Thursday, May 31, 2007


One more thing. My PIM poem seems appropriate.

wandering motionlessly somehow
she is begging to be
indifferent to this bulging body

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

small steps

I've been feeling better and better each day, thus confirming that my thyroid is, in fact, the root of all evil. It's weird, because my endocrinologist pretty much brushes it off anytime I imply that my depression is going to get better when my thyroid goes away...even though everything I've read (for example, the quintessential Living Well with Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism) lists depression as a side effect of hyperthyroidism. He just keeps saying that it's more often a side effect of hypothyroidism, and that may well be true, but he goes on to say that of all the many hundreds of hyperthyroid patients he's seen, none of them have been depressed, and I absolutely do not believe that. I think he just doesn't bother to ask them, which seems unwise to me. And I suppose that I don't know with certainty that one is causing the other, but I have been feeling steadily and gradually less depressed as my thyroid has been steadily and gradually disappearing. There is a positive correlation, if you will, between the size of my thyroid and the severity of my depression. Probably a pearson r not too far from +1. Sorry...statistical nerdiness. See? I must be getting better: my nerd power is returning! :)

I've been pretty productive lately too. I've been cleaning out and reorganizing my bedroom here at home, in preparation for moving back into it for real sometime in the near future. I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff and trying to make my room at least somewhat representative of my current self, since, realistically, I'll probably be living in it for a year. I've made a lot of progress, so I'm feeling more excited about living here again.

I've also been taking advantage of having a piano available to me every day. I've been practicing every day, trying to become something more than a mere ex-pianist. I've been working on the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, which has been most enjoyable. The more I play, the more I realize how much I missed it. And I am getting a little less rusty (I guess that's what happens when you practice!), which is making me happy.

In other news, I just finished reading Bill Bryson's The Mother Tongue, which was utterly fantastic, and the chapter about word play inspired me to try to write a sensible palindrome (sentence that is spelled the same way forward and backward, for non-English nerds.) It's really quite difficult, I have found, and I don't have anything worth sharing...yet.

The downside of all this progress (if you want to call it that) is that it's happening because my thyroid is disappearing, and my disappearing thyroid is also continuing to cause me to gain weight. It appears that I have gained a whopping FIFTEEN pounds, which is a HUGE amount for my little 5'2" frame. And this is a most inopportune time, because I have to wear both a swimsuit and a bridesmaid dress (bought when I was skinny) within the next two weeks, during which I will probably be gaining more weight, because I don't get blood taken again until Monday, and, therefore, won't even have a follow-up appointment until after both the beach trip and Katie's wedding. The worst part is that my clothes don't fit, which is a bit of a problem, obviously. I haven't actually tried on my bridesmaid dress in a while, so I'm planning to do that first thing when I get to the apartment on Sunday, just to make sure. I've just been assuming that I can still get into it, because I really have no choice, but I'll feel better once I know for sure. And I'm still excited about the beach (it's a reunion of old neighbors, who I love and can't wait to see) and the wedding, but I'd be more excited about both if I were thin. That's lame, I know, but it's true. I just keep trying to remind myself that gaining weight is actually a good thing, because it's a sign that I'm getting better. And I can feel it. Praise God; I am getting better. Fatter, but better. ;)

Monday, May 28, 2007

wavering uncertainly

I desire silence
not drama

God be with my
wavering and uncertain heart

I've decided to get back into the habit of writing a Poetry in Motion poem every day like I used to long ago. That's mine for today. Write yours here. You could win $100!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

spin around and fall down, do it again

"I think you like to be the victim
I think you like to be in pain
I think you make yourself a victim
Almost every single day..."

I wish it didn't have to be this way. I wish I didn't have to hurt someone in order to get better. I hate it, even if he doesn't think I do. Which he doesn't. I wish I could explain it some other way than the two ways I've explained it, but I can't. And it's ridiculous for me to try any more. It's ridiculous that I tried again tonight. Because it obviously isn't helping, and the process of trying to be clear and then being misunderstood is just making me sicker. It is unhealthy for me to have to deal with this right now. And I know that isn't fair, but that's the way it is. I CAN'T help him. I have tried, and I have failed. Miserably. And the more I try, the further I sink into the state of being unable to help. And that isn't something I'm happy about... or proud of. And it isn't something that is easy for me to say. The words "I can't" were barely in my vocabulary before that day, just a few short weeks ago, when I had no choice but to admit that I had to leave school. But there are things that I can't do. And this is one of them. And it is hurting someone. And I am sorry. But I can't fix it. I can't deal with it any other way.

And it's unfair that I have to end up feeling like a failure. It's unfair that he wants me to feel guilty. It's unfair for him to throw scripture in my face, as if I am trying to hurt him. As if I want it to be like this. As if I am not trying my absolute hardest to do what I have to do. But I have nothing to give. So what I have to do is get better. Someday, hopefully soon, I will be able to help people again. But not today. And I'm sorry.

I'm unbelievably thankful that God has put people in my life who will let me call them at 1 in the morning and cry and vent. I have never been more grateful for that than I am now. And to end on a lighter note, let me quote the one I called and cried to and vented to tonight:

"His skull is very thick...and his brain is very small."

I surrender.

Friday, May 25, 2007

a world with dew still on it

I finally watched my brother's favorite movie with him tonight. A River Runs Through It is pretty much a way of life to him. It was fantastic and kind of made me feel like I've been missing out on something all this time when I hadn't seen it. I absolutely loved it, as I assumed I would, since it's his favorite. Now would probably be a good time to mention that my brother, Alex, is my very favorite person on the face of the earth. I love him more than anything, and we have always understood each other better than anyone else understands either one of us, as far as I can tell. (As a brief parenthetical digression, the picture above is my brother, fly fishing, and was taken by his friend and roommate, Joel. I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the symbolism in my default picture on the blog, and it inspired me to use photography on here more. I will probably, from now on, only use pictures I've taken, or perhaps pictures of me, but this one seemed too appropriate not to use.) It's really a beautiful thing. This movie was just the same. I totally see why it's his favorite, and it is now among my favorites, too. It's exactly the kind of movie that we both love: it's about something earthy and natural and not overdone or epic or huge, something real. And while it's about fly-fishing in one sense, at its core, it's just about life. The message is summed up in the words of Rev. Maclean's final sermon:

"... but you can love completely without complete understanding."

I'm so thankful that that's the truth. I am so thankful that the people around me--my family, my friends, my church--love me, even though, to varying degrees, they don't understand what's going on within me. They don't completely understand, but they love me anyway. This message, while not terribly deep or profound, I realize, is one that I probably needed to come into contact with at this point in my life. You see, I have a desperate, undying, burning desire to understand people. All of them. At every moment. I want to know what makes people tick. What brings them joy. What makes them hurt. What makes them love. What makes them do everything they do. As a future psychologist, and as a human being, it is my life's goal, simple, yet impossible: understand people. And yet, understanding is not what Christ commands:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

He calls me to love Him, which clearly entails a great lack of understanding (if you've made any sort of effort to love God, you know this), and He calls me to love my brothers and sisters, none of whom I can completely understand, and many of whom I don't even know.

The truth, it seems, is that I can, indeed, love completely without understanding completely, but that I will never understand completely if I do not, first, love.

And so I will keep trying. I imagine that I will keep failing, but because there is grace, I will keep trying. And trying. And trying.

I have never been fly fishing, but it seems as if, like Norman, I, too, am haunted by waters.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Earlier today, I was going through stuff on my computer, moving/organzing, and getting rid of old stuff I don't need, and I came across this thing (I don't really know what to call it...a vignette?) that I wrote a little more than a year ago. It struck some sort of chord with me...I'm not exactly sure why. I guess it seems appropriate to my mood. And yet, not. I guess what I mean is...the circumstances under which I wrote this have all changed, but the sentiment it represents is still within me. It means something else now, and yet I think, mysteriously, that it express what I feel right now better than a lot of things I've written recently. I'm talking myself in circles and not making sense (as usual), it is:

I went stargazing like I said I would. It’s really special to me, stargazing. I know we didn’t do it often, but it meant so much to me those times when we did. There was just something about looking up and feeling so small and being with you and knowing God could see us, lying all out in the open like that. Like He was looking down and shining straight at us and telling us to keep on shining too. Just like before, I went out the back door, blanket in hand, and walked out towards the graveyard, such an unlikely place to feel so alive. I didn’t go as far as we used to go since I was alone and a little bit more scared of the dark than I’d ever admit. I unfolded the blanket just enough so my little self could fit and I sat down, sniffling and shivering in the 65 degree weather on the first real day of spring. I know you think I’m a crybaby and I hate that, and I hate crying, really I do, but I won’t lie, I was crying so hard I couldn’t lay down at first I was shaking so much. But when I did, oh, the feeling! The feeling was so big I could taste it. Me and the sky and a dog barking off in the distance and that was all there was in the world but all of that was more than I could take in. The stars twinkled like I hadn’t seen them do in a good while and I felt bad for not noticing them often enough and I knew I’d been missing out on the show. I couldn’t move or even think about anything but God and how big He is and how crazy He is and how small I am and how He manages to still care about the hairs on my head. I got lost in the bigness of the sky and could hardly find myself for a while, and I didn’t even care. Then I saw it: the big dipper, the only constellation I could ever find on my own. I felt dumb not knowing what else was up there besides that silly dipper and then I thought what on earth is a dipper anyway and that made me laugh a little and it made me love you and it made me want to see the Lion and the Crab and that whole jungle of stuff I remembered you saying you could see up there. No wonder I couldn’t love you like I wanted to, like Jesus loves me and like he loves you and like you love me. No wonder I couldn’t count the blond hairs on your head or the brownish-reddish ones all over you face—I couldn’t even see anything up there in that sky but the big, stupid, dipper. And yet I could see God and I could see you and I could see us being together and being ok and being happy and me knowing how to love you and everything being right with the world forever and always. It was so much to see all at once that I didn’t quite know what to do or how to understand it or what to say to God or to the stars or to myself or to the you that always stays inside me even though the big you could never fit inside the little tiny me. I just stayed there and let it be and let it sink in and let God and the stars look down at me and let me feel so small and yet so big. Finally I got cold and the little tiny you couldn’t keep me warm like the real big you used to when we laid out there. I rolled over on my blanket to get up and go in and I saw the back porch swing where it all started. Not the stars and not God but me and you, where we sat and told each other whatever it was that we told each other that made everything so different and so goofy and wonderful that first of October when it was all so new and exciting and unknown and then I thought it seemed silly to see that same little swing still there after all this time just like those same stars and that same big God, still there watching everything and being a part of us whether we noticed or not. I folded up the blanket and felt warmer not being on that cold ground and I stood up and I felt like it all was going to be just fine and even beautiful as long as you were right there next to me and we were under God and the stars.

Monday, May 21, 2007

tickling the ivories

I played the piano today for the first time in a long time. I used to be really good at piano. Great, even. But then I went to college and stopped practicing and pretty much lost all my ability. It makes me really sad, not to mention mad at myself for letting that happen. My piano teacher is one of the most wonderful people in the whole world, but I always put off going to visit her because I'm terrified she'll want me to play for her, and then she'll be so shocked at how bad I am that she'll cry and think her life's work was for naught. I am exaggerating, but not as much as you might think. On the rare occasions when I do play, when I'm home, I end up very upset because someone invariably comments on how good I am. I know this doesn't sound like something that would be upsetting, but it is, because I am not good. Not anymore. I used to be, but that was a long time ago. And in some weird way that may make sense only in my head, it's offensive to me to think that people think I'm good. It's as if they don't know the difference between what I can do now and what I could do when I was in high school, which is quite marked. Don't they remember? Surely it doesn't all sound the same to them...? It makes me feel like they didn't appreciate it or even recognize it when I really was good. So anway, I don't play much anymore, even when I'm home. But this afternoon, no one was home, and I was feeling both creative, and, apparently, brave. So I sat down at the piano. It was difficult to find anything I could play at first. I knew better than to even look at anything even remotely associated with the word "baroque," which pretty well dismissed most of my repertoire from days gone by. I made my way through a couple of books of hymns that were embarassingly easy, though still enjoyable, and then I came across an interesting arrangement of Peter Cetera's Glory of Love, also known as the theme from The Karate Kid. This piece was perfect for my current skill level: easy enough that I could muddle through it without being totally overwhelmed, but hard enough that I felt like I was doing something that not just anyone could do. It was challenging enough that I experienced the unmistakable sense that I was being allowed a part in something greater than myself, just for a couple of minutes. It's simple I guess, but I had forgotten what that was like. It was beautiful. Praise the Lord for music. I don't know what I would do without it. After Glory of Love, I became a little more ambitious and tried to play some more classical things. This was quite difficult, but in a strange way which I had never really experienced before. It was as if my fingers remembered, just a little. It was as if they knew that they used to know how to do this, but they couldn't quite tap into that part of their if there existed the possibility that at any moment, everything might come rushing back to them. But, of course, it didn't. I don't know if any of this makes sense (and if it doesn't, it's not going to be the first nonsensical thing I've thought today), but it seemed like some sort of metaphor for my life right now. It's not just my fingers that aren't as strong as they used to be--it's every other part of me, too. My heart (figuratively, I mean, though literally as well) isn't as strong as it used to be, but it does remember a time when it was strong and vibrant and passionate and full and overflowing...and there is a possibility that, at any time, it will be again. And that--the knowledge that I will get better--is what gets me through the day.

"Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't wanna lose you
I could never make it alone..."

will I lose my dignity?

I am perpetually ridiculous. Everything stresses me out. Everything freaks me out. Everything worries me. Everything seems like a big deal. Everything hurts my feelings. And everyone is patient and understanding about this, and I should be thankful for that. I am thankful... and yet, I'm not. In a way, I appreciate it, and I probably need it. But in another way, it seems like a slap in the face--an insult to my pride, my dignity. I don't want everyone having to take everything I say with a grain of salt. I don't like this underlying, understood, idea that you don't really mean that...that's just the depression talking...under normal circumstances, you wouldn't say that. Maybe it's true, but what if it's not? What if I say something that may be surprising, but that I do really mean? What if it isn't just the depression talking, and even under normal circumstances, I would say it? I have no way of communicating that, no way of convincing people that what I'm saying is not a product of my illness, but of my real self. Is it even possible that anyone--including myself--could differentiate between what comes from ridiculous me and what comes from actual me? Do I have to avoid saying anything real or meaningful until I'm better, because right now no one will believe it anyway? I guess the Lord is the only one who knows which is which, so maybe He's the only one I can really talk to right now. And maybe that's best, since no one else knows when to take me seriously. And I guess I can't blame them. And yet I do, because I'm ridiculous.

Joe introduced me to this very exciting website, Future Me, to which I have promptly become addicted. If you're not familiar with it, you need to be. It's a simple, yet profound, concept. You write a letter to your future self, tell future me when you want to receive it, and it emails it to you on the specified date (the default is one year from the current date.) If you wish, you can make your message public (but anonymous) so that it will show up on the website. I've spent lots of time just hitting "random" and reading through what people have written to their future selves, and it's fascinating. I love it almost as much as I love Post Secret, and in the same way. And I can spend more time with it, because there are virtually infinite messages to read (with Post Secret, I get a terrible feeling when I get to the bottom of the page and realize I have to wait until the next Sunday for more secrets.) So today I decided to send a message to my future self. It was odd. And yet exciting. But strangely difficult. It was hard to know what to say to my future self from the perspective of my present self. What I ended up saying was something to the effect of, "I hope you aren't like me. I hope you're like I used to be. Or maybe even better than that. But not like this." I'm looking forward to getting my letter to myself on this day one year from now. And I think I might even send some more. Getting mail from this particular time in my life could be quite interesting and perhaps even enlightening.

That's all for now. I'm tired. In every way possible.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Hypothyroidism and I are not going to be friends. Translation: I'm fat already. Not really fat, I guess, but heavier by far than I've ever been, such that I can't wear many of my clothes. I'm already self-conscious about it. I've really never had that nearly-universal female experience of hating my body until right now. And I'm not a fan. My endocrinologist had told me that if I gained a lot of weight really quickly, to call him, because that pretty much would mean I don't have a thyroid anymore, which is, obviously, a problem, even thought it's also the goal. But yesterday I called, and they seemed unconcerned and told me just to wait until my appointment, which isn't for a couple of weeks. I just hope I don't gain too much more weight before then. I've been working out too much, which is definitely a first for me. I was doing my ballet workout, but I decided to do like 3 times as many reps of some stuff, and I added some weight things, and that was just a bad idea. At the time, I think I can totally handle it, but I've been having these muscle cramps randomly, and they suck a lot, so I'm going to have to cut back. At this point, exercise probably isn't helping that much anyway, but I just feel compelled do so something, for fear of letting this whole weight issue take over my life. For some reason, I feel as if I have some sort of predispotion for doing that. Just because I know I have family members who struggle with it... and because I've never really worried about my body. I really haven't exercised on any sort of regular basis since high school, and I've never been on a diet in my life. Of course, I've also always been relatively comfortable with my body. Until now.

On a different note, I'm back home. I'm not sure how long I'll be here this time, and I still don't know exactly when I'm moving out and moving back in here for real. I am glad to be here again, but I've already been stressed out. Right when I came in, my mom started talking about all these different things I can do if I feel better in the fall. Do I really not want to go back to Radford? What about commuting to Marshall? What about Morehead? etc. etc. etc. "I just hate that you'll be losing so much time," she said. As if I like it. As if I want to waste time. As if I want to be a loser and live with my parents for the rest of my life and never do anything with my life. As if I don't already feel like a failure. It almost makes me wish I hadn't told my parents that I am feeling a little better, because even though I am, I'm not up to worrying about this stuff right now. I don't even want to think about it. I can't.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


...with someone else, but also with myself.

I have an innate ability to make people feel guilty by accident. It's been happening ever since I was about thirteen. Someone who has no apparent reason to care what I think of them does something they know I'll disapprove of, and then they don't want to talk to me at all, as if they're scared of my judgement or something. It makes me feel horrible. I try to be a loving person, and I do not consider myself to be judgemental in the least. I do, however, hold myself to a very high standard of moral behavior (which, sometimes, of course, I can't meet), and I guess sometimes it's hard for me to know to what extent I can or should hold my friends to that same standard. And I don't really know what it is about me that makes people feel guilty. I used to pretentiously wonder if it was just that they thought I was better than they are, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. I'm just as big a mess as everyone else. In fact, I'd say that right now I'm even more of a mess than the average person. Certainly more of mess than the person I accidentally made feel guilty today, who happens to be my best friend. Making him feel bad makes me feel bad, because I adore him. He is absolutely amazing, and I would never, ever, intentionally hurt him. And yet I am idealistic and stubborn and pig-headed and felt that I was justified in saying some things that I halfway wish I hadn't said. Even though I believe wholeheartedly that what I said was absolutely (and I do mean absolutely) saying it worth hurting someone I love more than words can say? I thought so at the time, but now I just don't know. I just keep thinking of the various people I've lost over the years because they thought that I thought ill of them just because I may have disapproved of their behavior in some certain area. None of them were my best friends--or perhaps even my friends. And it's scary to think that I'm in that situation with my best friend now. But it will not turn out that way this time. I't won't, because it can't.

On a different note, I just realized today that I am jealous of someone who I really had no idea I was jealous of. I don't know how I managed to hide it from myself, and I'm not sure why today was the day I stopped doing so. I can't believe I'm jealous of this person. It's ridiculous, and shocking, and I don't know if I can even say it out loud. It's pretty much imperative that I get over it sooner rather than later, which may require not being the most arrogant person in the whole world, which will be a little more difficult that I care to admit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I am so completely illogical. I don't mean to do this, but I keep putting myself in these positions where I end up essentially fishing for compliments that I don't deserve, and then I feel hurt when I don't get what I'm fishing for. Even though I don't deserve it. And I would never want my friends to be dishonest with me. Except that apparently I do. I guess I just need encouragement. And the reason I feel like I need it is the same as the reason I don't deserve it. I guess what I really want is just to be myself again, because then I will deserve for people to say nice things about me. Except then I won't need to hear it the way I do now. Guh. And I guess that's partly why I started this blog... so that people could respond somehow to my frustrations. I really appreciate that encourgement I've gotten in that manner.

I'm also frustrated because it has just come to my attention that one of my best friends dislikes another of my best friends, despite not actually knowing this best friend. It bothers me because I think that it is respectful to at least give a chance to your friends' friends, to assume that they are good people who you will like, until it is proven otherwise. But maybe that's just me being idealistic because that's what I do.

Also, it turns out that Pete, another of my best friends (I know I say that a lot...I have a lot of friends who are the best :)) just had surgery on his shoulder. I knew this was going to happen at some point, but I was a bit upset that he didn't tell me when...until after the fact. I know that he is just busy and got distracted/forgot, but it makes me worry that he didn't tell me because he thought I would forget, or because he thought I wouldn't pray for him anyway, or because he didn't want to bother me because I have enough problems of my own.

I guess I'm just feeling frustrated with people in general. But I'm mostly frustrated with myself...for being so frustrated with people. I get to hang out with Dallas all day tomorrow, and he just said that I can complain about my life (which was what I was planning to do anyhow), and I'm really looking forward to that. I know that sounds terrible, but it's the truth. I need to get my complaints, even the illogical ones, which may or may not be all of them, off my chest. I just hope he doesn't regret giving me permission to do that. ;)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I feel as if I have a lot to say. Friday and Saturday were good as expected, though pretty emotional. Jodie's wedding was beautiful (though not as beautiful as she was and is), and it was fantastic to see my Durham friends and some other Emory folk who came for the occasion. Graduation was exciting as well. It's still not really sinking in that Katie and Jenny GRADUATED. Ahhhh. It's just downright ridiculous. I almost feel like I'm graduating all over again, because I just can't imagaine what it will be like to visit there without them there... and not to sleep in my beloved bunk bed with all Jenny's stuffed animals piled on it. It's sad, and even more so than I expected, somehow. But I'm so proud of them. They're both absolutely incredible women, and I know they will shape the world just how they shaped Emory, VA, and neither will be the same. I love them so much, and I wish I had been able to be a better friend to them over the past few months. And speaking of not being as good a friend as I'd like...By the time the post-graduation eating festivities were over with on Saturday afternoon, I was utterly exhausted. I hadn't been alone since Thursday afternoon, and I was at the absolute end of my social-interaction rope. It had been a while since I'd had enough people around for long enough to get to this point, and it was an almost physical sensation of I have to get away from everyone right now or else something bad is going to happen. It was quite terrible. And to make it worse was the fact that I had previously told my friend Joe that he could come back to Radford with me and hang out for a while before driving home to Johnson City. Now, just to clarify, Joe is very near the bottom of the rank order list of People, From Most to Least Annoying, and is also very near the top of the rank order list of People, From Most Caring and Able to Understand Me Even Though I Don't Currently Make Sense to Least Caring and Able to Understand Me Even Though I Don't Currently Make Sense. And yet, at this point, it didn't matter, and I just had to tell him he couldn't come after all. Which made me feel absolutely awful. And made me realize that I'm not as much better as I thought I was. So I got in the car to drive back to Radford, feeling very dejected and guilty.

But my energy did begin to replenish itself very slowly starting the moment I closed the door, shutting out absolutely everything except my own brain (or what there was left of it) and the great men of Guster, who were singing, appropriately, "Closing doors and locking locks / He looked inside himself / Only to find / Seeping from his soul...Let me fall in two / Let me fall in two..." And so I did. And I knew that I had done the right thing, the healthy thing, and yet I still felt, paradoxically, selfish. And so I got a little further up the road without falling asleep and decided to stop and see Dallas, one of my very best friends, who is recuperating from a terrible car accident. I convinced myself that I really wanted to see him, but, honestly, I think I mostly just wanted to want to see him, because I want to be a good friend... or I want to feel like I'm a good friend. Karen Horney would've called it the "tyranny of the shoulds," but I called it self-sacrifice in the name of freindship, and just identifying it as such made me feel guilty. Because I want to be a good friend to him like he has been to me. I want so bad just to be able to do something for him that will make it better. And it makes me feel inappropriately guilty, as if I specifically chose now to be incapable of being a good friend, specifically because he's broken and needs me not to be. And yet I want him to need me, and sometimes I fear that he doesn't, because he's the strongest, most positive person I know, and he's going to be fine. He already is fine. For the longest time, he was lying in a hospital bed, unable to move, feeling more optimistic about his life than I was about mine. And all I have is a stupid thyroid disease. I wish I could be strong like him. I admire him so much.

But I'm not strong like him, so I didn't stay long, because I was tired and irritable and cranky, and was probably getting on his nerves anyway. So I went home, still dejected, but glad to be really alone. I did break down a little, crying about nothing (or was it everything?), but I was glad to do it in solitude, because I didn't have to worry about hurting anyone else's feelings, or trying to explain it to anyone. But that's the great thing about being alone: no explanations are necessary. Understanding is all there is.

So on Sunday, I woke up feeling immeasurably better, as I knew I would, having had some time alone to fill up my tank 'o' emotional energy. And, just in time, Joe called, wanting to come visit on Monday. Bless his heart, he wanted to see me even after I totally uninvited him. It was kind of overwhelming, really. He's so great. So he drove all the way from Johnson City just to see me, and we sat and talked about psychology (and life, if that's not redundant), and it was fabulous. I don't know how he manages to understand me the way he does, but it's pretty exciting. He's going to be an amazing psychologist one day (and, shamefully, I keep finding myself wanting to mold him into me...except without the dropping out of school part.) For now, he's an amazing friend. Additionally, as a note to people in this general area of the world who may not be aware of this information: we went on an adventure or sorts, and discovered something that may be of interest to you, namely, if you want to go to Floyd, don't go on a Monday, because everything it closed.

In other news, I am finally officially medically withdrawan from school. It's a pretty major relief. I'm in the process of weaning myself off of my heart medicine, which was managing my high blood pressure and crazy-fast pulse, which should be ok on their own soon, since my thyroid is shrinking steadily. This is quite a relief as well, and probably accounts for my having started sleeping much better lately. I'm trying to look out for the signs of hypothyroidism, which could happen pretty soon (or not), and, sadly, I've already started to gain weight. But I've been doing ballet daily, trying to get on an exercise reigmen now, and deal with this before it becomes a big problem. I still have a long way to go, but I think I'm making progress.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

eet mor chikin

I have a big weekend ahead. Yesterday, I drove back to Radford and spent the night in the apartment, and this evening I drove to Durham, and just arrived at Jess and Heather's (dear friends) apartment. Jodie, another dear friend, is getting married tomorrow, so that's why I'm here. Tomorrow, after the wedding, I'm driving to my beloved Emory for Katie and Jenny's (best friends) graduation on Saturday. I am hoping that my rest at home has prepared for the energy it's going to take for me to withstand all this social interaction. You see, I'm a loner, and require lots of alone time, or else I go crazy, and depression has only exagerrated this characteristic. But I'm excited to be here and to see wonderful people who I don't get to see as often as I'd like. I think it's going to be good.

The drive here is always weird, because I pass through (or past, I guess) Burlington, home of my ex, Deke. The past few times I've been here, he has been in Emory, but I have contemplated calling his parents and stopping by--under the guise of wanting to see their new (old) house now that it's all finished, but really just wanting to see them. But I never do it. Since school's out, Deke is here too (I assume), which made me even more tempted to call this time. But I'm under the impression that he wouldn't like that very much, so I knew it would be disastrous, and had decided before I even left Radford that I would NOT call. Secretly, I had also decided that if I was terribly tempted to call, I was going to, instead, call my best friend, Dallas, who would surely talk me out of it effectively. Anyway, I was not worried about this as I drove. It just so happened that I started to get hungry for dinner as I approached Burlington. I saw a sign for a Chil-fil-A, so I decided that's where I'd eat. The Chic-fil-A turned out not to be immediately off of the exit, and as I followed the signs, I began to realize that I knew exactly where I was going, because I have eaten at this particular Chic-fil-A before. I ate here with Deke, his best friend, John, and John's then-girlfriend, Chelsea. It was the first time (literally) that I met Chelsea, and I immiediately started having these visions of the four us always being best friends, and getting married, and growing old together. I am aware that this is quite pathetic and silly, and, I admit, sometimes I'm just a silly girl. But, nonetheless, my memory of this occasion, coupled with my already volatile emotional state (and feeling reagarding Deke, implicit in my last blog) made this eating experience a little surreal and a lot sad. Deke and John are both dating other people (who are, of course, categorically far inferior to Chelsea or me) now, and I just kept picturing the four of them all there together, meeting for the first time, dipping their nuggets into honey mustard sauce and talking joyously. And I wonder if either of the current girlfriends is silly like me and would be thinking about how this new foursome will always be together. And what if she'd be right?

Anyway, I'm going to try to stop thinking about silly things like this, and read some Pslams while I wait for Jess and Heather to get back from the rehearsal dinner. God (and Jess and Heather, too, for that matter) loves me better than any boy ever could anyway.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

the voices in my head

Sometimes, my internal monologue takes the form of other people's words, and sometimes it becomes not so much a monologue at all, but more of a stream-of-consciousness chorus. This evening, it is sounding something like this:

we fell in a field it seems now a thousand summers passed / when our kite lines first crossed / we tied them into knots / and to finally fly apart / we had to cut them off...what kind of fool does it take / To go on loving alone / Like there's some answer in this ruin / Some silver lining to be found / It takes a bigger fool to think / That the dawn will never break / On this day that I admit / I'm just the kind of fool love makes...I wish I could just make you turn around/ turn around and see me cry / There's so much I need to say to you /so many reasons why...So take a look at me now / well there's just an empty space / And there's nothing left here to remind me / just the memory of your face...In the chilly hours and minutes / Of uncertainty / I want to be / in the warm hold of your loving mind / to feel you all around me / and to take your hand / along the sand / ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind...So you can get on with your search, baby / and I can get on with mine / and maybe someday we will find / that it wasn't really
wasted time...

(thank you to the shins, wynonna, phil collins, donavan, and the eagles for infiltrating my brain ;))

Sunday, May 6, 2007

'tis a gift to be simple

I'm feeling better today. It's beautiful outside, for one thing. And church was good. My mom and dad have been telling me about this "intellectual kick" that our pastor has been on, and I was quite excited to experience it for myself today, as I tend to be quite an intellectual Christian, for better or for worse, and am generally unsatisfied with the depth of insight that comes from the pulpit. Intellect wasn't in the cards (read: sermon) today, which was disappointing. I've been frustrated lately, because I feel like my spiritual life has become really shallow and simplistic. What I mean, basically, is that there seems to be no depth to my prayers as of late. I try to say the sorts of things that I would normally (by normally, I mean when I'm healthy) say, but I just can't make myself mean them. Right now, all I can honestly, sincerely say to God is, "help." While I'd prefer to be a little deeper and a little smarter, I've realized that God really just wants me to be real. And this morning, sans intellect, I did sense just the tiniest inkling of spirit and truth in my worship. I do hope that things will be back to normal someday soon, but, for now, I'll take it.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

call me Mara

"Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter."
(Ruth 1:20)

I am so full of bitterness. I'm shamefully, disgustingly full of it. I have this ugly, ridiculous attitude that tells me that it if I'm not happy, nobody should be happy. I resent that all my friends are finishing their semesters, moving on, graduating, making progress, reaching their goals, having fun. It kills me. It all comes from a sense of entitlement that I shouldn't have in the first place. I should be happy for my friends... proud of them. I should be celebrating with them. And outwardly, of course, I am. But inside, I am seething with this bitterness. I hate it... that my depression (and let's be honest--my sin) is swallowing me up, trapping me in this state of pride and self-righteousness. And it makes me feel so overwhelmingly guilty that I feel even more stuck, even more unhappy, even more helpless.

Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

my old kentucky home

It's amazing to me, the way place can determine state of mind. I'm so glad I came home. There's just something about that word--home, and the feeling of being here. At home, I am unconditionally loved, cared for, comforted. Nothing even has to be said for me to feel that.

I'm becoming more and more sure that I don't want to go back to Radford in the fall, even if I feel better. It isn't that I don't like it there, that I don't like my professors, that I don't like my classmates... it's none of that. In fact, I love my clinical girls, and I love the place itself. It's just my psychological associations with the place that are negative. Radford is, and, I fear, will always be, the place where I am sick. The place where I can't function. The place where I am a failure. And I don't want to be reminded of that. I want to move on from this and start over...someday. I want to be able to be my normal self again, and not to have to prove anything to anyone. I just want to go somewhere and be me again, right from the beginning. That's part of the reason I love going to Emory so much. Just the place makes me feel better. Emory is the place where I am intelligent and capable and successful. When I'm there, it seems like every time I turn around, there's someone who's glad to see me--and the me they're glad to see is the old me, the one I am trying to be again. To the current me, that version of me seems like some sort of super hero, and it reminds me of the time my friend Scott told me that everything was going to be ok, that I could handle it because I'm Superwoman. And it gives me hope.

But here, I don't have to be anything at all. I don't feel like a failure, but I don't feel like something greater than I really am either. I just feel like me--a sick and tired and hurting and broken me, but me. And that's the best I can do for now.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

the rest of the story

Paul Harvey I'm not, but here goes. Spring 2006, and I'm getting ready to graduate from Emory & Henry College, also known as heaven. Up until this point, I have been super-involved and super-successful: president of Campus Christian Fellowship, good friend, Drama ministry leader, self-proclaimed best girlfriend ever, reigning queen of the psychology department. I love my life, and I'm successful in pretty much everything I care about doing. Then minor stressors start to ovepower me. Nothing major--just people stirring up trouble and making me feel like all sorts of things that aren't my fault are, well, my fault. Most of this was not actually directed at me personally (though some of it was), and I should have been able to brush it off. I'm fairly pretentious and tend to think I'm nearly perfect (only kidding... sort of), so I knew I had been doing my absolute best. However, I began to feel ultra-stressed out all the time, wondering whether I should have done something different, wondering if I misunderstood God when I thought he was clearly calling me to be in these leadership positions, wondering what to do but feeling powerless to make the situation better, which was pretty accurate for the most part. My everday life felt difficult, forced, and I didn't have any fun anymore--not even learning about psychotherapy, pretty much my favorite thing in the world, from my very favorite professor/favorite person/all-around hero. I chalked it up to senioritis and just kept telling myself it was all going to be better the moment I became a graduate. No one seemed to notice that something was amiss, and I kept doing what I was doing before, only not as well. One day after class, Dr. Qualls, my aforementioned hero, asked me to come to his office. He and my other psychology professor proceeded to tell me that they thought I was depressed, that I just wasn't myself anymore, that they knew something was really wrong and wanted to help me. Just to clarify, everything I knew about psychopathology at this point came from Dr. Qualls, who is a master dianostician and all-around genius. He knows me better than just about anyone and had spent more time with me that year that most of my friends did (but not in a creepy way or anything...) In short, Dr. Qualls is a demigod, and I had not heretofore disagreed with him (unless I was proofreading for him, which is irrelevent here.) But... I blantantly told him he was wrong, that I was just stressed, and that everything would be fine when I graduated. He obviously knew better, because he knows everything, but that was the end of the discussion.

Fast forward.I graduated. I didn't feel better. But I was at home, and I really don't have friends at home, and I had a horrible job where I didn't do anything meaningful or helpful or even interesting. So, I thought, of COURSE I still don't feel better, but I will when this job ends and I go to grad school. The job ended. I went to grad school, and I didn't feel better. But my classes weren't challenging at first, so I thought I'd feel better when they got harder. Then I got both dumped and fired in the span of about 3 weeks, both for what I considered to be insufficient reasons, so I thought, of course, I'm single and unemployed, so that's why I still feel bad. Eventually, near the beginning of this semester (my second semester of grad school), school got so hard that I could no longer use this "I'll feel better when...." train of thought. I couldn't deny any longer than I was (am) depresssed, especially since I was a clinical psychology student and had the DSM criteria right in front of me. I felt ashamed for being too proud to admit this before (it was meta-shame, if you will), so I was very nervous about admitting how long my problems had been going on.

I went to the doctor, and told them about my depression symptoms (no energy, no enjoyment of anything, no motivation, no ability to concentrate, trouble falling asleep.) The doctor prescribed antidepressants and left. While the nurse was filling out paperwork next to me, she looked up, alarmed, and asked, "What's that big thing on your neck?" I had no idea what she was talking about, but she had the doctor check it out, and he said it was a goiter (my new least favorite word in the English language), a swelling of my thyroid. They took blood and sent me to an endocrinologist. After I had an ultrasound to insure that it wasn't cancer, they told me that the blood work showed that I have a hyperthyroid condition called Graves' disease. I had many of the classic symptoms as well, though I hadn't noticed any of them before, which was a little frisghtening. Specifically, my blood pressure was really high, and my pulse was 140 (it sholud be about 80.) My hands were shaking when I held them out, which I had noticed but not worried about. Once I knew the diagnosis, I also realized that I was eating a lot more than usual (because of my overactive thyroid and therefore too-fast metabolism.) My endocrinologist said that my depression could be a result, since the thyroid controls all hormones and brain chemicals (and pretty much everything else in the body, I now know.) I had an idodine uptake scan to see exactly the extent of my hyperthyroidism, and the results showed, basically, that I was as hyperthyroid as you could possibly be. So it was time to decide which treatment to use. There is neither a known cause nor a cure for hyperthyroidism, so the treatment is, in one way or another, to destroy my thyroid, making me hypothyroid instead. Because thyroid surgery is dangerous and medicine doesn't work for very many people, I opted to undergo Radioactive Iodine Therapy. The radioactive iodine in the pill I took was designed to go straight to my thyroid (the thyroid absorbs iodine), and the radioactivity, to destroy the thyroid tissue gradually. At this point, a month after that treatment, my goiter is visibly smaller--almost invisible, and my thyroid is functioning at a roughly normal level. Eventually, of course, it will disappear totally and I'll have to start taking thyroid replacement medicine, which I'll be on for the rest of my life. My depression symptoms are still the same, so we hope that I will experience some relief from that when the treatment is completed. I am still taking antidepressants (a different one now than when I started), but they are not helping me at all. The theory is that since that isn't helping, my thyroid probably is the cause of the depression, which hopefully means that when my thyroid is gone, my depression will be gone. The jury is still out on that.

In the process of dealing with all this throughout the semester, I have become even less capable of doing my schoolwork. My motivation and concentration are virtually gone, and my sleep problems are worse--it almost always takes me about 4 hours to fall asleep, regardless of how long I've been up, whether I've napped, etc. I stopped going to my morning classes and procrastinated getting my work done, thinking, every day, tomorrow I will feel better and will be able to do this. Work piled up too high, and I became more and more overwhelmed each day, making me even more incapable of getting it done. Finally, after I had spent 3 hours trying to answer a simple, factual question on a take-home exam, I just broke down crying in the computer lab and had to admit what I'd been desperately trying to avoid: I CAN'T DO THIS. Then I began the (unecessarily difficult) process of medically withdrawing from school. It isn't official yet, but I haven't been to class for almost a month now. I'm going to spend the summer (maybe longer) at home with my parents, doing nothing and trying to get better. I still haven't really come to terms with the fact that I'm essentially quitting school and have no idea what I'm going to do with my life. I feel like I've lost touch with the successful and passionate person I used to be, and it's terrifying. I trust in (or, more accurately, I try to trust in) a loving God who knows and understands, and has a plan. I believe that there is a purpose for the suffering I'm experiencing, and, hopefully, I can use this space to explore what that is.

My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
(Psalm 119: 28)

two beloved poets

I'd like to start by letting you (whoever YOU are) know why I started this blog. For now, we'll go with the short version: I'm sick. I have a thyroid disease called Graves' diseass (pretty much the worst possible name for a disease, if you asked me, which, of course, you didn't) which has been causing me a lot of problems, the worst of which is depression. My life has essentially been turned upside down in the past year, and I am currently in the process of medically withdrawing for my clinical psychology graduate program, which is very difficult for me to do--or to admit that I HAVE to do. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I can't function in my current state, all the while hoping that each tomorrow will be the day I start to feel better. Because of my depression, I haven't been expressing myself very much or very well, and I think writing may be a good place to start. We'll see.

Rather than tell you more about myself pre-Graves' disease (which seems a daunting task right now), I'm going to post the poems that inspired my title and url. The first is by my childhood playmate (and yours), Shel Silverstein, and the other is by my beloved, Emily (whose last name, Dicksinson, I tend to omit, because I'm weird like that, as you will soon discover.)


My skin is sort of brownish pinkish yellow white
My eyes are grayish bluish green
But I’m told they look orange in the night
My hair is reddish blondish brown
But it’s silver when it’s wet
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.

The Soul unto itself
Is an imperial friend –
Or the most agonizing Spy –
An Enemy – could send –
Secure against its own –
No treason it can fear –
Itself – its Sovereign – of itself
The Soul should stand in Awe –