Life

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If you can’t make neurotransmitters at home, store bought is fine.

Published June 15, 2021 by Malia

How long does it take a heart and mind to heal?

Since 2001, I have been filled with pain, anger, depression, anxiety, and an overall strong sense of doom.  There have been blips of happy during this time, but overall it’s been 20 long years of misery.

I remember mentioning to someone that I felt as though I was living under a curse.  They thought I was being dramatic.  All I knew was that everytime I came close to finally getting a grip on life my world would fall apart.  And it was always in super strange ways.

About 10 years ago, I added apathetic to the laundry list of things I struggled with.  Everything felt so pointless, and I was so tired of always being in pain.  I think that’s when my dissociating began to get really bad.  I spent my days watching myself making decisions that were typically unhealthy.  It was a bit like watching a movie or a dream.  I felt like I was living my life in 3rd person.  My body and mind were on autopilot.

So much of the last two decades has passed me by, and I just let it. I have been ambivalent, apathetic, and I let my heart grow hard.

My undiagnosed depression, anxiety, and ADHD shredded my brain.  I remember when I started college on 2003, and discovered my memory was deteriorating.  It was frustrating and scary.  Growing up my memory had been ok.  I know that towards the end of high school I sometimes struggled to remember things when I was taking a test.  But I wrote that off as just being a busy teen.  I was heavily involved in extra-curiculars, and being a pastor’s kid came with it’s own set of responsibilities.  Then when I started an actual job my senior year, my plate was beyond full. 

Feeling your memory deteriorate is terrifying.  When you know that you know something, but it’s locked behind so many doors in your brain, and you can’t access it; it’s overwhelming and frustrating and angering.

In 2018, I began getting serious treatment for things.  It’s not been an easy road.  Therapy dredged up so many things that I had locked deep, deep, deep, DEEP inside.  So much anger and pain.  It was hard.  It’s still hard.  The guilt and shame of every mistake, every pain I’d ever caused others, overwhelmed me, drowned me. 

My promise to you, my readers, is that you get the honest, genuine version of me.  I’m still not ready to share with y’all the nightmare that was March 2020 through this past February.  But I will tell you, that I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it was the final straw.  It nearly destroyed me completely.  I spent months having people close to me watch me break apart.  I had my own healthcare providers encourage me to quit my job.  But I was so determined to stay.  I had a bad habit of walking away from jobs when they started to feel a little too hard to handle.  I was adamant I was going to break that cycle.  That, no matter how hard the job got, I was going to stick it out. 

Looking back, I now know that I should’ve left my job in May of 2020.  It wasn’t until the end of this past January, when faced with the reality  of partial hospitalization, that I finally said, “Enough.” I knew that if I went back I was going to find myself in some sort of serious health crisis, maybe a heart attack, maybe a diabetic coma, or just completely and permanently losing all touch with reality. I had this sense that if I went back, I would be dead before the year was out, because I could feel my body telling me it was ready to shut down. No amount of money was worth completely destroying myself.

In April, I was running some errands, and suddenly my brain shifted into autopilot. Before I knew it, I was driving to my old job. I hadn’t been near the building since January. I could feel the panic build as I got near, and when I saw it, I broke down. I was torn between missing my friends, and the rush of memories filled with fear and pain.

When Tom had surgery in May, it was the first time I’d been back in a hospital in months. I briefly wondered if I’d find myself second-guessing my decision to leave my job. The short answer? No, I didn’t. I remember watching the medical professionals doing their jobs, and not even the tiniest part of me missed being a healthcare worker. Instead, all I could feel was relief that I was out of working in the world of medicine.

Last Friday, Tom put on Sweet Tooth. Overall, it was a really awesome show, but it was an incredibly hard watch. The first episode and seventh episode hit especially hard.

MINOR SPOILER ALERT

Watching a fictional hospital deal with a pandemic hit a little too close to home. It was a little too real seeing a disease that progressed fast and overwhelmed all the healthcare workers. I stuck it out, but I also texted and warned my friend who is still working in the lab. Just in case she was going to watch it, I didn’t want her to be caught off guard. That night, I prayed and took the meds I usually avoid, in order to help me sleep, cause I was scared that the nightmares that plagued me throughout last year would be back.

A few weeks back, I wrote about starting a new med that was giving me all the side effects. When I contacted the doctor, she asked that I try to stick it out for two weeks, because she thought it might settle down and the med would start working. Last week, I wrote about how mentally I was feeling loads better than I have in a long time. The side effects are definitely better now, I’m glad I agreed to stick it out the two weeks. My body, once it finally adjusted, has been feeling good and my blood sugar numbers are slowly getting lower and steadier.

I’m a bit of an odd duck, because I believe in Jesus and in science. I firmly believe that God gave us science, and if anything the miracle taking place in my body reaffirms this belief. My body doesn’t make neurochemicals or regulate my sugars like it should, but science has created medications that help with all these things. Over the last several days, I’ve been feeling really good. Everything has been working the way it should in my body. And I’ve made a shocking discovery.

I like myself.

I’ve despised myself for so long. All I could see were the bad parts, the mistakes. Am I perfect? NOPE. But I am silly, smart, kind, funny, generous, and phenomenally gifted (especially in music). The me that has suddenly woken up after decades of slumber, is actually pretty awesome. I would want to hang out and be my friend.

So, am I healed/cured/completely fixed? I can’t really answer that. I know that I’m healthier. I know that it’s likely the dark feelings will be back, maybe tomorrow, maybe 5 years from now, but I’m okay with that. I know I can survive the storms, because I’ve already survived so many of them.

Huh, therapy and self-care do help. Whoda thunk it?

Published June 10, 2021 by Malia

I had a really odd moment in therapy this morning. I went in with a few things to talk about. Nothing too exciting, just some things I’ve been processing and towards the end of session my therapist asked me, “That’s a lot going on. So, how are you doing with all this?”

I thought about it. I thought about how over the last several years (basically my entire adult life), when faced with similar things, I would’ve been sent in such a deep depressive spiral. About how all I would’ve wanted to do is lock myself up and hide away from everyone and everything.

And you know what? That’s not how I feel right now. Sure, I’ve got things going on that fill me with dread and anxiety but good or bad, these things will eventually be in the past, and I’ll hopefully still be here.

I’m learning to be kind to myself. My entire life, I’ve been my biggest critic, my number one enemy. I’ve been fixated on my flaws. Figured that if I made the joke first, I took the stick away from others and the bullying would be lessened. I’ve always been worried about everything, and torn to shreds with a load of guilt for every single bad thing that has happened my entire life.

I’ve come to the realization, my worry has accomplished nothing. For example, I can spend the next 5 months a ball of nerves, constantly freaking out about whether Tom’s cancer is still with us and spreading. But my worry will solve nothing. In November, he will either get good or bad news. There’s a 50% chance of good news, and if I’m going to fixate on anything, I should fixate on having hope. Instead of being my biggest hater, I need to be my biggest fan!

So, what was the odd moment? It was odd being able to look at him and honestly say, “Y’know, I’m actually doing okay with all of this.” And even odder to leave and not be overwhelmed with self-doubt, questioning if I really am okay or did I unintentionally lie to make myself look better than I am. I feel this sense of lightness. Almost giddiness.

No, I’m not cured. But I am mentally healthier. I’m seeing actual progress, and I want to celebrate that!

P.S. While playing with Snapchat earlier today, I captured this magical moment:

Just another fun experience with the world of healthcare.

Published June 4, 2021 by Malia

If you were here in January 2020, you might remember me writing about an absolute nightmare experience at the pharmacy.  Strap in, kids, it’s time for another round of “Malia has fun at the pharmacy.”  Different pharmacy, same level of “fun.”

Earlier this spring, I went to the endocrinologist, and she decided she wanted me to start taking Farxiga along with my regular diabetes med.  So, the script got sent to the pharmacy, and I waited.  The first few days, the app showed me that filling  the med was “In Process.”

Okay, sure.  New med, needs time to get all the insurance cleared, etc…

Then the status changed to, “Contact the pharmacy to fill the prescription.”

I had a few other meds that had been filled, so when I went to pick them up, I asked about the Farxiga.  I was informed that my insurance had declined to cover it, and was recommending a med called Jardiance.  They offered to contact my doctor about this, and I gave them the go ahead.

A week passed and nothing changed.  No new script was listed for the Jardiance, and I had heard nothing from my endo.  So, I sent a message to the endo to find out what they wanted to do.

I received back a message from the nurse telling me to go to Farxiga’s website, and there should be coupons there.  Now, the pharmacy had already told me that I was looking at well over a thousand dollars if I paid  out of pocket.  I received the message right as the fun with Tom’s kidney began, and so dealing with it fell by the wayside.  Besides, I reasoned, I had another endo appointment coming up soon, I’d deal with it then.

Fast forward past the surgery, to the next endo appointment.  The endo told me they had sent a script for the Jardiance to the pharmacy when they had been informed it was the recommended switch from the Farxiga.  Since the script had never shown up in the pharmacy app, the endo resent it. 

After the appointment, I checked the pharmacy app and saw that a script for Jardiance was there, listed as, “In Process.”  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Which was a dumb thing to do.

The next day, I checked the app and found that “In Process” had changed to “Contact the pharmacy to fill.”

So, I called the pharmacy and asked what was going on.  They informed me that Jardiance isn’t covered by my insurance.

So, I sent a message to the endo.  Two hours later the doctor called me and told me that the person in their office who talks to the insurance people (there was a title for this person, but I’m blanking on it), had called and gotten the med approved for coverage.  The doctor told me they’d contacted the pharmacy and the med  should be filled by end of day.

Again, I breathed a sigh of relief way too soon.

At this point it was a Thursday. I watched the app and the fill status remained unchanged. And it stayed unchanged through the weekend.

The following Tuesday, I received a letter from my insurance showing that they were going to cover the med. I stupidly assumed this was going to mean my med was going to get filled.

I gave it two days, and then when nothing had changed, I went in to the pharmacy, clutching the letter from the insurance.

The pharmacy tech pulled up my info and after looking it over said, “Yup, I show we got approval for this last week.” Which he followed up with, “So did you want us to fill this?”

Yes, I contained my rage. Yes, I remained nice and polite. Yes, they finally filled it and I was able to pick it up and start taking it this last Tuesday. (Delay in pick-up was on me trying to conserve gas. I waited until my other diabetes med had been refilled to go pickup.)

After all that, turns out my body really doesn’t like the Jardiance. I gave it until today, and it’s just kept making me sicker. I was so baffled, because nothing I was experiencing was listed on the bottle as a side effect, so I had to go to Jardiance’s website, and I found that I’m having most of the uncommon side effects.

So, now I’m waiting to hear back from the endo since I’m fairly certain I probably should not be continuing to take this med.

Broke meal tip: add tuna to your mac & cheese. It may sound gross, but it’s surprisingly good.

Published June 3, 2021 by Malia

Never ask a female if she’s acting a certain way because she’s hormonal.  It’s just not a nice thing to do.

That said, I think I’m hormonal.

Why do I think this?

Right now, all I want to do is watch Jurassic Park and play Minecraft. That, in and of itself, isn’t a hormonal thing. I love Minecraft and I love disaster movies.

And I really love dinosaurs. Especially when they eat slimy lawyers.

The reason I think I’m hormonal is I just spent 25 minutes trying to get my phone to cast the movie from the Peacock app (it’s currently free to watch on the app) to the Chromecast, and it it’s refusing to work beyond streaming the first 25 seconds of the movie And then I started crying because I’m pretty sure I sold my DVD’s a few years back when we were really broke. So, now I can’t get the movie to work, and we’re super broke due to Tom having a really small paycheck from surgery week. How broke are we? Well, we need to make $10.86 last us until he receives a normal paycheck again a week from tomorrow…and I can’t refill my mental meds until then. It’s gonna be a bit of a long week.

I’m not saying any this to receive pity. We’re gonna be fine, things are just a bit tight right now. And it’s never super fun for anyone when things are tight. At least we don’t have to worry about taking care of kids. Also, if you’re in the same boat, please know you’re not alone. I really do understand how much it sucks.

So, I’m going to keep digging in my video game mine, and in a bit I’ll see if the Chromecast is going to decide to be nice and let me watch the dinosaurs hang out with Jeff Goldblum.

And I now realize that I probably am hormonal, but the fact I’m out of all my mental meds probably is contributing to me crying over something so dumb as a movie not wanting to stream correctly.

Minor Confession

Published May 26, 2021 by Malia

I realize that I am technically an adult and the only small children in my life are my nephews and niece. There are no children that live with me, unless you count my pets.

Confession: I LOVE Bluey!

Yes, I, at 36 and a half, am deeply in love with a show meant for preschoolers.

It’s just so adorable. A family of Australian dogs living life and learning lessons…how can you watch it and not fall in love?

I make no apologies for this, and it’s a bonus that my nephews and niece all love the show too.

That’s about it for me today. Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Progress

Published May 24, 2021 by Malia

I’m starting this post with a Trigger Warning for suicidal ideation. I’ve been debating writing about this for the last few days, and decided to go ahead with it. As always when I write an out this stuff, I like to include the following reminder: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).

Well, it’s been a full week since the official diagnosis of the Big C.

I wish the C stood for “Cookie” in this case.

It’s been a week of processing. I’ll admit, I’ve been very surprised by how much grief I’ve been experiencing. I know I mentioned the grief last week, but I’m still surprised by it. The worst part of processing grief? It’s not linear.

Everyday seems to come with a different feeling. I’ll have a day of sadness, followed by a day of anger and bargaining, followed by sadness, followed by acceptance, followed by sadness. Been feeling sad quite a lot of the time. However, I noticed something on Saturday.

Through all of this, I have not experienced a desire to unalive myself. Usually, when I’m going through high stress, my brain begins this attack of constantly telling me that it would be better if I wasn’t here. That the pain and stress would go away. I spent most of May 2020 through January 2021 dealing with my brain constantly harassing me to just be done with life. It was exhausting, and part of what ultimately led to me deciding not to return to my job.

I’m not saying that I’m cured. I don’t think I am. But I do take it as a positive sign that I am making progress with my mental health.

My dream house is less Pinterest approved and more Batman approved.

Published May 22, 2021 by Malia

There is so much I should be doing right now. There are several laundry baskets full of clean clothes waiting to be put away. The sink is full of dishes that need to be dealt with. I have piles of pretty paper I need to slice up to become inserts for cards. I have a blanket that I’m crocheting.

Instead of doing any of that, I’m sitting here contemplating why the majority of humans decided to live in houses, rather than in caves.

I would love to live in either a cave or an abandoned missile silo that’s been refurbished. Maybe I’ve just lived through way too many tornados. Houses just seems so fragile.

Anyway, not much else to report on this end. Hopefully everyone is having a pleasant, disease-free weekend!

I’m not okay, and that’s okay.

Published May 20, 2021 by Malia

I went to therapy this morning.

I hadn’t been in a few months, and I realized on Monday, after getting Tom’s official cancer diagnosis from the doctor, that I really needed a session. 

I’m just so overwhelmed by my feelings at present. Since I have a really bad habit of refusing to acknowledge what I’m feeling and just squashing them down deep inside, I’m trying to break that.

Here’s the thing about therapy. I appreciate it. It’s been amazingly helpful. It is not fun. I don’t walk out and immediately feel better. But there’s something about sitting in a judgement free zone, talking about what I’m thinking that really makes a difference.

I’m learning that it’s okay to feel all the feelings. It’s okay to be sad or angry or frustrated or any other emotion that sweeps over me. It’s okay to acknowledge those feelings and give name to them. The important thing is what I do with those feelings.

I think it’s important to point out that just because I’m facing some dark feelings, that doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope or my faith. I’m still reeling from feeling blindsided by all this, plus I’m grieving right now. I’m still dealing with some grief over my old job. I’m grieving my lost babies. I’m grieving putting dreams on hold. And I’m grieving Tom’s kidney. I’m sure that sounds absurd, but that’s just how things are right now.

So, what about Tom? He’s always been incredibly supportive of me getting mental health help. He knows that I’m equally supportive of him seeking help. But doing so is a very personal choice. So, I check in on him regularly, and the door is open if he decides he does want to talk to a professional.

Things are hard, but we will get through it.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Published May 19, 2021 by Malia

I’m spending today binge watching Buzzfeed Unsolved. I just finished the available true crime episodes, and now I’m jumping into the paranormal episodes. I feel slightly bad for Tom, because the only reason I’m doing it today is because he’s home, and sitting within arm’s reach

See, I have a super overactive imagination, and I’ve found watching these sorts of things alone tends to be a super bad idea. So, watching creepy stuff with the level headed, super skeptic helps me not get completely freaked out.

Not sure why, but I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of stuff. I don’t like horror movies, but I’m genuinely fascinated by ghost stories, cryptids, and the unexplainable.

It’s probably good that Tom is such a skeptic, it brings balance.

Twister is now 25 years old. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Published May 16, 2021 by Malia

I’m really surprised at how fast Tom seems to be recovering. I don’t know if it’s because in the past every family member I helped care for post-surgery/coma weren’t as young and healthy as Tom, or if it’s because the robotic surgery is a little less traumatic than traditional surgery. Maybe it’s a combo of both.

On Thursday, after the surgery was complete, I met with Tom’s doctor who informed me that everything went as expected. Immediately after, I went back to the waiting area and I made the mistake of sitting down for a moment to collect my thoughts.

And then I tried to stand up.

All of a sudden, the sheer idea of standing up was so completely overwhelming, my body refused to cooperate. It was like a physical wall of exhaustion slammed into my body. I ended up sitting there, texting family, “I think I live in this chair now.”

Finally, after almost an hour, I got so nauseous because of dropped blood sugar, that I forced myself up and down to the cafe for what ended up being a really delicious bowl of udon noodles with chicken.

Yesterday, Saturday, Tom rested and played video games, while I worked on cards for some orders that came in over the last few days. Mid-afternoon, I got so tired I crashed in bed for a few hours.

Last night, I watched This is a Robbery on Netflix. It’s a documentary series about the big art heist in Boston back in the 90’s. It was interesting, but the music was unnecessarily creepy. I was quite glad Tom was home, since I watched most of it after nightfall.

Not much on tap for us today. I’m waiting for Amazon to drop off the new blade for my Cricut so I can finish the orders I was working on yesterday. I keep threatening him that I’m going to put Twister on because he doesn’t love it like I do, and his only escape is napping 😅