A Letter to the People Who Stay With Me Through My Depression

I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping a lid on things when it comes to how difficult life has been lately, and honestly for a while now. Hell, if you work with me, you might not even know I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and possible borderline personality disorder. I take my meds and I smile at work and I act like everything is okay but at home, behind the mask, I am dying inside. And that is why I’m writing this letter. A lot of people don’t realize that depression doesn’t look the exact same on every person; it doesn’t sound the same, act the same, or look the same, because it isn’t the same.

For me, depression is like the worst, most insensitive, degrading, unsupportive, abusive significant other you have ever had, but it lives in my head. So instead of breaking up with it and telling it to leave or physically leaving it myself, I have to do my best to silence it when it is quite literally the voice inside my head. The best way I can think of to explain the illnesses I have and their interconnectivity and the way they effect me is by quoting a metaphor from a letter just like this one that I read not too long ago.

The mental illnesses that I struggle with are like long distance friends from high school or college who aren’t really your friends anymore (and honestly never were) but you stay in touch because you feel obligated. You hope and pray that they don’t come in to town often, because when they do they insist on staying with you and they always overstay their welcome. Usually, they WAY overstay their welcome, and they also interfere with your day to day life in a million ways, some small, some not so small. For starters, trying to keep up with them leaves you exhausted in every way a person can be – mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically. And then there’s their actual actions, like stealing things from you, trying to keep you confined to the house, keeping you up all night with stories that you know aren’t true and that seem targeted to make you feel bad. This results in you sleeping the days away later, trying to reclaim the lost sleep, or just keeping you in bed, unable to sleep or rest but feeling so, so tired.

Anxiety tells me that my friends don’t really like me, that they’re just pretending so they can use me. Depression tells me not to care. Anxiety tells me to care too much and freak out about it. Depression tells me to cut myself and make sure I can still feel something before I try to determine how I feel about this particular. And then, for a few blissful seconds, ADHD chimes in and distracts me. But then Depression reminds me that I’m a piece of human garbage because I didn’t go to the gym this morning, so I don’t deserve to eat and in a moment of weakness, I listen. I skip breakfast, and soothe my Anxiety with a cigarette and my Depression with a cup of coffee. I take the Adderall I need to function at work with my ADHD and then my appetite goes away anyway, so did I really need the food in the first place?

 

But honestly, I’m lucky. And here is why: while my mental illnesses do their best to rip me apart, I have a few stalwart souls that surround me and do their best to push me back together and hold me that way, fighting back against the warring voices in my brain. I have friends and family who pray for me, people who leave their phones on at night for me in spite of a six hour time difference, people who will come and sit with me while I cry – no questions asked – and comfort me, people who support me no matter what is going on in my life. I have friends who will literally do my laundry and dishes, who will drag me to the gym, who will bring me ice cream, who will just snuggle up with me and binge-watch anime even though there’s a million other things I “should” be doing. And those people are the ones that keep me going.

 

Now here’s the catch: Depression (who is just an asshole) likes to lie. Depression EXCELS at lying, and being believable, which makes them even more dangerous. And they will lie to you and tell you that no one cares and that you are a burden and that you’re bothering people and that everyone has their own problems and they don’t need to hear yours.

So if you have a friend, loved one, colleague, acquaintance, anyone in your life who you know struggles with any kind of mental illness at all, help them. A text message, a phone call, a visit. Check on them. Let them know you’re there for them. Because honestly, I have friends who have unwittingly saved my life simply by being in the right place at the right time, or by just texting me something like, “hey, wyd?” So be the one to reach out and offer a hand, because sometimes all we need is to know someone is there and someone cares.

 

(Also, and I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I do… people who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses are not lazy or selfish. We do not need hackneyed advice or to be told to “just cheer up.” It doesn’t work like that. If someone with any sort of mental illness expresses a need for help to you, it is coming from a very vulnerable place, so please try to be mindful and don’t be an asshole.)

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It’s Been a While

And a lot has happened. I know that I have a lot that I need to catch up on, but today I need to cover a topic that is near and dear to my heart, more and more lately.

It is incredibly difficult to be candid about mental health issues. As someone who suffers from more than one, I find myself constantly having to deal with the stigmas that are attached to being clinically diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s difficult to talk about, but the more time I spend around people without them knowing, the more surprised they tend to be when they find out. My coworkers all know, for instance, and they try so hard to be delicate about it. I appreciate that, but at the same time, it’s unfortunate to me that it is discussed in hushed tones and never really directly talked about. Like, when Tony (my good friend and newly frocked third class) mentions my appointments, he always hesitates and lets me fill in “therapy” or whatever.

I took the pledge from Make It OK dot org (https://makeitok.org/) to help end the stigma and the quizzes that they have and discussion points that they suggest are really awesome. They also promote a podcast I’ve recently started listening to called The Hilarious World of Depression. The podcast was recommended to me by a friend, who informed me that his intent was “not pandering, I just really think you’ll enjoy it.” (Which, by the way, is a great example of what to say.) THWD is a candid look at mental illnesses of all shapes and sizes with various big comedic personalities, my favorite so far being an interview with Andy Richter. THWD and Make It OK are powerhouse partners in de-stigmatizing mental illness, raising awareness, and helping people understand that not only is it okay to talk about, you NEED to talk about it. “Depression wants you to stay silent because if you stay silent it festers and diseases love to fester.” I may have gotten a few words wrong, but this quote from John Moe, host of THWD, was one of the things that made me realize I had finally found a podcast for me. That and his discussion with Andy Richter about the vast difference between people’s reactions to diseases and injuries that aren’t mental health related made the biggest impact for me. Andy Richter opens up about his meds and how people ask if he thinks he’ll need to be on them forever, and draws the comparison saying that no one would ask that question if it were Lipitor or insulin or levothyroxine.

It’s the honest truth, too, that depression is something that needs to be talked about. I’ve stayed quiet about my mental health issues for years – my parents didn’t even know that I was depressed until a few years back – but now that I’ve gotten into therapy and started on medications and such I’ve become a lot more open. The thing is, there is no defining characteristic of depression across all spectrums; it is a disease that is different for everyone, so honestly one of the worst things you can say to a depressed person is “you don’t seem depressed” or “you don’t act like you’re depressed.” We know. Some of us (like me) function highly. I have been described as witty and engaging. People describe me as an outgoing, bright, friendly, bubbly kind of person who is great with people. The truth? I am an introvert who hates dealing with people, I am clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), ADHD, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and most days trying to get out of bed is a struggle.

Here recently, I’ve come to realize that talk therapy isn’t really working for me anymore, so I’ve started to look into other avenues. As a psychology student, I’ve been given a bit more insight into my own treatment than the average person might, so I am going to be talking to my therapist about cognitive behavior/processing therapy. I’m also in the process of trying to change my self-talk habits and adjusting my inner voice, and honestly the most helpful thing that anyone has said or done for me in that regard happened this morning, when my closest friend in the entire world told me that, going forward, I am not allowed to say or think anything about myself that I would not say or think about her. It changed my perspective drastically, and I am deeply grateful to her for it.

 

I know this was a somewhat heavy post for a Monday, especially since it has been so long since I’ve written anything, but it was on my heart and mind and I felt the need to put it out there.

Please, go to Make It OK dot org and take the pledge. Even if you don’t suffer from a mental illness, odds are someone that you know does.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

This was probably the worst weekend of my entire time at this duty station, but it did bring about some good, so I can’t speak too harshly of it, if I’m being honest. It was pretty bad, though. Instead of just telling you what the event was that ruined my weekend, though, I’ll tell you the whole story.

It was Friday night. Due to the overwhelming number of responses from the friends I polled that I should, in fact, go out and have fun, I had decided to go out for a few beers and then call it an early night, because I’m a responsible grownup. Or boring. Boring works, too. Anyway. Rose had done my hair in two French braids for me and I had opted to go for clothing that was more “me” and more focused on comfort than looking good, because honestly when I’m me and I’m comfortable I’m confident and what is more attractive than confidence? I wound up wearing my Uh-Huh Baby Yeah! t-shirt, skinny jeans, and my slip-on Vans. I was comfortable, I felt more like myself than I had in a long time, and I was in a really good mood, something that didn’t often coincide with going out. As an introvert, more often than not, going out feels like a chore. Well, as I was putting the finishing touches on getting ready, Emmett texted me and asked if I was planning on going out. I told him I was and we made plans to meet up (with Nico, too) and go out as a group. We met up in Nico’s room, I helped him figure out what to wear, (I swear the boy is the most adorable diva on the planet), and then we went out. We went to Dardo first, since it was finally re-opened and we had all been missing Chicho. I had one drink (both of the boys had two) and then who should saunter in but dear sweet Rob Nixon. We promptly included him in our group and he informed us that his roommate was at Brixton. Well, Rob’s roommate is Chris, so I immediately paid my tab and headed for Brixton, because I wanted to see Chris’ handsome face! I adore that man.

Now, two things to keep in mind. The first is that Emmett and I were having a heated and hilarious gif war on Facebook Messenger while we were out, which had kept both us and Nico entirely amused while we were at Dardo. The second is that I had invited CJ to come out with us and he had blown me off on the pretense of wanting to stay in and have a quiet, chill Friday night at home. No one understood that better than me, so I teased him a little but didn’t push the issue.

So. Brixton. We all had a few more drinks (I had one and both of the boys had two), talked with Dave, Chris, and Rob, and chilled out. Well, I got a sudden, intense vibe that I should leave. I texted Nico and told him that I was probably going to head out soon, partly to inform him of my intent but mostly to see where he was at – if he was ready to leave as well or if he wanted to stay out for a while. He replied immediately that he, too, was considering leaving shortly (at which point I remembered that he had a volunteer thing the next day). About fifteen minutes later, as we had decided to wait on our friends to finish their drinks, who should walk into Brixton like he owned the place but CJ. I hid behind Emmett because I didn’t want to deal with CJ and decided it was time to leave. Emmett, who instantly realized what was going on, was leaving with me. I stopped by the bar long enough to hug Chris and tell him goodbye and then made a beeline for the door. Now, according to Emmett, he saw what was about to happen and tried his level best to warn me, but he was just a few seconds too late. As I had turned from the bar and started to walk out the front door of Brixton, someone slapped me on the ass as hard as they possibly could. I froze. I couldn’t even compute for a few seconds. And then, suddenly, I felt a surge of rage the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since the days when I fought competitively. I turned around to face CJ at a slight angle, almost in my fighting stance. His eyes widened and he backed away from me, blurting out, “Oh, God, she’s going to fucking hurt me.”

And then, in what I believe to be the most impressive display of self control of my entire life… I turned around and left the bar. I power walked home, headphones in and blaring music, with Emmett and Nico trailing in my wake, rage pounding through my veins and in my head. As I got back on base, however, the anger started to drain from me, being replaced by panic and terror and tears. I was holding it together fairly well until Emmett, who genuinely didn’t know any better, touched my shoulders to let me know that he was leaving. Now, I love Emmett. Absolutely adore the boy. He is one of the sweetest people I know, which is why I feel so bad that my knee-jerk response to his touch was to pull away like he was going to hurt me. He looked at me, bewildered, and I just shook my head and took off. Nico tried to touch me to comfort me, and I shied away from him, too. I wound up having a full blown panic attack, crying for several hours, and passing out.

 

It got worse during the following day’s conversation with CJ. He had tried numerous times to apologize to me and the previous night I’d merely responded with the information that he was lucky I didn’t want to bruise my Naval career by fighting because otherwise I would have put his ass in the ground and told him to never touch me again. The next day, he had continued to try to apologize but, when I didn’t immediately accept his apology and tell him everything was fine, he yelled at me, causing me yet another breakdown into tears and resulting in me telling him to leave me alone.

Now, I realize this may sound like an overreaction to some of my readers, but here’s the thing. The incident that I just described to you is sexual assault. A part of my body that is inherently sexual was touched without my consent. And the worst part, for me personally, was that it was someone who knew that I’d been sexually assaulted before – someone I trusted. It’s been two days and I’m still not okay yet. I’m still shaky and avoiding physical contact and feeling nauseated. There are no words to describe how violated I felt, and am still feeling today. It put me in a depression tailspin a little bit, but thankfully I had friends ready to pull me out of it and be there for me all day Saturday. I’m working on moving forward and I know I’ll be okay, but things like this are why I try to raise awareness for the reality that is sexual assault.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds.

Inspection Week

It’s Monday and holy hell is it ever Monday. So this morning, I woke up and, as consciousness slowly came to me, I found myself thinking, “I feel really well rested!” So, of course, a sinking feeling of dread sinks in and I check my watch and sure enough… it’s an entire hour and forty-five minutes past when I normally wake up for work. In a complete and utter panic, I throw myself out of bed, wash my hair over the tub, throw on yoga pants and my blue Corpsman undershirt from last year’s Naval Hospital Rota Corpsman Ball fundraiser, stomp on my Vans, and basically run from my barracks to the hospital. What an excellent start to my day/week/etc. Here’s hoping that this isn’t indicative of how the rest of the week is going to go, because I have way too much riding on this week for the whole week to be as much of a disaster as this morning was.

That being said, I ordered a new phone that I will be getting at the end of the month, and I’m going to the NEX after work to buy a freaking alarm clock. I haven’t owned an alarm clock… actually ever. I got a cell phone when I got a job, as was my parent’s policy with all of us girls, and before that I just woke up when I woke up, or my other family members would wake me up if there was something I needed to be up early for. Perks of being home schooled: I normally didn’t get up until around eight and school usually started around nine. (Plus I was almost always done by noon and I got to do school in my pajamas.) But I will be buying an alarm clock, and you can bet it will be one with a battery backup, because we have been known to have occasional power issues in the barracks. The Seabees normally get them resolved fairly quickly, but still. I have duty days and other nonsense coming up and I cannot be having alarms not go off. Hell, if I’m late for duty I go to DRB! (Disciplinary Review Board, for my non-military readers. Essentially, a bunch of chiefs get me in a room and yell at me and tell me what a terrible sailor I am and inform me that if it happens again I’ll go to Captain’s Mast.)

Anyway, this morning’s insanity aside, I’ve already been pretty productive today. I’ve hand-delivered a few sets of glasses to some of my more important/favored patients (I’m not going to make Command Master Chief come to Optometry for her glasses, that’s just ridiculous), gotten four pairs of glasses prepped to get mailed off at the end of the day, taken care of several patients, talked to my career counselor about my lack of orders and set a time to call my detailer together, and overall just beasted out. I have to say, I’ve recovered pretty well. I still have a few more things on my to-do list, but so far I’m on a roll. One of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned over the years to deal with stress is to take a second, breathe deeply, tell myself the old cliché of accepting what you can’t control and being strong enough to change what you can, and use my stress as motivation. It’s taken me almost twenty-six years to figure that out – which is kind of sad, when you think about it, but I’ve always been stubborn and had to learn things the hard way – but now that I’ve learned it, I think it’s been good for my blood pressure…

This week is going to be interesting. The two most important inspections the hospital ever goes through are coinciding this week: The Joint Commission, who handles hospital accreditation and can shut us down if we fail, and the Medical Inspector General, which is probably even more serious than it sounds. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, the past few months have been nothing but pre-inspections, stress, mandatory training, and other absolute insanity. Now, though, with the inspection just a day away, things are starting to pull together and shape up. The clinic is spotless, all of our required signage is posted, my new kid has been studying his TJC handbook, and my Chief and I did a last minute fog-walkdown and made sure the clinic was squared away and ship shape in preparation for the inspection. My biggest “UGH” for the coming week is the fact that we have to wear NSUs for the entire rest of the week, which is one of the more uncomfortable uniforms we have. (Plus it restricts movement to a degree, which can make patient care a little more difficult. Unfortunately, most female Navy uniforms are not tailored with the concept of broad shouldered women being taken into account.)

I guess we’ll see how things go. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane home, and looking forward to that has carried me through the past few weeks.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

Gooooood Mooooorning, Vietnaaaaaam!

Okay, I would just like to start this off by saying that this weekend… this weekend was absolutely insane. Some poor decisions were definitely made but, overall, a good time was had by all, and the shenanigans were legendary. That being said, I’m glad it’s Monday and I have five days before I have to do it all over again.

As a writer, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if my original plans for Friday night hadn’t fallen through. So, if the ER hadn’t temporarily moved Rose to a different team, and if Chris and Damien hadn’t gone to Ireland, and if CJ hadn’t insisted that Edward and I accompany him to Shamrocks, and if the Martins hadn’t been at Shamrock’s, and if CJ hadn’t been oblivious and insensitive, and if I hadn’t decided to cope by drinking way too much…

The original plan for Cinco De Mayo had been for the squad – Chris, Damien, Rose, Tony, Emmett, Nico, Liz – to go Villano’s in Puerto, one of the only restaurants in the area that serves actual authentic, tasty Mexican food. But, as previously stated, plans changed. The ER rearranged the teams to support manning so that a sailor could take leave, which meant Rosehad to work; Chris and Damien had decided at the last minute that they wanted to spend their weekend (as they had a four-day weekend) in Ireland; and I had forgotten that my best friend/ ex-corps-school Air Force bae, Edward, was coming into town, so I had tour guide duties anyway. As you can see, things had already started to go sideways. Well, on Friday morning, I saw CJ as a patient in my optometry clinic, and he informed me that we would be going to Shamrock’s for dinner, as they were doing a special menu for Cinco De Mayo. I told him I had a friend in town, and he responded that I should just bring him along, so I asked Edward and he said he was down. Further sideways we go.

When we walked into Shamrock’s, I saw the Martins and I waved cheerfully in passing… except that Jaime bossed me into going over and actually talking to them. At this point, I think I had accepted that I had zero control over my Cinco De Mayo evening and I just gave up. We wound up sitting together as a group and over the course of our conversations, some nasty personal stuff from my past with CJ came up and I found myself getting progressively more and more upset. Edward did his best to buoy my spirits – he really is a phenomenal friend – but it wasn’t working too terribly well. So, after CJ left because he had to work the weekend and wanted some sleep, I did something stupid. I got hammered drunk on a cocktail whose ingredients I didn’t know, which is stupid anyway but especially when you take into account that tequila – even in very small amounts – makes me violently ill. I don’t remember much of the night, but I know I vomited in the bathroom for at least an hour before my friends managed to get me home. I have an alter-ego who only makes appearances once every few years; my friends and I have dubbed her Lola, and she is normally kept in an adamantium cage at the very back of my psyche but, for the first time in four years, she made an appearance this past Friday night. It was terrible. I swear I spent 65% of Saturday apologizing to my friends.

Again, if only things hadn’t gone quite so sideways with my original plans… I can almost picture it: me and my squad (plus Edward) sitting around the tables in Villano’s, eating Cali style burritos and drinking cervezas and horchata, bs’ing and talking about life and just generally enjoying our Cinco De Mayo. And then I think back on what actually happened and cringe. Again.

 

That being said, Saturday was actually quite pleasant. I didn’t have a hangover, I got to spend the day with Edward (who had taken care of me all night and then slept on my bedroom floor), and we took the dog I’m taking care of for a long walk around downtown and then on the beach. Edward is my ex-corps-school-bae, as previously stated, but he’s since come out of the closet and now he and I are basically gay best friends. It’s wonderful. He just a fantastic person, so his presence seriously improved my weekend – especially Saturday night, which was terrible for a completely different reason.

I had passed word down to the squad at the beginning of the week that Saturday night we would be doing dinner and pre-gaming for those of the squad that planned on going out, so from about six in the evening until about nine thirty in the evening, I was cooking for nine people. Katharine, Tony, Emmett, Nico, Liz, Mitchell (last name; she’s one of my friends I call noodle, my most serious term of endearment), Edward, Sarah, and Jackson entertained me while I cooked and bartended for them, slinging cocktails and epic burritos until everyone was fed and contently tipsy. When I finally finished cooking, all I wanted to do was take a nap… but everyone wanted to go to Feria, which is similar to a county fair in the States, but moreso. So, we went to Feria. After several hours of wrangling drunken twenty-somethings, I finally decided it was time for us to call it a night and put everyone in cabs, sending them back to base. I took Edward home, then went home myself and passed out around three in the morning, sitting down for the first time since before six PM the previous day. It was rough, man. My feet STILL hurt. But, everyone enjoyed themselves and after I’d dropped Edward off at the airport in the mid-morning, I got to take Sunday as a day for myself, and that was really nice. I went back to the house and did the dishes from Saturday night, cleaning the kitchen top to bottom, then did the same thing at my own house, plus laundry and general tidying up. It was about a half day’s worth of work and I realize that to most people that would sound daunting after that kind of weekend, but for me it was basically therapy. I love to clean, especially doing dishes, so it did nothing but soothe my soul. I blasted my favorite Punk Goes Pop playlist, scrubbed dishes, drank coffee, and just let myself reset for the coming week. I spent the afternoon, once all the cleaning was done, hanging out with my two mini-mes, Liz and Sarah, took care of Sarah for a few hours after she got ill from stress/ dehydration/ lack of food/ lack of sleep (poor kid, I swear), and wrapped the evening up falling asleep while How I Met Your Mother played softly on my TV.

 

This week at work is going to be an experience, given that my docs are both in a clinic manager’s course from Tuesday until Friday, which means we won’t actually be running a clinic. We’ll be handing out glasses and manning the phones and occasionally dealing with emergent walk-ins; it’s actually good, because that means that my boot corpsman can get some training time in and get to practice with some of our specialty testing machines. Hell, I may even let him dilate my eyes, if I’m feeling charitable enough. We’ll see.

Either way, that means that once I get through today, this will very likely be a quiet (if slightly long) week.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

Stress

Three blog posts in one week?! It’s like Christmas!

I mean, it’s Cinco De Mayo, so close enough? Who doesn’t love a holiday that gives you an excuse to eat Mexican food? I mean, I personally don’t feel the need for an excuse, but some people… I’m thinking leftover tacos and maybe some tasty nachos for dinner tonight. Cinco De Mayooooo!

Anyway. There’s a point to this post, and it is this: in my ripe old age (of almost 26), I seem to have gotten a pretty good handle on coping with stress. I’m definitely better than I was, considering the amount of stress I’ve been under this week has been steadily increasing but I have yet to meltdown, have a panic attack, or even cry. It might seem ridiculous how proud I am of that fact, but given that I used to cry at work every day due to stress, it’s a monumental improvement. It really is. (To be fair, I did have a panic attack during my PRT, but that was due to not being able to breathe.)

This week has been pretty insane. Between my collateral duties at work dumping unexpected workloads on me, struggling to deal with walk-in patients with an already-full schedule, still coming to terms with my PRT failure, and numerous other stressors, I cannot believe I haven’t already fallen apart.

And yet, somehow, I’ve managed to keep calm and carry on, and do it well, if I may say so myself. The whole PRT failure thing aside, let’s talk about the rest of this week. It really wasn’t all that bad, but it would have been so much better if everything hadn’t all cropped up at basically the end of the week. If I had found out on Monday or Tuesday how much extra stuff I was going to have to do this week, it would have been completely copacetic. But, being that this is the Navy and we excel at last minute “by the ways,” it all happened on Thursday.

 

Being the TPO (training petty officer) for Optometry is normally a pretty chill gig, as my coworkers are normally pretty on top of it when it comes to getting their trainings knocked out. However, when the fiscal year reset and all of our annual trainings became due, they didn’t automatically get assigned by SEAT (Staff Education and Training) like they have for the past few years and no email went out, like it always has. This time, it fell to the TPOs to disseminate the trainings… but no one told us. So Thursday afternoon I got a polite email from the directorate TPO and my good friend with a list of delinquent trainings and a request to get them done ASAP. I also received a nastygram informing me that if my entire department didn’t have their trainings done by Friday, we would have to come in as a department on Saturday, regardless of who wasn’t finished with their training. Again, this normally wouldn’t have been that big of an issue, but our Training Thursdays (afternoons with no clinic schedule specifically for training) recently got taken away AND we have a brand-new boot sailor on-board who hasn’t gotten ANY of his trainings done because he’s been in face-to-face classes literally since he got here. I spent literally all day Thursday trying to get everyone’s trainings assigned, complete my own trainings, help run a clinic, and keep the stress from affecting the way I treat my junior sailors. It was definitely a tense day. Add to that the four walk-ins we had to squeeze into a full schedule yesterday and you start to get a picture of what my week has been like.

I’m also attempting to get myself and my clinic thoroughly prepared for our upcoming hospital-wide inspection in a week and a half, when The Joint Commission (TJC) and the Medical Inspector General (Med IG) come through. TJC handles hospital accreditation, so if we fail their inspection, our hospital gets shut down. It’s only the most stressful time of year, and combining that with the Med IG is making things really interesting. Unfortunately, we only recently got the hard dates for their arrival, and my only experience junior corpsman will be on leave, leaving me and a boot to try to make it through the inspections unscathed. That should be interesting.

And then there’s this morning – the final straws that might actual break this poor, tired, stressed out camel’s back. I have chosen orders not one, not two, but THREE times, and I still haven’t gotten selected for orders. On every single one, there’s been a flag that reads “PFA STATUS 1” which is the code for PRT failure. Unfortunately, I can’t help but worry that this might keep me from getting orders at all, much less getting sent anywhere I’d want to go.

Add to that having a huge discrepancy crop up with another of my collateral duties – I swear to God, if my old ALPO had just done a proper turnover, this would not be happening – which has added one more thing to my plate. I refuse to let this make me freak out, though. Thankfully, I remember all of my martial arts training, including the centering breath that helps me shed stress and focus, and also ADHD meds. I may have to work late today, but so help me God, this is going to get done. Just because the person who used to have my collaterals was a total dirtbag doesn’t mean the tradition needs to carry on.

 

It’s been a long week, but it’s almost over. I can do this!

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Given that this month – and the approximate next rest of my life – is going to be dedicated to self-improvement in every area of my life, I went ahead and tacked one more thing onto my list: taking care of my spiritual health. As I’ve told people time and time again, I would have to be… well, as stubborn as… Honestly, I can’t come up with an example – even a Biblical one – of how stubborn I would have to be to deny the hand of God in my family’s life. I’ve witnessed first hand what faith can do and where it can take you and I would have to be… I don’t even know. I still can’t even put into words what kind of person I would have to be to deny the existence of someone who is so clearly involved in my day to day life. And it’s not like God is some fairy godmother who just waves a wand and fixes everything and then your life is perfect, and I think that is where a lot of people get hung up. For me, personally, any time I start to get frustrated and feel like my prayers aren’t being answered, I think back to a conversation I had with my dad back in the day. I still remember with great clarity all of our father-daughter trips to Lowes and Home Depot and the subsequent lunch dates and how we spent the entire time talking about stuff that actually MATTERED. I mean, sure, there was the occasional “who would win in a fight, Lion-O or Batman?” type talk, but it trended more to politics and religion/spirituality and REAL talk, and that’s one of the things I’ve missed the most since I’ve been away from home. But. I am getting off topic. I remember the conversation I had with my dad about God and prayer and how, first and foremost, we need to remember that God doesn’t work on our timeline. He works on His, and that’s okay. But it was the second point that my dad made that day that has really stuck with me, and that was this: if you pray for patience, is God going to grant you patience? Or is He going to give you opportunities to be patient? If you pray for wisdom and discernment, is He going to give it to you? Or opportunities to be wise and discerning? And that just blew my tiny teenage mind. I had never thought about it in those terms, but once I had, I couldn’t STOP thinking about it in those terms, and it really did change a lot of my life. So, when I went to work and prayed for patience and then immediately bumped up against a difficult customer or that one coworker that just really got under my skin, I realized it was an opportunity from God to practice the gift I’d been praying to Him for.

So, this morning, I did listen to my DNCE playlist a little bit and shimmied around my room to “Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar, sure, but once I had gotten to work and had to run out to my car to get my wallet, I set foot outside and heard the birds singing and “This Good Day” by Fernando Ortega popped into my head. I started to sing it, which just made me think about my dad more, because he loved Fernando Ortega. So, I’ve been playing my worship playlist ever since and I gotta say, between my conscious decision to have a good day and be in a good mood and the introduction of Jars of Clay and Bleach and Delirious into my morning, I am in a great mood and I feel like I’m ready to take on the world. Which is probably good, considering that my PRT is this afternoon. I know I probably won’t pass, but instead of having a bad attitude and saying “screw this” and refusing to even try, I have decided to give it my absolute best because, again, work as unto God and not unto man, and why shouldn’t I? I let myself go and let my depression overwhelm my life for too long a time while I’ve been here in Spain and now that I’m starting to fight back with medication and getting closer to God again and every other way I know to combat the monster that hides under my bed and stalks me throughout my life, I see no reason not to start remembering the sailor I was when I first joined the Navy: motivated, squared away, determined to do the Navy, the United States, and my family proud. That is who I am, and the fact that my depression ever made me lose sight of that breaks my heart, but also motivates me and makes me that much more determined to be that person again. I want to make my parents proud. I want my family to be able to show pictures of me to their friends and say “This is my Sailor. She has done so much and we are so proud of her.” I want the God who created me to look down on me and smile and say “That’s my kid. She’s doing my work and making me proud.” And if that isn’t the best possible motivation, I don’t know what is.