I Could Have Been Labeled a Terrorist

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Sometimes I feel like I live in an entirely different world than the one I grew up in. One thing I am greatly thankful for is that there wasn’t the sensitivity to threats of violence or stupid immature outbursts when I was a kid and teen. I think about how common it was when I was a kid to joke about “blowing up the school” when you were mad, or how easily we threw around the “I’m going to kill you!” threat. Of course, we didn’t really mean it, to us, it was just a way to express frustration…but if kid me were to make those comments today in school, I would likely be taken away in handcuffs.

I also think about a stupid reaction I had as a teenager to a betrayal by someone I had a huge crush on. This person I had a crush on had been sort of leading me on and making me think that we might have a future together. We worked together at Burger King, and he was a few years older than me, but probably not much more grown up. When I found out that he had been lying to me and was secretly in a romantic relationship with someone else we worked with, I was SUPER PISSED. Both of these people I worked with had pretty much lied right to my face about their relationship numerous times and one day at work I simply went off.

Everyone else was gossiping about their affair and I was pulled into the conversation. Several knew how I had felt about him and asked if I planned to do anything. Being someone who was viciously angry and has always had a dark sense of humor, I said maybe I should go set their house on fire with them inside. Then I remembered that the girl had a daughter and I corrected myself by saying I would make sure I got the little girl out first. It was a dark joke. Clearly not something I intended to do, just a way to let off steam. I have often thought though that if that were to happen in our world’s current climate, I seriously could have been arrested for making terrorism threats.

It is these memories I revisit when I see stories about kids getting expelled or investigated for making pretend guns out of Pop-Tarts, shouting something in anger, or making pretend shooting motions with their fingers. I think of how stupid and immature I used to be and how I lacked the wisdom to see the potential consequences of a rash, snide comment or playful dark humor. I certainly understand our world’s over-sensitivity to these things today, but I can’t help but think of how naively innocent I once was when I would foolishly spout off without thinking it through.

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Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

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Over the weekend my husband and I took a short vacation to Louisville, KY to celebrate our 15th anniversary and spend some quality time together. I did have a good time, but I must admit that I dread and sometimes even regret vacations just as much as I look forward to them.

Why? Simple. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Vacationing when you have CFS sucks. Big time. Planning the vacation wears you out. Packing wears you out. The travel wears you out. Even though I don’t do the driving, I am still exhausted by the time we even get to our destination. Often, as soon as we get to our hotel I immediately have to lay down for at least a couple hours to recuperate, even if it is only a 2 or 3 hour drive as this one was.

The main excursion we planned was to the Louisville zoo. We had never been there before and both my husband and I love animals. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge zoo, but by the time we had toured about half of it, I was in really poor shape. I had to sit on each bench we came by and rest. I even had to make do with the floor a few times and just collapsed. I was nauseated, felt like passing out, developed a migraine-like headache, and felt extremely overheated, even though it wasn’t that hot out and I stayed hydrated. Heck, most of the buildings were even air conditioned. THIS is what living with CFS is like.

I didn’t get to see much of the rest of the zoo. I was too busy looking for places to rest and recuperate for the trek back to the car. My legs ached so badly and felt so weak that I feared they would give out on me multiple times. My entire body felt like I had been run over or slammed into by something big and heavy. Somehow I did make it back to the car (after resting many, many times on the way there), and then we went directly to our hotel so I could recuperate for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have the stamina to go out for dinner a few hours later, so we ate at the hotel.

I went to bed early, hoping I would feel better in the morning, which didn’t really happen. The next day we visited a cool indie bookstore I had wanted to go to, but I was almost too tired to even enjoy that. We went and found a place by the Ohio River to sit and watch barges pass by, which was peaceful and relaxing. During the drive times to our locations, I curled up with a pillow and laid my seat back to doze.

By the time we headed back for home, I was too exhausted to care about much of anything. When we arrived home, I went almost straight to bed, even though it was only 5pm. The next day (Labor Day), my hip and back were so sore (with a pinched nerve thrown in), that I spent most of the day laying in bed watching a Lake Placid marathon on the Syfy Channel. Any form of movement was excruciating.

All of this makes me wonder if vacations are really worth the trouble. It also makes me wonder if maybe sometime soon I will need to get a motorized chair to even survive simple outings like this. I hate to give in and do that, but my worsening symptoms make it an almost certain possibility eventually.

Waterfalls and Baby Snakes

Yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful. There is something so magical about the first day of the year that is warm enough to wear shorts! Or maybe that’s just me… Anyhow, since it was so lovely out, my husband and I took some sandwiches to a local park for a picnic and then took a short hike to a waterfall.

Along the path we found two baby snakes! They were so adorable! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good picture of either of them, but I found this picture online that is pretty much exactly what they both looked like (although one was much tinier, maybe a newborn):

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I’m pretty sure they were some species of garter snake, but not sure. We did get a picture of the small waterfall:

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It is amazing how spending time in nature can really elevate your mood. I’ve heard nature described as a natural antidepressant, and I would have to say I agree in many ways.

Ever Heard of Sexual Anorexia?

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Last night I was looking through book giveaways on Goodreads and happened to spot a book about “sexual anorexia”. I’ve studied psychology and mental health issues for years, but that was a phrase I had never come across before. Now curious, I had to Google it and found the subject rather interesting.

Apparently, just as anorexics starve themselves of food, a sexual anorexic starves themselves of sexual experiences. Some do so because of strict religious or moral beliefs, but the majority do so because of fear of intimacy and trust or a history of sexual abuse. There do seem to be some who seem to have OCD issues about sex as well, and avoid it due to a belief that it is repulsive or disgusting. This last category seems especially hard hit because they tend to beat themselves up or feel degraded for even having sexual urges in the first place.

Often the sexual anorexics that are afraid of intimacy and trust might still indulge in porn, masturbation, and such, but they avoid actual sexual encounters with others. They often choose to be celibate, but some do get into relationships and then find ways to avoid actually being sexual with their partners, which obviously can lead to major issues between couples. I found it interesting that there is also a category of “sexual bulimics” which are people who might go out and sleep around a lot all at once, but then will starve themselves of sex for a long while afterward.

I know this may seem like a weird subject for a blog post, especially when I don’t have personal stories or experiences to share, but I find stuff like this fascinating. The intricacies and oddities of the human mind never fail to amaze me.

Being Too Clingy and Possessive

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I can be a bit possessive, especially when in a close relationship. I’ve always been like that. Even as a kid I would get jealous sometimes if my friends had other friends or wanted to do stuff without me. I’m not sure why, but I am easily prone to feeling left out or threatened by outsiders. However, I know this dynamic isn’t exactly healthy and I am trying to learn to let go a bit and not be so demanding by monopolizing anyone, specifically my husband.

It may be my autism, since I have heard it is typical of autistics, but I don’t make close relationships easily. I usually only have one or two truly close relationships at a time, and I can definitely be guilty of being clingy or insecure about those relationships. For the past 16 years, my closest relationship has been my husband (as it should be), but my husband is a bit different from me in what he needs socially.

Socially I only need those one or two people, although it can be terrifying if those relationships are threatened, since it is so hard for me to connect with others and build closeness. My husband on the other hand seems to desire more social interaction and the chance of making more friendships than I do. He wants to feel a part of things more than I do, as I am more of a homebody.

So, I have been working at letting go some and not feeling resentful or frightened by him reaching out for other friendships. It is still hard sometimes and honestly there is still a big part of me that thinks he should need absolutely nothing else in life but being with me…but I know that isn’t realistic or healthy. Does anyone else out there struggle with issues like this?

My Poor Husband…

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Sometimes I feel truly sorry for my husband. From what I have read and been told by psychologists and psychiatrists, he has a rough road to travel. Asperger’s can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Bipolar can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Long-term chronic pain and chronic illness can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. PTSD can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. And my poor husband has to deal with them all on a daily basis…

Of course, when we married fifteen years ago, I didn’t know I had any of these conditions or that I would develop some of the others. I did already have chronic foot pain and issues with depression and anxiety, but nowhere near as bad as I have them now. Nor did I have a true understanding of what was causing the symptoms I sometimes experienced, whether they be mental or physical. I wish I could have warned him, but I simply didn’t know myself.

On the positive side, he has definitely been a trooper. He always steps up to the plate and is there for me and willing to do anything he needs to do to take care of me and help me through the confusing mess that is my mind and my body. If anyone in this world has shown me the meaning of true love, it is him. And I am thankful.

*By the way, for great advice about marriage counseling, check out this article from BetterHelp!

Bipolar or Borderline? Part 1

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Although I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 mood disorder, honestly, I wonder myself if it might not be Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) instead, or even in addition. The reason I say this is that so many of the stories of other Borderlines hit close to home and so do the symptoms. My greatest fear is fear of abandonment, and has been since childhood. It doesn’t matter if that abandonment comes from rejection or death, it all feels like being abandoned to me.

As a child I wouldn’t even spend the night at friends’ houses normally because I would have panic attacks at night and end up calling my mom to come get me. I was always afraid something would happen to my family or they would somehow be gone in the morning if I wasn’t there with them all the time. This fear became much, much worse after my dad died when I was 12. After that, my fear centered on my mom dying or leaving me, which wasn’t helped at all when she remarried when I was 15 and started dumping me off on anyone she could while she went on trips with her new lover.

When I got married at 20 years of age, that fear transferred to my husband. At first I feared he would just get sick of me and leave or find someone else he liked better. I was extremely insecure for a long time. I would get upset over the silliest things, like thinking he loved the kids he worked with more than he loved me. It was ridiculous. The one and only time we have been apart since being married was when I went with a church group to Tennessee for a week. One night during that week he told me he would be home by 10pm, so I called him after that and couldn’t get an answer. I freaked out, and ended up leaving 19 tearful messages for him within an hour because I was so scared something had happened to him.

Fortunately, I have matured over the years and my fear of my husband leaving me or cheating on me has greatly reduced due to his loving nature, although deep down I know I must still have some of those fears because I have nightmares about those things happening. However, now my fear focuses mostly on my worries that my husband will die before I do…a fear that might be somewhat justified by my being about a decade younger than him. This fear of something happening to him is so strong it literally gives me panic attacks if I think about it too much.

My fear of abandonment and rejection greatly affects my ability to develop other relationships because I tend to push people away before they can get too close, mostly out of fear of them rejecting me once they really get to know me. I know I have poor self-esteem and a flawed self-image, which I’m sure I will address further in part 2 of this post.

* Art by Maranda Russell