Tuesdays Are For Tacos

Although, for me, I think this Tuesday might be more for the gym and grocery shopping and other adult responsibilities, once I finally get off work. Then again, that will all be dependent on how I’m feeling when the shift is over, because yesterday I was in entirely too much physical pain from being on my feet all day in shoes that are evidently not good enough to do anything other than go to bed.

It is the first day of a new month and I am well on my way to establishing the new routine that I have been so desperately craving for… well, let’s just say too long now. Changes are being made, and while I’m starting with small-ish changes for now, eventually I plan to build up to making big changes, making strides, really changing my life for the better. There’s a whole laundry list of new stuff going on with me – oh, man, I think I need to do laundry.

 

… I took my Adderall today. I swear.

It was a recent conversation with my ex that prompted me to do some serious thinking because I casually referenced the fact that he and I are both almost thirty, something that I have always been fairly cognizant and somewhat dismissive of but caused him to have a slightly goofy meltdown. I had uttered the phrase “people our age,” and then followed it up shortly thereafter with “we’re almost thirty,” causing him to start yelling (literally just “aaaaaa” and when I asked what was wrong “AAAAAAAA”), grab me by the shoulders, continue yelling “AAAAA” for a moment, and then say/yell “Oh my God, we’re old, we’re almost thirty, you said people our age and I was like ‘yep, people in their twenties! I’m in my twenties!’ and I AM in my twenties but I’m ALMOST THIRTY! AAAAA!” It went on like this for several minutes with me attempting to soothe him/shut him up. Eventually, he accepted his fate as an almost-thirty-something and we moved on. But later, when reflecting on the conversation, I realized that if either of us should really have been freaking out about almost being thirty, it should probably have been me. I mean, let’s review the facts here, shall we? I’m approximately three years away from thirty and I haven’t finished college, I’m $15K in debt and the rest of my financial situation is less than desirable, I’m single, I’m out of shape, and I have some really bad lifestyle habits that I need to break. That doesn’t really stack up well, when you think about it.

So I did some soul searching and self evaluation in the harsh light that those realizations cast upon my chunky white-girl self and came to the conclusion that, well, if I didn’t do anything about it, nothing was going to change, now was it? So, change I must. Adapt to survive, as it were.

The Navy always promotes taking time to take care of yourself because of course it does, but therein lies the frustration of almost everyone I know who is E-6 and below, because therein lies the question: “Bitch, when?” The issue with this is that the Navy tells you to make sure you take time to take care of yourself… but they also want you to work your scheduled hours, volunteer, be involved in the command and the community, go to college, stay fit, have an active social life as well, and make sure to get 8 hours of sleep per night, but there are (last I checked) only 24 hours in a day. My job, for example, is a 12-hour shift, and I either work Mon, Tues, and Fri-Sun, or Wed and Thurs, from 0630 to 1830; that’s either a 48 hour week or a 36 hour week. If you factor in travel time and getting up early enough to shower and be awake and functional enough to not kill the first person who speaks to me in the morning, we go from 0630-1830 to 0445-1930. So, needless to say, not much else gets done on days that I work. On my off days, I have to do laundry, meal prep, grocery shop, run errands that don’t get done on work days, and do homework during the semester. Trying to factor in anything else is already a logistical nightmare, so when it comes to Navy expectations of being a “well rounded sailor,” well… part of me wants to say I gave up a long time ago, but the honest to God truth is that I’ll probably wind up killing myself trying to meet those standards.

 

So that’s what I’m doing now: trying to find the time. Trying to figure out a way to maximize the efficiency of every millisecond of every day, whether it’s a work day or an off day, so that I can do everything that I need to do and then – if I’m very, very lucky – still have a little time for the things that I want to do. This is where things start to get sticky, though. There are some things that I perceive as needs that others might dismiss as wants. For instance, while there are probably plenty of folks out there who could function just fine without taking the time to meditate on a regular basis, I am not one of those people. I have learned that the hard way. It’s the same with working out. If I don’t have an outlet for some of my more destructive energy – my anger, for instance – it just festers inside me, and that’s not good for anyone. So, I need to make sure I’m taking the time to do the things I need to do to take care of myself and my environment so that the people around me don’t suffer because I’m not doing what I need to do to at least baseline function and be a civil human being.

I’m not sure how, but I’ll make it work, dammit. I will find the time!

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!

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TBT: Reflection on the Shittiest Two Months of My Life

Okay, so I’m going to start this out with a very clear warning so that no one reading this can say that I didn’t warn you. *ahem*

 

Trigger warning!!!

 

This post is going to contain a lot of profanity and handle a lot of very sensitive topics, including but not limited to violent and non-violent sexual assault, mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and BPD, cutting, suicidal ideation, psych ward admissions, and a myriad of other such topics that might be a bit too much for sensitive persons to stomach. If that sounds like you, I strongly advise that you stop reading now, because it’s only going to get more real from here.

 

Now, for those of you that read or used to read my blog on a regular basis, I apologize for how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything on here. If I’m being honest, it’s partly laziness, but it’s also partly that I have been dealing with some serious shit over the past few months. So, let’s recap, shall we?

 

It started at the end of March. The 26th, to be specific. On March 26th, 2018, I was sexually assaulted for the fourth time in my life, but for the first time ever violently. It rocked my fucking world. I mean… I’m a psych major. I know people are fucked up and they do terrible things to other people, but this? This was a new low, a new bottom to the barrel of humanity that I had never experienced. Two days after the assault, when I was still experiencing some pretty severe pain, I finally gave in to the (positive) peer pressure of my friends who I’d told about the incident and went to the ER at the Navy hospital where I am currently employed.

 

After sitting in the ER waiting room for a good half an hour crying my eyes out, I finally got called back and escorted to a safe room by a forensic nurse. There were two of them on duty that day and, when I relayed the story of what had happened to me to them, they proceeded to further rock my world and blow my damn mind by telling me that it sounded to them like what had taken place was more of a physical assault that had “happened to take place during sexual intercourse.” Because that’s how consent works.

Now, for those of you who aren’t super familiar with the way the Navy handles sexual assault, you should know that we do training on a minimum of an annual basis on the topic, and that one of the things that is always harped on is that if, at any point during the sexual contact, consent is withdrawn, that constitutes assault. So you can imagine my head was spinning at this point, because I had a Navy nurse and a retired Navy nurse telling me I hadn’t been sexually assaulted when every Navy training I’d ever had and every fiber of my being was screaming that I had.

 

As it was, I wound up filing an unrestricted report, interviewing with NCIS, and talking to a victim advocate who has continued to stay in touch and support me through the entire process. But needless to say, the whole thing was – and continues to be – a nightmare.

 

The only reason that I was able to pull through the whole thing as well as I did was because of my boyfriend, my rock. We’ll call him Dave. Now, when this whole thing went down, Dave was on leave, so I had to tell him about through digital communication; while this was less than ideal, he was absolutely perfect about it, checking in with me at least daily to make sure I was okay and doing everything he could to let me know he was there for me. The day he came back from leave, I spent the entire day with him and wound up living with him in his apartment for a whole week. He supported me emotionally, was never shy about letting me know that he was there for me, let me cry on his shoulder many times, and did whatever he could to cheer me up when I was down. We’d been together for two months at that point and he’d never been anything but sensitive, supportive, and caring. He and I were already somewhat at the point where we suspected we were basically It for each other. We were the other’s Person, capital “p.” He was everything I never knew I needed and never realized I’d been searching for in my life.

 

And then, this past weekend, he showed up at my apartment at eight AM after I’d come off of a night shift to tell me that, for no discernable reason, he didn’t love me anymore. We spent three hours together, alternating between crying, silence, talking and crying, talking and laughing, listening to music, watching YouTube videos, cuddling in various configurations, and generally just trying to figure out what the hell was happening to us. I made a pot of tea and we sat in the floor and leaned on each other and just tried to sort our emotions out. Not much headway was made, not even in three hours. Finally, he had to leave – he had lunch plans – and when he was gone I sat in the floor and cried like my heart was breaking because, well, it was. I had no idea how to process what had just happened to me, especially since he either couldn’t or wouldn’t give me a reason for why he had just stopped loving me. All he said was that the feelings had just faded away and suddenly he didn’t love me anymore. It was probably the most hurtful thing he could have ever said to me, because honestly it was a realization of my worst fear.

 

In relationships, I don’t worry that people will cheat or lie. I worry that one morning they’ll wake up before me and look over at me asleep in bed and instead of kissing me awake or cuddling me like usual they’ll suddenly just think to themselves, “I don’t love her anymore” whether there’s a reason or not, and that is, evidently, exactly what happened.

 

 

The next day, I went out for brunch with some friends and I had been doing pretty okay, but when I got home I suddenly wasn’t anymore, and I needed to do something about it. I fought myself, but eventually what it came down to was this: over the past two months, I had been on the receiving end of just a ridiculous amount of pain over which I had no control, and I needed to experience pain that I had control over. So, I cleaned the blade of my razor sharp pocket knife with an alcohol pad and made two parallel incisions in my left wrist. Then I put gauze over it, got dressed, and went to work.

 

Well, turns out that I’m still bad at picking people to trust in my life, because the person I chose to confide in chose to tell me that if I didn’t go to the ER under my own steam, that she would call my Chief. I tried to explain to her that that was a terrible idea on so many levels and that I wasn’t suicidal at all and that if I got admitted to the psych ward that it would make my mental state worse, but she didn’t give a damn what I had to say, so I wound up walking my happy ass down to the ER and self-admitting for self-harm without suicidal ideation. I’m not proud of what I’m about to admit here.

 

I lied. I lied through my damn teeth to every single person who interviewed and assessed me in the ER. I told them I was fine, that I had never been suicidal in my life, that my mental health history was no big deal, that I would be fine to go back to work or even go home right away… because I knew if I told any of them the truth about what was going on in my head, it was a one-way ticket to a long-term stay on 5E, the inpatient psych ward, and I also knew that – to be perfectly honest – that would make me worse. The absolute best way for me to manage my mental illness has always been through outpatient psych. The problem has been getting set up with them at my new duty station.

 

In spite of all of my lying, either they saw through it or they just wanted to do the whole “better safe than sorry” thing, because they admitted me. And so began the worst 36 hours of my entire life. I have no experience with civilian psych wards, so I don’t know if they’re the same, but if you’ve never been admitted to a military psych ward… there are no words. There are no words to express the feelings of depersonalization and dehumanization that you experience when all of your belongings are taken away from you and you’re given these pajamas that have probably been worn by a million other basket cases and a pair of disposable, slip-proof socks because you’re not allowed to wear shoes and asked the same questions repeatedly by a myriad of different people about how you’re feeling and how your mood is and if you feel like hurting yourself or anyone else and if you’re seeing or hearing things that maybe no one else is? You can’t do anything without permission, there’s set times for everything and if you miss them, well, sucks to suck I guess you don’t get to shower today, and of course you’re not allowed outside, so there’s that. Who the fuck came up with that, anyway? Let’s take a bunch of clinically depressed kids who tried to kill themselves and stick them in a concrete building and deprive them of fresh air and sunlight. That seems like a great idea. And of course, me being a psych major, I spent most of my time just quietly listening to everyone else and feeling shitty for being there because I was 100% positive I was taking the place of someone who probably really needed to be there, especially after listening to these other kids talking about why they were there. Over half of them were there because they had actually tried to end their lives. Another half of the remainder were there for suicidal ideation. It was ridiculous. I definitely did not belong there and the more time I spent there, the worse I felt, but I pasted on a happy face and, through probably sheer luck, managed to get myself discharged in less than 48 hours.

 

And then, when I got home, I reached out to Dave, who had been intending to visit me on the ward, to let him know I was discharged so he could just come by the apartment. The conversation didn’t go well. Apparently, at this point, I’m handling the breakup better than he is (can someone please explain to me how in the fuck THAT works?), so he’s not ready to hang out with me yet. I really thought, hoped, that I could count on him for support, but to be honest, that was my bad. I should never have set my expectations that high. I keep forgetting that people are, generally, a disappointing group of meatbags and, if I set my expectations of them super low, they can meet or exceed them instead of constantly letting me down. That’s something I should keep in mind more often, I think…

 

But at any rate. It was later that same night, after crying over Dave’s inability to man the fuck up and be there for me considering that it was him that had ripped my heart out and smashed it to pieces in the first place had motivated me to reach for a bottle of whiskey, that I stopped myself. That was a bad idea and I knew it. So, I put a message out on Facebook, asking if I had any friends in the area who wanted to hang out. A few people answered me, but most of them weren’t actually in the area, which was frustrating. Why do people do that? I mean, I get that they mean well, but come on. And then, it happened. My cell phone started ringing. One of my old friends from corps school – for the purposes of this narrative, we’ll call him Thom – was calling me on Messenger. I answered, slightly confused, and as soon as he asked me where I was and what I was doing, I remembered that he was also stationed in Virginia. He wound up inviting me to go hang out with him while he closed down one of the local branch clinics and, as I had nothing better to do (clearly), I gratefully accepted.

 

Thom is… Thom is not like anyone else I’ve ever met in my entire life. I have a little bit of a schoolgirl crush on him, but it’s less that I find him attractive and more that I look up to him and kind of want to be him when I grow up. … not that he isn’t a good-lookin’ dude. He cute. But more importantly, he’s wise – largely through trial and error, just like the rest of us who learn from our mistakes – and kind, and a good listener, and just in general a good PERSON. He’s more honest than anyone else I know, always willing to help anyone who needs him and who will truly let him help, and one of the only people who I would really consider to be a ride or die. I hate using terminology like that because I feel like I’m too old to say things like that, but that’s really truly who and how Thom is. He’s the kind of friend I could ring late at night and just stay on the phone with for hours. In fact, in the wake of the most recent election, that’s what he did to me. He called and we cried on the phone together.

 

So, we sat in the back office of this small clinic and just… talked. And I told him everything – every single thing that I’d been through and how (badly) I was handling things and how I didn’t know what to do with my life anymore and he… well, he did what Thom does. He gave me insight and advice and read me some stuff he had written that was poignant and moving and just awesome and shared some experiences with me that he’d had recently that resonated strongly with me and we talked for hours.

 

What I left that clinic with that night was a handful of things that are, quite frankly, invaluable. First of all, there was the reminder that I really do have some really good friends out there, which I really needed. And then, there was one of the perspective shifts that he offered. We talked about how instead of learning a lot about terrible people, we’d rather learn about badasses; the example he cited was the Guthrie Park in Texas that was originally named after one of the dragons of the KKK and then later changed to be dedicated to a badass World War II photographer, and, as he put it, “Why would I read up on the original Guthrie it was named after? All I really need to know is that he was one of the dragons of the KKK, so… an asshole. I wanna know about the other Guthrie! The World War II photographer! I bet he was awesome!” So I pitched in with my own, succinct summation, which was simply this:

 

Why would you read about Hitler when you can read about Schindler? Focus on the badasses, not the assholes.

 

The next thing he offered up that I am trying to fully embrace was this: do one badass thing every day. Now, as someone who struggles with major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and struggles with executive dysfunction as a result, sometimes just getting out of bed seems like a badass thing to me. But, the more we talked about it, the more I realized that he was making some good points. On my days off from work, I don’t do anything. I stay in my house and just do introvert stuff. So he told me he wants me to do my introvert stuff, by all means, but do it in public. Go to a coffeehouse or SOMETHING. And so, I agreed that he had a point. Not going out and expanding my horizons isn’t doing me any favors, and if I don’t ever leave my house, I’m not gonna make any new friends, so… yeah.

 

And the last big takeaway from our conversation, possibly the most important one, was the new philosophy I’ve embraced courtesy of Thom: Love or nothing. If I can’t love you, you get nothing from me. “Learn to be monosyllabic,” he tells me. “People say, ‘you look mad’ you say, ‘yep.’ They say, ‘you wanna talk about it?’ ‘Nope.’” Don’t GIVE them anything. You don’t OWE them anything. If people push you away and hurt you when they know what kind of sensitive, empathetic person you are, fuck them. Cut them off, immediately. Don’t give them anything else, any more access to you, any more of your time. Do you know what my new favorite monosyllabic answer to people is? ‘And?’ When people from your past try to hit you up with the ‘we haven’t talked in ages blah blah blah’ you respond with ‘And?’ And it’s hard – especially if it’s someone you used to be close to. It’s easier with newer acquaintances for sure. But little by little you start to cut the toxic people out of your life and you realize you can breathe again.”

 

And some of that is paraphrased because I don’t have an eidetic memory, but you get the gist, you know? I love this idea. I LOVE the idea of love or nothing. And the thing is, too, that just because I love you doesn’t mean I have to like you. There are plenty of people in my life who I love but don’t like and when people try to tell me that that’s not how that works, I have the perfect rebuttal, courtesy of one of the wisest people in my life, my good friend Jon from my time in Spain. “Love doesn’t mean that you have to like someone or that you have romantic feelings for someone. All it means is that you wish them well and hope good things happen to them.”

A perfect example is my middle sister. Our relationship has always been a bit tenuous and sometimes I don’t necessarily like her but I have NEVER stopped loving her. It’s just that simple.

 

My first psych appointment is on May 1st. I am on track to be okay. I have some great advice under my belt from friends who care about me and a laundry list of people who love me and will answer the phone for me any time if I need someone to talk to. So, all in all, as not okay as it still feels right now, I know I will be okay. Eventually. Someday. Maybe…

 

Well. I think this has gone on long enough, but I think it also served as a pretty damn good update and maybe explained why I’ve been so aggressively absent lately.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

 

Edit: I just realized this is my first post of 2018. Holy hell. Welp, happy SUPER belated new year, I guess?

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.)

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!