This is not an update

Hi all,

This is not an update. I’m not sure what this is. I just feel a need to write. It’s been quite a while and I’m not sure what to say. There’s a lot going on, probably. Or maybe there’s nothing going on. It’s hard to tell. I’m not depressed, but I’m not relaxed.

It’s probably because I’m still living away from my partner. We talk about him coming to visit me here. But we are pretty strict here with how we treat possible exposure to ‘the virus’. He’d be tested upon flying, and then be in strict quarantine here at the house for at least a week or two until he’s tested again. We wouldn’t encourage breathing the same air until then. It would be a hard time period.

Then, he’s willing to take more risks than we are. He’d probably be going into local bakeries for pastries and such. He does that presently. We don’t do that. We’ve gone into a store at least 8 times in the past half year, but only for some supplies and groceries.

Well, you know. It’ll be what it is, I suppose. I’m just not sure what it is. Part of me can see positives of me returning back to what was my previous life. Part of me would leave where I presently am over my dead body, so to speak. You’ll have to drag me out kicking and screaming. And yet. I had friends and stuff in my previous life. Well, not like REAL friends, except the one. What was his fake name on here? “Joe” or something? The person I used to walk with once a week. He was a real friend. The others were just upbeat acquaintances but that could be so much fun. My Pokemon friends, I suppose I mean. And I had been developing some kind of friendships with people at work, but also not exactly. That is complicated.

Work is really, really, ultra weird. I suppose my paranoia and self-doubt is what’s kicked in, really. I’m pretty convinced everyone hates me. It’s funny to write that out, but I’m dead serious. I wish I could just do my work and not worry about what other people think of me. That would be so nice. It’s worse long-distance, because I don’t get any smiles. Apparently I find smiles really comforting when talking with others. Who knew. Also, nobody asks me how I am. At least in person, people might stop and ask how was my weekend, or whatever. Long-distance, nobody reaches out to me. It’s frustrating. I try to reach out to a couple of people now and again. But it’s so hard. I can’t tell what anyone else is doing. I don’t know what they’re doing! I don’t even know if they’re working half the time. Maybe more than half the time. What are they doing?

If this long-distance was going to go on a long time, I’d want to work elsewhere. I’d want to work for a company that is willing to work on developing a healthy mode of connection online. We suck. It’s so awkward. People don’t even turn on their videos during Zoom meetings, and typically keep their mics turned off, too. Are they even there? Are they listening? Are they working? Are they out driving around in their car, or doing house chores? How can I know? It’s frustrating.

Maybe I don’t like the people there anymore. I did before. Maybe I don’t now. Maybe it’s just a job. Maybe I need to calm down about it and just treat it like a job. Before, I was making it a center piece of my life, hanging out with some of them after work, trying my heart out at work, doing my absolute best at every moment. Not having energy left over for my personal life.

So, you know. Life’s weird. But isn’t that what I always say? Maybe I don’t know what a normal life would look like. Maybe it’s staring me in the face and I think it’s weird.

Well, I’m exercising a bit more finally. And I’m eating pretty well. I’m getting some chores done that I’ve wanted to get done. I guess that’s all I can ask for. I talk with my partner over the phone most every day. I don’t feel that I’m missing anything, other than talking with him and his parents. He doesn’t do things that I wish I could do– like he doesn’t go on hikes or anything, so I don’t have fear of missing out. I get to talk with him over the phone.

I’ve set up a ton of bird feeders. So far we’ve seen seven different types of birds, only 5 of which have used the feeders. And a squirrel, of course. But we love squirrels, so that’s good.

I can’t believe it’s going to be winter soon. The weather has changed.

Topic: OCD and the so-called novel Coronavirus

[Hi all. I’ve been wanting to write a post about this for a while. But full disclosure: I have been very, very, extremely lucky. I was able to leave the city for the country, where I have been for three months. I did touch three airports and then quarantine for 14 days on the other end. Also, I am still employed and working full time from home. And largely, none of my friends or family have died from the virus so far. So my thoughts on this topic are not as panicked and stressed as they would otherwise be. The only negative I feel at all times is anxiety/guilt — because I am so far away from my partner and workplace, and feel I have been more lucky than I “deserve”. And work is super stressful because three people were fired and the rest of us have to pick up all of their work. But that is all for a different post.]

What I want to discuss is this highly contagious virus and my observations from the perspective of someone who experiences contamination OCD on a good day. To me, it feels like a very cranked up version of how I’ve always felt. It’s like my normal tendencies are amplified.

I was born to wear a mask. I was born to avoid touching doorknobs and avoid outstretched hands of greeting. I was born to avoid breathing in another person’s breath. I was born to stand across the street when chatting with neighbors. I was born to avoid standing in a crowded post office. I was born to stay a hundred miles away from a sneezing or coughing person. The amplified part is that I do feel strong anxiety when a non-household member gets very close, particularly if they’re not wearing a mask. And I feel quite upset when I have to go into a store, with double-mask and typically gloves (for which I have a specific routine), and so many other people are not wearing masks at all (if they would wear a mask, there would be less chance of virus in the environment).

These parts of the so-called “new normal” are easy. What will NOT be easy, and may in fact be impossible for me, is going back to a previous life. How will I possibly snuggle in shoulder-to-shoulder with a hundred other people on a dirty train? How will I possibly walk around in a grocery store in the future without a mask and possibly gloves? (How had I ever become so mentally healthy that I was able to do those things?)

Hearing people TALK about hand-washing for 20 seconds, and proper washing technique as though it was a brand new concept was shocking to me.┬áHearing people actually think aloud about what might be on a mailing envelope or a piece of grocery store fruit or a public railing was a little satisfying for me, I’ll admit. For a brief time, non-contamination-OCD people actually had one second of insight into my mind. There’s never been ANYTHING in public that I’ve EVER touched in my adult life that didn’t cause me to at least briefly consider what might be on it. 99.99% of the time, I’m able to pick up or handle the item anyway, but it’s ALWAYS the first thought. For a brief time, people around the world seemed to take a moment to consider those things, too. It was nice.

I use past tense because a lot of areas within the USA seem kind of done with considering surface contamination. That’s fair enough, because now we believe the virus isn’t as transmittable by surface contact, so even I don’t wash my hands after handling the newspaper (which was delivered four hours before I touch it anyway, so I don’t know if that example should count).

How I’ll deal with life going back to the old-normal, I have no idea. Frankly, I’m probably isolating myself so much that I’m missing out on a lot of germs that would be helping to strengthen my immune system in the long run. But the future will come when it comes. For now, you’ll be speaking to me through a mask from a great distance away.

Corona virus and wanting to go Home

Well, it’s finally gotten to me. The whole virus thing. I’m not even worried about catching the virus, because I’m not in a particularly vulnerable group, so it would probably be like a normal flu for me. I hate flues, but I don’t think I’d be hospitalized or anything like that. But all the same, I want to go Home. I want to be with my parents. I’m tired. Everyone is talking about working remotely for a while. I wish my job didn’t involve the fact that I have to go to the office for certain tasks. But I don’t know how I could do certain things from afar. MOST of my job, I could do from afar. Like 90% of it.

I’d want to go Home in the best of times. But now I’m very stressed. I’m snapping at the people I live with. I’m getting a bit short with people at work when they don’t respond to my questions within 24 hours. And it’s probably because they’re choosing to work remotely at times and I can’t, so I’m jealous.

You know, whatever job I get next, I’m going to make damn well sure that it’s something I could do remotely if push came to shove. I hadn’t PLANNED on going Home yet, but my partner has to stay home for the next month. A lot of places around here have told their workers to work remotely. The trains are bizarrely empty and it’s nice because I get a seat, but it’s also weird. I wonder if I’m the smart one or the stupid one.

My parents are kind of worried. They’re in a vulnerable group. I want to be with them. I am Homesick. If the vision of going there hadn’t entered my head, maybe I wouldn’t be so wistful, but it’s in my head and I want it so badly.

I mean look, if worst came to worst, I could ask for unpaid leave and go there anyway, and leave the company in a lurch. And if they said no, I could quit and walk away, and go Home.

I’m kind of lonely lately. I have been arguing a lot and, like I said, I’ve been very snappy with the people I live with. I don’t feel connected with them right now. Everything they say and how they say it feels alien. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. But it’s become so bad, I’m not sure how to get out of it and get back on the same page, at least with my partner.

Oh the things I wish I could say on here.

PSA: Check your breasts!

This is a friendly reminder to CHECK YOUR BREASTS for lumps!!! Yeah. You’ve done it for years and never found anything abnormal so you may have gotten lazy, like me. Do it. Go do it right now and then continue to do it regularly so you know what your normal feels like and can detect slight changes.

Otherwise, you might be like me, who hasn’t really gotten around to self-checking in a couple of years and also may not have had an appointment with a gynecologist in the same amount of time. So my breasts have been ignored for a couple of years, which didn’t seem like a big deal since nothing had ever been unusual with them.

Until Friday evening, when suddenly I felt a pain as if I’d been punched in the breast (one side). It hurt so badly. I felt the area and there’s a hard lump there about the size of a kiwi or an egg. Well who is open on a Friday night? (No one.)

On Saturday, I went to the Urgent Care. They were all booked up for the day, so they transferred me to another Urgent Care. That doctor said I needed a mammogram ASAP. By this point, it was excruciatingly painful. I couldn’t raise my arm on that side. Going up and down stairs was quite painful. Touching the area was way too painful. I have to be gentle when walking, even on flat surfaces.

But, the mammogram places all around the city are booked solid. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking around with an extremely painful lump the size of an extra large egg in your breast. I have an appointment scheduled for a few days in the future and in spite of calling around all morning today, that is still the best I’ve found.

Now, I’m not saying it’s cancer. The doctor thought that the way the lump moves is more like a cyst. But there’s only one way to find out for sure.

So this is your friendly PSA: Follow through on routine breast-lump self-checks. Do it. Because if I had noticed this gigantic lump when it was slightly less gigantic, I’d have saved myself a lot of pain! I recommend it.

Weaning off Lexapro: Days 89 – 124

Scraggly trees and a dark sunset with interestingly patterned clouds

Sunset through a pattern of gray clouds

Meds:

  • 5 mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • Vitamins if I remember (maybe a couple of times a week)
  • Exercise (walking, bicycling, skiing)

Symptoms:

  • ANGST
  • Irritability only with certain people (such as my bf)
  • Insomnia now that I’m back home
  • Longing
  • Feeling that something BIG is going to happen soon (CHANGE)
  • Confused. Torn. Mixed up.

Journal Items:

  • There’s no way for me to remember and write what has passed.
  • But I did go to my parents’ house. And spent time with my beloved, beloved dog, who has heart failure now. He’s living on borrowed time thanks to responding well to medicines. Every day he’s with us has always been and will remain a gift.
  • My dad’s going to turn 70? What? How?
  • Practicing music
  • Studying for class
  • Walking, very short walks with my dog, and longer walks with my mom
  • Skiing with my folks, and my bf when he came

The mountains, the snow, the smells, the sounds. The fresh air, the cold wind. The gravel, I could roll around in it and never get enough.

I miss it all so much. My heart stayed there. I’m a split person as I have been the whole time, but it’s more obvious right now. I’m dissociating mildly here right now. I’m not connected to this place. I don’t like living here.

But life is complicated and I have to let it slide in this moment of time. I believe the reduction of Lexapro from 20mg to 5mg has really made a large difference in me. I *feel* more like I used to feel, so long ago (I’ve been on Lexapro for over a decade). But that doesn’t mesh well with what’s around me today. I believe that the Lexapro put a bubble around me and I was okay with things I would never have been okay with before. It might reach back far enough to say that I wouldn’t have been married in the first place if I hadn’t been on Lexapro and had such drug-thickened skin. Life is weird.

LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY WEIRD!!!

I’m listening to this song all day today:
https://youtu.be/djEg4O3b2IU

Weaning off Lexapro: Days 74, 75

Meds:

  • 5mg Lexapro(crazy), normal thyroid meds
  • exercise: walking and bicycling

Symptoms:

  • Quicker to become irritable
  • Quicker to feel hopeless about relationship

Journal Items:

  • This has been a difficult couple of days relationship-wise.
  • Bedtimes are out of control and I’m feeling extremely passive aggressive over it, which doesn’t help me accomplish anything productive, believe me.
  • I need to redo my resume. I need to apply to jobs again. I need to get a job. I need to earn an income.
  • Because… I need to feel more independent. I’m of half a mind to cut & run from this relationship right now. But I can’t feel objective about it when I’m so financially dependent right now.
  • Rant: I KNEW these things in advance. I TOLD myself I’d be more careful the next time. But that damn honeymoon period, so to speak, locks me into a relationship and I get to know and care about the other person. Then later, when it all settles out and the person doesn’t have the qualities I already know that I need, it’s hard to get out. What are the two main things I’m bitching about right now? *) Not a dog person, which is IMPORTANT to me, and *) Has even worse executive functioning than I have, which is a BIG DEAL for me. And I’ll add another: not fully aware of how poor his own executive functioning is. Definitely blamed ME for avoiding certain conversations, when it was so, so clear that the convos didn’t happen because we’d both forgotten and never got around to it! Give me a LITTLE bit of the benefit of the doubt, would ya? This is all not. easy. [[Note to the reader: this is NOT an unbiased story and it is NOT a complete picture in the slightest. I’m merely venting some poison.]]
  • I’m studying very slowly but thoroughly right now (it’s an important class, so I’m opting for over-studying rather than under-studying, atm).

Weaning off Lexapro: Day 44

Sunset with pinks and oranges and yellows, and deep blue

Sunset tonight

Meds:

  • 10mg Lexapro; norm thyroid meds
  • multivite tablet
  • fish oil
  • sunshine & a little bit of walking

Symptoms:

  • woke up with terrible stomach ache
  • feel kind of sick but no concrete symptoms
  • head feels heavy; a little irritable

Journal Items:

  • Appointment with [assistance] (can’t remember if I’ve ever written about this before, so I’ll leave it w/o comment). I think it went well. I feel a lot more focused on studies again, and on finding a part-time job
  • I finally, after an entire year since qualifying, signed up for the reduced bus fare for low income people
  • Feel exhausted and kind of sick

Tomorrow Preview:

  • Tomorrow, I get up at 6:45am to get ready and leave for a memorial service that is a ways away
  • Tomorrow, I MUST finish chapter 8 in my studies

Weaning off Lexapro: Days 41 and 42

Meds:

  • 10mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • electrolyte beverage
  • medium-low amount of walking

Symptoms:

  • Depressed mood
  • Hopeless thoughts, about my life & relationship
  • Not motivated to move or do anything

Journal Items:

  • Yesterday was awful. Did I do anything productive at all? I felt just awful, emotionally
  • I’m sure I did laundry and I applied to two jobs
  • Today, I volunteered with cats and … that’s all

Weaning off Lexapro: Day 40

Meds:

  • 10mg Lexapro, normal thyroid meds
  • electrolyte beverage
  • a little bit of walking

Symptoms:

  • Fretting over my current relationship with bf
  • UPDATE: A symptom I’ve been forgetting to mention but have been experiencing for a couple of weeks: a strange, warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. It’s very unusual for me. It’s almost like, a positive, warm fuzzy happy feeling? It’s really weird.
  • UPDATE: The acid reflux stuff seems to have eased off

Journal Items:

  • Got up for an appointment with a course professor at 9am
  • Went for a walk afterward
  • Ate breakfast/lunch at a cafeteria type place
  • Went to a library to focus on my studies
  • Kind of frittered away time once I got back home
  • Watching horse videos online and some stuff on learning disorders
  • Wrote an extremely long email to relationship counselor (she’s already replied; she’s very nice and makes me feel hopeful)
  • Ate dinner late (9pm)
  • Getting ready for bed