Introducing exercise to self-care.

It looks like I’m going to have to start taking care of myself, hardcore. School has started, and I’m trying to get ahead in the work, though my final project is almost entirely self-directed. I know that I’m going to be spending a good amount of time on the computer, so setting up some exercise isn’t a bad thing.

I also did see my doctor. I’m dealing with intermittent muscle twitches which are likely caused by one of my medications. Luckily, none of them are really in the same place, and my muscle fluidity was normal, today. I’m thinking the medical term for what’s going on is, “dystonia.”

Next time I see her, which I’m thinking should be in about three months — about when my semester ends — we’re planning on lowering one of my medications (which is likely causing the dystonia). I turned down the offer this time, because I don’t need to be tinkering with psychotropic medications in the last semester of my Master’s program — when I need to think, and be mentally stable. I’m already anxious. Not to mention, I may gain a different job in the interim, and delaying a medication change for 3 months is not a long time.

Anyhow, I’m supposed to be exercising 30 minutes a day, every day; or 1 hour for three days a week. My doctor recommended swimming, as carrying the extra weight (also a medication side effect) causes me to feel like I’m working out with a 30-lb. barbell over my shoulders. 45 lbs., if I think of how much I weighed as a 20-year-old, when I could and did press 45 lbs., for instance, in squats. If I think of how it felt then and how it feels now, there’s familiarity there. Realistically, if I drop 30 lbs., I’ll be at ideal weight for my height and age.

Also realistically, if I drop 30 lbs., it will be dropping more than 30 lbs. in fat, because my makeup will change to be more muscular (which is heavier, relatively).

Swimming sounds like a really great idea, though. It will be, actually, fun. It will also keep pressure off of my feet and knees, until I can get my weight down enough that I’m not stressing my joints too much when I walk or run.

The thing about swimming is that I may have to cut my hair. Right now it’s really long; chlorine just tends to fry it, bleach it, and make it break off (worse than it already does). However, if it’s very short, it tends to look like fur, and it doesn’t stay on my head long enough for chlorine damage to build up and fray my strands.

It will also greatly ease my hygiene to not have to wash all this hair — I could go running and not have to worry about struggling to get all the pollen out! I could actually wash my hair on a daily basis, or shower without worrying about how to keep it dry! (It won’t fit under a shower cap unless I twist it down. Even then, the cap doesn’t quite fit…and we’ve been through searching for shower caps. I’d need one that would be big enough to accommodate locs like Rastafarians have, and I haven’t seen those anywhere.)

Actually, that sounds good just generally. I had been trying to get it out to the length where I could pile it on top of my head, but it’s so long that trying to even pull it through a hair tie — or take off a lanyard from around my neck — or pull the comb completely through my hair — is difficult.

Visualizing my goal, which is being leaner and buff (swimming will help my upper body strength, and I can supplement this with weight training for the smaller muscles in my arms; and floor exercises [abs, lunges, squats], with cardio from the exercise bike and elliptical machine) with short hair, though — that sounds actually pretty frikken’ hot.

I suppose I don’t even have to stop at 135 lbs., either; I could actually try to get back down to 120, just in the back of my mind. Overshooting the goal, it might be easier to really make a good effort at this and actually hit 135, in the process. (I am actually not certain I will be physically able to slim down to 120! My muscles might come to weigh too much, and I’m in my mid-thirties, not my early twenties.)

Right now I’m trying not to get back to a bodybuilder mindset, but…being packed with muscle is ideal. And I know that I’m going to get mistaken for a boy again, with short hair. I’d also probably become a target for sexual harassment, again. However…that’s not a reason to be bound to long hair (and the maintenance of long hair).

I’m also supposed to contact a Coach to help me be more active and lose weight…but I haven’t done it yet. Last night, I went to bed around 2 AM; I woke up before my alarm went off, at 7:30 AM. Work was relatively fine. After my appointment and lunch, though, I fell asleep on the couch (I only got 5 hours of sleep last night), and didn’t really wake up until about 8 PM.

What’s silly is that I don’t even know what time I fell asleep today! I think it couldn’t have been more than four hours that I was out.

Let’s see…other than that, last night I got the assigned reading (for next week) done for Collection Development. I need to do some more work in the next two weeks, but at least the fundamentals are taken care of. There should also be additional work which I am not yet able to access.

I have also read that it’s best for me to get the ePortfolio done as quickly as possible, which sounds good. Both classes require — basically — study, meaning I’ll be sitting in one place for a while, whether I want to or not. That’s why I need to balance it out with exercise, which then impacts my appearance.

Hah. I wonder if it is important that anyone else sees this…

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Surprise! Accidentally falling asleep.

I’m not entirely sure what happened — I lay down a little after 6 PM last night and slept all the way through to 4 AM this morning, despite being woken twice. I did have an assignment due that I was at least going to attempt to accomplish, but it obviously didn’t get done.

Right now I need to finish normalizing a database, as I had realized the night before that I had inadvertently missed a step for at least one of our tables. As this is the component I’m working on…I should try and attempt it.

I’m sure you can tell that I’m still tired, which is mostly due to having taken medication about 10 hours ago (at 4 AM), and likely because I didn’t get up to be active at 4 AM, but instead went back to bed until 11-something AM.

I also have a cramp starting in part of my lower back (I spent too long in bed)…and a lot of stuff to do, today. Which I don’t want to do. But.

It’s kind of hard for me to put everything into words, right now, so I’ll try and stop staring at the screen, and try to do something useful.

Psychological changes due to medication

I did get some homework done at work, today, which is why I feel I can take some time and post here. It’s now the night of the 24th, meaning that I have three days left to complete all the work for Political Advocacy. That’s the nearest deadline I have, thankfully.

I am feeling some relief. I’m also feeling that maybe I am where I’m supposed to be. I do like art, but I didn’t like it enough to take the first giant leap in undergrad and do a BFA. And given no restrictions on my time or money (which, counter-intuitively, may not actually be the best thing for an artist), I tend to struggle with continuing to make art: especially now that I’m out of art classes and haven’t spoken to my artsy friends in a while.

M wanted me to get a degree in Library Science so that I would have the free time and extra money to be able to work on my own creative projects, on my own. It would be for support, until (and if) I became successful enough as an artist that I wouldn’t have to work in a Library setting. But we’ve always kept my being creative as part of the plan. This is, I think, partially because creativity is an emotional regulator for me.

The tough part about all of this is, I think, mental. Specifically, psychiatric. I feel like a different person when I’m on medication, as versus when I’m not. And so, for example, while I was viscerally driven to write or make art on a daily basis when I wasn’t being treated for psychosis (which involuntarily lights up the same areas of the brain as are used in creative activity), this isn’t as much the case, now. (By the way, “psychosis” just describes a state of disattachment from “reality.” It doesn’t mean wanting to harm or kill people or being a psychopath [which is an entirely different thing], but the general public doesn’t know the distinction.)

While I couldn’t control my creativity when I was not on proper medication, at this point — even though I’m trying to find a way to keep my life revolving around creativity, which was what kept me alive as a youth — I’m just finding there’s a lot more to life than just creation. And it’s hard to output creativity without taking in other peoples’ creativity.

I’m probably an easier person to deal with, now; but my strengths on medication aren’t the same as my strengths off of it. It changes the way my brain functions.

I’m probably 15 years into being treated with an antipsychotic drug. My early experience with it showed me that I was more likely to be spiritual and mystical without it, and at higher doses (though I’m still on a relatively low dose), I had more of a tendency to slide to an agnostic or materialist position. I don’t go all the way Scientific Materialist (or haven’t had to, yet), but I can see that what I think isn’t right just because I’m the one thinking it.

In turn, I’ve also pretty much stopped looking to religious authorities to give me comfort about the nature of the world and of myself. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve absorbed enough, if it’s because I know I could study my entire life and still not grasp everything, or if it’s because I feel like I’m wasting my precious time dealing with people who don’t espouse truth.

Of course, there’s the question of whether truth is the point, and I would say it isn’t. But that then gives one an insight to the purpose of religion…and to whether one can value it even if it is not truthful. The latter is something that my American upbringing is probably interjecting: one of my parents was raised Catholic, and so I was raised with an intense valuation on truth (though I don’t particularly see any organized religion as necessarily true, and I’m not Catholic myself).

But back to the medication topic: I’ve reached the point where I can see that I probably am not the only person alive in this world, just because I only experience it from this position. You can see from the default in that example how far gone I was, though. I still don’t like the “fantasy/reality” duality, because things aren’t that clear-cut for me, and never have been. Things can be indistinguishable from reality for someone, and still not correspond with what’s happening objectively. Then we get into a question over whose subjective truth is closer to objectivity.

The thing is that it’s incredibly easier to be creative when you believe what you think, as versus when you’ve got a meta-cognitive layer acting on top of that which regulates what of your brain function actually gets translated into action. (This is called executive function and it’s associated with the forebrain…)

Being able to be an actually trustworthy person is the high point. It’s just difficult for me to deal with creative imaginings about the nature of spirit and life now, though, because I wonder if I’m wasting my time. Because nobody has the answers I’m looking for; and if they do, I’ve got to check my own bias to see if it matches theirs.

Anyhow…I have one more day of work before I’ll have to not go in, for a bit. I can do this.

I’m just not entirely certain why the creativity has fallen back so much, except that I am (now) mentally healthier and more stable than I used to be (at least when I’m on all my medications). Or, it’s possible that the creativity was part of my symptomatic profile.

I don’t know where that leaves me now, though, except in a Library Science program…and on my way to becoming some sort of Librarian…

I mean, do I make a mental shift where I focus all my energy on my Master’s program and my employment, or do I continue to (attempt to) split my time between creative production and becoming a Librarian? Noting, of course, that I went into Library Science in part because I wanted to work in Publishing and possibly as a writer?

Hmm.

Then there’s that whole psychological-thriller category that I still enjoy writing within… 🙂

A psychiatry post

I’m writing this now instead of trying to map out a diagram for homework, because I seriously doubt I have the cognitive function to do the latter, at the moment.

It’s become apparent to the people around me that I’m experiencing the beginning of symptom relapse (obsessive thoughts + paranoia), so I’m going to start taking the Prozac again, starting tomorrow. At this point I’m not sure what is worse, the anxiety and obsessive thoughts, or the cognitive distortions, or the mood distortions, or the withdrawal (or the oversleeping…but that’s minor, compared to everything else). The trouble is that I can’t tell what’s normal.

In any case, I see my prescribing doctor again, shortly. The idea is to go back on the Prozac until I complete my degree. Then I’ll have the opportunity to go off of it again, after the stress of school is over. I estimate that if I don’t exercise, I’ll likely only gain 10 lbs. by December (putting me at 175), but there are plans to start up a fitness regimen that I’ll be doing with family (as we all basically need to be exercising for health).

The biggest stressor I’m under is the grad-school workload, but there is also chaos going on in both sides of my family right now, and I’m apparently blowing things way out of proportion at my job (which I didn’t know, because I can’t tell what’s normal). D also saw that I was in a pattern of confiding in people and then not trusting them anymore.

And yeah, I didn’t notify Psych of the anger I was dealing with before because I was afraid they were going to tell me to restart the Prozac. What I know is that the abdominal fat will fall off next time I go off of this medication, but apparently the vast majority of drugs that I could take for my symptoms cause weight gain.

Anyhow, my mood’s down now that I know I’m back on the pills. I don’t like having a paunch, and I had just started to have a relatively flat belly and to go down in weight.

So I’m feeling depressed, right about now. I’m pretty sure the pain is just chemicals.

I’ve got to get through tomorrow, though, then through the 18th, though the teacher in my Instructional Design class (with the 2-18 due dates) says it’s better to turn in good late work than poor on-time work…and I think all of my professors know I’m technically disabled. I’ve only been able to find a private contact avenue with one of them.

I should get some rest. Staying up isn’t helping things. I can try doing the diagram in the morning.

I started this post freaking out over school, now it’s just over weight.

Yeah, there are things more important than classwork…

I suppose it wouldn’t be too much to admit that I am now somewhat seriously freakin’ out over the workload I’ve set out for myself.

It is, however, a good thing that I stayed home today to listen to the three hours (!) of lectures I had for one class, or else I’d really feel like I was drowning. Today, what I got done was that (yeh, I’m kinda changing up my writing voice, for now), and a good set of abdominal exercises (aiming for 60 reps balanced per exercise, 30 reps to either side per exercise) plus over a mile clocked on the Exercycle (where I actually surpassed [!] 9 MPH, tension level = 6 [that detail probably won’t matter to anyone else]).

So after I listened to the lectures for my database class, I then went through all four of them (the classes, that is) and noted everything due this next period. I’m kind of getting irritated (that’s not the word I’m thinking of) at being expected to schmooze for part of my grade. I just don’t do that, well. And I’ve got serious “stuff” to attend to, like analyzing freaking websites.

And…yeah, I’m kinda getting “dark” here, like not “dark” as in “lost” but “dark” as in “angry.” It’s likely due to stress and a reduced amount of medication (which would normally help me deal with the stress).

My weight is still going up, by the way, but I’m pretty sure that little bump on the scale means my muscles (particularly my thighs and abs) are building, not that I’m taking on a bunch more fat.

(My belly fat is continually shrinking, by the way. Yay for resetting metabolisms! I wouldn’t be concerned except for the fact that Prozac use is linked to Type 2 diabetes, which in turn is linked to abdominal fat. And I just lost someone from diabetes [ongoing kidney failure, necrotizing bacteria] and had a friend who also lost someone [if not two people] from diabetes, not to mention others I know who have to live with it.)

What I need to do, really, is likely just stop drinking juice like I restarted doing when I stopped the Prozac. That was the big thing that caused me to stop gaining weight when I was still taking it, and…realistically, I’ve got 35 pounds to drop before I’ll be at optimal weight (I did actually break the 170 barrier yesterday, though that was after food and drink, not first-thing-in-the-morning stuff; at minimum, I’m at 165, meaning 30 to drop).

Hey, if I could be stable at 165 and hourglass and strong and lose the fat from under my jaw, I’m not sure I’d have a problem with it.

Then there is the entire grad-school stress…thing. That also contributes to the weight gain.

Why am I in this? I am in this because it’s important to M that I get a Master’s degree. I don’t know why; it has something to do with some nightmare couched in the phrasing of not, “working at McDonald’s.” Which, you know, I never had to do, but the same can’t be said of others in my family. So, you know, maybe it’s something they “know” about that I don’t.

But also, how many other people do you know that go through grad-school horrors because their parents want them to?

Well, there you go. A’ight. Who wants to do this? (or be a doctor or lawyer [or banker or teacher]?)

Oh, right, the other people in my program…

…well…why?

I did have the option with Voc Rehab of choosing a blue-collar job for my “vocation,” (electrician!) but I just didn’t. I can’t even really remember why I chose this line of work anymore, except that I already had an English degree and wanted to monetize it — and, right — that I was considering work in Publishing. Library work keeps you around texts, at least for the present day. And I thought it would be quiet.

Ha!

Well, that, and I didn’t (and don’t, still) feel entirely comfortable taking money from people. But in Capitalism, that’s what you’ve gotta do if you’re gonna survive; the money has to come from someplace, even if it’s going into your old coffee cup (which I’m sure we wish it wouldn’t). And even if it’s coming out of taxes.

I have dreams for Publishing, but they’re probably about 15 years in the future. Pearson is doing some work on it, last I checked (interactive books). Though I’m thinking interaction paired with social media, that (due to abuse of the system, which is fairly likely with college students) could become a Public Relations nightmare fairly quickly.

And, right: I didn’t want to enter a majority-male field and have to deal with the, “but you have the wrong ‘bits,'” for the rest of my life. HOW CAN I LOVE METAL IF I HAVE THE WRONG “BITS?”

Okay, I’m going to stop now.

Hey, at least I’ve still got a sense of humor. That’s something.

I should likely schedule some time (no, I mean really, schedule) to work on something creative. I’ve just got to determine what exactly that’s going to be, and when it is going to be. And when I’m going to do everything else.

Also, I’m a bit concerned about what kind of food my parents did bring back from the produce market…I sacrificed those hours to work on readings, today, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve got a ton of apples and nothing else…

Yeah, I…I should get to bed…

Non-school-related:

So I’m entering the second week of classes, now. I’m not going to work as much as I was at the beginning of last semester…which is likely a good thing. A few things have come up.

Sleep hygiene.

Now that I’m entirely off the Prozac, at the very least I will need to be more diligent about when I take my medication. Last night I lay down at 9 PM because I was tired, and slept until about 1:15 AM, when I then remembered to take the medication I should have taken at 9.

Consequently, I was tired in the daytime again, today; and although I did initially get up (and ready to leave) at a reasonable time, I wasn’t active until around 5 PM again because of sedation. There is a date set out for me to see my prescribing doctor, as my case manager said that sleeping until 5 PM was overly excessive.

This is why I started the Prozac in the first place (to stay awake, because of the sedation from the earlier-prescribed medication), but if the Prozac is going to put me on a road that leads to obesity and diabetes unless I continuously go out of my way to take action against it, I’d rather cut the sedating medication and see what that gets me. I’ve been on it since high school, when I was with a prescribing doc I didn’t like, and who may not have cared if I was functional. It may be that it’s time to either reduce or change it.

Going down from 14g to 16g.

I had been having intermittent discomfort in my left ear piercing, which I think is related to going up in gauge too fast. I mentioned this in a backpost (though at this point I think the tearing sensation was likely from dried crust being pulled through the piercing: it may have bled or oozed and I wasn’t aware of it). The solution to this is generally noted as going down one size, staying there for 6 weeks, and then attempting to go back up again. I actually went down in gauge yesterday, to 16g. It’s much more comfortable.

Right now I’m wearing a curved set of barbells previously belonging to M (I did clean them), which have a nice combination of metal thickness and weight. Based on what I’ve seen, I’ll want to stay at 16g until March 14, when I can try 14g again. I have two sets of earrings at this size, so even if I lose a threaded ball from the barbells, I will have a backup set of captive-ball rings.

New interest in my appearance.

Right now I’m taking the step to start looking nice (to myself). I had been distinctly sabotaging my appearance because I get upset/angry when men try to hit on me (I am not a heterosexual woman, regardless of what I look like)…but there is a way to rebel against that, which is to look nice despite them and just not play their games. Outside of criminality, the worst they can do is call me a b****, and D says to take that as a badge of honor, more than anything.

And yeah, it helps that I can fight in the vast majority of shoes I have. It also helps that I’m willing to fight.

Exercise makes me feel better.

Last night, I went a mile on the Exercycle, which really doesn’t seem like much (to me), but after about 2/3 of a mile, I got bored of going at 6 MPH and cranked it up to 9 MPH (eventually).

I just reached the point where it was more tiring to go more slowly than it was to push myself. I don’t think I’ve ever had a time where I was going at 9 MPH for over 15 seconds, until last night. (Of course, going faster means that I’ll be done with a mile sooner, so that is also an incentive.)

After that, I did a bunch of thorough stretching (mostly legs and trunk), and most of the abdominal exercises I can remember (I just excluded leg lifts). I did feel better after having done that. D said that it might be because I was oxygenating muscles. I’ve got to remember that my Tae Kwon Do stretches (for kicking) were the only things that started to relax the tendons in my inner thigh (as I found in my Butterfly Stretch).

Today I’m sore, but only a little. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get more exercise done. I try not to exercise the same muscle groups on consecutive days, because over the long term that can lead to muscle weakening, not strengthening — as in the case of my abs. They were probably shredded to **** by my high school Physical Education classes (which were in turn run by an ex-Army drill instructor, which doesn’t give me much security).

Shoes and clothes that fit, help.

As does, getting my hair trimmed. I suppose that it is the beginning of February, so the worst of the cold season is probably behind us (here). I think the big issue is going to be drought, for the rest of the year. We’ve basically got almost no snowpack, so it’s going to be tough (again). The bright side of this is that I probably won’t need to rely on my sweaters for much longer.

I did get a couple of new pairs of shoes, but the close-fitting ones I got are a bit large after having stretched out. M has taken them. I think I really needed a smaller size than the one I got (I normally wear a 9, but I think I needed an 8.5, in this case, and got a 9 on principle).

And…the sedation is kicking in again, so I’m going to sign off.

Stressing, a bit, but I know why:

We decided today that I’m going to try and just stop the Prozac. I’ve been on 1/3 of a normal dose for about a month, 1/2 dose prior to that…and my belly has appreciably gone down with each reduction.

Right now I’m mostly concerned about school starting, again. And that’s largely because I’m in a four-week, 1-unit class that I’m probably about to hate (it’s on politics)…but I have to take it to fulfill a graduation requirement. Avoiding working on the reading for that, early, has pretty much killed this last week of Winter Break.

It could also be a touch of the Prozac not protecting me as adequately from depression. My sleep schedule has been messed up since I went down to 1/3 of a dose, and that — plus work stress, plus procrastination — is likely why I’m feeling so down.

There’s that, and realizing that I don’t really have to become a (Public) Librarian…and that I’m not really getting compensated enough at my job for everything I’m doing.

I think if a potential employer asked me why I was exiting the Library field, my answer would be, “ideology.” But I’ve got to deal with the ideology if I want to finish this last year.

I’m also in a MySQL course, which looks interesting but difficult. Then there is a class on reference interviews (useful for employability…I’ll leave it at that), and a class on teaching (not looking forward to that, but also useful for employability).

Summer should be interesting, and Fall (my last semester, depending) will likely be a bit stressful, but I should have fulfilled all of my requirements, by then.

I think it would be different if work wasn’t being a pain and if I weren’t being undercompensated and pushed into work that a Clerk should be doing. But I guess that’s what you get when you have the option to only go in for 11 hours a week. It would probably also be different if I had the option to just go straight for an Information Science degree and not worry about the ALA graduation requirements.

On top of that…there should be some celebrations coming up, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll have the energy. The good thing is that by the end of February, I should be back down to only having to deal with 9 units (which was hard enough last semester! — though, again, that was due to one single class).

I suppose, also, I don’t have to work myself to the bone like I did last semester (and I shouldn’t be looking forward to a semester of no play…I just hate to end the creativity trip right when I start being able to do it well again). I ended up getting all three grades in the A range in Fall 2017, which should adequately balance out that C- I got in Beginning Cataloging in Spring 2017.

Then there’s the **** portfolio and making sure ALL of it is backed up (more than once)…and rebuilding the portfolio because I didn’t know what I was doing the last time…

Hey, I guess on the bright side, maybe I’ll have the time and opportunity to take a second Programming class in Fall…