A Change Will Do Me Good

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Today I made the executive decision to acquire a laptop for college. Between games, bookmarks, files, music, and other things, I have a ton of distractions on this rig that I fear might get in the way of me studying. Besides, this laptop is somewhat iffy on whether its battery will work, and the keyboard is still shot all to hell, so to keep from lugging a 17.3″, six pound laptop, plus accessories including power cord, mouse, and keyboard, I’m going with something smaller.

Fortunately this switch won’t be an expensive one, at least at first. I have a 12″ Asus Taichi 21 2-in-1 that’s mostly just sitting here. We purchased for a use that turned out to be impractical, so it’s been on the shelf, collecting dust since we got it three years ago. That’s going to make a perfect school laptop for now.

I would, however, like to look at the possibility of getting another laptop for use in class. I have nothing against the Taichi, but it’s small. There’s a full-size keyboard on it, but it doesn’t have a numpad, and I would very much like to have one.

I don’t need anything fancy – no 2-in-1 capability, no touch screen, no DVD or Blu-ray drive. I’d like an i5 – don’t think I’ll need anything more powerful than that – and I’d like for it to have a hard drive somewhere between 250 GB and 500 GB. Getting eight GB of RAM would be nice. And outside of that, I don’t really have much in the way of demands. I don’t think this will be an expensive laptop – I could be wrong – but I’d prefer to spend less than more.

That won’t happen until next year’s tax returns, if it happens at all. I’ll have the Taichi for the entirety of my first semester, and I may decide in that time that it will adequately serve my purpose for college. We’ll just have to see.

In preparation for its new use, I’ve created a user on it that’s attached to my school email, and done all the customizing on it that I would like. It’s currently charging its battery as I type this, and I’ll be able to see just how well it will work in a couple of weeks.

Preparing for Tomorrow

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My wife and I are planning to travel out of town tomorrow for an SCA event. It’s a symposium of classes centered around one aspect of the SCA, and it’s one that I’ve been interested in since my earliest days in the Society.

The trick is, since my mental illnesses have gotten worse, I’ve lost all interest in doing anything active in the SCA. It’s not that the desire isn’t there, it’s that the confidence that I used to have in my abilities has completely gone away, and I’m essentially starting from scratch. And I’ve been terrified of starting from scratch.

This weekend marks the first time since I’ve gotten worse that I’ve expressed any interest in trying to get back into the things that I once loved to do, and my wife is thrilled that I’m taking these first steps. To me, it’s not that big a deal. I don’t anticipate putting what I plan on learning tomorrow to immediate use, so it’s not like I’m actually getting back into anything just yet. I’m just preparing for the day when I’m ready.

Two of the classes that I plan on taking deal with the use of a database to gather and check information, and that means that a laptop is suggested for the class. My main laptop’s battery and keyboard are shot, which means that if I take it, I’m going to have to plug in and carry my wireless keyboard with me. My laptop is pretty cumbersome to carry with all the accessories that I’d need to take with me, so I’m planning on using the 2-in-1 that we had initially purchased to be a broadcast laptop. (It’s an ASUS Taichi. The screen is only 11 inches across on it, which rendered the broadcast software so tiny as to be unreadable, so we had to drop back and punt for broadcasting purposes. It means there’s a spare laptop for us to use just in case.) It should be serviceable for the purposes of the class.

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated Windows 10 on it, however, and I’m in the process of going through what is apparently all the updates. The software that controls my Bluetooth mouse needed updating, Microsoft Office needed updating, and there are several Windows updates that are trying to install as I write this, plus the battery needs a good charge. I plan on taking the power cord for the Taichi, and plugging in if I have the opportunity, but the battery should last long enough to get me through the class if necessary.

The Windows updates are trying my patience. They’re going very slowly, and I’m used to the faster processor on my main laptop. But I have all day to get them done, plus the battery is still charging, so I have nothing but time.

I’m nervous about tomorrow, though. That will likely dissipate once I get to site, but for now, it’s pretty high.

 

I Might Have Spoken Too Soon

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So, my throat is sore again.

I was doing very well, hadn’t had sore throat problems for days, and now it’s coming back. This is somewhat concerning, since I’ve been on antibiotics since Thursday night, and there was supposed to be a noticeable improvement within 24 hours.

I don’t think I’ve caught it again from somewhere, at least, I hope I haven’t. I’d hate to have to go through a second round of antibiotics to get rid of a recurring case of strep.

My energy level is somewhat less than it was yesterday as well, but I was decidedly more energetic yesterday than I’ve been in a long time. I was dozing off and on from 6:30 when I got out of bed for my back to 11:00 or so. Now that I’m awake, I’m feeling like being productive, but this sore throat is causing a tickle that’s sending me into coughing jags from time to time, the hard ones that kind of shake you for a couple minutes.

I hate feeling under the weather. I already feel kind of impotent in a way during a regular day, but tack on feeling bad on top of that and my mood tends to plummet. Fortunately, my mood seems to be fine so far. It’s not as rosy as it was yesterday, but it’s better than it’s been in the recent past.

I’m sucking on Smith Brothers’ Warm Apple Pie Warming Throat Drops. If you can find the things, they’re amazing for a sore throat, and taste fantastic. I have to be careful, since they’re basically pure sugar, but one of them every couple hours won’t be a problem. They have little droplets of cinnamon suspended in them, and the cinnamon surprisingly helps.

Can’t remember if I mentioned this, but both my wife and I have replaced our gaming drives in our laptops. I downgraded from a solid state drive to a hybrid drive, and she upgraded from a regular optical hard drive to the hybrid. Both of us are getting more space. The downside to this is that everything needs to be reinstalled, but that project, at least on my end, is going well. I should be done sometime tomorrow, I would think.

That’s about all I have for today. Sorry for the stream of consciousness post today. I’ll try to be a little more thematic tomorrow.

Roadblock Reframing

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I got a lot of good advice about yesterday’s panicky, frantically written post on both WordPress and Twitter. I want to thank everyone that commented and tried to talk me down off the ledge; it eventually worked.

More than one person essentially said “this part of the book is not written about you.” I tend to disagree; the subject matter is relevant to my life. The problem that I had is that I saw one phrase and hyperfocused on that, to the point that the rest of the chapter wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I let that one little bit of cognitive dissonance run amok with the book and with my blog, and I apologize for not having better control of the situation.

It’s true, I am on the internet most all day. I only take a break when I’m doing chores around the house or on those rare occasions that I’m watching a movie. But the internet isn’t a situation that I can’t stand to be away from; if it were, I wouldn’t be able to go to SCA events and forget about my smartphone with the exception of it being my alarm for my medications and vitals throughout the day. The internet is my primary conduit for communication with others, and that’s what I crave, a lot more than the usual content. The things I do on the internet are just filler for the times between conversations.

So yesterday’s panic attack was over nothing, as they usually are. Thanks again to the folks that helped me reframe the situation in my mind into something much more manageable.

Roadblock to Change

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As I’ve said here recently I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. For the last two days I’ve been reading “Guidepost #3, Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness.” I split my reading at the section entitled “Numbing and Taking the Edge Off,” and I read today from that point forward to the end of the chapter.

This section defined addiction as “chronically and compulsively numbing and taking the edge off feelings” and then went on to give examples of what people can be addicted to. The last example given was the internet.

From the moment I wake up until the time I go to bed, all day, every day, I have my computer on and I’m sitting in front of it compulsively searching for anything to occupy my time. Sometimes I spend hours just staring at it hoping that something will change and I’ll actually have something to engage in. I take breaks long enough to get things done around the house, but I’m never far from the internet and I’m never away for it for long, unless I have an appointment.

Am I addicted to the internet?

Do I have a bigger problem than my mental illnesses?

How do I know how much of this is searching for something to occupy my time and how much of this is the complete inability to step away from it at all?

Am I really disabled, or just addicted?

This passage is basically causing me to question everything I do with my day and it’s starting to convince me that what I’m doing with my day is wrong, that I need to shut down the internet and find something else to occupy my time, or just sit and stare at the walls, anything to keep from feeding the addiction.

I don’t like this feeling.

I’m not sure whether the book is even speaking to me with this, but it seems to be because I can’t put down the internet. I’ll skip watching almost any streaming media service like Netflix or our own movies or what have you because I have to be connected. What if someone needs me for something and I’m not available? I can’t have that on my conscience.

I think I have a problem and I don’t know how to solve it.

I HAVE to be on the internet twice a week for my radio shows. The rest of it is just me goofing off and not moving forward. I’m not accomplishing anything with my day at all. i sit and do literally nothing all day long and it’s a problem.

But how do I solve it when I can’t figure out how to detach myself from the internet?

I think I’m panicking for no reason. Or am I? is this what my life really is all about or am I living a lie? Is it impossible for me to get better, because I can’t stop with the internet? Will this completely shut down any further progress on this book?

I was given this book by a former therapist of mine and now I’m kind of wishing she hadn’t. I don’t like being called out for what I actually am – a stupid addict unable to rip himself away from his fix for even a moment.

I don’t like that what this therapist gave me is causing me to panic. She was supposed to be helping me, not making things infinitely worse.

But should I break who I am an rebuild myself entirely into something new in order to overcome my obstacles in life? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing with my disability, fixing the problem and getting back to work? I don’t know how to fix this and I only have a year left before I have to go back in for a review and there’s a good chance they’ll tell me that I’ve been wasting my time not getting well and that they’re going to yank my disability and then I’ll be right back where I was before it kicked in, not contributing to anything around the house and just being a time and money sink that is wasting everyone’s time. I can’t have that. I can’t be that person. I have to get better and I have a year to do it.

I feel so stupid and anxious right now. How could I have let this take over my life as completely as it has? I don’t know what to do.

Has anyone else read this book? Can you help put it into perspective for me so I can stop panicking about wasting the last two years of my life hiding behind a laptop and not actively addressing the things that have to happen in order to get me back to work in a year? I’d really appreciate some feedback. I’m not really expecting any but this is my problem to solve anyway so I better just suck it up and fix what’s wrong with me somehow.

But how?

Football to the Throat

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Toward the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Drax the Destroyer said to Star-Lord, “Finger to the throat means death,” then paused and said “Metaphor.” Star-Lord’s response was “Yeah, sorta.”

This actually became relevant in today’s therapy session when I brought up the subject of shame. I’ve mentioned this in a past post, I’m sure, but when I was in fourth grade I didn’t have any knowledge of football, and had to give an oral book report on a book about football. There was a display element involved as well. The only thing I did was do the diorama, and when it came time to present my report, it was painfully, hilariously obvious that I hadn’t actually read the book. That moment still haunts me to this day. Although its effect on me is not as bad as other, more recent instances of shame, it’s the example I use most often when talking about the subject.

It was suggested that I put this into perspective, using a football to symbolize my shame. When you’re in fourth grade, an official regulation football is kind of a big thing, not something that you can easily play with. (The football used for that age group is one size smaller than a regulation football, incidentally.) The football is too big to handle. But now that I’m an adult, the football isn’t as proportionately large, and so I can handle it much easier.

When that was mentioned, my wife looked at me and said “Finger to the throat means death.” And it clicked.

So we’ll have to see how this metaphor will work in practice, but for now, I have a new tool in the tool kit to help combat my mental illness.

Side note, relevant to recent posts about my laptop: The silicone keyboard cover came in today. It’s thin enough to allow me to shut the lid and installed very easily. It’s a little different typing on it, but hopefully it’ll do the trick should there be a future water spill.

An Ounce of Prevention

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Today’s going to be really short, since I’m fighting a migraine that just won’t let up. (The prevalent thought is that it’s actually a caffeine headache, since I’ve only had one cup of coffee all day, whereas at this point in the day I’d usually be on cup four or even five.)

I just ordered the keyboard covers for the laptops to try and avoid another incident with liquid getting inside the keyboard. They should be delivered either Wednesday or Thursday. Here’s hoping they’re as thin as advertised and will fit the laptop even with the lid closed. I do know they’re custom designed for our specific keyboards, so hopefully that’s a good sign.