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Life and other annoyances

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Life has not been fun lately.

I’m having a hard time adjusting to this new semester–I like all of my classes individually, but together…I don’t know. I think part of the problem is that I am going to school six days a week, and so I don’t feel like I’ve got much time to relax.

I did start on an anti-depressant, but I had the bad luck of getting hit by a head-cold/ear infection pretty much the same time I started taking the pills, and so I’ve been headachey and dizzy, and I don’t know what’s side effects from the medicine, and what’s because I’m sick.

Emotionally, though, I’m feeling more stable, so that’s a plus. I’m not losing my temper the way that I have been, and while I’m not happy, I don’t feel hopeless.

Even with the beginnings of stability, I feel like I’m being kicked in the teeth. And it’s nothing big, it’s just the little things that keep piling up until they get overwhelming. It’s the anxiety, the frustration of trying to understand the reading, the not being able to sleep, making stupid mistakes then paying the price…. You know, life.

 

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Finding Happiness

Things have been rough since the semester started this week.  Between the stress that comes from new classes, campus going from the ghost town it was over the summer to downtown Mumbai, coupled with some minor health concerns, life has not been fun.  And the beast that is depression has reared it’s ugly head, and is determined to take it’s share.

I have an appointment to see a therapist on Wednesday, and I think I’m going to ask for some anti-depressants.  I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting really angry and pissy lately–between the times when I just want to sit down and cry.  I’ve been off my meds for more than a year, but I think I need something to lift me up emotionally for the time being.

To that end, last night I asked my Facebook friends to share with me what makes them happy.  I did ask that they not talk about their children because, well, that biological clock is ticking pretty loudly, and hearing how other people’s kids make them happy makes it worse.  I love the responses I got:

being with people

ice cream

Dr Pepper (twice! I dislike Dr Pepper’s aftertaste, so I’m going to chalk this down as “a sweet treat”)

watching a favorite movie for the millionth time

reading a favorite book for a millionth time

exercising (’cause of the ice cream and Dr Pepper, I guess)

being in nature

going to the library

laughing so hard you cry

sticking your hand out the car window on a nice day

the stained glass window at the Orem Library: 

(which I have to admit, I’ve never really paid attention to–this window is in the children’s book section, and when I go to the library, I’m headed off to non-fiction than the fiction section.  I’ve glanced at the window, but next time I go to the library, I’ll be sure to go look at it)

Life is always better in the light of morning so I added my list:

that moment that something I’m making–be it a painting or some baking or a story or a blog post–begins to come together and I know it’s going to be awesome.

re-reading a good book

reading a good book for the first time

little dogs waiting to greet me when I come home

hummingbirds fighting at the feeder

waking up because your body tells you to, not because your alarm clock tells you to.

And of course, wonderful family and friends.

 

So, if you were to add to this list, what would you say? What always cheers you up?  I was amazed at how therapeutic just coming up with a list was.  I’d love to hear in the comments what makes you happy, but if you don’t want to share with the world, come up with one for yourself.

The things that make us different make us the same.

Yesterday was remarkable.

The fact that yesterday was so amazing leaves me with an interesting conundrum–I’ve been trying all day to organize my thoughts and feelings about what I experiences in a way that feels not preachy and interesting. The problem with these life-changing revelations is that they tend to apply only to the life of the person who experienced it.

So, yesterday, my local NPR station broadcast an extraordinary interview with a man who is both openly gay, and a faithful member–and employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can hear it here. This interview led me to Wilcox’s pet project–beyond the film discussed in the interview–The Empathy First Initiative. The EFI Facebook page had this video of a TEDtalk linked to it.

First off–why had no one told me about TED? It’s amazing.

Second, I realize I just linked an hour and twenty minutes of media that, while I found utterly fascinating and life changing, others may not.  What follows is what I found apropos, if you don’t want to watch and listen to those links.  Or, even if you do.

So, here’s how I understood all of this. In Randall Wilcox’s discussion on what it means to be a gay Mormon, he talked about embracing his whole self. When he accepted who and what he was, he became more spiritual–contrary to what Orthodox Mormons tend to believe about homosexuality, and what it means to be gay.

The other thing Wilcox discusses beautifully is empathy.  Rather than looking at a person as an object–oh, he’s gay, or she’s a democrat, or their poor–he encourages us to look beyond, to see the person who has thoughts and feelings and ideas. To not dismiss someone as an abomination or a bigot, for instance, but to try to understand their thought process and the life-experiences that led them to those conclusions.

Brene Brown’s talk is on similar lines, in that she discusses empathy as well. But what stood out to me in her talk was the notion that when we numb the negative in our lives–the pain, the depression, the vulnerabilities–we numb everything. I think I’d subconsciously come to the same conclusion, at least in regards to my depression.  When I started to open up about the fact that I am depressed, and stopped pretending that everything was fine, I started to feel better.

Brown also talks about vulnerabilities–we are all vulnerable. Everybody has something that makes them vulnerable, but it’s the people who embrace their vulnerabilities who thrive, who can love and be loved, while those who try to hide their vulnerabilities struggle, blame others, and spend their lives searching for meaning.

This makes perfect sense, and it’s something that I’ve begun to put into practice.  I’ve been dredging up those deep, dark places within my soul and mind, examining everything and–and I think this is the important bit–not reburying those imperfections that make me vulnerable. I’ve realized that all the self-destructive things that I do are because I feel vulnerable, and I’m trying to either hide the vulnerability, or the shame that comes from being vulnerable.

But, by embracing who I am, the dark scary parts and all, I can become a better person, one who has the capacity to love herself, and by extension, others. I feel like I’m taking the first steps on an important journey.

Now, I do understand that this is all shiny and new, and in a couple of months, the shine will probably have worn off–this post is as much a reminder to me as anything. By getting the words down, it cements the way I’m thinking or feeling. I also know that it might be too much to ask that these few words might help someone else. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Right now, me becoming a better person is all I can ask for.

Bully

Okay, this will be the last post about the lolcat. (also here and here). Probably.

If you missed the edit from my last post, the lolcat doesn’t live directly below me. A very sweet, kind and understanding woman does. She came to talk to me after reading my letter, and after explaining what was going on in detail, she was appalled, and promised to keep her eyes and ears open as well.  I was embarrassed that I had thought the worst about her, but she agreed that my deduction made sense.  I know have a new suspect for the role of the lolcat–one that I find much less worrisome than the woman who lives downstairs.  For one thing, I know my new suspect has a temper.

After meeting my downstairs neighbor, I had something of an epiphany. The lolcat, whoever she is, is nothing more than a bully–and I learned how to deal with those in Middle School–ignore them when possible, laugh along with their teasing and above all, don’t give them the rise that they’re looking for, and eventually they’ll wander off to find someone who is more fun to pick on.  Not only is the lolcat a bully, but she’s a coward. I shouldn’t let a woman who refuses to air her grievances with me face to face have any control over my life–much less put me in a funk for two and a half days. So, I’m done with her. I’m going to continue to work on keeping Max and Lulu quiet in an effort to be a good neighbor, but I was already doing that. And I’m not going to take extraordinarily measures to keep this woman happy–because, if she’s who I think she is, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot that could keep her happy.

Happiness

Is happiness an inherent right? As an American, I’ve totally been indoctrinated to the idea that “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable to all men.

So, pursuing happiness is okay, but what happens when I find it–or don’t, as the case may be? Is my potential happiness worth more or less than another persons? Should I abandon what makes me happy, or at least what has the potential to make happy to allow someone else to find their happiness? I think the answer to that is a resolute “yes” if my happiness willfully causes someone else pain, but what about otherwise?

This all stems from my neighbor the lolcat. She struck again yesterday, but this time, I caught her at it. And, apparently, I can’t have my windows open, or let the dogs have free range of their home because they might bark, and that’s annoying to her. Never mind their mental or physical well-being, or mine, not to mention energy consumption because I have the air conditioner on when it’s 60° F outside.  If she mentioned sleep, or disturbing her baby, I wouldn’t be so upset by it all, but no, what she says is “annoying”.

On the whole, this has put me in a bigger funk than it strictly should have. I don’t like inconveniencing other people, and the thought that what brings me the most happiness on a regular basis–to whit, the dogs–causes someone else annoyance bothers me a great deal.  I don’t know how to deal with this situation, I hate that my neighbor has had this much power over me, especially when she didn’t have the balls to come and discuss her issues face to face. At the same time, I realize that I do have neighbors that I share common walls with, and don’t want to annoy them any more than possible.

I do have to wonder, though, if the lolcat complains about the other children, or the loud music, or the trains, or the roosters, or the traffic or the other dogs or any of the other noises that comes from living in an apartment complex conveniently located to both campus and the freeway.  And is the random, loud sobbing of a grown woman better or worse than a barking dog?

In less whiney news, I’ve started gathering inventory for an Etsy shop. I’m still not sure it’s going to pan out–I’m working out shipping and pricing and the like. Still, I figure it won’t hurt (much) to try.

Aftermath

It’s been a strange, rough day.

I’m still feeling the effects of the panic attack yesterday–I was able to go out to make it to class, and to get some grocery shopping done, but besides that…

I’ve spent the day alternately crying, and hyperventilating.

This is really strange, because sleep is a giant ‘reset’ button for me, if I get a good night’s sleep (which I did, once I managed to fall asleep at about 3am) whatever I’m dealing with emotionally seems to melt away–at least, the emotional stuff that comes from inside my head.

I’m so tired of being a crazy person.  I hate the way my brain and emotions betray me.  I hate that I’m doing everything I should to make it better, and it’s not helping.  And mom, I don’t need to hear that it’s time to go back to see a therapist.  I can’t afford it, and I don’t want to make you pay for it.

Above all, I wish I could understand why, in the past three years or so, my depression has turned into more of an anxiety disorder.

And I wish I could make it go away.

Huh. I thought feelings of despair weren’t supposed to kick in until right before finals.

Until I was 21, everything I did was because my sister did it first.  She taught me how to talk–my first words were “Hi Sister!”, and she taught me how to read.

I got my first tricycle after Sis had hers for a year, and the same goes for my first bicycle.  My whole life, I’d watch her do something, like learn multiplication tables, or learn to drive, or get her first job, and a year later, I’d do the same.  It wasn’t until she got married at the age of 21, and, the next year, at the age of 21 I went on a mission that our paths diverged to any real degree.

I don’t know if that has anything to do with anything, but I’m blaming it on being so lost and depressed these past two days.

I mean, really, Sis, the least you could have done was taken a few classes at UVU so you could then show me the ropes, right?

Yesterday and today have been awful.   I think I knew they would be, but was hoping that I’d get right back into the swing of things.  As it stands, I’m self-conscious about my age, and am hating being around all the other students, and am so lost as to where I’m supposed to be.

And that’s just from my institute classes.  My “actual” classes start tomorrow–and the one tomorrow is the one I’m really worried about–English 1010, Introduction to Writing.

So, here’s the thing, it’s not the writing thing that scares me–I love to write, (obviously) and, as long as I do the work I shouldn’t have any problem with it.

I should know, this is at least the third time I’ve taken this particular class.

I didn’t do the work when I took it at USU, and so, failed it.  I took it at the for-profit school I went to and passed with flying colors–but those credits won’t transfer.

What I’m worried about is this is a required class.  And I know it’s going to be filled with the little 18-year-olds that I’m so anxious about being around as it is.

It doesn’t help that I have only a vague idea of where the building I need to go to is located, and the way you’d normally get there is blocked by construction.

So–is that true of all college campuses?  Is there always construction?  There was when I was at Utah State, and now it’s followed me to Utah Valley.

Anyway…

I hope things get easier as I get used to my schedule, and when the “week of welcome” is over–I hate all the noise and confusion and people trying to get you to sign up for stuff that may or may not be pertinent to your success as a student.

All I know it I’m depressed and frustrated.

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