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!

Advertisements

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.

Expectations

Nothing stands to make a girl feel as good about herself as finding out that she’s meeting (or even exceeding) the expectations of people whose opinions she respects. After a year plus, I finally got back in touch with one of my favorite instructors from Corps School (training for corpsmen after boot camp and before we go into the fleet). I told him what I’ve been up to and thanked him for his help, mentorship, and advice throughout Corps School, found out that he picked up HM1, and had a good long talk that culminated in him telling me that he’s proud of me and that I’m a “hard charger,” a high compliment in the Navy. It made me feel so good about myself to be making an HM1 like him (multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, highly decorated, and just a generally good person both on and off duty) proud.

I also got a random “I love you and I’m so proud of you” type text message from my sister this morning, a sincere apology from someone who owed me one, and a continuation of my flirtation with a cute MM3 I’ve known since boot camp. Overall, today has gotten off to a really good start. I know it can’t take full credit, but I’m at least partially attributing it to my waking up and making the conscious decision to be in a good mood today. Attitude isn’t everything, but it accounts for a lot more than I think people realize.

Now, with what is going to come for the rest of this week, I think that having this Monday workday start out so well was really and truly necessary. I have my PRT tomorrow afternoon and I likely won’t pass but, again, I’ve made the conscious decision not to let it bother me. It is only due to some physical illness as well as mental health issues that I got to be as out of shape as I am, and now that I have a handle on it nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goals. I’m telling you, this whole positive attitude thing might be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m sure it will annoy my coworkers a little, but they’ll get used to it eventually. That being said, as much as I might have to potentially worry about this week, I have even more to look forward to. I have a big family dinner planned for the squad this Saturday evening, I should find out on Friday if I got selected for orders or not, and this is yet another week that I get to go home to a wagging tail and some aloof appreciation of my presence (dog and cats, respectively).

On another note, I’m so grateful to have gotten referred to my current psychiatrist. He is excellent at his job, but he’s also one of the few providers I’ve ever seen who treats me as a patient and not as a corpsman. I’ve had so many healthcare providers dismiss requests, talk over me, and ignore my input simply because I’m a low-ranking corpsman who worked for them at one time, when they would never do that to any other patient. On the flip side, my psychiatrist values my opinions, listens to me, and takes my opinions into account. He sees my being a corpsman as a good thing, giving me more say in my treatment than he might for someone without medical field experience. It’s nice, too, because we both know that I do research into medications and treatments before I talk to him about them, so it’s not like I’m one of those “I Googled my symptoms and I have cancer” patients or, heaven forbid, the “well, my sister/aunt/uncle/friend is a nurse and THEY said…” type patients.

He and I both agreed that aggressive treatment was best for me – especially given my mental health history and history of suicidal ideations/suicide attempts/self-harm/etc. – and the routes that we’ve taken so far seem to have been helpful, exponentially improving my mental state. I am so blessed to be in a situation where I have access to good mental health care and I’ll say again, as I’ve said many a time, that I am so grateful to the Navy as a whole, because it literally saved my life, not to mention introduced me to some of the best people I have ever met in my entire life.

 

Seeing as how today is the first day of a new month AND a Monday, and given that I spent a good solid chunk of the weekend re-evaluating my entire life, I’m making some serious lifestyle changes. I refuse to participate in the whole New Year’s resolution thing because the fail percentage of the average person to stick to their resolutions is super high, and thus I also reject the label. Lifestyle changes it is. That being said, I do have a rather consistent history of being kind of a flake, which is something that I am actively trying to change. My focus in the coming months will be in two areas: things that I’m trying to turn into daily habits (writing, going to the gym, eating better and tracking my calories, etc.) and big lifestyle issues (getting a better handle on my finances and getting out of debt, losing a significant amount of weight and keeping myself overall healthier, taking a more proactive stance on my mental health, etc.). A big problem that I’ve always had in my life is that I have a tendency to give excellent advice… that I fail to take myself. A good example of that would be the innumerable times I’ve counseled friends and loved ones to take time for themselves/make sure they schedule self care/etc., which is something that I never do for myself. So, moving forward, that will be another thing on my “work on this” checklist.

 

Well, that’s it for this week’s Monday update. Until next week, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

Karaoke, Brunch, and Shenanigans

Not necessarily in that order. This weekend was a repeat of the best kind of weird humanly possible, with an added factor that made it all the more unbelievable that I actually enjoyed the outing. Same story – my coworker (Tony; names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty), our new kid (Emmett), and a few of our other corpsman buddies (Nico and Liz) all went out – but this time the shenanigans were slightly more legen – wait for it – dary. During dinner and drinks at Brixton’s (tied with Dardo’s for my favorite bar in Rota), we bumped into an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in ages, Katharine. She informed us that she’d recently started working at the karaoke bar next door and told us that if we came and sang karaoke with her, she’d buy us a round of shots, so we headed over after dinner. We spent a few hours singing, drinking, and generally just goofing off before Tony expressed interest in going dancing. I informed the group that I was entirely too sober to dance, so Liz suggested we migrate to the next bar and change that by the time we got to Diamonds. We hit most of the other bars on what we call The Rota Crawl (Los Arcos, Pier 5, O’Grady’s) and, finally, made it down the strip to Diamonds.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a club person. That being said… holy crap we had fun. Emmett had informed the entire group that he didn’t dance, so I told him we could stand awkwardly beside the dance floor holding drinks while our friends danced but, by the time we got to Diamonds, I was tipsy enough that being wallflowers together turned into me teaching Emmett to dance. The poor kid is an unapologetically tall, skinny, lanky white boy, but he did his best and it was adorable. My best friend CJ wound up being there, too, so he and I demonstrated the appropriate method of club dancing/bump n grinding and Emmett wound up sort of figuring it out. We danced for at least an hour before I decided that I needed fresh air and, recalling that Emmett had expressed interest in seeing the beach, I asked him if he wanted to go to the small beach inlet right up the road from Diamonds. We bailed on the club, went wading while singing country songs, and talked about life for a while before finally heading back to meet up with the squad so we could taxi home together.

It was an amazing night, and it just got better when we rolled into Sunday morning and everyone (Tony, Emmett, Nico, Liz, and Katharine) came over to the house I’m currently watching for some friends and we made epic breakfast burritos for brunch, accompanied by Bloody Marys, Irish coffees, and screwdrivers. We listened to music, played with the dog, ate good food, and just generally enjoyed each others’ company before we all scattered and went our separate ways, but not before we decided that brunch was going to become a weekly thing for the squad.

I’m also pleased to report that I’ve finally gotten my ass in gear with the whole going-to-the-gym-and-getting-fit thing. I’ve resumed my walk to run program (I got up at 0500 Monday and 0445 today) and of course I’m dog sitting, so I’ve taken to taking Luna on long evening walks after work. I’m planning on a some time at the pool and maybe a bodyweight workout after work today, and of course one of my nightly walks with Luna. I probably won’t slay the PRT, but at least I should pass (not that it matters, grumble grumble grouch grouch.) The thing is, though, I’m more interested in building a healthy lifestyle than just training to pass my PRT. I’m working on making bigger life changes now, largely due to the realization that I am, as of this year, closer to thirty than I am to twenty. It is officially time for me to get my shit together. MY goals for this year are to get a handle on my finances, get myself back in shape, and focus on improving my overall health – mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. I’ve only got one life and I need to take care of myself as best I can.

 

Well, that’s all she wrote for today. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior

Another Tuesday Morning

I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday partly due to a busy workday and partly (okay, mostly) due to I forgot. I’m working on it, I swear.

It’s been a weird mixed bag these past couple of months for me. The ups have been ups and the downs have been downs, but… I don’t know. It’s just been weird. I’m starting to feel better overall, but some of the downs have still been pretty disconcertingly low. I’m seeing my therapist today and my psychiatrist tomorrow so hopefully, between the two of them, we’ll figure something out.

In other, happier news, I had an actual event horizon/miracle go down this past weekend. I am an introvert, by all accounts, so typically when I go out, I only enjoy about half the evening and then I kind of just want to die/go home and crawl into bed and never come back out. This weekend, the other corpsman from my clinic and I took our new corpsman out in town for drinks and tour of Rota with a few friends and, much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening. I socialized with a bunch of other corpsman from the hospital, hung out with my kiddos and smoked hookah, swung by Donor Kebab for the best “it’s two AM and I’m drunk” food on the planet, and generally just had a really good time. It was the best kind of weird, possibly ever.

I may or may not have discussed this previously on this blog (I honestly can’t remember) but I am a survivor of sexual assault. Due to the circumstances surrounding the assault coupled with my introverted leanings, I have a habit of getting extremely anxious and unhappy in the types of social situations like the one I just described, so the fact that I was able to enjoy the entire night is actually a huge breakthrough for me. I’m hoping that this trend continues and that I start being able to function normally in social situations and actually enjoy going out as opposed to spending the entire time feeling paranoid and uncomfortable.

The whole assault was harder for me to process than it probably should have been, largely due to the fact that I didn’t tell anyone about it for over two years. I had rationalized the assault, telling myself that I’d wanted it and any number of other lies to justify it and, in retrospect, I can’t help wondering if I did this because I subconsciously knew that I couldn’t handle the reality of the situation at that point. It wasn’t until, several years later, I heard a young woman I was friends with relate the story of her own sexual assault and it started to sound eerily familiar that I came face to face with the ugly truth. It was still even longer before I started to talk about it, and it took me a long time to come to terms with having been a victim. Moving forward, I’ve done my best to work alongside the SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) teams in the Navy and I’m hoping at my next command to be able to be a victim advocate. All that being said, this past weekend does look like progress and hopefully it continues.

More updates on this front as events warrant!

 

It is Taco Tuesday. That just dawned on me. Oh, man, I’m gettin’ tacos tonight! And the best part is that I have the totally valid excuse of needing to take my new corpsman to Cream’s for the first time. I need to make sure I do my Spanish homework today, though, because the waitresses and bartenders there are trying to help me buff up on Spanish, so they don’t speak to me in English anymore!

On that note, I suppose I should go do my Spanish homework. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

Tactical Combat Casualty Care

I have a valid excuse for not updating this Monday! I got (unexpectedly) enrolled in TCCC, which is apparently a mandatory class that all corpsmen have to take every three years. It’s basically FMTB (Field Medical Training Battalion, which is where corpsmen get sent to learn how to be Marines) Lite, cramming the months of training received at FMTB into one week, and it was more fun than I’ve had at work in a long, long time. We did three days of class room instruction, broken up with labs and practical applications (or prac apps), then took a written test and prepped for the FINEX (final exam). The didactic portion covered the basics of care under fire, tactical field care, and tactical evacuation care, while the prac apps were more “how to carry a Marine without hurting yourself or them” and how to run a rugged field IV. When the test-out day rolled around, I was slated to be one of the casualties. I spent three and a half hours being tourniquetted, soaked in fake blood, and man-handled before it was finally my turn to be the corpsman. We geared up – flak, Kevlar, “rifles” (duct taped and spray painted super soakers), and med bags – did a light PT, and then approached the kill house. We charged into the tunnel, dropped knees, and returned fire while having fake blood rained down on us from above to the tune of machine gun and AK fire and one of our HM2s yelling abuse at us. We then moved into the kill house, kicked doors in, and located our casualties. My patient was “unconscious,” so I dropped a tourniquet on her and grabbed her in a Hawes (or backpack) carry and charged out of the room and down the hall to adequate “cover and concealment.” From there, I did my full tactical field care trauma assessment, then hauled her outside and recited my 9Line, proving that I knew how to call for a tactical evacuation, should the situation arise.

My proctor, one of my favorite HM2s in the hospital, told me that I scored on the slow side of instructor times, and that he’d been particularly impressed with how quickly I’d secured my casualty’s airway. My absolute favorite HM2 in the hospital and former mentor had been shouting abuse at me during the entirety of my run-through, and he made a point of finding me outside after I was done and apologizing, hugging me, and telling me that he loved my face even if he’d been mean to me. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember half of what was said during my FINEX. All I really remember was that he did, at one point, yell at me for a mistake I’d made and follow it up with “oh, fuck, I forgot how to corpsman!” which I really found more humorous than anything else.

The class was amazing, and I almost didn’t want this week to end. But, unfortunately, woven in with the awesomeness that was TCCC, there was a lot of shitty stuff that went down, too. I failed my weigh-in for the PRT by a half inch, screwed up in my college class and lost a bunch of credit/got a few failing grades because I forgot about deadlines, and found out that my old clinic is trying to get my back from my current clinic, which is really not cool.

I actually took a minute out of my morning to talk to my therapist about it, because when I worked in my old clinic, I cried in the bathroom at work literally every single day and was depressed with suicidal ideation almost all the time. If my officers can’t succeed in keeping me in my current clinic, my therapist and my psychiatrist can weigh in and warn them about the potential dangers to my mental health, should I be forced to return to work in my old clinic. Hopefully all of this will work out, but it’s difficult to be optimistic when my old ALPO is already talking about it like it’s a done deal.

Not to mention that fact that I – still worn out from the FINEX, mind you – am on duty today, so I’m extra tired and oh-so-salty right now. I have a normal workday that I have to struggle through, and then I have over a week’s worth of homework to do, not to mention trying to bullshit my way through a 5-7 page paper, plus I need to find time to squeeze in a fam run, since that’s apparently something I have to do every single duty day now, which isn’t inconvenient or annoying at all, she said sarcastically. All this and the only thing I WANT to do is go home, crawl in bed, and stay there until Monday. Sigh.

 

Well, until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

The Norm (And Departures From It)

It’s nice when I have almost a whole week without a breakdown or any sort of even somewhat serious mental health issue. Last week was one of those decent sort of weeks, and this one seems to be off to an even better start. I’ve always considered Sunday to be the first day of the week rather than Monday and, that being said, my week started off on the best possible foot. My best friend’s ship finally came back from patrol last week, so she and I spent Sunday grocery and kitchenware shopping, cooking, playing video games, and hanging out with her awesome new roommate. It was glorious and much needed, and got me addicted to not one but TWO new video games! Speaking of which, I so highly recommend you get on playing The Last Guardian and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Both games are absolutely exquisite and I am rapidly becoming a huge fangirl of both.

I think I can safely say that I’m finally stable on my meds, and I’m looking forward to my meeting with my psychiatrist on the 19th to discuss our next steps in trying to fix my brain. I think the next step we’ll be talking over is potentially putting me on some kind of ADHD med, which I really never wanted, but my increasing inability to focus on damn near anything seems to be making it a necessary evil. Plus, it is supposedly a great appetite suppressant, which means it should definitely help me lose weight.

On that note, I have GOT to start getting to the gym on a regular basis! But it’s so difficult to go after work because I’m always so tired and getting up at 0500 just sucks and I feel like I can’t win. I may just start working out in my room again, thus saving myself some time. I can just get up, crank some PVRIS, do some Freeletics bodyweight workouts or calisthenics or whatever, and then shower and go to work. Or do it right when I get home so that I can then shower, eat some dinner, do my homework, and then go to bed. This should be getting progressively easier, though, as Amy is going to start working out with me again, I think. Of course, she leaves in June or July, but by then it should already be a habit. … right?

Either way, my PRT is right around the corner and I need to get my shit together before then on the push-ups and sit-ups front. I’m already signed up for the swim PRT, so that’s one less thing for me to worry about. I’ll kill that portion just like I always do. It’s just a matter of bringing my score up, because I kind of want to. I’m shooting for good-medium this time around, maybe even a good-high depending on how things go. Of course, this all assuming I manage to pass the weigh-ins, which is still questionable… I guess we’ll find out. Further updates as events warrant. In the meantime, I’m out. I’ve got too much to do to write as long a blog post as I would like today, unfortunately.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!