Friday, April 4, 2014

Happy Friday! Another week under our belts and another weekend stretches out before us. On Tuesday, I was struck with the plague a cold that I'm now 99% sure has turned into a sinus infection, so I've been slogging through this week moreso than usual. Ken and I originally had plans tonight to go to American Cut at Revel in Atlantic City to celebrate our 5 year dating anniversary (which was last Friday), but seeing as I can barely taste anything and would prefer to be in my pajamas, we decided to reschedule until I am no longer acutely diseased. ::sad trombone noise:: Oh well...

I've done a lot of thinking this week. (Although, I'm not sure how that is different from any other week.) The weekend was rough on me, and then I saw my therapist on Tuesday, which always makes me feel like I can actually do life. I swear, weekly therapy sessions are like getting an IV of self-confidence and adult-ness, and then between Tuesday at 2:20 (when my session ends) and the following Tuesday at 1:29, life seems intent on sucking all of my self-confidence and other good stuff away. But, as per usual, therapy also makes me think a lot. Here are some things I've realized this week:

1. People who have never been in therapy have no idea what happens when you go there.

People ask me what I do in therapy, and I don't know what they expect me to say, but the answer is, I talk. She talks. She listens. I listen. Sometimes we curse. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I laugh and then I cry and then I curse and then I use up all of her tissues and feel bad about it. But do any of my major problems get solved within the confines of a therapy session? Usually... no. In fact, there has not been a single time where I have come to therapy with Problem X and solved it by the end of the hour. I may come up with viable solutions within that hour, but I have to go home and have them marinate in my brain for awhile. For example, when I was supposed to go to FL two weeks ago, I talked about how I didn't want to go  in my session the week before the trip was scheduled. During that session, Danna suggested that hey, I didn't have to go. And yeah, I knew that already, but I had to go for eleventy-billion reasons, none of which were actually true. I spent the next week convincing myself to go, and even went so far as to pack my bags and haul them to my office on Wednesday morning, the day of my flight. But Tuesday night, while I was angrily packing and grumbling about how I didn't want to get on a plane, something clicked. It didn't fully actualize until I was sitting my office, surrounded by bags, staring at my cell phone hoping that I would get a phone call that said my flight was canceled because the plane had mysteriously disappeared and the Philadelphia Airport suddenly ceased to exist, all so I wouldn't have to call my Dad and tell him that I wasn't coming. (Spoiler alert: That didn't happen and I had to call my Dad.) It literally took over a WEEK of thought-marinating to get that problem solved, but it wouldn't have happened without me talking about it in therapy.

I guess people expect to go in there with a set of problems and walk out with a nice, neat, set of answers. Sometimes, that can happen. If you're especially into cognitive behavioral therapy, or you have a very specific problem that definitive actions will fix, you might walk out of the office with a set of instructions for how to work on those problems and how to change the negative behaviors. But you can't go in there with a problem of, "I don't know how to have meaningful, romantic, relationships," or "I have terrible body image," or "I think life sucks and I am majorly depressed," and walk out fixed. Even if you end up on an SSRI, which can be helpful and at times, necessary, you still have to do the work. Some people (like me) have to be on meds their entire lives, even while they're doing "the work" or after they've done it because chemical imbalances are real and let's be honest, better living through chemistry, right? Most people can use meds as a bridge to help them feel better and remain functional while they're working on their stuff.

Anyway, all that to say that therapy is one of my self-care requirements and even though it's expensive, it's necessary for me to include it in my budget if I want to continue to remain a functional member of human society. Also, I think everyone should go to therapy, even if you don't have any problems, because simply in the act of going to a therapist, you can learn about yourself and why you act the way you do. It's really quite interesting and I feel like if there was mandatory therapy for everyone, we'd all be a lot happier. (Now, if only medical insurance would cover more than 3 therapists in the entire world...)

Wow, I didn't mean for that to be that long. Whoops.

2. I am way too attached to my phone... and also Twitter.

This morning, in my sickness-induced-delirium, I managed to leave my cell phone at home. I have done this a couple of times before, but I usually realize it by the time I get to the end of our street and I have time to go back and grab it. This morning, this didn't happen and I realized that I had left it at home when I was digging around in my bag waiting for the shuttle to take me to work. (Because what else am I supposed to do while waiting for the shuttle and on the shuttle? I have to read my blogs for the day and check out the news!) Fortunately, I have a work cell phone that Ken, my mom, and my brother all have the number for in case of some kind of crazy emergency. Unfortunately, that work cell phone is a Blackberry and I hate it with every fiber of my being. Talk about first world problems, huh? Today, as I was waiting for the internet to load for what seemed like foreverrrrrrrrr on this stupid phone, I found myself thinking, "God, I hate this stupid phone and I don't even know why they give them out. The last time mine died, IT was surprised I even still had a Blackberry and asked why I didn't have an iPhone. Honestly, when were these things even USEFUL?" And then I stopped myself because I was standing in the middle of a parking lot, trying to read the news, ON A HANDHELD DEVICE without it being hooked up to anything. Sure, it might not be as fast as I want it to be (for instance, why are these things still running on 3G?) and it might not have all the apps that I'm used to, but come on. It's still pretty amazing that I can send someone a text message or even attempt to access the internet from a PHONE. Remember when phones were attached to walls and you had to stand by it to talk on them because the cord only stretched so far? Yeah. I stopped complaining then, gave up on trying to load Slate while waiting for the shuttle, and tried instead to enjoy the morning sans technology.

Because I left my phone at home, I also can't access Twitter because I have login verification set up and the verification codes get sent to my phone... which is probably under a cat at this very moment. Not helpful. For someone who accidentally set up a Twitter account in the first place and then promptly forgot that she had one for over a year (true story!), I've become awfully attached to the damn thing now. I feel as though I am majorly missing out on what is going on in the world of 140-character thoughts! And then I feel silly because honestly, how much can I possibly be missing? Even though I know that it's not integral to my life functioning, I can pretty much guarantee you that the second I get home, I'm going to get into my pajamas and catch up on my Twitter feed. It's a disease, I tell you.

3. No matter how hard I try, I probably won't be able to post before 3 pm.

I know from my own experience, as well as others, that posting early and often is the best way to get traffic to your blog. Unfortunately, this knowledge has done nothing to change my posting behavior. It's probably because I don't schedule blog posts and therefore am stuck writing them mere moments before I hit the "publish" button, but they never seem to be done before 3 pm at the very earliest. In fact, it's 3 pm right now and I'm not even sure how much longer this post is going to be. I keep saying that I need to plan posts and write them ahead of time etc etc, but... it's just not happening. I have faith that I can get on some kind of schedule (maybe three times a week!) but I doubt that I will ever pre-write posts that far ahead. We'll see.

4. Real Life > Pinterest
I found myself falling down a hole of DIY and room design on Pinterest today.  I apologize to anyone who follows me on Twitter, because as Pam said, her feed looked like "50 shades of heather grey" today after I was done pinning things. At least I know what I like?

The last time I pinned with such fervor was during wedding planning. I just went and looked, and apparently, I pinned 187 different things. Care to guess how many of those pins I actually used or did? About 5. That is 2%. I wonder how much time I wasted on there when I could have been investing my energy in something more useful (like sleeping). Now that we're house hunting, I'm pinning kitchen and living room decor ideas, hundreds of paint colors, and lots of DIY renovation projects. The only thing I might find useful are the paint colors, but honestly, Ken and I will probably end up at the Home Depot/Lowe's/etc standing in the paint aisle going, "Well, what about this one?" exactly like we did this last time we painted. That was actually fun. And crazy-making, because how many different shades of heather grey are there? (Way more than 50.)

All that to say is that Pinterest is great and I'm sure I'll continue to waste my life on it, but it's nice to remember that real life exists, and even if you only use 5 of the 187 things you pin, your wedding/living room/dinner/outfit can still be awesome.

5.  I really need to quit my gym membership.
I've been saying it for months, but at this point, I'm paying $46 a month in what I refer to as a "fat and lazy tax" to simply have the option of going to the gym. Which I don't do. That $46 could be a new pair of pants, a nice dinner out, a massage, or 16 tall mochas from Starbucks. (Yikes, who drinks that many mochas??) I know that I need to exercise, but clearly, having a gym membership isn't doing anything for me except making me $46 poorer every month.

6. House hunting is a freaking roller coaster and not one of the fun ones, the ones that makes you want to vomit.
All of you people out there who have already been through the wringer of house-hunting probably just collectively rolled your eyes and sighed at my naivete that I'm just discovering this now. I never thought that house hunting would be easy, or that it wouldn't require intense work and giving up evenings and weekends to go see homes with our realtor, but I certainly didn't think it would make me as crazy as it has. It's so hard to not get emotionally invested in a house that you've decided that you like enough to put an offer on, but I still try. What's basically happened so far is this, however.

Excitement - Wow, we really like this house. We could see ourselves living here! Check out these sweet hardwood floors! And it has a backyard! We could get a dog! (We don't even want a dog, but we could totally get one!)

Decision - Wow, we just put an offer in on a house. I guess we'll see what happens. Did we do the right thing? Oh god. I might throw up. No, nevermind, I'm good.

Feigned Disinterest (which is covering extreme glee)
- OMG WE JUST PUT AN OFFER ON A HOUSE! But whatever man, I don't care. Whatever. There are lots of houses. ::shrug::

Impatience - SERIOUSLY, when is the seller going to get back to us? It's been... a whole 12 minutes. They should be answering us by now. And why hasn't our realtor called us? It's not like she put in the offer and 9:30 last night and the next 14 hours everyone spent either asleep or trying to get to work... oh wait. And now I feel like I'm going to throw up again.

Despair - What do you mean that between yesterday when we put in our offer and today there were 5 more offers? Highest and best? We can't go any higher! We will not be the best. Annnnd we've been outbid. Again.

So far, this has happened twice and both times, it's been really obnoxious and annoying. The thing that is compounding this problem is that we kind of have to find something this month because we need to to apply for the mortgage and go through the hoop-jumping of closing before I leave my job in the middle of June. Combine the time pressure with the fact that we have to stick within our budget (which makes us unable to compete a ton when bidding starts) and the fact that the market in Burlington and Camden counties is apparently crazy, it's been rough. Also, I think 3 out of every 5 homes on the market here are short sales, which immediately counts them out for us because we don't have that kind of time. Frustrating, I tell you! I know that something will work out and we'll end up with a house that we will love and make a home, and that this isn't the ONLY HOUSE we'll ever live in for the rest of our lives... but it's still a big decision and I can't wait until this part of it is over.

7. There is a serious dearth of scientific and medical literacy in this society.
A couple of weeks ago, someone that I'm friends with on Facebook posted an article that was a response to a NY Times article that was about limiting vaccine exemptions because this whole anti-vax movement is getting really insane.

Pause. Before we go on, I am not trying to start any crazy fights about whether you should vaccinate yourself or your children. These are my opinions, so if you disagree, please do so respectfully and don't bring the drama llama to this blog. Ok, unpause.

Anyway, it's gotten to the point that there are measles outbreaks in various places, the most recent being in NYC, and people are actually dying. This is no joke. Many of these cases are contracted overseas, then brought home and spread to vulnerable people in the community. People rail about not having their rights infringed upon, but when you don't vaccinate, you're not just putting your child at risk, you're putting others at risk who categorically cannot be vaccinated. (This may include infants under the age of 1, patients receiving chemotherapy or other immunosuppressant drugs, patients who have had organ transplants on who are on anti-rejection medications, and people who are allergic to vaccine components.) Many diseases rely on herd immunity, which is a type of immunity that occurs when a specific percentage of the population is vaccinated. For measles, that threshold is between 92% and 94%, meaning that if less than that percentage of people are vaccinated, then herd immunity starts to break down and non-immunized individuals can get sick. For every individual who gets measles, another 12-18 cases can be created. Before you know it, we have an outbreak.

Every day, I read things and it is blatantly obvious to me that many people just simply do not possess the scientific knowledge or background to sift through the piles of crap that accumulate on the internet among the piles of actual information about vaccinations (and other medical/scientific topics). I don't even blame a large percentage of these people who don't know things because as a country, I feel like we are absolutely horrible at instilling any kind of scientific literacy in our citizens. One of the reasons that I want to go into medicine is so I can help educate people from all areas of life on science and medicine because I think that everyone deserves to be able to make informed decisions about their healthcare. The first step to doing that is understanding the science behind it.

When I studied public health ethics during my MPH, it became apparent to me that vaccination is just one of the many topics that turns into a personal rights versus responsibility to society at large debate, which is never helpful to anyone. Emotions run high and before you know it, the entire thing devolves into some kind of crazy "us versus them" situation. The thing is, personal rights diminish as the the amount of space you share with the rest of society diminishes; no one lives in a bubble. I respect people's right to take care of their kids how they see fit, but not when they are operating on false information or under the assumption that they aren't hurting anyone by not vaccinating themselves or their children. (Yes, this goes for adults, too! Get your flu vaccines, and make sure you're up to date on your boosters. There are lots of stories of "healthy" parents giving their newborns pertussis.) As a health professional, I see my job as healer and teacher, and one of the best ways to do that is to focus on why it's important to be responsibly healthy, in all aspects of life, not just vaccination. Maybe my public health degree wasn't a complete waste of time after all.


On that note, I'm going to wrap this up. I'm greatly looking forward to going home, getting into my pajamas, and curling up under the heated blanket with one of the 7 books that I have out from the library right now. Also, we're having roasted pork loin and baked macaroni and cheese for dinner, so to say that I'm excited is kind of an understatement.

TLDR; Go to therapy even though it won't instantly solve all of your problems, I'm obsessed with my phone and Twitter, I can't get my shit together to post before 3 pm, Pinterest is a time suck but it's still kind of fun, it's dumb to pay for a gym membership when you don't go, house hunting makes me want to throw up, vaccinate your kids and yourself.

Have a good weekend, all!

- A

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if this helps, but if you want a therapy analogy that people will get, maybe try likening it to physical therapy. You don't go in after smooshing bones and nerves and muscles together and walk out limpless an hour later. You go in, time after time, supplementing and directing the growth and healing that happens in its own time, trying to keep things from healing wrong or atrophying or fusing in a bad way. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's pleasant. Sometimes you wonder what the point is. Sometimes some noticeable progress is achieved. Mostly not so much.


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