Adventure

Update

So, I wrote a whole long blog post and it somehow accidentaly got deleted.  Here are the main points:

  • I got a job!  I’m teaching ESL to Chinese students online through VIPKid.  You must have a Bachelor’s Degree or an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and 1 year experience with children.  They prefer that it’s in the classroom, but they’ll accept tutoring, babysitting, and the like.  If you’re interested, please let me know and I’ll give you more info!  I’d really appreciate it if you use my referral link if you decide to apply:  https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=5980771  .  My first class was actually really rough because the kid didn’t speak any English and just kept repeating everything I said.  I have another class this Sunday though and I have faith that it will be better and that I’ll get better with each class that passes.
  • I have been doing a terrible job on my TBR pile for the summer.  I read through part-way through the fifth Outlander book then decided to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale even though I had just read it about a month ago.  It’s just so good!  I had a blog post about it, but I took it down as I am re-writing it along with my re-read.
  • I was depressed for seven months, then I started to feel better, but it was apparently TOO better because I became manic.  Now I’m rapid cycling which means one day (or for a couple days) I sleep all day, then the next day (or next couple of days) I have a ton of extra energy and want to do everything and spend all the money I don’t have.  My doctor put me on lithium, which brings the total psychiatric drug count up to 8 and the count of medications that can cause weight gain up to 6-7.  I get really sad when I look at pictures of me from when I was thinner and think about how I thought I was too fat and unattractive then.  Sad because I’ll probably never be that thin again and sad because I let someone make me feel gross and disgusting when I was beautiful.
  • Here are some upcoming things I’m excited about:
         SEPTEMBER- ED SHEERAN WITH MY DAD!!
         SEPTEMBER- Dad’s 20 mile swim
         SEPTEMBER- My cousin, Malea’s wedding!
         OCTOBER- Possible beach trip with my parents and my pup
         NOVEMBER- LADY GAGA WITH TIFFANY!!!
Adventure

Factor V Leiden and DVTs

You may recall that in 2015, I had quite an exciting week when I had a small pulmonary embolism and ended up in the hospital via a very exciting  terrifying ambulance ride.  They found a large blood clot in my left leg that day by ultrasound.  A few months later, after I got off of coumadin, I was tested for a variety of clotting disorders and they found that I have Factor V Leiden, a mutation of one of the clotting factors in the blood that increases your chance of developing clots.  You can be heterozygous (one copy of the gene) or homozygous (two copies of the gene).  Homozygous is supposed to be the more dangerous of the two.  I am heterozygous.

I went on a hike recently and my legs were killing me.  I assumed it was just because I was extremely extremely out of shape, but over the past few weeks my legs have really hurt and been swollen.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the car recently (even though I get out to walk every hour or hour and a half) and I became worried that I may have another blood clot, particularly a few nights ago when the pain was so bad that I had to take a leftover pain pill from the last time I had a clot.  I expressed this concern to my dear friend, Monica, and she urged me to go to the doctor.  Early the next morning, I sent a message to my doctor via our patient portal explaining the situation and saying that I thought I needed an ultrasound.  She replied as soon as the office opened saying that I should be there at 10:50 for an ultrasound and that I would have an appointment with her immediately after.

The ultrasound took about an hour as they did both of my legs.  River was very well behaved.  She got up once from her spot but came over to lay by me and didn’t move again until the ultrasound was over.  I expressed concern to the ultrasound technician when she hovered over a specific spot for a very long time, but she assured me she just wanted to be thorough.  After the ultrasound, I went back to the waiting room and was called in by my doctor’s nurse shortly thereafter.  She asked me some questions and left to scan in a copy of the genetic testing I had done (it tells you which medications are best for you and which to avoid) to my file.  She left a sheet of paper behind, which I am sure she didn’t mean to do.  I took a picture of it.

clots

The doctor came in and told me that the results were inconclusive for a DVT but that it was likely that I had one and that the ultrasound technician had sent my ultrasound to the radiologist with a request for a rush read on it.  My doctor wrote me prescriptions for Lovenox and Coumadin but told me to wait to get them filled until I heard for sure whether or not I had a clot.  She told me it was a different dosage of Lovenox from the last time I had a clot and that the pharmacy may not have it on hand and I may have to go to another pharmacy.

I left, much calmer than I thought I would be after seeing on a sheet of paper that I had multiple potential clots, and went straight to the pharmacy.  I figured that if they were going to need to order the Lovenox and Coumadin, it would be best if I went ahead and had them filled.  I reasoned that I could always not pick them up and tell the pharmacy I didn’t need them anymore if I didn’t have a clot.  The pharmacy didn’t have the medication but they ordered it and said it would be in the next morning.  The nurse called while I was still at the pharmacy waiting for my pain medication the doctor had given me and said they had found a clot in the low part of my right leg.  There was nothing I could do about it at the moment, so I went home and propped my legs up, as I had been told to do.

When I got home, I realized I had a lot of questions about my clot that hadn’t been answered.  Where exactly was it?  How big was it?  Did it block the vein completely or only part of the way?  I sent these questions to my doctor via the patient portal and this was her response:

Nonoccluisive clot in femoral vein on right; non occlusive clot in popliteal vein on right; occlusive clot of peroneal vein on right and non occlusive clot of left femoral vein. non occlusive means the vessel is not totally blocked that blood is getting past the clot So there are multiple clots in the right leg and “only” one in the left. It is fairly extensive! They do not comment on the old clot so I suspect it has reabsorbed. No wonder you are hurting. Try to take it easy and keep legs elevated. No strenuous activity. Don’t do much at all for the next few days.

So while the nurse told me I had one clot, I actually have FOUR clots and one of them is blocking the whole vein.  One clot would be scary.  Four is terrifying.  Until the blood thinners are in my system at the correct level, I am at risk of part of any of the clots breaking off and going to my lungs (causing a pulmonary embolism) or heart, or brain.  For the next 2-6 days I will be very anxious.  I have no doubt I’ll have at least one panic attack, which will feel like a pulmonary embolism, which will be terrifying.  I went to the pharmacy yesterday morning, picked up the Lovenox, and immediately gave myself the shot in my stomach in my car, not wanting to wait a single second more.  I give myself a shot of the Lovenox every twelve hours and I started the Coumadin last night.  My INR level will be checked on Wednesday.  That’s how they measure if there’s enough Coumadin in my system or not.

I messaged my doctor today asking for a referral to a hematologist.  She said there wasn’t really any point in going as I’ll now be on Coumadin for life and it’s not as though they can take me off of it to do any testing, but she agreed to make the referral since it would make me more comfortable.  I have questions that I want to ask the hematologist and I imagine that my parents do as well.  Plus almost everyone in my Facebook Factor V Leiden Support Group has a hematologist, so it seems like I should have one, too.

Anyways, that’s what’s going on with me!

Adventure

TBR for the Summer/Fall

My To Be Read Pile is growing quickly, but I wanted to share some of the books I’m hopeful I will read this summer and fall.  If I read them, I’ll try to write reviews about them so you know what I think about them (with the exception of the HP books probably, because if you know me at all, you know I love them).  If you want any of these books, I suggest purchasing from smile.amazon.com instead of regular Amazon.  You still get Prime benefits if you have Prime, but a portion of the proceeds of your sale goes to a charity, I suggest Together Rising in Falls Church, VA.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
⚯͛△⃒⃘
I try to re-read the entire Harry Potter Series every year, but I’ve been struggling with my mental health so much that I didn’t finish it last year and I’ve barely started it this year.  Pottermore is starting a book club to re-read each book and Mugglenet offers a chapter by chapter podcast that I’m interested in, so I’m hoping to do this re-read in a very interactive way.

A Study in Charlotte and The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte.jpeg
The Last of August

I read and LOVED the first book in this series, but by the time The Last of August came out, I was in the grips of a terrible depression and couldn’t focus enough to re-read A Study in Charlotte and read The Last of August.  It had been a while since I read the first book, so I wanted to re-read it before I read the second one.

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn
This is one of those books that just keeps popping up on GoodReads as one of the best YA books coming out this year, so I feel obligated to read it.  I’ve got it on my Nook and it may be one of the books I work on at the beach.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic
I still haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love, but Big Magic just kept popping up in interviews I was watching with Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown and I ADORE those two.  Plus, I love the idea of creative living beyond fear and I thought it may help me with my quest to write my own memoir.

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass
This book has kept popping up in my life and I’m really working on learning how to love myself right now, so I thought this might help provide the inspiration I need.

Almost Adulting by Arden Rose

Almost Adulting
Do you see a theme here?  I really wish I could get my life together and maybe reading enough humorous self-help books will help me accomplish that in some way.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime
This one I want to read because I adore both Trevor Noah and learning about South African culture.  Even though I lived in South Africa for 5 months, there is so much more for me to learn about what Apartheid was really like from someone who actually lived through it but is closer to my age than the late great Nelson Mandela’s (I read Long Walk to Freedom, it was indeed long and parts of it were hard to get through).

Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman

Challenger Deep
I want to read Challenger Deep because it is based on the author’s son’s struggle with schizophrenia and I am pretty much always down to read a story that is based on mental health and raising mental health awareness.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Voyager
This book I want to read because I want to know what happens in season 3 of Outlander before I actually watch it.  I’ve read the first book and part of the second, but I had trouble finishing it as I was in the psych ward at the time.  I put it down and never picked it back up.

That’s what’s in my TBR Pile/ on my TBR list.  Let me know in the comments what’s in/on yours!!

Adventure

The Intervention Letter

Tonight, I’ve been looking through my journal and blog entries that I’ve put together for my memoir and I came across this assignment that we did while I was in the Park Ridge Intensive Outpatient Program.  I had forgotten all about it, which is a shame because the whole point of it was to change my daily thinking.  I’m feeling a little nervous and raw about sharing it, but I feel like it’s important and I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, so to anyone else who feels this way, I just want to say- you are not alone.

June 21, 2016

The Intervention Letter (Assignment from Park Ridge IOP)

“The script each person reads during a family intervention is called the intervention letter.  We are going to be writing an intervention letter to ourselves regarding our negative core beliefs.

Ideally, you want your letter to:

  1. Communicate genuine love and compassion for yourself, and to convey that you only want to see yourself get better
  2. Help yourself realize the severity of the impact of the core belief on daily life
  3. Help yourself to understand that your belief and its daily self-talk manifestations and behavioral impact cause hurt and pain
  4. Clearly express commitment to accept change through challenging negative core beliefs and living as if you believed new balanced beliefs about yourself/others/world
  5. Clearly express the consequences of not adjusting beliefs and living with old patterns of negative thinking”

 

Dear Catherine,

I want you to know that I really love and care about you.  You are a kind, compassionate, loving, and giving person.  I admire your bravery.  For example, you’ve traveled the world and you chose to join the Peace Corps.  I admire how much you care about other people, as evidenced by your volunteer trip to the orphanage in Kenya, you joining the Peace Corps, you getting your M.A.Ed. in School Counseling, and the empathy you show by hurting and loving so deeply when others are hurt.  I admire the strength it took to admit that you need help and to check yourself into the hospital.  I admire your conviction and the commitment you’ve made to wellness in spite of your bipolar disorder.  I want nothing more than to see you live a full, normal, and successful life.  I know you have what it takes to do that and have the power within yourself.

Catherine, I can see that your negative core belief that you are “not enough” has negatively impacted your life.  You have avoided taking risks romantically and, over the past three years, you have spent most of your free time in your room on your bed alone except for the company of River.  You have avoided spending time with friends because of your “not enough” core belief and it has had a negative effect on your wellness in terms of the progression of your recovery with bipolar disorder.  You have, throughout your life, made incredibly questionable choices about the men you have dated because you didn’t think you deserved any better due to your belief of not being skinny, pretty, funny, smart, successful, and competent enough.  You have dated men who disrespected you, cheated on you, or were even emotionally abusive to you and who didn’t respect what you wanted and didn’t respect your body.  All this was because of your core belief that you are “not enough.”

Your belief that you are “not enough” affects your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in ways that are hurtful and painful.  Your daily self-talk of “I’m not pretty enough.  I’m not skinny enough.  I’m not smart enough.  I’m not successful enough.  I’m not independent enough.  I’m not ___________ enough.  I’m not enough.” is emotional abuse.  When you think something enough times, you start to believe it.  It also affects your behaviors, some of which I already wrote about.  You would never speak to someone else you care about in this way and you shouldn’t ever let someone you care about speak to you in this way either, not even yourself.  This obsessive and ruminating self-talk is harmful and abusive and it’s hard to understand why you would allow it to continue.  Since it has caused you to stay in your room so much, your negative core belief has affected your friendships.  Your friends are patient and understanding, but they aren’t saints and it was unfair for you to expect them to wait this long to hang out with you regularly again.

Catherine, I’m asking you to accept change.  Every time you think your core belief, I’m asking that you change it to I am enough.  I ask that you remind yourself that you are enough each and every day.  I challenge you to live as though you believe you are enough, even if you don’t always feel that way.  This may look like being more confident when stable or depressed and it may look like imposing the 24-hour rule on things that are big choices when you are manic, because you are so much better than some of the impulsive choices you have made.

One major consequence of not adjusting your core belief and of living with old patterns of negative thinking is that if your thought pattern remains the same, your feelings and behaviors are unlikely to change.  You will continue to put yourself down and may make more decisions based on the false idea that you are not good enough and therefore do not deserve any better.  It is imperative that you start making changes in the way you think and replace “I’m not enough” with “I am enough” in your thinking.

Love Always,

Catherine

Adventure

Love Warrior Giveaway by Illuminated By U!

Since we have reached 200 followers on Instagram, we thought it might be time for a giveaway! Love Warrior will be our book of the month later this year and it’s an amazing read. I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one day. It’s by Glennon Doyle Melton, whose blog you can […]

via Love Warrior Giveaway! By Catherine Cottam #ibugiveaway #compassionorbust — RAISING MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AND REDUCING STIGMA

 

visit Illuminated By U’s Instagram to enter!

Adventure, PCV, Peace Corps

Parenting Yourself in Isolation- A Self-Care Workshop for Peace Corps Volunteers

 

 

Parenting Yourself in Isolation: A Peace Corps Self-Care Workshop

My Peace Corps blog posts often still get the most traffic even though they were written a few years ago now, so I thought I would share these documents via my blog in case anyone in the Peace Corps runs across them and wishes to use them.  The last elective I took to earn my M.A.Ed. in School Counseling was a class about Parenting Education.  For our main project, we were required to create a workshop for parents.  Since I would be leaving two weeks after graduation to serve in the Peace Corps in South Africa, my professor very kindly allowed me to create a different kind of workshop for Peace Corps Volunteers.  I call it Parenting Yourself In Isolation: A Workshop on Self-Care for Peace Corps Volunteers.  I feel that I would have benefited from this or a similar workshop during my time in the Peace Corps, so even if you don’t get to do it as a group, perhaps you could do the parts that you are able to do by yourself or even just read through it.  If you have been accepted to the Peace Corps but haven’t left yet, you may wish to put this on your flash drive or external hard drive that I suggest you take with you.  I do request that you leave my name on the document and credit me properly when utilizing these tools.  If you’re looking for easy ways to practice self-care, most of which are feasible even while serving in the Peace Corps, I suggest you also check out my blog post at Illuminated By U, 50 Ways to Practice Self-Care.

Good luck during your service and I hope this helps!

Adventure

President Elect Trump

I’ve been anxious and distressed all day.  Now I’m convinced that I’m manic and hallucinating/delusional.  I have to be.  That’s the only explanation I can think of for my tv telling me that Hillary Clinton just called to concede to Donald Trump.  Maybe this is a horrible nightmare I’ll wake up from in the morning- but it feels too real.  As a disabled white woman, I have a lot to fear from a Trump presidency.  Trump perpetuates rape culture as shown by his comments about grabbing women in certain places without their consent.  Trump doesn’t care about people with mental illness, in fact, he makes fun of people with disabilities.  He’s never held public office before so he has no experience, but he’s going to be given the codes to launch nuclear missiles.

As Americans, we should be ashamed of ourselves.  I know voter turnout was relatively high, but how on Earth did we let this happen?  And why did so many people throw their votes away on third party candidates?  It would appear that the Republicans are keeping control of the senate as well, so The Donald shouldn’t have trouble pushing things through, though I think he will find it difficult to get Mexico to build a border wall or to get other foreign leaders to take him seriously.  This problem was supposed to go away on election night, not get bigger.  I have been worried about this since Trump announced he was running, but people kept discounting my anxiety and saying he would never get the nomination, let alone win the presidency.

He wants to “Make America Great Again” but I wonder which era he’s talking about when he considers America was great.  Was it in the early days of slavery?  After segregation ended but people of color were still being discriminated against and hanged?  When women weren’t allowed to vote?  When it was ok to beat your children?  When immigrants were ostracized?  When Jewish refugees were turned away?  When was America great and why are we trying to strive for whatever false ideal Donald has set for us?

What’s going to happen when Trump has to interact with leaders of other countries?  How on Earth will they take him seriously?  I’m so exhausted.  I can’t even right now.  Tax breaks for the rich, more taxes lower down the totem pole, a bully attitude towards other countries.  We’re going to cover personality disorders eventually on http://www.illuminatedbyu.com and you’ll be able to read more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which may now seem very familiar to you.

How did parents with young children justify voting for Trump?  How did parents of young women?  Parents of kids with disabilities?  I just don’t understand.

Good night and Good Luck!