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!

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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

Hello, Darkness…

My old friend, my ass. Two posts in one week!? It’s like CHRISTMAS. But seriously, folks…

I’ve been battling depression since my early teens, with ebb and flow in terms of severity. It tends to run in my family as well, with my father and middle sister struggling with depression as well. As far as I know, my father has never attempted suicide or self-harmed; my middle sister has definitely self-harmed before, but I’ve never asked about any actual suicide attempts. As for me, I’ve made multiple suicide attempts, but only self-harmed for the first time a few weeks ago. My mental health has always been in kind of a flux and flow state, though I do feel there’s been some significant improvement since I’ve been in the Navy.

It’s ironic, given that the military lifestyle is one of such intense stress, but the healthcare – and, more specifically, the mental health care – that is available to military members is leaps and bounds beyond what I had at my disposal prior to enlisting. The doctors I have now and the knowledge that I’ve gained in my time as a corpsman have all contributed to my current state of… not sure I’d call it well-being, per se, but definitely better-than-it-was-being. I seem to be stable on my current meds, I follow up with my shrink in a few weeks, and my therapist and I are back on a seeing each other every two weeks kind of schedule.

 

I’ve wavered back and forth in terms of my intentions for my military career – whether I wanted to get out or stay in, and if I were to stay in for how long – but more and more lately I feel like I’ll probably stay in for quite a while. My current career path has me re-enlisting and commissioning as soon as I finish my Bachelor’s, and I like where I see that taking me. I try to balance the amount of time I spend in the present and the future, but the idea of a brighter future ahead of me is what has kept me going here lately, especially with the amount of complete and utter bullshit the Universe has been throwing my way lately.

For me, the biggest determining factor in whether I stay in or get out is going to be my next duty station. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my time at my current duty station, to a certain degree, but the command that I’m with here isn’t exactly the best and I’m looking forward to getting a taste of what the Navy is like elsewhere. In roughly a week or two I should be finding out if I got selected for orders during this last pick, and I’m torn between hoping I did and hoping I didn’t, as some personal things have come up lately that would change some of the billets I chose, but – at the end of the day – I’m just ready to move on with my life. It’s time.

 

For the next eight months or so (which is about how long I have before I PCS), I need to start making a concerted effort to schedule my self care. I need to work on telling people “no” and taking me time when I need it and not letting others strong-arm me into things I don’t want to do. I need to set aside time for myself to read with a cup of tea or do yoga or just sit quietly alone somewhere and meditate or whatever it is on any given day that I feel is the best self care option for me. My therapist has been telling me this ever since the first time I saw her, but more and more now I’m seeing the actual need to do it, something which I’m sure will have her rolling her eyes at me. She knows that I’m exceedingly stubborn and does her best to be patient with me anyway. She is an excellent human being. Most people don’t put up with me like she does unless they’re related to me or I’m paying them.

 

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Just a reminder to all of you out there struggling with your own mental health issues: you are not alone. Always keep fighting. There are people who are here for you. There are people who need you here, alive and well. And remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain. It just passes it on to someone else.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!

Shenanigans

I would like to call shenanigans all over this. This weekend doesn’t feel like it should be over yet. I feel like I only got about half a day off, because I had to adult a lot this weekend. There was laundry to be done and dishes to be washed and sweeping to be done and just, fuck, man. I need a day off – like a REAL day off. I think this Saturday I need to just go out in town and walk around and catch Pokémon, get coffee at one of the little cafes, and take some hardcore me time. I haven’t had actual legit me time in quite a while.

Self-care. It’s something that I struggle with, and the reason why will sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. I struggle to make time for self-care because I’m a medical professional. Sounds weird, right? But here’s the thing: it’s hard to make time to take care of yourself when you’re busy taking care of everyone else. Ask anyone you know who works in the medical field, and I pretty much guarantee you they’ll say they take care of themselves last. They’re the last ones to book an appointment, even if they really need it. It just comes with the job. Call it an occupational hazard, I suppose.

That being said… I have got to start making time for myself. That will partly be achieved today, as I’ve already decided that I am going to the gym after work. I should have gone this morning and I didn’t because I’m a lazy bum, but when I put my NWUs on and they fit as tight as they do… there’s nothing for it. I have to get my ass in gear and start working on losing weight.

The worst part about my weight struggle, though, is that it makes me want to start smoking again and I CAN NOT do that. I mean, I work for a pulmonologist, for fuck’s sake. Doc would have a fit if I started coming in smelling like smoke again. Not only that, but with my familial history of cancer… I just shouldn’t. Smoking is bad. Mm’kay.

It’s going to be a long week, man.

Until tomorrow, stay frosty, nerds.