13 November 2015

No rest for the weary

I'm in study break mode right now, because I spent the better part of the first 10 hours of today working on statistics, the 16 weeks crammed into 8 weeks version. I wasn't able to get into the class(es) I wanted this semester, and I needed more math, and the professor teaching the class is the same one that I had for calculus 2. And, well, statistics are everywhere. There's so much reported now that it's sometimes hard to tell what's based on valid theory and what's based on what sounds cool and gets the most ad impressions. There is also a lot of data available, and the more tools one has to analyze and interpret all of that data, the better. And I like math, and this is my first stats class (although many of my other math classes have at one point or another included something that's included in basic statistics).

The class is entirely online, which throws a curve ball of a different sort-- no physical class means I don't have to worry about the distractions I have to deal with in a classroom. Not having to follow a particular schedule means I don't have the extra stress that goes with getting out of the apartment by a certain time to get on a bus at a certain time to get to the class. I don't have to worry about missing class, or missing the bus and being late.I do, however, have to worry about making sure I spend enough time working on doing the reading, doing the homework, and reviewing the material so that I get everything done and submitted by the end of the week in class time, which is every Monday at 2359.

It's work, and it takes a lot of time. I've settled on a routine of first reading each section, taking notes on the new definitions and procedures and equations.Then I work on the online homework, often filling in blanks in my notes when needed. We're encouraged to use technology, and so I'm doing most of the homework in Excel LibreOffice. Each section of a chapter has about fifteen problems, but some of the problems have ten parts that have to be figured out. It feels like I'm going very slow. I need to use my notes and the book often, to go back and look up a formula or a definition of something I know I need to use, but can't remember the details of. After the homework for a section is done, I go back through the book section and make flash cards for definitions, concepts, and formulas. Every week there's a quiz. Coming up very soon is the midterm exam.

Up until the moment this class started, I had something of a routine going. I'm not saying it was the best routine, but I at least could count on my waking hours being those that got me to work while generally keeping myself isolated from the world during busy times of day. As the world around me was waking up, I was headed home to get some sleep. I'm still on that kind of schedule, mostly, but now I need to study during a large portion of my waking hours. That's still the hours before zero dark thirty, but I'm finding it difficult to carry my ass to bed after studying for several hours-- my brain is still moving, worrying about the homework that didn't get done as much as it is processing the homework that just did get done, plus everything else that my brain's processing at any given moment. So I stay up too late, and then when I do finally fall asleep I'm so tired that I sleep for forever.

The routine is broken, and I haven't settled on a new one yet, and it's starting to be a problem. I got a lot done this morning between 0230 and 1030, but since then I haven't been able to focus on anything because I haven't sleep, and because I jammed on statistics for more hours in a row than I probably should have. I didn't go home to go to bed because I knew if I fell asleep, I'd sleep through the meeting I have coming up today at 1630 at work, possibly the student org meeting I have after that, and the way things are going lately maybe even work later tonight. After work I'll go home, and sleep until whenever tomorrow, and then it's already Thursday night and I have a week's worth of stats studying yet to get done by Monday night.

I'm pretty sure this is what they meant when they first talked about burning the candle at both ends.


I have a lot of stuff going on in a broader sense; it was one thing to say last fall that I'd be moving west in a year and a half, and it's quite another to say that I'm moving in less than a year. I don't have a great sense of time anyway-- my iPhone says it's Wednesday, November 11, so it must be-- there are so many things that happened 25 years ago that seem like they happened yesterday. A day, a month, a year, it's all the same. There are also quite a few things that I hope to have done, or resolved, or gotten rid of, before next August. I knew shortly after deciding to head west that some of them won't be finished, and I'm increasingly all right with that. Moving has so much attached to it, that it's usually not graceful when it happens.

There are deadlines approaching. If I'm going to transfer schools, which is looking more and more like a possibility, applications have to be sent and received before certain dates. I'm not even sure which school I might transfer to, and the possibility exists that because of grades (there's that semester that being evicted from Porchlight's shelter right before finals affecting things again) I'll be limited to where I can actually get myself accepted. Computer science is popular again, and some schools want high GPAs from transfer students. Then I have to figure out what classes will transfer and what classes won't, and see how far back I'll be pushed from graduating.

It's already Thursday night; technically Friday morning. Shit.

I'm often reminded of what the Vet Center said-- not the last person there, who said I was just fine and that I didn't need the Vet Center's services, but the person before that. She suggested that I was basically "retired", that I didn't have to do anything more than take a class at a time for as long as it takes, that I could keep doing exactly what I'm doing (and working where I'm working) until whenever, don't worry about the future. Utter horseshit.


I'm angry lately, far more than I'm used to being. I'm not generally an angry person, even with PTSD, but I'm more easily spun up because of all of the things that have happened over the past three years or so. There are so many unresolved things, where there won't ever be a resolution-- there's no one to complain to that will listen, no one that both cares enough to do something and that can actually change anything. I recently heard that the entirely useless case manager I had in transitional housing recently retired, and the others will eventually do the same or move on to somewhere else. I'm not sure that I'm seeking closure, specifically, but it's something like that. All of the anger that I had to push down in the name of day to day survival never really got dealt with, and there's no productive place to put it.

I know I need to talk to the VA again soon. I need my medication adjusted, the PTSD has been varying daily from pretty annoying to pretty horrible. Surviving the past few years has meant keeping myself mostly isolated, shields up, don't let anyone or anything get too close. I don't trust anyone. I'm extremely hyperaware, pretty jumpy, I avoid people and places, the nightmares range from WTF? to terrifying, all of those things. I don't have much faith in the VA right now though; I was on a handful of pills every day, in therapy, in groups, learning to be mindful, doing all of the things when I first became homeless. None of those supposed-to-be-helpful things prevented me ending up on the street, or actually helped me get through school, or made my life easier to manage-- I dealt with being homeless, I get myself up every day and carry my tired ass in to school or work. I'm moving through life but I'm feeling (sometimes very) rough around the edges.

My most recent experience with the VA, dealing with interns who will disappear after a few months and groups that limit the number of times I can participate, hasn't helped. Cognitive based therapy definitely helps, but it needs to be something substantial and meaningful. Medication helps-- I feel like total shit without it-- but I question its value because I'm on medication, and I used to be on a ton of medication, and it didn't prevent things from falling apart. I'm not seeing anything from the VA that suggests that they have anything new to offer.

It bothers me to no end that I've had no contact with the VA for several weeks, that the last appointment I had I missed, that I was in a group for veterans who were there for prolonged exposure therapy needed because of PTSD from combat, and no one has called or sent a letter or anything to see if I'm still alive.

That's probably what angers me the most. That for all the shit I've been through, some of which was the VA's fault, no one seems to give a shit. If I thought it would do any good, I'd go in and flip over some desks, make a scene, send some papers flying around, but I'd just get myself arrested and that wouldn't fix anything. I'm not that guy anyway. Still, that's why I haven't called to make an appointment, or headed to the VA hospital-- I used to believe that doing so would help, but I don't believe it now.

I don't have anywhere else to go for help, though. I don't drink or smoke or use (and I don't want to start), so that avenue of self-medication is out. So I just press on. Good things happen when I put in the effort, and even if I'm rough around the edges, that might be all right for now. Realistically, I'm going to try to get there next week and have my medication bumped up one notch, and then I'm going to try to find some time to go over my binder of cognitive-based therapy notes. Maybe if I stop expecting anything from the VA, I'll be less disappointed.

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