Friday, October 31, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Updates and a Bad Back

Sorry I've sort of dropped the ball on posting lately. Things are hectic. My anxiety has been pretty high but I am mostly coping okay.

I had a really awesome weekend. It was unexpected, because on the subway ride home Friday evening I realized I had NO plans for the entire weekend except work work and more work. Sometimes I like to keep my weekends totally open so I have time to get everything done without distractions, but that night I was just feeling SO lonely, I wanted to cry. Instead, I texted some friends and basically begged for some company. As a result, I ended up doing a bunch of fun things with a bunch of different people over the next couple days. I went out with a group on Saturday night, and then went pumpkin/apple picking on Sunday morning, and lunch at a new diner near my apartment with two of my best grad school friends.

Sometimes putting myself out there doesn't come naturally, and I have to remember to push myself and be brave. In the end I always have a good time, and am always happy when I go out instead of stay home. This week in particularly, I just felt SO refreshed and centered after spending time with friends and having fun, as opposed to being stressed and off-balance.

Then it was back to school and work the past two days. I handed in a big project yesterday, and had a presentation in one of my classes on Monday that went well, so I'm super jazzed about that. One major complaint about my current schedule is that I've been spending an unbelievable amount of time sitting in front of a computer, so I always feel this weird mix of antsy and sluggish. Plus, my lower back is totally killing me from all the chair time. I've never had back problems until the past few months, and I'm not sure what to blame it on....the sitting? The walking around in flimsy shoes? Lack of exercise causing weakness and stiffness? Old age?

Hoping to provide a more robust update sometime soon. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Popping In

You guys are the best!! Your stressbusters are awesome. I am definitely feeling way more in control on things this week, especially after getting a bunch of papers out of the way. Two of my classes are causing major stress and frustration - but more because of professor/interpersonal-related things than work-related things, and it's too complicated to explain right now. I am trying to stay zen and within myself and not get fired up about stuff I can't control and that won't matter long-term...but grrr people make me mad.

Otherwise, things are chugging along. I am having a hard time believing the semester is almost two-thirds done, which seems CRAZY considering how much has to happen between now and December 10. I have lots more to write about school stuff, ED stuff, life stuff, etc. but I'm tired and hungry and sick of staring at a computer, so til next time.

Oh! You guys know how I have this confusing relationship with country music? Like how I pretend to kinda/sorta like it but actually I hate all of it??? Well, I literally almost DIED when I heard this song on the radio this morning....normally it would irritate the hell out of me since it's so twangy, but it articulates like 90% of what I HATE about most country songs. So, day=made.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stress Overload and a Request

I AM EXTREMELY STRESSED OUT. Sorry. Just needed to get that off my chest. It is sort of strange because school has always been my thing, and I don't really get too worked up about it. But this semester is out of the next week I have:

- one project due (tomorrow)
- one lab homework due (Monday)
- one 15-page paper due (Monday)
- two 30-minute presentations (Monday and Thursday)

And stuff doesn't really seem like it's going to slow down anytime soon...three of my classes have huge final projects that will be due over the next 4-6 weeks. I am also writing two manuscripts for my advisor, running analyses on three datasets, and working 30 hours between my two other jobs. I am ALSO juggling 11 doctoral applications with four recommenders.

Anyone want to take some of this off my plate? Anyone? Anyone?

Free 3D Stressed Smiley Face Clipart Illustration

I know it will all get done. And I knew coming into this semester it would be a doozy. But this is the first time I've really taken stock of everything that needs to be accomplished in the near future and was like, Wow. Not actually sure how it's going to happen.

Sorry that pretty much all my posts these days are about either A) I am stressed or B) I can't sleep. Raise your hand if you think they might be related.

I am not using any super unhealthy coping techniques - a.k.a. I am still eating and I am not running 50 miles a day. But I am obsessively making lists, checking my calendar every six seconds, chewing gum like a fiend, chewing my fingernails like a fiend, scribbling notes to myself like a fiend...basically I have turned into an all-around fiend. And I am working myself into a tizzy pretty much every evening about everything I need to do and everything I have not done.

Stress for me manifests deep in my gut. I get this sick, nervous, twisting sensation that feels like I'm about to go on stage, or ride a giant rollercoaster. And when that sets in, it stays with me. I don't think my stomach has unclenched since the semester started back in August. I suppose I could just white-knuckle it and pray and hang on for dear life until December, but that seems like it might not be the best course of action for a variety of reasons.

So! I am seriously asking for your tips, your wisdom, your musings, anything you do to stay sane when you are stressed! I do not care if it is an old wives' tale or hippie nonsense or some embarrassing ritual, I will try anything (well, most things). And I will be eternally grateful!!

Unrelated: I got my first iPhone over the weekend as an early birthday present (and also because my old phone was near death). It makes my life feel a little more complete.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Appointment Recap

Whew, just got back to College City after a whirlwind weekend at home. Last Thursday afternoon I went straight to the airport from class, got into Home City around 9pm and back to my parents' house around 11. On Friday, my mom and I went into Big City (about fifty miles from Home City) for my appointment with Dr. A. Quick review: I last saw him a year ago, which was my third or fourth appointment with him. We had tried a bunch of stuff for my neuropathy (hormones, steroids, physical therapy, wait-and-see...) and things had gotten marginally better but not enough for any significant quality-of-life improvement. So at the last appointment he prescribed capsaicin cream, which worked like a miracle almost immediately - I'd say within a week or two, I was noticing relief for the first time in two years. My pain was almost entirely gone for about six months, during which I ramped up my running to semi-excessive levels. Then my periods started getting wonky, and the pain started bothering me again. I put off making this appointment because I kept thinking that once I eased off the exercise, things would go back to normal. They started to, but not fast enough.

Anyway. I was SO NERVOUS for this appointment because I thought he would roll his eyes at me and basically say "you messed things up for yourself, deal with it." Or, maybe even worse, "the capsaicin was my last trick. This is as good as it gets."

But, he did not. He basically said, "I'm sorry you're still in pain. That is not okay. Let's fix it."

He ended up prescribing another medication that dulls the nerves (a topical version of a tricyclic antidepressant, if anyone is interested). I'll pick it up on Tuesday, and see what happens.

My other main questions for him were: 1) exercise, and 2) birth control. Like I said, the pain really spiked after a period of heavy running, and since then I've been really unsure of how much is okay for me to work out. Plus, my periods have been pretty erratic for the past six months or so, and my gynecologist keeps wanting to put me on the pill. Dr. A told me that birth control is actually the most common cause of this type of nerve pain, due to the huge suppression of testosterone in women with "inefficient" testosterone receptors. The cause for me was anorexia-induced amenorrhea, which essentially had the same hormonal effect as the pill. So whether it's overexercise or birth control, my body CANNOT handle hormonal fluctuations like that. Dr. A has been adamant about curbing the exercise before, but I guess I needed to hear it again.

Best part was, he predicted that if we keep the nerves turned off for long enough with medicine, then they will eventually turn off by themselves = no pain.

Other weird observation: Dr. A looked like he had lost about 30 pounds since the last time I saw him. Both my mom's and my jaws dropped when he came into the room. He wasn't overweight before, just kind of big and hulking, but now he's slim and trim. I swear, he looked like a different person. No, I was not triggered. But dying of curiosity about how and why he got so skinny.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sleep Notes, Emotions, and Drug Stuff

Well, I've been taking the valerian root for...3 nights now, I think? Can't say my sleep has been great with it, but maybe it takes time. I'm not sleeping terribly—which was the case about a month ago. It's just sort of taking a while to fall asleep, and then I'm having a hard time getting back to sleep if I wake up in the middle of the night, and I'm waking up way early in the morning. The Somnapure seemed to help, but I ran out and didn't want to pay for it again (my mom bought me the first bottle) so I was split between melatonin and valerian, both of which I've heard are relatively effective and safe, and ultimately went with the valerian because it was cheaper at Walgreens. Maybe I should try combining them, since Somnapure had both? Hmm. Can't say I've ever been much of an herbalist, but that could change.

Anyway, my current stress levels are obviously not helping the sleep situation. My workload for school is insane right now, and going out of town next weekend is going to throw things for a loop. I have a huge assignment for my modeling class due the day after I get back, and then the papers and projects just start rolling in.

I'm not sure if this is a byproduct of stress or sleep-deprivation or PMS, or maybe still that heightened sense of emotions since coming off my medication a few months ago, but I am feeling SO EMOTIONAL lately. I well up at the drop of a hat for stuff that you wouldn't think should affect me so much. One day in class last week, my advisor was talking about suicide in teenagers, and I almost burst into tears right there in the classroom. This morning I read an article in the New York Times about Michael Brown's mother visiting one of the memorials in Ferguson, and I completely broke down because it was so sad. I mean obviously yes, it really is sad, but I am not normally the type to react that way. It's hard to explain, but these episodes are totally unrelated to episodes of depression, where I cry nonstop out of frustration and self-pity and hurt. So I guess in that sense, it's strange and hard, but feels genuine and healthy so I'm not upset about it, just sort of baffled.

Speaking of being off my medication, it's been close to three months now. Can't say there has been any drastic change, although I will say that my anxiety is a tad heightened. That may just be a result of my current circumstances rather than being drug-less, since I am facing an incredible amount of stress and pressure in my daily life. I never really thought Celexa did a whole lot for depression, or maybe I was just on too low of a dose, but either way I haven't noticed any change in that.

Okey doke, time to get up and at 'em. Happy Tuesday, all.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Weirdness, Craziness, Randomness

I'm in a weird place right now. Loving my classes and my research, forming great friendships and having lots of fun, going a million miles a minute, and getting totally psyched up about the future on the one hand....and on the other hand, completely down about my body, frustrated with my health, desperately wishing things could be different, and so so tired of feeling sick and broken and not right. This past Thursday I spent my entire hour with Dr. P crying, and then at 11:00 on the dot I hopped up off the couch with a "BYE DOC!", bounced off to class, and had a great day. That has pretty much been the way things are going lately: crazy mood swings, feeling relatively great sometimes and downright crummy at other times. PMS maybe? It's hard to tell when I'm PMSing these days since my period is totally out of whack.

Anyway, another crazy week coming up. Tomorrow is class 9am-4pm, and then I have to race across campus to get a poster printed...because I am presenting a poster at Big U Medical School Annual Conference downtown on Tuesday. I am super excited about this!!! I've presented posters before, but this will be my first real conference. PLUS I am really proud of our project and my poster looks cool and I can't wait to show it off. Then Wednesday I have work all day and lab at night, Thursday I have Dr. P at 10, another doctor at 11:30, class 1-3, leave class early to get a ride to the airport, and catch a flight home in order to see Dr. A on Friday. I last saw him a year ago when he prescribed the miracle fire cream, which is still largely miraculous but I think I screwed things up by overexercising through much of the winter and spring, aggravating the pain again. So, we will see what he says. So I'll see him on Friday and spend the weekend at my parents' house, then fly back to College City on Sunday night.

Other randomness:
- I somehow managed to puncture one of the tires on my car with a screw, and drove around with it for several months. My front left tire seemed to be losing air faster than all the others for a while, but I just kept filling it over and over....until finally I decided that probably wasn't a sustainable solution and brought poor Samuel to my mechanic. Cost me $23 to get the screw pulled and the hole plugged, does that seem reasonable? I do not know cars.
- I finished the bottle of that sleep aid my mom bought me, and almost immediately I went back to being a total insomniac. I bought valerian root this time around since it was cheaper, so we'll see if that helps.
- Homeland is back tonight! #win