Job

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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.

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Welcome to the Second Decade

Published April 26, 2021 by Malia

If you’re new to the blog, or it’s been awhile since you visited, let me catch you up on what life has been like.

Ten years ago, I started this blog when I moved from Nebraska to North Dakota. I was going through a bad time. I was lost and heartbroken, and I needed to get as far away from Nebraska as I could. North Dakota may not sound like the optimal place to run away to, but I fell in love with Grand Forks. By the December of 2012, I found myself moving back to Nebraska. There were a few reasons that prompted the move, but the main ones were a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and running out of money for school (I was working on my bachelor’s for the umpteenth time).

January 2013-January 2016 saw the following happen:

-I worked in a medical lab.

-I began dating, and got married to the boy. That’s how I referred to him on here for the longest time. His name is actually Tom, and to this day I firmly believe that the best choice I ever made was agreeing to go on a date with him.

-Early Term miscarriages 1 & 2.

January 2016-February 2017

-Tried being a homemaker, it was a bit of a disaster.

-We blew up our car engine by throwing a rod. This led to a giant headache trying to replace the engine. Pretty sure by the time we sold the car we had replaced the engine 4 times. Important lesson kids, always stay on top of your car’s oil levels and changes. It’s and expensive problem you don’t want to deal with.

-We were so broke, and I completely lost hope that things would ever get better. It was a really dark time.

February 2017-April 2018

-I went to work in the lab at our local pediatric hospital.

-I was sick all the time, mostly with respiratory infections.

-Was officially diagnosed with PCOS. I’d been fighting to get someone to officially diagnosis it since 2012. It’s awful trying to get female reproductive health issues diagnosed and treated.

-Decided to leave the job mainly due to my rapidly deteriorating health.

-Adopted an 11 year old Puggle. She’s my first dog ever, and she’s my baby.

-Early term miscarriage 3.

April 2018-August 2019

-Attempt #2 of being a homemaker, again was a bit of a disaster.

-Got officially diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. I already knew I was struggling, but it was really helpful to finally have an actual diagnosis.

-It was a dark time, but also a time where I learned quite a bit about myself.

August 2019-March 2020

-Went back to the hospital lab job as a casual employee.

-My grandmother passed away.

-Early term miscarriage 4.

March 2020-Now (April 2021)

-At the end of February 2020, my job was going really well. I was getting healthy, and was finally losing weight. I was on top of the world, and when a full time position opened up I decided I was ready. Let me just say right now, if I had known what was going to hit by mid-March, I would’ve never gone to being full time.

-Working in a hospital lab, during the first 9 months of Covid was a special level of Hell. Eventually, I may be able to write more about it, but I’m not mentally or emotionally in a place where I can do that yet.

-The last week of December 2020, my mental/physical/emotional health bailed on me. I’d been trying so hard, for months, to hold it together. I kept telling myself if I could just keep going eventually things would better. At 2 a.m. on 12/28 I was sitting in the shower, sobbing, and I knew I was officially at my breaking point. Months of barely sleeping, high stress, panic attacks, crying all the time, and constant nightmares when I would manage to sleep had all taken their toll. I was put on leave through January, with the intention that I would be heading back to work. I had countless doctor appointments, and by the end of January I came to the realization that there was no way I would be ready to go back to work. So, I chose my health and my sanity over my paycheck and benefits. I know I made the right choice, but it wasn’t an easy choice.

-Early term miscarriage 5.

What does the second decade look like?

I’ll be completely honest with you, right now I qualify a good day as one where I get out of bed and put pants on. Overall, I’m not doing very good. I am starting to heal from last year, but it’s slow going. Right now, I can only manage baby steps, but I’ve decided baby steps of progress are better than no progress at all.

I’ve been encouraged in therapy to return to writing, and right now the easiest writing for me to do is this blog. And since it’s important to have goals, I will end this post with a small list of goals I have for the next few years:

Goal 1: Getting healthy so that expanding our family (whether biologically or by adoption) is an actual possibility.

Goal 2: Moving The Banana Gift from being a dream to a reality.

Like I said, it’s a small list. I’ll be back tomorrow!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Published February 5, 2016 by Malia

The other day I read that, years ago, David Bowie auditioned for the role of Elrond.  Personally, I think he would’ve been great in the role, but I actually think he would’ve made an awesome Thranduil.  Nothing against Lee Pace, but I just think Bowie would’ve been a better choice for the role.

I’ve tried writing this post everyday for over a week, and every time I’ve started something’s stopped me.  The words just haven’t jelled.  Even now, as I’m finally writing this, the sentences feel awkward and wooden.

I quit my job.

Even a week and a half later, I’m still kind of in shock.  I knew that I needed out months ago, but it hadn’t been an option.  I just never thought I’d actually be able to make myself quit.

Now that I’m out, I’m making an attempt at being a stay at home wife.  Which is weird…and awesome.  I really haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.  It’s definitely a slower pace to live by, but I’m really not complaining.

So, here’s to new life adventures!

Worried? Stressed? Filled With Anxiety? Join the Club.

Published February 7, 2014 by Malia

Mom says that when I was born, I had this worried little look on my face.  Apparently it was such a good impression of my dead great-grandmother, it earned me the instant nickname, “Little Wilma.”  (Wilma was the dead great-grandmother, and apparently was a bit of a worrywart. I felt I should probably clarify that).  I didn’t used to think I deserved the nickname.  Lately, though, I’m starting to think I do.

A few years ago, I went through the terrifying experience of being unemployed for over a year (after being employed at what I thought was a long term job for 3.5 years).  It was at the end of that year that I went back to school for a year and a half.  The time from when my last “real” job ended until I was employed at my current job was two and a half years.  It was a horrible time in my life, especially the first year when I was job hunting.  I came to believe that I was the most worthless waste of space on planet Earth.  It didn’t help that there’s was this constant thought in my head that I didn’t even deserve to have a roof over my head.  Even now, I’m very aware of the fact that I should have been homeless.

When I got hired at my current job, I was so excited.  It was my dream job.  Working in a lab.  Wearing a lab coat.  Being an integral part of the medical community, but not having to actually deal with patients (just, y’know, what comes out of their bodies).  Even now, just over a year there, I still get excited that I get to work there.  However, with the excitement comes a whole slew of other emotions.

I’m really scared and stressed out.  Every day, I’m filled with panic because I love my job so much, and I don’t want to lose it.  And the funny thing is, that’s not even something I’m looking at having happen.  Everything has been really good.  My co-workers are great.  My boss is great.  The work is fantastic.  My last job and those years of unemployment just messed me up so bad, I’m really struggling.  I have a co-worker that has told me, more than once, that I need to “lighten up,” and I wish I could tell him how badly I want to be able to.

Not only that, but I wish I could figure out how to lighten up.  I’ve basically got six years of baggage hanging over my head that I’m trying to figure out how to deal with.  I really want to be able to let down my guard and start letting my co-workers in, because right now I’m not sure I seem to terribly different from the Ice Queen, Lady Mary.

I’m Grateful and Rageful

Published November 28, 2013 by Malia

I’ll get to the rage in a moment.  First, what I’m thankful for.

1.  Family.  Good times or bad, I love that I have a close family that is very supportive of each other.

2.  My excellent friends.  I’ve been very blessed with five wonderful women that I consider to be very dear friends.  Each one knows me, faults and all, and still lets me be part of their lives.

3.  My job.  A year ago, I never would have guessed that I was just weeks away from starting a job I truly love.  A job that I gladly go to, and that I truly enjoy.  Also, I have a really fantastic supervisor, and I’d be really lost without her.

4.  My love of reading, and the easy access to an almost unlimited supply of books that there is.

5.  The roof over my head.

6.  A working vehicle.

7.  Snapple.  Silly, I know, but it’s quite yummy.

8.  Doctor Who.  I love this “kid’s” show.  It’s smart, funny, and is something I can share with my family and friends.

9.  I’m generally healthy, and have much to live for and look forward to in this life.

Okay, so, it’s not so much rage as irritation.  Tomorrow is Black Friday.  I understand the theory behind the day.  It makes sense that businesses want to try to get in the black before the year ends.  However, and yes I know I’m not the only one saying this, it has gone from out of control to complete absurdity.  It used to be just one psycho day, but now it’s almost a full week.  How is  this okay?  Plus, it seems that there’s at least one death every year in connection with Black Friday shopping.  People’s lives should be of more value.  What does that say about this culture when possessions are held in higher esteem than a human being?  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m as greedy as the next person, but even I have my limits.

So, if you’re going to take part in the madness, remember that your fellow shoppers are human beings.  Remember that the people working in the stores aren’t making very much, aren’t getting to spend time with their loved ones (and have likely missed most and/or all of Thanksgiving), and being rude to them isn’t going to make things go any better for you.

How I Angered The Sea Witch…and Other Randomness In My Life

Published March 30, 2013 by Malia

-I love my job!  I really, really do.  However, because of the sensitive HIPAA (HIPPA?  I’m too lazy to actually Google the acronym right now), regulations, I can’t really talk much about my job.  I’m not 100% certain what qualifies as invasion of privacy.  Yikes!  Maybe just mentioning that I have a job that I love is invasion of privacy.

Probably not.

Anyway, much as I love my job, it has it’s own unique moments.  For example, yesterday.  There was an issue, with a situation (vague enough?  no one feels I’m invading their privacy?), and it resulted in this:

Okay, it wasn’t really Ursula, but there was this moment where I was sitting at my station, and all of a sudden this gal from a different department stormed into our department and came and towered over me.  She’s a very tall, big gal, and even though I’m heavy she makes me look minuscule    When I saw the wrath on her features that were looming over me, all I could think was, “Oh crap, how have I angered Ursula, the sea witch?”

Now, equating someone you work with to a Disney villain/villainess is hardly kind or fair.  However, I wasn’t looking to be fair at that moment, I was too terrified to be logical.  Anyway, much like a predator can smell fear, this gal seemed to sense just how freaked out she was making me, and she used that to her advantage.  The situation did get resolved-ish, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens Monday.

-One cool part of my job is all the different types of bodily specimens I get to see in a day.  I see things removed in surgery (I don’t do anything with those, but they come in our department so I usually see someone else working with them), and all sorts of bodily fluids and other things that normal people run far away from.  However, there is one specimen that it’s going to take me a while to get used to dealing with.

Semen.

About once a week I’ll have to ferry a cup of this stuff to another department.  I know that in light of everything else I see, this should not ook me out, but there’s just something creepy about having to handle it.  Maybe it’s because of the way it’s obtained.

And I’m thinking that’s probably about all I should say about that (before absolutely everyone stops reading).

-Camp NaNoWriMo starts on Monday.  Basically, this is kind of a practice for NaNoWriMo in November.  This is the first year I’ll be taking part in Camp NaNo, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about.  So far the only useful suggestion I’ve been given has been, “Anything with dragons.”  Which, as everyone knows, dragons automatically make any story better, so that was something I’d already been considering, but it was nice to have it affirmed.

-I’m starting to seriously think about getting my own car.  I know I need another thing to pay on like I need another hole in my head, but it would be nice to have my own vehicle again.

I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful…

Published February 11, 2013 by Malia

I’m not dead, yet!  It’s true.  I’m not at 100% yet, but I’m feeling about 50% better than I did this time last night.  I’m not sure what exactly I managed to come down with, but it’s been a real “treat” having it.  I look forward to not blowing my nose anymore.  On the flip side, I’m quite thankful that I have access to Kleenex and Nyquil.  I just hope this week goes quickly so that I can have a fun filled weekend next weekend.

So, let’s see, what non-trying-to-die things have been going on in my mind lately…

-I really wanted to go to a movie this weekend.   I haven’t been to one since I started working a month ago, and while that’s not really a long time, I just think it’d be fun to go now that I actually have a steady, reliable source of income.

-Speaking of, I still have a job!  Granted, I missed a day and a half last week, but as far as I know they still like me and want me to continue working there!  Oddly, the day I missed completely, I was so bored I found myself wishing I was at work.  However, I was so sick, being at work would’ve been a bad thing.

-Finally watched the Doctor Who Christmas special.  While it wasn’t bad, it just isn’t going to go down in history as one of my favorite Who episodes.  However, I’m even more intrigued with the Clara Oswin Oswald character than I was before.  I’m also hoping that she’s going to be a transition companion.  While Matt Smith has grown on me (yikes, that makes him sound like some sort of medical condition), I just feel like it’s time to move on.  He’s getting close to wearing out his welcome.  Bring on Twelve I say!

-Going in the ditch in South Dakota has been on my mind, a lot, lately.  I’m not sure why.  I guess it’s the first time in my entire life that I truly felt utterly and completely helpless.    Not 100% sure what to do with this, guess I’m still processing it.

-I’m finally getting around to writing the second draft of my NaNo story.  The going is slow, especially since I’m pretty much only working on it during my break time at work.  Guess it’s more a labor of love than anything else.

-Are there any good dating etiquette guides out there?  I’m so confused and have no idea how one goes about dating.  It was so much easier when you had gentlemen callers come call on you in the family parlor.

-Thinking I need to get my hands on season 2 of Downton because I was utterly confused by the whole “Her Ladyship’s soap” bombshell that Thomas gave Bates.  It has to be something from season 2, and since I missed most of season 2, if this is something from the show I would assume that’s where it’s from.

I’ll Never

Published January 28, 2013 by Malia

Never is an interesting word.  Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Well, I’ll NEVER do/be/go/live that/there?”  Why, why, why do we say it?  It’s like we’re asking to be doomed to that fate.  Notice, most people don’t use never in a positive manner.  It’s always, “I’ll never be stuck in a dead end job.”  “I’ll never live in North Dakota.”  “I’ll never marry that person.”  You get the point.  Never seems to be this prophetic word.  I wonder what would happen if you said “never” about things that you actually want to have happen?  “I’ll never live in Hawaii.”  “I’ll never lose the weight.”  “That person will never marry me.”  Of course, that seems like it might backfire.    

Vintage?

Published January 22, 2013 by Malia

This May marks 10 years since my name got called and I got my high school diploma.  Well, Sunday I got the Facebook invite to my first class reunion.  I’m really torn, because part of me would love to see everyone again, but there’s this other part of me that just doesn’t want to go anywhere near it.  I don’t want to be reminded that I’m about the only one who didn’t get their bachelor’s degree, nor have I got anyone in my life/or kids.  Maybe I’ll just wait for the 20th.  Surely, surely I will have accomplished something by then…

Anyway, one of my friends from high school posted a story on the reunion page about the fact that someone had borrowed her old cheerleading uniform, and brought it back to her at work.  Some young girls apparently saw it and exclaimed, “OMG! Thats so cute…totally vintage!”  Seriously?  Vintage?  I thought that at least 20 years had to go by before we qualified as owning vintage stuff.  Also, I remember what those uniforms looked like, and I really don’t think that there’s been that much advancement in the field of cheerleading uniforms in the last 10 years.  I wonder if those girls actually understand what the word vintage means.

10 years.  It’s nuts.  It certainly doesn’t feel like 10 years.  No, actually it feels more like 30.  I’m so glad I don’t have to go back and relive those 10 years, because while I wouldn’t change the friendships I’ve made, life itself has been kind of a nightmare.  The first time I actually breathed and felt like I was finding the self I knew 10 years ago happened about 3 weeks ago when I started at my new job.  Every day I look in the mirror and see flashes of a face of the girl I used to be.  Older and wiser (?), but more in tune with what she knows, what she wants, and confidence in who she is.  10 years is a long time to spend wondering if you’ll ever be those things again, and trying desperately to find them.

So, I may be vintage, and they may play songs on the oldies radio that were produced after I was born, but I think I’m going to be okay with all of it.

Hipaa

Published January 8, 2013 by Malia

So, it occurred to me tonight that while I get to see and handle a lot of cool and gross stuff at work, I can’t really talk about it for two reasons.  Reason #1: Most people don’t seem to enjoy thinking about blood and other things that come out of the body.  Reason #2: Hipaa.

If you’re not familiar with Hipaa, here’s a quick take on it.  Basically, Hipaa is something the government put into practice that’s supposed to protect patient’s and keep their information confidential.  This means that I can’t write and/or talk about specifics of the medical records I see, list people’s names/personal information, or disclose things I may have heard others saying.  Now, here’s where it’s a good thing my memory is so rotten.  I handle hundreds of samples a day, and look at the information for all of 10-30 seconds.  I couldn’t tell you, even if I wanted to, the names and other personal details.

I don’t think it’s breaking Hipaa to mention that I was super proud of myself for pouring urine out of a jug into a little container without spilling or splashing any.  I really didn’t think I could manage it, but I was successful!  (This is one of those gross things that I forget most people don’t really want to think about.)

Anyway, day two of my new job went pretty well.  I’m definitely learning, and will be quite glad when I can do things without having to ask for help.  Also, I’m super glad that my clinical pathology teacher in tech school got so in-depth in class.  What I learned in that class is starting to come back pretty clearly, and helping me to feel less lost.

Final positive part of my day: one of the gals at work asked me how old I was and she was really surprised that I was 28.  She was sure I was younger!  I love when people think I look younger than I am.  I certainly feel younger than I am.