The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): Asking the Right Questions

Today I want to introduce you to a new principle: asking the right questions. When you don’t feel good, instead of asking “What’s wrong with me?”, ask “What do I need right now?” or “What is my body trying to tell me?” I find the former usually precedes a downward spiral while the latter two are more solution-oriented. Thing is, I already know what’s wrong with me– I’m anxious and depressed, that’s what’s wrong with me! The question is, how can I make it better?

The Self-Aware Self-Care Checklist

When you are mentally disordered, it is important for you to become self-aware. It’s one of the first steps to figuring out your treatment plan. Know thine enemy, know thyself. So, when you’re feeling really awful (or somewhat awful), go through a checklist. Here’s a checklist I came up with that I use:

  • What have I eaten in the past twenty-four hours?
  • How much have I eaten today?
  • How much have I eaten over the past week?
  • How much water have I drank today?
  • Have I ingested any caffeine?
  • How much sleep have I gotten in the past two weeks and what quality of sleep have I gotten in the past two weeks (the body carries sleep debts for about two weeks)?
  • What have I been dreaming about?
  • Have I gotten in any movement, exercise, or stretches recently?
  • Have I spent any time socializing with friends and family?
  • Have I spent enough time alone?
  • Have I rested?
  • What stressors have come up lately? This includes microstressors (like bad traffic and grocery shopping in a busy store with grumpy people and errands and daily hassles), as well as major stressors (like moving, exam time, deadline for a major project at school or work, starting a new job, chronic illness, death of a loved one, etc) and triggers (seeing something that reminds you of a trauma or loss).
  • Could I be coming down with a cold or flu?
  • Have I developed any new allergies (since allergies can come and go)?
  • Have I been taking my medication consistently?
  • Have I started any new medications or gone off any old medications?
  • Where am I at in my monthly cycle?
  • Am I taking any hormone therapies or birth control pills that might alter my mood?
  • What kinds of thoughts have I been thinking today?

Any and all of these things can affect you. How much varies from person to person. The point of this exercise is to recognize any factors that might contribute to how you’re feeling right now. Once you identify these factors, you can set out to remedy the problem.

I’d like to call a quick bit of attention to the last question on that list: “What kind of thoughts have I been thinking today?” I’m only going to cover this briefly here because I’m planning on writing a full post on thought patterns later, but people often underestimate the power their thought patterns have over their emotions. Tracking your thought train is really important! When I’m feeling down, I can often backtrack over my thoughts and find the exact thought that started my downward spiral. Then I learn to halt that thought in its tracks and think about something better.

“What Do I Miss?”

Another question to ask yourself is what you miss about this relationship. Do you miss the person themself or the way they treated you or made you feel? I think this is important to ask yourself especially if you’re going through your first break-up and I did ask myself this.

I concluded that it was a combination of all three. I loved the person he was, but also the way he treated me– the way he talked to me, looked at me, said my name, teased me, flirted with me, touched me– and made me feel. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love him for his own sake, because I did, but there were many reasons I loved him and his behaviour was one of them.

Loving someone for their behaviour doesn’t make you shallow. Behaviour is an expression of a person’s character and may be the only thing you can truly know about a person and it’s perfectly reasonable to like someone better if they’re treating you good. That doesn’t cheapen your feelings for them.

When I asked myself this question, I realized something: that maybe I could fall in love again. Part of why I fell for him was because of his obvious interest in me and the way he interacted with me and with other people. Perhaps I would fall for someone again if their behaviour was similar. Don’t get me wrong, I still really care about him and miss him and kinda want him back, but this helped me realize that I don’t need him in order to be happy, which is really empowering.

“What Can I Learn From This?”

Asking yourself what you can learn from this is not necessarily taking on the blame for the way the relationship ended. You can still place the blame squarely on your ex’s shoulders if that is where it belongs.

The point of this is to think of how you can apply your past to your future and turn your pain into gain and your regrets into potential. This is about learning new life skills that can be applied anywhere in your life, not just in romantic relationships. This is about becoming the best you you can be, for you.

Has this taught you anything about yourself or how you handle relationships? Are there any things you need to change or would like to change? Any problems you might have to anticipate and prepare for? Any areas where you would like to grow? What does the life you dream of look like? Who do you want to be?

I’ve also asked myself these questions.

I’ve learned that I need to get to know myself better, particularly my spiritual beliefs, and one day get them down on paper to make them more coherent.

I’ve learned that I’m too respectful of others and too inclined to be understanding and too afraid and that I need to be more assertive and confront people when there’s a problem instead of just hoping the problem will go away.

I’ve learned that I try too hard.

I’ve learned that though I can be very proficient and articulate at communication, there are areas where I do need to communicate more clearly and that sometimes the reason my communication is muddied up is because I don’t fully understand what I’m talking about and need to do more research on the subject.

I’ve learned that I need to say when I’m still working things out in my head and when I haven’t fully made up my mind on things because I haven’t gathered enough information yet and when I will need more time to process things.

I’ve learned that the gender roles I was taught growing up and the lack of sex education and the lack of people talking real talk about their romantic relationships and how they deal with conflict with their partner has really messed me up.

I’ve learned that me being tired is a fact of life and I need to get up and make myself do things anyway and that once I do I’ll likely feel more energetic or at the very least feel like a productive human being.

I’ve learned that I do need my antidepressants and probably should’ve started taking them sooner.

And I’ve decided that I will never let things get as bad as they did again and that I will learn all that I can to make that statement true.

So this has been a lot of learning and growth for me. Am I going to thank my ex for this? No. Absolutely not. I’m sick of people justifying suffering just because I might learn something from it, especially when I can learn the lesson in a far gentler way.

This has been like learning to swim while drowning in a riptide. It’s much better to learn how to swim in a pool with an instructor and a lifeguard over the course of the summer. So far, my psych education has taught me that gradual learning in a safe environment is the most effective. But regardless of whether people provide the opportunity and environment for safe and gradual learning, I am going to learn because I am determined to learn because learning is life.

And that’s really what this whole post and asking all these questions is all about: learning— learning about yourself and how to become the person you want to be and taking steps to create the life that you want for yourself.

And, coming from a psych major here, learning is a mechanism that can change you right down to your very DNA (this is epigenetics– life experiences can alter gene expression). Your brain is wired to learn and adapt, from before you were born up until the day you die. I consider learning to be among the powerful forces in the universe. Use it and one day you’ll create a beautiful life.

Advertisements

The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): Single Pringle Ready to Mingle?

One thing that has been annoying me lately is people telling me that “there are other fish in the sea” and “there are still good men out there” and “keep an open mind!” I know they’re well-intentioned but I don’t like this push to “just get over it” and to get me dating when I’ve already made it clear that I’m not ready for that. My mind is plenty open, thank you very much, and just because there are good men doesn’t mean I feel like (or am ready to be) dating any of them right now.

There were times where I felt really lonely and where I desperately wanted to be in a relationship again. I miss it. I miss the hugging, the cuddling, the hand-holding, the kissing. I miss the flirting. I miss having someone to dress up for, to be cute for, to be sexy for. I miss the texts in the middle of the night saying “Hey, you awake?” and having that company and companionship every weekend. I miss looking into someone’s eyes and seeing this joy and adoration in them. I miss the compliments and the “I love you”s, both giving them and receiving them. I miss being taken care of and having someone to take care of and someone to go on adventures with. I miss the smiles and the laughs and the deep, serious, philosophical discussions about the past and the future and why the world is the way it is. I miss being missed. I miss it all.

So, yeah, there were times when I was tempted to jump back into a relationship. Why didn’t I? Because I thought it would be a Really Bad Idea.

Firstly, I’m still in that place where if my ex came to me and said “Can we talk?” and wanted to give our relationship another shot, I would hear him out and consider it. If he gave me good reason to think things would be different this time ’round, I would get back together with him. And I don’t think it’s very moral for me to start dating when I might very well dump the new guy and get back with my ex if given the opportunity. That’s not fair to anyone involved.

I also don’t think it’s moral for me to date when the main reason for my dating is that I’m terribly lonely. If I’m going to be dating, I want it to be because I’m attracted to the person and like them and want to get to know them better and maybe even spend the rest of my life with them. If I’m dating to cover up my own misery, then I’m being selfish and using them as a means to an end, which violates some of Kant’s ethical principles and risks me hurting them. It’s just not fair for me to do that to them.

Also, beyond my ethics, it goes against my own sense. I am not myself. I cannot expect a future relationship to turn out well if I’m not even my normal self when I enter that relationship. Part of not being myself is that I’ve not healed but another part is that I’ve changed and I need to get to know myself again because how can my boyfriend get to know me if I don’t even know me or how to express this new self? I feel like I’ve had a good portion of my being blown away and I don’t believe in relationships being two halves of a whole. If I am an incomplete person, I should not be dating. Relationships are between two healthy, whole individuals who’ve learned how to cope with life and their own problems and have decided that though they’re great on their own, they’re even better together.

The above paragraphs, combined with the fact that my lifestyle doesn’t allow me to meet new men to date (seeing as while I’m at school, I’m in classes with mostly other women and while I’m at work, I’m with children or people who are already married and bim bam shazam there’s my whole life right there), is why I’ve stayed single ever since we broke up over a year ago. I don’t regret it and really strongly recommend staying single after a break-up.

How long though? I can’t really answer that. Saying something like two weeks, or six months, or giving some kind of equation where you multiply or divide the length of your relationship with some number is just too arbitrary and doesn’t account for your own unique needs and your position in your healing process.

However, I think it’s fairly safe to say that if you’re feeling desperately lonely or depressed or any kind of obsessed, you probably shouldn’t be getting into any kind of romantic or sexual relationship. Examine and know yourself. Make sure that the time is right for you to be dating and that you are dating for the right reasons. Learn how to manage your own life and your own problems first.

So if you’re not dating or looking for a date, what are you doing with yourself? After all, if you’ve been in a relationship for a while and you’ve gotten into a routine with that person and scheduled parts of your life around that person, you probably aren’t sure of what to do with yourself now that they’re not around anymore.

You learn how to be happy on your own and enjoy being single. Seriously. If you’re depressed like I am, one of the most important things for you to do is learn how to make yourself happy. Use this time to rediscover yourself. Make a list of things you want to get done in your life, with short-, mid-, and long-term goals. Make things all about you. Make things all about other people (just not your ex!). Dream a little… or a lot!

For me, I imagine having a life so full and satisfying that if my ex and I ever went out for coffee, friendly or otherwise, I would have so many fun new changes to talk about. To give you some ideas, here’s a bit of my list:

  • Get my full driver’s license
  • Replace the screwed-up driver’s seat in my car
  • Fix the chips in the windshield
  • Fix the air conditioner
  • Get the engine serviced
  • Completely pay off my credit card
  • Start putting money into savings
  • Take some First Aid courses
  • Get a promotion at work (Done!)
  • Reconcile with all my remaining grandparents (Done!)
  • Reconcile with my one brother and my father (Depends on their attitudes, tbh, so that one’s optional)
  • Save up to buy a headboard
  • Hang some pictures up in my room
  • Cut my hair for cancer
  • Dye my hair
  • Whip my skin care routine into shape
  • Get new glasses
  • Record some music
  • Get that sheet music made up
  • Take more piano lessons
  • Do a piano exam
  • Take voice lessons
  • Take more semesters of university and slowly inch towards getting my BA (slowly progressing…)
  • Become a black belt (slowly progressing…)
  • Take my cat to the vet and get her blood work done
  • Scrapbook?
  • Finish writing the Break-Up Survival Guide
  • Work on this blog
  • Start my fashion blog
  • Chip away at my To-Be-Read pile and maybe write some reviews
  • Plan some get-togethers with my friends
  • Go see Black Panther!!!
  • Movie marathons!
  • Books!
  • Music!
  • Jam sessions!
  • Education!
  • Family!
  • Friends!
  • Philosophy!
  • Theology!
  • Revelations! (As in “information that is newly disclosed, especially surprising, or valuable” and “a surprisingly good or valuable experience”; reading the Biblical book of Revelation is more than my mind can handle right now)

However, topping my list— and it should be topping your list too if you’re dealing with anxiety and depression– is getting my mental disorders under control. I’ve been on anti-depressants (in my case, enormously helpful) and though I haven’t been to counselling, I have been practicing controlling my thoughts and creating good habits which are kinds of cognitive therapies.

Though I imagine dating again can be a kind of healing of its own, you need to reach a certain point of healing on your own before you can find a new relationship healing. Dating before you’ve reached that threshold of healing is pretty much like learning to walk again by running a marathon: a risky decision that can get you hurt even worse. Now is a time for fun and learning and self-discovery and having fantastic new experiences. I hope some of my zest for life is rubbing off on you here. Go out and enjoy yourself!

The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): “But We Can Still Be Friends…?”

You know that old cliche, “But we can still be friends”?

The answer is no, you can’t.

I get it. It’s hard. I hate not talking to my ex. Talking to him was one of my favourite things to do and he was so fun to talk with and now I don’t get to do that anymore. But the thing is, does talking to him at this point really do me any good when he’s not going to bother treating me with compassion and respect? And even if he is being respectful, should I really be interacting with him like that when it makes me yearn for what I don’t have with him anymore?

So no, don’t be friends with your ex. They hurt you and you don’t owe them your friendship. Friendship is a bond of trust and that’s probably not emotionally safe for you to have with this person right now. Most importantly, you need time for yourself to heal. This is part of the healing process. Maybe one day you will be able to talk like two normal people again, like Real Live Grown-Ups. But not right now.

Giving yourself the space you need is a bit of a process. Me, I work with him and did carpool with him, so that complicated things a bit. A month or two after the break up, I had this really awful phone conversation with him and at the end of it, I thought “Forget it, I can’t do this anymore” and told him that I would not be giving him rides to or from work anymore.

So that was step one. And so began the process of putting any kind of physical distance between me and him that I could. This “physical space” I speak of isn’t just not being in the same room with him, but also removing reminders of him from me because you know what these reminders are? Triggers. Stressors. So what you do is you get them out. And it’s not exactly “out of sight, out of mind”, but it’s pretty difficult to stop thinking about someone when they’re in front of your face all the time.

So I then deleted his number from my phone, which was both so I wouldn’t have to see his name in my phone contacts and so I wouldn’t text him on a whim. Good thing because there definitely were times where I would’ve angrily texted him out of nowhere just to vent at him and that wouldn’t have helped the whole situation at all.

Next was the one picture of him and I together that I had. My mom still has a copy stored on her computer, which I’d asked her to keep because it is a really nice picture of us and he just looked so handsome, but now that’s it’s been over a year, I’m almost ready to let her copy go too. I mean, in the unlikely event that him and I do get back together, we can take other pictures together and make new memories. Anyway, the whole point was to keep that picture out of my sight where I wouldn’t be able to look at it and sigh wistfully over it.

When I figured out the my ex and my co-worker were dating, I also unfriended them both on Facebook. I couldn’t figure out how to block them, so wound up simply not going on Facebook at all because I did not want to see their profile pictures with the two of them together any time they posted something in the staff groups.

After a year, though, I really got sick of not being able to keep up with things like my good friend who lives on the other end of the continent having a baby and all the pictures she posts of her growing family (who I think of as my unofficial nieces), so I recruited another friend of mine to block my ex and his current girlfriend for me. And, ugh, it’s such a relief.

I also switched my work schedule around to get space away from him and his girlfriend, since the anxiety and dread of working with them was making me so sick.

That too was a process.

I worked all my shifts with him and half with his girlfriend who was only part-time, so switching the shifts I could resulted in my working with him only half my shifts and none of my shifts with her. However, during the summer, she hung out at my place of work on her days off to she could flirt with him on his breaks and watch him whenever he wasn’t on a break, which was really upsetting.

But, thankfully, as the business has expanded and has more locations running more hours, I then worked none of my shifts with her around because she took on a full-time position at the other location that keeps her busy and out of my sight.

In the fall I had school, which meant my schedule wouldn’t allow for staff meetings, where my ex was present, so I got four months of no contact with him or her outside of running into them on campus. Then for the winter, I had new classes and hours, so I had to see them both at staff meetings again, but only at staff meetings, so I can tell myself “It’s just one hour a week, girl, you got this.”

But those four months totally away from him were so healing. I still saw little reminders of him at work, but having the space to myself lifted such a weight off. It was like the effects of my antidepressants doubled.

When I had to return to staff meetings with the two of them, it was tough and anxiety-provoking. At first, I found myself double-checking whether I’d even taken my medication in the morning because it felt like I’d gone off them. But I told myself it was a matter of reconditioning myself, building up experiences to teach me that I can get through this, and I kept going.

I also got a higher dose of antidepressants, which now feels like I’ve got the right dosage. But I couldn’t have gotten through that without those four precious months to myself.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is so you can see how strong the effect of getting the hell away from your ex is. I’m dead serious when I say it can have the effect of an antidepressant, or the effect of quitting an antidepressant cold-turkey.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

For those of you who are working with your ex, the question “Should I quit my job?” might come up. Reasons for quitting your job could be to have your space and a fresh start. Reasons to stay at your job could be not being able to afford switching jobs, a sense of unfairness at having to be the one to leave, or purely the love you have for your job.

For me, I chose to stay. There were times where I considered maybe it might be better for my health if I left, even if I felt that was terribly unjust. But ultimately, I stayed. I thought “If I can just stick it out, this will end. And I will still have a great job if I do, if I can just get through this.”

My reasons for staying were:

  • Car insurance is expensive. So is rent, groceries, and just staying alive in general
  • I need to pay down my credit card and kept caught up on my health care
  • School. I need to pay for school and this job is so stable in the schedule and easy to schedule classes around
  • A strong sense of loyalty to my boss, who gave me a job above minimum wage and trained me when most people would’ve looked at my lack of work experience and said “Forget it.”
  • A love for all that I’ve learned, do learn, and will learn at this job
  • A love for the people I interact with at work.

To me, all of these reasons outweighed the discomfort of working with the two selfish little brats that are my ex and his GF. And I decided that I am not going to be forced out of another space that I’ve claimed for myself.

Ultimately, whether to stay or go is your decision and that decision should be entirely about your health and well-being. No one can tell you what decision will be best for you here and for whichever choice you choose, you certainly won’t see any judgment from me.

 

Obviously, getting space away from your ex is going to be difficult if you work with them, have a kid with them, or share a social circle with them. Honestly, I don’t know how to help you there. Just carve out the space that you can for yourself in the situation you’re in. In another post, I will be talking about ways of giving yourself mental space from your ex and keeping thoughts of them out of your head, so hopefully that might help a little.

And I know the thought of never seeing them again is super painful. So don’t even think that thought. This doesn’t have to be permanent. It’s part of the process and the process is dynamic and adjustable to your needs. Maybe you’ll be able to talk with them again and be friends at some point. You don’t know what the future holds so don’t jump to conclusions about it, especially when those conclusions are depressing you. What you need to concern yourself with is the present. And right now, you need to heal. So for the time being, give yourself any space you can get.

The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): Talking to a Doctor and Building Your Support Network

Grief is a normal and natural part of life. It’s normal to be sad or angry for a bit. But if the pain is too intense, or lasts longer than it should, it could be that maybe you have a physical or mental health problem. How much pain you can handle and for how long is ultimately up to you, but a good doctor can be one of your greatest allies.

For me, I eventually decided that I no longer had the strength to help myself and saw my family doctor and got antidepressants. And the medication did– does– help.

Antidepressants aren’t always the right decision for everyone, but I have really needed them and am grateful that I can access them. I now have the strength to actually take care of myself. I can eat again. I can exercise. I started helping out around the house. I’ve been visiting friends and family. I went to church. I went to my best friend’s wedding and even talked politics without offending anyone. I can focus my mind on other things now. (For anyone who’s considering antidepressants, I’m planning on writing more on my experience with that in the future.)

If you are considering antidepressants, you will need to talk to a physician or psychiatrist. A psychologist, counsellor, or therapist can administer cognitive and behavioural therapies, which are in many cases quite effective, but they cannot prescribe medication.

There are other health problems that have some depression-like symptoms too, such as having a vitamin B deficiency or low iron or an underactive thyroid. Get checked for these health problems and figure out what you need to be giving your body to make you feel better. You’ll probably need to get these things checked first before you can be diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Make sure that you tell your doctor about any possible symptoms. Some “physical” health problems have mental health symptoms like feeling depressed and some “mental” health problems have physical health symptoms like muscle soreness or indigestion. There’s a lot of crossover between the physical and the mental and in order to provide you with the best treatment, your doctor needs the full picture and only you can describe that to them.

I’ve also recruited the help of other health professionals. My chiropractor and my massage therapist keep my body functioning and feeling good. I have a psychologist who specializes in anxiety and depression, as well as several good counsellors, to help with the more mental aspects. And I’m also in touch with the Disability Services at my university. They, along with my family and friends, are my support team.

Also, if you are in university, it might be good for you to first speak with the university counsellors and also to let your professors know that you have a mental health problem. Where I come from, mental health is taken pretty seriously and being open about this has given me access to resources and accommodations. I personally haven’t run into any problems doing this, but in places that aren’t as informed or accepting, this could cause you problems. Also, I don’t recommend mentioning your break-up to your professors. Keep the focus on your mental health and ability to cope, which is all that’s relevant to your prof anyways, rather than your relationship problems.

Whoever is in your support network, it is important that they are knowledgeable and also make you comfortable. They should not make you uncomfortable. Of course, discomfort is part of living with anxiety, but sometimes discomfort is a sign that this is not a person you should trust or have in your life.

You want someone who can listen to you and reassure you about your worries and doubts while still taking you seriously. They can tell you an objective reality outside of your experience while still respecting the subjective reality of your experience and learn to tie those objective and subjective realities into a coherent whole. So they have to strike a pretty delicate balance. But these people do exist. Just know that they’re somewhere out there; you just have to find them.

While you’re here, I might as well talk a bit about painkillers. Sometimes being depressed or anxious can cause a lot of physical aches and pains, perhaps from the amount of muscle tension one carries. If you are in a lot of pain, it might be good for you to take some pain killers. Having your mind hurt is overwhelming enough and taking physical pain out of the equation can make life much more bearable.

I know there have been some studies showing that Tylenol can work on hurt feelings, since the brain doesn’t necessarily distinguish between physical and emotional pain (though keep in mind that these are not the equivalent of an anti-depressant; they act on different neurotransmitters and receptors and perform different functions in different intensities).

Also, there have been studies suggesting a link between depression and inflammation, which means that maybe reducing inflammation might help with depression.

If you are going to take pain medication like say, Tylenol or Advil, it is better to take it sooner rather than later. The sooner you take it, the more effective it is. For example, how anxious I’ve been over the past few weeks seems to be related to how painful my period cramps are. Now instead of waiting for the cramps to be unbearably painful, I take my Naproxen as soon as I feel mild discomfort. That is, I use the pain meds as a preventative measure rather than a treatment. I’ve read that they also do this in some surgeries, giving the pain medication before the pain is anticipated.

Keep in mind, though, that I’m just a psych student, not a doctor (yet). When I have the time, I’d like to track down those studies I just mentioned, read through them, and link them here for you and maybe discuss them a bit more in depth, but let’s be honest, who knows if I’ll ever have that kind of time. So please talk with your doctor about this kind of stuff and check that any painkillers you’re taking are compatible with the medications you’re on.

Lastly, let’s talk money.

I live in BC, Canada and my doctor’s visits were covered under the provincial health plan. Visits to a psychologist, but not a counsellor or psychotherapist, are covered under my parents’ medical plans until I quit being a full-time student or until I turn 25, whichever comes first. Massage therapy and chiropractor appointments and my medication are also covered under my parents’ plans up to a certain amount every year. And just so you know, you don’t actually have to be a Costco member in order to use their pharmacy, which is often cheaper than other places.

For those of you that live in BC, I hope that’s helpful. For those who don’t, I hope you can find a way to afford the care you need.

03/23/2018

Post-Breakup-Pre-New-Girlfriend Carpooling:

Ex: Hey, if you like I could us drive home from work, if you don’t mind me driving your car.

Me: *really tired, gratefully hands over keys*

Ex: *sits in driver’s seat of cat* Woah, your driver’s seat feels really weird… I mean, but if you like it it’s okay.

Me: *laughs* My mom always says it feels weird.

Ex: *talks whole way home*

 

I need to get a new driver’s seat for my car because it seems to be throwing my back out. Before I moved, this wasn’t a problem, but now I have to commute to work and school so I’m spending more hours in this awful seat, and by golly, my ex and my mom were right: the driver’s seat does feel REALLY weird.

Adult life is just so expensive.

I had to shell out four hundred dollars to fix the heat in my car, since it’s not safe to drive around in BC without a working defrost. And gas is just astronomically expensive, a dollar fifty or more per litre. I remember it costing only sixty-five cents when I was a kid. But at least I don’t have to drive my mom’s gas-guzzler anymore, which halves the money I spend on gas.

I also have to pay down my racked-up credit card, which still hasn’t recovered from the six-hundred dollars I needed to replace my brakes, or the three-hundred to fix my mom’s car, or the other three-hundred to fix my driver’s window after it got broken into.

Also, I need new shoes because most of mine are either throwing my back out or quite literally falling apart and I don’t understand how my mom’s shoes last forever and mine wear out so fast even though we buy from the same companies. Do I just walk really weird?

And I could really use some new jackets, since my old ones are really baggy and uncomfortable ever since I lost that weight last year.

And I’ve had so many doctor’s appointments. Thanks to my driver’s seat and my shoes and who knows what else, I’ve had to see the chiropractor twice this month and still haven’t entirely fixed all the damage done. Then I had my eye doctor appointment and discovered that my prescription has changed and that my eyesight is horrible. Then I’ll have to buy new contacts (I’ve been wearing the same pair for the past four months) and glasses. Next I’ll have to see the podiatrist about my orthotics which I haven’t replaced since I was a sophomore in high school. Then it’ll be the dentist for my regular check-up, fillings, and probably getting my wisdom teeth out which freaks me out because I’m terrified of needles and don’t know what to do about it. Which means I’ll probably need to talk to my psychologist. Thankfully, I do get reimbursed for this, but until I do, I’m hundreds of dollars short.

(At least the doctor at the walk-in clinic upped my anti-depressant dosage and it turns out that these meds are compatible with the sedation at the dentist’s. No, I have not found a new family physician. All the doctors around here appear to be taken.)

Tuition for the summer will probably be around another eight hundred dollars but the class hours make it so I’ll have to cut back my work hours, which costs me a few hundred dollars every month.

A lot of my conversations with my friends revolve around how expensive everything is.

However, Ex’s GF was actually pretty decent this week. I’m not sure if someone noticed that I was upset last week and talked to her about her behaviour, or if she had a crisis of conscience, or if I just got lucky, but there wasn’t any flirting that day. The staff meeting got cancelled so we just had to find some chores to do for the next hour or so, so I asked her and Ex to look over some forms since I was the only person who’d read through and signed on them so far, but she was really respectful and it was just really nice to see the girl I actually like again.

As for Ex, I don’t really know what to do with him. While GF was decent, he was moody and taciturn. Not directly at me or anything, just in general. However, it’s a different kind of moody. Lately, he’s been moody with an attitude problem, but this week it was the kind of moodiness that seems to stem from him being uncomfortable, not from being conceited. I’m thinking maybe he doesn’t know what to do with me any more than I know what to do with him.

And my thoughts and feelings towards him still fluctuate daily. I miss him, or at least the person he was while we were dating, but don’t want to spend the rest of my life with the person he’s being right now. And even if he became the person he once was again and we got together again, would I even be happy with him? Can we learn from our mistakes? Could I trust him again, or would I just be waiting for the other shoe to drop? Could we ever have again what we once had? Or would we both be better off with different people?

I know I need to stop thinking like that. It doesn’t make me happy. But there are days when once that first thought of him pops into my head, those thoughts just flood in and I can’t stop thinking about them even though I really don’t want to and even though I know it’s not good for me, I can’t for the life of me figure out what else to fill my mind with. Especially since Ex and her are reaching the one-year mark right about now.

Anyway.

I am supposed to be doing homework right now, y’know. End-of-semester crunch and all that. But I’m having one of those days where I just can’t focus and have this fidgety energy and tension that is just ever present, so concentrating on my homework is difficult at the moment.

I managed to get through a chapter of my philosophy readings today, so one more chapter to go for that plus a couple short written-answer assignments (including several overdue ones), but I feel like I didn’t glean a whole lot from the readings so far. I’m not sure if my brain is just having an off-day, or if these readings are full of logical fallacies and that’s why they aren’t making the most sense, or maybe because one of the papers I had to read is literally two hundred years old.

But my midterms are done! The first midterm, which my prof let me rewrite since I couldn’t remember a thing when my grandpa was in the hospital, was a B+, which is awesome because she has really tough essay questions and marks hard. I think that’s about a full letter grade above the rest of the class. I haven’t heard back about the second one because end-of-semester crunch means she hasn’t gotten around to marking them all yet, but I’m confident I passed, which at this point I’m satisfied with.

This summer I’ll be taking that course I was going to take last summer. I’ll have to cut back my work hours, which sucks, but once I finish this class, I can take any third-year psych course I want, which I’m really looking forward to.

A friend of mine is also getting married this summer, which I’m really excited about, though that means I’ll have to set aside money for a gift for the happy couple and to get a dress to wear for the wedding. But I was checking her Facebook page to get some more info on the wedding (like the dress code) but instead found nothing but Christianese. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to bits and I’m Christian myself and love being a Christian and love Jesus and God and morality and have had some really enlightening conversations with her, but if I see any more Bible verses taken out of context or poorly thought-through interpretations of the Bible or cherry-picking of the scientific literature, I am going to scream. Once again I am reminded how much I love the Unfollow feature on Facebook and why I’ve unfollowed everyone I’ve friended.

My grandpa’s doing better now that he’s out of the hospital. We’re having to make adjustments to make sure him and my grandma are getting all that they need, which can be stressful, but we’re just thankful to have them with us still.

My mom’s also been sore because a couple months ago she got into a little car accident where she was backed into in a parking lot. This week we found out that she has a concussion, which I’ve been thinking for a while since she’s been dizzy, nauseous, and depressed, but she didn’t have a chance to see a doctor about it until now.

So her and I have been looking out for each other whenever one of us has a bad day. Little things bother her more than they used to and she’s weepy a lot and hating it, but at least we have a better idea of what’s going on with her head now that the doctor realized she has a concussion.

My hands are also sore because I had to help hold boards for board breaks in one of the martial arts classes. It’s an advanced class and most of the students there that day were black belts who were bigger than me. One of them broke the board I was holding so thoroughly that the two pieces flew out of my hands and across the room; one piece landed neatly in the box. It was actually rather magnificent and I wish we caught it on video. At least no one kicked my fingers. But the swelling in my one hand still hasn’t gone down so I think I need to get innovative and attach some padding to my hands to absorb the impact.

And of course my body is sore from the chiropractor readjusting everything and I’m carrying myself differently and using different muscles trying to keep everything from going back to the (wrong) place it was in before (which made me sore too).

And my period came a full week early, which was an unpleasant surprise, but I guess that’s just what happens when one is too stressed out.

So that’s been my life: work, school, and bills.

I’ve been so busy trying to stay on top of everything and trying to get it all organized, I haven’t had time for much else. I’ve missed writing on the blog. It’s very cathartic, gets out a lot of my frantic negative energy. I prefer this to the medium of journaling so I’ve just dropped journaling for blogging.

But hey, I just finished another installment of the Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition)! I’m so happy because maybe I’ll finally get the thing finished in a the next couple months, which will be a big project I can cross off my to-do list.

And now I must go, for I still have more philosophy homework plus an absurd amount of Women’s Studies and that means reading sociology papers which takes forever, and I’m going to visit my brother and his family so I’m going to play with my two favourite little girlies and snuggle my adorable oldest nephew. TTFN (Ta-ta for now)!

Dealing With Shit Human Beings

The past few weeks have been super stressful. My grandpa was in the hospital (a story for another time) and consequently, I’ve missed enough work to risk losing my job. I’ve had midterms, my car’s needed repairs, I need money to get caught up on my medical care, and I’ve had weekly staff meetings with Ex and his GF and his mom. His mom has always been really decent to me, but the GF’s behavioural has been, well, my mom’s started referring to her as Pious Bitch.

In some ways, she can be a really great person. Like, one of the kids at work in her location was having trouble with some bullies and she put together some resources for him. But it’s frustrating having this girl who’s being really nasty to me and continuing on with behaviour that she knows is hurtful to me and then taking such pride about how she’s such a “good girl” and how she’s so “nice”.

And him, he just enables her and goes along with it. When she’s not around, he’s actually okay to be with. I caught him glancing at me once, when he thought I wasn’t looking. Not a checking me out glance but just like he was checking to see if I was doing okay and hoping that I was doing good. The kind of glance he’d give me when he was looking out for me.

The staff meeting before last he even looked almost happy to see me there. Him and I were actually able to talk like normal people, the first time we’d actually talked directly to each other for a long time, and I thought, “Huh, maybe the person I actually like is still in there somewhere.” Heck, there were a few moments when I even thought that about her, saw a glimpse of the girl I used to be kinda friends with and once looked forward to working with. I was starting to think that maybe things were getting better, that there was a possibility for some reconciliation. Not necessarily romance, but reconciliation.

Then this past meeting, she’s talking about how they just went birdwatching on a whim and then he’s talking about how they want to save up for hiking gear. Then he mentions that he’s saving to get his own place and she said “That’s our goal” in this soppy, simpering way and I just felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I almost yelled at them both in front of everyone and ugh, did I ever want to slap them. But I didn’t.

I’m just so sick of her smugness and her walking and talking like she thinks she’s so cute and constantly staring at him and talking about their relationship in front of me while I’m trying to be professional and her trying to show off how smart she is by talking about all the classes she’s taking. I’m so sick of him acting like he’s so mature because he was able to move on from our relationship and I wasn’t and like he’s the more rational one just because he’s calm and him thinking she’s so much more mature than me because she not acting hurt. Of course she’s not acting hurt, you jackass! You haven’t hurt her yet! And I’m sick of him acting like he has the right to tell how and when to feel my own feelings.

And it sucks because he’s become exactly the kind of person I’m dedicating my life to fighting against: the kind of person who just takes all the good options off the table and leaves you with just the shitty ones you don’t actually want but you’re stuck choosing one and either option you choose will be the wrong one. If I act like I’m okay with things the way they are, they just get more comfortable parading around their relationship in front of me. If I act like I’m not okay with things the way they are, she just hides behind him while he gets all pissy at me. It’s a catch-22.

And it hurts because when him and I were still together, I could see good things in store for him. And for us. I thought God had a wonderful plan for him and I was excited to watch it unfold, excited to see him learn and grow, excited to see the person he would become. It’s not like I was dating him for his potential, but more like he was such a wonderful person already that I was looking forward to seeing him discover more of himself.

And it looked like God’s plan for him and God’s plan for me meshed together so well. We were both going into counselling psychology, both wanting our PhDs and our own practices. I wanted to work with women who’d been abused. He wanted to work with children who’d been through trauma. What careers could fit together more perfectly? We both wanted a long-term relationship and one day marriage, though he wasn’t ready for us to talk about that yet, and he was also interested in the idea of adopting our children. We also had all these other interests and little details in common, like our tastes in movies and music. Even our signatures looked the same! Not to mention we were crazy attracted to each other. And we had all the same questions about morality and the nature of God and why the world is the way it is and I was excited to look for the answers to those questions with him.

But somewhere along the line, he just gave up on all that. I think he just decided that things weren’t going to work and that he wasn’t going to invest himself in that anymore. It’s a shame. Most of the people I know change for the better as they gain age and experience, but he changed for the worse. And I’m really very disappointed in him.

But I’m proud of myself. These recent staff meetings, I’ve managed to act myself (and walked in looking freakin’ gorgeous, I might add). And I’ve soldiered through and have chosen to be loving and gracious and kind despite it all.

I’m just sick and tired of those two being shit human beings. Especially when I’m trying so hard to be positive and to not be hateful and to think on things that are good.

And as much as “shit human being” is an insult (and it’s non-gendered, too, for those of you looking for a non-gendered insult), I realized there is actually one other insult that comes to mind that is far worse: unkind. I think if I ever wind up giving them a piece of my mind, I will throw at them the worse insult I can come up with and that insult is this: “You’re being unkind.”

So, my emotions have been a little all over the place this week, as you might’ve noticed.

But you know what? I witnessed something really incredible today.

So, I’ve mentioned I work at a dojo, so I work with a lot of kids and families and sometimes those families are split families with divorces and such. But today one of the moms wanted to buy a weapon for her son to practice with and the dad, her ex, came in to pay. And while they were waiting for everything to go through, they just casually talked about their lives, even about their significant others, joking and laughing with each other. It was just an amazing example to me about how people can love and lose and rebuild their lives after.

I wish movies showed more of these kinds of interactions between exes because the interactions with movie exes are usually so negative, unless the ex winds up becoming the love interest. I think people really need to see an in-between ex relationship with that camaraderie, something in between “lover” and “bitch”.

And another thing that’s been building me up is interacting with people at work. There are several kids who usually visit me between classes and the parents ask me questions about how my schooling is going and tell me about some of the things that have been going in their lives. It’s neat, getting to know them and watching them form new friendships. Seeing the parents make new friends here is just as adorable as watching the kids make new friends in class.

And my other coworkers actually really respect me. I just realized this recently. It’s weird because I’m only 23 and I seem to be thought of as one of the senior employees and sometimes am almost treated like management. See, I’m the only employee without a black belt and a lot of these employees started out as students, so even though I’ve technically worked there longer, they’ve been involved with my workplace years before I came on the scene. Yet these other people I work with are super respectful towards me and will check with me before doing things and ask my opinions of stuff.

I’m really thankful for that.