A Baby for Sarah

I’m 38 years old.  I have no potential partner in sight.  There was one, but he keeps putting off going out and I think maybe he’s not really interested.  Which probably makes it a bad thing that I asked him today if he’d father my baby.  I clarified that I would raise it on my own, but he didn’t want to bring another child into the world.

My biological clock is ticking loudly.  For many years I didn’t want to be a mother.  I thought I’d be bad at it, I thought I’d lose what was left of my mental health.  After a long talk with a friend who has bipolar disorder and 6 kids, I feel differently.  I feel like having a child would bring a special kind of joy and meaning into my life.  I feel like I’d be less prone to depression and would handle it better when it does happen.

I got very excited about the idea of a baby, sure that this man was going to be willing, and now I still have the desire but not the resource.  I started researching sperm banks.  I found a donor who is just about a perfect match for what I’m seeking.  However, one round of artificial insemination (which you do at home now, fancy that) will cost me $800.  I have money coming in eventually, but not enough to cover that and my other expenses.  So, I’m asking, gently, if anyone is willing to contribute to A Baby for Sarah.  The exact breakdown of charges is $25 for a more in-depth report on the donor (not critical, but it seems like something I should read if he’ll end up as the father of my child), $595 for one unit of sperm, and $80 for shipping in a special cryo container.

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Enough Gratitude to Fill an Amazon Truck

At the end of last year, mom decided she wanted us to do gratitude jars in 2019.  At one point we had seen an Amazon truck and she said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to hijack that and open all the mystery packages?”  Well, I discovered www.liquidation.com, where you can bid on lots from all sorts of places, one of which is Amazon returned items.  (Disclaimer: It’s really fun, but also going to turn out way more expensive than expected once they ship your several hundred pounds of items.)  The gratitude jars though, that was the point.  She coincidentally received two of those plastic mason jars that people use to carry salads to work, and thought these would make great receptacles for all our little notes of gratitude.

I think I made it through three or four days.  I was too lazy to unscrew the lid and put my note in each day.  However, I’ve kept with the spirit of the project.  Like I said in my Planners Be Planning post, I have a page in there for each day.  It has a to-do list to check off, a half-hourly schedule to organize said to-do list, a back side for a “brain dump”, and a little corner that says “grateful for” and has 3 lines.  I first received these insert pages on January 4th and, with a couple of exceptions when I was sick, I wrote down three things I was grateful for every day.

So here’s what I was grateful for in January.  Some small, some large, some silly, some serious.

  • I am grateful for a wonderful therapist.
  • I am grateful for encouragement from friends.
  • I am grateful for my writing ability.
  • I am grateful for time spent with mom.
  • I am grateful for my love of reading.
  • I am grateful for my generosity.
  • I am grateful for the irrelevance of my GRE score.  [More to come on this point when I learn if it was actually as irrelevant as my advisor claimed.]
  • I am grateful for my funny brother.
  • I am grateful for my cat’s cleverness with toys.
  • I am grateful for my nurse practitioner ordering diagnostic tests.
  • I am grateful for video game guides online.
  • I am grateful for my ability to juggle my schedule.
  • I am grateful for my willingness to try new foods.  [I think this was the lobster pizza, but there was also some recent calamari.]
  • I am grateful for a good friend to try the new foods with.
  • I am grateful for a lot of people showing up at Dialectical Behavior Therapy group.
  • I am grateful for earning passable GRE scores.
  • I am grateful for lunch at Chick-fil-A.
  • I am grateful for leftover lobster pizza.  [Um, yeah, I like food a lot so that might be an ongoing theme.]
  • I am grateful for being invited to a graduate school interview.
  • I am grateful for a generous cashier at Taco Bell.  [This deserves explanation.  I was having a crappy day with financial issues and instead of the quesadilla meal with extra cheese on the quesadilla, I ordered just a quesadilla and small drink.  He rang up my drink as water, put extra cheese on my quesadilla, and hand-delivered the tray to my table.]
  • I am grateful for Crystal Light in my cholestyramine.  [It’s a terrible powdery medicine that you mix in water, and I finally figured out that the single-serve Crystal Light makes it tolerable.]
  • I am grateful for Borderline Personality Disorder being removed from my diagnosis.  [No judgment at all toward anyone who has it, but I didn’t meet the criteria at all.]
  • I am grateful I was at a friend’s house when the power went out at home.
  • I am grateful for less snow than expected.
  • I am grateful for a new computer monitor.
  • I am grateful for finishing To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • I am grateful for homemade chili.
  • I am grateful for mom helping my friend with her Check Out Challenge at work.
  • I am grateful for books I can’t put down.  [This one was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.]
  • I am grateful for mom driving me to campus.
  • I am grateful for Valium.
  • I am grateful for being able to schedule an ENT appointment.  [It took forever to find one that would accept my insurance.]
  • I am grateful that I have one more course with my academic advisor.
  • I am grateful for free books from the recycling center.
  • I am grateful for $1 menus at restaurants.
  • I am grateful for mom driving me to my internship.  [An hour from home, and with 6 hours for her to fill while I was there.]
  • I am grateful for free lunch at my internship.
  • I am grateful for having a low-trauma childhood.
  • I am grateful for hugs from my psychiatrist.
  • I am grateful for time for napping.
  • I am grateful for my financial aid book advance.
  • I am grateful for a positive eye exam.  [Or maybe that should be “negative”?]
  • I am grateful for anxiety coping skills.
  • I am grateful for visiting my best friend.
  • I am grateful for my new memory foam mattress topper.
  • I am grateful for having a nap day.
  • I am grateful for my precious cats.
  • I am grateful for brick oven crust pizza.
  • I am grateful for sleepovers at my friend’s house.
  • I am grateful for Skyrim tips from my friend’s fiancé.  [Even if he makes fun of me for only being level 3.]
  • I am grateful for trying salmon balls at IKEA.  [One salmon ball, tasty.  Eight salmon balls, too much.]
  • I am grateful for mom finding things she wanted with her IKEA birthday certificate.
  • I am grateful for overcoming my driving anxiety.  [At least for one drive.  Baby steps.  Or baby tire rolls.]
  • I am grateful for interview advice from my academic advisor.  [Except maybe when she said, “If they ask what you do in your spare time, don’t say ‘video games and overspending’.”]
  • I am grateful for treating mom to LaRosa’s for her birthday.
  • I am grateful for the Nintendo Switch Online membership.
  • I am grateful for rain to melt away the snow.
  • I am grateful for a new, easier route to my internship.
  • I am grateful for genuine smiles from the graduate school interviewer.
  • I am grateful for driving myself to school.
  • I am grateful for my academic advisor.
  • I am grateful for $1 McChicken sandwiches.
  • I am grateful for the Pokéball Plus.  [Yes, it’s a toy, but it’s a toy that is going to get me walking more when it warms up out.]
  • I am grateful to learn that Social Security may be looking at my file.
  • I am grateful that my EGD was quick and painless.
  • I am grateful for vanilla ice cream.  [For lunch, because adults are allowed to do that.]
  • I am grateful for a possible solution to a friend’s serious dilemma.
  • I am grateful for Doodle God Evolution.  [Except how did I create vodka before I created a human?]
  • I am grateful for blowing off my to-do list.
  • I am grateful for getting my EGD followup scheduled.

And that was January 4th – 29th.  The daily planner sheets arrived on the 4th and I guess I could go get out that jar I didn’t use and add the earlier gratitudes.

  • I am grateful that I got to be involved in my friend’s proposal to her fiancé.
  • I am grateful that I attended a meeting on Mental Health Court with law enforcement and justice officials.
  • I am grateful my friend and I worked on our planners together.

On the 30th and 31st I was really sick and school was also canceled, so I stayed in bed and played Let’s Go Pikachu for two straight days.  So if I had to retroactively be grateful, I guess it would look something like this:

  • I am grateful that my Pikachu is massively overpowered from being a candy glutton.
  • I am grateful that I got my Pokémon Go collection transferred into my Pokédex.
  • I am grateful that I finally learned to Sea Skim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of You, Sadie

Next week, along with the start of my final undergraduate semester, I am starting an internship at a residential correctional/treatment facility for young men aged 14 to 21. For the purposes of the blog this will henceforth be referred to as RCTF.

A couple of weeks ago I was getting nervous about possibly saying and doing all the wrong things to the residents at RCTF. Sierra told me that when she started her graduate school internship she had the same fears, and her supervisor said, “You won’t say anything that makes them worse.”

It was a nice sentiment, but I think she was forgetting Sadie. I can’t forget Sadie. Lately everything reminds me of her. I can’t forget how I knew near the beginning that we were not a good match, but spent four years letting her shame me into “working it out”.

I can’t forget how I never got a word in edgewise. I can’t forget how determined she was to never acknowledge flaws or hardships in her life. I can’t forget how much I loved her despite all this.

I definitely can’t forget the day she viciously turned on me. I can’t forget finding out that she deliberately came in late the previous week to avoid my appointment. I can’t forget being repeatedly told “I don’t believe a word you’re saying” when I’d never been anything but honest with her. I can’t forget how she realized I would not budge and switched to saying I completely lacked insight.

I can’t forget her comparing her upset to how I must have felt when molested. I can’t forget being told that I have no boundaries, when everyone sets such conflicting boundaries for me to follow. I can’t forget hearing the person who cheerlead me back to college say that if I could even get a job in the mental health field, I’d be fired within a week.

I also can’t forget how grateful I am for what came from this experience. I had been trying to get away from Sadie and this incident finally gave me the opportunity. Sierra is a wonderful therapist. I’m grateful that I learned to stand up for myself. I’m grateful that I’m slowly learning to not trust one individual opinion.

I’m most grateful that I know how to really mess up a client, as this will hopefully help me avoid doing it.

Planners Be Planning

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A friend gave me a beautiful planner kit for Christmas.  Naturally I went overboard buying inserts and stickers to use with it.  I know we are less than a week into the year, but I think this is something I can stick(er) with.

At the start of each month is a monthly calendar overview, which is where I’m writing all my appointments, classes, meetings, internship, etc.  Also birthdays for my loved ones.  For each week there is a two-page spread where I’m using stickers and little notes to myself as the days pass to keep a very brief journal.  I quit journaling back in October after doing it daily for years, and I miss having a record of my life, but also don’t feel committed to doing that much writing every day.

Then come the inserts.  I have the fitness, recipe, and budget packs, but what I’m really excited about is the daily hour-by-hour schedules.  I tried scheduling my day the night before for a while, and it was really helpful.  I didn’t necessarily do the things I planned to do or at the times I planned to do them, but having it down on paper made me feel obligated to do something productive with that time.

At the beginning of each month I’ve also inserted plastic sleeves that hold Project Life cards.  I’m slowly digging through my collection to decorate these, and have been having great fun doing so.  I’m only a little overwhelmed that I have two planners (this one and the one for my school assignments) and also need to put some time into filling up the rest of my college Smash Book, seeing as how I am graduating in May.  Yes, it’s finally almost here!

6 Months in 5 Paragraphs

I’m not sure what to say anymore. I’m in a good place at the moment, but in the 6 months of blog silence there have been some very dark places. I completed my next to last semester of undergrad, still with a 4.0, but I struggled as I have every semester. Just a few weeks in I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation. I spent about 5 days in a new to me facility, and should have been in longer, but signed out AMA because mom was ill.

The next month I had flipped to the manic side for the first time since before my diagnosis. I was ramping up fast over the course of a month, struggling to keep my head together and get through school. I could barely drive because I was so distractible, and sometimes would stop in a parking lot and call a friend to come get me because I was so unsafe behind the wheel. My spending was out of control and I tanked my credit score. Sierra kept trying to find ways to keep me out of the hospital, but eventually I had to go so I could avoid stimulation long enough to calm myself.

I crashed again after the mania subsided, and there were some questionable moments where I thought I might be headed for a third hospital stay. I am so thankful for my therapist and psychiatrist for their efforts to keep me stable. I am so thankful for my professors and academic advisor for make up exams, extended deadlines, and going above and beyond the call of duty to provide guidance and support.

Right when things were settling down, I totaled my car for the third time in five years. Once again it was not my fault, I just have terrible luck. I was able to handle the insurance and car hunting process much better this time and have a nice newer car that I’m happy with.

I’m also grateful for close friends who make my life richer. My final semester of undergrad is coming up in a few weeks and the future looks bright at the moment.

Top Reads of 2018

As usual, I’m writing a little about my favorite books that I’ve read this year.  I know the year isn’t quite over, but I’m not in a place where I can really sit down and read more.  I wanted to get an update onto the blog, because it’s been 6 months and I swear I haven’t vanished.

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(Not pictured: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll)

In order by date read:

1. How to Be Interesting: An Instruction Manual by Jessica Hagy: A book of diagrams explaining, well, how to be interesting.  An example, not from the book:

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I loved it because it was simple advice in a simple format, that really made me think about how I was living.

2. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll: I ran out of Gillian Flynn books to read and this had praise from Gillian Flynn.  It’s a similar style with the story unraveling slowly through present and flashbacks, and you will absolutely not expect what is coming.

3. Every Day by David Levithan: I saw a preview for the movie and whenever I get excited about a preview I go read the book instead.  Absolutely read this book.  It is simply impossible for the movie to have captured what goes on inside the character’s mind while traveling from body to body.  While the premise sounds weird (well, it is pretty weird), the author took it seriously with good results.

4. Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings By Letting Yourself Have Them by Tina Gilbertson: My list is actually a little light on the self-help books this year.  This one was my favorite, because it acknowledged that emotions serve a purpose in our lives and we need to experience them in order to overcome being bound by them.  It was advice people can actually follow without feeling that they are in some way inferior.

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger:  This premise may be even weirder than that in Every Day, but it is absolutely beautifully executed.  It’s a love story with real meat to it, and I promise you will be impressed just trying to wrap your mind around how the author planned out all the details in this book.

Incredibly Weak Quadriceps

I’ve been struggling with knee pain and difficulty (sometimes downright impossibility) with any activities that involve putting weight on my knee while also bending it.  I can’t squat to watch my guinea pig munch on his lettuce anymore, which is possibly the cutest thing ever.  I can sometimes barely make it up and down stairs and my legs shake when I do.  A couple of times recently I’ve been faced with steep slopes and not even dared to try.

At my physical last month, my doctor told me to avoid long walks, ice my knee 2-3 times per day, and start taking diclofenac, a pain medication that she prescribed.  She scheduled me to follow up a month later, at which point I had run out of the medication and noticed a definite spike in the pain again.

I had my doctor appointment Tuesday and on Wednesday I was at the hospital starting physical therapy.  I’m falling apart so badly that the physical therapist, Alice, put me back together with kinesio tape.  After the assessment she commented that I have “incredibly weak quadriceps” which was allowing my knee caps to shift slightly to one side and rub the other bones.  Ouch.

I learned the six exercises that she started me out with, and scheduled another appointment for today.  Both Wednesday and Thursday I stared at the papers of exercise instructions, hoping that I was doing them right.  Each exercise has 3 sets of 10 reps, for each leg.  As I counted, it went like this on each set: “One, two, three, four, five, six, this sucks, this sucks, this sucks, this sucks.”  This is definitely a “things will get worse before they get better” type of situation.

At today’s appointment, Alice had me start out doing six minutes on a cross trainer.  It stung a little when around minute four she checked in on how I was doing, I mentioned getting a little tired, and she said, “That’s because you don’t like to do anything.”  I know she didn’t intend to be mean, but I almost got defensive – of course I don’t like to do anything, because it hurts and I’m scared I’m going to fall!

Next up were some exercises with parallel bars for support and a small step that is much shorter than those in a set of stairs.  Then I was back on a table doing one set of each exercise she taught me on Wednesday and having her correct my form.  Then it was over.  20 minutes.  She asked if I wanted to ice my knee while I was there, and it hurt a little, but I said I’d be okay until I got home.

I asked for advice about going to the walking trail, because I love the trail and hadn’t been going since my doctor told me not to take long walks.  I couldn’t figure out how long was too long.  Alice’s answer was that I should stop when my knee hurts.  Well, that’s logical, but if I wait until my knee hurts then I still have to turn around and walk all the way back.  She did say that I should be fine except if there’s an incline, and there is a big arching bridge a little ways down the trail, so I plan to try walking to the bridge and turning around at first.