#607 – Reaching Out

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Regular readers of my blog – well, the ones I had before I took most of last year off – know that I use my blog as a coping mechanism whenever my mental illnesses get rough. I’d guess that most of my posts here for the first year and change I was writing were very much me coping. But since mid-2017, my symptoms have been largely dormant. There have been brief dips in my mood here and there, but the past year and a half, things have been on a pretty even keel. Until recently.

Let me catch you up on the relevant bits of the story. In August 2017, I started taking classes at the local community college. Within a couple days of winter break starting in mid-December, a friend came to stay with us for close to two weeks. A day or two after he left, my wife and I flew to Florida to spend some time with family celebrating a milestone birthday. Once we came back home, we immediately started packing for our most recent move at the end of January. And then classes started the third week of January. The move was scheduled for the weekend of the second week in school, so there was actually some overlap between move and school. Spring semester was 14 credit hours that ended in mid-May 2018. I took one class over the summer, so I pretty much had about ten days to myself before I was right back in school mode. That class ended mid-August 2018, and then two weeks later the fall semester started, and that lasted until the middle of last month. Since then, I’ve pretty much had my time to myself, with the exception of a trip to visit family over Christmas that ended up with my wife and me in quarantine for two days thanks to the flu. So I told you all that to tell you that I’ve had from December 27 to today to myself, with minimal school obligations and not much else from there.

I had gotten used to the school routine over the previous 16 months, and having my time all to myself came as a bit of a shock. I miss the routine of classes and studying. I miss having that structure in my day. And having my day to myself means I’m idle with very little to do. This gives my lying brain ample opportunity to tell me that I have no interest in pretty much anything, and my mood has pretty much tanked in the void. Tonight, I realized that I need some help getting over this, so I’m reaching out to my friends for a bit of a boost.

I know that I’ll be better once I’m back in the routine of school, but it’s still a couple weeks away. Fortunately I have an appointment with my therapist next week, so I’m not too far away there, but I think for the time being I’m going to ask that we meet more regularly (I’d gotten to the point that I was meeting her every six weeks) until I’m sure I’m past this.

If you’re my friend and you’re reading this, I wouldn’t mind if you reached out and checked in from time to time over these next couple weeks. You all make my day better, and I could use the smile.

#601 – What a Lovely Day

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Today was a fantastic day. I got to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite people, and when I picked my wife up from work found out that she had an even better day after a conversation with her supervisor.

The evening’s been spent lying in bed and goofing off on the computer. I’ll enjoy this little bit of respite. We’re going to be packing tomorrow night for a flight to Orlando Saturday morning to spend time with my wife’s family for New Year’s. Once we get back, the packing and preparation for our move is going to start in earnest, and it won’t be many days before I’ll be back in school.

Gotta enjoy the downtime while I can. There’s not a lot of it on the horizon.

Stuff Gets Real

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Tonight I had my first bit of panic since starting this process of going back to school. I got an email from my biology instructor detailing where class notes can be found, as well as the syllabus. It’s the first communication that I’ve received that was class-specific and it took me aback for a few minutes while it finally sunk into my thick skull that classes start in less than 48 hours.

Somehow it all felt unreal up to this point – the meetings I’ve attended, the hoops I’ve jumped through to get registered, all of it. I don’t know why it was the letter from my biology instructor that finally drove it home. It’s not a bad thing, mind. It was nervous excitement that I felt more than fear, although there was a good chunk of fear in there.

I really hope I know what I’m getting myself into.

Consistency of Habit

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The above picture is a screenshot from my phone of Duolingo, the language app that I have used to learn Spanish and now Italian. I have another app, Elevate that I use for grammar, math, and short-term memory exercises. I do both of them every day. And according to this snapshot, I have been doing them both every day for a year straight.

When I started this streak, I didn’t honestly think it would last this long. I was just happy to be learning something and not just sitting at home twiddling my thumbs when not watching movies or playing computer games or reading or doing the occasional household chore. Being on disability seems like it might be all fun and games, but let me assure you, having no schedule and little to keep you busy gets very old, very fast.

I think that’s one of the reasons that I’m so happy to be going to college after all this time. It gives me some structure and some short- and long-term goals to work towards. The short-term goal is this semester, and the long-term, of course, is the degree.

Speaking of college, I got word today that I’d gained a spot in both classes that I had waitlisted for, and I accepted a spot in one of them. The other begins ten minutes after the first one ends on another campus, leaving me no possible way to get from one to the other in time.

The part that makes me happiest about this is that it means that I’m only going to miss one day of classes when I go to California next month on vacation. One day is going to be fairly easy to catch up from, especially with the syllabuses in hand. It also gives me five days a week that will be class-free, time that I can spend studying or keeping up with my chores or taking time for myself.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m glad that it worked out that I could only take two classes this semester. I would have hated to get back into the habit of going to class and studying with a full class load. I can save that pleasure for later semesters, when I’ll need to keep up with the program.

I’m worried that my checklist items will fall by the wayside given the more pressing use of my time, but I feel confident that I can keep at least most of my checklist going even while in school.

Seven more days to wait.

Small Victory

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Granted, it’s the weekend, and the trips weren’t far, but we went to the store and then later swung by a friend’s place to pick up something and stopped off at the drugstore on the way home. And I drove both times.

It’s still a big deal to me to have a day where I do all the driving. I’ve been scared to do so for so long, it feels both wonderful and weird to get back behind the wheel like this. And it’s going to take some getting used to for both of us. It’s habit at this point for me to take the passenger’s seat, and it’s habit for her to automatically get behind the wheel. It’s going to take a little bit of effort for us to break that habit, but I think it’ll be relatively easy to do.

Seven more days to go before classes start. I’ve been excited, but I’m also starting to get nervous about it. My mind keeps trying to wander off to a myriad “what if?” situations but I’m being diligent and stopping those thoughts almost as soon as they appear.

I just hope that will continue once the classwork starts coming in.

What a Weird Day

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Real short post tonight, since it’s bedtime.

Woke up at 2:45 am and decided to start trying to grab my waitlisted classes. It wasn’t until after 8:00 that the website finally let me log in, and then it was another 15 minutes before it would show me my schedule. Turns out that I can’t register for the waitlisted classes for some reason, even though it shows there’s now room.

Went back to bed at some point in the morning and didn’t wake up for good until after 2:00 pm. Everything’s been thrown off kilter from that.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more like what I’m used to.