31 January 2012

End of Fall 2011 - Part II

It has been a while since my last post. You might need a fresh cup of coffee for this one. (Actually, I just posted Part I, but that was written over a month ago. I've been slow in posting.)

Fall semester-- academic train wreck. During the last week or two of classes, and during finals week I finally began to feel a bit better. I was able to get some of the work done that I’d missed and salvage some points. The fact that I was able to get anything done was a surprise. In the last week before finals I accomplished more than I had in the previous month.

The change was, I think, due to the increased venylafaxine dose. It has helped. The “fog” is still there sometimes, but it’s maybe a little clearer and I am able to concentrate on what I’m doing some of the time.

I was able to get into the VA to meet with my psychiatrist; he’s retiring soon, so I’m being switched to a new psychiatrist. This is actually okay; he takes good notes (as well he should, as he teaches at the medical school here) so my next doc will be able to pick up with me and go forward. He did send me to the lab to have blood drawn, mainly to see if my thyroid is functioning properly-- if it’s not, that might explain why my ass is dragging much of the time. He’s also looking into what other medication options might help.

Over the course of the semester, I let a lot of things slide. One of those was my apartment. “Tornado aftermath” is probably a good description. I discovered the hard way that my lease/sublet provides for my landlord to do walkthrough inspections, and of course with my place looking like hell I heard about it. I’ve managed to whip things back into shape, mostly. Letting things slide is a good indicator that something is wrong, but when you’re depressed and anxious you can’t see the blinking light through the fog.

I took some time off from work, and spent a week visiting my best buddy from Desert Storm days. (I felt encouraged that I made the decision to go, booked a flight, bought bus tickets, etc. The web does make it easy, but there was more than one point there and on the way back where I felt good about being able propel myself across the country and back safely.) The trip was a good idea, as I was able to get out of the routine here and be in a place where things are normal. A house full of family over the holidays is of course an adventure, and there were times where I got overwhelmed. When that happened at the house, I was able to gracefully slide into a quieter room, or outside. When out shopping, etc. with the family, I just slid out the front door of the store or waited in the van.

Vacations are never long enough, but I extended mine by a couple of hours at Chicago-O’Hare. One simply cannot pass through Chicago without consuming a Chicago-style dog. Stopping to eat meant I was cutting it close to get my regional bus back to campus, and I missed my bus anyway looking for the stop. (The Transit Center is across both lanes and through the Hilton, as I discovered.)  Well, since I’ve got time... yeah, hand over another Chicago-style dog. Nom nom nom.


Now, it’s a new semester, and this is where things get interesting. I need to talk to a dean to hopefully clear the hold that’s been keeping me from enrolling in classes. I’ve been skittish about that because how do you explain that a failed semester is how you learned an important lesson about yourself?

PTSD is a disability. ADA says so. It makes doing everyday things difficult-- things like school, and work, and relationships. I’ve always looked at PTSD as something that I have to overcome. If I can just work hard enough, get enough therapy, get the meds right, I can do this. Eventually it’s just gotta come together, and then I’ll be normal and happy. Right?

I know, some people think PTSD can be “cured”. I disagree. If it can be cured, then there’s something I can do or take or stop doing that will definitely result in PTSD no longer interfering with my daily life. A Men in Black style memory eraser is the only option I know of, and that’s just a movie prop. I can hope for the cure, or I can focus on doing the best I can to deal with my world as it is. So there are days when I won’t make it to class, assignments where I will need extra time, and crowds between classes where I’ll be anxious and just have to press on. I’ll need to be in a pindrop quiet room to take exams.

Most important, I’ll need to ask other people for help. Some of these people are already on board-- the disability resource center, my doc at the VA, most likely my professors and TAs. I’ll need help from classmates and friends and other veterans.

I can’t do this alone.

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