Mylifesamess's Blog

The Crappy Clarinet Diaries

Posted in anxiety, uncluttering by mylifesamess on 06/20/2011

I am told that I acted like a jerk to my mom yesterday while the family was out to lunch for Father’s Day.  No one said anything while I was there, but my boyfriend made a comment on it when we left the pizza place.  His was a brief comment, and there was no room for further discussion as we had driven separately and I was heading immediately up to my dad’s house to spend some time with him.

It had to do with an old clarinet.  It was the clarinet that my mom’s estranged father, my mom, and I learned to play on.  Here’s the issue : it’s a shitty instrument.  It was poorly made and difficult to play.  After three years, I moved onto a better model of clarinet, and then I got a professional model clarinet once I got to college and majored in music performance and education.

I suggested that my niece could disassemble it and reassemble it as a summer camp project.  My mother was dismayed by this suggestion, and let it be known that she would like my young niece could learn to play on it.  I quickly interjected that it wasn’t fit to play.  I then suggested that my niece could instead use my intermediate model instead if she wanted to play clarinet.  The conversation ended with my mom demanding that I return the old clarinet to her, assuming that since I had stated that it was a crappy instrument with no extrinsic value that I didn’t care about it and would trash it.  I think this caused me to get even more defensive and snappish.

A good portion of decluttering for me has been the process of letting go my usually misplaced sentimental attachment to objects.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I have given up, or ever will give up everything that is not useful to me.  The clarinet is a family heirloom.

I love going to antique stores and flea markets.  I find the objects there fascinating.  But, I really just don’t “get” antiquing.  I don’t understand paying a lot of money for an obsolete or unusable antique just for the sake of having it.  For me, there’s a component of pleasure in owning certain items, but pleasure of ownership usually isn’t enough for me to buy something.  There must be utility.  I understand the importance of preserving historic / older items that can help us understand more about the past, but beyond that, the mindset of antiquers is a difficult one for me to understand.

In that sense, I’m of two mindsets that blend in the middle, and because of that this controversial family clarinet will probably remain in my possession until I’m shipped off to a home or dead.  But, I’m not going to romanticize the reality of the object.  Yes, it would be a cool family legacy to have every generation learn to play music on the same instrument, but it’s just not feasible.  I’ve seen kids bring in old family instruments like my clarinet to music classes to learn to play, but they were in such terrible shape that the kids were basically doomed to fail and give up before they ever really got a chance to learn.

What bothered me the most, however, was that I was a jerk about it, and that’s what I’ve really been dwelling on.  I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not a nice person, and I’m ok with that.  That may be an overstatement.  I’m not mean, but when people think about me, the first things they think probably aren’t going to be “She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met” or “What a sweetheart.”  I’m glad for that, because that’s just too much pressure to live up to.

I know there are social courtesies in place to check and balance general assholery, but I realized yesterday that sometimes, being an asshole is the truest to myself that I can be, and in that sense, I don’t regret it.  But, here’s the thing : you have to be justified.  You can’t be an asshole to someone without having a good reason to be an asshole.  So, that’s what yesterday’s interaction comes down to : Did I have a good reason to be an asshole?  And, I think the answer is…not quite.

My pride seems to have a life of it’s own and won’t let me come to rest at regret.  I keep mentally rehashing the conversation and trying to justify my behavior.  In the end, the situation just comes to settle in that grey area.  Do I let it go or do I apologize?  Letting it go would be easier, and I honestly don’t know if I can make a sincere apology.  And half-assed apologies are the worst.

I way overthought this.  I know.  It’s a habit of the highly emotional and anxious mind.


My Overblown Fears Regarding the Looming Specter of Prediabetes

Posted in anxiety, health by mylifesamess on 06/16/2011

I had my yearly Lexapro / Xanax med check up with my family doctor yesterday.  Overall, the results and conclusions were positive.  I am, however, due for a blood work check up.

When I first went to my doctor for anxiety, he put me on medication, but also had me get some bloodwork done to ensure that there wasn’t an underlying physical condition causing my anxiety.  My bad cholesterol was a little high, but otherwise, my blood was in good shape.  This round of blood work is more of a precautionary check up, but I am definitely nervous.

When I was first seeing my doctor for anxiety problems, I was 19 years old.  I’m about 5’7″ – 5’8″, and, at the time, weighed less than 140 pounds.  Today, I am 27, the same height, and a little under 210 pounds, which appears to be my “plateau” weight.  My doctor warned me that SSRIs caused weight gain, and while I don’t regret going on medication for my mental health, it really is a shocking amount.

It bothers me a lot, mostly for superficial reasons.  Having been on both sides of the spectrum, people in general treat you a lot nicer if you’re a thin, pretty girl than if you’re an overweight, ok looking girl.  I try not to complain about my weight to my friends, but sometimes my frustration comes through.  Some friends insist that I’ll always be beautiful, no matter what my weight.  Some are barely able to conceal their disgust.  One friend even insinuated that I’m too fat to wear a style of bridesmaid dress that I told her I liked for an upcoming wedding that I’m in.  (She was wrong, it looked very nice on me.  I got independent confirmation.)

The other part of my weight that bothers me, particularly today, is the health consequences.  I’m concerned about my heart health and about developing type two diabetes.  I’ve been doing better the last few weeks at eating well and getting some physical activity, but I definitely go through phases where I don’t get nearly enough exercise and eat a lot of junk.  Also, I love cookies.  All the time.

One of my co-workers developed prediabetes about a year ago.  I know this because I work the next desk over from her, and she told at least half a dozen people who passed by her desk about it.  Her doctor gave her three months to lower her blood sugar through diet and exercise, which she was unable to do.  The problem was that she kept focusing on what she wasn’t eating instead of what she was eating.  She’s now on medication to try and control her prediabetes.

Granted, she’s 20 years older than me, much less active, and a prohibitively picky eater, but hearing about her experience makes me worry that my weight gain is leading me down the same path.  Honestly, I would be ashamed if I received that diagnosis.  I don’t mean that to be a blanket for everyone who receives that diagnosis, I just mean for me, personally.  I would think that perhaps my friends were right to be disgusted by me, and that I really was just a gross, sloppy fat girl who now leads a sad, depressing life.

That’s a little much, time to pull back.  I know that it’s highly unlikely that I’m suffering from prediabetes.  I also find fear to be a poor and inconstant motivator.  I think that the desire to be healthy is a far better motivator than the fear of being unhealthy.  There have been a few different factors that have come together in the past few weeks that have helped me be better when it comes to food and exercise.  I hope that they can help me to stay motivated, or to at least keep trying.  Trying is something.

My Mental Breakdown History

Posted in anxiety, motivation by mylifesamess on 06/15/2011

If memory serves, one of the reasons that I started this blog was to help with my anxiety as well as to help simplify and organize my life.  I wanted to post tonight, and as I thought through what I wanted to say in my head, it all kept coming back to my problems with anxiety, so I thought I’d take a post to share my history on this subject.

My “mental breakdown” (I know there’s some controversy about this term) occurred when I was 19.  I had actually dealt with anxiety issues most of my life, but I was fairly good at hiding it, and I honestly never realized that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal.

I was in my sophomore year at college when something in my brain sort of snapped.  It was sudden, and there was no build up or warning.  One morning, as I was eating cereal in the cafeteria, I decided that I had HIV.  I had never done drugs, never had a blood transfusion, didn’t work in the medical field, and had never had sex (shut up), so there was absolutely no rational reason for me to believe this.  I just had this almost gut feeling that I had to have it, and that I had been spreading it with impunity to my friends and small children.

I knew how HIV worked, and I knew how it was spread.  The remaining rational portion of my brain knew that the rest of my brain had gone off the deep end.  What I quickly learned is that rational thought means nothing against this kind of anxiety.  It was beyond control.  I was able to go to class that day and restrain my panic, but my friends instantly knew that something was wrong.  We were coming up on finals week, and I knew that I didn’t have the option of taking time away from my schoolwork to deal with this.

I got worse as the day progressed.  I was basically having a panic attack, but it wasn’t subsiding.  It actually went on for days, stretching into weeks.  When I wasn’t in class, I was laying in bed sobbing.  I was completely overwhelmed by fear, guilt, and self loathing.  My hands, chest, and face went numb, and I often found myself hyperventilating.  I was unable to eat or sleep.  There was no respite.

I went to see two psychologists at my college’s mental health center.  They both decided that I was stressed out from school work.  One tossed around the idea of prescribing me a sedative, but decided against it, as she thought it would interfere with my finals.  Through some sort of Herculean effort, I made it to the end of the semester, and even managed to do really well on my finals.

I went home for winter break and saw another psychologist, who made it clear to me that she felt that I was wasting her time.  By this time, weeks of constant panic had taken a toll on my physical health.  Though I was thin to begin with, I had lost about 15 pounds.  I had pains in my chest.  I couldn’t stand up without seeing black spots in my vision.  I had white, mucousy globs in my urine.

I finally went to see my family practitioner, who was the only one who realized that I needed help in a bad way.  He prescribed me Paxil and set up initial check up visits for every two weeks.  My mother had such a stigma against anxiety / depression meds that she initially refused to allow me to take the medication.  Luckily, that only lasted about five minutes.

It took a while for the Paxil to really kick in, but I gradually started to get better.  Today, I just had another med check up with my family doctor.  It’s been eight years and a few med modifications and counseling sessions since I first went to see him about my panic, and today I’m doing well.  I now only have to see him once a year, just to make sure that everything’s still working all right.  I’ve had flare ups since I went on medication, but the frequency and severity has decreased to the point where I haven’t had an attack for a couple of years.

I’m probably always going to have problems with anxiety.  I may be genetically predisposed to it, or maybe it was something I learned as I was growing up.  I think it’s probably a combination of the two.  I don’t think about it all the time, but it is something I have to consider in my day to day life, and I’ll probably be on medication for many years to come.

Decluttering my home and life, being organized and prepared, and writing about my experiences, both good and bad, are all ways that have helped me to deal with my anxiety.  I know that I’m not always on topic with my blog posts, but I do hope that, overall, I can create a blog that reflects this.