Vacation Valium and College Chromebook

Late Saturday night I returned from a week+ vacation to Walt Disney World.  I had planned very thoroughly to fit in all the rides and shows and parades and random street performers, and then my mom encountered a medical issue and plans flew out the window.  We still had fun, we just didn’t get to do nearly as many of the fun things we expected to do.

Two days before vacation I had finally managed to get my follow-up appointment with the psychiatrist, and she prescribed Valium.  I was very nervous about taking it, fearing that she’d think I was taking too much, even though in reality I kept it down to less than half of the amount I was allowed and haven’t touched it again since returning home.  I really just needed help getting through all the crowds and stress of vacation.

My other stress was that I originally was scheduled to be taking a class right up to early August and we planned vacation in the short gap between the end of that class and the beginning of fall semester.  It turned out I couldn’t take that class and had a couple of months off, but vacation was already scheduled and paid for.  So I spent a lot of time receiving e-mails from professors about syllabi and Blackboard sites, and panicking that I couldn’t be at home preparing for the new semester to start.

On our way home we spent the night with my grandmother’s cousin and her husband and they were kind enough to let me print my syllabi and start writing assignments in my planner.  I still have one class in which the syllabus is not available (the semester starts today!) and my planner is already crammed full and I don’t know where I’ll fit those assignments.  I’m feeling very overwhelmed by the fact that I decided to enroll full-time this semester.

As we were riding in the car and I was trying to look at e-mails and Blackboard on my tiny little phone screen, I got very frustrated.  There was a simple assignment that needed to be written in Microsoft Word and uploaded, and I could have done it in the car if I could just figure out how to actually edit a Word document on my phone.  I also remembered that even as a part-time student I have struggled a lot with access to the computer.  I’m at my best academically when I first get up in the morning, but that’s the same time that mom plops down in front of the computer and goofs around online for 2-3 hours straight.  When I have to watch hours of video lectures and write on discussion boards and write papers for 12 credit hours of classes, there is no way this is going to work without me wanting to strangle her.

So I did the one thing I could do on my phone: read a bunch of articles and selected a convertible laptop/tablet.  I had very quickly decided it would be some sort of Chromebook, and my criteria were that it needed both keyboard and touchscreen, needed to be as small and lightweight as possible, and needed to be capable of running Android apps.  I found the Asus C100PA-DB02 Chromebook Flip.  It opens as a laptop but can be bent all the way back to use in tablet mode, or left partially open in a couple of ways so that it will stand up.  With a 10.1″ screen and weighing 2 lbs., it definitely meets my easy portability requirement.  And this is one of the few Chromebooks that has access to Android apps built in without having to enter a special Developer mode.

Our mail was on hold during vacation and I’m supposed to go pick it up this morning.  The Chromebook just arrived at the post office a couple of hours ago so it should be in the delivery that comes out around noon, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to snag it from the mailman when I pick up everything else.  T-minus 65 minutes until the post office opens!

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Mental Health Apps

My new favorite app is NAMI Air.  It’s a free, anonymous social network for people with mental illness and their caregivers.  You can write a post about what you are thinking or feeling, and others can click on “like”, “hug”, or “me too!”.  If they click “me too!” they are given an opportunity to write their own post about the topic, which will link back to your post.

I only have two real complaints.  One is that when you click on the teaser for a post to read the rest of it, going back to the main page sends you to the top of the page rather than wherever you were in your reading.  The other is a good thing that just happens to inconvenience me.  If you use words such as “die”, “self-harm”, “suicide”, etc. the post is flagged for review before it appears.  This can be annoying when you’re trying to give feedback such as “here’s a technique I use to prevent self-harm”.  I understand the reasoning behind it though.

Another new favorite is Suicide Safety Plan.  I’ve created such plans before, but it’s a pain to keep the paper handy.  This app lets you keep all your coping skills and contacts in a convenient location.  You can import numbers from your phone’s contact list, and within the app there’s a screen that lets you dial those numbers.

Retail Therapy

I keep a restricted journal elsewhere on the internet, where I post the contents of my paper journal. A couple of days ago, I posted one that mentioned having done something bad (no further elaboration taking place here), and promptly got a comment about it from someone who I wasn’t even aware was actively reading my journal. I had a horrible flashback to 8 years ago.

8 years ago, a friend on that same journal site had made a post where people could comment and she would tell something she admires about them. What she said to me was that she admired how honest and open I am in my journal. Fast forward a month or two, and I made an honest and open post which got a comment from her about how she couldn’t stay silent anymore about that topic and how much she hated me for it. Then she removed me from her friends list.

During the same period of time, in which I was experiencing an unrelated severe depression to the point that campus police were sent to check on me, I lost several other friends for vague reasons that boiled down to “I really haven’t liked you for a long time, but I’m just now saying it.” Is it something wrong with me that makes people silently fume about things for months or years and then abruptly cut off contact without giving me the opportunity to correct the situation? I really think that’s their issue, but it happens to me so often that I wonder why I’m defective.

At any rate, I had a flashback to that time period and had a meltdown about what an awful, worthless person I am. How I will never be able to make up for all the things I’ve done wrong. I laid in bed crying and thinking about potential medications to overdose on. I thought about cutting myself and seeing the badness bleed out of me. I managed to go to sleep after a couple of hours of this, and the next morning I awoke and cut myself for the first time in nearly 4 months.

It was a minor cut. I was too scared to press hard with that sharp, sharp blade. It still bled enough to need a bandage, but what I was really fantasizing about all that time was watching the blood run down my arm and being unable to stop it and needing stitches. The next morning, I was criticized for something that was an unintentional mistake with mitigating circumstances, but the shame overwhelmed me and I did it again. Still just a minor cut, but the rest of that day I kept receiving more and more criticisms, this time for things that weren’t even wrong to do, and I had to fight to keep my hands off that blade the rest of the day.

What did I do instead? Retail therapy. I had been thinking for a while that it was time to get a new phone (I was eligible for an upgrade 5 months ago). My phone has started to lag a lot, and I’m getting frustrated with trying to use it. By happy coincidence, I also found out there was 3x as much money in my checking account as I thought, and it seemed the perfect time to splurge a little. So I’m retiring my Droid Razr Maxx HD tomorrow and playing with a new Droid Turbo instead. I’m sure I will end up beating myself up over making a purchase to make myself feel better, but at least for a few days I’ll be distracted by installing all my apps and getting everything set up just the way I like it.