Wednesday, June 24, 2015

no news is... good news?

things are pretty much status quo here.

work. sleep. eat. puppy. cats.

the cycle starts over and over, just later on monday, tuesday, and wednesday.

i had the intention of going to bed early tonight since i have to be up early tomorrow. probably isn't going to happen.

you should immediately go read the bloggess' new post. jenny is an amazing person and a wonderful person and probably one of the best people in the world.  so, go here.

i still can't figure out where to go to school. i'm still existing in a near-constant state of anxiety. i'm going to shine up my resume and send it out because why not. who knows what will come up, right? i'm not depressed, which is nice, but i'm having some self-worth issues and thinking more than i like about drinking or drugging. i even had a really vivid and horrible drug dream last monday, which kind of ruined the day. however, my blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol are at healthy levels. so, yay me! (don't worry, i'm still fat. just healthy. i know, it's hard to imagine someone being FAT and HEALTHY, isn't it?)

(if you answered 'yes', go fuck yourself.)

so for now, i'm going to feed the cats and try to sleep. well, i will sleep. eventually. and hopefully i'll be blissfully unaware of anxiety and depression and cravings and low self-worth for at least 7 hours or so. that would be nice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

if i had a nickel for every panic attack...

my anxiety has been more or less constant for like a week. i was really excited about last weekend. i had bought tickets to a mets game for friday night, was hoping to see jurassic world over the weekend, and then there was a concert on monday night that i really wanted to see. one of my favorite bands, less than jake, was playing locally with reel big fish - another band i really like. awesome husband @_antgas and i were pretty excited to go. and he went to the mets game with me even though he's a yankees fan.

so last week i started feeling anxious about the concert. i haven't been able to pinpoint it and spent like half of my therapy session this week trying to do so. i just had this huge, overpowering anxiety about going to this concert. my husband was supportive and like, so let's not go. but part of me really wanted to go. i decided to play it by ear and see how i felt over the weekend and maybe i'd buy tickets.

friday at work both of our supervisors were out - one is on extended medical leave and one was going to an eating disorder training. so us counselors were on our own and were working together to run a weekly meeting. then the director of our program and our office manager (really?) come in the meeting room. the director started talking about how we have been doing great BUT (there's always a fucking BUT) we needed to do more. she started talking units of service, groups, how many people we had on our case loads, stuff like that. the director and the office manager started talking about how us counselor could do more intake assessments (mind you, neither the director or office manager have done those) and the office manager tried to tell us how we should schedule intakes. so we were all getting a little frustrated and we all started trying to brainstorm with her. ultimately our director ended up saying that our clinic would close, how long we stayed open depended on how many units of service we did.

happy friday!

i was very frustrated for numerous reasons. one, both of our supervisors were out - it was just us counselors and the director of our program with all of our go-betweens and the people who would stand up for us out of the office. so none of us could like talk back to her or offer anything more than 'okay'. i mean, really. i was (and still am) really pissed off that she chose to dump all of that on us when our supervisors were not in the office to smooth anything over. plus, just after lunch on a friday? great way to start my weekend. one of the other counselors and i debriefed after the meeting and she reminded me to leave it at work and enjoy my weekend.

easier said than done. so my already heightened anxiety was sent even higher, but not quite into overdrive. yet. 

on the way to the mets game, i was trying to tell awesome husband @_antgas about the meeting and all the crap and ugh. and he fell asleep. so i got angry and stopped telling him, i just kept my feelings about it in.

anxiety creeps up a bit more.

the weekend itself was pretty good. i worked hard to leave work at work and just focus on spending time with my husband and puppy, shopping and cleaning and doing laundry. but i was still really anxious about going to the concert. we decided not to go and i felt guilty and angry about it. i love that band, i really would love to see them live again. why can't i go, why can't i be normal and not have ridiculous anxiety that affects most parts of my life?

so monday comes. i go to therapy, try to talk through what i can with my amazing therapist, and go to work. i'm in a good mood. we have supervision on monday, so i know we can tell our supervisor what happened on monday and try to address it. but as soon as i walk into my office, boom - more anxiety. now by the time we're in supervision my anxiety is at like 8 - i'm not having a full-blown panic attack; i can breathe, my heart is not really racing, i'm not sweating. but i'm shaking and anxious and having trouble speaking and am on the verge of crying or actually crying for the entire 2.5 hour meeting. i'm barely able to speak. my supervisor keeps asking me if i want to talk or whatever and i just can't. i'm grinding my teeth and trying not to make eye contact. 

our supervisor tries to smooth it over. she talks about how it will take a lot of time to close a clinic and she's not sure we'll close anyway - we likely will just integrate with another clinic. she talks about what we can do to try and stop it. she encourages us. and since i'm sitting there CRYING LIKE A FUCKING IDIOT she and my colleagues all try to make me feel better. one counselor talks about how much of a mentor i've been to her and how much i've helped her; another reminds me that we're always exactly where we need to be and that if we do close, it's because there's something else in store for me. it helps in theory, but my anxiety is just overwhelming.

after the meeting, my supervisor keeps me behind and asks me what i'm feeling (this is the best/worst part about being a counselor - no one thinks you're crazy when you spend an entire meeting crying). i mention anxiety but have a lot of trouble formulating my thoughts. during the meeting she asked me if i wasn't feeling safe; i didn't know what she meant. when we spoke after the incident, she said she was sorry that the office wasn't a safe place for me any longer and she was determined we would reclaim that. so when she asked me about feeling 'safe' that's all i could think about. but when we were alone, she mentioned 'safe AND SECURE' and i immediately started crying. it wasn't the physical or emotional safety - it was the security. i felt secure in my career, with my job, with my colleagues. when i started crying, she got up to hug me and linked my past abuse to my anxiety in relation to security. i cried some more, had a nice long hug, fixed my eye makeup, and finished my day with a quick individual and an easy group that i let the clients lead. i went home early and ate my feelings (not the best option, but it's what i did). 

i am still feeling anxious. i missed the concert and i hate myself for it. i hate that my anxiety controls my life at times. i hate that i can't do 'normal' things. i can't plan for something like that because who knows what the fuck my anxiety is going to do on that day. i hate that i already take medications and have coping skills and they don't always work to ease my anxiety. i hate that all i want to do is eat or sleep and that i think about drinking or drugging when i get really anxious. 

for today, i'm just going to stay sober and stay focused. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

an incident

i originally wrote this on 5/27, two days ago. i've added the resolution at the end...

i'm writing this without knowing whether or not i will post it. i had an incident at work today that is still unfurling and i am trying not to stress eat. but have already polished off half a bag of sweet & salty popcorn... at least it's not the worst thing to overeat, but that's not the point.

i have a client who has a DWI arrest. he came to his intake and tested positive for alcohol. when i tried to engage him in treatment, he did not recall the conversation we had about when to start treatment, likely because he was drunk. so it was three weeks before he started treatment; he had a very high positive for alcohol at his first appointment, indicating he either drank that day or drank a lot the night before.

he came in today thinking he had an appointment but he didn't. i saw him and he asked if he could have his schedule in writing, so i took him in my office and we wrote out his schedule. i told him about my concerns that he hasn't stopped drinking and that we'd need to send him to detox, whatever whatever. he said he understood that he cannot drink while in treatment. it was not an emotional meeting; it was about 10 minutes of hammering out his schedule and his verbal agreement that he would go to detox if he couldn't stop drinking - he said he would be able to stop drinking without issue (i am fairly certain he won't be able to).

so i stand up to walk him out and he stands up. i mention something about knowing he can do this and he reaches out to hug me. i do not touch clients without their permission or without them reaching out to me first, but i believe touch is a powerful thing. so i allow him to hug me and he kisses my neck. i do not know what to do or say and i realize he smells like alcohol. i sort of go on autopilot and show him out of my office and immediately engage another client who is waiting for a scheduled individual session with me. i ignore the incident.

six hours later i am getting ready to leave work for the night. i have felt sort of dirty and find myself repeatedly touching my neck and thinking about using hand sanitizer on it. but i do not say anything. i do not go to my supervisor immediately, i did not confront the client. i did nothing. every time the incident pops into my head, i immediately dismiss it, telling myself it was nothing and to just keep doing what i'm doing. it's not like i complete dissociated; i met with four clients individually and led a group. i engaged my clients. it was when i got in my car and started driving home that the incident popped in my head again. my instinct was to dismiss it and i forced myself not to. my rational self knew - knows - there is an issue here. this incident was not appropriate. this client had no right to do that even though i accepted his hug. the incident was completely inappropriate and i have every right to tell my supervisor and i do not deserve to be treated like that.

and it's while i'm driving home that i suddenly make the connection - to my stepfather. my stepfather died in 2003.  my stepfather was an alcoholic who drank beer like water. my stepfather was abusive to me, physically, verbally, and emotionally. and on more than one occasion my stepfather was inappropriate with me in sexualized ways, from telling me details about his sex life with my mother when i was a teenager to an incident when i was about 21 or 22 when i was at my mother's house. i think she had gone out; i was doing laundry and using the computer. my stepfather came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and kissed my neck, beer on his breath, and said something completely inappropriate about us being alone. i ignored the incident, brushing it off and going about my business. i did not even respond to him.

somehow, on the ride home, my brain - something - finally let me examine the incident today instead of just ignoring it. without much thought, once my subconscious allowed the incident to be examined instead of instantly dismissed, my brain immediately made the connection between today's incident and the incident with my stepfather. i don't know how my mind made that connection so quickly, without me thinking about it. was it the smell? was it the act itself, which i keep calling 'the incident' and i don't want to type out? did i detach after the incident today because that's how i survived back when i was being abused by my stepfather? what am i supposed to do now, now that today's incident seems to have stirred up a lot of my crap and i want nothing more than to eat everything i can get my hands on right now? how am i supposed to be an effective counselor if i can't deal with my own crap?

what am i supposed to do now? i know i have to go to my supervisor. i don't want to. i don't want to talk about it. i don't want to admit it because it's my fault. i let him hug me; i encouraged him; i was nice to him; i'm a woman; i have low self esteem; he's older than me. i can go on and on and on. i know this isn't my fault. i know it's not appropriate. but i'm terrified to talk to my supervisor and that makes no fucking sense at all. i don't want to go to work tomorrow. i graduated college and walked yesterday, i wore my cap and gown and got a fancy bachelor's degree. i registered for my graduate program. i'm making decisions in my life that will lead to me being a counselor as a career.

i know, the rational part of me knows, that i can't not go to work tomorrow. i can't quit my job - my career - because of this. but my instinct tells me to run. forget it, let it go, move on somewhere else. the rational part of me knows that i did nothing wrong, that i did not invite this, that i did not encourage him, that my identified gender has nothing to do with it. it is not my fault. the rational part of me knows all of this. but emotionally, i feel like a victim again.

that's kind of grandiose, isn't it? that i feel victimized because of what happened, the incident i don't want to spell out again? it's not like he beat me up or punched me or groped me. he kissed my neck. i feel victimized. and i feel like i'm overreacting by feeling victimized.

what the fuck is wrong with me?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

what a difference four and a half years makes.

today is day four of my four day weekend.

four day weekend, you ask?

yes. i had the typical saturday/sunday weekend, monday for memorial day, and awesome husband @_antgas and i took off today for a very good reason.

i graduate today!

that's right, the strange journey that started back in august of 2010 with a mini nervous breakdown and a fateful trip to a psychiatrist is ending. i originally started my undergrad to get an associates just so i could put it on my resume. now i'm graduating with a bachelors in community health and human services.... and planning to go onto graduate school.

a lot of ridiculous, awesome, and horrifying things have happened since i decided to return to school. my mother was suddenly taken ill and died peacefully.

we rescued another hysterical kitten (who has turned into a maniac). we moved back to new york. i became a body piercer for a while. i decided to continue my education and realized a lot about life in the process.

taylor crossed the rainbow bridge. i fought with my gallbladder and lost and later willingly barbecued my uterus. we moved even further out in the 'burbs.

i was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and failed every medication i tried. i landed an internship. piglet was diagnosed with kidney failure and then had to have her canines removed. i also was hired as a paid counselor at my internship. and soon thereafter, i sat for my CASAC exam and was hired on as a full time counselor. i stopped taking any medications for RA and am surviving as best i can.

my little brother got married. and then we got a puppy and i started a new medication for my mental health issues.

and today, i graduate. and i've been accepted to three graduate programs and have pretty much decided on one. i will be going for my MSW and hope to complete in about three, three and a half years. it's been a ridiculous journey; sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes i can't remember what it was like before i was a counselor.

thankfully, my therapist is working today since the office was closed yesterday. i am a jumbled mass of conflicting emotions and ideas. but i am really excited to be graduating and opening a new chapter in my life. well, at the end of august when grad school starts.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

frustration is not motivating PLUS we got a puppy!

i've been really frustrated with life.  but life is really good.

that seems kind of stupid.  but that's how it's been.

i've started a new medication in addition to my life-saving pristiq: vyvanse.  it's an amphetamine.  i was really nervous about taking it but so far i'm not having any weird side effects - i don't even feel like i'm hopped up on amphetamines.  i'm not sure how much 'better' i feel, but i don't feel worse so that's great.

we got a puppy. she's very small and very rambunctious and very annoying.  her name is alice (allie) and they told us she's a chihuahua-mini pinscher mix.  we think they're wrong.

yes, we got her a wicket doll to gnaw on.  may the fourth be with you!

she's teething.  i have a feeling this has something to do with that fact.

alice on one of her many walks

on another.... walk.  taking a roll around in the grass break.
allie is ridiculous.  she wants to 'play' with the cats, and the cats want NOTHING to do with her.  it's not always pretty.  but we're working on it.

i'm very frustrated with work.  i'm so over my schedule - i hate the 12-8:30pm on monday through wednesday.  i want to work days like a typical person.  i want to be able to cook after work; stop at the supermarket and pick up the night's ingredients; meet friends for dinner or coffee.  hell, i want to eat three 'normal' meals a day.  my eating schedule is all fucked up.  and i'm usually tired - i can't get my body used to this schedule.

i mentioned to my boss that i want to switch back to days and she said that something should change within the next couple of months.  that was about a month ago.  i love my job - just not my hours.  my family is a priority to me - and i can't take care of my family the way i'm used to with this schedule.

i did a bit of looking online to see what's out there with my credentials.  and found a posting for a job that is $12K a more than i'm making.  it's with a private company - not a non-profit - but that's a huge pay jump.  HUGE.  it makes me think, and i don't like thinking ;)

Monday, April 6, 2015

monday update - including new tattoo!

it's kind of amazing how things change.

a few months ago, i wrote this blog about... well, disconnecting from a woman i was very good friends with.  it's a bit strange how it all happened.  my friend is also my tattoo artist and is her tattoo artist as well.  the tattoo artist tagged her in an instagram photo one day and i insta-stalked her feed.

i know, kind of strange.  creepy.  whatever, go fuck yourself.  i did it.  you know you've done something like it.

so i saw... well, i saw a woman who had changed for the better in a lot of ways.  she seemed freer, happier, even more herself than she was when we still hung out regularly.  i still thought about sending her a card.  i ended up following her on instagram, thinking that if she straight out blocked me it was a sign that whatever had happened had irreparably damaged our relationship.  she didn't block me.

one day she posted something on instagram that really made me think.  it said "sometimes we create our own heartbreaks through expectation".  it resonated with me.  i realized that i put expectations on our relationship - i expected her to support me in a way she was unable to at the time.  it was like the situation (at least my part/side of it) became so clear to me.  so i direct messaged her, letting her know that the post made me think, and what it made me think about, and trying to take responsibility for my part in whatever had happened.  she messaged me back, she took responsibility for her part in what happened - and that was important to me.  it validated what others had told me: i hadn't done anything wrong per se.  i hadn't driven her away or done something so bad/wrong/whatever.  it was just we were both in specific places that almost made it impossible for us to be there for each other, for us to be friends at that time.

we ended up meeting for dinner a couple of weeks ago.  it was strange at first: she's in a MUCH different place in her life than she was about 15 months prior when we stopped talking.  but i am, too.  i'm in a much healthier place.  she's in a much healthier place.  we're both more honest with ourselves and with others.  and seriously - it was almost like no time had passed.  it's the same, but it's different - it's a different relationship that is healthier and more balanced for both of us.  and i'm thrilled to have it back.

i've also committed to an amazing thigh tattoo by said tattoo artist.  pam poovey from archer is like my spirit animal.  i love her (i haven't seen season 5 yet, i've been told that might change, but seriously - i don't care.  she's been amazing through 4 seasons).  when my artist was working on awesome husband @_antgas' hand tattoos, i mentioned how pam poovey was my spirit animal and she went nuts - she said she really really wanted to do an archer tattoo.  we worked on some ideas, she drew up an amazing tattoo, and i recently had the outline done on my outer left thigh.

seriously - this tattoo is super bad ass.  follow @misstattootara on instagram.
yeah.  it's pretty awesome.  and in reality, the fact that it's on my thigh is a big deal for me.  i follow a lot of body positive blogs and instagram accounts and twitter and shit like that.  and i've seen photos of SO MANY beautiful big women with awesome thigh tattoos.  i think it's super sexy and makes them look really confident and i started thinking about getting a thigh tattoo about a year ago.  i had settled on a couple of other ideas when my tattoo artist said she wanted to do an archer tattoo.  

pam poovey is kind of another big girl who is awesome.  i mean, if you watch archer, you're probably familiar with some of her exploits and background from the first four seasons.  let's see: she kicked men's asses in underground fights to pay her way through college.  she has an infatuation with lana but still bangs archer for a while.  she says what she wants and doesn't give a fuck about what people think about it.  she's a little crass and really bold and super confident.  yet she's a damn HR rep... sure, she's not always great at her job, but still.  pam poovey is really my spirit animal; a lot of her character is who i want to be or who i already am.  i'm a fat girl who metaphorically kicks ass, i'm bisexual, and (outside of work) i say what i mean and refuse to sugar coat it.  

whatever - i identify with pam poovey.  and i love my tattoo, and i can't wait to have it colored in.

my tattoo artist is on instagram - @misstattootara.  seriously, she does amazing work.  if you're on long island and in need of a tattoo, DM her.  and, hey, i'm on instagram and twitter @stephgas.  

i'm also working on a lot of crap with my therapist.  i've started seeing a psychiatrist for medication management, am addressing some of my disordered eating behaviors (unhappily but whatever), and working out.  i'm not watching what i eat or working out to lose weight - i'm doing it to feel good.  that seems to make it more enjoyable because i'm not obsessing over every calorie eaten and burned.  i'm weight lifting with awesome husband @_antgas and a couple of his coworkers.  my brother and sisterfromanothermister occasionally join in as well.  awesome husband @_antgas is all about going hard and 'gains'.  the phrase 'gains, bro' is uttered numerous times, often in jest but not really 100% joking.  i hit a new PR (personal record) on saturday with a 910lb straight leg press.  yesterday my PR was 115lb chest fly thingy.  i don't know the names of everything, i just wander around behind awesome husband @_antgas and wait for him to tell me what to do.  honestly, that makes it fun and easy and i really like working out.  it just makes me feel good.  

so, new ink, new meds, new weight training - a lot of things going on but it's all good... it's all healthy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

sick end to a good weekend

i called into work for the first time since i was hired in april today and i'm trying not to beat myself up over it.  self-care is very important, it's imperative, and i have to remember that.

i also called out of therapy which is kind of stupid because i can always use therapy but i'm just so nauseous.  i was up a few times overnight feeling like i had to vomit and i never did.  like right now i'm kind of hungry but the nausea keeps coming and going so i'm like terrified to eat.

had a great weekend with awesome husband @_antgas.  we went to new york city on saturday to see a broadway show - our first together, his first ever (i've only seen one other - les mis - like decades ago).  we drove to my dad's office in queens and left the car there, then took a subway to manhattan and walked up into the middle of times square.  was pretty cool - i'm not sure i've ever done that before (not that i remember, so i may have done it and been stoned or something).  we walked a few blocks to the theatre and it was such a good show.  @_antgas wanted to see this show, he kept mentioning it when we'd see commercials, so i got him tickets for the holidays.  we then went back to queens and had dinner at one of our favorite queens diners with my dad.  yum.

it was pretty easy so we're thinking about going back to the city on a sort of regular basis.  i used to bitch all the time that i hated going into the city because it was expensive and annoying and ugh.  but it was fun.  and i found out about this place that you can go in the morning and get heavily discounted tickets to broadway shows.  you kind of have to take what they have available, but it might be fun to just go see other shows. 

i used to put photos on my blog but it's kind of a pain in the ass with all the watermarking and uploading and ugh.  plus i post on instagram all the time.  so if you want to know what's going on in my life without all the wordy bullshit, follow me on instagram at - you guessed it - @stephgas.  it's mostly me and cats and body positive crap so, you know.  it's fun.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

i still cry sometimes.

please, don't make me apologize for being a bad blogger.  i'm a bag blogger - deal.

things have been busy.  i'm working full time monday through friday, but i work later - noon to 8:30ish most days.  i have just finished up with school - i have an independent study in human services and the liberal arts that i'm finishing up and january 2015 will be my official graduation date.  i'll walk in may.  i'm very excited.

my best friend from high school had her first baby in mid-november.  i was at the hospital with her and her parents, along with another best friend from high school.  we were both planning to be in the room with her, but she ended up having a c-section and the other friend went in with her.  better choice, since she's much more level headed and calm than i am.  plus she's had a child as well, so she understands some things i don't get.  awesome husband @_antgas and i have been spending quite a bit of time with her and the new baby, helping around the house and the like.  i just want to squish the baby all the time.  he's so handsome.

so it's like, work and school and baby things and rheumatoid arthritis - yes, that's still there - were making my life pretty busy.  now that i'm just about done with school (i don't have any more classes) i have a bit more free time.  i'm hoping to get back into cross stitching and sewing, and researching my options for graduate school.  it seems that is my next logical step, but it's expensive and hard and i'm just not 100% sure yet.

i get nostalgic around the holidays.  the time between thanksgiving and new years is always rough for me.  i've been craving more female contact; i wonder if it's because my mom died this time of year.  i've cherished the time i spend with my best friend and her tiny baby - it's wonderful to be able to talk with her and have someone how knows me and my past.  but it makes me miss people who aren't in my life any longer.  particularly one woman who i may have wrote about a bit here.  we had a short friendship but it was intense.

it's normal for me to reach out to people at certain times of the year.  the holidays after 9/11 i remember sending a card to an old friend and his family who i hadn't seen in years.  i send holiday cards and think about the people i used to spend so much time with that i don't get to see often - or at all.  we're all 'adults' now (for all intents and purposes).  so many of us have families and work and just life to get through, and that can leave little time for 'hanging out', unless it's a quick dinner or coffee date.

i found myself wanting to send her a card, ask about how she's doing, let her know that we're okay, and see if she wanted to catch up at all.  i'm at a different place in my life.  yes, i still crave contact, friendship, support, but i think i'm much more self-sufficient.  perhaps it's the changes in my life over the last year - getting a job in the field, getting ready to graduate, and oh - being in therapy weekly.  never underestimate the value of talk therapy if you can afford it (even when i couldn't afford it, the doctor and i figured something out). 

i have bad days.  i still freak out, i still get anxious, and i still cry sometimes.  i am constantly learning how to deal with it, how to reach out and ask for help, how to identify, address, and process some feelings.  i've struggled with my mother's death around the birth of my friend's baby; i remember crying at the hospital because i wanted my mother there to see her (we've been good friends since i was, like, 11).  when i work on the quilt i'm making for her baby, i think about the quilts and bibs and things my mom would make when other people had babies.  i think about the fact that i don't have my mom to help me assemble the quilt - i've never done that before, i've only pieced together the tops of quilts.  now i have to make the quilt sandwich and actually quilt it.  i'll think about my mom while i do it, and about my beautiful girlfriend and her perfect baby boy, and it will reflect generations of love and support and commitment.

so i still cry sometimes, but i cry for myself.  i cry for my losses, i cry for my friend's losses, and i cry for the things we will all lose one day.  i cry for my joys and accomplishments, for my friend's joys, and for all the wonderful things i know are to come in the future.  but i don't cry because that one amazing woman left my life - as much as i miss her and the time we spent, i'm thankful for the time we spent and the lessons she taught me (that i may not have been ready to learn at the time).  and i think about sending her a card letting her know that.

happy new year, everyone.