A Therapeutic Match

Last year, I sought out therapy again. I felt like I was on the verge of melting down between my PTSD going off the rails for the first time in years, the subsequent depression and also dealing with a great deal of crap all at once. I’m not ashamed of being in therapy. I respect people who get therapy because I honestly feel like most people should at least once or twice in their lifetimes. It’s seeking out help to give you the tools to be happier, healthier – steadier.

At the time however, I wasn’t feeling it. I even thought about writing a blog called “Are We Clicking?” because the therapist I was paired with… I just didn’t feel comfortable. I haven’t done therapy in years, but I consider myself an old pro, and I was seeking this out. It wasn’t a case of stage fright or shyness or embarrassment, and it wasn’t because I was so low at that point. I just could not get comfortable, I wasn’t confident that this therapist was the right fit for me.

I felt really bad about it too. Because the therapist was super nice, and a good listener. In fact, when deciding to discontinue therapy with her, I couldn’t even come up with a good reason beyond: “We’re not a match”; “You’re really nice, but I’m just not comfortable opening up”. For a few months, I didn’t seek out anyone new. I should have, but didn’t. I think part of this was embarrassment because I had no idea what had happened with the last one. Her background was perfectly matched to mine. She was nice, open, safe… why couldn’t I make it work? There have been times when I discontinued therapy, either because I felt I met my goals or even something more practical like relocating, but with the exception of one other time, I’ve never just “not felt it” and wanted it to end before it really got started. Continue reading

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Problems of the Heart

I’ve been mainly absent lately. In life. On social media. Kind of silent, not really there, which kind of explains most days.

To say it’s been a hard year would be such a gross understatement it instantly makes me gag.

Personally, I’ve been dealt a few blows and tried to salvage relationships that mean a lot to me, had to let others go, and see others change in such ways I am still trying to find footing.

Professionally, I’ve stalled, struggling to write anything due to physical and emotional clutter (stress is a huge factor, but I have also been diagnosed with two things that are affecting me cognitively).

Medically, it has been the worst year since 2009-2010. I lost nearly twenty pounds and was violently ill only to find over a dozen ulcers in my stomach (I had never had a single ulcer before). My PTSD was triggered and went off the rails after doing so well for over six years, which also caused a deep depression. I’ve been having a bunch of absence seizures (confirmed via EEG) and now I’ve been dealt another health blow – my heart.

I’m not sure when I first noticed symptoms because it happened when I was in a bright spot in my life. Stress really affects what’s going on, so when I was dealing with something hard or dealt a personal blow where I had to regroup I noticed I was physically different.

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A Car Buyer’s Secret Weapon (How To Save Thousands)

After almost a year of looking for our next car, we finally bought one last Friday. There was a lot of waiting, a lot of searching, a lot of research, a lot of strategy. We had chosen what kind of car we’d be getting (Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum) and my husband was (surprisingly) keen on the red color for the exterior. But he also wanted the almond interior because he hates black leather. That was the biggest reason, “we were looking for a vehicle” because of those color specifics.

At first, we were going to get it last summer (May/June 2016) but then we learned that a lot of the features we wanted that were costly upgrades came standard in the 2017 models. Every few years, cars are completely redesigned, configured and upgraded and 2017 was that year for the Highlander, so it made sense to wait. At the time, we thought we’d only wait until September, but there were manufacturing delays that took it to December. From December until now, my husband has been searching for the car with his color preferences. No dice. He even considered changing his mind about the color, but that didn’t last long.

Then last week, he saw that a red Highlander was at a dealership about twenty minutes from his work. It was red, but didn’t have the interior he wanted, but he thought it was worth a look because while it wasn’t the almond color, it wasn’t black either, but some color called saddle. I tagged along, and thought it would just be how it was always going to be. (And he admitted that he had thought this too.) Saddle was described as a dark brown, and that just seemed ugly to me, but also my husband didn’t want black because he was afraid of the seats getting too hot, dark brown didn’t seem much different from black in that regard.

We arrived. We saw the car and we were surprised that we actually liked it. The color is more of a burnt orange/brown which I never thought I could like, but it goes really well with the exterior color and the dashboard (which only comes in black). It was a surprise. I could tell my husband was thinking that the car might be for us and we talked – he knew it was okay, but we still had a bottom line, which meant we had to lose $6,000 off the MRSP. And it is a new car… That was all right, because we had a secret weapon… Me.

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The Statistic

A few weeks ago, I had an appointment with my cardiologist who ordered a bunch of tests because, “Nothing about you is ever straightforward.” He was talking about my health because nothing ever is. A heart infection that went undetected (and which I had no symptoms) for nearly a year before it just up and killed me (109 degree fevers are no joke) and even after it killed me, I initially tested negative. Or the one-in-two million autoimmune disease that made my kidneys fail quickly and my lungs fill with fluid, nearly killing me again (same year as the heart infection because when it rains, it pours…). Then there is the number of times I’ve been misdiagnosed from bone marrow to blood disorders to neurological conditions because – why not? My husband called me “the statistic” – I’m one in whatever – I’m that figure. I’m not going to lie – it kind of gets old.

There are a bunch of fine print when you’re a “statistical impossibility” as one of my neurosurgeons called me.

Fine Print A: Made of Glass

I am treated (by everyone pretty much: family, husband, friends, and every doctor or nurse who has read my file) like I’m made of glass. If I feel run down, there is talk of maybe going to the ER. If I think I have the flu or some basic “normal” illness, I am seen immediately, likely in a hospital setting, because having a regular illness can start a chain reaction when it comes to preexisting conditions: heart, kidneys, lung, blood.

As someone who has survived a lot on his own, sometimes this is frustrating. I’m tough as shit, and I don’t want people to see me as anything other than that. I’m strong, even if I am breakable in some ways (brittle bone disease, so I actually am breakable – literally). I know my body and if I feel a hospital is necessary, I’ll go. But if doctors, nurses or my husband (out of love and concern for me, friends and family are the same in this reaction) had their way – I would be going to the hospital a lot more often. The last time this happened (I was just ran down and dehydrated) the doctor actually commended my husband on bringing me in. “You did the right thing. He [as in me] is a very vulnerable adult.”

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My Money Mantra and Big Purchase Hesitation

Last week my husband surprised me by taking me to Best Buy. He wanted to get me a new laptop. It was my birthday, but also he wanted me to have something smaller and lighter. I was so surprised and didn’t know how to feel. It was so sweet and so there was the good surprise, but I was also taken aback and maybe even put off because a laptop is a lot of money and I don’t spend a lot of money impulsively or even because I want to – it’s out of necessity. (For the record, it was not impulsive for my husband who had researched models and done all the legwork, but since it was a surprise, it felt impulsive on my end.)

I’ve never purchased a computer unless my previous computer died. Not on its way out, but actually dead, meaning I would go a few weeks without one – period. And my current laptop is not dead, and while it’s four years old, hopefully it’s not even on its way out. Some of the computers we were considering were nearly two grand (though I have found other options a couple hundred dollars cheaper). It’s not because we were looking at anything fancy (I’m not a gamer, my computer use is basic and practical) but because nowadays it’s the light and small that drive up the cost – not the hardware size and graphics capabilities. I just kept thinking, “Is this really necessary?” As alluring as a new computer is, the practical, frugal part of me is pumping the brakes hard. I just don’t know.

Technically, there is a very practical reason for a light and small computer. My current laptop is huge and heavy and I travel with it a lot, so lugging it back and forth on my back – it certainly isn’t ideal. And lately this not ideal situation has kind of had a spotlight due to some medical stuff that has come up. Kind of evasive, I know, but that’s as good as it’s going to get in this post. Point is, while my husband thinks this is a smart idea and important, I am struggling with the question, “How important is it?”

I think I’m this way because everything I have, I have had to work my ass off to get. I was on my own since I was a teenager, still in high school. I started working at age ten at the church rectory answering phones. (Of course, now I see how awful the Catholic Church was, putting ten-year-olds to work answering phones for five hours for only twenty bucks a shift – exploitive much?) I pet sat, I tutored – whatever it took. In high school, I wrote love letters and poems (mostly sonnets) for guys who wanted to do something “mushy” for their girlfriends. At ten bucks a pop – I was doing okay. Because I had to afford food, and shelter and high school costs, because even public school is never really free. I had to survive.

And that’s just it. I know how to survive on three dollars a week. I know how to hustle. I know how to save money. I know how (not) to spend.

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