Saturday, February 25, 2012

Me and Madness?

I was kind of crazy on Friday night when K was here. I was overtired to begin with, and quickly got overstimulated. This is a really bad combination. I got hyper. When we were outside, I was running and sliding on the ice. A and K were getting freaked out that I was going to fall and hurt myself, but I could not walk slowly. If I had stopped sliding, I would have had to run, spin, or do something. Later I was seriously having trouble watching the movie. I literally could not sit still. I was moving around, resettling myself, getting a drink just so I could walk around some, etc. When I was still, I was flapping my hands, chewing on my jacket sleeve, kicking the table, etc. (I said to K, "I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me, I don't actually have ADD....")

I'm not sure what was up. It was a sensory issue to some degree, I think, but it had some seriously freaky features. I could not stop my mind. We went back to our rooms around 4am, and I lay awake in bed with my mind racing till at least 5am. I was awake at 7am (I'm not sure when I fell asleep), and stayed awake until 8:15, at which point I gave up and got out of bed. It's now 4:30pm, and I have slept less than two hours since 6:30am on Friday. I'm only slightly tired, and my mind is still going faster than I want it to.

I looked up the definition of hypomania out of a vague memory of relevance, and these are the diagnostic criteria (from Wikipedia):

The DSM-IV-TR defines a hypomanic episode as including, over the course of at least four days, elevated mood plus three of the following symptoms OR irritable mood plus four of the following symptoms:

I put the ones I was experiencing in green. Five where three are required, and the elevated mood. The only thing missing for a hypomanic episode is the time span.
From farther down the page:
When a patient presents with a history of one or more hypomanic episodes and one or more depressive episodes that meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, bipolar II disorder is diagnosed.
This is kind of freaky to me, because I've had a major depressive episode (atypical, I believe related to seasonal affective disorder). The only thing separating me from bipolar II disorder is that this episode only lasted about 24 hours. Edit from later: I thought I was back to normal when I wrote this, but it actually wound up being about 48 hours until I was really back to my usual self. The peak was about 24 hours though. Bipolar disorder has a genetic component, and it is present in my family history. So that's not super cheering to me.

Now obviously I don't have bipolar disorder in a way that affects my life enough to require treatment (if I did, I would know). I don't even fit the diagnostic criteria. But it does concern me how close I come. Something to keep an eye on, I suppose.

I probably shouldn't post this....

It's almost certainly premature to post this, but no one I know reads this blog (because no one reads this blog), so I'll throw it out there. Yesterday R's friend K from high school came to visit her at college overnight. A little backstory: I was the initial catalyst for B and R getting to know each other and an enzyme in their starting dating. (I hope I'm getting my chemistry metaphors right....I introduced them and encouraged him to ask her out when it was clear they liked each other.) This was shortly after I broke up with my long-term boyfriend J. R and B decided that in return for setting them up, they should set me up. But they couldn't think of a guy. R thought K would be a good option, except that he and I go to college four hours apart, live 600 miles apart, and are both very down on the idea of long-distance relationships generally due to the fact that we both had recent bad experiences in which distance was a factor. So R said that if K and I were still single when we graduated, she was going to try to set us up. K came to visit.

We (me, B, R, A, P, and K) played cards (I won), had a piggyback kicking battle (first person to fall off loses. K and I lost. Twice.), and watched The Sound of Music. K and I really hit it off. There was some serious chemistry. Touching, laughing, eye contact. I think he's awesome, I think he's cute, I think he's a great guy, and I really want to get to know him more. I'm rather obsessed. And he likes me too, R and B say.

This is new to me. I've never liked a guy I didn't already know before. I had a long honest conversation with R and B about his and my strengths and failings. I think in a lot of ways, we'd be good for each other. That said, this is nowhere near settled. We are both very skeptical/anti-distance. We don't know each other all that well. We haven't talked about this. (He did give me his number.) Who knows what will happen? But oh geez, he and I hit it off like I have never hit it off with any guy before.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two days in a row, it's a record!

Is it actually a record? It might be.

My fast yesterday went well up until about 9pm, when I started feeling sick. I think part of the issue was dehydration. I don't have good thirst signals, so I wasn't feeling thirsty. I usually drink water at lunch and dinner, but of course I wasn't in the dining hall. I was aware of this as an issue and had been trying to remember to drink water during the day, but I guess I didn't do a good enough job. Anyway, at about 9:15 I fell asleep on A's futon. I woke up again at about 9:45, just in time to go to 10pm Mass in the dorm next door. I was feeling sick to my stomach and dizzy and I had a headache, but I went anyway. I was hoping Mass would make me feel better, but it didn't. I actually left right before Communion because I thought I was going to throw up. (I didn't, as it turned out.) So I missed Communion. :( After Mass I went back to A's room to get my backpack and went to bed, delaying only long enough to say Compline and email the people I'm supposed to volunteer with on Thursday morning and tell them I was sick.

So this morning I woke up at about 10 and ate two cheese sticks even before getting dressed. I still feel somewhat sick (and I have a bit of a headache) but it's been much better today. I think I'm still somewhat undernourished.

My other resolutions have had mixed results. I didn't do my Bible or my rosary yesterday, although I think I might have if I hadn't been feeling so terrible after Mass. I have been doing fairly well on the charity towards B. (I was starting to get annoyed with him at one point, so I put my head down on my desk and prayed for him. I will have to remember this strategy.) Dessert is going fine, but it's not far enough in to have become a struggle yet. As soon as this blog post is done, I'll say Vespers and my rosary and read the Bible. (Then I have to do homework, and say Compline, and then go to Mass, and then meet my friends to plan spring break's road trip....)

We had our third theology club organizing meeting today and dang are we organized. We have a monthly schedule and most of our details worked out, and the next step seems to be to meet with the organization that approves clubs and become official. Afterwards I had a delightful dinner with one of the other guys organizing. (B and R saw me and thought I was on a date....don't they know I would have told them if I had been asked on a date??) We were talking about life plans, so I told him about a special needs orphanage in China that takes US volunteers that I'd love to go work with. This guy has two sisters with Down's about coincidences!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Happy Lent everyone. Personally, I dislike Lent. That whole self-denial thing doesn't go over very well with me. (Yesterday A told me that he has no favorite liturgical season because none of them makes sense without all the others. Therefore he doesn't separate them like that. My response: can't you be like normal people and say Easter because you like the Exsultet or Christmas because you like the carols or something? He just laughed. Normal isn't really A's style, and I mean that as a compliment.)

Disclaimer: I'm about to tell everyone what I'm doing for Lent/Ash Wednesday. I don't mean this a la hypocrites and Pharisees. It's a reminder to myself and hopefully inspiration for others. (Not that I think my resolutions are that great.)

I'm trying something new for fasting today, and that is literally fasting. As in, I haven't eaten anything yet today and I'm not planning on eating lunch. We'll see what happens about dinner--I'm open to the possibility that I may have to eat something, but if I do, it will be small, and if possible, I'm not eating anything today. (This might be stupid--I donated blood yesterday....) The reason why I'm doing this is because the two small meals and one normal meal route doesn't inconvenience me that much (I don't have very good hunger signals, so being somewhat hungry all day long isn't really distinguishable from being sick or being tired). Also, I get so bogged down in the details (how many apples are equal to one piece of toast?) that I am not focusing on anything spiritual at all. I'm hoping this method will be more of a sacrifice and more spiritually successful.

Anyway, here are my resolutions:
  • Prayer: Read the Bible regularly (as in, every day). Pray the Rosary regularly (as in, every day). Neither of these is something I currently do (even if regularly is not defined as every day), which I know is bad. This is not allowed to replace the Liturgy of the Hours or daily Mass.
  • Fasting: No dessert! Yesterday's homily (Father V) was about choosing something that would make you a better Christian, rather than using Lent as an excuse to start a diet. Which I totally agree with (although I did give up biting my nails one year...). That said, I think a) there is spiritual benefit in self-denial, and I need to be better at saying no to temptation (I like sugar :( ); and b) sugar is in some indirect way a spiritual problem for me. Too much sugar --> depressive mood/depressive episodes --> doubt/despair. Not really sure how the science of that works, but I'm pretty sure it's true.
  • Almsgiving: $5/week to Reece's Rainbow. This probably isn't enough, but I have no idea how to choose an appropriate amount. There's nothing that I can think of to give up and save the money from--living on campus means I spend almost no actual money. Also this will probably be one lump sum because I don't have Paypal or a credit card, so I'll just mail a check.
  • Not sure how to categorize: Be more charitable towards B. I realize this breaks most of the cardinal rules of resolution making (hard to measure, no clear definition of success, etc.), but it really needs to be on here. (I told this resolution to A and he said, "Yeah, that's a good idea.") This is one of the areas in my life that I'm struggling most with at the moment. It's certainly my biggest interpersonal problem right now. So, stop being critical, stop making negative predictions, assume good motivations, and stop taking the things he does personally. (This I think is the root of the problem; perhaps I'll post on this later.) Thanks Father V for the idea of giving up a negative character trait!

It will be challenging to do all of these. So, while I think I can and should accomplish them all, I'm deciding in advance that I'm not going to tear myself apart if I don't. That's not meant in a get-out-of-jail-free card way, but rather in the way where I accept that I'm not perfect and am not overly critical of myself. (Another weakness of mine!) As in, if I miss my Bible reading, I'll feel bad, and be sorry, and ask for forgiveness, but three days later I will not be still thinking that I'm a terrible person who does not love God and is therefore damned for all eternity. (Sadly, this really isn't that much of an exaggeration as to a possible trajectory of thought.)

Yesterday I attended the Last Alleluia and Lenten Lamentations in A's dorm. I liked them very much. There are so many interesting liturgies in the Catholic Church. Speaking of which, I don't think I'll be getting to Mass until 10pm. Sadness. I like walking around all day with ashes on my head. But I have class at 11:30 and 12:10, and 5:15 won't be over before a meeting at 6, and I have to do something from 9 to 10 (which I could skip out of early to go to 10pm Mass). Actually, I just remembered a 4:45 Mass, so maybe I'll go to that.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm not so good at this blogging regularly thing....

Today is A's birthday, so we had a party for him yesterday. For some reason, I've become the unofficial cake-baker in our group of friends. I compromise on my moral values by buying cake mixes, because come on, I'm in a dorm. I'm not happy about this really, but the campus store does not have a good supply of baking ingredients. (I know this because I once made Valentine's Day cookies from scratch. Yeah....)

This year our kitchen has been restocked with things like cake pans, spoons, and mixing bowls. In an attempt to keep these things from being stolen, they live in a locked cabinet. There is one key to this cabinet, and a girl in the dorm has it. Unfortunately, at the time that I went to get it, she was gone. So I couldn't get at the cake pan. Luckily, someone had left the cupcake trays in the drying rack. Now I hate cupcakes for birthday parties. They are, in my opinion, too individualistic. The whole point of a birthday cake is that you share it. With cupcakes, everybody takes their own and you lose all the communality. (As A put it, "They're so American.") Am I overthinking this? Probably. Anyway, I did make them, against my better judgment. Cupcakes from a cake mix. What happened to my morals?

A's party was fun. We watched Les Mis and listened to music. His presents were a set of picture books that we had written for him and a parody video of Friday that some of the others in the group made. He thought they were hilarious. (They were.)

One of the priests in A and P's dorm gives homilies that I really like. I'm considering asking him to be my spiritual director. The only thing that makes me hesitate is that A doesn't think Father V would be very good at dealing with a crying girl, and that is going to happen at some time or other. A suggested having him hear my confession, so that will probably be step one. Also then I guess we can see how he handles crying, because apparently this priest is good at asking the questions that you don't want to hear.

Speaking of which, I had an upsetting dream last night in which I got into an argument with R that developed into one with B. It wasn't even that big of a deal originally, just us harassing each other a bit and then it got out of hand, with me telling him not to do something to one of my things, which he then did deliberately, at which point I punched him and ran away (leaving behind coat, keys, ID, and phone). In the dream it was snowing and I ran around to the other side of one of our campus lakes, to where there is a crucifix on a hill. I sat down in the snow and cried, and then I woke up angry and upset. I don't believe that dreams tell the future, but I do believe that mine provide insight to current stresses in my life, and I do have some B-related issues that I need to work through. And yes, R is (indirectly) the cause of some of them.

Keep praying for Kurt! Someone has donated $5.00 to him--thank you so much!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On husbands, children, ends, means, and God and His plans

You know, because none of those is a big enough issue for its own post....

Yesterday and the day before, I attended a conference at my college. This conference is an annual student-run conference that focuses on women's issues from a Catholic/Christian (I'm not sure how denominational they try to stay) perspective. This year's topic was vulnerability. (You now have enough information to figure out where I go to school. Go ahead, Google it, I don't mind. It's a good school and I like it.) My friend A (I need to write a post about A sometime--he is a truly wonderful person) went to this conference too, and he and I had some interesting conversations about many things.

I can't remember exactly how this particular conversation got started. He already knew that I intend to adopt children with special needs. Maybe I was complaining that it was going to be hard to find a guy with similar goals, or maybe I was just saying something depressing about my past dating life. (One boyfriend, mostly long-distance, with marriage as the goal, and then I screwed everything up by failing to communicate. More on that in some other post; for now I'll just say this hasn't helped my cynicism or insecurity any.) Anyway, he made two criticisms of my views about my future husband. The first was that he thought I was trying to have too much control over whom I would marry. The second is that I view him as a means to an end, namely children. My gut reaction was to say that he was completely wrong. Thinking this over, though, he may be more right than I thought initially. (I almost typed, "In this paper I will discuss these criticisms and whether or not I agree with them...." I clearly need to get out more.)

I still think he's wrong about the control issue. Generally, this is certainly an issue for me and something I really need to work on. I hate not being in control, and I especially hate it when someone who won't tell me what he's doing is in control. I find it very frightening. (God, I'm talking to you, in case you hadn't noticed. I would like to know the plot of my life, please.) But I don't think that I'm wrong in this particular instance. Of course, like any college girl, I have a list of stereotypical criteria that my husband "should" have--taller than me (not hard--I'm 5'4" when I round up), smart, funny, Catholic, comforting, supporting, reliable, knows how to dance, wants to adopt children with special needs, etc., etc. (Okay, maybe that last one is not so stereotypical.) But I'm not actually truly picky about most of these. I can only think of one, maybe two, that I would not be willing to compromise on: the children with special needs, and the Catholicism. At the moment I'm not going to talk about the Catholicism, which is the maybe, because it's not really relevant, and also because my thoughts on the subject are complicated and tangled up. The point is that I would potentially marry a stupid short guy who had two left feet, even if he didn't fit my list.

But I would not marry someone who said that there was no way he would ever be willing to adopt children with special needs. And this is what A has a problem with. He says I don't get to decide what the man I marry is like, God does, so I shouldn't make this kind of decision. But I think that if I am called to the vocation of adoption, and I truly believe that I am, then God will not choose for me someone who would prevent me from fulfilling that vocation. Maybe it's my job to convert someone to adoption, A says. Maybe it is, and so I'm not saying I would never date anyone who wasn't over the moon about adoption already. I would even date someone who said no way, at least until it became clear he wasn't changing his mind. But I would not *marry* someone hoping to change his mind about something that important. What do my (nonexistent, I know) readers think?

The other issue was the question of whether I view my husband as an end in himself or only as a means to children. This one's trickier. I do tend to talk that way. I think this is partly because I can imagine what it's like to get my children without actually knowing which children they are. It's a lot harder to imagine dating & marrying someone with no information about who he is. As I told A this morning, I already know why my children need me, but I don't know why my husband does. That being said, I think A has a point in that I do tend to think about a husband as a step on the road to children. He is, of course, a step along that path, but he is also where another, equally important path ends. And that's something I need to remember better.

Monday, February 6, 2012

If I don't watch out, this blog might become a diary. I don't want that to happen.

Today has been better than yesterday, mood-wise. I don't know why though. I wound up working on my paper for a while last night and have now got about a half-page single spaced. Nowhere near an 8-page paper, but it's a start. I am not confident that I am on the right track, though, which is a complicating factor.

I taught my CCD class today. It's a first grade class. This is something I really enjoy, although I dislike certain aspects of the curriculum and entire attitude towards religion inherent in the classes. That's a subject for its own post though. We covered baptism today, and they remembered much more than they have been in previous lessons. I only wish I knew why! (I suspect I'm not a very good teacher.)

I also had adoration today. I'm not sure how I feel about adoration. I have never been into it, but I signed up for a shift at one of the chapels this semester. I think it's good for me, but I feel like I'm doing it wrong.

I'm watching a TV show with my friends this evening (Smash--anyone else watching it? It looks like fun based on the pilot episode). However, I also have to do some reading/writing for tomorrow. One of my professors did not email the readings around, and I didn't think to Google them until today. So by tomorrow at 11am I should have read the articles and emailed in a reflection. I have work at 7am tomorrow, so I don't want to be up super late. So I should probably stop writing this post and get to work. Ah the life of a college student.

I had an interesting conversation with my friend J at dinner, which I think may be relevant to some thoughts I was having on my own earlier. Once these thoughts are more thoroughly percolated, I will probably be coming up with a post about attachment, insecurity, and third culture kids. Check back in if you want to read my thoughts, or if you don't know what some of those are. (Who am I kidding--I know no one reads this blog!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Today has not been a good day

I have been feeling angry and irritable all day for no reason. This has been happening more than I would like recently, and I am thinking it may be a sign of depression coming back. The reason why I hesitate to say this is because the sun has been shining more than usual over the past week, which usually correlates to a better mood for me. I also haven't been having anxiety problems, which is usually a more reliable way for me to track depression than depression symptoms themselves, which (in my opinion) are more subtle. On the other hand, I've had to take a 2.5 week break from running due to a hip injury. So maybe those balance out. Anyway, something to keep an eye on--I really hate feeling this way and would like to nail down and eliminate the cause.

I was going to do homework with friends with the super bowl on in the background, but plans fell through. So I was going to do homework alone (I have a paper due this week on top of my normal workload), but so far I have done nothing since dinner. Go Patriots, I guess, since I have family from New England. Can you tell how much of a football fan I am? (I have never watched a super bowl.)

About my hip: I've been having pain in my right hip joint/groin since about the middle of Christmas break. I was initially diagnosed with a hip strain by university health services, but after two weeks of rest and naproxen (an NSAID) didn't fix it, they are looking for another answer. It appears to be something muscular rather than structural (pressure hurts), so they scheduled an ultrasound for Thursday. The good news is that since running didn't seem to bring on pain, and stopping running didn't help much, I have official doctor go-ahead to run. So I went running this evening, only for 20 minutes, but still. I went a little over two miles, which is a decent pace for me (I know I'm slow). In terms of long-term running goals, I think the half-marathon I was planning to run at the end of March is out of the question at this point. So maybe I'll run the 10k they have at the same event.

Lastly, more good news: I've officially been matched with a child to pray for on Reece's Rainbow! Reece's Rainbow is an organization that helps to facilitate international adoption of children with special needs (with a focus on Down Syndrome). One of the ways to help, if you can't adopt or donate money, is to offer to pray specifically for one child every day. I emailed them, and they gave me Kurt. He's four and a half, and he has mild CP. That's him on the left. Isn't he cute? I kind of want him to be mine, but of course hope that he has a family by the time I'm old enough to have any children of my own.

Well, I need to go take a shower and then work on my philosophy paper. It's about Descartes, whom I happen to dislike very much. :/

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More about the blog title, and some of my life

"Sleeping under God's wings," as I mentioned, is from an antiphon of Compline (night prayer). The complete antiphon is "Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God's wings." I like metaphors and analogies, so night for me means anything that frightens me. And there are a lot of things that frighten me. But as long as I remain sleeping under God's wings, I'll be okay. It's a reminder of a promise. I especially like to think about how much this means when you live in a time and place without cities and sturdy houses. If all you have protecting you from wolves is a tent, night must be much scarier--but not if you are under God's wings.

"Prone to wander" is from the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. One of the verses of this song goes, "O to grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be! / Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, / Bind my wandering heart to Thee. / Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love; / Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, / Seal it for Thy courts above." I identify strongly with the simultaneous contradictory feelings of wanting to stay and tending to leave (primarily in religious matters, but also in social ones). I would like it if God would just take my heart and seal it so I am never tempted to leave, but I know that the way in which He does that, unfortunately, is by offering me opportunities to choose to stay. This hymn is also where my screen name comes from. (It has the added benefit of being something I don't use anywhere else, so I can remain anonymous until I choose to do otherwise.)

Sorry for not posting sooner. I had intended to post every day, but I think that's a pretty unrealistic goal, to be honest. I tend to have busy stretches and lulls. Also my life just isn't that exciting.

These last few days have been fun though. The weather's been pretty good (it's sad when 35 and partly cloudy is a nice day!), which has had a positive effect on my mood. Yesterday I did no homework at all and skipped the daily Mass I had planned on going to. Instead I watched the pilot episode of Smash (anyone seen that? It looks like it will be a good show) and Chicago (the movie) with my good friends A and P and another friend of ours (also A, but that's too confusing, and I doubt he'll be a regular character in this blog). Somewhat irresponsible, yes, but overall I think a good choice; I needed the break, and I did the homework the next morning. Today the theology department had a "vigil for Groundhog's Day/Presentation of the Lord" party (really just an excuse to get together for Mass and ice cream). My friend (and next year's roommate!) R went with me. It was fun, but I've eaten too much sugar today so I feel kind of sick and cranky. I need to keep a lid on my sugar consumption--I have a sweet tooth, but I really think that more than the occasional dessert affects my mood negatively. (Speaking of which, in developmental psychology we talked about how depression during pregnancy can negatively affect the baby...something to look forward to!)