Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dying is not allowed.

The Deseret Morning News is running a series of articles this week about teen suicide in Utah. I have been reading the articles, every day so far, and plan on continuing to read them for the rest of the week. They remind me.

My freshman year of college, one of my roommates moved out partway through fall semester. She struggled with manic depression. One of my other roommates that year, and one of my very good friends, struggled with depression. I made up a rule that year, to repeat to her, and to myself. Dying is not allowed. It is strictly forbidden. Against the rules. It became the number one rule, for everything. We would say it jokingly around finals when everybody was stressed out. I would repeat it when my friends were having problems with relationships. I still say it frequently, to many of the people I care about.

The rule started off being rather selfish. I can deal with the pain my friends cause me, I can deal with listening to them tell me about all of their problems, I can try to help and encourage them. I did not know if I would be able to deal with them dying, though. Once someone is dead, I cannot help them anymore, and they can't help me, and I can't talk to them, and I can't see them, and they're no longer there, brightening my life in their various ways. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was showing slight signs of depression myself. It wasn't serious, just the occasional rapid mood change, from hyper to crying within a minute's time, with no good reason why. I blamed it on stress from school, on not enough sleep, on being hungry. I ruminated on things for long periods of time. I knew, that if one of my friends committed suicide, that I would not be able to deal with it normally. I did not know how I would react, but I knew inside myself somewhere that it would not be good. So the rule lived on, repeated often.

My sophmore year, I got a boyfriend. That makes it sound like a complicated chase, where I won a possession. More realistically, I discovered a person who quickly became my best friend, and we fell in love. I was incredibly happy, and rather dependant. My grades got worse, as I procrastinated homework to do things I enjoyed, like spending time with him, watching movies, reading, hanging out with friends, because I wanted the happy feelings to continue. I had the occasional bad day, nothing that seemed too horribly abnormal though. I blamed my mood swings on PMSing, on having my feelings hurt inadvertently, on nothing at all, but always with the reassurance to whoever I was talking to (usually my best friend, Mike) that I would be better the next day, that I would be back to normal when I woke up in the morning. Everybody has bad days, everybody feels lonely sometimes, even when they're surrounded by people that they like. This is, as far as I know, true.

The summer before my junior year, Mike went home to Arizona to get ready for his mission. We had agreed that I would wait for him, that we would get married when he got home again, that we would spend the rest of forever together, which would make the two years away from each other bearable. I talked to him on the phone and on Instant Messenger every day. I missed him. I had learned to trust him, and rely on him, and he would make me talk to him when I was having one of my bad days, until I was feeling a little better, and he wasn't around to do that anymore. I still wanted to do it on the phone or on the computer, but didn't know how to tell him that. I got irritated when he would ask if he could call me back or talk to me later because he was going to watch a show with his parents, or go hang out with his friends. I got even more irritated when he didn't respond much to me because he was involved in an interesting conversation with someone else, even though I knew that our conversation wasn't very interesting (maybe that added to my irritation, wanting to be interesting and not knowing how to be). I wanted his attention, his compliments, his time, because when he gave them to me, I felt worthwhile. When I did not have them, my brain would present me with a variety of my faults and shortcomings which I could think about to occupy my time. Looking back at it, I wasn't being fair to either of us, and Mike was incredibly patient to put up with me and my fishing for compliments and attention. He didn't know what was going on in my head any better than I did.

The fall of my junior year, he officially left. The daily phone calls stopped abruptly. He and his parents came over to my apartment the night before he went into the MTC so that we could see each other one last time. I sobbed on the couch of my apartment for a good hour after saying goodbye. At first things seemed okay, I was doing alright in my classes when they first started. I had lost my scholarship, and my parents informed me I needed to get a job to help pay for things, so I had gotten a custodial job. I gradually stopped wanting to do things though. I did not care about my homework, and continually put it off until the last minute, or later. I started skipping classes regularly. I missed Mike horribly, and started crying more frequently. I didn't like myself. I moved in with my grandma to try to save some money on rent for Winter semester. I talked a lot on IM to two good friends who were struggling with mental health issues. Things got worse as Winter semester progressed, until one day in January when I woke up, got on my computer, and started crying. I went downstairs finally to get something to eat and go to class in hopes that having some blood sugar, and doing what I was supposed to be doing, might help me feel better. I got to the bottom of the stairs, and sat down. Within moments I found myself lying on the carpet, curled up, sobbing, and I could not explain to myself why. I went back upstairs and told one of my friends about it through IM. He told me to go see someone at the counseling center, and to make an appointment with a doctor. I did both. I also called my mother sometime, I don't know when, and told her about the depression (which is what the doctor officially diagnosed me with). I told her about being tired all the time, and about all the crying, and about not ever being motivated to do anything. It was a hard conversation. I also started taking medicine every day, doctor's orders, and I quit my night-shift custodial job to try to get a better sleep schedule going.

My first prescription was for Amitriptyline (I think I'm spelling that right). It didn't work at all. My second prescription was for Effexor. It seemed to work okay. It stopped the frequent crying spells at least, and made it slightly easier to force myself to go to class. It also made me constantly nauseated, and I completely lost any trace of an appetite. I ate still, sometimes, if I forced myself. Summer came. I thought I was doing okay, and I was tired of never being hungry, of having to force myself to eat as much as a single meal in a day. I didn't want to go talk to the doctor again. The doctor was like a symbol of my depression, I feared that she would tell me that I wasn't better, and I so desperately wanted to be better, to be normal again, to not be, as I saw it, flawed. I did not want to go see the counselor again either. She was busy, it was hard to get an appointment, and when I went, she didn't ask probing questions like Mike did before he left, to find out if I was really doing okay or not, and she didn't remember me from one visit to the next, and I saw no reason to go back. I was, after all, doing okay. I stopped taking the Effexor. Eventually, my appetite came back. I was incredibly happy that day, when I finally felt truly hungry again. The depression, of course, also came back.

After about three months of not taking any medicine, I realized that I really wasn't doing well at all. The old hated thoughts of not being good enough, of being a disappointing human being, of doing bad things that made me a bad person, were all plaguing me again. I gave in, and got a new prescription from the doctor, this time for Wellbutrin. It worked alright for awhile. My grandma fell while trimming a tree and ended up in Intensive Care for four months. I started crying a lot again. I had been planning on graduating in August, and it hadn't happened, and I had changed my graduation plan to December, but was having an awful time being motivated to do my Independent Study Shakespeare course. Two days before Thanksgiving, I showed up at home, with an overnight bag and my homework, and asked my mom if I could stay. I started commuting to class and work every day, and to church on Sundays (because I still had my calling in Provo). The doctor upped my dosage to twice as much as I had been taking before, and for the first time, I really started to do okay emotionally, and got to start slogging through all the homework I was behind on, to try to pass my classes for that semester. I delayed my graduation again to April, so that I could take an Incomplete grade in my American Lit. class (thank goodness for the wonderfully understanding of both Dr. Snyder and Dr. Harris that semester, who both let me turn in assignments late, as long as I showed up to their classes).

I ran out of medicine once. Living in Salt Lake, it wasn't exactly easy to get in to the Health Center to see about getting my prescription rewritten. After a few days, all the old thoughts were back again. Good people, I would think to myself, go to class, and do their homework. And good people prepare their Sunday lessons sooner than Saturday night or Sunday morning. And good people read their scriptures and pray every day. And good people work hard at their jobs, even if their job is at Cosmo's Connection, rather than sitting around talking to their coworkers. And good waiting-for-a-missionary girlfriends, I thought, write long supportive letters to their boyfriends and send them nice packages and make it easy for them to be away from home, instead of telling them about being depressed, about crying, about having hard days and apologizing all the time like I was doing in my letters. And, I thought, I was not a good person. Good daughters, I thought, graduate when they're supposed to. They don't lose their scholarships. They don't move home because they can no longer take care of themselves. They are able to find full-time employment quickly and easily after their classes are done. The live up to their parents' expectations. They are not a waste of money. That was by far my worst day, the day I decided I was a waste of money. I had it all logically figured out in my head, what a waste I was, and what a burden I was to my family, and what a bad girlfriend I was (it was logical at the time to me, as illogical as it seems now). I had repeated my No Dying rule to myself and others so many times that I did not consider suicide as a viable alternative. That was the rule, and if I could not live up to any other rules, I could at least live up to that rule. I did consider, however, running away. Taking some clothes, and getting in my car, and driving to anywhere other than where I was. Of what it would be like to disappear from peoples' lives, to not be a burden to them anymore, to have my actions from then on only affect myself because there would be no-one else around me for them to affect. Luckily for me, my father was home, and instead of running away and trying to disappear, I went and talked to him. I don't know if he knows it, but he saved me that day. I told him what I thought about myself, and he let me know how wrong and convoluted my thoughts were, and reassured me of how much I meant, of how important I was, that I had not disappointed my parents, and more importantly, that I had not disappointed God. I drove down to the Health Center the next day, and went to the front desk, and explained that I had run out of medicine. Then I got to go talk to the nurse at the nurse's station. I got there, and started telling her my name, and started crying. She pulled out my file, and said "You've run out of your medicine, haven't you?" It was more than a little obvious.

She gave me a new prescription. I got a full-time job. I made it past the year-and-a-half mark with waiting for Mike. I graduated, finally, thankfully, passing my classes. I decided, after thinking for awhile about it, that I could stop taking my medicine, but this time, I went and talked to a doctor about it first (not the doctor who had prescribed it, they wouldn't let me go to the Health Center now that I wasn't a student). He said that was fine, that I could just stop taking it, that unlike the Effexor it wasn't a medicine that needed to be tapered off to avoid severe imbalances in my head, as long as I felt I was really truly doing okay enough with little enough stress in my life to be able to handle things. I have been off it ever since.

In eleven days, I am getting married to Mike. I am incredibly excited at the prospect of being sealed to him for eternity, of never having to worry about going through that horrendous separation ever again. At the same time, I realize that depression is, for most people, a life-long illness, and that I have to be careful to not let myself start thinking in the same negative thought patterns that I used to think in. I realize that there are many things, now, which could trigger a relapse of the depression. I am on my guard, and thankfully, I have the loving support and understanding of friends, family, and Mike, to keep me on the right track towards staying healthy. In the meantime, things like reading about teen suicide in Utah, remind me forcibly how thankful I am for such a seemingly-simple rule I made back when I was a freshman.

Dying, my friends, is not allowed.

Monday, April 24, 2006

12 days!

1 painting down, 3 left to go. Probably only 2 will get done. Sooo ready for the semester to be over. Ready for it to be Thursday. Thursday is going to be a grand day. Wednesday may be a grand day too, but Thursday in the long run is much more important. I'm all prepped for it now, too. Just have to get homework done and scuba refresher tomorrow and classes in the meantime. No more working at Waterford, yay. Nice to not have to go to work for a few weeks. Back to painting, sorry for the bad grammar.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Niner, niner, and a couple-o zeros, add in a shift or two

So, it's high time (yes? Yes.) that I write a new (and possibly interesting?) post. It may be slightly (give me a break, you know it will be more than slightly) odd in that it may be at least partially stream-of-consciousness (and you know I'll interrupt myself, I always do when writing like this, though I don't generally stick them in parentheticals (to contradict myself, sometimes I do, and they usually end up being very long tangents) like I am currently doing), writing whatever I feel like as I think of it (because my brain works in mysteriouuuuusssss ways (and you really must wiggle your fingers at the person next to you when you say mysteriouuuuuussss) which is meant to be pronounced with the person saying it holding out the "uh" sound and the "ss" sound at the end, rather than transforming them into an ugly "ooh" sound (I would transcribe all the sounds properly according to what I learned in my linguistics class my freshman (or was it sophmore?) year, but I no longer remember the IPA (I'm surprised I even remembered the name of it, actually) so I will try to write phonetically instead (but I won't actually write phonetically, I'll just write the sounds of words that you may not know from how I originally wrote them how you ought to pronounce them if you were to read them out loud (and I always read my writing out loud in my head, so why shouldn't you?) in something approximating phonetically (this is really getting bad now, I ought to stop))).

Enough of that paragraph, time for a new one. I'm writing this all in Blogger today, and that funny orange Publish Post button is distracting me and making me think of, well, orange. It's a very red-orange. Good for painting poppies and abstract Easter rabbits (though the abstractish Easter rabbit that I drew on the white board at work is yellow...highlighter yellow...with just a little bit of an orange shadow where the second ear goes behind the head. The bunny is very fuzzy. The orange was inadvertent, due to the white board marker that I was using having some orange on it from when I used it previously on the daffodil I drew, but I liked how it ended up, so I left it there. It may be the most vividly colorful whiteboard monthly important dates and random drawings artistic work of art that has ever been on the whiteboard during my entire time at Waterford (whiteboard, I just realized, probably does not have a space between it, being a compound word, like cupcake)). Yellow, bright yellow, is also a good color. My favorite color, I usually tell people, is green, followed closely by blue. This is true. But it is also true that I like pretty much any bright vivid color. And it is possibly even more true that I love painting with bloody-looking red paints (this may be an outlet for my more primal and animalistic instincts) which are much better to paint with than actual blood.

New paragraph time already? But of course. The computer that I built quite a while ago for my parents has been very loud lately. I need to figure out where all the noise is coming from and fix it for them sometime. It's probably just the fan, but yesterday, there were noises that sounded suspiciously like a grinding harddrive, which is particularly odd, because its a SATA drive, and I was under the impression that SATA drives were supposed to, as the newest bestest thing in harddrive technology, or rather, that they were not supposed to make loud grinding wind-up and wind-down noises. (I was also under the impression that, using a SATA drive, the wireless mouse should not get interrupted from working smoothly when the grinding-up and grinding-down heavy thinking of the HDD is happening (happenning?...short vowel sound, but the double-n really doesn't look right, it must be happening...this is how I figure out how to spell most words I write that I'm not sure about, except I really can never figure it out for the word occur (occurr? It must be occur...but that r sitting at the end by itself after the u just always looks so lonely to me)). I want to build a super-quiet computer someday. One that whispers. Unless I'm playing music, in which case I would prefer the speakers to play quite loudly (my left speaker in my current setup only plays static, which is very sad, as its a nice Logitech speaker...I may have to pull it apart and see if the wiring is pulling out or something) but then again, it might just be easier to buy a pre-made super-quiet computer. And a beautifully huge Wacom tablet/screen. Assuming I have money in the future, which I always assume, because, really, I may plan on being poor for the foreseeable future, but why not plan on being insanely wealthy in the future beyond that? There's no way I'll ever become incredibly filthy rich if I assume that I will always be poor. Though, really, I'd be perfectly satisfied with just having enough money to have nice computers (and a laptop, for all my portable writing needs), lots of art supplies, and time to use them. Which may be contradictory.

Speaking of writing, you should all go read Veng's blog (Veng, if you by some odd chance do not already know, is Vengance, a.k.a. Mike, a.k.a. Dusey, a.k.a. My Fiance...he has quite a few aliases to use when doing his evil deeds, like writing poetry in his blog). Be forewarned though that browsers may not properly not auto-play the music, so you may either have to turn it off one-by-one, or you may just get to listen to four songs at once. Which could be interesting. Anyways, Veng is a fabulous (in my humble completely unbiased three-weeks-minus-three-days-away-from-being-his-wife opinion) writer. It is interesting to note that when I interrupt myself, I usually do so in very inconvenient places that make the sentence difficult to read. I need to work on interrupting myself in more convenient spots. He may misspell things occasionally (but then again, I can't figure out the right spelling of occur half the time), but he really writes quite well (which I realistically feel quite qualified to claim as a degree-carrying woman, who graduated with a B.A. due to four years of studying English (I can't say I have a degree in English, because, frankly, they make diplomas so general that really all I have a degree in is Arts, and not Fine Arts (though I'm working on that one)...just Arts in general, which basically includes anything and everything that Sciences doesn't...I vaguely understand the rationalization behind that, but I frequently wish they would put your major on your degree)).

I think I have properly closed all my parentheticals thus far. That does not quelch my desire for a striped balloon. Or 99 red balloons, but only if part of them are German. My great-grandmother is staring at me from her portrait on the wall, reminding me that I have lots to do today and ought not waste any more time writing an overall pointless (but very interrupted! (which does not make it any less pointless, rather, it probably makes it even more pointless) blog. There I go interrupting myself in the middle of an adjective-noun pair again. It's a very well done painting of her, but it is a little off-putting sometimes when I'm at the family computer and she's staring straight at me. So, I should go get to work. I need to stop by Scuba Utah to sign up for a refresher course, and I need to do my big drawing assignment that's due (it's technically late...) before my class begins tonight. Meaning I need to do it before class, not that it's due before class (though it is, technically, as it was due during class last week). So, off I go, into the wild blue yonder, flying high into the sky. It's sunny today! I can see the sky! Hooray! I love sunny days.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dinner

I was originally going to just eat a baked potato, because that's all my mother managed to get cooked for us during her hectic day today (she went to my siblings' track meet, where a female runner ran across the field right when the javelin competition was starting, and the runner ended up with a javelin through her leg, so it delayed everything else quite a lot). Back to my dinner story, I was going to eat just a baked potato. Then I thought, "A baked potato with butter would be so much better," but the butter keeper was empty. So I made my way to the fridge, where I saw the meat and cheese drawer. "A baked potato with cheese would be so much better," I thought to myself, and so I opened the drawer to pull out the cheddar. With the drawer open, I was able to see that my mother purchased turkey and swiss cheese from the deli today. I happen to love meat and cheese from the deli, and I immediately thought of the "Everything" bagels that I had seen on the counter this morning. The "Everything" bagels, despite what the bag claims, do not in fact have everything on them. They're missing the oh-so-delicious Asiago cheese that causes my taste buds to water in delight. But they do have lots of seed things and onions and maybe some other stuff on them. So, in addition to the cheddar, I grabbed the turkey and swiss, and one Everything bagel. Then I proceeded to cut up chunks of cheese onto my baked potato which I then microwaved while assembling my bagel sandwich. With all that ready to go, I decided that I could not possibly eat so much food without a drink. Amazingly enough, I discovered the last can of strawberry lemonade in the pantry. Now I am eating my delicious dinner, quite pleased with myself and my trains-of-thoughts that led me to such tastiness from what started out as just one single baked potato.

In other news, classes are going well, despite having informed my teachers that I'm rather behind on my homework (though I added the caveat that it will all be done by next week, which means I'll have another art-filled weekend this weekend).

In other news, I bought stamps. They cost as much as the invitations did.

In other news, parties and presents are so very, very much fun. This makes me suspect, once again, that I love attention a lot more than I usually proclaim, and that I am somewhat greedy. Somehow though, a pumpkin spice candle seems just as nice a present as a convection toaster oven now, which makes me suspect that perhaps I'm growing up a little.

In other news, Happy Birthday to all of my friends who have April birthdays! Your presents may be a bit belated.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Less than a month! Aaaaah! (Almost entirely wedding stuff)

If I don't have your address yet, and you would like an invitation, if you could possibly find it in your heart to email your address to me, it would make my life so very very much simpler and I would love you for forever and ever. My email address is krazyk at gmail dot com. I have been trying to nab people while they've been online to get their addresses from them, but I'm still missing a few of you that I would like to send invitations to.

I officially gave my two weeks' notice at work on Friday. I learned today that I'm somehow still covered on my parents' insurance once my insurance for this job runs out, which is good, so I won't have to stress quite so very very much about getting all my prescriptions refilled in the next two weeks.

I found a florist. All the flowers are going to be pink. I have no idea what shade of pink. Hopefully they will be pretty. At the least they are very affordable which is good for my rapidly disappearing wedding budget. I think they'll be cute. Pink gerberas daisies, and pink roses, mainly.

Over half of our wedding invitations have been stuffed into addressed envelopes now and are simply waiting to be licked and stamped before I mail them off this week. That was the project yesterday and today, and I am sick of dealing with my family's very temperamental printer now. Much faster than addressing them all by hand though. Unfortunately, the printer absolutely completely refused to print the return addresses on the back of the envelopes (it printed the fronts more or less fine, and it printed the return address on the backs of the few messed up envelopes that we weren't going to use, but whenever we stuck one of the nice ones to be sent to people through the printer, nothing would get printed on the back of it). So, we ended up getting clear address labels from Avery (Easy Peel...one of the greatest inventions ever, they're really quite easy to use) which now have my parents' address printed quite nicely on them.

I have made arrangements with a very nice lady in my ward (who used to be my Young Women's President) to go over to her house this next Friday to sew the bridesmaids' skirts. She has a serger. Yay. That will make it soooo much quicker to make them, and they will end up nicer too. And they will finally be done, and that will be absolutely wonderful. I still need shirts. Bridesmaids, if you see cute black semi-fancy shirts you like at a store, that aren't horribly expensive, if you like them, and want to get them, feel free to do so, and I can reimburse you for them.

I had a nightmare about wedding shoes a few nights ago. It was simply too awful to describe. I still haven't found any decent looking white shoes to wear. I may end up going with the "Keds with ribbons" route if I can't find anything else.

I had my first (and most probably only) bridal shower on Thursday, with lots of my mom's friends, and a few older ladies that I knew. It was quite fun and enjoyable, and they had the most delicious punch, and they were all very kind to me. It was fun to be the center of attention for an evening. I need to remember to buy Thank You cards early this week.

My room was clean for awhile this past week. It was quite monumental. It is getting messy again now. I will have to clean it again.

I am three paintings and one complex drawing behind on homework. They're all due on either Monday or Tuesday of this week. I do not know when I'm going to do them. It's somewhat worrisome. But I did get one of my painting assignments done this past week (I was supposed to paint my backpack, so I painted my cat-shaped backpack, and it turned out quite well, I'm pleased). I quite enjoyed my painting class on Wednesday...we started trying to copy a famous painting of some beached sailboats. Mine's turning out pretty well so far, even though I've only got the shapes and colors blocked in and don't have any details in it yet. I think it'll look nice when it's done though.

Tomorrow I will have an odd combination of meals. Lunch is going to be a sushi party with some of Veng's friends. For dinner, my family will be having a traditional Passover meal (potato pancakes, when made properly, are delicious, so I'm looking forward to it quite a lot).

I have been getting lots of small scratches on my hands recently. They don't really hurt. What hurt was when I accidentally scratched Mike's face today when I was trying to poke him (it didn't really hurt him, but I felt bad, because it bled a bit). I think my fingernails are going to be ugly and short like normal when I get married. I don't know if I have enough energy to care.

I did have enough energy to care about my vision though, and finally went and ordered a years' worth of soft contacts. Now I just have to get in the habit of wearing the crazy things.

If it seems, when you talk to me, like I'm going insane, or am not paying a lot of attention to you, I profusely apologize. I am catching up slowly on my list of things to do, but I need to pick up the pace a bit and its rather stressful trying to remember everything I'm supposed to get done each day (I already forgot to make two rather important phone calls today). But things are getting done, bit by bit, and I am crossing them off my list with a big black marker, which helps me feel better. :)

I am so very much looking forward to the last two weeks before my wedding when I will not have work to worry about every day any more. Hopefully I will be able to cram all the last few still undone things into those weeks, and still manage to have a little bit of time to gather my wits and maybe regain some sanity.

So, there's a basic update on stuff. Stay alive! I will be able to interact normally with you again in a month! Yay!