Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Life

How Do You Handle Anxiety?

I’m never sure when it’s going to strike: that niggling doubt that turns into a stomach ache or stabbing pain in my right side; the sense of dread that tightens my lungs and chest so that it’s hard to breathe; the tension that accumulates in my shoulders, neck, jaw, and temples; heart palpitations; reflux . . . The list goes on.

Never good, never fun. But I know I still have to follow through with commitments I’ve made, so it’s not like I can go hide from the world when it hits (well, not always; there are some things I can beg out of, but those things are few and far between). I have to suck it up and do life, regardless of how I feel.

It makes following through on commitments harder, especially when I can’t ignore it. But I still have to acknowledge what I’m feeling — name it and own it. Then I have to work on containing or defeating it. It doesn’t get to run my life, so I have to find a way to overcome. Easier said than done, right?

Some of my strategies include:

  • praying for calmness, insight, wisdom, forgiveness, or whatever fits the situation that’s making me anxious;
  • telling myself that what I’m feeling is not reality, it’s my mind blowing things out of proportion;
  • telling myself to breathe, and focusing my breathing on expanding my belly and chest, where the tension lies;
  • using essential oils with calming or pain relieving properties (yes, I’m one of those oily people, but I find they do work for me especially for headaches);
  • doing whatever it is I’m anxious about, no matter how lousy I’m feeling (this one is the hardest, especially when the anxiety becomes paralyzing);
  • exercise, or some form of physical activity that loosens up the ball my body wants to become;
  • listening to music that fits the mood I either need or want to be in. Sometimes I need quiet music that sparks my imagination and let’s my mind wander away from whatever’s weighing on my mind, but sometimes I need angsty, heavy, or loud, to help purge the lousy thoughts and get something done (usually the dishes).

Those are my coping skills used most often. If you’re reading this and have problems with anxiety, depression, or other mental states that you have to fight to defeat, what are your coping mechanisms?

I’ll probably write more about this later, but I have to go be a responsible adult and get some things done so we’re not late this morning (something else I’ve had to create coping mechanisms for, because time doesn’t work in my head like it’s supposed to).

Have a lovely Thursday!

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Help Me Choose What to Write for NaNoWriMo!

I realized this will be my FIFTEENTH YEAR participating in National Novel Writing Month! Even if all I did was sign in and open a document during November, I counted it. I had two (2) babies in that fifteen years (one of which is going to be TWELVE (12) in February!!) and it’s hard to type one-handed. But I’ve managed to make it to 50K in 30 days at least three, maybe four times, which is pretty darn good for me.

Usually, however, I have some seed of an idea by the time October or November rolls around. This year I’ve been obsessing over a different story in October that I don’t want to work on for NaNoWriMo, but I do not have an idea for November! I’ve discovered that I have more fun writing cute little romance stories (instead of big epics or long, involved fiction) for NaNo, because the average pulp romance is just about 50,000 words(ish) long, and it’s not too hard to get from start to finish in thirty days.

But I can’t decide on an idea! So I’m going to ask the intarwebs to help me choose. Below is a list of “meet cutes” or pairing ideas that I’ve listed over the year, and you can either vote for your favorites in the comments, or give me some other new ideas. I have nothing to reward you with if I choose your idea, other than my gratitude and a promise to do my best to write that story in 30 days. Sorry. 😅

Here you go!

  • They see each other regularly at a gym or coffee shop, and start talking
  • They’re stuck at the top of the ferris wheel, one is panicking and the other is talking them down from the other car
  • Receptionist & Patient at a doctor’s office
  • Accompanist & Soloist
  • Concert Musician (or Candidate) and Stage Manager
  • Actor and Pit Musician
  • Sick Shopper and Helpful Clerk/Pharmacist
  • Librarian and Researcher
  • Flight Attendant and Nervous Flyer
  • Conference Attendees
  • Makeup Artist and TV Star/Host

Do you have favorites? Other ideas? Ideas for these ideas? Throw them in the comments! Throw out things I should include in the story! Name someone! I don’t care; it’s my 15th year and I want to win it. 😉

Thanks in advance, everyone! If you are a NaNoWriMo participant this year, tell me about it! How many years have you done it? What’s your plan? What are you writing? I want to hear your strategies!

Thanks again!! 😁

P.S. If you’d like to hear some of my tips and tricks for participating in NaNoWriMo, check out my Rainy Day Writing Guild video, HERE!

Posted in Writing

Retreat!

I’ve had two retreats, two weekends in a row. The first one — last weekend — was a ladies’ retreat for church, and came after a couple of extremely busy weeks, so it was nice to spend some time away with people I loved, and take a little time to breathe and worship God. That one was at a house by the ocean.

This weekend was my favorite Christian writing retreat in the mountains, in the complete opposite direction from the other one. It was restful, cozy, worshipful, and productive. I wrote over 11,000 words of a story I might eventually publish, but for now am just enjoying the telling of. I love the characters, I love making them interact, and they are very useful for catharsis when I’m going through stressful life events — because I can make their lives far more stressful than mine, so that mine doesn’t look nearly as bad by comparison. 😆

I also wrote a little 200-word scene for a contest we had during the retreat. It was a “Worst of the Worst” contest, and the three categories to choose from were Worst Kiss, Worst Action Scene, and Worst Fantasy Monster. Only two of us entered (it’s not a big retreat, and not too structured so we can feel free to concentrate on writing or doing the things that free our minds to write better), so we both won prizes.

Here is my “Worst Action Scene”, for your reading pleasure. 😉

Deep in a mud puddle, somewhere nearby, lives an amoeba. It is a lone amoeba, wandering to and fro, traveling great centimeters, on an adventure. Until suddenly it spies, tenths of millimeters away, another amoeba heading its way—moving at a high rate of speed. If they don’t change course now, in mere quarters of an hour they shall surely collide.

“Beware!” the first amoeba calls out to its speeding counterpart. “Or we shall surely crash!”

“I can’t stop!” the other amoeba replies. “You will have to move first!”

The first amoeba is panicking now. Whole minutes have passed, and they have moved dangerously close. Half a millimeter separates them, and if amoebas could sweat, they would both have produced buckets.

Closer and closer they get, until they can see the whites of their nuclei. But, at the very last sixty seconds, they slide one hundredth of a micrometer to either side, floating past each other by a cilia’s breadth.

If amoebas had hearts, they might have stopped. If they weren’t already so, they would have wet themselves. It is such a close encounter, they will remember it for hours—or at least until the puddle dries up.

THE END

I’m going to go write more of my other story now. I could probably expound on my last two wonderful weekends, or the crazy things going on in life right now, but I don’t want to. My characters have more angst to work out.

‘Night!

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization, sleep, Sluggish Cognitive Tempo

I Am NOT a Morning Person

I have tried. Then I tried harder, and tried again. But very, very little can get me motivated to be up and terribly active before 7:00am.

If I’m anxious about something, or nervous, about to embark on an adventure, or I have a commitment, I can manage to drag myself out of bed earlier. Those things are not daily occurrences, however, and I have a tendency to avoid commitments that would make them so — especially since I often have evening commitments that might keep me up late.

No, I am a night owl through and through. It’s difficult for me to be fully wound down and willing to go to sleep before 11pm, even on days I’ve been up since oh-dark-thirty and am completely wrung out. And now that my kids (who are homeschooled but still get up between 6:30 and 7:30) can entertain themselves for a little while in the mornings, it’s not imperative that I get up with them anymore. My early-morning motivation has dwindled mightily since my kids grew out of toddlerhood.

Don’t get me wrong, though — I’d love to be able to convince myself that being up before them and ready to attack the day is something I need to be doing every morning. If I could only force myself out of bed by 6am, or even 5:30, I’d be that much closer to getting a jump on things. I would have extra time to do just about anything: write, clean, read my Bible, do laundry, think . . .

I’ve managed to do that about two days in a row before it catches up with me and I can barely function, even at 7am. Doing any of those early-morning pursuits results in me falling asleep over them, or not fully comprehending them, or falling into a state of hyperfocus that I sustain until it’s too late and now I’m struggling to change gears to get anything else done.

So maybe I’ll remain a night person, and figure out how to work my habits and routines around being up later and getting up later. Sleep is still important to me and my mental health, so I can’t actively abuse my circadian rhythm anymore, like I did when I was a young college student or later when I had babies up all hours of the night. My husband and kids can be the early birds (until the kids are teenagers and their sleep rhythms change), and I’ll enjoy the quiet dark of the night after they’ve all gone to sleep and my brain is still active. There is nothing wrong with this.

That’s really all I had to say. I embrace my alternative lifestyle, because I have the luxury to do so right now. I’m also researching “sluggish cognitive tempo” and how it relates to ADD, because it actually applies to my historical and current symptoms in ways traditional ADHD doesn’t. I really ought to get diagnosed, or at least evaluated. I know I fight with my lack of executive function and various other atypical neural behaviors, but fatigue and brain fog often figure into that fight more than hyperactivity (mental or otherwise).

Anyway, speaking of executive function, I need to get moving now because I have less than an hour till an appointment, and need to start getting ready. I have more on my mental discoveries to talk about (and that of my kids’), but that will have to wait!

Now is time for more coffee . . . 😉

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Identity, Life, Organization, Writing

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES

The following is a draft from August 2015. I might not have posted it because it was the one I’d taken so long working on, that had reverted to an old version of the draft after I’d tried to post it. It’s complete, and has relevant information about my journey from then to now, so I think I’ll post it today. 🙂

—————BEGIN POST FROM AUGUST 2015—————

I remember updating my blog every day. I would have to resist updating a few times of day, because I had nothing else to do. Those were the early days of marriage, after I’d graduated college, and could clean my apartment in an hour. (This year marks fifteen (15) years of marriage for me and my Sweetie. Where has the time gone??) But now? It will take days to do the amount of cleaning I need to do in this house, and my rugrats keep my mind running in circles all day, even if I don’t accomplish a darn thing.

But those aren’t the changes I’m referring to!

Since posting about adult ADD, I’ve sought professional help, and it’s been lovely! I haven’t received medication, because I wasn’t seeking anything more than cognitive (“talk”) therapy, and while I still struggle with anxiety and depression, I have a better roadmap for dealing with it. I have also managed to pinpoint the less-obvious triggers and make some rather monumental (a.k.a. “hard”) decisions regarding my life that have made a big difference in how I treat myself.

The first big, hard decision was owning up to the fact that I’m a lousy Mary Kay consultant, and, well, maybe I should admit that it’s not a career I should be pursuing. I already knew that, and wanted desperately to improve, but I was not making the improvements. It was driving me CRAZY that I could not even make myself do what I kept planning to do, or what it would take to make me successful at this career. How hard could it be? People from all walks of life could make it in Mary Kay (or direct sales in general).

But I am not a direct seller. Approaching strangers (or even friends) to sell them stuff is just not in my programming, and trying to program myself to be able to do that was blue-screening my motivation to do anything. It took years to come to this conclusion, because I believed that telling myself I was not meant to do direct sales was “stinking thinking”. You don’t tell yourself you’re not good at something! You tell yourself you’re excellent at it! And you will BECOME EXCELLENT.

Dear readers, I’m going to tell you right now that there are wonderful things I’ve learned from Mary Kay that I will always be thankful for, but IT IS OKAY to say that I AM NOT A DIRECT SELLER. Forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy in order to fit a niche you believe you should be in works only for certain personalities — but not for mine. Mary Kay is a wonderful company, with a great product. The troubles I had with my own business are completely separate from the business at large. I’ve just finally come to realize that direct selling is not something I enjoy or want to do with the rest of my life.

See, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I could form sentences. The first time I “quit” Mary Kay was to become a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline for anything nor did I have the support structure I have now. I used writing as an excuse, rather than a true chosen career path, because even then I didn’t believe that it was something I could realistically pursue in my life. It wasn’t a “real job”. No, I wanted my “real job” to be motherhood — so when my husband came home from Afghanistan and we started our family, that’s all I had in mind.

Of course, then I signed back up with Mary Kay, days before giving birth to our first child. Again, for some, this is fine. For me, it was a spontaneous choice perhaps fueled by hormones and the fact that my husband was not thrilled with his job. Don’t sign up for life choices when you’re eight months pregnant, ‘kay? Wait awhile to see what you’re up for. Ian was a difficult baby, and my life and demeanor was just not geared toward making money off strangers buying stuff from me, or for being organized in any way, shape, or form. Home businesses require organization, and that is another weak point with me.

I was loyal to my team and to my director, whom I love dearly. But I can count on one hand the number of skin care classes/parties I held in my entire two attempts (about nine or ten years, total) at being a consultant. I was not a productive member. I was spending more than I was making, and I was constantly guilting myself over my inability to just DO IT. Was I scared, or was I just lazy? Why did I constantly feel this insane mental block when it came to picking up the phone, or trying to work out the logistics of a single party a week? Why did I never say a word to people in the store, even when it was obvious they were looking for skin care or makeup, and I could totally help them? Was I just that unskilled? Did I just need to get over myself?

But, then, I feel such great satisfaction in being in my house, creating worlds and characters and fashioning stories out of thin air, participating in NaNoWriMo (and winning!), and telling everyone about THAT? When it comes to writing, I can’t shut up! When it comes to singing, and telling people about Symphony and Lyrica concerts, I can’t shut up!

What I finally figured out (but probably knew for a long time) was that, perhaps, I needed to honor the fact that I have an artistic personality that needs to pursue artistic goals — and I needed to leave the business to the business people.

I’ve purged much of my old Mary Kay stuff that’s been sitting around, staring at me and waiting for me to sell it/use it/give it away, and am building up my artistic self. I have a great writing group, which is more like a support group than just a group I write with. I actually believe, now, that I really can publish a book, or use my word skills to make money if I wanted to. I’m jumping with joy that I will be joining the Bremerton Symphony Chorale for the 2015/2016 season (at least), which I couldn’t do in the past because it rehearsed on MK meeting nights. I’m trying to put together my crafting nook, so I can spend more time knitting and sewing, things that bring me great joy and sense of accomplishment.

I didn’t want to “quit” Mary Kay, because I felt committed to my director and my sister consultants, and it felt like if I quit, I was “not being true to my potential” and just “being a quitter”. I was avoiding the things that brought me joy, even through hard work, for something I thought would eventually bring me joy through the hard work I would have to force myself to do for years. It did scratch an itch for teaching and leading — which I enjoy very much — but not as much as running workshops for my writing group.

So you see where I’m going with this. It was scary to admit this to my husband, who never thought direct selling was for me (but greatly supports my pursuit of a writing career), but whom I wanted to convince I could cut it, and even scarier to admit it to my director, to whom I was deeply loyal and did not want to disappoint. Once I finally did these things, though, and gave myself the permission to dress the way I wanted to, and wear little or no makeup out in public, and spend my time not focused on my family or house in creative pursuits, my outlook on life began to improve considerably! I’m happier, my husband is happier, and my friends, whom I just don’t call often on a normal basis, are happier that I’m not only calling them to hit them up for sales.

My house is still a mess and I have a LOT of work to do in various other areas of my life, but freeing up that anvil over my head has lightened the burden immensely. And now I’m making actual progress on my novel(s), with a mind to publish them, and I’m ridiculously happy with my decision to follow that path.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder, Vision and Glasses, Writing

Rumination

A lot has changed here at WordPress since I started blogging here. Even since my last post! And it’s high time I started using it again.

I used to blog all the time — nearly every day — but that was before kids, and kind of before blogs became a professional industry. After that, I was conflicted: Do I join the industry, and try to make a blog that had the potential to be monetized? Write high-quality posts about relevant topics, or try to make my boring life funny and interesting? (Truth be told, the latter was already my favorite reason for blogging, but suddenly there was the pressure to produce, and I had far less time — and brain power — to spend doing that.) Or do I continue to just write whatever I want, in any format I want, and not bother competing with the professionals?

Obviously, the latter choice is the better one, for someone busy and not planning to make money at the task, but . . . writing is one of my joys, perhaps even strengths, and professional blogging looked like fun! On the other hand, with little kids running about and all the distractions that life brings, a single, well-crafted blog post took me hours — hours I didn’t have time for. And being as disorganized as I am, I couldn’t prioritize blogging like I used to, and couldn’t focus on it once distracted from it. And then I couldn’t decide whether to draft the whole post in the web editor or in a word processor, because I once had lost hours of work after proofing in the web editor (the old one) and losing it to a site glitch. It was an enormous setback, especially after I’d sacrificed so much time I should have been spending with my family to try to write something that wasn’t going to have any purpose. I put aside blogging for awhile, because the tedium of going from word processor to web form was taking even more time. I’m a ridiculous, nearly-OCD perfectionist, and I wanted to make sure EVERYTHING MATCHED. The things must match, or they would haunt me.

I have issues. 😆

There are a lot of things I want to talk about, besides my stupid eyes (I really can’t believe I spent so much time posting about that; I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it now — though I did recently, FINALLY, get new glasses that work just right, but there’s more to say about it than just searching for glasses). My kids have eating disorders and we’ve finally gotten therapy for them; I’ve passed on to them Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which I’ve just learned is a thing, and explains SO MUCH that was not previously explainable, including visual weirdness; I’ve been learning more about ADHD, ADD, “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”, and executive function difficulties; depression and anxiety are very real, potent manipulators of my productivity (or lack thereof); military life, even as good as we have it, brings a measure of experience and “fun”; and I need more writing motivation. Among many other things.

There are more reasons for blogging than not blogging, and I need to work on getting over my issues so I can get back into it. That may still take some time, but maybe I’ll have something here for my imaginary friends sooner rather than later. 🙂

Thanks for your patience with me!

Posted in Medical, Vision and Glasses

My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs, Take 5

I’m going to make this quick, because this has already drawn out so far, and I’m just kinda done. Not that I’m actually done with it, but I’m done with the whole stupid saga, and I wish my eyes were normal but they’re just not. I’m back to square one, folks — but now armed with more information and better insurance.

In case you’ve already lost track, or are seeing this for the first time, here’s the saga so far:

Take 1
Take 2
Take 3
Take 4, Part 1
Take 4, Part 2
Take 4, Part 3
Take 4, Part 4

In the last post, I mentioned that I had some hope of a less-expensive option when I discovered Zenni Optical. Here’s a brief rundown of my experience with them:

Zenni Order 1:

I had a lot of trouble trying to find someone to measure my PD (Pupilary Distance — the distance between the center of each pupil, across the bridge of your nose). No one will do it if you haven’t had an exam or bought/are buying glasses from them. Okay, I get that. But the optician at the very place I had my exam and a few special tests (field of vision and I think some further nerve testing — all “normal”, apparently, even though I had some concerns about the behavior of my eyes while those tests were being done that I was never able to ask about) also refused to measure my PD unless I bought glasses from them.

This was ridiculously depressing, and only fed into my growing belief that eyeglasses are a total racket. I don’t want to sink several hundred more dollars into glasses I’m not sure are going to work, only because I had my exam at that office. Give me my freaking PD and let me shop elsewhere! Also, I didn’t like that optician, and didn’t want to do business with her, because I didn’t want to be fighting with another person who looked at me like I’m another problem customer, because I want them to explain things to me and I want to see well. Maybe that optical shop would have helped me — and maybe they would have been just as difficult to work with. But my first impression made me want to run far and fast, which is probably a reason to seek another doctor sometime (more on that later).

ANYway, it turns out you can measure your own PD. Of course, there’s no way one can totally mess that up.

So, naturally, I messed that up, and made my first Zenni order.

I bought the cheapest frames that looked like they’d be okay on me, and sent in the most current Rx I had from PNW Eye Assoc — and a bad PD. There are two reasons I had a bad PD: One was that I printed the Zenni PD ruler for myself (and while I was pretty sure I followed the instructions, I guess I didn’t choose the NO SCALING option, and it printed improperly), and the other was that I didn’t compare it to a real ruler to make sure it was correct. Totally my fault.

But I only spent about $38 on them! Even though I screwed them up, they were super cheap, and that cost is MUCH easier to swallow if I had to eat it than $380+. They came quickly, too, which was nice. I wasn’t super enamored with them, which is a good thing since they were wrong, and it was clear the moment I put them on. But I learned my lesson with the PD and made sure to measure it several different ways before trying to make another order. Unfortunately, I waited longer than the 30-day window to return them, because I was supposed to be having the field of vision testing and nerve pictures (or whatever), and a pressure check. If any of those things were to change my Rx, I didn’t want to have to go through the process of returning glasses a second time.

Zenni Order 2 (and 2.5):

A couple months later, I ordered some other frames from Zenni and made sure my PD was properly measured (and that it matched, for the most part, the PD measured from my other sets of glasses). I decided to try for the narrowest frames I could, to attempt to rule out the base curve issue. I think I expedited them, too, so I paid about $10 more, but they were still under $50. When they arrived a week or so later, I put them on and knew they were wrong. They also had a chip in the corner of one of the lenses. However, they were really cute (and also so cheap that there’s no way anyone from any other optical shop would replace the lenses only), so I thought I’d at least contact Zenni to see if it was worth going through the return process. First, however, I took them to PNW Eye Assoc and had the optician measure them for accuracy (which they will do, even though they give you the side-eye for not buying them there). The optician said that it matched the Rx I gave her (the one from their office) but the PD, which should have been about a 64, was an “uneven 65”. So I emailed Zenni, gave them the information, and after waffling a bit over whether I should return them or just eat the cost (because they couldn’t do a base curve any smaller than 4), I decided to just go through the process to return them for correction (at which time I confirmed the first order was non-returnable for correction, so I have another pair of new glasses that are little more than decoration, not that I didn’t know that was a possibility this time. I also confirmed that they are not able to do special base curve adjustments).

I mailed them back, and when they returned I had a lot of hope that they were finally right. The base of the lenses were a little strong, but I thought at first that maybe it would act like a mild magnification. After wearing them for a couple days and getting headaches and dizzy spells (I played a computer game with my youngest son, and ended up feeling nauseated for hours afterward), I decided to relegate them to reading/computer glasses only. But they still weren’t right for that, as I would still get the “squeezing eye” feeling, and then some wicked tension in the back of my neck from the strain.

SO — here I am, back at square one. I haven’t pursued buying new lenses for the ProOptix glasses, or getting new glasses altogether. I have, however, recently obtained an option for vision insurance through TriCare, which was not available to me before this year. This insurance should (hopefully) provide discounts on lenses, and even on visual therapy — which I didn’t even know was a thing until recently, and now I really want to look into it. I’ve been signed up for it since January, but have been putting it off because I’m easily distractible and am kind of not looking forward to hunting down another doctor that may or may not listen to me. I need to do it, though, because my vision is getting progressively worse, and is now more often affecting my vestibular sense, so I get dizzy more often with certain movements, especially on “bad eye” days. And these glasses don’t have an oligophobic coating, so keeping them clean is SUCH a pain.

Anyway, I’m going to close this chapter of the saga. I might pick it back up, or do a follow up if I find something that finally works. I’ve kind of resigned myself to having to pay $300+ every time I get glasses, because nowhere that sells inexpensive anything will be able to work with my issues. I guess that’s not so bad in the grand scheme of things. $300+ every year or three is better than a $300/mo drug prescription. Just gotta keep it in perspective…

Posted in Life, Medical, Reviews, Technology, Vision and Glasses

My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs: Take 4, Part 4

Hahahahaha!! You thought “soon” actually meant “SOON”. Sorry, time is relative in my world. It’s still 2018, so I’m not doing too badly…

Anyway, before I lose any more memory, I need to finish this stupid saga, so I can continue documenting the different direction I’m trying right now. I’m kind of in Glasses Limbo at the moment — BUT! I’ve learned a few things recently that might end up helping me speak/translate Opticianese in the future. I’m also learning that lens science is ridiculously fraught with math and physics, things I do not excel at and are even kind of baffling to people in the actual field. And my eyes are the kind of nightmare that commercial opticians probably hate to deal with, because they require such minute specialization — and I am not really special enough (or have enough money) to garner that kind of service.

Getting ahead of myself again!

Back to the saga… If you need a refresher or have just stumbled onto this post from elsewhere (and have not yet clicked away, disgusted with this waste of bandwidth), here is the list:

Take 1
Take 2
Take 3
Take 4, Part 1
Take 4, Part 2
Take 4, Part 3

This post should wrap up my dealings with Pro-Optix. Some of you are probably breathing a sigh of relief. 😉

12 March 2018:

I left off with March 3rd, 2018. Nine days later, on Monday the 12th, I went to pick up the fourth lens revision. These were better! They felt promising! The vision was sharper in the center of the lens and maybe I just needed to adapt to the edges. I don’t remember any conversation when picking them up, but I remember it was the evening of the first rehearsal for a pre-concert “hell week” (rehearsals every night but Wednesday, leading up to a concert on Saturday). It would have been nice to wear new glasses for the concert, so I could see everything clearly. However, as the afternoon progressed into evening, I could already tell these weren’t going to work, either. The edges were still just too distorted. My eyes were still not working together the way they should have been. I wore them all evening Monday, having to take them off a few times to relax my eyes during rehearsal. I wore them all week, though, hoping I “just needed to adjust”. We went to a museum in Seattle on Wednesday, and I was motion sick, overwhelmed, and fatigued by the middle of the day. I could see well enough, but my brain was not coping with the distortion in the edges of the lenses, nor were my eyes working together yet. I stubbornly went on for a couple more days, but the last straw was the evening of the 16th, a Friday, when I walked into the darkened performance hall (very large room, slanted floors, carpeting) and very nearly lost my balance because the floor didn’t feel like it was where it was supposed to be.

Nope, these glasses had to go back. And they needed to go back permanently. I was done trying for now, and needed to go get a second opinion, probably through my insurance. I mean, what if there was some other underlying cause, and their doctor’s exams weren’t sophisticated enough to detect it? Regardless, they could not, for whatever reason, make lenses that would work with my eyes — and if my last discussion with them was any indication, they weren’t going to send me back to the ophthalmologist, either, for a recheck.

The next week and a half were insanely busy, and I couldn’t make it back until the 28th. I also wasn’t looking forward to another conversation with them, so I probably procrastinated more than I should have. Unfortunately, they were kind of busy that day, but Mr. J2 and Mr. G were in, as was a new trainee. Poor new trainee didn’t know what he was in for. I explained to Mr. J2 (whose hands were tied, I know) that once again, there was something wrong, and I didn’t want to keep taking their time and resources, so I wanted to return the glasses. I waited for Mr. G, who was really the only one who could handle this request, and when I finally asked if I could return the glasses, he said, “Oh, we don’t take returns or give refunds.”

Yes, this is my fault for not reading the fine print. I get that. I was just as upset with myself for this lack of understanding (and in my defense, the fine print was confusing — but at least they weren’t charging me more for the defective lenses). However, it wasn’t this part that really burned me up. It was the following part of the conversation:

Mr. G went on to say that, apparently, nothing was going to work with my eyes. They had “tried everything”, and it wasn’t good enough. He continued to deny that the Rx or the glasses were the problem — though after a bit of back and forth I got him to admit that maybe it was the Rx. He tried to assure me that he’d been in this field for over fifty years, and he knew what he was doing. Then he turned around and said, “We’ll keep working with you; we won’t abandon you.”

I was speechless, really. Aghast. What kind of customer service was this? You begin by telling me there’s nothing you can do for me, and then tell me you’ll keep trying? Trying to what? Frustrate the hell out of me? If you’ve been in the field fifty years, shouldn’t you be trying other tactics? Lens shape? Rx check? Those “practice glasses” some opticians have to test the Rx before you create the lenses? Clearly none of that occurred to him, but he wants me to keep coming back for more condescending lectures and an attitude that makes all my vision correction problems look like my fault?

F[orget] that! I thanked him for his time and walked out.

Fifty feet away, I realized that I had also intended to pick up any paperwork they had on me so I could have it for my records. Crap. I swallowed my pride and marched right back and asked for it. They provided it for me (those atrocious copies I embedded in Take 4, Part 2), I thanked them again and walked out. It took a couple hours to come down from the internal storm of fury I was trying to keep from cracking my otherwise calm exterior. I texted a friend I’d been updating about the whole situation, and then my husband, to tell him we were out $350 and I still didn’t have glasses that worked. It felt like smoke was leaking out my ears.

My husband, wonderful man that he is (and whose eyewear is covered by the Army), assured me that they were probably out just as much money with all the lens changes and labor involved, and I could always get new lenses somewhere else for the glasses I already had (frames that cost $170, I found out after buying them, because a) my eyes were dilated when Ms. C helped me pick them out and b) I couldn’t find a marked price on it when I was comparing, but they were the best choice of what I looked at. *SIGH*). That brought me down from the edge a bit.

But, after three months, four sets of lenses, and a dose of humiliation, I was done with Pro-Optix. I was frustrated, furious, and deeply disappointed. Once again, I had to battle my way to better vision correction, my STUUUUUPID eyes were once again stupid, and I was back at square one. AGAIN. At least my old glasses weren’t broken, for what it’s worth.

14 May 2018:

Fast forward a couple months. I managed to get a referral from my medical doctor for an eye exam that was covered by my insurance, at Pacific Northwest (PNW) Eye Associates. This exam was slightly more comprehensive, and mostly done by someone who wasn’t the doctor (he came in after, reviewed notes and results, and answered questions). All notes were taken on a computer (technological wonders!), and I got a printed Rx when I was done. The doctor wasn’t as personable as the one at Pro-Optix (I really did like him, even if his handwriting was probably the root of several of my issues there), but he was efficient and I got out of there fairly quickly, with a recommendation to have my glasses compared by the optician on the other side of the office.

Funny aside: I’d been getting over a fairly nasty sinus cold-turned-infection, and my nose was still pretty stuffy. They put in the yellow numbing drops to check for eye pressure (which was slightly elevated, again), and for an hour or two afterward, I was blowing out neon-yellow mucus and worrying that my infection had come back with a vengeance, despite being on a strong round of antibiotics, decongestant, and Prednisone. Nope, just eye-drop dye! /aside

The optician they have is…not one who is into smiling, even for customers (this is pertinent much later). But that day she was willing to help me, and read the Rx on both my old glasses and the ones from Pro-Optix (also pictured in Take 4, Part 2). I don’t know so much about the math and physics involved with fitting someone with a prescription, but the doctor had said they’d over-corrected the nearsightedness in my right eye and not properly tweaked the Rx for the astigmatism in my left eye, according to what was read in the newer glasses and/or the printout I got after my first exam at Pro-Optix. The optician, however, mentioned that the biggest problem was the base curve, and if I were to get lenses in the future I should have them use the lesser curve of about 3.5.

When she mentioned that, memories flooded back from the very first time I started having problems with glasses. Memories that I wished would have surfaced WAY sooner so I could have mentioned them during this most current debacle.

I’d completely forgotten that what ended up being a problem with my Costco glasses back in the first dang post about this could very well have been a problem in these glasses, as well. But what Costco couldn’t get right, Pro-Optix had. Why? Then, Target had sent them back only once, and I have no clue what they corrected to make them work right — except that maybe they knew about this problem and had excellent labs (I thought about going back to see if I could get paperwork from them, too, but I wasn’t sure if they’d still have the records I got a copy of the prescription from Target today (15 Sept 2018)! Not the medical record, just the Rx printout. Turns out the lenses I ordered from Target three years ago — the ones I still wear — are, indeed, TRIVEX LENSES).

After some research on the base curvature of lenses (which further confirmed that optometry is magic), I began to formulate a hypothesis. Perhaps the problem with the Costco glasses years ago was the fact that I was going from a narrower, rectangular lens (probably about 27-29mm top to bottom) to a rounder, deeper one (maybe 31+mm), and their labs used a generic table for curvature (my current Rx would suggest I needed a base curve of 6; six years ago it might have suggested a 4). The doctor back then, knowing eyes and maybe not lenses (since he kept sending me to optical, and didn’t realize polycarbonate is aspherical, with no base curve), kept suggesting a higher curve, because my old lenses had a BC of 6. But my old lenses were narrow!

Mr. J at Pro-Optix, when I was so happy with them, did find me a plastic/polycarb blend of some kind (not available anymore, I guess?), but also another narrow, rectangular frame. AND! He had a very mild magnification added at the bottom of the lens, which never distorted my vision — probably because the lens was too narrow for the curve to make much difference! But when I went to Target, I got a deep, square lens, 32mm top to bottom (and I think a higher index lens than I really needed — unless I really do need a high-index lens for my princess eyes, ugh). They must have figured out that the problems I was having with the bottom of the lenses were the way they curved, and adjusted them to a 3.5 from probably a standard 6. They may have adjusted it according to the amount of astigmatism in either eye, because they probably had people competent enough to figure that stuff out.

I would have thought that kind of thing should have been standard knowledge, but I’m learning that maybe it really isn’t. This paper I ran across the other day lent credence to those suspicions: The Truth About Base Curves. As did this article in 20/20 Magazine: “All About That Base (Curve)”. Much of the information in these references made my eyes cross (heh), because I just don’t have enough information to understand it, and I truly suck at algebra. But there was enough cautionary language for opticians and lens makers that I had to believe the base curvature of a lens is almost the last thing considered when a patient is having difficulty adapting to their new glasses.

Huh. Fascinating stuff!

But I hate that I would have had to basically force the “highly experienced” Mr. G to think outside the box if I’d continued at Pro-Optix. I’m also kind of wondering if other people did, too. Last time I was at the mall, they were closed up by 5:30pm, and a sign in their window said that after ten years they were having a change of ownership! Veeery interesting. It could have simply been the fact that Mr. J wasn’t really working there anymore, and maybe Mr. G was ready for retirement. But part of me wonders if I wasn’t the only person who had difficulty wanting to spend any more money on a business that can’t handle special cases and condescends to them instead of helping them overcome their issues.

Whatever. I’m happy to report that since that whole mess, I’ve discovered Zenni Optical! And though I’m very excited for inexpensive glasses, it appears there are some other issues to overcome if I want to use them consistently.

But that will be the subject of My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs, TAKE 5. Yes, I’m sorry — there is more. I mentioned I’m still in Glasses Limbo. I’m hoping to remedy that in the next couple of weeks, but now I’m kind of in research mode, and feel like I need to do an entire informational article on the difficulties of buying glasses for weird eyes. I just don’t want to spend a fortune on new lenses merely to prove my point — but I also want answers! These problems are not going to end. In fact, they might get worse the more nearsighted I become. I’m now required to be wearing my glasses when I drive, so not having glasses is not an option. It’s very frustrating.

Okay, I’ll wrap this up now, hopefully to follow up with Take 5 after I receive my second pair of Zennis (because I messed up the first — but I’ll save that story for next time)!

Posted in Uncategorized

Life and Loss

Has it really been nearly two months since my last post? I always think summer is going to be this nice breather from the year’s activities, but it never is. It’s just as busy — sometimes more so — than the rest of the year.

In the last two months, we wrapped up the Bremerton Symphony’s 75th Anniversary year with a big fundraising party (June 16). That was also the same day our friend, mentioned in the last post, finally passed away from the complications of heavy alcoholism. My husband had been with him maybe an hour before, and had just joined me at our gala when he got the call. It was a bittersweet evening.

My husband was then home for another week, then gone one week traveling for work, then home again, then gone for another two weeks for a training. In that time, I was wrapping up rehearsals with my other choir, Lyrica, and creating rehearsal CDs to tide us over until we started back up in August, among other commitments.

The day my husband left for his training was the day some friends of ours announced a massively tragic accident and loss to their family that wrecked our hearts for quite some time — but they were too far away for us to be any good to them, and we were both heading out of town, in the opposite direction. All we could do was offer words of encouragement, the promise of prayers, and mourn from a distance.

About a week later, my boys and I took the opportunity to travel to South Dakota to visit family and deliver some household goods I was storing for my friend who had just moved there. The only tragedy of that trip was that our estranged sister-in-law was not in town so I could have a talk with her about our estrangement — or so our kids could play together for awhile.

Life reasserted itself when we returned: Husband came home, I had more Symphony business to attend to, as well as appointments and family commitments and a rummage sale for Lyrica and a memorial gathering for our friend… Everything, including glasses, kind of took a back seat to the Immediate — and seems to still be the case, since routines are hard and I still hate mornings. And it’s been ridiculously hot here. I tend to get pretty sluggish when it’s over 80°F in our house.

But suddenly, just when I thought we’d reached kind of a space when healing could take the place of mourning, the husband of a friend I was close to once left an ominous post on Facebook that looked, for all intents and purposes, like a suicide note — and very well turned out to be. He had jumped from a bridge near his house about half an hour after posting it. I pieced together the details, myself, before I got the official word, and spent a couple of days in shock.

I’m not going to go into detail — I’m actually composing this on my phone and it’s getting late — but suffice it to say that his death was the hardest to understand or even comprehend than the other two. The alcoholism of the first friend who died was not as much of a shock as it should have been, I’ll be honest. The death of a little child in a tragic accident can rock a world — but is just that: an accident, where no one is to blame and Godly people are rallying around them to lift them up and help them slowly heal. But in the third case, despite the fact that Godly people are rallying around his family and everyone is celebrating who he was, not what he had decided to do, I am desperately struggling with forgiveness.

I would never, ever, EVER in a million years have thought that man capable of such a fatal choice. Not him. He was steady and kind, and he loved his family and they depended on his presence in their lives. It doesn’t make sense. I keep having to remind myself that it really is real: I didn’t dream it and his family really is now without the husband and father who thought they’d be better off without him forever.

Now, as a God-fearing Christian, I understand the whispers of the Enemy — I have heard them, myself (and without getting too metaphysical, I mean that I have had those dark thoughts that make me wonder if the world would be better off without me in it. Fortunately, I was able to reject those thoughts — but not everyone can). He hadn’t been able to find work after losing his job, and possibly had fallen into a depression too deep to show or express to those around him.

I don’t know, because for reasons I won’t get into now, I haven’t been close with his wife for quite some time. Maybe that will change now — though I don’t think it will. That is heartbreaking, too. But she has her church family and friends, and I’m grateful for that. They are the reason she is afloat right now, I’m sure of it.

I just wish I could understand, and be done mourning tragedies for awhile…

*****

Disclaimer: I’m not staking any kind of selfish claim on these tragedies, but merely expressing my view from the outside. It’s painful, but obviously not as heart-rending as it would be from the immediate victims’ perspectives. My heart goes out to those who’ve lost these loved ones, and sometimes that’s all one can offer at the time.

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Life, Organization

Hijacked by Stress

We’re taking a short break from my prissy eyes. They will come up in this post, but Take 4, Part 4 is being delayed by life right now. Not that you even expected it this soon, of course — all two of you (and that’s probably being generous) who’ve stuck around to see if I ever post again. 😉

I can already feel the tsunami of overwhelm taking over my mind as I struggle to think of how to even begin, and am forcing myself to push on through this tedious sentence to make myself commit to this post. I’m also listening to the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony, and it’s nearly the thing that overflows the bottle I’ve been shoving all my feelings into this week so I can get stuff done. (Not that I’m getting a lot done; just the bare minimum to get by. Depression is a hell of a thing.) I love this music so much I can barely handle it.

In addition to my stupid eyes being stupid, and an inability to buy glasses without having to send them back multiple times (and allergies making my eyes feel raw and tired all day long), I also have some mild family drama that I tend to forget about until it crops up at random times and becomes emotionally conflicting; a good friend I’ve only had for a year has moved away (though I am very happy for her; she really needed the change); there has been a lot of drama with the Symphony I’m heavily involved with, and we’re scrambling to finish up the 75th season with a bang so there’s also a lot of planning and activity to keep track of; I still have a ridiculously messy house and no productive routines to speak of; I’ve barely written anything but the last blog post in months; and, on top of it all, we found out recently that one of our old friends has basically committed a long, slow suicide by alcohol, and lied his ass off for years about it and a whole bunch of other things that make us question everything we thought we knew about him forever. It’s extremely emotionally draining, and there are so many feels to feel that I can barely process them. They come in waves, when I least expect them, and the residual fatigue from all of it is kicking my butt.

My heart hurts right now. It’s heavy in my chest, and tight. And it’s not just emotional pain, it’s also the overwhelming nature of all the emotions put together. If my mind drifts over to a thought about needing to clean off a section of my table — or even just fill in the calendar for this new month and put it on the fridge — I feel this surge of sadness that kind of sticks in my throat and behind my nose. It’s as visceral as it is psychological — but it’s not enough to make me shed actual tears. I’m not much of a crier, honestly, and haven’t been since adolescence. It takes a lot to get me worked up enough, or it takes a very particular trigger (and there are very few of those). I can feel like I’m going to cry all day, but I probably won’t actually shed tears. If I do shed tears, they might not even leave my eyes. If they do, there aren’t many. I just have to blow my nose a lot. But it’s the same kind of rush and ache from head to gut that steals your breath and makes you want to go curl up under a blanket for a few hours. Not fun, and not easily ignored.

Since I’ve been researching ADHD and Executive Function Disorder (EFD), I’ve learned a lot about the signs and symptoms of each, and I know that at least with ADHD, it’s much easier to be overwhelmed with or by strong emotions (link is a slide show, but it’s not annoying like the click-bait ones), and have your actual brainpower hijacked by said strong emotions. I’m usually pretty good at regulating, but when I am bombarded by stress from several angles at once, the regulation goes a bit haywire, and — to use a Star Trek reference — I have to make the decision whether to take power from the engines (barely running on impulse control) to run the shields, or drop some defenses and less-important functions in order to keep the engines running and maintain life support.

For example, in the struggle to try to stay positive and on task — or even start a task — I feel like I’ve lost the ability to speak in a coherent manner, or I’ve lost whatever tenuous control I had over my ability to concentrate long enough to remember what it is I’m doing and why I’m doing it. If I do manage verbal coherency, I feel tension in my chest, and laughing — even genuine laughter; I don’t usually fake it — feels painful. The loss of concentration is like staring at a shelf in the grocery store (something I did today) and knowing there is something there you need to find, but the memory of it keeps sliding out of your head as you become overstimulated by all the labels and things around you. You can even stare at your list and hope you can concentrate long enough to find one of the things on it that should be in front of you, and suddenly all your energy is directed at this one thing, and you walk out of the grocery store utterly exhausted after having only bought maybe ten things…

I get angry, too, but lately I feel like sadness has kind of overwhelmed the anger, especially when it comes to our friend dying in the hospital. I want to be sad, but I’m also kind of angry with him. But I can’t stay angry, or even grieve for him right now. I’m just…depressed. Depressed with a side of tension. I think I’m sad for my husband, too, who was closer to our friend than I was, and has been spending the most time with him and his family. I have no problem with being emotionally supportive, but I hadn’t realized how much of it I’ve been taking on, myself, until this weekend.

I have things I have to do this week: commitments to fulfill, kids and pets to take care of, cleaning and shopping to do, a big Symphony gala to make it through next Saturday. I’m not so depressed that I’m completely nonfunctional, but there are other daily things I’m letting slip by, because managing to do the caretaking and socializing that needs to be done takes all the brainpower I have. I feel like I’m moving through molasses — like there is not enough caffeine in this world to wake me up all day. Crazy weather changes and allergies are not helping with that, either. Ugh.

But this, too, shall pass. Times of refreshing will come. And I have The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild to help me escape once in awhile. I’m trying to use it as a reward for getting important things done this week, and I have sort of managed to keep from letting it be too much of a draw on days I have a lot to accomplish and no time to play.

Anyway, that’s what’s up with me right now. I have more developments in the saga of my stupid eyes that I need to finish documenting for your entertainment. Even if it’s tedious and annoying, it’s more fun than this.