Life

Life/blog update — semester recap, school stress, recovery

Hello! I haven’t posted in a few months! The reason why is that I had a really busy semester at school. I was taking 5 academic classes, instead of the 4 I had taken the previous two semesters, and it was a lot. They were also all hard classes; there wasn’t really an easy one I could blow off. All of my classes were for my major, mechanical engineering.

To be honest, it was a really different semester from any I’ve had in college so far. It was a lot busier, but it was often a good busy. I wasn’t as dragged down by my mental health issues! (!!!) !!! My ptsd really has been better since I did the trauma work. I was still anxious, and I had some depressed periods, and my ptsd was still there every now and then, but overall I felt a lot better than I’ve been feeling the past few years.

I was actually able to do the work! I don’t think I would have been able to handle the workload if I’d taken these classes a year ago. In fact, I couldn’t — I dropped a class both semesters to take 4 instead of my original 5. I had more free time for homework this past semester because I was spending less time upset.

I was also less lonely. I spent a lot of my time with my fellow mech e’s (mechanical engineering people) because we had mostly all the same classes. I like seeing people often, not just once a week. I like having people be part of my life and texting me to ask if I’m okay when I don’t show up to class.

It was also stressful — school itself was stressful. I know that school is known for being stressful, and many of my friends have been complaining/venting about this for years, but school had never really been that stressful for me until now. I think it’s because there were always other things stressing me out more than school. My stress about family members dying and whatnot gave me some perspective, and I prioritized other things above school and knew that if I didn’t complete my homework or do well on a test, it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

It was like I had peeled a thick blanket off to reveal a messy heap of broken parts underneath. I had thought that my ptsd (the blanket) was the main problem in my life (and it was a big chunk of my problems), but all my stress about trauma-related things were covering up my other stresses, insecurities, and ineffective ways of coping (the messy heap). With less of the ptsd, I could see the rest more clearly, and it wasn’t pretty.

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peeling back the blanket

It turns out I do get stressed about school. A lot. I care too much about disappointing my teachers and letting people down when they have high expectations for me. I feel pressure to do well. I’m really bad at working in a lab group.

My health isn’t great. Eating is hard and has been hard for a while, which makes my health worse. I don’t know my body very well, and pushing myself too hard in dance has led to some injuries. I missed a couple days of school because I was in too much pain to walk to class.

I’m uncomfortable with lots of things to do with dating and sex. I’ve never dated someone, and I’m not sure how I would. If that makes sense. Like, what the relationship would look like, what stuff I’m comfortable with, which stuff I’m scared of but could get over, who the relationship would be with, etc. It’s just stuff I’ve got to figure out for myself at some point.

I have a lot of social anxiety and often think that people hate me or are trying to kill me.

I’m still really sad about the losses of my grandmother and uncle last January. My family feels really small, like it has suddenly shrunken.

But…. I can do something about all of these things! I can work on these things in therapy! Little by little, it’s going to be okay! Lots of great things happened this semester, too!

I finally got to choreograph a dance in my dance group!!! 🙂 😀 I’ve been wanting to do this for so long. It was wonderful, though stressful at times, and it was really fun to play around with the formations! It looked great on stage, too, and I got a lot of compliments on it!

I have some good friends! I became closer with one friend this semester, and it was amazing. She’s really fun to be around, and we laugh a lot, but she can also be serious, and she’s helped me through some dark moments. She also replies almost right away when I text her! :O For whatever reasons, I’ve never had a friend before that both replied to my texts quickly and whom I wanted to text back quickly. Texting her doesn’t make me anxious.

I took on a leadership role in a sustainability club I’m part of, and it was fun to get more involved and have more responsibility! Plus I’m friends with almost everyone else who has a leadership role, so hanging out with them was fun, and I felt included.

And I do like my classes and my major. It took me a long time and lots of anxiety to decide what to major in, but I’m glad I chose what I did. It seems like a natural (not necessarily easy, but natural) thing for me to do. Mechanical engineering involves a lot of geometry, moving parts, forces on this and that, this goes here so that happens, this affects that, etc. and I think that’s just how my mind works. That’s how I like to think. I like making things. I like figuring out how things work. I like understanding the world around me.

So when it’s hard, at least I know that this really is what I want to do.

Overall, it was probably my best semester of college yet. 🙂 It was the hardest academically, but other aspects of my life were the best they’ve been in a while.

Anyway, I hope to have some more free time (which doesn’t always translate to me doing more with my time, lol…but maybe) over winter break, so I want to get back to writing more! I like writing. It helps me make sense of things. Sometimes when I’m thinking through things in my mind, I imagine what I would say if I was writing it as a blog post, and that seems to help me be more logical. So I already have lots of ideas in my head for what to write. 🙂

I’m also going to try to comment more on people’s blogs! I read some of them in my email, so I have been reading, but now I’ll (hopefully) actually comment, too! 🙂 

I hope you’ve all been well, and I wish everyone the best in the new year!

Coping Skills

Websites — anxiety symptoms, grounding, grief, student with mental illness

I’d like to share some websites I found recently that I really like and have found helpful. (to be clear, I’m not getting paid by these websites or anything; I have just found them helpful and want to share them in case they could be helpful to others, too)

Anxiety symptoms:  This one lists a ton of symptoms associated with anxiety and describes what they feel like and what causes each symptom. I have struggled with identifying what I am feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally, describing it, and knowing when it is something worth worrying about or something harmless. This website helps by including lots of different ways people might describe a certain feeling or symptom.

For example, the “dizziness or lightheadedness” description includes feeling “off-balance, unsteady, that you might faint or pass out,” “difficulty placing your feet because your perception of the ground may seem wrong or incorrect,” feeling like “your legs may not support you,” and about 10 others. It notes the different ways dizziness can occur, like out of the blue, in waves, persistently, at varying intensities, etc. The page also offers possible anxiety-related causes of dizziness, like hyper- and hypoventilation, an active stress response, persistently elevated stress, and sleep deprivation and fatigue.

I think this is useful if you want to understand what is happening in your body or mind, learn more about anxiety in all its different forms, put a name to things, or to help with hypochondria and differentiate between illness and anxiety symptom. A list like this is something I’ve felt a need for in my life for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally found something like this.

(https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml#symptomslist)

Grounding techniques for coping with flashback and distressI think I’ve linked to this website before, but I really like it, so I’m sharing it again. It lists a lot of things you can do right now if you want to become more grounded. It’s easy to read, even if you’re in that flashback-y state and are having trouble concentrating. I had bookmarked this site a while ago, and I recently used it again when I really needed it because I had it conveniently bookmarked. It was helpful. If you think bookmarking this site could be helpful to you, too, then I recommend doing that! 🙂

(https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/flashbacks.htm)

What’s your grief: This is basically a blog about grief with lots of niche topics that are written about in helpful ways. I hadn’t really dealt with grief, at least not debilitating grief, in my life before the recent deaths of my uncle and grandmother. This website helped me understand it, see how normal it is, think about how I’m grieving / going to grieve, and gave me some recommendations for movies about grief (Coco and Mary Poppins Returns, apparently! I’ll have to check them out! 🙂 ).

(https://whatsyourgrief.com)

Saving your grades from a mental health crisis (by Not Yet Hermione on Tumblr and rewritten in what I think is a more readable way on 7cups here): This is a guide on how to deal with school when you have a mental health crisis or near-crisis / rough time. It has helpful and realistic tips and things I didn’t think of, like asking to submit homework through email if you can’t make it to class to turn it in (something I could have used earlier this week but that didn’t occur to me) and making time for “I feel like crap” time in your schedule so that you don’t avoid your emotions and don’t just push through all the time. And the guide reminds you that your mental health is more important than school and has some encouraging things to say, which I kinda knew logically but are still nice to be reminded of.

(https://www.7cups.com/forum/StudentSupport_114/StudentMentalHealthSupport_1211/Savingyourgradesfromamentalhealthcrisis_193340/ )