Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pain continued

It is Saturday night. I have had both of my hands in braces since yesterday evening,  and my right hand since two nights ago. They're helping. But my emotional well-being, I guess, is not getting better. I am frustrated by the braces; there are an amazing number of actions that require bending my wrists. In addition, they don't help enough. My wrists still hurt. My left hand is okay-ish. My right hand was killing me by the time I finished eating a bowl of ice cream. Because I was holding a spoon.

I am also starting to be extremely sensitive to sound, such that the dining hall on a Saturday night, which is always uncrowded and in general is less overwhelming than during the week, had me finding a place to sit in the farthest corner of the room, away from everyone. The noise levels were difficult to handle, and I avoided the crowds that were around a band on my way home.

I do not understand why I'm so sensitive to sound. I'm fairly used to working around it, but it becomes more difficult when I'm sick or hurting. Sensory input becomes extremely overwhelming even when I'm the person contributing to it (such as playing music on my computer). I also start avoiding crowds, and any kind of public gathering, even when said gathering is just my friends, which I'm usually okay with. It just gets to the point where everything is too much. And then I start getting lonely, and withdrawing more. I don't know how to stop it, except to start feeling better, which is not in my control. I can take steps to feel better, and it helps for a while, but at a certain point it's really up to my body to heal itself. And I hate feeling this way. I hate how easily pain seems to win, simply because it happens day after day. It just gets hard to fight, hard to ignore.

Pain is isolating. It overrides everything else, and can't be shared. It limits my mobility, and my ability to do a lot of different activities. Even if it didn't, when I'm feeling this way, I don't want to go anywhere. I want to stay home, curl up in my bed, and have someone hold me. I want a cat to curl up next to me and start purring. I want creature comfort, but don't want people intruding.

At this point I can't even think about school work. Everything I could do  requires using my hands in some way. Either using a pencil, or typing, or holding a book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wrist Issues

I am writing this with a dictation software. My wrists are in agony and some of my fingers are as well. I spoke to the Dean for students with disabilities yesterday, and had a discussion about deadlines, papers, and my disability. We figured out that I am in a flareup, and that that is why I have not been completing my work. I have been subconsciously avoiding writing a paper that I think I will enjoy because my wrists hurt.

I have since had two professors suggests my dictation software. But I am not used to using it, and it is really hard to write papers through dictation rather than with my hands. I need to get used to the software, but I do not know how, much less how to do it quickly in order to get a paper written.

I think I am also fighting the idea that I need to use it and have been since I bought it two years ago. This is another part of getting used to being disabled instead of temporarily able-bodied. It is a struggle to remember that there are things I can't do, that there are things I shouldn't do, and that it's not my fault. I am having a negative emotional reaction, such that it is hard to speak this without crying. I think I've adjusted to mobility issues, and to asking for help when I can't walk or at least shouldn't be walking far, but it is a lot harder to recognize and to admit that I can't do schoolwork at times because I am in too much pain to do so. I have not fully made peace with what my disability does to me, and having multiple suggestions to do exactly what I'm doing right now somehow makes it worse.

I don't know how to make this better. I know how to take care my wrists, and I know how to take care of my hip and my knee, so that with time they will heal. It's the emotional stuff that I can't–but I don't know how to handle. There are a lot of “should” and “should not” statements in my head. Things like, “I should have written this weeks ago,” or “I should be able to get this done now,” or “I should not ask for two extensions from the same professor on the same paper,” and all of this based on a conception formed a in high school while I was still able bodied. I feel like I'm annoying my professor by asking for the accommodations that are my right.

In short, I am struggling with my limitations, and I think with internalized able-ism. I am not sure how to move forward from here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blog Note

I know posting has been light lately; my apologies. I hit midterms, then went on break, during which I wanted to do nothing so much as read, and then I was dealing with family issues as well as classes restarting.

I have a couple of posts in the works, including a series on "giftedness," and a reflection on cultural narratives and privilege.

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PMS and Birth Control

I've started recording my PMS symptoms in a regular place so that I can track what's happening. I have the impression that every few months, either my PMS, my period, or both, are miserable and I'm not sure why or if that's actually so, aside from vague references in my personal journaling before last month when it was really bad.

Last month I spent two or three days in a very low mood, unable to get the motivation to do anything I was supposed to do, including school work. I managed to do the short assignments due for my language class, and that was about it. Then, the first two days of menstruating were absolutely miserable, and far worse than what I normally experience. Normally, I have one day of heavy bleeding with cramping, etc., but can manage with just one dose of a medicine like Pamprin. Last month, I had two days of heavy bleeding and ended up holding my stomach every time I stood up, walked, or sat down because all of these activities jarred my internal organs and made me feel awful. Pamprin didn't really help, either. It was a few days later that I started to think about birth control to get this under control again. I suspect stress is throwing hormones off, but who knows if it will level out on its own?

This month, on the other hand, the most noticeable symptom I've had is increased appetite, both before and during menses. I'm a little confused, but I like this a lot better than ending up sobbing for half an hour after an Israeli film screening I had to go to for class. (It didn't help that I had no warning for how ... upsetting this film would be ahead of time. Need to talk to the prof about that at some point, actually.) That wasn't fun, and if I hadn't been PMSing it might not have happened.

So I'd like to try birth control. I went on it freshman year when my mother suggested it in case I became sexually active in college, but nothing happened at all that year, and eventually I gave up taking it because I didn't think I needed it. It seemed fine and a helpful regulator, if nothing else. Of course, there's also the consideration that I have a boyfriend these days and may end up becoming sexually active soon. But really, the horrible mood during PMS is what makes me want to take birth control again. Because I have a hard enough time keeping my mental health on a good track without hormones playing into it, too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moar Swimming

I went back to the pool today, and this time got a swimming lesson from the friend who didn't make it yesterday. My technique is pretty poor all around. No one ever taught me how to breathe while swimming, or apparently more than one kind of kick, or how my arms are supposed to move in a freestyle stroke. I think the extent of my swimming lessons was a summer of lessons, long enough to learn how to tread water, float, and get from one end of the pool to the other without help or doggy-paddling.

I suspect I'll be making this a routine and trying to mix days I swim with friends with days I swim on my own to practice technique without people watching me. I might make the solo days a morning thing, provided I make time for it.

Swimming feels great, even with how much I have to learn. I took a shower afterwards and brought my shampoo and conditioner with me (think I might be adding leave-in conditioner later and/or acquiring a cap, because my hair is going to be really unruly otherwise). I just felt good afterward, and my skin ended up at that stage where my nerves feel really alive, nothing hurts (even the parts that were hurting prior to swimming), and clothing feels good but not necessary. I've had that happen with dance before, only I took a shower back at my dorm and then sat in my room naked because of how good it felt.

In short: I don't know why I didn't find an exercise routine of some kind after I stopped taking dance classes, because physical exertion makes me feel so good.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I just came back from a trip to my university's gym. It's on the far side of campus, and this is only the third time I've been there for the entire time I've gone here. Once for some freshman orientation thing, once during the blackout back in October/November in order to get a shower, and now today.

I've been dealing with family stuff again. I spent break at my father's house, and most of what happened there was fine with me. I helped my stepmother out by keeping up with the dishes since I was home almost every day while she was at work and I had time to spare. My dad, sister, and step-mother are starting to treat me more like family (especially my sister!) which is awesome.

And then there are things I can't currently deal with that involved a panic attack on my part and a major fight with my mother. I don't want to go into detail, because that's not what this post is about, but I forwarded one of her emails with a letter attached to a friend and then deleted it entirely from my email account until such a time as I'm able to handle her letter without affecting my grades too much.

So today I decided to try something different as stress-relief: I went swimming. Initially, I was going to swim with some friends, but they didn't make it, so I swam laps by myself.

My stamina is not very good right now. I'm not sure if it's due to lack of practice swimming or just generally not having done much physical since I stopped taking dance classes (because I don't have time).Either way, I achieved what I set out to do: raise endorphin levels and exhaust myself. That I did it in <20 minutes just means I need to go more often and get more exercise.

I did a total of five laps: twice both ways in the lane I picked, and then one more after I swam sideways a bit to get to the part that had a ladder on the opposite end I was on because I could not figure out how to get out of the pool in what I'm calling the "swim team lanes" where there's a ledge and a mini thing that looks like a diving board only much shorter that was making it impossible for me to climb out on; it was too far above my head and slanted toward the pool. Turns out I didn't need the ladder, I just needed to get to the area the side was low enough to climb. So I did an extra lap for no reason. I also ended up doing two laps on the breaststroke and three on the back stroke/half of the last one was a butterfly stroke (I think? I haven't had swimming lessons since elementary school when my aunt made me learn how to swim).

At any rate, holy cow am I tired.

And! There were a few nifty features in the locker rooms. The showers had soap dispensers; judging by the scent, this wasn't just regular hand-soap despite the similarity in containers. My hair is rinsed out enough that my comb went through it okay. There was also a little machine to put swimsuits in, and it would get them reasonably dry in about 30 seconds (they were still damp, but not dripping wet anymore). And last, they had things that looked like automatic hand dryers, except they said for hair and stayed on as long as I stayed under it. There were some about chest height (I'm assuming for children) and some a couple feet above my head, and my hair did indeed get pretty dry within a couple of minutes, so I was reasonably dry when I left the pool.

I think I might start coming to the pool more often. I have transportation so that I don't have to spend half an hour walking there, and it did me some good. I'd like to improve my stamina in order to do more laps without having to push myself really hard for every single one of them. And next time, I'm going to go in the shallow end so that I can put my feet down as necessary. This time, I was in something like 8'3" of water, and had to be able to go the full length or not at all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cooking and Baking Squee

I've been on hiatus while midterms happened. My last one was last Friday, and I've been on break ever since. I'm staying at my dad's house, where I had books from B&N delivered, and finished two books in three days. A couple days ago I decided to cook dinner for the house because I got a craving for a friend's chili recipe, and she kindly gave it to me.

I started that morning with reading the recipe, making a list of ingredients for the chili and for chocolate chip cookies, and searching the kitchen for necessary items. We had everything for baking except chocolate chips, and about half of the things I needed for the chili.

I even managed to go shopping and be back at the house by 12:30 in the afternoon, which made me feel extremely accomplished. This was my first time planning a fairly complex meal and shopping for it without input from parents or other more experienced adults.

Cookies, which I've made many times before, came next. Everyone who had one went back for more and sang praises, which made me really happy. I use the Tollhouse recipe with a few modifications: add slightly less vanilla extract than the recipe calls for (I just discovered that the fake stuff tastes just fine), don't add nuts, and use a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus ~1/4 bag of some other kind of chocolate chips, in this case Hershey's dark chocolate. When I first started making these, I would add some extra choc. chips I had just for the hell of it, and discovered that I like having two different kinds of chocolate chips in the mix for varied flavor.

Later on, I started the (mild) chili, and actually managed to time it so that it was done more or less when people were ready to eat. I split the recipe my friend gave me between two pots so that I ended up with one pot of vegetarian chili and one pot of meat chili sans corn to account for various dietary needs. (I, for example, try to keep kosher-by-ingredient, especially when I'm cooking, and like to add cheese to my chili, so I needed the vegetarian one. Other people in this house *coughdadcough* won't eat a vegetarian meal, so I also needed a meat pot.) My step-mother told my aunt while they were at work that I was making chili, so my aunt showed up for dinner, too. Luckily, the chili made enough for a group--though by the time dinner was over, all of the meat chili was gone, and there was barely any veggie chili left, either.

I am well satisfied with how both pots of chili turned out, especially since it seemed like everyone loved it who tried it, including those of us who are picky about chili (myself included).

The best part? This was the most complex recipe I've ever cooked (I've had more difficult/more involved baking recipes, but that's a different skill set), and I did almost all of it by myself. The exception being, I had to ask how to peel the onion because I'd never done it before. I did the prep work, including chopping and cutting, I kept an eye on both pots and managed not to screw up the order I did things in even though the two pots had slightly different instructions and were cooking at slightly different rates, and I did the final taste-testing.

It's amazing how different the starting products looked than how the final product looked. I'm so excited! Further proof that I need to start cooking for myself more often...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trauma and Post-Trauma

[Content note: Description of the after-effects of trauma.]

Tomorrow, I have an appointment with my therapist. I made that appointment two weeks ago, but didn't anticipate when I made it that I would need it so badly. I felt like I was doing well two weeks ago. I was keeping up with work, mostly, and hadn't yet stood in line long enough to royally fuck up my knee for the next week and a half.

More importantly, two weeks ago I didn't know that I would be fighting panic attacks a week and a few days later.

This past Friday was horrid. It was worse than horrid, and is possibly the worst day I've had in months, excepting the 24 hours I spent vomiting/passed out recently, and that was bad in a very different way.

Sometime Thursday night/Friday morning, I had a dream. Only it was a little more than a dream, it was a nightmare based on memory. In it, I remember walking away from a hostile interaction with my brother, shutting a door, and locking it (with one of those push locks). My brother then tried to open the door, found he couldn't, and started shouting at me.

That's it. It's all I remember of the dream, so far as events go.

But I spent all day Friday remembering back to Christmas day when he did that for real, except there was no locked door to keep him out. Both in the dream and in life, there was no way out for me, just a room with one exit, and him standing in it.

On Friday, I went to class. I went to lunch. I read material and submitted a short response paper at literally the last minute. I went to a ten minute TA session for one of my duets. I went to a ResLife Staff Appreciation thing in the ResLife office for half an hour, long enough to enter a raffle and eat some cake.

Through all of it, my mood kept plummeting, refused to stay at my normal cheery level, and as a result I had repeated bouts of tears and shaking.

At 6, I went to campus shabbat services, and only managed to stay relatively positive for half an hour before I had to stop singing in order to fight tears. I ate dinner afterwards, and talked to a friend. And then I caught the campus shuttle back to my dorm, shut my door, and called the after-hours number for counseling services.

The on-call counselor called me back within minutes, and I managed to tell her what was wrong. I told her that I couldn't get the fear and anger of the incident with my brother out of my head, that my thoughts were going in circles, that it got worse when I had some down time, and that I was scared and had had a dream about it the night before.

She told me in return that what I was experiencing was a normal response to an abnormal situation--that, essentially, I had been traumatized, and this was part of my brain's way of trying to deal with it. She said something about cycles of not remembering, and then having it triggered and experiencing basically what I was going through. That I had been experiencing intrusive memories, which were like flashbacks except I knew it was a memory and not happening in that moment.

Perhaps the most comforting thing she told me is that my regular therapist specializes in trauma, and so he'll be able to help me move forward from here. She also talked me through a few coping techniques: making myself busy instead of letting myself think; shocking one of my senses to refocus my thoughts on something else (for example, going out in the cold without a jacket, or holding a hot cup of tea); spending time with friends and telling my housemate-friend that I might need support in my downtime at night.

Well, I made myself busy, or I already had a lot to do last weekend for my job, but I made things take more time by, for example, inviting one of my best friends to come shopping with me on Saturday. She drove, which was awesome because my knee was acting up, so I benefited that way, and she was planning to go shopping that day anyway, so it worked out well. I also went to a music major's thesis, which was a one-act opera, and it was awesome. On Sunday I woke up early and was running around immediately to do a few last-minute tasks, went to breakfast, and then spent 5 hours doing something for ResLife (to be fair, I could have done half the time, but felt the need to do the whole thing).

And then I hit time for schoolwork, realized I had so much to do because of midterms and other stuff and got really overwhelmed just in time for my therapist to call and check in on me.

Normally I can handle this stuff. Normally, I get a 24-hour rest period on shabbat by way of simply not doing homework from Friday through dinnertime Saturday. I didn't get that. Didn't have my spirits lifted by singing the psalms, only had a few hours' downtime on Saturday night when I had a two-hour skype session with my boyfriend. I went to bed really happy that night, but the feeling didn't last through the next day.

I wish it had. I wish I could go back to my "normal" but between midterm stresses, not getting a real shabbat, and having my mood plummet anytime something reminds me of Friday (including having my mother text me, unfortunately), I just...can't. I feel like I'm unable to manage anything right now, except I know I can go to classes and can even participate in them. But I'm not as invested in them, and I keep getting distracted by thoughts returning to Friday. It's a vicious cycle.

I'm praying that my therapist can help me break it, and get past it so that I can get on with my regularly scheduled life instead of feeling trapped by this one, enormous thing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dreams of Chaos

I just had the most fascinating dream. It had a plot an everything. I and whoever I was with ended up going to the Chaos lands where everything was upside down and topsy turvy. I recall telling a man I was with, whom I didn't like, "Dear Aunt, I love you." the instant we crossed instead of what I meant to say. This phrase popped up earlier, too, as foreshadowing (see what it did there? XD) . The logic of the place was strange, in that "things won't operate the way they used to. The logic might be based on the root of the root of four (i.e. √2)". And we went there, and got out, and everything there was hot and made me hungry and thirsty, so I ate something a magical guide offered after he cooled off a place for my hand to rest when I was overheated. And then someone else said zie didn't eat there because every time zie did, he lost some of his life and transformed into a small person briefly (which evidently 'costs' in terms of years taken off at the end) (also by 'small person' I mean Alice-in-Wonderland Eat-me small). We got back, but one of the women was sad to see some people we had met in Chaos, stay in Chaos, and she wanted to go back.

It was an incredible dream. I wish I could recall all the places we went, everything that happened that made it Chaos. Sadly, it's slipping away even as I type...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I was/I am/I will be

There's an art class on my campus building interactive art pieces and displaying them for short periods of time around campus. Today I ran into one with three sides, which read "What I am" "What I will be" and "What I was".

I felt very defiant when I wrote "I am a woman" on one side. I tried to figure out how to convey my contempt for current politics and social climates, but couldn't think of a short phrase until after I walked away. I could have finished with "not a uterus".

I also wrote "I will be valued" and "I was unaware".

That about sums up some of the things that go through my mind on a regular basis, particularly when thinking about "home."

It now occurs to me that the only category I put a noun in was the present tense one. Interesting, that.

What about you? What would you have written?


In the last however many months I've identified a few snacks for when my mouth gets dry, and I'm hungry. It takes some searching, but there are a few things I love and a few things that work (not necessarily overlapping).

First up, Sugar-Free Lifesavers. I'm a fan of the Wintergreen flavor, and as a plus, it's the sugar-free my rheumatologist told me to find to prevent more dental decay. The down side? They have a strong odor, such that anyone within a few feet of me can smell the mint.

Second, gummy snacks. Lately I've been buying Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, which are high-quality, very juicy, and not overly sweet or anything else. Of course, before looking them up just now, I didn't actually know what they cost; I buy them with my university meal plan from one of their to-go kiosks. I'm hoping I'll be able to a) find them and b) afford them when I graduate.

Third, ice cream or similar things. I love cakes and brownies, and all those yummy snacks. But they don't help my dry mouth at all and in fact tend to use up most of the moisture in my mouth within a few bites unless they're really moist. Instead, after meals I go for ice cream of some kind, provided the cafeteria has a flavor I like. A scoop or two of ice cream does very well for rounding out whatever dry food I might have eaten for dinner. As long as it's not super-creamy, like cookies and cream, anyways.

The major downside to all of these things is that I suspect it would cost a lot of money if I paid for these things in cash on a regular basis. During school breaks, I tend to be SOL on most of the things I eat regularly; I compensate with a LOT of water. 

Does anyone else out there have dry mouth? What do you do for it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Minor Flare-up

I suspect I've started a flare-up recently. My wrists and hands are achy off and on (particularly just before a dose of one of my meds), my mouth keeps getting either dry or extremely thick mucous, so that I have to keep rinsing my mouth with water periodically (particularly when I'm singing!).

Of course, I've also been spending a lot of time on my computer doing things like scrolling through long readings when it would be better to print it out, except that printing costs money, or paper and ink. Today I printed all of my readings in a computer lab that does double-sided printing.

And so it goes.

At least my meds are handling it enough that my work hasn't been impacted too much this time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


There's been an outbreak of gastroenteritis on campus. I am not one of the lucky few who hasn't gotten it. I'm still recovering. Tuesday night through Wednesday night is kind of a blur, with few clear memories.

I felt slightly ill Tuesday morning and switched to the BRAT diet for breakfast and lunch--a banana and ramen, respectively. I made it to all my classes and felt mostly fine. Then I ate dinner after my 7pm class, assuming that since breakfast and lunch hadn't made me sick, I would be fine. The burger was delicious.

Too bad I tasted it all coming back up for half the night. I think I finally hit dry-heaves around dawn. I was so, so thirsty by the time I dared try to drink some water.

I have really confused memories of taking my meds, and on more than one occasion trying to stand up only to collapse onto the floor. I don't know how long I stayed there each time, but I'm still vaguely surprised that no one walked past my room and called emergency or something the time I passed out in my doorway.

Today, Thursday, I didn't make it to classes. I'm wishing I could do the same tomorrow, but I have silly things like a housing fair I'm required to be at in order to recruit people for the house. It's three hours long. Normally I'd say, great, but I *also* have a TA session and a class tomorrow.

And today I can barely lift anything, barely walk any given distance. I asked multiple hallmates for help yesterday with things like getting a rice-based electrolyte powder from the health center, and then moving the crates that had my liter container in it for the aforementioned powder. I asked one of my friends to go to the kitchen multiple times for filtered water because going to the kitchen required climbing stairs, and after the first time in which I had to cling to the railing and then rest at the top, I didn't want to do it again. I still haven't tried it today.

I feel so weak and also like I can't afford the time. I have/had work to do, and it's all going to pile together again. I was on top of it until Tuesday night hit. Now I'm falling even farther behind.

And it is frustrating to have simple tasks make me short of breath within a few seconds. I went to plug my computer into the socket behind my bed because my hips were complaining about the chair at my desk. So I had to crawl under the bed a little bit, and by the time I pulled back I was breathing hard.

When I took a shower tonight because I started noticing that I smelled, I asked my hallmate/friend to check on me after ten minutes just in case I passed out or fell down. I didn't do either, but I did sway while standing in the shower. Had a hard time keeping my balance. Was grateful that even if the shower didn't have a bench to sit on, it at least was narrow enough to make catching myself easy.

I went through this last year, only I think most of the time it wasn't viral, since going on antacids finally made me stop having episodes. This time it was definitely viral. Lots of other people are sick. We even had warning, in the form of a public health advisory a week before.

It's just so difficult to avoid getting sick on a college campus. And I really, really wish it had picked another week to hit us.

I hate this. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Two days without full cognitive function, one of which didn't even leave clear memories. It might be another two or three days until I'm back to normal. I've eaten nothing but crackers today, and don't feel terribly hungry. I just want my body to be normal sometimes. Even if normal for me means pain, I at least don't usually have a hard time lifting things that are only a few pounds.


Monday, February 6, 2012

The Saga Continues

Content Note: This is part three of a series on abuse. Part One. Part Two. 
Two weekends ago I spent a night at my mother's house for the first time since December 27th. Every time I go there, I spend days or weeks getting my mental health back into a normal, positive track.

Yesterday, early afternoon, I finally called my mother to tell her why I stayed away for the whole month. I told her that my brother had trapped me, that his behavior was escalating, and that things were "moving toward abuse" or some such--I hadn't intended to modify it for her, but it slipped out. She said she would talk to my brother. I said okay and thank you.

Around 10pm last night, I received a text from her.
I talked to [brother's name]. I've asked that you guys agree to disagree & no more argueing.
 Things only devolved from there. I tried to be extremely clear and tell her that agreeing to such a thing 1) would make me feel like I had no way to stand up for myself and 2) would require a level of trust in my brother that I no longer have.

I've tried being tactful. I've tried cooperating. But my mother is not a good mediator, especially because she's involved, and she's also trying to force us to do what she wants, not what we want. It is so, so hard to explain things clearly and with reasons. It is so, so hard to retain respect for my mother when she's asking me to give an abuser another chance, without taking into consideration that I don't want to. She also threw in two lines of guilt tripping in separate texts.

For the record? I don't believe that "[h]e would die for [me]" and even if I did, what the hell does that matter when he actively hurts me in life? *still fuming*

Why does she keep asking me to do things I can't do? Why does she think that she or I can fix this? I'm not willing to place myself in danger just because she wants us to "get along." I'm not willing to deal with my brother without extensive family counseling, and even that I wouldn't be willing to do if he wasn't so involved in the family--or if I didn't have trouble with the idea of simply cutting ties. Not that I think family counseling is going to happen. 1) Not sure if anyone's insurance covers it. 2) My brother has very strong, negative feelings about any kind of therapy.

I'm not sure if I'm making sense or how much I'm rambling. I know that I will not do things on her terms--only on mine. The part I'm having trouble with is letting go of my relationship with my mother, should it be necessary.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Meme: Fictional Characters to Whom I Relate.

Borrowed from Tori, originated at voxcorvegis.

The meme is simple; name six fictional characters in whom you could see yourself, and explain why you were able to do so. Mine are as follows:
  1. Sarah Vida, from Shattered Mirror and All Just Glass by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Sarah struggles in these two books to grow up and to see outside the box her family built for themselves. She lives in a very limited world of vampires and those who hunt them. I identify because I spent years learning to connect with my peers, missing pop culture references, and trying to see and experience and understand people from other backgrounds. I've had to re-envision my entire worldview since coming to college, or it seems that way. And so does Sarah. (This may be one reason I've been obsessed with her for years, such that I frequently daydream about her story.)
  2. Karal in the Mage Storm Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. Karal is a priest-in-training apprenticed to a priest-envoy. He sees the world with a lot of compassion, even those who are supposed to be his enemies. His thought processes are actually the closest to my own that I've ever encountered in literature, enough that I've more than once thought about a vocation as a religious leader because of these books.
  3. Lirael from the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix. Lirael is a misfit and bookish among the kin she grows up with. Both sentiments I identify with.
  4. Keladry of Mindelan, Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce. Keladry is a strong female character, loves and is loved in turn by animals, and is a leader. I'm neither a knight nor a commander, but I have a similar effect on animals and people as she does, and I have the same instinct to protect those who can't protect themselves.
  5. Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon). We're both quiet, and kind, and awesome singers. Also like women, although I am bi, not lesbian. (And wow, my explanations get shorter as I go along!) 
  6. Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Again with the quiet and good with animals tropes. I'm not the only one who has made the comparison. (Did I mention I'm also an introvert?)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

First full week

Classes started last Thursday. I feel like I haven't slowed down since the Monday before that when I arrived back on campus for more ResLife training (was it only last week?).

I'm thrilled about all of my classes, although I'm more excited about the music ones than anything else. I have a performance class, a music theory class, private voice lessons, Hebrew, and a Jewish studies capstone course. This is the first semester I've had the majority of my classes in my major (and all of them in either my major or my certificate program). The music major takes a lot of work and has some of the highest credit requirements (=max allowed by the university in one department), but it's so much fun even when it's frustrating.

Physically, I've been doing okay, still. I've gotten some tightness in my wrists, but nothing incredibly painful, and I've gotten used to sleeping in a twin bed again. I miss the air mattress; it has more give than any other mattress I've tried, and is therefore more comfortable for my hip. I've even been managing all the extra walking pretty well. It probably helps that the temperature is rarely low enough even to require gloves. Yesterday it was in the low 60s (Fahrenheit). This is Not Normal weather for the area. We should have semi-permanent snow until April-ish. Instead, we have 60 degree weather in February and January, which should be the coldest months of the year. 0.o (Yes, I'm a touch worried about our ecosystem here.) Even so, I'm betting it's helping my body cope better.

And I'm cautiously excited for a Bystander Intervention Workshop that our wellness and mental health centers are sponsoring in a couple of weeks. It's a six-hour workshop, but it's free, and I can see a lot of applications both as a ResLife staff member and as someone whose home-life involves alcoholics. The workshop has two different tracks, one for sexual assault and one for alcohol; I'm probably going to take the latter because of the men in my life who like to abuse alcohol. Either way it will be useful hands-on training.

So that's what's going on with me. How are you?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I get emails

And I send them.

I just spent an hour and a half reading, responding to, and sending emails, all because my time for emailing last night was taken up by homework.

Now I have a crick in my neck.

Oh well, time for dinner and then my first Opera and Oratorio class!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's the little things

Content Note: This is part two of a series on abuse. Part One. Trigger warning for substance abuse and bullying.
Yesterday I had to get a bag of miscellaneous (but important) things that I accidentally left at my mother's house. It's a two hour drive to get there, about 4.5 hours round trip, so I stayed overnight.

I'm mostly okay physically. I just wish I had driven back last night instead of overnighting it.

I started a different post to continue this series shortly after I finished the last one, but I have yet to finish it. In the meantime, things have continued to escalate.

I mentioned last time that my brother had a beer in his hand when he yelled at me. I didn't make a huge deal of it because his behavior was inexcusable regardless of his level of sobriety. However, there's that, and then there's substance abuse.

Last night my brother took prescription meds that weren't his for a "hurt shoulder." I can't make any statement on the veracity of that claim, but I can say that he took more of the other person's medicine, actually went over the dosage for the day. He also said both that he felt fine and that the medicine wasn't helping. My conclusion is that he wanted to get high. He argued with my mother over taking this greater dose, and ended up taking it anyway. And then he went for the beer, after arguing with both me and my mother about the wisdom of that decision. And kept arguing every time he went to get one, because one of us would speak up, and he would just keep going until we stopped responding, and then get another beer.

Meanwhile, we were both alarmed and worried that he was going to accidentally kill himself because of the drug interactions mixed with the overdose. He completely disregarded our feelings in favor of getting drunker. He was not making good decisions, but seemed convinced that because he had tried something similar before, he was automatically going to be fine again.

So naturally this whole situation was making me deeply uncomfortable, especially given the alcoholic step-father who just left. More than anything, I want to never see my brother again.

And you know what really irritated me last night, instead of just upsetting me? At one point he decided that while I was on my computer, he was going to show me pictures on his phone regardless of whether I wanted to or not. I in fact told him that I didn't want to, and he insisted, "Just look at them all, it won't take long." Since he was shoving it in my face and not moving it until I looked, I didn't really have a choice.

Once again proving that he doesn't care about what I want, and will force me to do things against my will. And that ticks me off.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dinner and a trap

[Content note: This blog entry discusses abuse, first in the abstract and then with an example. It's my own story. Triggering content is marked before it moves into a detailed description of an abusive situation.]

[If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, physical or not, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (US & Canada): 1-800-799-SAFE* or check out their site. RAINN is a site particularly for sexual abuse.

*1-800-799-7233 if you're like me and have a full keyboard on your phone.]

This is probably my third or fourth attempt at blogging on this topic. Likely, I'll continue it later, but it's something that's been on my mind a lot and I would like to share, even though I have lots of voices in my head telling me that family things are private, that I have no right to talk about abusive behavior because it's not mine to share, that I shouldn't ever embarrass people in public, because being embarrassed in public is worse than being tormented in private, that...

To those voices I would like to say: Shut up and go to hell. I write because it's healing. I write because those who perpetuate abusive systems and situations, and then demand the right to privacy, are asking me to shut up and deal with the very real emotional stress it puts on me without ever being able to get help for it. They're asking me to participate in my own abuse.

I write for those who can't say these things.


Friday, January 13, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things

Yesterday over at Shakesville the question was asked, "What is your favorite thing about yourself?"

Reading through the thread of responses is awesome. I actually gave two responses. The first was something I took some time to think of: I love my ability with animals and children; most animals and many children take to me pretty much instantly upon meeting me, and as a result I've made a great many four-legged (and young two-legged) friends. The second was a response to someone else declaring that it was okay to love it (as a woman*): I love my intelligence and the many different things it allows me to do.

And here, because I'm still thinking about it: I love my artistry and that I've tried many different arts and enjoyed most or all of them. I love the musical mindset my major has strengthened, I love the way I dance, and I love my photography and writing. And I love my voice and other musical abilities.

*Because smart women tend to face hostility from men, at least from my experiences.

What about you? What is/are your favorite thing or things about yourself? And just as on Shakesville, this can be anything from a physical descriptor to a personality trait, to a skill, to anything else you can think of.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holiday Wrap-Up Post

This blog has been on hiatus mostly because I've been having too much fun to want to post. Among other things, I haven't posted about holiday baking, because I get bored about five seconds after deciding to upload photos. So! No photos yet. We'll see about later this week.

[Two-week summary after the cut. It's long.]