Monthly Archives: September 2010

WTH: Pills, pills pills

I’m feeling like House nowadays.

Why, you may ask?

Well, you see, I am now taking 18 pills a day. And two drops. And two creams. And another 2-4 pills if I’m having trouble falling asleep.

This would be more OK if I didn’t HATE, with every fiber of my body, swallowing pills. HATE. I have a really strong gag reflex to big pills (that I better get over). If you remember, that is much of why I stopped taking an anti-depressant. I hated swallowing a big ol’ pill every day.

Now I’m taking 18+. Ick.

It’s a short term regiment that, in theory, could help my chronic fatigue. I have 5x the normal levels of mono stuff in my body that someone whose had mono should have, and that could be responsible for at least some of the chronic fatiuge. And if it is, this could help that.

You know. Maybe.

Oh, plus my Vitamin D is low (though not dangerously, like before).

Yeah. What the hell is wrong with my body? And please, let whatever the hell it is be fixed by this insane regiment!

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Filed under Life, What the Hell Wednesday

Running Tired

I am tired.

All.the.time.

And probably will be the rest of my life.

So I need to just fucking deal with it.

(Sorry if language offends you. I try to minimize it. But it’s my blog.)

I’ve been talking with my husband about my lack of…doing….anything. Anything at all.

I feel purposeless. And it’s because I’m doing nothing. Or at least, nothing I can really be proud of. I’m not bringing in much money at all. I’m not a mom. I’m not being a good homekeeper. Those are about the three ways a woman can contribute to a family that I see. I feel like I’m not earning my keep (in addition to a bunch of other feelings).

I quit my job a few months ago. I did it so I could get healthy and be happier. Part of the deal was I’d keep working a little to bring in some money, and that I’d clean the house better.

I’ve more or less kept up with the first part of that deal. But the second part? Not so much.

I just don’t care. It’s always dirty. Before long I’ll have kids, and it’ll be always dirty again, because they’ll be making a mess of everything! If I clean, it just gets dirty again the next day. Or week. Or hour. Why bother?

It’s like making the bed. When I got married, I really wanted to keep our bed  made. It just felt good to me to have it made, and I loved coming back to it each night. But we have a giant king bed that is a pain to walk around and make alone. And I was trying to get out the door to work. And hubby was still in the bed when I left half the time. So I just gave up on it. Why keep doing it? It’s not worth the time and energy when it’s just gonna get unmade 14 hours later. So I stopped making it. And I stopped caring.

I think the stopping-caring has spread. It’s just not worth the energy to clean the house, until it gets really bad. So I don’t do it.

And yes, I’ve heard the “if you clean every day, it’s like no work at all!” Bullshit. It’s still work. It’s just work every effing day! And wiping out your sink when it’s clean does not take much less time than wiping out your sink when it’s dirty. Etc. So don’t try that with me.

Anyway.

It was part of the deal that I’d clean more. And…I haven’t. I feel like I’m still busy all the time, and just grabbing relaxation where I can find it…….but then I also feel like I’m getting nothing done.

I quit my job. I should have lots more time on my hands. So why don’t I spend a small portion of that time cleaning?

I think it’s like a time from my school, in reverse.

It was my sophomore year. I had a big, giant sophomore engineering design project due in a few days. I was in the computer lab, stressing about how on earth I would be able to get it done. Finish my presentation and my report. Do all my other homework. I felt like there was no way I could get it all done. I was worrying I’d have to pull an all-nighter.

Then I got a call that my hubby (then boyfriend) was in the ER, because he’d vomited up blood and had major abdominal pain all day.

Suddenly, the homework was nothing.

I spent the next couple days at the hospital, waiting with him for a diagnosis, running home during his emergency apendectomy to finish my report/presentation in 20 minutes, grab a change of clothes and toothbrush and hitching a ride back to the hospital (no car, you see, travel was not easy), and waiting with him while he recovered. I got a ride back to school in time to give my presentation, and promptly left to return to the hospital to accompany him when he was discharged.

And it all turned out fine. I got a good enough grade. The world did not end.

A few days previous, I’d been wondering how on earth I would ever finish all I had to do, thinking I’d be pulling an all-nighter. Then something came up, and all my time disappeared. And somehow, it all still got done, and done well enough.

I’m living that in reverse, now. Working at my old job, for me, was like going through my insane school schedule with my hubby in the hospital. I didn’t have enough time for anything but that one main thing, and kind of crammed in everything else on the side.

Then I left my job, and it was life as if my hubby wasn’t in the hospital. But I still have my “insane school schedule,” which keeps me feeling busy and wondering how I can get it all done, and if I’ll have to pull an all-nighter to keep up.

In short, I left my job. So I have more time. But that doesn’t mean that life is now easy and full of time. It just means I’m out of minimum-necessary-for-survival-and-not-totally-screwing-my-future mode. I’m still in that place where I don’t know how I’ll get it all done. I just have a lot more time to feel that way.

But I feel awful for that! Because I DO have more time! So why can’t I get it done?

In part it may be that I don’t have enough spoons. But in part, it may just be that I’m lazy.

I mean, the biggest thorn in our side is the lack of housework getting done. It still looks bad around here. I’m getting better. I recently spent an hour scrubbing out our shower, with a brush, on my hands and knees. Thanks to my roomba, the floor is regularly vacuumed. But it’s still bad.

As I said above, I don’t like doing housework. If it was bothering me more, I’m sure I’d be more likely to do it. But, partly as a survival mechanism, I stopped caring.

And that’s the kicker.

How do I separate the chronic fatigue from the plain-ol’ not wanting to?

How can I tell if it’s a lack of spoons, or a still-crazy “school schedule,” or simple irresponsibility?

The former is a valid excuse. The latter is no excuse.

How the hell do I tell? What is fair to ask of myself? How hard should I be pushing?

I hate invisible illnesses. Give me a broken leg any day.

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Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life

My newest crush

Parker’s arrival has gone smoother than I could have dreamed….except for one small giant thing.

Toby’s bathroom habits have slipped.

I think it’s a combination of me being gone/busy more and more, and stress from having Parker around, but Toby has started using my library, and the hall outside of it, as a bathroom. Not a lot, and mainly when we either don’t notice he wants to go out or he’s home alone and can’t go out, but enough that it’s driving.me.crazy!

Especially since that is also our guest room.

Now, as a dog trainer, I know there are things I can do. But, as I always tell my clients, there is no magic bullet for housebreaking. It is the single most unnatural thing we teach our dogs to do. And the only way to teach it is to put in a lot of work.

I’m trying to decide exactly what I want to do. But one thing has to happen.

The carpet has to get clean.

If it smells like urine, it is a bathroom. And I can’t blame him for peeing there when all signs say it’s a bathroom!

Even when he was housetraining, there weren’t many accidents, and I kept up with them with Nature’s Miracle and elbow-grease. But now, there are more stains, and I’m having a harder time keeping up, or catching back up to neutral! Also, the stains tend to be more set-in, since I’m not keeping such an eye on him and noticing instantly (which is one thing I could do, yes.)

Which brings me to my new crush:

The Bissel Little Green Multi-Purpose Compact Earth-Friendly Deep Cleaner.

I remember having a spot carpet cleaner as a kid. And it. was. amazing.

I want one.

Anyone have one? Any advice on types/brands/styles? Think they’re a waste of money? I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Life

Spin Cycle: Former Catholic Speaks Out

I’ve always watched the spin cycle occur over at Sprite’s Keeper, a great blog I love to read, but I’ve never participated. I want to…but the topics are so great and broad I never find the time to write on them.

This week, the topic is religion. And I just can’t stay silent. ’cause that’s been a big topic in my life!

Growing up, my mom was a cradle Catholic and my dad was..nothing. Not agnostic, not atheist, not Catholic, just didn’t know and didn’t put a lot of thought into it. So we were raised Catholic…but not really. It was kind of a silent, background thing. We went to religious education, we usually went to church, but other than that, it wasn’t really discussed.

In late junior high, I started to embrace my faith as my own. There was a Protestant that I went to (public) school with, and we spent several months worth of lunches in friendly debate about the differences between our two churches and if the differences were legitimate or heretical. I learned a lot about Catholicism in order to answer his questions, and started to really take it on as more of an adult, rather than just what my mom thought.

I went to private, Catholic high school, and we had religion classes there. Let me mention that I grew up in Idaho, a very conservative state, and so the Catholicism taught at this school was pretty darn conservative (by “conservative” I mean “lined up with what the Vatican has consistently taught rather than popular American Catholicism”). And yet, I would get into debates with my religion teachers over tenets they were teaching, with me coming down on the more conservative side. Things like, was Mary a perpetual virgin/did Jesus have siblings? I went with the Church position of no, my teachers often thought yes.

My junior year of high school I took an ethics class, like all other students. I was very pro-life, arguing that even in the case of ectopic pregnancy, a woman should not have an “abortion,” because it is a life. God could step in and save them both, and the woman should not take that opportunity away. I was very anti-gay-marriage/lifestyle (though there wasn’t much discussion of this at that time and in my area), very anti-contraception (as is the official Church teaching), thought that a woman should stay home with her children, generally very, very conservative in morality. I would argue these positions whole-heartedly, and really took them as my own.

I went to a private, Catholic college…but one taught by Jesuits. The conservatives used to joke it wasn’t really Catholic, because Jesuits are infamous for being more liberal. I was in the Honors program, which meant we had colloquiums every year. The freshman year of colloquium I remember being shocked, because we would discuss a lot of morality (these were basically 3 hour discussions), and almost the entire class, including the priest in charge, was so “very liberal.” I still staunchly defended my position, and felt disgusted by the lack of official Catholic teaching at this “Catholic” college.

Then I had to start taking the pill.

I have always had really, really bad cramps. Debilitating. Curled up in a ball screaming in pain, unable to really move, for at least a day kind of cramps. I had a miracle drug…which was then removed from the market for being dangerous. For 2 years I went to 3 doctors and tried everything they could think of. Nothing helped. Or at least, not enough help that I could function for that day-plus every month.

So I went on the pill. And even though official Church teaching is that it’s OK to go on the pill if it is for medical reasons and the birth control aspect is only a side-effect and not an intention, and even though I was still a total and complete virgin so I wasn’t even using the birth control aspect, I felt guilty. Horribly guilty. Because birth control was wrong. Sex was intended by God to be wholly procreative and unitive, and thus every act had to be open to both of those possibilities. I knew I didn’t want kids the instant I got married, and so I worried that maybe the birth control aspect was more just than a side effect for me in my heart, and thus sinful.

Like I said, I was very conservative.

So I started looking into anti-birth-control writings, to reassure myself that birth control was wrong. Going on the pill threatened my stance, and I was looking for support in it. I wanted to understand it even better.

And the more I looked into writings that agreed with my stance, and delved into the arguments deeper…the less they made sense to me. I was desperately looking for justification of my position, that “artificial” birth control was wrong, but I couldn’t accept an argument that made no logical sense, just because I liked the conclusion.

So I kept looking. And looking. And looking.

And the more I looked, the less sense it made.

As luck would have it, around this time I was taking a Christian Marriage class (with my now-husband, actually) to meet a religion requirement. In the class, she passed out a lot of information about the Church’s stance on birth control, both for and against it. It was a very balanced, fair view, and justly presented the arguments I held.

But as I looked at the arguments for the other side…they made so much sense.

Sure, sex is intended to be unitive and procreative. But that doesn’t mean every.single.sex.act has to be both. It just means as a whole those requirements have to be met. And clearly, in our world, they are. There are times couples have sex when they are not feeling unified by it because they are trying to procreate, and they are most fertile at that moment. No one has a problem with that. So why is there a problem when couples have sex that is not intended to be procreative, but they are focusing on the unitive feeling that instance? As long as they are open to any child that may result from the union, why is that bad?

For over a year I was dragged, kicking and screaming, from my position that birth control was wrong, and finally I had to admit that I felt it was not sinful.

And that opened the floodgates.

I started to look at why women can’t be priests. And again, found no justification I could stand behind.

If each sex act didn’t have to be fully unitive and procreative, I had no more reason to stand against gay relationships/marriage.

And so on.

I no longer agreed with my Church on many ethical issues…but I still considered myself Catholic.

My senior year, I decided to write my Honors thesis on the history of the Church’s position on birth control. My thesis was that the teaching has NOT been constant in Tradition throughout time, the biggest argument as to why birth control is wrong in the higher-levels of the Church. While the same words have been said (Birth control is wrong), the reasons for the words have changed so dramatically that it cannot be argued consistent. If the early Church taught that birth control was wrong because the sole purpose of sex was procreation, and sex for any goal other than procreation was also wrong, then surely that could not be considered consistent with the current teaching that birth control is wrong because it denies one of two main aspects of sex: procreation and unitive, and that it is OK to focus on the unitive by avoiding sex when you know you are not fertile. Those two teachings are not only not identical, they are contradictory!

In writing this (100-page single-spaced) thesis, I read a lot of first-hand Church documents. A lot of the Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II, and other such things. A lot of documents that supported my former stance. I now found their arguments offensive and diminuative of women. Much of the Theology of the Body I found insulting, and I had a hard time reading it. I realized how much I disagreed with the Church’s view of how all women are, even though I agree that there are general differences between the sexes.

And I read Turning Point, a book which details the work of the Papal Birth Control Commission by people who were on it. The Papal Birth Control Commission was a group of people, called by multiple Popes, to get together and discuss the issue of birth control, and offer a ruling on whether it should be allowed by the Church or not. Despite the widely varied background of the members, after years of work, the Commission decided almost unanimously that birth control should be allowed. Then, the few dissentors, who were close to the Pope, met in private with him and disuaded him. They bragged about how it was their influence that changed his mind afterwards. And the Pope issued Humanae Vitae, a document which upheld the Church’s ban on birth control. This was a shocking blow to the Commission. The book is full of the politics and slimy tactics that are used in the Vatican. And I realized, why am I looking to those people to guide my morality? They are nothing but politicians, using dirty methods to get their agendas through. I was not going to defer to them. I would not look to them for my morality any more

That was the beginning of the end.

I considered myself Catholic for about another 6 months after my senior year. I was getting married in the Church, and attended pre-marital counseling. The awful, judgemental pre-marital counseling we were forced to undergo (and I had really been looking forward to!) was yet another turn-off to me to the Church, as was fighting the Church for ANY personalized touches in my wedding.

I wanted so badly to be Catholic. I always had been Catholic. It was a huge part of my identity.

But I no longer supported so much of what the Church taught. Especially what I considered the most important issues – morality. Stories of God and Jesus and how we get to heaven are well and good, but we cannot know if that makes a true difference at any point. Morality makes a difference now, and any God I would worship would care how we treated each other and lived our lives.

I tried to be Catholic. I really, really did. But I couldn’t go to Church without getting upset at so much of what was implied or flat-out said. Knowing more about the teachings behind the phrases, and the history behind the teachings, made it hard.

I tried being Protestant half-heartedly, but even that was too close.

And then I realized.

I didn’t care.

If there was a God, He did not care if I acknowledged Him. No God I could support and worship would condemn to hell someone who had never heard of Him. So I could not believe in a God who required worship as an entry pass into heaven.

If there was a God, He would judge me by my acts, by my morals, and by my behaviors.

And those actions were not going to be influenced one.tiny.bit by my religion. Catholic or not, Christian or not, it would not change one thing about how I lived my life day-to-day.

So I stopped caring. I stopped worrying about if there was a God. I stopped worrying about which religion was right. I stopped trying to feel part of a group which, in so many ways, I disagreed with.

And I was happy. And free.

And I have never felt more at peace, and more close to a deity, if one exists, than I do now that I am not obsessing about things I flat-out canNOT know.

We cannot understand the workings of an ant, who is so much simpler than us. How can we expect to understand, with full and sure knowledge, the workings of a God who created us?

We can’t. And I am no longer trying.

And I am finally at peace.

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Filed under Life, Spin Cycle

RTT: There really is no theme

I am very sleepy, and thus very random. Yay!

I want this house. Nice subdivision bordered by other subdivisions. Gorgeous tan walls with white trim. Beautiful kitchen with a pretty island. Master bathroom with it’s own stand-alone tub. *drool*

No, we’re not moving. Why do you ask?

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Toby and Parker have been tentatively playing. It’s adorable. Toby keeps rolling his ball to Parker, at which point Parker freaks out and bolts. Then, while Toby is distracted chewing on something, Parker comes up and bats at him. If Toby turns around, he bolts. His bolting is kind of a pattern.

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I just read the best analogy for what living with chronic fatigue is like. Go, read it. Seriously. I love it.

(One thing I’d add: every time your dysthymia gets stronger, your spoons all disappear. w00t.)

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Glee and House are back. It is going to be a good week :-D Once I pull them off my Tivo

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MY HUBBY IS BACK TOMORROW!!! He spent the weekend on a fun trip for himself, visiting a new city, old friends, and another ball park (he tries to see one every year). I am so happy for him when he goes…but I can’t wait to see him! I’ve missed him a lot.

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I had a(nother) grumpy start to my day. Then, I taught a fun class and two new people signed up for my next round of classes. Score! I never want to go to class anymore, but I always love it when I’m there! And now that I’m not trying to make Companions into a full-time thing, it’s far less stressful :-D

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Toby threw up twice last night, and Parker kept coming in to investigate since the hubby was gone. I’m hoping for a calmer night full of better sleep, since tomorrow is a full day!

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Filed under Companions, Life, Random Thoughts Tuesday

Awesome Deaf!

This is one of the coolest, most empowering things I’ve seen in awhile. I love it!!!

Thanks to Tulpen at Bad Words for sharing. She is a f***ing awesome mother to her Deaf son!!

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Thank goodness it’s not infertility

As you may have read, I want a baby. A whole damn lot wee bit.

For very good reasons, we are not ready to have one yet. Hopefully soon, but not yet. And I have no argument with that fact.

And still, every time I’m watching TV, and someone mentions, “We’re expecting a baby!” it makes my heart twinge. It can be done so casually, skipped by in passing among the other, “more important” events going on. There can be no warning, it just comes out mid-conversation. It always recaptures my full attention. And I always feel a pang of jealousy.

Every time I hear about my friends’ pregnancies, or upcoming domestic infant adoption, on Facebook, it pulls at my heart. I’m happy for them. I really am. But I can’t hold back the envy, the longing that accompanies that happiness.

And this is just because we’re choosing not to have a baby.

I can’t imagine how much worse this would be if it were due to infertility. Due to trying and working and aching to have a baby, and not being able to.

If you are battling that horrible problem, my heart goes out to you. Much love and strength in your battle.

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National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week: Dysthymia

I have moved! I am now blogging at The Energizer Mommy. Please come join me there!

Here we go, round three on National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, which is actually this week! If you missed them, here are round one and round two. If you wanted to know more about the awareness week, you can click the link in #29. I love this meme because it is spreading awareness of the illnesses that surround all of us, often without us knowing. Invisible illnesses are so often misunderstood because they are invisible. Let’s bring them to light! If you suffer from a chronic invisible illness, do the meme yourself or write another post about it, and link to it in the comments. I’d love to read about your journey!

1. The illness I live with is: Dysthymia or Dysthymic Disorder. Dysthymia is a chronic long-lasting form of depression sharing many characteristic symptoms of major depressive disorder. These symptoms tend to be less severe but do fluctuate in intensity. To be diagnosed, an adult must experience 2 or more of the following symptoms for at least two years:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low sex drive.
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Irritability

I was going to highlight which of those symptoms I have..but..um…it’s all of them. I vary in how severe they are, from just background and there to, sometimes, dangerously depressed and in a deep, dark pit I can’t pull myself out of alone.
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:
 2008
3. But I had symptoms since: 2003 (at least)
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: accepting that sometimes I can’t just decide to be happy, and need to find other ways to cope.
5. Most people assume: that “everybody gets sad,” and I’m just overstating my sadness.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: getting up and facing the day. There are mornings when I am more depressed and I honestly cannot see the purpose in getting out of bed.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. I love the sarcasm, even if the medicine is crazy.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my computer, which lets me talk to my hubby even when he’s at work.
9. The hardest part about nights are: when I’m still very depressed, and I know that if I can’t get it under control I’m just going to wake up depressed, too, and shoot my whole next day to hell as well.
10. Each day I take _1_ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) I now take a multi-vitamin. They don’t help but they don’t hurt. I have taken anti-depressants before. The current round of specialists is due to the side-effects I suffered under the first drugs. The second kind of med didn’t help as much, just took the edge off, and I hate taking pills. I would have to go off them to have kids anyway, and it wasn’t worth it anymore, so I stopped.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am in therapy, and learning how to cope. I also use my dog as a psychiatric service dog. He alerts me when a dangerous depression is coming on. He provides deep pressure and lets me stroke and focus on him when I’m losing it. If I am at all teary, or get outwardly upset (or on cue) he will aggressively lick my face until I snap out of it and get back in control. This is not kissing, it is not comforting, it is obnoxious and I can’t ignore it. He has literally saved my life when I was suicidal at one point.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: visible. No doubt. When your illness is visible, there is something you can point to, and say, that! That is what is wrong! And people take you more seriously.
13. Regarding working and career: At the moment, I don’t have one. Being depressed at my structural engineering job was not helpful, and it could cause bad bouts of fatigue that really clouded my thinking. Also, when you really just don’t care about anything, it’s hard to keep going enough at work to not draw attention. But it is possible.
14. People would be surprised to know: cannot decide to stop being depressed. That is one big difference between sadness and depression. When I am sad, I can decide to get over it, and just push through. When I am depressed, I can’t. I need help to climb out of a depression, and typically either my husband or my puppy can provide the help I need, giving me a focus and the type of support I have learned to grab onto to pull myself out of the pit.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: how out of my control some things, even in my own brain, are. I don’t do well when I don’t have control. :P
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: make my husband happy :-) I feel like he does so very, very much for me, and I still don’t quite get what he gets in return, but I’m so glad he loves me and feels fulfilled!
17. The commercials about my illness: upset me. They perpetuate the myth that depression is something that everyone gets, that it’s just some normal sadness, and sometimes you can take meds to make it better. Depression is not sadness, and I think that’s an important distinction for people to understand!
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: even before I was diagnosed, I knew I was depressed. There’s not a lot that changed with the diagnoses, and I’ve been sick my entire adult life.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: the certainty that I am entirely safe on my own.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: dog training. Working with animals does a lot to push back the depression! Even if their people are around ;-)
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: spend the day with my husband, relaxed, with no worries.
22. My illness has taught me: how important real friendship is. Those who put up with me when I’m down (and often whiny) are amazing. Those I’m willing to be down in front of are few, and awesome.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “I hate it when I’m sad, but then I just look on the bright side/have a picture I look at to make me smile/go out with friends/etc.” Again (notice a common refrain here?), an illness is not what everyone goes through. If it was, then it wouldn’t be an illness! I think people are trying to be understanding, but it only demonstrates that they really don’t understand, and, more subtly, that they think I’m weak for not dealing like them.
24. But I love it when people: are exactly as friendly with me when I’m down as any other time. Just be yourself, be happy, and the vibes can get through. It’s hard to find the balance between treating me like I’m a drama queen and treating me like I’m extremely fragile, but those who can strike the balance are invaluable!
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “If you’re going through hell, keep on going! Don’t slow down, if you’re scared don’t show it, you might get out ‘fore the devil even knows you’re there!” -Rodney Atkins (Everyone finds that song sad, I find it uplifting!)


26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Find a good support system, they are invaluable!
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how completely pervasive it is in all facets of my life, but how hard it can be to recognize that the illness is responsible for the effects. That’s the insidious thing about invisible illnesses…there’s nothing to look at, and it can be easy to blame yourself for things that are wrong with your body. My brain is just as broken as a broken arm would be, but it is hard to remember that when you can’t see it.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: when my hubby just sat with me and held me and let me cry. No impatience, no frustration, just love and support.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: if these invisible illnesses are out in the public mind, maybe we won’t find them so shameful anymore or view them as just weaknesses. We can’t accept something until we understand it!
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Hopeful. That understanding will spread.

Now join in! Put the link to your post in the comments!

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Finding Purpose

I feel like my life is without purpose.

For years I knew what my (at least immediate) purpose in life was: be an engineer. Maybe not earth-changing, but I could go to work, do something I was proud of doing and good at and enjoyed, see tangible things happen (structures built, others modified, places made safer and/or more enjoyable and/or more functional), and take pride in what I was doing with my life. I spent 6+ years working for/living this dream, first obtaining my degrees and working multiple internships, and then starting my job as a full-time engineer.

I was good at it. It gave me purpose. I was proud to say to people, “I’m an engineer(ing student).” I had hobbies and friends and things to do “for fun,” but that main purpose in my life was there.

I kinda forgot about the whole “being sick” thing in that plan.

To be honest, I didn’t realize how sick I was, until I tried to lead a normal, adult life.

And couldn’t.

I just couldn’t. I used to never get sick. Really. I didn’t get sick. Before a year ago, I literally cannot remember ever throwing up (though I’m sure I did when too young to remember). While working at my job, I got sick more and more often. Until I almost always had something minor going on. I threw up for the first time in memory. I would develop all kinds of colds and flus and other things…which doesn’t seem that major, until compared to how I never got sick before. The stress combined with my illnesses killed my immune system. And it just kept getting worse.

I was so exhausted I couldn’t function. There were days I would walk home from the transit center because I was scared that, if I drove, I would crash. I couldn’t carry on basic conversation. I couldn’t do basic addition. Standing was more effort than I had. Hell, smiling was more effort than I had.

I remember the first Monday after I left my job. I’d slept all weekend. And Monday. My husband came home. And just stared at me in shock. I asked why. And he said to me, “Eileen, when I walked in the door, you smiled at me. You said hello. You’re standing here, in the kitchen. Not only that, you’re preparing food. You have not done any of those things in months, at least.”

My heart broke.

How had I been such a horrible wife, lover, and companion for so long? How had he stayed with me, supported me, loved me through all those months of getting virtually nothing in return?

Really, I couldn’t function.

And it wasn’t a physical disability causing it.

It’s mental and invisible ones. Ones that “don’t count.” Ones that “I’m just making up.” Ones that, quite frankly, make me feel like I’m just weak, or not trying hard enough. Because there’s nothing tangible I can point to, on my body, or on a piece of paper, and say, “That’s it! That’s what’s causing this!”

When I look back, it’s good I left. It is. I know that. And I know that there is, likely, no way I can ever go back. I cannot imagine ever having this under control enough to be able to work a regular, 40-hour a week job, with 2 weeks of vacation a year.

I am crying just writing that. Because I feel like such a failure. I feel like the lowest of the low, just making excuses, just not wanting to man up and be an adult.

But really, some part of me knows that I can’t. I just can’t. I will kill myself if I do, by killing my immune system and wearing out my body. I cannot do it.

I cannot.

(Or maybe I’m just too weak)

So.

Here I am.

Now what?

I spend my days sleeping. I sleep 10-12 hours a day (unless I am woken early by something random). I spend a lot of time doing nothing. Pissing the time away. Watching TV, being on the computer, etc. I occaisionally clean, or go grocery shopping, or cook, but it’s hard to dredge up enough caring and energy to do it (I know this is a common problem, who wants to cook or clean???). I work, at my various jobs, randomly. 17 hours a week at the pet store. 8-ish hours a week training. 6-ish hours a week tutoring. Another tutoring job about to start. My hubby works all day, and we both have evening things, so it’s hard to get a lot of quality time together.

So yeah, not a lot to feel proud of there.

My training is fun. And great. But quite frankly, I don’t know if I want to grow it much bigger than it is. I already never see my hubby…and I can really only hold classes in the evenings. There just aren’t enough people during the day. I guess my point is, I can’t do a lot with training during the day. And given that, training is not going to become a major part of my life, or a major purpose in my life. It is a great side job, a great hobby, but it is not enough to give my life purpose on its own. Or, at least, I can’t see how it could be. I thought it would be, but I’m realizing that just isn’t happening.

Tutoring is fun, but it’s mainly for money. I love the math, but it’s not a calling of mine to help people with their homework. It’s mainly just a money-maker.

Working at the store is fun (for now), but…it’s retail. I’m sorry, but I am not one of those people who is happy working at retail forever and ever. If you are, that is great, and I am happy for (and jealous of) you, but I’m not. It’s a great transitionary, temporary job for me. And quite frankly, it gets me out of the house and talking with people. I feel like I have a little community there, of like-minded, friendly people who I like to talk to and hang out with. It’s the only community I have at the moment. The job is great. But it’s not a purpose. It’s not something I can stand up and say I’m proud to do. Fun? Yes. But something I can pin my identity on, that can give me purpose even in part? No.

I just….think there’s not a lot for me to feel proud of in my life right now. I still feel humiliated I had to leave my job (it is hard for me to even write “had” to, because I scream at myself that I was just lazy and wanted to). Dog training is something that is cool…but it’s not enough to stand on its own. And there’s nothing else.

And when I don’t feel proud of what I’m doing with my life, it’s hard to take pride in anything else.

I feel like I’m in transition. But it’s not transition to anything.

I quit my job so I could get healthy. Then I could get back to life. That was the plan.

But I’m realizing that I will never be healthy. I just need to learn to cope with what I’ve got.

And I don’t know what life I’ll be “getting back” to. I can’t go back to my old line of work. I have no real purpose I can throw myself in to.

I have always viewed myself as having a full-time job (at least until I had kids). I can’t do that. I can’t. But I don’t know how to leave that vision behind. How to take pride in where I am now.

And I can’t come up with anything else I would be proud to do, certainly not that I could do with the preparation I have. And, since I left my job, I don’t have the money to go through a bunch of preparation for something new (whoever says “You can do whatever you want with any college degree!” is full of **it. I can be an engineer. Or I can be an unskilled worker. The degree you get matters). Plus, if I want to have kids within the next couple years, there’s no time to go through preparations and get into a job, just to leave it with a baby for awhile.

I have no pride in where I am. And I can’t see where I can go that I can take pride in. This is weakness. I need to grasp where I am, I need to be proud of it, I need to find the good and the great where it is and focus on that!

But on a gut level, I’m having a hard time with that.

And when I am not feeling pride in my life, when I am feeling embarrassed when anyone asks me what I do, or when I look at my days, it’s hard to get the motivation to do the little things.

Cooking.

Cleaning.

Even running my freaking business.

Hell, even getting up off the god-damned couch!

It’s pathetic. It’s weakness. But I don’t know how to get over it.

I’m not sure how to pull myself out of this rut. But I’ve got to find a way.

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Second time, more looks!

The challenge for today’s Back to Blogging meme is to re-post a post that we wish more people had read. I love this post from back in my early days of blogging, it still makes me smile today :-) A reminder of the good times at my job. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Operation GSC

The head of my division at work (basically the president of our company-within-a-company) puts out an order form for girl scout cookies every year on behalf of his daughter. Now when I was a little girl and my dad was a manager in his company and I asked him to take in the order form for my Campfire Girls whatever-we-were-selling-that-year, he always said no, because it would unfairly pressure his employees. To which I can now say, bull-hockey! The way most of us view it, this way we can buy girl scout cookies AND suck up to the boss, all in one fell swoop!

In short, I will admit it: I bought girl scout cookies. But it’s not because I’m weak. It’s because I’m focusing on job advancement.

Doesn’t that sound better?

Anyway, he put the form out and I thought to my self, “Self, do you want some girl scout cookies?” To which my self loudly answered, “YES!” “Alright,” I said to my self, “How many shall we get?” “Well,” said my self to me, “There are two kinds of cookies we like…and they’re some of the only non-chocolate specialty/really delcious cookies that come out all year, so how ’bout two boxes of each? I mean…how ’bout 2 boxes of each, that would look good to your boss!.” “You make a very good point, self,” I said. “I wonder if the hubby would like any?” The hubby assured me that there were two types of cookies that he really liked, too. “Well,” I thought to my self, I can’t buy me two boxes each and him one! Better get two boxes of each for him, too.” To which my self nodded seriously. So I ordered.

Fast forward several weeks. The cookies have come in. And unlike last year, when our awesome receptionist offered to deliver them to all of us at our desks (she sadly left for Arizona, no more cookie deliveries), yesterday my boss sent out an e-mail letting us know they were in and telling us to stop by his desk and pick them up, while dropping off our check.

Well crap.

My office is on the 4th and 5th floor of a high rise building. I work on the 5th floor. My boss works waaaaay down on the 4th floor. Down a set of wooden stairs which reverberate quite loudly when one is wearing heels, letting the whole office know I HAVE ARRIVED! Also, living in the Puget Sound, everyone is a hippy pretty health-conscious.

Now, I have 8 boxes of cookies waiting for me downstairs. EIGHT. That is a towering stack of girl scout cookie boxes. Getting them up to my desk un-remarked will take careful planning and execution.

So I waited.

Aaaaall day yesterday…

Most of today….

And finally, at 3:45 today, I struck! While downstairs helping a coworker, I glanced at my boss’s cube and noticed he wasn’t there. Not only that, much of the office was gone for the day! I’d already made my loud entrance down the stairs, and it was awhile ago. Perfect!

I nonchalantly stroll into his cube and glance at the order form. Yup. Definitely 8 boxes. No one may know I’m here now, but it’s a loooong, exposed walk back to my cube. So the brilliant part of my brain kicks in. Only take 4! That’s still a lot, but not unreasonable, especially if I explain some are for the hubby. Glancing around, I carefully pull out four boxes and saunter up the stairs, Mission Impossible theme song playing in my head.

I make it back to my desk, heart racing, safely unseen! Well, I think, that went well, why not go get the others? Besides, we’re supposed to cross our name off the order form when we take them, I don’t want him to notice a discrepency in his cookie amounts and start asking uncomfortable questions. So I pound down the stairs (nonchalantly, I assure you) back to his cube, check in hand. I write out the check, drop it in the envelope, and grab my remaining four boxes, and casually return to my desk. Success!

BUT WAIT! Now I have 8 boxes of cookies sitting at my desk! There’s no way I can get them all home tonight, and even if there was, there’s still time before I have to leave and some very tease-happy coworkers nearby! My cubical is totally exposed, the space under my desk is clearly visible, my bookshelf is clearly visible, there are no corners to tuck things behind! Where can I put them??

Looking around my cubicle in a panic, I seize on a solution.

My brilliant solution

(sorry it’s sideways…)

This is the only space in my office that can be closed off.

I am a genius. A genius full of delicious cookies.

*****

This meme is sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. I am hoping shamelessly (though pretty hopelessly) that I will get a brand-spanking-new washer/dryer from them! :-D

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