#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.

Therapize Me

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Today was therapy day. We started the session talking about rotten eggs.

Apparently there was something in her hot water tap that gave off a strong odor of rotten eggs. When I first went into her office, I went to the restroom, and noticed the smell right off as I was washing my hands. So our session was delayed while my therapist turned the fan on in the restroom, lit a scented candle, and closed the door so we wouldn’t gag on the smell.

So here’s what I’ve managed to accomplish in the last two weeks, without really intending to.

I socialized in person with three friends within a week’s time. Two of those instances were at my suggestion. It’s been weeks since I last socialized with friends.

I drove home from the airport on Friday morning – a trip I’m not intimately familiar with, with a considerable amount of traffic that I was uncomfortable driving in, and managed my panic.

I went out to dinner on Sunday night at a crowded restaurant where there was a wait list. I cannot recall the last time I did this. It’s been at least six or seven years.

I braved the laundry room, a space for which I have a completely irrational panic, long enough to wash and dry a full round of laundry.

I helped my wife through a very rough couple of days without trying to step in and fix the problem – I let her experience what she was going through and supported her through it. (To be fair, we were in different time zones, so I didn’t really have much of a choice but to just be a shoulder; there was literally nothing I could do to fix anything.)

That’s a lot of progress between therapy sessions, at least, for me.

I spent the vast majority of the session explaining all the things that had transpired over the previous two weeks and didn’t really realize I’d done all this stuff and how big it really was for me. (If you’re reading this blog for the first time, I’m on disability, and essentially agoraphobic at this point. We’re trying to break me out of that little by little, so that’s why these things, which seem fairly simple to a lot of people, are such a big deal to me.)

There’s homework that I have to do in future, something that I’ve been asked to add into my regular activities, and I need to talk to my wife about it. But once this starts up, I’ll be tackling one of my panic-inducing situations head on so it hopefully won’t be panic-inducing anymore. Wish me luck.