ‘Well if I didn’t care I wouldn’t be here’. Brandon asked you if you could just give him some empathy while T flat-out told you that Brandon just needs to feel some connection from you. Yet you refuse all three offers to let you off the hook. It makes me wonder then if you’re just afraid to show yourself to us – that is to be vulnerable and humble. I have two theories. One it’s that you’ve invested too much into this argument between you and Brandon that if you don’t get any resolutions from it, then it would make the last year for us to be pointless. All I’m saying is that, I feel like you could also be a little less judgmental toward Brandon and just reach out to him, offer some support, and just be there!”

I felt my heart hammer in my ribcage as I spoke. I was afraid of how I was going to be perceived. This was why I didn’t like conflicts. I was afraid of the fact that Kyle and Brandon could both hate me because I was being blunt.

It turned out that what I said opened up the conflict into smaller more manageable chunks. We were able to mostly sort through our emotions and reactions toward the conflict. When asked what we learned from the experience, I talked about how fearful I was to share my opinion and how uncomfortable it was to be amidst the conflict. T pointed out that he was glad that I came to that realization and reminded me that through this experience, we’re able to see that just because we’re not directly involved in the fight, we are actually still a part of the conflict as it still affects us “bystanders”.

I learned a few things from group this week – one was that I don’t always have to follow my instincts and pick a side (I’ve always felt like I had to pick a side. Otherwise, both sides will hate me…) because chances are neither of them were right and choosing a side merely makes everything even more petty. I was able to resist my instincts this time and was able to overcome the discomfort of not knowing what to do. I was also able to sit through the discomfort of being in the middle of a conflict and not run away. I was able to do this without having a meltdown. I was also able to realize how brave I was to say my thoughts and perceptions.

At the end of the session, I called Chérie excitedly on the phone and conveyed everything that had happened in group. She was ecstatic to hear that I was able to do what I did – “Good job!” she had said.

“I actually feel kinda proud of myself,” I said, feeling the same kind of embarrassed shame creep in to my cheeks. I was proud of the fact that I was proud of myself because self-validation has never been my strong suit. I think I’m really moving forward towards a mentally healthier me with my improvement in self-validation, self-pride, and self-encouragement.

So that’s been my week so far. I hadn’t had time to really write any Thoughts From Therapy posts either but as assignments pile up, I barely have any time to be online anymore, much less spend time writing blog posts. I hope to be able to post more thoughtful posts when things start to cool off for me. Until then, I’m just grateful that I still have people I trust here in the blogverse and people who care enough to come back and check to see if I have new posts.

 

Eventful Day

It has been an eventful and moderately overwhelming day – both for good and bad reasons.

I woke up this morning and discovered that I was low on both Zoloft and Strattera. I was very tempted to let them run out and just quit my psych meds cold turkey. I don’t think that would’ve been a great idea but I’m just sick of taking the medications that I don’t feel like are working. I was contacted by an old co-worker who was worried for me – she suggested that I seek help from an inpatient facility to help me cope. I thanked her for her kindness and unexpected messages because I hadn’t talked to her in maybe a year and a half. The fact that she cared enough for me to reach out warmed my heart.

My day started proper with my first Peer Educator duty of the day where I had to sit in on a presentation done by one of the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP)’s Assistant Directors. The topic was “Alcohol and Personal Choice”. As it was a presentation that I hadn’t seen before, I was very attentive through it all.

As I listened and learned, I also felt guilty for my drinking last Friday when I was feeling extremely disappointed, and depressed. This was because the presentation was about making healthy choices such as limiting drinking to less than 4 drinks per day and a total of 7 drinks per week (for women) or 14 drinks per week (for men). Last Friday, I had consumed 3 drinks and a shot of cinnamon schnapps (which tasted terrible btw) in an hour with an empty stomach. The result was a drunk me relatively quickly.

I made the worst decision ever to drive home. I was convinced I was okay. Somehow, I managed to park my car straight, and shower without falling down and killing myself. By the time I got to bed, I had actually just collapsed without realizing that I had fallen asleep until 2am when I got up abruptly because I needed to pee. The next day, I realized what I’d done and realized how easily I could’ve been arrested for DUI as well as how easily it could’ve been for me to cause someone harm. I was very regretful of my choices.

The presentation was definitely an eye-opener for me and I resolve to – if I even drink – to never drink so much so quickly. I was after a Peer Educator so I need to practice what I preach. I’m just glad that I get a second chance to never repeat this mistake again.

After the presentation, I was supposed to go to the Cube, where the office for the HWP Peer Educators’ was located. My office hours were from 11am to noon. As soon as I reached the Cube, I got a text from one of the Lead Peer Educators that I could skip my office hours today to help one of the other Assistant Directors (we have 3 ADs) with tabling. So off I went to help her set up the table – we were at the Campus Center to promote October as Domestic/Relationship Violence Awareness Month (yes, I’m aware that October is also Mental Health Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and National Coming Out Month).

14522708_10157624632585002_4423510020562352860_n-copy

It’s On Us to Stop Sexual Violence!

I pasted a sticker on my skateboard to promote the campaign to stop sexual violence on campus and in the community. I figured that with how I carry my skateboard everywhere, it’s a good way to raise some awareness.

I had a good time tabling – I always do – because I not only had the opportunity to speak to the Assistant Director, but also another Peer Educator and be able to connect with people who stopped by the booth. It is one aspect of my job that I really enjoy.

Doing my job as a Peer Educator really makes me happy because not only does it make me forget all my woes for a while, it also allows me to help people with theirs. I realized today that I’m only happiest when I’m doing something Peer Educator related lately.

After my Peer Educator duties, I had to go to the MAC to perform my Mentor duties there. It was extremely busy at the section that I had to tutor at so it was hard not to get a sore throat by the end of my 3-hour shift. I was exhausted – socially, and emotionally by the end of it. Tutoring is always an exhausting affair because sometimes you could be dealing with students who have no clue what you’re talking about or students who have a hard time grasping concepts. I do enjoy helping people solve problems though so that is definitely one aspect of tutoring that I enjoy.

In the middle of the MAC shift, I went outside to the courtyard to find the Westboro Baptist Church members spewing hate towards the LGBTQ+ community and the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Center. They were there to protest the Center.

I’m proud to say that my university was not only prepared (they put up metal barriers around the area where the protestors were), the staff and faculty were also there to prevent students from engaging in the hate-mongers by forming a human shield between students and protestors. The CAPS staff were there as well to provide psychological aid and counseling if needed. I was so impressed by the staff and faculty because of how much they care for the students. They voluntarily stood outside in the sun to protect the students.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was very surprised by how many people showed up as well in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t think we would fill up the huge courtyard but we almost filled all of it. While the WBC protestors were screaming their hateful words, the students had a dance party instead – the speakers were blaring loud music and it drowned out the protests.

As there were only 7 of them, you could barely even see them in the sea of people. I was saddened to see 2 children amidst the protestors. I wondered what they were being taught. While I agree with Biblical teachings and getting children acquainted with the Bible, I can’t say I agree with teaching hate to children. It’s so disgusting.

While the counter-protest in the form of the dance party by the students was going on, the whole place was just abuzz with energy and movement. I looked around and realized that it was like I was back at the Pride day again back in May. It really looked and felt like a Pride kind of event. Unbeknownst to the WBC protestors, their action had made all the LGBTQ+ community and allies come out together and have a good time. It was definitely an unexpected win in my opinion.

I spent about 10 minutes finding some of the people I know, taking photos, taking selfies, and talking to people before I resumed my shift at the MAC. It was a good event – what was supposed to be a negative event turned into a very positive one.

I was also able to meet the Director of CAPS at the LGBTQ+ Center. She was there to provide CAPS’ support. I introduced myself and told her that I wanted to thank her for the services that CAPS provide. I thanked her for all the hard work that CAPS is doing and how all the staff that I’ve ever met are very professional and have been really helpful. I told her how much I utilize the services and how I’m glad that CAPS exists. I told her that I didn’t know how much thanks she and CAPS get but I wanted to make sure that at least I say something. She told me that people don’t often thank them and that it’s rare to hear a note of gratitude but that she appreciates getting them all the same. She thanked me for bringing my thoughts to her attention and she seemed genuinely pleased that I had stopped to talk to her. Despite having been at CAPS for a year and a half now, I had yet been able to talk to the Director herself so I felt honored that I was able to do so today.

On a less than stellar note, I wrote an email to the management of the new restaurant that I had just joined about 3 weeks ago. I told them in my email that I was unable to continue employment with them because I am struggling too severely with depression and suicidality. I told them that even being around the work environment gets me down. I made it explicit that I would be suicidal every time I was at the restaurant. I apologized for letting the team down, for not finishing my shifts, and for not providing ample notice.

The truth is, I was just done with the place. I was done with all the management issues and how little the managers care about the employees. Besides not caring, they were also uptight about a lot of things – for me, they were upset with my dyed hair so I had to dye it back to my natural black.

When they told me that I had to do that, I was livid. I didn’t like them ever since then. I felt like I had lost a part of me when I dyed my hair back to black. I felt upset because the stability that I’m trying to rebuild for myself came crashing down when I lost the ability to express myself. For days, I felt uneasy because my hair was solid black. It is strange but somehow, my mental wellness depended on how I looked or felt on any given day.

Anyway, I hope the management team understands my restrictions and can forgive me for the immediate resignation. Somehow, I can’t see them being very compassionate. I could imagine them judging me and gossiping about me. I’ve never quit a job without giving ample notice before. And I’ve certainly never quit a restaurant after just 4 weeks of working there.

The negativity, whining, backstabbing, and gossiping that happens among the staff of the restaurant is definitely very annoying to deal with. I didn’t need to add more drama in my life – I already have enough to write a book with. I hope the management team doesn’t call me. I contemplated calling them and giving my resignation that way instead but the thought of calling someone and talking to them on the phone made me sick to the stomach. My anxiety was definitely acting up a lot and I didn’t think that I’d be able to speak on the phone without crying very hard. That was definitely a hard part of my day today.

Overall, I am spent. S and I will have a lot to talk about tomorrow.

14495382_10157625781650002_1995025848086831318_n-copy

Representing the MAC, and the Office of HWP while also promoting mental health advocacy.

Monday Blues

Trigger warning: This post might trigger anxiety attacks because of what I’ll be talking about.

It’s 10.35am and I’m stressed out to nearly the point of being overwhelmed. I’m close. Any more and I’ll definitely be in the red zone.

I think the source of my stress came from thinking too far ahead – I know that I push myself to the precipice of where sanity and insanity meet. I push myself so far that I am able to look into the deep dark hole of insanity. And I question, ‘How can I survive this?’

To be honest, looking at my next semester’s schedule, I’m not sure how – or if – I will survive this – this being, life.

The only advantage I have at the moment is that I have the foresight to recognize how deeply fucked I’m going to be next semester. Pardon the language. And I thought this semester was challenging!

Next semester, I will be taking a class called “Data Structures” which is the fundamental class in Computer Science. It’s important that I finish this class strong because without it, I will be unable to function well as a Computer Scientist. I have some faith that I can get through this class well enough – however, here’s the kicker… Add to this, the fact that I have to take 12 credit hours per semester to qualify for student financial aid, and I’d have to take other classes with this class. One such class will have to be “Calculus 2” – which, because I want to take the class with the same Professor, I have to do it in Spring since he doesn’t offer it any other semester. And I know that this Professor has insane amounts of homework that he dishes out every week. Homework that are, by the way, graded. (Who grades freaking homework in college?! Well, apparently this Professor does) “Calculus 2” wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t the hardest Calculus class I’d have to take. Even the brightest people I know struggle through this class because everything that is learned in this class is completely new and foreign. On top of that, you’d have to be good with “Trigonometry” and remember all the necessary formulas from trig and Calc 1 to be able to do well in Calc 2. *big deep breath*

That leaves 2 more classes that I have to take. I plan on doing “Client Side Web Programming” – an elective that I’m hoping will be easy enough since it’s going to be web-based programming languages that I’ll be learning. I’ll be learning JavaScript, JQuery, and HTML/CSS in this class. After learning C, C++, and Java this semester, those three languages are going to be easy. (At least I hope) Now, we’re at 3 classes. 2 of which are going to be incredibly challenging, and one that might be challenging but I’d have more help with (since El is really good at JavaScript). I promised a friend/coworker of mine that I would take “Stress Reduction” class with him (it’s a 1 credit class that’s meant to be a filler and meant to help students balance their stressful lives). And since I’ll be continuing as a Mentor at the MAC, I’ll have to take a UCOL class along the lines of the subject of mentoring. Now this is also a 1-credit hour class. Adding all that up, I think I might have reached 12 credit hours. But if I haven’t, then I’d have to add one more class. This means I’m going to have less time for completing assignments and going to work.

At this point, I’m already exhausted thinking about the classes I have to take. I haven’t even thought about the kind of assignments I’ll have to do yet. Then I start thinking about the fact that I’ll have to figure out my work situation. Am I going to be hired by Apple? If I do, will they pay me enough to live on so that I can only work 20 hours a week and be done with that? Should I resume private tutoring? Will I have time for private tutoring? Do I keep my job at the restaurant? Am I going to make it financially, if I go to school full time and work only 20 hours? Since I don’t have answers to these questions, and won’t for a while, I’m going to drive myself insane thinking about them.

Add to that the fact that I’m thinking about how poorly I’m doing in school (in comparison to how I was doing of course), and I’m just feeling terribly lost and confused. Physically, I feel exhausted. My brain feels heavy and burdened.

I know that I need to get out of my thoughts and stop thinking so far ahead but it’s hard to help it when I have to be planning my Spring semester in just 2 weeks’ time. Ugh. No wonder I’ve been stress eating and consuming large amounts of empty calories in chips, cookies, and ice cream. I crave these sugary food because I think it gives my brain the “energy” to function better – at least for a while until I get a total sugar crash meltdown.

I tell myself, “Jules, calm down. Take a deep breath”. And it helps to just calm down for a few minutes.

Can I just find a rich sugar mama who can give me money for school in exchange for sex? XD If only. Ha…

I contemplated going to CAPS, but what are they going to do? They’re going to tell me to utilize all the coping skills that they’ve taught me. Coping skills that I should be practicing but am not.

Sigh.

Self sabotage, that’s what this is. I drive myself to the point of insanity and then reach out for help while acting helpless like I’m some child. The critical voice tells me that I’m pathetic. The kinder voice tells me that I’m just struggling and that my feelings are valid. And those two voices, they argue. Both of them think they’re right.

So now I’m just spending my hour break ranting on WordPress and being lost as to what I want to do next because the thoughts ‘I am wasting time… I am wasting time’ keep repeating in the back of my head.

*deep breath*

Of Pi and Math Geekery

image

Pi

image

Pi Vs Tau

These were my #Inktober drawings for today. I have a fascination with Pi now for some reason.

I think it has to do with the fact that I have been using pi a lot in Trigonometry and have a newfound respect and interest for math.

I think I’m beginning to become a math nerd. Wow. Words I never even imagined could ever be used to describe me in the past. I’ve definitely made leaps and strides in changing my life this year.

I’ve done things I never though I’d ever do – like having an interest in math, going to therapy, being more mindful.

It still blows my mind (and I know I’ve mentioned it so many times now in this blog) that a person with no math skills growing up could now learn to not only be good at it but also love it. Math was my arch nemesis in school back when I was a kid but at age 30, I’ve realized that I just needed to be taught differently and have patient teachers. Now that I know that, I realize that I can do anything I put my mind to!

First Day of The Fall Semester

So I’m back for my second semester! I’m still a Freshman because though technically this is now Fall (and therefore a new academic year), I had only completed 12 credit hours so far and still don’t qualify as a “Sophomore” until after this semester. It’s a little complicated though because my forms say “Sophomore” due to it being the new academic year…

In any case…

I had 4 classes back to back today so I was in campus from 9am to 8.40pm. I’m exhausted. Especially since I was lugging around a 20 pound backpack, a lunch bag and a bag filled with art and drafting supplies. I walked quite a bit today and I’m just beat.

Thankfully, despite the physical stresses I endured today (mind you, I’m pretty sedentary, and that’s why I call them “stresses”), I had an excellent time in my classes!

It started very well with MATH154 (Algebra and Trigonometry 2) – which is a continuation of my last math class. I was nearly late for class despite leaving an hour and a half early because the traffic was horrendous. Then as we entered campus, we realized just how packed it was with parents sending off their kids, freshmen getting into campus for the first day, returning students etc. It was madness. It took me about 10 minutes just to a short distance from the traffic light to the IT building where my math class was.

I was glad to be able to snag a seat in the front of the class though. As I arrived, I was all breathless as I had run up the stairs to the classroom. My instructor was sweaty and breathless as well – all dressed in a nice suit (but paired with tennis shoes, what!). He looked like he had been running around as well… In the next 10 minutes, he handed out our syllabus and tried to memorize everyone’s names. He did a very good job remembering all 43 names too! I was impressed. I remember when I was a teacher, I had to make a game out of it in order to remember everyone’s names effectively. The instructor was very jolly, upbeat and hyper (he made a joke, “Can you guys tell I’ve had 5 cups of coffee today?” – it was 9am). He sprinted through the first section of Chapter 6 and I was glad that I had done my homework and studied ahead before class. Otherwise, I’d be totally lost…

MATH154 was a very quick hour and 15 minutes and I was excited for more. Can you believe that? Someone like me who just months prior to starting school abhorred math, is now excited for math. I just can’t believe how much I could love a subject I hated with a passion just because of a different way of teaching me the subject.

Anyway, I went from a very upbeat and excited instructor to one who is extremely dour and negative. Her sentences were punctuated with sighs and groans; clearly indicating that she had no desire to be there. At least, that was what she was presenting with her attitude, body language and verbal language. I was uncomfortable for the most part and found myself wishing the class to end quickly. Maybe I’m too harsh but the instructor was definitely unpleasant and I hope that things will change.

My Color and Design class which came after that was fun though. The instructor was upbeat, excitable and exuded passion for color and for art. She tried to sound firm when telling us about attendance and school policies but you could tell that she just couldn’t wait for us to get started. Unfortunately, we didn’t do any drawing today. I was a little disappointed since any chance I get to draw is a chance that I would never waste. I hung around after class to talk to the instructor a little bit more and I’m excited to get started! (Yes, I’m a nerd. Yes, I like to hang out and talk to teachers. I’ve always done this – even when I was going to college the first time).

I then headed to Speech Communication at 6.00pm. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all since I was basically doing this class because the credits from my first degree didn’t transfer (even though it should’ve since I was an English major!) and I felt like redoing a class that I was actually teaching back in Malaysia was a waste of time. I also felt like it was a waste of money as well. As I waited outside the class, I realized that I had started to feel anxiety creeping up on me. I think it was mainly because I realized that I was surrounded by 19-year-olds. All of my classmates were half my age and suddenly I felt my age as I didn’t really get what they were conversing about (or really, even cared).

I also felt the most foreign today because some of my instructors kept saying, “Well everyone knows that….” followed by some kind of information that a kid who grew up in America would’ve known (such as 12 inches = 1 foot). I didn’t feel bummed or anything like that; just a little out of place. A little bit alienated but I didn’t let it bother me because I knew that anything that I didn’t know, I could always learn about.

Turns out, Speech Communication was actually very very well presented by my instructor. He was very casual and very patient (snarky in some ways but patient). He was very confident and suave in his style and I really liked it. He reminded me of Russell Peters in his mannerisms and speech. He even looked slightly like Russell Peters – albeit, a half Sicilian version.

At one point in his lecture, he asked the class who had a fear of public speaking and why. All the answers boiled down to people being afraid of what others would say about them or think about them. He addressed the class and told them that we shouldn’t put too much stock in what others think of us because if we live by other people’s values, then we’re not really living. I then asked if I could add a few things. He then told me to go ahead.

I addressed the class and told them a little bit about myself – how English is not my first language, how I’m from Malaysia and how so much of the cultural context is lost on me. Yet, I was able to learn to overcome my fear of public speaking (I still have social anxiety which really rears its ugly head when it comes to making speeches) but I am able to speak in front of crowds without melting into a puddle of nervous breakdown. I told them that they had the advantage of being born in this country, understanding cultural contexts and speaking English as their first language. I said that if I could do it, why not them? To which the instructor thanked me for sharing my experience and also added, “What she’s trying to say is, you don’t have any excuses!”. I hope that that didn’t paint a target on my head and make me a target for gossip now. >_> I wanted to be positive and tell my classmates that they really can do it and that they’re equipped with all the necessary tools. I just hope I didn’t come across as “douchey” or “superior”.

At the end of class, the instructor told me that he thinks that I’ll do very well in the class. And that he is excited to hear more from me. He thinks that given my background, I would have lots to share and many experiences to talk about. Well, it is my passion to share wisdom with others (one of the reasons why I loved teaching) so this might be a great opportunity to be heard!

Overall, I had an amazing first day back. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Well… Maybe for a little more positivity from my Architectural Presentations instructor but eh, in time, I’m sure she’ll warm up to us!

I really can’t wait for Wednesday (even if it means doing my first MATH154 quiz!)!