Saturday, January 27, 2018

mini update

I've taken the easier way out and chosen to do the exit exam for my history capstone, rather than a thesis. It's actually a little disappointing for me, because I'm really into my thesis topic, but doing a thesis (70-150 pages of writing) in the next 3 months, while also moving and writing a 20 page literature review is more than just tough: it's probably impossible. So, I'm doing the exit exam because having the thesis on my list of to-do's was making me worried that I wouldn't actually graduate on time to get the job I'm hoping to get in the fall. No more on that. Don't want to jinx it.

And: we got the house we were hoping for. YAY! We're moving in on the first. More YAY!

And my first guest lecture is coming up. I'm nervous about that. It's been a few years since I've stood in front of a class with a lesson plan. I need thoughts & prayers here, y'all. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

the mustangs

Bucephalus (left) and Xenophon (right).

These two are truly sweet. They're nervous but respectful. I did a little hand feeding with them the other day. Boo is the stockier one with just a small star; Zen is the one with a large star and stripe. I think they're from the same herd, given what little the owner knows about their history, so they're probably half brothers. I'm hoping to find out more when I can get a good look at their tattoos. I can see Zen's (sorta - it's a little blurred by his winter shag), but Boo's is covered by his mane. It's likely that Zen will be the first one to let me get that close though, because he's bolder than Boo and will already come closer during hand feeding. Of course, Boo is the one still sporting his tag from the holding pens, so it's more important to get close enough to get that off of him than it is to cuddle up to Zen. Eh, what will be, will be. I think Boo will come around soon enough, especially once Zen - the dominant one - becomes more at ease with people. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

another new beginning

I don't know why we always act like a "new beginning" is such a big deal. I mean, they can be, but not all of them are. I've lost track of how many changes and new beginnings have happened since I last wrote here. This one feels big, but the next one - when I go back to having a full time job - will feel bigger.

Working at the ranch has been amazing. I love it. The owner lets me work with his two horses whenever I want.
One of my awesome friends is letting me work with her horses and has even agreed to let me compete with one of them. We're going to learn competitive trail riding - yay!
One of the workers at the ranch has two mustangs that she doesn't know how to work with - so she asked me to.
I have all the horsey time I want, with none of the expense (although I do expect to pay competition-related expenses with my friend's horse, when we get to that point). It's basically heaven.
Pictures coming later.

I'm also almost done with my Master's degree. This semester, I'm not taking any classes, but I am writing a literature review for my psychology capstone project, a thesis for my history capstone project, and I'm doing guest lecturing at our local college because I have an amazing friend/mentor who - for whatever reason - seems to believe in me.

We (my little family and I) also have to move into a new house next month, which sucks, but it looks like we're going to get a house we will love. I have a really good feeling about it. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Most of this new stuff has happened because I've finally found a medication combo that works for me and OMG I feel Normal (tm). It's f*ing fabulous. It's welbutrin + cymbalta. The other day I got sad about something (I don't remember what) and I was only sad. Not hopeless, not bottomed-out, not despairing - just sad. When I realized I was feeling normal sadness, I got all excited and that's why I can't even remember why I was sad in the first place. Do you know how long it's been since I've felt simple sadness? Years. I'm getting all happy just thinking about it again.
Oh the weird things mental illness makes you say...

You'll see some new pages coming to this blog here soon. I'll be using it to keep track of the work I'm doing with each horse. It's mostly for my own use, and for the horses' owners, so you can take it or leave them, but they'll be there if you're curious. I might do one to keep track of my own workouts, too. We'll see. I've had that on tumblr for a while, but it'd be handy to have it all here together.

Anyway, I have thesis writing to do. Laters!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

re mental illness, meds, & visibility

I'm struggling with my medication right now.

If I take the lower dose of welbutrin, the anxiety isn't so bad ...because I can't feel anything at all.
If I take the higher dose of welbutrin, the anxiety is uncontrollable and I have panic attacks even in the best circumstances.

If I take the prozac to augment the higher welbutrin dose, the anxiety is controllable but I basically can't get up off my ass. It's like there's a layer of not-yummy jello between me and the world.

If I take the prozac with the lower dose of welbutrin, I'm a zombie. And not the runner type, more the dazed-and-confused-moaner type.

If I don't take the prozac with the lower dose of welbutrin, I don't sleep. Ever. That makes me cranky. (Okay, not not ever but it sure feels like it.)

For now, in case you're wondering, I'm doing the lower dose of welbutrin with no prozac, and reducing my caffeine intake while putting several anti-insomnia tactics to work each night. So far, I've slept at least a little for 3 out of 4 nights.


That said, I've decided not to hide my mental illness from potential employers. I'll probably regret that.

Also, that sounds bad but it's not like anyone would go into an interview and be like, "yeah, I'm basically not functional 50% of the time, but I'm totally capable of pushing through that and getting the job done, it'll just hurt while I'm doing it. A lot. And I'll be irritable and apathetic, but I'll hide that really well because I have a TON of practice. No worries."

And what I really mean is that I'm not going to attempt to minimize my mental health conversations online (on fb, twitter, and my blogs) in order to present a "normal" image.

I hesitated to post about my medications - even though that's exactly the sort of thing I started this personal blog for - because I know that some of my potential future colleagues (i.e., other academics) might see this blog. Some of them are on my fb. Some of them are on my twitter feed.

So yeah, it has occurred to me that I shouldn't post *this thing about major depressive disorder* or *that thing about ptsd* but then I remind myself that if I want this stigma to ever end, someone has to take the risk of being honest about the realities of (my) mental illness. And I'm actually okay with being that person. It's just my socialization-derived instincts that fear being truthful about uncomfortable stuff.

I see you, fear. I'm just not gonna let you make my decisions. Cuz I got TONS of practice with pushing through bullshit emotions. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

oh by the way

I lost my job shortly after my friend's near-suicide experience.

Thought I was gonna drown in the subsequent depressive episode. Would have failed my classes if my history professor wasn't absolutely amazingly understanding.

Started working at a ranch the last weekend of April. It was exactly what I needed, although it's not a *paying* job, per se... I mean, it is but it isn't. More on that later.

Got another class (summer class, on the Mexican Revolution) coming up... today. It's going to involve more socializing than I'm really ready for. Digitial socializing, but still... I mean, there's a reason I'm taking online classes, and it's not all about the commute. Good thing I only signed up for one class this summer. Pretty sure that's going to be my limit.

I'm still struggling with the anhedonia.

But the biggest news is that - because of the no-job situation - I couldn't afford to continue my lease with Dash. That sucked/sucks. There are some silver linings, etc, but whatever. It is what it is. I miss Dashy Pants, and I miss just hanging out at the barn.

On the other hand, I feel a lot more productive hanging out at the ranch because there's a lot more work to be done that I can help with. It gets me moving. And sometimes, the friend of mine who owns it even throws some cash my way. It's a good gig. And once we get the ranch really operating well, it'll turn into a good job. And he has a couple horses. So I can ride... once we get all the necessary tasks done (like building the new chicken coop, or setting up the new fodder house...). There's still a lot to be done before I'll find time to ride, but it's cool to know it'll happen.

I'm sure that in some future post I'll talk endlessly about the ranch.

Right now I'm going to try - again - to get started on my classwork.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

the pillow

the sweetest strands support my head
hold me above the world

I can watch the turmoil pass by
from the top of my pedestal

I'm restless
I'm detached

I am reminded
I am needed
I am placated

the comforting hold brushes my neck
softly, so nice, keeps me here

I can see so far
I can see my dreams

touch them, even, if I stretch my fingers and wave

but the sweetest strands hold my head
and the pedestal ends so near

I dare not step
I cannot die

not yet

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Everything turned out well in the end, but this is about suicide.

Today I came across one of those list articles on facebook. This one promised all the quotes that people with depression had found helpful. I clicked, dubiously. These things are usually full of feel-good bs that advises us to just think happy thoughts. As if we weren't already struggling to do that every single moment. As it happened, this article wasn't the worst offender I've seen. It wasn't particularly helpful or memorable, but at least it wasn't completely offensive. I would have forgotten it completely if I'd come across it before now.

For a long time, I thought there were no words that could help. Or if there were, I thought they might always elude me. Recently, I found words that affected me. Words that ripped my heart out, showed it the world outside depression, and stuffed it back into my aching chest.

It wasn't pleasant, but nothing pleasant had ever affected the feelings of hopelessness and aloneness that are the hallmarks of my depression. Maybe it had to be something that hurt, to put my chronic hurt into perspective.

Because of these words, I learned what it looks like to be on the outside of depression, looking in, and the insight I gained surprised me. I learned that I wasn't able to figure out the words that would help me fight depression because I was too far inside my own head. This was something I had to see from the outside. These were words that could have been pulled from my own writings; they were the voice of my depression, verbatim.

The words? They were a suicide note, written by someone else, using the script that reverberates every time I spiral down. Only the names were changed.

It was eery.
My heart broke.
Cracked open like a rotten pomegranate.
All the worms escaped the fruit,
and the sun lit every bleeding corner.
And I understood.

And it would have killed me if that person had not made it to safety.
The day they almost died, they taught me how to live.