Get to Know Me Better?

I’ve had this blog for quite a while (it used to be coffeetattoos.wordpress.com but I decided to upgrade recently) and never really introduced myself. So maybe it’s time for me to do that…??

I’m the middle of three kids – my sister is four years older, my brother is seven and a half years younger (he was an oops… lol). My sister also has two kids (ages 11 and 12).

I’ve been diagnosed with Depression with Manic Elements (which was originally misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder Type II), Anxiety, and PTSD. I have taken medication at various times for the bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety but have not been on anything since early 2018.

I’ve been drinking coffee since I was probably 12 or 13, granted back then it was in the equivalent of a frappuccino so I couldn’t really taste the coffee. I started drinking coffee (with cream and sugar) in high school when I was probably 15.

I got my first tattoo in I think December 2011 when I was 19 – it’s on the right side of my ribs. I got the Scorpio symbol, but it’s got vines coming off either side so it sort of all blends together.
Then I waited about 8 years before I got my second – on the left side of my chest – which has more meaning behind it than my first. It’s the adoption symbol crossed with the Celic knot, aka triquetra. I have adoption connections (this will be talked about later, and I have several posts about it) and I have Scotch-Irish heritage on my mom’s side, so it blends my future in adoption and my history together in one piece.

I was going to be an ASL Interpreter until I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in December 2015 (officially in February 2016) and chose to withdraw. It just wasn’t something that I thought was intelligent to continue moving forward with since it is something that can push interpreters out of the field. And I didn’t want to have to look into surgery because even that isn’t a guaranteed fix since it can come back again.

I had people telling me I shouldn’t because they said I’d never go back if I did, but I took a year off of school at that point. I had to figure out what I would do since I had only ever gone to school with the goal of becoming an interpreter.

I worked at a trampoline park, which didn’t last too long. Then I worked at in the headquarters office of a fleet car transportation company (think cars pharma reps have, dealership loaners, that kind of thing).

While I was in those places, I was scrolling though the degree programs my community college had and trying to decide what on earth I wanted to do now that a career in ASL was done for me. Nursing? Everyone tried to tell me they thought I’d be so good at it – and while I do find it fascinating, I simply didn’t/don’t have the science grades for that. Teaching? I don’t have the patience for all the parents – I’ve seen that push teachers into other positions or early retirement.

Eventually I decided that when I eventually go back to school, I will go into the paralegal studies program. My mom worked as a paralegal when I was younger. I’d made a handful of friends who are paralegals in California. And my daughter’s adoptive mom was a paralegal before she chose to resign and stay home with Peanut. It was also the only thing that seemed interesting to me and like something I’d actually be good at.

I’ve made mentions of adoption a couple times above, so let’s just get into that… I am a birthmom. I placed my daughter for adoption 6 years ago. We have an open adoption. She knows who I am. We see each other twice a year – birthday and late Christmas.

Oh, I’m forgetting something… BOOKS. I am a bookworm. I always have something – be that a physical book, kindle, iPad, or my phone – with me to read.

Depression

You asked me how depression feels, and this is all I could come up with.

It feels like I’m walking upstream through a current strong enough to pull me under four times.

There are others with me but they are walking along the banks telling me to “just get out of the water.” But instead of extending me a hand in help, they just move along and leave me behind.

Every once in a while I find a rock that is strong enough for me to lean on, and I can rest for a bit.

But the rock always gets tired of holding me up, and when they let go, I’m left drowning, thrown 50 ft back again.

And nothing is harder than standing up in that current, when everything in you is telling you how much easier things would be if you just let yourself get dragged under.

depression

Imagine it like this. It’s cold and rainy outside. You’re in the middle of nowhere. You’ve got a convertible. The top’s down. The battery’s dead. You can’t put the top up, you can’t go anywhere, you don’t know when the rain is gonna end. It’s gonna take a toll on your mood, your outlook, even if just temporarily.

Depression does that same thing, but it’s not so nicely temporary. And it burrows its way in deeper than just your mood.

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Sweetheart, depression hurts. It hurts bad. Some days are worse than others, and some are intolerable. Especially when I’m all alone and I want so strongly to do something, but my brain tells me to stay where I am and be sad instead.

It’s even worse when I have someone I love worrying about me and trying their best to help, but I just can’t. Leaving the house? Impossible. Taking a shower? Forget it. Putting on actual clothes (that aren’t pajamas)? I can’t imagine it. Admit I need help? Ha, you’re funny.

I have next to no attention span (unless I’m watching one of my three shows). I rarely have energy to do more than I have to. I feel like I’m doing things wrong. I feel like I’m stuck and can’t go anywhere. I frequently see the potential negative aspects of situations. I have so much trouble falling asleep at night. Even when I got enough sleep at night I’m still tired during the day. I snap at people for the smallest things. I constantly fidget. I’m pushing myself to read and write so I’m not just doing nothing all day. I don’t want to have sex. My eating goes to one extreme or the other. My head hurts. My stomach keeps cramping I’ve got a knot in my shoulder that won’t go away. My emotions tend to level out pretty low. I constantly feel down, or I don’t feel much of anything. I’ve thought about suicide, albeit not recently, and had a couple dreams about it, but I’ve never made an attempt to do anything.

The times I do force myself to leave the house, I end up pasting a fake smile on my face and acting like I’m okay. Doing that kills me, but it keeps things less complicated with people who don’t know that I was diagnosed. Or at least I can’t remember if they know that I was. Keeping people in the dark is so much more often easier than to let them into this world. But dragging someone into it would mean letting them past the walls that I’ve worked so hard to build in order to keep people out.

I know it probably seems strange to call depression its own world, but it honestly is. Functioning in reality isn’t something that those who suffer from mental illness can do with ease most times. Whether it be because of asshole neurotransmitters in your brain telling you that you should just stay home because you’re worthless, or because of crippling anxiety, or paranoia, or whatever the reason may be. It’s not something that everyone understand, and yet we try to make people understand. Even if they’re not willing, or don’t believe it unless it’s something that they can see.

Unfortunately, for most of us, mental illness isn’t something that others can physically see just by looking at our bodies. It’s mental. It’s inside our minds. Yes, they may be physical manifestations but they’re not always obvious. Shallow breathing that comes with anxiety/panic attacks? It’s not exactly easily seen, but it pains the body as well as zaps your energy and strength. Shaking/trembling hands? It can be hidden with hands in pockets or bracing hands against something.

The racing thoughts, the stomach knots, the walls closing in, the deathly need to flee. None of these things are visible, but they come with living daily with a mental illness. When it comes to facing every day, we have two choices: 1) just get through the day and know that you have another chance to fight harder tomorrow and 2) push yourself to do what you don’t really want to do but need to. The second option is going to leave you drained, both emotionally and probably physically, but it’s going to make tomorrow just a little easier.

the-great-depression-tracklist-psychiatrist-nyc-22287

 

Feeling Quite Overwhelmed

As I think I’ve said before, I’m majoring in American Sign Language Interpreting. Really I’ve been saying that for several years now. But as of this semester, I’m actually in the Interpreting program at my school. And being in the program has presented me with more work than I’m used to.

I have chapters to read and a paragraph to read due every Monday for J. I have video assignments due every Tuesday, and I have chapter papers/videos due every Thursday for KT. And I have work for another class that’s due on Thursdays for N – that stuff I haven’t even looked at yet because that teacher isn’t being strict about deadlines yet. So I’m planning to start that work this weekend. I also have the sporadic projects for L that have to get done. One of which she assigned when she cancelled class on Tuesday and was due on Wednesday before midnight.

I’m trying to figure out how to juggle all the work that I have to get it done by due dates. Especially because KT and N (and I think L) can be strict about them. J said she practically hands them out like candy – you just have to ask. 

I honestly haven’t carried a true full course load since my very first semester in college. I forgot how freaking difficult it is. Many nights, I’m looking at my planner at all the work I have to do and I start feeling like I can’t do it all. For an outsider to look at it, it probably doesn’t look to bad. But I know how much time is required to get everything done. Just to do have of one assignment for KT’s class took me and a friend hours longer than it probably should have.

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This is what we looked like after staying up wayyy too late working on interpreting homework

The work is decidedly more intense now than it has been in the past. There so much that I have to keep track of that I had to assign each class a different color (as seen above) so I can see what’s what.

The chapter’s for J’s class are interesting – or at least one of the books doesn’t make me want to fall asleep.
The video assignments for KT’s class are time-consuming, but I do feel better about myself when I finally understand what the signer said.
The chapter’s for KT’s class are better than they could be. It just becomes difficult when we have to record a 3-4 minute video rather than write a 3-4 page paper.
The video work for N’s class is similar to to the video assignments for KT’s class, except that they’re done in spoken English rather than in ASL.
The work for L’s class is different than the others. It’s less time-consuming, in some aspects. There are projects to do, homework videos to film, and Deaf events that we have to go to – but they aren’t handed out every single class.

I have a paper to write this semester where I have to interview an interpreter about their mental and linguistic processes when interpreting for N’s class. For that paper I’m interviewing the on-campus interpreter who teaches linguistics which I took this past spring semester. She’s phenomenal! I have a paper to write for J’s class about which we can choose our own topic – I want to do the requirements and certifications for interpreters in different states since I know two interpreters in states aside from mine, one in TN and one in HI.

M&J fear quote

Even though I’m overwhelmed with work and scared that I’ll never be as skilled as I want to be, I’m not going to give up and quit the interpreting program. I’m absolutely not doing that. I know that there’s a desperate need for interpreters, and I want to help – although I can’t every say that to a Deaf person (but that’s a possible post for another day). It’s just overwhelmingly difficult and work-heavy right now. Granted, that probably won’t change in the near future, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t adjust to it in time. It’s going to take time to get to where I’m actually able to interpret.

Release Blitz: Damaged Goods by J.C. Hannigan

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00026]

RELEASE BLITZ

TITLE: DAMAGED GOODS

SERIES: DAMAGED SERIES

AUTHOR: J.C. HANNIGAN

PUBLISHER: BOOKTROPE PUBLISHING

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1NaKaNA

B&N: http://bit.ly/1ONLWkZ

iTunes: http://apple.co/1QaItxg


SYNOPSIS

Everly Daniels can’t seem to fall out of love with Grayson Dixon.

Five years after locking eyes with him, Everly is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. He has a pull on her that she can’t seem to break, even if she wanted to. Grayson may be the love of her life, but he doesn’t make it easy. He has built walls around himself that only Everly can breach. But Grayson knows he is not the good guy. He’s reckless and careless, and even if Everly brings a little color into his life, he worries he will destroy her, and cares too much to let that happen.

She has always been the shy wallflower who is afraid to participate. But senior year, all that is about to change.

This captivating new adult novel will take readers on a riveting journey of emotion and growth.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J.C. Hannigan lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, their two sons and two dogs.She writes contemporary new adult romance and suspense. Her novels focus on relationships, mental health, social issues, and other life challenges.

FACEBOOK: facebook/jcahannigan

TWITTER @jcahannigan

WEBSITE: www.jchannigan.com


And to get you quickly go clicking away to buy this book, here are some teasers to entice you:

Teaser #1

Teaser #2Teaser #3

Teaser #4

Anxiety?

Now that I’m back in classes, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve got anxiety. I have a psychiatry appointment tomorrow, and I think I need to bring it up with my doctor. Things just aren’t right. I looked up a list of symptoms for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and I freakishly feel that a lot of them apply to me.

  • Excessive, ongoing worrying and tension
    • The mass worrying, I can’t pin to one thing, but I always feel like there’s something I need to be thinking about because otherwise I’ll end up doing something wrong.
  • Unrealistic view of problems
    • I always think that things are going to be worse than they are, even the smallest things.
  • Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”
    • I can’t sit still most times. In class, I’m always fidgeting with something.
  • Irritability
    • I snap at the smallest things, so frequently that it’s absurd.
  • Muscle tension
    • Even if I’m just sitting in class, I feel like I have knots in my shoulders.
  • Headaches
    • I’ve given up on recording when I have headaches because they happen so often.
  • Sweating
    • I don’t really deal with the sweating too much, unless where I am is quite warm – but then I feel like it’s temperature related and not due to anxiety.
  • Difficulty concentrating
    • I find it so difficult to focus in all of my classes, especially Lori’s and KT’s because they’re in ASL. So if I’m not looking, I miss something. And trying to understand a class taught in my second language is difficult enough without difficulty concentrating.
  • Nausea
    • The nausea is worst when I don’t get enough sleep, or if I don’t eat breakfast before I go to school. Other than that, it’s not too bad.
  • Need to go to bathroom frequently
    • I constantly have to go to the bathroom, even if I’m not drinking a whole lot that day.
  • Tiredness
    • Feeling tired is a constant in my life, even if I got “enough” sleep – which is usually too much because getting up in the mornings when I don’t have a plan for the day is a huge struggle.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
    • Even with being on Seroquel with has a sedative effect, I still have trouble falling asleep.
  • Trembling
    • Unless I’m doing a huge presentation, or I’m going to be in front of a huge amount of people, I don’t have problems with trembling.
  • Easily startled
    • If I manage to focus on something, I jump if someone comes up behind me or says something to me when I can’t see them.

And those are just the things that are listed. I also, very frequently, opt out of going to church if I don’t need to go. I really only need to go one Sunday a month because I’m on the video team so I deal with recording the service so that we can put the video on the website for people who couldn’t make it.


I’m wondering if I’ll need to have another medication added to deal with a potential anxiety disorder. This is not something that I like the idea of. I don’t want to have to take more medication. I just don’t know if I truly have something, or if I’m just weird and have issues that don’t equate to a mental illness. I’m just hoping to get answers tomorrow at my appointment.

Oh, I should probably also add that I’ve had panic attacks in the past and was given medication for that. I should probably bring that up because I was seeing a different psychiatrist at that point.

Ugh, I’m really not looking forward to tomorrow…

Back to School

I’ve been dealing with a whole bunch of anxiety about school starting soon. So I did some searching online – I went to Tumblr and Pinterest and typed studyblr into the search bar – and found all of the information I have typed up below.  


Studying Hacks

  1. Before you take a test, write all relevant info on an index card
  2. Before you start an exam, write down all your formulas
  3. Use a website/program to block websites that distract you
  4. Mnemonic Devices are helpful for remembering pesky material
  5. Vamp up your notes with colored pens, highlighters, imagery
  6. Do practice tests, look over old papers, make note of frequent questions
  7. Don’t stress
    1. Don’t do all-nighters
    2. Drink lots of water
    3. Take a bath
    4. Listen to upbeat music
    5. Smile

What’s in My Backpack

  • Laptop + charger
  • Notebook(s)
  • Textbooks
  • Pens/pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Sharpies
  • Planner
  • Phone charger/batteries
  • Small makeup bag
  • Hair ties
  • Kindle

Planning Your Study Time

  1. Outline the big chunks
    1. Identify the topics to be covered & studied
    2. Those topics are your tasks
  2. Break down & list subtasks
    1. Identify & list the steps that need to be taken in order to complete each task
    2. Ask: What and How
      1. WHAT are you trying to accomplish?
      2. HOW will you accomplish it?
  3. Weigh the tasks & subtasks
    1. Which section did you teacher emphasize the most?
    2. Which section did you struggle with the most?
    3. Highlight & remember these tasks, for they need more attention`
  4. Decide when each subtask needs to be done
    1. Follow THE SEVEN DAY STUDY PLAN
      1. Organize your study materials/Check if anything is missing & Study/Review materials emphasized in:
      2. Lectures
      3. Textbook
      4. Lectures & Textbook
      5. Lectures
      6. Textbook
      7. Review all & catch up with what you couldn’t do days 1-6

Tips:

  • Study a maximum of 2 hours per night, total hours must be ~10-14
  • Review constantly before the test/exam approaches
  • Try to complete all the tats planned for the day before you go to sleep
  • Sleep at least 6 hours night before the test

Studying Tips

Take Notes!
Good studying practices begin with taking notes. If you don’t have notes, you have already limited yourself. Jot down the important things and the things you may not remember later on when you’re in class. Not taking notes is like shooting yourself in the foot.

Highlight It!
A lot of teachers and professors give study guides. These are important, don’t lose them. Highlight the things in your notes that correspond with the study guide, or the outline of your textbook. Color coordinate your highlighting to themes, subjects, and main ideas. It helps to see all of the material that is related in the same color, but different things in different colors. 

Write It Down!
Writing things down is crucial to studying. If you’re trying to remember that the Earth’s axis has a tilt of 23.5° and that the ecliptic is the sun’s path through the celestial sphere, write it down. Write it several times. If you can’t remember the difference between SMDP and STV electoral systems, write them down. Write down things about both and compare them. For things like dates, this is honestly the best way to remember them, write it and repeat it in your head as many times as it takes until you remember it like your own birthday. May 7, 1945? VE Day. April 15, 1865? Abraham Lincoln dies. The more you write it, the easier it is to recall it at a later date. {The education department says it takes repeating something 3 times for it to stick in long term memory vs. short term memory, but you may need more for certain things!} 

Practice!
Doing math? Conversions in chemistry? Practice. The rule of three applies here as well. Practice the ones you know, but spend more time on the ones you don’t. Repeat it. Try to work it out without looking at the steps or solutions. Doing this on your own is the best way to learn, and down worry if you mess up! That’s why you’re studying!

Think About It!
This is probably the second most important step in the studying process. Think about what you’re studying. Think about how the information relates to the main ideas. Think about why this information is important, and what implications there are from the process/event/systems. Relate main ideas and try to see the cause and effect relationship of things. Being able to remember information is just one part, you actually need to know it and be able to manipulate the information for tests and papers. A really easy way to do this? Outline the chapter and your notes. Generally textbook authors write fairly well and outline this stuff themselves before they write, and also in your books. The outline can show you a different aspect than what your teacher has given you.

Break It Down!
Make a list of what you need to study. If you need to study for a test where you will have to write 4 essays, make each one a task. Break everything down into smaller parts and study them one at a time. Breaking things down does a couple things – it helps you know what all you have left to do, and what you have time for. It helps you know how much you have left, and it also helps you not become overwhelmed with too much information. Compartmentalize things when you study and when you finish a few tasks and cross things off your list take a little break! 


I’m really hoping that all of those things will help this semester…


Slowly Processing, Slowly Progressing – But I Am Moving Forward

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When you’re feeling as low as I have lately, there’s really only one way you can go. And that’s up. You may feel like you’re not getting anywhere, even though you’re giving it everything you have. It may be taking time to process what happened to get you down where you are. But you know that you want to get back up and keep moving.


Honestly, that’s where I am. I don’t know how I slipped this low without noticing it at some point. I don’t have a clue what triggered it. That pisses me off.  I hate being here and not knowing how or why I am. But as I sit writing this, and think about what my summer has looked like, I’m starting to come up with something that makes sense. That it has something to do with the fact that it’s summer, I’m home with my brother all day, and there’s not really a schedule to anything. I have nothing to do that can’t be put off till later in the day or even tomorrow.

The rest of my summer doesn’t stretch out much further – I have this week, a week at the beach, a bridal shower, a week at home, and then I’m back in classes.

Hopefully being back in classes will help with this constant feeling of being lost and pointless. I’ll have things to do, and people to talk to face-to-face instead of via words on a screen. And as I say this, I realize that part of having slipped to where I am is not really having social interaction with people besides my family. It’s isolating and, quite frankly, depressing. Having homework to do, projects to work on, textbooks to read – that kind of thing makes getting through the day easier.

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I tried to keep up my posting through the summer, but as you’ve seen, I haven’t been very good at it. I’ve had 7 posts go up May-July. I only had one go up in June. One? Seriously? Looking at that makes me feel like I’ve failed with my blog. At one point I had a goal of one post per week, but I don’t think I was ever really able to keep up with that.

So now I don’t really have a goal for how frequent my posts are – I just want them to go up as often as I’m capable. I don’t think that’s ridiculous. It’s more realistic given what I’m dealing with.

I’m Enjoying Myself Right Now.. Am I Really Depressed?

I’22f4637m struggling.

There… I said it.

Getting up out of bed isn’t easy.
Getting dressed isn’t easy.
Reminding myself to eat isn’t easy.
Functioning like a normal person isn’t easy.

I don’t like this. I want to fight it off, but I can’t. I don’t have the energy for it. I’ve been like this for longer than want to admit. I don’t tell anyone because I don’t want to be a burden on them. I don’t tell people because I don’t like the feeling of knowing that people are worried about me.

I pretend to be okay all day long. I don’t want people to think there’s something wrong with me.

sad_emoticon_cryBut when I’m alone at night, when I know that everyone else has gone to bed. That’s when I take off the mask. That’s when I give up on trying to keep it together. Most nights I cry. I couldn’t tell you why if you asked. I just know that something’s wrong and I can’t do anything but cry.

I lay awake in my bed, under my blanket, unable to sleep. I turn on Netflix and find something to watch. Just to pass the time. I really don’t want to spend half the night just staring at the ceiling. I would rather have something to focus on than letting the thoughts roll around in my head. That can get to be dangerous. Especially because I start thinking about what would happen if I relapsed to self-harm.

The other night I was absolutely miserable. I was pretty sure that I was going to cry myself to sleep. I text a couple friends (one in NC and one in AL) but only one responded. So she and I talked for probably over an hour. I was telling her about how I basically don’t get hugs from anyone anymore. And I feel awkward asking for them, so most times I just keep my mouth shut and go without human contact. Which for me isn’t exactly easy, or comfortable. I was convinced that there’s something wrong with me. She kept telling me that there isn’t. I don’t think I ever fully believed her, or even do now.

That’s the thing when I’m struggling. I don’t believe things that people tell me. Even if somewhere inside me I know that they’re right.

I’m sinking back into myself. Isolating myself more and more. Completely faking it when I’m around people. Pretending like I’m enjoying myself. Laughing when I’m supposed to. It’s almost like I have to think about it. It’s more than the very minimal functioning that I want to do. The minimal functioning that I can get through and not feel completely exhausted.

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-participate-in-all-the-class-discussions-f2ee6bSure, I have my moments where I really do enjoy myself. Like in my comparative linguistics class at school. The teacher is hilarious and down to earth, and all the other students come from all kinds of backgrounds so they have different perspectives. It’s so much fun to listen to the discussions even if I don’t really have anything to add. I chime in here and there, and discussions keep going.

It’s those moments when I question if I’m just making everything up. All the negative stuff that I’m dealing with. Is it all read? Or am I just imagining it? I mean, if I really am enjoying myself and having fun and laughing right now, is it seriously possible that I’m depressed?

Yes, it is. I’m what I like to call functionally depressed. I can still function, but I have my moments when I just can’t. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody’s different. I have to keep reminding myself of that. There is no one uniform look for any mental illness. It’s possible to enjoy myself in a certain situation and be miserable half an hour later when I’m not there anymore.

I’m walking my path, not anyone else’s. What I go through is real. I can’t deny that. My story is my own. And I need to own that, however difficult it may be.

Letter to Myself

Deaf You –

I know things seem really difficult right now, but they won’t always be. You’re stronger than you think you are. You made it through losing someone July, and you can make it through this too.

Finding the right medication takes time. Time I know you don’t want to spend on it, but you have to. And it seems like you’re close to finding the right one now anyway. I believe that you’re close to settling on a medication. That this one you’re on now, Seroquel, may even be the one. The only issue for you right now is drowsiness, and people seem to be saying that that goes away. Or maybe you just need to adjust the time at which you take it.

School is a stress that I know you wish you could avoid, but if you want to get into your program by the fall, you have to keep pushing forward. It’s hard now, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Family drama will never be something that you can escape from. Especially with how close you are to your mom. I hope that doesn’t change for you. It’s a wonderful thing to have.

Personal struggles aren’t really something I can tell you will go away or not. Those are thing that are going to change all the time. But if you remember how much of a struggle it was back in July when you lost her, you’ll be able to push forward. She should be someone that, even though not part of your live anymore, still gives you strength through memories.

Sincerely,
Someone Close to You