Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Tag: health (page 2 of 4)

It’s a Process

Holy shit, it’s September!

That’s about as coherent as my thoughts have gotten over the past few days. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with anxiety management lately, but as October draws closer, I find I’m often just a big old bundle of nerves.

I’m still waiting on a letter from my doctor that is a crucial part of raising my chances of having insurance cover surgery next month (if I’m lucky, I’ll have the letter by the end of the day today).

Once I have that letter in hand, I can turn it (along with the letter from my therapist) in to the surgeon’s office, who will submit all of that to my insurance, and then I cross all appendages and wait to hear if I’m covered, or if I’m going to be in a whole lot more credit card debt at the end of all of this.

Still, despite the anxiety, things are going pretty well. I am constantly reminded that my people are the best people, and I am super grateful for that. I have such a great support system, and multiple creative outlets, and a cute, cozy place to live with the love of my life. So even though I have several thousand dollars of credit card debt that might be about to double hanging over my head, I feel like I can’t really complain too much. I’m finally in a place where I feel like things really are going to work out, somehow.

Short and Sweet

I realize I’m a little late posting this today. Sorry about that! The cold I thought I’d managed to kick last week came back with a vengeance, and I have spent the past few days feeling pretty miserable. I still sound horrible today, but at least I’m back at  work and feeling a little more human.

That said, I don’t actually have a whole lot to write about. So here’s a quick list of things I’m looking forward to in the near future:

  1. Top surgery is now officially less than two months away. I’m in the process of pulling together the documentation I need to bring to my next visit with the surgeon. I’m looking forward to getting it all over with, and I am looking forward to having three whole weeks off from work.
  2. One of our favorite folk musicians is playing a couple of places in town in the next couple of weeks. It’s always a pleasure to hear him play, and it looks like we’ll be able to catch a couple of his shows.
  3. More than anything, at the moment I am looking forward to a weekend spend hanging out with my partner (whose birthday is tomorrow!) as we both work on recovering from our respective colds.

Anxiety Management

Some of you may have noticed that there was no Accidental Fudge post last week. I did not intend to take a hiatus – truth be told, I spent most of last Wednesday and Thursday more than half convinced it was Friday, and it was Thursday night before I realized I hadn’t posted anything, at which point I felt like I really didn’t have much to say. So I apologize for that.

July is a packed month for us this year – visits from family and friends, plus a music festival, all on different weekends. It’s a little overwhelming to look at it all at once, so I’m trying to stay focused on a week or so at a time.

I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed and distracted the past few weeks. ManicBrain has come and settled itself in with no indication of when it might vacate the premises. Which isn’t so bad, as long as I can remember that it’s the reason I’m overwhelmed and distracted. It’s when I get so distracted that I forget…that’s when problems happen. Thankfully, I’ve been managing to stay pretty on top of things.

One of the biggest things I’m working on right now is managing my anxiety. I deal with differing levels and types of anxiety depending on where I’m at in my Bipolar cycle, but it’s pretty omnipresent lately, and that’s no fun. For anyone who’s interested and/or looking for ways to do this themselves, here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • I quit drinking regular coffee. Cold turkey.
    • I will still indulge in some decaf cold brew from our favorite coffee shops (or that we make at home), but mostly, I’m just getting really into tea.
    • Caffeine in small amounts is okay…in coffee-sized amounts, it does seem to amplify my anxiety.
    • I’ve been drinking coffee since age 12, so this was a big step, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Mostly, I was just really sleepy for a couple of weeks.
  • I cut waaaaaaaaay back on my access to social media on my phone. I didn’t go as far as the author of this article, but I used some of the ideas there.
    • I deleted a lot of apps, including all the retail apps I sometimes get into the bad habit of searching late at night (Amazon, eBay, and Etsy were the big ones).
    • I removed the shortcut to Facebook in my phone’s browser, and turned off the “frequently visited sites” feature. And I committed to logging out of Facebook whenever I’ve finished checking it.
    • I also disabled my phone’s ability to use the web browser over anything but WiFi, which further limits the time I spend compulsively checking my phone.
    • Maybe it just means I’m lazy, but the fact that I’m not a couple of taps away from my news feed means that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve checked Facebook in the past ten days.
    • I left Instagram on my phone, because that’s my happy social media, which is way more carefully curated than my Facebook feed. Facebook has its uses, but it mostly just makes me sad/angry/stressed out.
  • I started developing a morning routine for myself.
    • I’m a creature of habit. As much as I sometimes like to be spontaneous and try new things, I am most comfortable in familiar places and patterns.
    • I was already kind of in a morning routine, but it mostly consisted of getupbrushteethgetdressedrunoutthedoor.
    • I’ve been pushing myself to get up earlier, so that I have time to do more calming things in my morning routine.
    • Now the routine regularly includes a quick tarot spread, a few minutes spent jotting down thoughts about the cards, and at least ten minutes of meditation. Which brings us to the last point…
  • I joined Headspace and started mediating in the morning.
    • This was unplanned. At the end of my company’s employee appreciation week last week, we were given a link and a code to get a free year of full access to the site. It sounded interesting, and since it wasn’t costing me anything, I figured I’d give it a try.
    • The little ten minute meditative sessions in the morning have been great, and I tend to feel a lot less stressed before work when I do them.
    • I do get distracted a lot, but the whole system is very low-pressure, which is really helpful for my scattered brain these days.

This is not a foolproof plan, and I’m still dealing with anxiety. But I feel like I’m building up a good selection of resources and healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with it.

How about you, friends? How are you managing anxiety these days?

Things are Looking Up

Last week was awfully full of feelings, many of them rather negative.

This past week has been full of feelings, too, but largely of a more positive variety.

Last Thursday night, my partner and I went to a songwriting workshop at the Old Town School put on by one of Mouths of Babes, one of our favorite folk duos. It was phenomenal and inspiring and made me want to write all the songs.

I haven’t really had time yet to start on writing all the songs, though. Friday morning I picked up a giant rental SUV before work, and that evening, my partner and I went to IKEA, where we picked up four pieces of furniture and a handful of other organizational tools. Saturday was spent building furniture and rearranging most of our apartment. We finished up Sunday, and even had time to go to MSI with a friend and then to a Mouths of Babes concert (which was also phenomenal and inspiring).

And then Monday came.

Monday evening, a friend arrived in town who will be staying with us for a total of almost two weeks. My partner and I can’t take any time off during the week, but we’re looking forward to playing tourist a bit over the weekend and take advantage of some city sites we haven’t taken in yet in the 3+ years we’ve lived here!

But before that, on Monday, I worked half a day, and then went to a consultation appointment with a surgeon here in Chicago who, among other things, performs gender-affirming chest masculinization surgery for transmasculine folks.

The appointment went really, really well – the surgeon was charming and knowledgeable, and considering the rather intense anxiety I generally have regarding medical facilities, professionals, and procedures, I felt surprisingly safe.

Long story short, I set a date for surgery, so come October, I will be getting two literal weights off my chest. I am unbelievably happy, and far less anxious than I was a week ago now that I have that giant unknown better nailed down.

Sick Day Guilt

I spent most of last weekend feeling like I was fighting off a cold. Monday afternoon, while I was at work, I started feeling dizzy and feverish, so I left a little early. Tuesday, I woke up still feeling feverish, and decided that, even though I need to be saving as much of my sick and vacation time as I possibly can right now, I wasn’t going to get anything done if I went in to work (aside from spread my germs around). I called in.

I slept until almost noon. I spent most of the rest of the day on the couch, where I knit, dozed, and watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the eleventy-billionth time.

And it helped. I felt much better yesterday (even if I wasn’t back to 100%), and I went back to work.

But even though I know I made the right decision in staying home on Tuesday, there’s a part of me that keeps trying to feel guilty. Like, I probably could have sucked it up and gone in. I probably would’ve been miserable, but I could’ve toughed it out, right?

I wrestle with this guilt every time I call in sick to anything, be it work or a volunteer shift or even hanging out with friends. I think a lot of it comes back to having my authority on my feelings called into question as a kid/young adult. I worry that I’m overreacting, that I’m being too sensitive. Particularly when I take a day off for more mental health than physical health reasons, I feel like I’m just not being tough enough. I worry that it means I have a poor work ethic.

Which is all such bullshit, right? If I’m sick, I should stay home and not get my coworkers sick. I should rest so that I can come back to work on top of my game (or at least close to it), rather than getting less and less productive as I try through sheer will power to keep my immune system from failing me. I know all of this. I’ve told other people this I don’t know how many times.

The biggest reason I am trying to save all my sick and vacation time is that I’m planning to schedule chest masculinization surgery for this fall. I’ll need to take at least two full weeks off, and should probably plan for three or four. I’m hoping to be able to work things out so that my recovery falls in the month of All the Jewish Holidays (which is October, this year), where my office doesn’t have a single full week of work for an entire month. That will help with the being able to afford time off. And I should be able to work from home before I’m ready to come back to the office, which will also help.

But see? Even there, I’m thinking about working from home immediately after major surgery, rather than giving myself time to recover. I should know better. I pushed myself too hard after a minor surgical procedure last spring, and wound up missing more work than I would have if I’d just given myself a couple of extra days at the beginning of recovery.

I pride myself on the fact that I own my dysfunction and do my best to deal with it. I’m at a loss with this one, though. I can acknowledge that my fears that my worth is affected by how productive I am at work are irrational, but it’s hard to know how to reframe them into something more useful.

Guess I have something to talk about next time I see my therapist.

A Tiny Blog for a Weird Week

This is going to be a short post this week, as I evidently have the cold that just keeps coming back, and spent the last day and a half home from work…with my partner, who also caught the cold. So it’s been a sleepy, sniffly, coughing mess at our house lately, and I feel like I’ve sort of lost track of what day it is.

On a brighter note, here’s a list of three things that have kept me smiling between coughing fits:

  1. I started listening to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast last week. I’m over halfway through the backlog of episodes already. It’s been exactly the sort of weird, dark humor that I’ve needed in the midst of some frustration with work and other life things.
  2. As annoying as being sick has been for both of us, it’s been nice to have some extra time to hang out with my partner during the week. Our weekday schedules tend to be packed on opposite days, so the bulk of our quality time together tends to be on the weekends.
  3. We just finished watching the season of the Great British Baking Show that’s on Netflix, and that was absolutely delightful. It’s a total departure from the cutthroat attitude of most American shows of that genre. We laughed, we cried, we got super attached to most of the bakers, and by about halfway through the season really just wanted everyone to win.

Sickness and Silver Linings

I’m writing this on the bus on my way to work. Yesterday, I stayed home sick. I couldn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until 1pm, and I neglected to write a blog post for this morning. I wanted to stay home today, too – I’m still feeling pretty under the weather. But there are too many things I need to get done today, and I don’t have enough sick time left, anyway. 

It’s been a week of emotional processing. I’m thinking a lot about the future and what I want the next year to look like. Nothing is concrete enough yet to write about in detail here, but my mind has spent a lot of time racing lately. 

In the midst of all the mental chaos, though, have been reminders of how good I really have it. My partner’s dad visited us last weekend and helped us acquire and move around some furniture, and our apartment is feeling more like a home than it ever has. I’ve gotten to spend some great time with friends, including one friend who is moving away soon, so that time has been particularly special. I’ve gotten back to knitting after about a week of ignoring it.

My mind may be struggling a bit, but really, things are okay. And there’s the promise of improvement, which is always exciting. I just need to remember. 

I’m Back!

Hello, internet! I have returned from my tiny hiatus! I honestly didn’t give a whole lot of thought to what I’d kick things back off with once I returned, and I haven’t really done any writing in the past few weeks. So in order to shake some of the rust off the writing gears in my brain, I’m going to go with the old fallback of a five-item list of things that happened while I was away:

  1. I went to Seattle for 16 hours to attend my high school best friend’s wedding. It was lovely; she and her husband are adorable, and I am so, so, so happy I was able to be there!
  2. Between Seattle and another trip with my partner, I went through airport security four times in two weeks…and got patted down every. single. time. Dear TSA: your security lines aren’t moving slowly because someone forgot to empty their water bottle or take their laptop out of their bag. They’re moving slowly because you’re making everybody go through those goddamn useless body scanners twice. (The first thing you see once you’re through security at Midway is a Ben & Jerry’s. Well played, sirs. We definitely had coffee ice cream for breakfast on our way out of town.)
  3. I threw out my back. Thankfully, it hasn’t held a candle to whatever the hell I did back around Christmas, and I’m already feeling better. But since my partner currently isn’t supposed to lift more than five pounds and can’t raise his arms over his head, it’s made for an interesting week.
  4. I had my intake call for mental health services at our local LGBT clinic. I’ll find out later this week if they’re able to fit me in with someone there; if they can’t, they’ll work with me to find a competent provider elsewhere. It’s definitely time for me to work through some of the heavier emotions I’ve been ignoring.
  5. After a couple of weeks of letting it slide, I started getting back into the habit of taking at least a few minutes each day for guided meditation with my tarot cards while we were out of town. Since I’ve been feeling a little rocky this week (mostly, I think, due to the back pain), it’s been a really great, stabilizing influence.

A Smile (and a Tiny Hiatus)

I’m scrambling to write this On the bus Thursday morning. Life is particularly busy right now, and writing has fallen a bit by the wayside. 

I have had ample reasons to smile despite a slightly overwhelming schedule, though. Here are a few of them:

  1. After feeling really burned out at work for a few weeks (to the point where I was brushing up my résumé in case I decided to look elsewhere), I had a great conversation with my department manager on Tuesday that has me feeling much better about where I’m at and where I’m going, and much more appreciated for what I’ve been doing. 
  2. I’ve been hanging out with friends a lot lately. There was a long time when we moved that I felt like all my friends were really just my partner’s friends, but we’ve developed our own relationships now and can spend time with mutual friends without feeling like we both need to be there. It’s been so great finally feeling like I’m really connected here in Chicago. 
  3. There’s been a lot of medical stuff going on at our house (everyone is going to be fine, don’t worry), which has been pretty overwhelming at times. Generally, though, it’s served to remind us how well cared for we really are. I am incredibly grateful for our support network all over the country. 

The next two weeks, my partner and I will be out of town, and I’m going to take those two weeks off from blogging. I’ll have something up again on the 27th!

Silver Linings

I’m still feeling pretty rattled as I try to figure out where to go for this rheumatology follow-up. I’m feeling a lot of things, really, and not many of them are particularly pleasant. But I’m trying to look for reasons to smile, and really, if I take the time to step back a little and breathe, it’s not hard to find them. So here’s a short and sweet list of some reasons I’ve found to smile this week:

  1. Even though the humidity has caused an uptick in my general discomfort and has most of my joints feeling pretty stiff, I’ve managed to keep knitting pretty regularly. I’m on a sweater/vest kick at the moment. None of my projects are progressing very quickly, but I’m enjoying them all.
  2. Next weekend I’m headed to Seattle for a wedding. I’m super excited for the couple (my high school best friend and the great guy she’s been with for several years), and looking forward to a little 24-hour adventure.
  3. I’ve been digging deeper into some friendships here in Chicago, and it feels really good. I am reminded every day that I have an incredible support network, and that makes everything else life throws my way feel a lot more manageable.
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