Working with the Unknown

My last post, Mute, raised a lot of concern from my loved ones that follow the blog. They recognized a shut down in progress and became worried. There was probably good reason to worry, I wasn’t in a good place. I’m not really in a much better place, but a few conversations with people that I trust deeply led me to the decision that these are the times I should be writing. You can easily find articles about getting through the tough stuff or tips and tricks for surviving a bad day, but nobody wants to talk about the ugliness. As Jesse, who I recently shared with all of you in The Social Posts Return!, pointed out to me: “if you aren’t uncomfortable, you aren’t growing emotionally or as a writer.”

She’s a really smart cookie, guys. I’m super lucky to have her around.

So here I am, doing exactly what I said I didn’t want to do anymore. I’m expressing myself in a very public way despite feeling like it’s the worst idea to do so. Writing is so much fun, guys. Really.

To sum it up, I have no idea what’s happening with me. I do know that I am questioning everything. I am talking with my worship leader tomorrow to discuss some major feelings and life-altering decisions. I am questioning myself, I am questioning my sanity and my reasoning for every action I take. In an unusual turn of events, none of this seems to be preventing me from getting done the things that need to get done.

I am questioning my faith not in the sense that I question the reason for my faith or my place in a faith based community. I am not questioning if I believe. Rather, I am questioning the very nature, being, and definition of God. It feels too big for me to be questioning at all, much less to feel so sure about this, that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so steady about anything before.

I am struggling to confide in those that I know support me without question and without strings attached. I still trust them, but The Imposter insists that I’m going on about the same topics too much, that I’m obsessing, and that nobody wants to hear about it anymore. School, faith, health. That’s all I’m about, obviously. Who wants a friend that can only talk about, at most, like five topics? The fact that its been pointed out to me that I’ve been stuck on a particular set of topics doesn’t make it easy for me to tell The Imposter where to shove its opinion.

School has officially started and I’m two full weeks ahead of schedule with assignments, yet I’m still mildly panicking about the bigger projects and that the class I’m currently taking isn’t even one that’s particularly challenging to me. Personal Wellness, when you’re whole life is a game of “what will make me sick today” is kind of a moot point and, after partial hospitalization for my depression in which every day for two weeks was full of nothing but talking about emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellness…let’s just say nothing is particularly new.

An interesting response, thus far, has been the slight feeling of panic, pain, or grief when physical health is discussed, which has been pretty much everything we’ve focused on thus far and will focus on for the next two weeks. Unit Two contains required reading about cardiorespiratory fitness and an assignment to turn in an exercise and food log. I laugh bitterly and resist the urge to scribble on the textbook pages. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it almost feels like a trigger, and I hate it.

I’ll have more interesting things to talk about in the future (hopefully). Until then, even if things are ugly, keep living the best life you can, Lemons and Spoonies. I’m right beside you, no matter how bad it is.

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Mute

“If you’ve fallen in a forest and there’s nobody around, do you ever really crash or even make a sound? Did I even make a sound? It’s like I never made a sound. Will I ever make a sound?”

I’ve typed these lyrics three times today and felt my face burn hot each time. The last several months and the many struggles they have contained have left me with few words and many feelings, most of which I cannot begin to process without feeling burdensome.

Despite the childish nature of my anger, I feel as though it is valid. While some of the conflicts have been resolved and others sit in corners, purposely ignored, I have arrived at the conclusion that the best course of action seems to be keeping my thoughts to myself.

As a writer, blogger, and advocate for emotional health, this is problematic at best and crippling at worst.

Misunderstandings, poor translation of tone, and downright ignorance have been the base of each scenario that has effectively slapped down any feeling of safety for my expression of concerns, thoughts, and feelings. In essence, I feel I have been made incapable of self-expression in any meaningful or positive way or, alternatively, that self-expression will only yield platitudes or complete shut down. Bringing up problems does not result in discussing solutions, it results in ignorance, anger, or being shut out entirely.

Having just today seen the work load that awaits me over the next year and some months for my education, this doesn’t feel like a bad time to withdraw. Allowing myself to move to quiet contemplation and letting negative feelings convert into a spiteful kind of motivation may not be the way I intended to get through this accelerated program, but given the amount of work I have completed in one day of this emotionally removed mentality, I’m not about to complain.

Lemons and Spoons will likely be quiet for quite some time. As I rediscover how best to communicate in a way that allows me to feel safe and valid, I’ll update and likely share. Unfortunately, a blog dedicated to working through feelings in a public setting doesn’t find itself feeling welcome when expressing yourself at all feels like a risk.

I Don’t Know What I Need

I am spiraling. There is no active depression, no “classic” symptoms to look at and think “oh, I am depressed” and take steps to improve the situation. 

The last two weeks, multiple obligations and plans have been cancelled, days have been spent not getting out of bed, getting things done while simultaneously doing nothing. 

There’s something in my head saying “okay, now once more, but with feeling this time.”

This weekend was beautiful. I know because my mother told me so, not because I actually left the house. We hosted a party that left me feeling good but with more questions about myself than I ever really wanted to be asking. 

Three in the morning sees me awake, fidgeting through the hours with an unrecognizable feeling. As someone who prides herself (when I care to think anything nice of myself at all) as someone who is fairly emotionally intelligent and empathetic, this is a maddening state to find myself in. It drives Nikki crazy as well, who attempted to make it better long enough for me to snap at her and cause her to roll away from me. I’d roll away too. All this twitching about and fuming is obnoxious. 

I have plenty of people who love me unconditionally that will, without fail, reach out to me to offer support, love, suggestions. I dread it already. That’s ungrateful, but honest. Tonight is for being selfish in a terribly privileged way, I suppose. 

Days and months are stretched out to see on my calendar, in my agenda, cluttering my emails with dates and instructions and requests and reminders. Today’s date is a line left blank, but filled with to-do lists, expectations, and people that need me to have my ducks in a row.

Lucky for them, my ducks are shelved neatly in the hallway.

Bravery Needed: Apply Within

I am not a brave individual. At twenty-six years old, I refer to the woods outside our apartment by the dumpsters as “The Forest of Doom” and outright refuse to take the trash out after dark for fear of being attacked by Slenderman or some other completely fictional monster lurking in the shadows. I believe in and am terrified of ghosts, Nikki and Pam both know to leave a light on for me if I’m the last one leaving the living area at night because I’m afraid of the dark and feel like I’m being chased if it’s too dark. Before I started living with Nikki, I had to sleep with my bedroom light on, which drove my parents absolutely crazy (which I now understand as a utility bill paying adult). I am easily startled by loud noises and once nearly peed myself because Pam turned on the vacuum cleaner directly in front of me as I watched her do so. I still can’t watch scary movies and, while I’ve found a weird fascination with ghost stories or creepy things, I can’t be alone while enjoying them and I have to watch or listen to Disney things afterwards if I want to sleep.

Nothing, however, has been more terrifying than knowing that my time is running out.

Most people, when they learn about my diagnosis and “timeframe”, quickly remind me that we’re all dying and nobody’s time is guaranteed to them. While I understand the sentiment, unless you’ve been told when you’re supposed to die, you don’t really understand why it’s so scary.

Fear for me has always caused me to curl up, pull in. Somehow, this has not been the result of this particular terror. I have been acting, seemingly without permission from half of my mind, and not just taking steps towards things I always said “I’d get around to eventually”.

I am leaping. I am flying. I am hurdling at top speed, throwing myself at the things I wanted out of my life but always had an excuse to put off.

I am breathless with fear.

I am breathing anyways.

I am terrified of failing, of slipping and falling into past mistakes and bad habits.

I am moving forward anyways.

I am mortified to share this fear with the world, to be seen as the coward I see myself as.

I am sharing anyways.

“Courage need not be remembered because it is never forgotten.”

Bravery position has been filled.

The Social Posts Return!

Name: Jesse

Relationship: Basically my sister.

I think I figured out why you’re in pain all the time. It’s because you’re a giant trapped in a tiny body and that’s why you hurt all the time.”

What should readers know about you?” I’m pretty fucking awesome. I’m also a spoonie. (Pam: and just like me) And just like Pam…but with less boobs.”

What does your role in my support system look like? “I think I’m an emotional sounding board and…I know you for me that you’re another person that I can vent to that I don’t get sad dead puppy eyes over it. We can list all the little accomplishments and be excited about it.”

What should readers know about me? “What should readers know about you? *sigh* (gets distracted by cat, “you’re so purry…” Do you remember when you tried to make “Kitty” a thing? You’re really cool, except for when you try to give yourself nicknames, which is not cool. You’re really creative and even though you try to pretend you’re all thorny, you’re really not.”

 

The Return of the Lemon Writer

Hi everybody. I missed you very much. Things have finally settled enough (sort of) for me to be able to pick blogging back up on a much more regular basis! I can’t make promises for daily posts, since I’m going to be significantly more busy than I was when I created the blog a few months ago.

As of confirmation yesterday, I will in fact be a full time student with Cornerstone University’s Accelerated Psychology degree program beginning June 5th! My enrollment counselor texted to give me the happy news and told me that my first class will be a Personal Wellness course, which I’m thankful for. It will be nice to get a feel for the pacing and demands of the program with a class that will also ensure I’m giving myself my best chance. You all know how I preach and prattle about giving you your best chance! There are still a few financial aid hoops to jump through, but with any luck, I’ll be able to clear them quickly enough and stay enrolled. Keep your fingers crossed on that one!

As of the beginning of this month, I am an official freelance writer! I have submitted several pieces to several different publications and contests, so keep checking into the blog for those updates. I’ll let you know when I know of each one’s success and, once published, I’ll be sure to share the links to said pieces. I’m excited to finally be able to call myself a true freelance writer.

I’d mentioned before that we were joining a Dungeons and Dragons group to see how we all liked it. We didn’t just like it, we loved it! Our second night of getting together for it is coming up very quickly and we’re all pretty stoked to continue our adventures and shenanigans.

And now, we come to Cleveland Clinic. I know I’ve been oddly quiet on the subject and that’s because, frankly, there isn’t a whole lot to share. I don’t have results or any new information of importance and, in light of everything going on right now in our government, I know that when I talk about my healthcare experience with Cleveland Clinic, it will be incredibly hard to avoid talking politics. When I started the blog, I told myself that I wanted to avoid politics. Unfortunately, to avoid politics that so directly impact myself and the people I am writing for here on Lemons and Spoons would suggest that I don’t care. In this instance, neutrality feels like apathy and I can’t, in good conscience as a writer and as a person, stay silent on such an issue. I hope that my political musings won’t discourage readers from connecting with the blog. This is still a blog for everyone, no matter what way you happen to vote. Illnesses don’t just target one political party or idealization, after all.

With that, the sun is shining, birds are singing, and I have work to get done! Peace and love to all of you.

My Mother

I’m back! I’ll tell you all about Cleveland Clinic, but first, something much more important.

Today is Mother’s Day, and that means I get a chance to tell you about the incredible woman that gave me life and improved the life she gave me with every breath she’s taken.

My mother is, by nature, a people person. She’s like me in that we are both introverts that are driven by a need and a passion for helping others to step forward when our minds tell us to shrink back. She was a counselor and adviser for a local community college and she still teaches, even though duty has called her to become more of a leader than she probably would have imagined she would become. Her heart constantly remains open, her patience weathered, but seemingly unending.

Her strength. My God, she is powerful. She isn’t a knock-down, drag out powerful. She is the eye of a hurricane, calm and constant, no matter how the storm around her rages. She has dared to seek happiness and she has managed to stand strong against grief and loss.

She views her body as something imperfect, something not beautiful. She struggles like I do to embrace her beauty. More than that, she is a beautiful soul that resides in a body that has tried to destroy her and she emerged victorious. She wears scars from her battle, but thinks nothing of them. She is a warrior, her body once the enemy, but never the victor. Her body, like her spirit, is humble, but mighty.

She is a sage to so many. A guide, a mentor, a dear friend. She is so many things.

But to me, she’s Mom. I’m just lucky enough to have that going for me.

I Have Succumbed to Madness

This week was the start of my being off my meds in preparation for the testing to come next week. This week also happened to hold our very first gathering for Dungeons and Dragons. 

Everyone had a spectacular time, but perhaps no one enjoyed it as much as I did. 

See, going off of 40mg daily of Paxil cold turkey has an interesting impact on people. For me, it means wildly moving between fantastically, over the moon happiness, crippling anxiety that leaves me breathless, intense and uncontainable fury, and crying for any, all, and no reason whatsoever. Combined with intense pain that cannot be addressed by anything strong enough to do any good?

I will consider myself incredibly lucky if I am not killed by Nikki or Pam before this is over.

In four days, we’ll also add sleep deprivation and unfettered nerve pain to the mix as I drop my remaining medications until after testing concludes on the 11th. 

So I will say again, if you hear very little from me over these next few days, I’m okay. I’m just losing my mind, that’s all.

The Slow Descent 

Cleveland Clinic Round Two is fast approaching and already, I’m having to slowly work off of my medications. This means my pain, my sleep, my appetite, my depression, my moods, everything will decline as I drop each medication. The night before requires fasting and no caffeine, which will have my autonomic symptoms flaring in no time. All this in the name of tests that I probably won’t even know the results of until I go back again in September.

I’m doing everything I can to counter the impact this is having and going to have on me emotionally by making plans, staying as positive as possible, and reaching out into my support network for those who are always willing to help me. 

In the meantime, self care is going to become a sole focus. Making sure I’m giving myself my best chance is key to making it through the next couple weeks with sanity, relationships, and body intact. Blogging may become a little irregular, as it has been for the past week. I hope, however, to use it as a means of keeping myself grounded.

Peace and love to you all. I’ll have good news to share with you very soon.

Kato

I apologize for not blogging the last couple of days. I needed to get myself mentally and physically prepared for a big opportunity I would be interviewing for. I can’t tell you about it yet, but I promise I will as soon as I can.

The moment arrives, the big interview begins as my cell phone rings. I answer politely, letting my comfortable spot on the couch coax my anxiety away from my voice.

Then Kato woke up.

He’s taken to sleeping on Pam’s bed, since she leaves her bedroom door open for the cats to have more space. We don’t have an issue with him doing this, obviously, but it comes with a particular issue. Every now and then, he’ll wake up not knowing if he is alone or not. He doesn’t like to be alone, so this search for companionship usually occurs with a meow or two.

Did I say meow? I meant banshee impersonation. Or demonic karaoke. Whatever it is, it is not a dainty sound, nor is it quiet or discreet.

I felt the color drain from my face as I flung my seated body sideways and into the hallway. He cuts off mid-scream and prances toward me as I carry on the interview, assuring the women on the other end of the phone line that the crash they just heard was nothing important and them calling earlier than expected truly was fine.

Then I watch him stray to the closet where we keep his food.

I knew what was coming next, but I was powerless to stop him as he got up, tapped the hanging toy from the doorknob as my wife helpfully trained him to do to ask for food, and unleashes another long, pitiful wail. This time, I hear a pregnant pause and feel the silent questions slinking through the phone line, but pretend I don’t notice and calmly answer their question.

This continues for another five minutes or so. Kato follows me around doing his best impression of a screaming human baby while I calmly get a sheet of paper and pen, write down a quick note pit stop in our snack cupboard, and walk out of my apartment.

Outside, I verbally affirm what’s being said to me as positively as I can while I beeline towards the landscaping professionals that have been sweeping, bull-dozing, yelling, leaf-blowing, mowing for at least an hour outside our building. I try to portray myself as non-threatening as possible as I hand them a note and a couple of cookies.

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Dear amazing landscapers,

My cat is conducting some kind of Occult Summoning of Demons Opera while I’m doing this phone interview. You get an Oreo each if you take a five minute break. ~I’m not crazy.”

Totally, not-at-all weird, right?

They gratefully laughed, gave me a thumbs up for good luck, and walked away from their machinery until I got off the phone, thanked them profusely, and went back inside, where Kato slept peacefully on the dining room chair closest to the door.

He’s lucky he’s cute.