Dr. Win , Medicine-Person.

Today, progress was made. I’m all about progress.

So, few months back, I was referred to a neurologist by my primary care physician, also known as my most favoritest person in the world ever. *cough cough* The first appointment available for me to see this neurologist character was today. So, at 7 o’clock this morning, I rolled off of my mother’s couch, showered, and made my merry way to the neurologist’s office.

So, until this past November, I had been under the impression that the medical field performed certain functions, namely:

  1. To hypothesis a diagnosis, based on symptoms/medical history/risk factors/environmental components
  2. To test for proposed diagnoses
  3. To create a plan of action with the patient, in order to treat — the intention being to restore the patient to as close to good health as can be managed
  4. To counsel patient
  5. To listen to patient concerns, and set at ease the mind of the patient, as much as possible.

Yes. This was my utopian vision of the medical world, previous to November and the Freezing of My Face. (Momentous event. Definitely deserves caps.) Much to my chagrin, my interactions with the medical world thereafter shattered this idyllic image.

And then today happened.

The neurologist asked me questions about my symptoms, my family health history, how my family manages health problems, my lifestyle, my medical treatment thus far, and what my expectations are, concerning treatment. I responded, and was probed for elaboration. This took up almost half an hour. Before today, but since the Freezing of My Face, doctors had not asked me many questions, and did not seek elaboration on any answers I offered up.

Then there was the revelation: my primary care physician is a moron. Why? Because PCP told me I had mono, when the blood test for mono came back negative. The neurologist was confused as to how anyone, let alone someone with medical training, could misread the results and interpret EBV — NEGATIVE as meaning “Ohp, she has mono.” But, whatevs. Neurologist recommended I switch PCPs, and recommended one to me.

Then there was the exam. Actual poking and prodding. ¬†At which point an apology was made for having to repeat tests the PCP had done — minus the part where PCP had done no such tests. Neurologist looked puzzled, because the tests were basic reflex things that can help rule out MS. The results are that I most likely don’t have MS, but we’re getting an MRI anyway.

That’s right. An MRI. THE VERY FIRST TEST THAT SOMEONE SAID I SHOULD HAVE DONE. Four point five months later, voila. And how long am I going to wait before I get an MRI? One week. I could have gotten in on Tuesday, but I’ll be in Disneyland. ūüôā That same Thursday, I get to have my nerves shocked and my muscles poked with a big needle, to rule out other neuropathies. And then I have an appointment with my shiny new PCP, who can hopefully read paperwork.

Then there was discussion of treating me, instead of treating five billion different little symptoms. Talk of multiple approaches, from lifestyle changes to medication to physical therapy to counseling to having an open mind and a positive attitude–all integral to becoming healthy, even if the new-fangled healthy Me might be in pain the rest of her life. In the past, I have been treated as a drug-seeker, and any treatment plan after imaging and blood work ruled out initial diagnoses consisted of a phone call from a medical assistant. “Welp. We dunno what’s wrong with you. Have a nice life.”

On top of that, other specialists I may need to see were contacted while I was in the office. Appointments were made. A follow-up visit was scheduled with the neurologist, in order to check up on me and see what progress is being made, regardless of what the MRI or shocking/poking tests are going to reveal.

And then there was the part where I was taken seriously. As though I am a person with a desire to feel whole and healthy again, and not a small child who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Progress is being made.

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Disneyland.

I’m going to Disneyland.¬†Not right this very second, but in a few days. Three. It is our final family vacation before Chuck leaves on his two-year mission for the LDS church. When he returns from El Salvador, I hope to be in Canada. When I move back to the States, Evan will probably be leaving on a mission of his own. Paul will leave on one just before Evan gets home.

Basically, this is the last time my family will be in the same space…ever. Or at least until my siblings are all grown up. So. We’re going to Disneyland.

It’s a good thing, too, because my brain is ready to explode. This week has been so emotionally exhausting. I have a neurologist appointment tomorrow, so the hope is that my physical well-being may be improved soon — despite my emotional exhaustion.

I told Jennifer I would come over before work. That was an hour and a half ago. I haven’t gotten off my couch since I came home from school. Too tired.

But it is all good. Because…I’m going to Disneyland. ūüôā

Heavier Things.

****trigger warning****

See. Here’s the thing about the wee hours of the morning. My brain works differently. It’s all emotion and completely void of filter. Truthfully, my brain has had a difficult time with the whole emotion/filter situation lately. I’m swinging from mood to mood and giving whoever will listen a play-by-play in the process. But, I’m feeling share-y, right now. So we’re going to embrace that mood, and talk about…well…heavier things.

Today was rough. You know those days when you wake up and you know that getting out of bed is the worst possible decision you could make? The days when you’re just praying to gods and demi-gods and just really nice, saintly-esque people to let you sleep for eternity so you don’t have to actually face your brain? Okay. You may not know those days. I do, and today (Monday…haven’t slept yet, so it’s still Monday) was one of those days. I mean, yes. It’s a Monday, and I think Mondays are a cruel invention. But this was more than just the typical Monday self-loathing. This was Patrick Henry. Let me be free, or kill me now. Wait. That isn’t right…anyway. I got out of bed, and it was the worst decision I could have made.

I slept terribly, because I had just shown Jennifer my blog for the first time and I was paranoid that he now thinks I’m some obsessive crazy person. I AM an obsessive crazy person, but I don’t need Jennifer to know that. And there’s that whole thing where I’m in immense pain all the time. It sort of makes the sleeping thing a problem.

And I’ve been the Rollercoaster Royalty, in terms of mood stability. Monday is not immune to my royal charms. So a moody, sleep-deprived me rolled out of bed and went to class, anticipating a lecture on the Jim Crow era. Nooooope. Instead, we talked about the Steubenville rape case. I have a difficult-enough time keeping it together on days when I’m feeling sane, once the discussion turns to sexual assault in any respect. Today wasn’t conducive to me speaking about victim-blaming without throwing things or sobbing, so I spent class in silence.

But as I retreated further and further into my head, I thought I needed to put this out there. So, here is a piece of my life:

I didn’t tell anyone. Of course I didn’t tell anyone. I’m less shy about it now, but I still haven’t told many people. Like Mom. She doesn’t know, so please don’t tell her.

I tried to tell someone, once. A teacher. A teacher I trusted. The teacher actually asked me if there was some history between me and this other student that he needed to know about. I started in on my story, and he cut me off. Said he didn’t want to know. Whatever happened between me and the kid was my business. He was legally obligated to report stuff like that, and he didn’t think I knew what I was saying. Just stop talking. Too much information.

And so I kept it to myself. I didn’t even know what to call it, what had happened. “It.” The incident. Like some insidious disease we don’t refer to by its name because it’s just too horrific. Of course it’s horrific. But I didn’t have the words and I didn’t want to tell anyone, least of all someone who could explain to me what “it” was.

So I listened, instead of talking. I listened to the second- and third-hand stories of girls who had been hurt. By neighbors and boyfriends and bishops and fathers and a few by strangers. I listened to the way those stories were relayed by boys and girls alike. They were never stories of victims and perpetrators. They were cautionary tales. This Is What Happens When You Do Stupid Things. They were myths. Doesn’t Count If You’re A Slut. They were seals of hot red wax, imprinting labels and sealing messages. Attention-Whore. Because if it happens to everyone, it happens to no one. All these questions. What was she wearing?? Was she high?? But weren’t they dating?? How many times?? Doesn’t she know not to trust people with penises?? And always with the two question marks: one, because it’s a question; two, because it’s a question laced with incredulity.

Of course I kept it to myself. I had no desire to be subjected to that level of ridicule. And despite the large amount of people in the school, we were a small town. Word travels quickly. Of course I kept it to myself.

There were no safe places to hide, if I decided to open my mouth.

And I listened to those two-question-marked inquiries and knew that even if I managed to withstand the curiosity and criticism of my peers, I would never make it through once word got back to my mother. There is no way I would be able to look her in the face as she asked me

What were you wearing?

Pajamas, Mom.

How many times have I told you to keep yourself covered?

I tried…I…I…Ithoughtiwasandimsosorrymomididntmeantoandpleaseimsosorryididntlistenifonlyidlistened–

Yes, if only you’d listened, maybe we could have avoided this.

No safe places. Except inside my head, where I relived “it” over and over, every day. And all I could do was organize my skittles into piles by color before I ate them, and take on more assignments for the school paper, and write nonsense poetry in spiral-bound notebooks with a sharpie, like I was in junior high again. Anything to maintain some illusion of control over my life and my mind and my body. They were separate entities now, at odds with one another, and I couldn’t control any of them. But I tried, with my skittles and my editing and my poems.

And I sit here, now, thinking about what it would be like to be Steubenville’s Jane Doe. To have people wish me dead because the people who attacked me could’ve played ball someplace ¬†maybe. To have the news lament the tragedy befallen the poor kids whose lives are now over–their lives, not mine. No mention of my life, save it be someone’s wish to end it.

And I sit here, now, overcome with this feeling of futility. How do we fix it? How do we make our world safe for, accountable to, Jane Doe? To every other Jane Doe? To the girls I went to school with? To me?

I don’t have an answer. Just anger and frustration and years of other “its” and things, mine and others’, eating at me. Giving me ulcers and migraines and panic attacks. My body and my mind are still at odds with one another.¬†But they agree on one thing: that this culture of victim-blaming needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. That a world where there are no safe places is not a world we should keep. Scratch it. Crumple it up and throw it away. Pull out a clean page. Label it “Utopia” and draw with your words what such a place would look like. Mine says simply,

Violence-free zone.

You are safe, here.

Breaking Point.

End of Spring Break.

It is a beautiful 54 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I drove to Jennifer’s with my windows rolled down. James Taylor, Bill Withers, Alanis Morissette blasting at a volume threatening to blow my Civic’s factory-issue speakers–but ’tis the soundtrack of spring. The wind and the music enveloping me as I drive, focused only on the road and leaving the pain and the frustration that seem to characterize my waking life, if only for the twenty minutes it takes to get from Mom’s house to Jennifer’s. Rejuvenation. I had forgotten what it feels like.

Spring brings with it many things that I’d prefer it left behind. Like hay fever. Yellow-jackets. The buds that fall from Mom’s tree and stick to your shoes as you walk inside. The lack of surety as to the weather…will it snow today? Rain? Will we break 80? Which jacket should I wear? Pants or shorts? (The answer is always “pants,” because you can roll them into capris if it gets too hot, and “light jacket,” because it’s better to be too cool than too warm. And we only break 80 in the valley when someone commits to bringing their winter coat with them someplace, just in case.) When Chuck played soccer, we used to joke about spring season, and how it was actually winter soccer. More blizzards in April than October, along the Wasatch Front. Spring is fickle that way, though the weather is rarely predictable here.

But then there are so many things to love about spring. Daffodils. I don’t even like yellow, but I love daffodils. Mom’s always bloomed around Easter. And then Easter. I’m not much for the holiday, itself. But Easter means family dinner, and I’m a sucker for those. Then soccer. MLS has started up again. Boo and hiss as you will, those of you who think MLS is lame. I am a die-hard Real Salt Lake fan. Their home opener is tonight, and I’m taking Jennifer. He’s never been to a game, and that is simply unacceptable. I’d be a terrible friend if I didn’t share the things I love with my nearest and dearest. Jennifer brought me comedy. I’m bringing him Nick Rimando.

And mid-way through spring, the semester ends. And summer classes begin. Summer classes are my favorite. I love the speed. No time to get bored. School should keep you on your toes–not because you’re tip-toeing around the broken pieces of your once-beautiful gpa, but because the pace is quick and the work is engaging.

And then there is the watching the world come back to life. I love that. Even here, where the air is disgusting and we seem to enjoy starting fires, the grass turns green again and under my mom’s ash tree becomes the coveted shady parking spot for all those visiting along her street. People begin to plan their gardens and commit to trying out the zucchini again, even though they never grow as big as Boyd’s do. It gets warm enough for picnics in the park, and hikes in the canyon, and you can stare in awe as the world seemingly puts itself back together again.

And I watch it all, and tell myself that if the world can do it, maybe I can too.

Read Some Books.

I used to love to read. So much so, in fact, that I majored in reading things. I mean, c’mon. Literary Studies. Fancy words for “reading really cool stuff.” And it isn’t that I don’t love reading, anymore. It is just a different sort of love. Sort of a compulsion to break ideas down into their basest components, examine them, put them all back together, and see what new ideas have been created in that process. I no longer read for the sake of enjoyment, if enjoyment is not to include masochism.

But I often think about what I read when I liked reading. And what I read that brought me to love reading. And how I love the things I’ve read because of what they’ve shown me about living in this complicated world of ours.

So, I’ve compiled a list, or two, of books that brought me to where I am now. (It is Spring Break. I am making to-do lists every ten minutes, so the brain is in listing-mode. My apologies. But then, no apologies, because I like lists.)

Stories I read when I was little that made me love reading:

  1. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. I think my dreams of travelling the globe began with¬†Madeline. She wasn’t scared of anything, and I thought that was so cool. Plus, she lived in an old house covered in vines. What isn’t to love about old houses covered in vines?
  2. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. I didn’t realize how much I loved this story until I went to Boston. In the public garden, they have statues of the mother and the ducklings from this story. I cried when I saw them.
  3. What Was I Scared Of?¬†by Dr. Seuss. My FAVORITE Dr. Seuss story. Which is saying something, because I love Dr. Seuss. Aside from learning to love rhyme and the ability to create new words and phrases, I loved how each conflict ended in reconciliation. Someone vowed to take care of the truffula seed. The Sneetches with or without stars upon thars became friends. And people decided that it didn’t matter if you ate your bread butter-side up or butter-side down. But this story was my favorite. I’ve always been easy to scare; a worrier; a paranoid. But this story reassured me that sometimes we just need to get to know the things we are afraid of, in order to realize how irrational our fear is.
  4. King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood. Sometimes, you have to join in the crazy. Embrace people in all their eccentricities. Like King Bidgood. Other times, you have to be the one to sneakily pull the plug–because it’s time for bed. Also, I love most everything by Audrey and Don Wood.
  5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I still cite this story when I’m having an especially awful day. My desire to flee the country when things get tough probably came from reading this book. But it puts into perspective how everyone has tough days. Even in Australia.
  6. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I have yet to see this movie, because I am worried it will ruin the book for me. But Max taught me that no matter where I go, it is always nice to come home again.
  7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I have this need to “sign off” when the day is over. I have to say goodnight to people. Oftentimes Jennifer is said people. But, it helps me to calm down. To end my day by wishing someone well for the night. This book is to blame for that.
  8. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. The power of positive thinking. I don’t buy into it as much anymore, but I still find myself saying “I know I can” when things have been really rough and I need that extra push to get over the hill.
  9. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. This is how I learned the alphabet. Well. This and¬†Barney and Friends.¬†He’s a dinosaur sensation. Don’t judge me. Anywho. Alphabet.
  10. Corduroy by Don Freeman. Even if you’re missing a button, you deserve love.

Books and things I have read throughout my life that have made me love reading:

  1. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I got the first book for my 8th birthday. It had only been out in the US for 9 months. I fell in love with Hermione, and also somewhat with Harry, and so I hopped on the roller coaster that was the entire series. But this is still one of my favorite literary experiences.
  2. His Dark Materials¬†series by Philip Pullman. This is how I came to love dystopian fiction. It took me ten years to finish the trilogy, but I did it. And I love the way Pullman makes you rethink what we call God’s word, and shows how this line of thinking isn’t toxic…unlike C.S. Lewis and those who don’t fall in line for the cause of Aslan.
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry. Another dystopian piece. Let us think about memories, and how important it is to remember where we come from.
  4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite novel. From Billy Pilgrim’s adventures being unstuck in time to the narrator’s description of the bombing of Dresden…this book changed my life in ways I cannot convey. I think I owe my academic preoccupations to this piece.
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A dear, dear friend gave this to me, just weeks before I graduated from high school. It is heartwrenching and beautiful.
  6. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I read this on assignment for my Honors English class, junior year of high school. I always believed that literature had prophetic properties, but that belief was reinforced by this novel. Now it is less of a belief in prophecy, and more a profound respect for those who can observe the workings of the structure they have been in and predict accurately where things are headed. Regardless. Paton does some great work in this novel.
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. SO many people interpret dystopian literature as the nay-saying against communism or godlessness. I have always just seen it as arguing against totalitarianism of any sort, or fundamentalism in any regard. But Atwood’s world illustrates a system that is more within our grasp than Huxley’s or Orwell’s, and more sinister in many respects. I hope to someday teach a course on dystopian fiction, and this will definitely be on the syllabus.
  8. The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld. The same person who wrote Uglies and its sequels. Major guilty pleasure. I loved the idea of an alternate dimension. People with different powers. Creatures for whom multiples of 13 are kryptonite. I read these while my friends were reading the Twilight series. (To be fair, I read all but the last book in the Twilight series. I just liked The Midnighters better.)
  9. Richard III by William Shakespeare. I was six years old (not exaggerating) when I read my first Shakespeare play.¬†As You Like It. I thought it was boring, but I kept reading the Bard’s works anyway. In second grade, I recited the balcony scene from¬†Romeo and Juliet for show-and-tell. Now you know why I have so few friends. As time went on, I became more involved in theatre. I learned to love Shakespeare by performing his pieces and approaching the text as an actor, rather than a reader. The last Shakespearean piece I performed, as a solo actor and not as part of an ensemble, was a monologue from Queen Margaret in¬†Richard III. I read the play after I had performed my monologue and fell in love with Richard’s lines. Such an eloquent villain. I still have great respect for people who can write villains that I love to hate.
  10. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I don’t believe in “aha!” moments, but I sometimes have them anyway. I was sitting in my Introduction to Literary Criticism class, part deux. Retaking classes has been a habit of mine, because I have a tendency to break down partway through the semester and then never show up to class again. Anyway. I was sitting in Intro to Lit Crit and I read on the syllabus that we were to read Hemingway. It was a summer class, so there were only 7 weeks in the semester. However, Hemingway was the only non-theoretical text we were reading. “How the hell are we supposed to focus on one novel for 7 weeks?” I thought, and then later asked Jennifer. But I started in on my first Hemingway. I was only two chapters in when I felt this feeling of contentedness settle over me. It was through Hemingway that I found myself committing to English as my primary discipline. He holds a special place in my heart.

And now that I have sufficiently bored you with the listing of things I have loved reading, I am going to return to Supernatural before sorting laundry, and watching Slavery by Another Name. Heavier things.

Now, go away. Read some books.

Introspection.

Spring Break. Slept until 4pm. Went shopping with Jennifer. Well. He went shopping with me. Found a new Chinese restaurant that is bound to become a favorite. Watched Atlantis: The Lost Empire¬†at Jennifer’s. Home by midnight for a¬†Supernatural marathon. Good day. Not many of those come around, so we’re taking stock of the situation.

Things I learned, today, that I already knew:

  1. I am less impulsive when I shop with someone else. Hence Jennifer.
  2. Whether it’s a bag of mandarin oranges or a bag of potato chips, compulsive eating is still compulsive eating.
  3. I am so much like my mother, and in all the ways I want to be. And I am so, so happy about that. Don’t tell her that, though.
  4. Sometimes, impulse is a good thing. When your brain tells you that it’s time for Disneyland, it’s probably time for Disneyland. (11 days. I don’t even like California, but 11 days.)
  5. I need to get a passport.
  6. I will always be a jeans-and-t-shirt kind of person. And you can never have too many black items of clothing.
  7. It’s fun to be a tease. But know when to stop.
  8. Giving a person a uterus is a cruel punishment.
  9. Believe in yourself. And when that voice in the back of your head tells you that you’re not worth believing in, tell it to shut up and pack that voice back in its box.
  10. Love yourself. Because you deserve to be loved, and it is no use waiting for someone else to come along and do it for you.

A little mushy, I know. But, really. Good days hold good things to remember. Now, I think I’m going to call it a night…or watch one more episode of¬†Supernatural. Either way, ta-ta for now.

Ritual.

I’ve found a new favorite thing. Spoken word. I stayed up until 5am on Thursday morning, watching spoken word videos on YouTube.

Jennifer makes fun of me because I’m a dork. I am. So is he, but not for spoken word.

I just find myself captivated, listening and watching other people as they put themselves out there, and they recite and relay their mind and their memories and their pain. I had intended, when I began writing, for my words to bring that same sort of catharsis. They do, in a way, to an extent. But I need to vocalize them. I need to hear the words escape my lips, so I can visualize the hurt and the guilt and the inadequacy leaving my body in the form of sound waves.

People don’t always like to listen when you need to say things like that. Heavy things. I am amazed, some days, at the obstacles Jennifer and I overcame to become such good friends. He doesn’t grapple well with emotion, and emotion is all I am. But, I am too much emotion for one person. So, here I am. Blogging, at 4:39am, trying to get all this debris cleared out of my head so I can sleep…but knowing full well that it will all have found its way back once I’ve woken up.

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re lying to yourself when you say things will turn out a certain way? Things are shifting. My brain is doing some spring cleaning. Some feng shui. Boxes are being rearranged and it is changing the way I feel about things. And people. And ideas. And living.

I know how little sense that makes. But I needed to get it out there. Maybe I’ll talk to Jennifer about it tomorrow, and it will then be gone for good.

In the meantime…sweet dreams.

In Stereo.

Somedays it is all I can do to keep from bursting. I feel…that’s just it. I feel. Everything. So intensely that being conscious is a burden and sleeping is a piss-poor respite. I’m learning things. I love the sound of breathing. Listening to someone inhale, and then exhale, as they sleep. Me, brain moving at mach 5 and hyper-aware of every sound. Car doors slamming. Footsteps. Doors opening and closing. Cursing from neighbors. Rain on the windowpane. Everything in stereo, and I don’t know how to tell it to be quiet without also disturbing the music–inhale, and then exhale. I’m learning that loving and being in love are not the same thing. I don’t know if I believe in being in love. But I believe in loving. And I’m so full of feeling that I might burst. I just want to give and give and give until there’s nothing left…and maybe then I can learn to take some for myself. To ask. To nuance. Maybe then I will be healed, and whole, and I can listen to the breathing, the music, without panicking that it is only a matter of time before it goes away again and I am left alone, in silence.

Auditory Tripping.

Music is therapy.

I’m sitting in the cross hall at school, waiting for work to start. I had hoped Jennifer would be here early, so we could chat about my evening. He hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m on my laptop. Blogging. Listening to trip hop.

Think about the most intensely sensual experience you’ve ever had.

Multiply that by ten.

Imagine that feeling in sound waves.

That would be trip hop.

ūüôā

I listen to all sorts of music. Jazz. Folk. Classical. Classic Rock. Industrial. Funk. 90s Teen Pop. Others. I play the piano, and alto sax, and I sing, sometimes. Music has always been a fundamental part of my life.

But trip hop.

So, I’m listening to Massive Attack. They’re my favorite trip-hop group. Then Portishead. Then Sneaker Pimps.

It’s like all the anxiety of the past week is melting out of my body and joining the sound waves. Which I imagine I can see, if I close my eyes. The ultimate in visualization.

Anyway. It’s time to go clock in for work, so I’ll stop with the random posit on trip hop. Goodbye to Massive Attack, and to you. For now.

Body Talk.

My body is telling me to drop out of school. It is tired. It needs sleep. I don’t get sleep when I go to school.

I’ve always had weird sleeping problems. I can’t fall asleep. When I do fall asleep, I’m only half-asleep. When I wake up, I feel like I never slept. In fact, I felt more rested before I went to sleep than I do when I wake up. It’s always been like this, to some degree. But it’s gotten worse with time.

I think it’s my anxiety. I was talking with a friend (I’d like to call her a friend, so I’m going to do so) and classmate today about what stress can do to a body. My anxiety has been poorly managed for…how old am I?…21-7=…14 years, but it’s been especially disastrous throughout my collegiate experience. Oh, the¬†school part of college rocks. It’s my sanctuary. Where I’m in my element. Et cetera. It’s the part where I’m no longer involved in newspaper/band/theatre/volunteering/church…also known as the part where my anxiety is no longer sublimating into being involved in EVERYTHING. And something about six years of 4-hour-a-night sleeping habits that caught up with me, and demanded I start sleeping at precisely the time when people stop sleeping: college.

Not sleeping does terrible things to your brain. Especially when your brain is already messed up.

When I was 7, my hair was falling out in massive chunks. I’m talking about adult-sized fistfuls, each time my mom would comb it. I had very thin, slow-growing hair to begin with, so we were worried. Went to a dermatologist. Had some blood work done to check my thyroid, which came back as negative for any abnormalities. (A foreshadowing of every other blood test for the rest of my life, apparently.) And in the same nonchalant, self-assured manner as every other physician I’ve seen in this lovely state, the dermatologist said, “Hm. Well. It’s probably just stress. Have a nice life.” “Um, she’s 7. What could she possibly be stressed about?” was my mother’s annoyed reply.

Precursor to the rest of my life. Things are wrong with my body, but we can’t figure out why. It probably is a result of stress. Untreated anxiety disorders galore.

But it’s SO DIFFICULT to find good help for anxiety, or depression, or PTSD resulting from something other than military service. And if good help is to be had, it is expensive. Can I afford expensive? Of course not. And I’m not interested in playing musical therapists until I find a good “fit” if I’m going to have to pay out the nose the entire time.

I went to the doctor in January of last year, complaining about migraines and sleep issues and an average of 16 panic attacks a week and suicidal thoughts. So. Like my life now, without the inexplicable, debilitating pain. Doctor thought that seizure medication would be a good solution. I’ve never had a seizure. I haven’t been to see her since.

My current primary physician doesn’t believe in prescribing me anything. Of all my visits to the doctor since November, four of them were made specifically because I was in excruciating amounts of pain and I didn’t know what to do. I go to the doctor and we discuss why this may be the case. RA or Lupus — the ultimate in masochism is an autoimmune disease. MS — I’m a high-risk candidate. Fibromyalgia — that label they assign you when they don’t know what the hell the problem is. Each time, I’m told to take some ibuprofen and come back in a few weeks.

When my face froze, the hospital gave me some Lortab for the pain I was experiencing, in the hopes that lowering my pain would help me sleep. A double dose succeeded in barely taking off the edge of the pain I was in. I was high as a friggin kite (opioid highs are the best highs) but I wasn’t free from pain.

I stopped taking ibuprofen because I was beginning to be concerned about how my anxiety and my college-student diet and my ibuprofen use were affecting my stomach lining.

I don’t sleep because I’m in pain. And when I’m not in pain, I barely sleep.¬†So my body is telling me to drop out of school.

One year from now, I’ll be in my final baccalaureate semester. Hooray! And then I’ll have a whole year of being able to sleep. And getting my anxiety under control. And then it’s back to school. For another 5…7…10 years of intense course load and little sleeping.

So, hush, body. You present a convincing argument, but I won’t be persuaded. Be nice to me, help me make it through one more year, and then we’ll go on an extended north pole vacation. You know. Where it’s dark for 18 hours a day.

Totally conducive to sleeping.