The times? They are scary.

Tomorrow is Joe’s last day at his current job.

I’m getting ready to start my last semester of school (which my loans aren’t going to fully cover), and we’re going to be living on only my income for a while.  To be honest, I’m a little freaked out.

When we decided to go this route, and have Joe leave the job he hated, there was a back-up plan.  There was going to be part-time (at least) work for Joe until he found something to replace his current job.  That seems to have fallen through at the moment.

It looks like I may have to pick up some kind of part time work while also going to school and working full-time.  That won’t be fun, but you do what you have to do in tough times.  At least it will build character.

It’s a scary time for us.

My atypical life*

I’ve done a pretty good job of hiding it from most everyone I know for much of the last fifteen years (god, has it really been that long?!), but I’ve always known it’s been a problem.  Something I’ve been too afraid to even admit to myself, let alone to someone who could help me.  I don’t know why I’ve been so embarrassed, so ashamed.  I’m definitely not the only one suffering.  In my line of work I should know that.  But recently, thanks to Joe and someone else who probably doesn’t even know they helped, I found the courage to seek help for my disease.

Like so, so many other people, I suffer from depression.  Depression can be triggered by many things including biological differences, inherited traits and early childhood trauma, but mine can be traced back to a single life event.

My parents’ divorce.

Not that the actual divorce itself had that big of an impact on me.  It really was for the best for the family.  Even at the age of 16 I could see that.  But that was the problem.  I was 16.  Such a critical age for a girl.  I was very impressionable.  Though by definition I was still a “good girl”, I hung around with the “bad boys”.  I started sneaking out at night.  I even skipped school once.  I had changed from the girl who would never do anything bad to a girl who just didn’t care anymore.

Sometime during the two years I still lived at home before college I had an emotional breakdown.  I couldn’t tell you how old I was, but I would guess 17.  It was the closest I ever came to asking for help.  I’m sure my mom remembers that night.  I still do.  I also remember refusing the help that was offered to me.

I left for college and with a change of scenery came a change in my mood.  I was able to act and feel like a “normal” person for the first time in a couple of years.  The student loans ran out after one year of school but I continued to live in Bloomington because I was happy there.  That would change, though.

When I was no longer going to school it became time to pay for those student loans.  I started having financial problems that would follow me for the next several years of my life.  These problems sent me back into depression.  I never had a breakdown like the one in high school, but there were times where I couldn’t see a way out of the trouble I had gotten myself into.  Every time it seemed like I had finally gotten caught up, something else would happen.  I would get sick during the time I didn’t have health insurance.  The head gasket on my car would go out.  There was always something.

On top of the things going wrong, I developed a spending problem.  I’ve read that this happens to people who get into situations similar to mine.  It’s a disease in its own right.  Walk into any store and they ask you, “Would you like to save 10% today by opening a card?”  Why yes, yes I would.

I couldn’t afford to live from day to day and these stores were giving me lines of credit.

I was buried under a mountain of debt with no foreseeable way out.  It was no wonder I was depressed.

That debt followed me when I moved to Indianapolis four months before my lease was up on my apartment in Bloomington.  The apartment where I couldn’t find someone to sublet.  The apartment I still paid rent on while I was paying rent on the apartment in Indy.  Needless to say, I accumulated more debt after that move.

Somehow, only four years after I moved to Indy, I managed to get rid of all of my debt and get my life straightened back out.  I started going back to school.  Things were starting to look up.  Then I had a couple of failed relationships that nearly ended me.  Not because I would have done anything drastic, but because I just didn’t have the energy to get out of bed afterward.  I don’t eat or sleep when I’m hurting that way.

All of this was kept from my friends and (most of) my family for years.  And it was relatively easy for me to do.  Because, just like in almost every other illness I’ve ever been diagnosed with, I can’t even do depression right.  I have atypical depression.

My friends and family rarely saw me depressed because with atypical depression when I receive good news for myself or for someone else it can lift my spirits for days, weeks, even months at a time.  Even if I’m still technically depressed, and feel depressed when I’m alone, or not thinking of the happy news I received, I can, and do, feel happy a lot of the time.

Some of the other symptoms of atypical depression aren’t so hot, though.  The increased appetite one isn’t so great (but lucky for me my medication suppresses my appetite, so that’s a wash).  The heavy, leaden feeling in the arms and legs is just weird.  I don’t get that feeling in my legs as much as I do in my arms.  Mostly my hands.  It mostly happens when I’m sitting and watching TV.  All of the sudden it feels like there is no way I can lift my hands.  Like someone has placed an anvil on top of them.  It doesn’t hurt, but there is no way I can lift them.  Obviously, the first thing I do is lift my hands and it is even easy to do, but it doesn’t feel like I can do it.  Like I said.  Strange.

By far my least favorite symptom of this disease is the sensitivity to and fear of rejection.  Until I was diagnosed, I had no idea that’s what it was.  I thought it was just me being an introvert that led to me not having many friends.  And maybe that is still what it is.  At least in part.  I do love being at home, reading a book, and having a little “me” time.  But being diagnosed and reading the symptoms made me realize that I am afraid.  I’m afraid to put myself out there because I don’t want to be hurt.  I don’t want someone to say no.  If I just stay home by myself and never even try, then no one will ever say no and I don’t have to worry about the hurt and the pain of rejection.  It’s safe and comfortable and sad and lonely all at the same time.

Why did I decide to put this confessional/life story out there?  Because one of the treatments for any kind of depression is the support of your friends and family.  I want your support.  But I can’t expect you to know how to support me if you don’t know where I’m coming from.  So I took a chance and bared my soul (facing one of my biggest fears in the process…rejection) and I’m asking for your help.  (And what better way to reach everyone at once than through the most public of venues, the Internet?)  Just be there for me.  Know that I’ve struggled with this decision.  Just making the appointment to see the doctor was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make.  Walking through that door was even harder.  It’s not easy for me to ask for help.  And I’m asking for it now.

*A not-so-subtle play on “My So-Called Life”, a show from the mid-1990s starring Claire Danes and Jared Leto that I remember to be mostly about a bunch of depressed high school students.  Fitting.

Nueva York

I’m conflicted.

It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything.  I guess I’ve failed brilliantly at the post a week challenge.  Go me.

I feel at once at peace and at the same time the most conflicted I’ve felt in a long time.

I’m sitting at the counter at Joe’s parent’s house, after enjoying a nice meal I  cooked for the family, and I feel content, yet still like there’s something wrong.  I don’t know what it is, really.  I know it gets worse at certain times.  I know there are times when I read a certain blog, for example, that I will feel worse about the way my day is going or how my life is panning out.  I knew, earlier today, when I looked at my grades that it would make that part of the day suck just a little bit.

And then we would get to do the days’ errands in Joe’s mom’s new Camaro convertible.  A 6-speed manual transmission.  That I would get to drive because I drove a manual for 5 years and have way more experience behind the wheel than Joe.  And that made me happy.  That’s how my life has been lately.  A quick up-and-down of happy and sad.

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I emailed someone not too long ago with a problem I was experiencing because I knew this person had dealt with a similar problem and might be able to  help me.  Thankfully, they got back to me right away with suggestions that I found very helpful and I was able to put some of them into action right away.  When I replied to this person thanking them for their help and letting them know that I had followed through and what I had done and even opened up in a way that I rarely do, even to Joe, I got nothing back.  Nothing.

I know this person is busy.  I know this person has enough on their mind without worrying about my life and my problems, but all I needed at the time was just a reply along the lines of “It will be OK.”  Even if they didn’t believe it at the time, I would have.  I was at that point.

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I don’t know why I’m writing now.  I should be enjoying what’s left of my vacation.  Listing to Max chew loudly on his bone in his crate and join Joe in the chair in the next room and that’s exactly what I’m going to do, dammit.

Viva, New York!

How migraines cause hair loss (in my experience)

I got my hair cut yesterday.

Maybe for many of you that isn’t blog post worthy, but my hairdresser, Janne, is the best out there. For reals, ya’ll. If you’re in the Brownsburg area, you need to look her up.  Heck, even if you aren’t. look her up.  I live in Carmel and I make the drive to see her.  She’s that good.  The scalp massages alone are worth the drive.  The amazing cuts, colors, and chats are all just bonus.

Never mind the fact she pointed out my first grey hair the last time I was there.

I still say it was just very blonde.

And no one else has admitted to seeing it so I think she was just seeing things that day.

It’s OK, Janne, I forgive you.

Yesterday’s trip was slightly on the depressing side, however.  While discussing what to do with my hair (I’m in the midst of the re-growth phase after donating my hair last year) we both noticed that it’s looking a little thin in front.

What?!

I can’t be losing my hair!  I’m the one with the thick hair!  The one you have to book extra time for because it takes so long to blow dry!  I’m only 30 years old and I’m a GIRL!

Wait.  Maybe it’s due to that damn medication I was taking.  The one that caused all those other problems I was having.  You know, the weight gain, the dry mouth, the high blood pressure, the palpitations, the this, the that, the other thing.

For the first time in my life, I couldn’t get out of that chair fast enough to call the hospital to see if my old migraine medication caused hair loss.

Sure enough, one of the most common dermatologic side effects?

Alopecia.

Damn you, nortriptyline.

the one where I realize it’s not my fault

I made a realization today regarding my struggle with my weight.

It isn’t my fault.

I know there are thousands, if not millions, of women out there who share my pain.  I look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person staring back at me.  I am disgusted at the size of my jeans.  I am even more disgusted that the “fat” jeans I bought over Thanksgiving don’t even fit anymore.  I hate the way I feel about myself right now.

Joe tries to help, but sometimes I feel like he’s making it worse.  Like he’s enabling me.  When I say something to him about how fat I’m feeling, he just tells me I’m beautiful exactly the way I am.  He says he’ll always love me no matter what I look like.  When I hear him say these things I temporarily forget about the negative light in which I view myself.  If he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what, it must be true.

But then I have to get ready for work the next day.  When I open the closet and see the pile of scrubs I can no longer wear, I’m reminded that I am not the person I was even 5 months ago.  The person I am must have eaten the person I was for dessert one day.

Today I was at my mother’s place, picking up some mail and talking about food.  It seems my mom and I are always talking about food.  The conversation turned to my weight and I said I was feeling like “a big, fat fatty”.  My mom said, “I’m glad you mentioned it because I’ve noticed your ass is getting big.”

I played it off.  Pretended it didn’t hurt.  It did.  Oh, how it hurt.  I spent the entire drive home trying not to cry.

I told my mother that the weight gain was a relatively new development.  Not all of the weight gain –  I have years of sedentary living and poor eating to blame for a lot of it – but at least part of it started right around the time I started taking a new medication for my headaches.  Being a pharmacy tech, I looked up the side effects of the new medication as soon as I got to work the day after it was prescribed.  Of the dozens that were listed, the two that jumped out at me were “anorexia” and “weight gain”.  I hoped and prayed that I would be lucky enough to get the anorexia one.  I didn’t.  This medication that has stopped the headaches and improved my quality of life is hurting me in ways I never thought possible.

Now I am faced with the question of “What do I do?”  Do I take Joe up on his offer of working out together two to three days every week and see if that works for me?  Do I immediately call the prescribing physician to request a different medication?  What about the depression that has finally been corralled thanks to this same medication?  Do I just wing it to see if I can actually be happy while not taking meds?  Do I ask my doctor to put me on something that won’t make me gain weight, therefore making me more depressed, which leads to me coming home, eating an entire pint of Chubby Hubby ice cream (fitting, huh?), hating myself for eating said pint of ice cream, and having Joe find me at my desk, sobbing so hard there are no sounds and dribbling all over myself?  Does a med like that even exist?

Right now I’m hoping that these feelings are the result of a long, stressful day and being over tired.  It’s late.  All the crying I did earlier took a lot out of me.  I could wake up in the morning and forget any of this ever happened.

Until it’s time to go to work.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it sn…. Ehh, forget it

I don’t know if you know this about me or not, but I hate winter.  I hate everything about winter.  I hate cold weather.  I hate being all bundled up.  I hate snow.  I especially hate ice.

Indiana has not been kind to me this past week.

Monday AND Tuesday we had a major ice storm that pretty much shut down the city.

Today I wake up to about 4″ of snow falling.

I blame this snow for my forgetting my pin number for my debit card this morning.  After I used said debit card last night to purchase something.  Monday through Friday this wouldn’t be a big deal.  Call customer service at my bank and they reset it for me.  Woohoo.

On a Saturday?  Just after noon?

Not so easy.

Joe and I had to make a little trip to Bloomington today.  See, my bank is this little institution based out of that charming little college town.  In this charming little town there is one, yes one, branch of my bank open past noon on a Saturday.  It is in a grocery store.  Could they help me over the phone?  Of course not.  I had to be down there to speak with a manager in person.

And we had to make this drive through a bunch of new snow.

Even my gotta-have-it-every-time-I-go-to-Bloomington chocolate malt from Jiffy Treet didn’t make me feel better about the situation.

Campus really is beautiful under new-fallen snow, though.

What does it mean…

To be a friend?

To tell the honest and complete truth, I am not sure I know.

There was a time that I was pretty sure I knew how to not only be a friend, but how to be a good friend.  Maybe I even thought I knew how to be a great friend.

You know those people that have tons of friends?  That are always going to the movies with this person one day, shopping with that person the next day, and lunching with this other person later in the week?  I am not that person.  I didn’t get the popularity gene.  I have always been the girl that has just one — maybe two — really close friends and a whole bunch of other friends.  Those really close friends are the ones that I would trust with my deepest, darkest secrets.  The other friends are great, too.  I don’t know what I would do without some of them.  They boost me up in ways I didn’t think possible.  And if any of them are reading this right now, I hope they know that I appreciate everything they have done for me.  Thank you all so much.

Unfortunately, I lost that one great friend this past August.  I don’t really know who to blame the ending of the relationship on.  I want to say we could both take the blame equally, but I’m really not sure.  Maybe I was being selfish and spending too much time with Joe.  Maybe she was too wrapped up in her own problems to notice that life was going on without her.  All I do know is that the relationship suffered from irreconcilable differences and there is no way it will ever go back to even a speck of what it once was.  I grieve for her.  Even though I know it was in both of our best interests to make a clean break, it still hurts more than I ever thought possible.

And now, here I am.  A 30-year old senior in college.  About to graduate and start a brand new life.  A brand new career after eleven years of working in the same industry.  And I feel like I’m doing it alone.  I know I can always count on Joe to help me through any situation in which I might find myself; he is my rock.  But there is a comfort that can only come from a great friend who is also by your side, and at the moment I don’t have that.  I don’t even know where to begin to find a friend like that.  It was easy when I was a little scabby-kneed kid.  There was always someone in my class in school or in the neighborhood that I could be friends with.  Now, though, I’ve built my walls and I’m afraid to let anyone see what’s behind them.

Being in my situation doesn’t help matters, either.  A nontraditional student going back for my bachelor’s degree.  Everyone I see at school is either fresh out of high school with barely any real life experiences or pursuing their graduate degree and settled down with a house, a car, a dog, a white picket fence, and 2.5 kids.  I don’t fit into either of those molds.  I know there are plenty of people my age who are in my position, but to me it seems like they’d rather spend their evenings closing down the bars after dancing the night away instead of living life on the tame side.  I’ve grown out of that stage.  I’ve sown my wild oats, cut down the diseased stalks, and harvested the healthy ones.  I’m in transition.  And it’s scary.

In the spirit of telling the truth, I have a confession to make.  I am a little (OK, a LOT) jealous of the relationship these two have.  Even though we all live in the same city, I haven’t met either of them.  I only know them from the wonder of social media.  And yet, every time I read one of their blog posts, see a tweet on twitter, or catch a facebook status, their friendship screams at me from the computer screen.  And it gives me hope.  They met each other because of this little thing the three of us share: a love for blogging and social media.  I tell myself that it just might happen for me, too.  All I need to do is leave myself open to it.  And that is exactly what I am trying to do.  I know my life is a little hectic right now, and cultivating my relationship with Joe takes up most of my free time, but when things slow down and I get a little bit more “me” time, I am throwing myself headfirst into this little social media thing.

Plus, I read somewhere recently that a good cook is never short on friends.  Anyone want to come to my house for some homemade pizza and freshly baked chocolate scones?