Wednesday, March 31, 2010

School (Vicki- white/black)

I started school yesterday! I'm thrilled. I am taking 10.6 units which is two courses. One is a lab class twice a week and the other is lecture. All of my classes are 4 hours long.

Yesterday I had the first of the two days of lab. It is held at the main campus in University Heights (not named after this school but rather one of the first schools--- not a college---in San Diego located in the area). Lab entails learning the basics of Swedish Massage by giving the massage and receiving it. I certainly am looking forward to that!

I nearly had two panic attack in class when I realized that I hadn't thought out the gender thing as thoroughly as I should have. a) lab requires disrobing. b) My ID badge and all the class rosters, etc have my legal name so I am introduced as female. c) Not discussing potential gender/name issues with the school BEFORE classes start means I am forced to "come out" to my teachers and classmates in order to correct name and/or gender assumptions. I did get a chance to talk to one of the office staff during a break in class and he seemed extremely willing to help me find accommodation if any are needed. We agreed to discuss matters on a case by case basis.

I came home last night feeling good about everything. We didn't have any homework yet.

Today was my lecture class: Anatomy and Physiology. I am SO excited for this class. I have always wanted to take an anatomy and physiology class. My teacher is an intense butch-lesbian looking woman and possibly Jewish. She is a chiropractor and the epitome of geeking out about science-y stuff. She loves detail and is very animated. As far as I can tell she is a good teacher, is great at explaining things through metaphor when necessary, is hard on herself and others, and has a low self-esteem. This 4-hour lecture consisted of opening the textbook and working our way through what seemed like the glossary and an intense review of nearly every upper level science course I have ever taken. Extensive notes were written down. Everything is expected to be memorized by next week for an exam. We cover one whole body system in depth each week. That is, a whole body system in minute detail each week. At about 2.5 hours my brain maxed out and I couldn't take notes anymore. I couldn't concentrate. About this point was when we started talking about genetics and quantum physics (both topics I'm OBSESSED about) and I got so excited I couldn't really concentrate for the rest of the class. We did get 10 min breaks every hour, so that helped a bit.

So I'm home now. I had intended on blogging earlier today and then again tomorrow. I spent the day going from appointment to appointment and then coming home and taking a nap. I've been so stressed out lately that I am not sleeping well (whats new, right?). I want to focus only on relaxing and getting food into me so that I can sleep when I get home from school. But, the over excitement and feeling overwhelmed by the homework for the week has me so keyed up i can't sleep.

I realized that this might have something to do with the bi-polar, so I looked it up. Apparently, it does. A couple of things I need to be careful about is always having a "safe place" to go if I feel overwhelmed, going to school part time, and breaking up homework into small chunks. I don't do well with verbal instructions and have a hard time taking notes (I'm MUCH better now, tho, thanks to the FUND). Tomorrow my plan is to create a game plan for myself to prevent going manic in class (like I pretty much did tonight) and managing my homework without freaking out. Unfortunately, the school is so small that there is no disability resource center or even a counseling center. I have heard there is a tutoring "center". I will need to find out what is available for me there.

On a side note, thankfully, my self-diagnosis to balance my lithium levels killed two birds with one stone. I found a supplement that is magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate. Taking this along with my multi-vitamin (and being careful not to overdose, so my dosages of both are adjusted) has significantly improved my blood sugar problems!!!!! and helps mitigate the lithium symptoms. YAY! From the little research that I did, I would assume this indicates that if my body is not absorbing the amount of minerals that I need from my diet then my intestines are still very much damaged from the Celiac and while still malabsorbing, will probably take several more years to fully heal. Hypothetically, when my intestines are fully healed, I will be able to eat dairy again. I hope and pray.

Also, I look forward to the fact that becoming a massage therapist will help me manage my PTSD better and pain management from body memory trauma epicenters. Due to my lithium, I had to stop taking all pain killers last September. I am supposed to be on an aspirin regimen and continuing with my physical therapy exercises. Somehow, its like a catch-22. I feel so shitty I can't get the exercise that I need. When I'm feeling healthy enough to exercise (which I am supposed to do to manage the PTSD, stress- I am heavily dependent on two meds right now and have been for 1.5 years, and blood sugar levels- I am pre-diabetic) I am afraid to work out too much because my body is is not absorbing nutrients and I am at risk for malnutrition and severe weight loss. Good news is, I actually managed to GAIN weight these last few months! Bad news is, I can't afford to loose it because I looked gaunt.

My dilemma is accentuated by wanting to work out at the gym like the guys and look like a guy. But I'm too god damn lazy and scared to work out. I'm so pre-occupied by wanting to pass as a guy that even when I'm Vicki I find myself trying to pass as a guy. Its sad. I feel trapped. I need guy clothes. I need a guy haircut. I want to bind. I want to hang out and watch sports games with other dudes. I want people to be confused when they look at me and not know if I am a guy or girl. i want to move on with my life and not have to think about these things, rather just live them. I don't mind being my own advocate. I just mind having a look that undermines who I say I am. Starting school at this moment kinda complicates things a bit. I'm not saying that I don't want to be in school! Not at all! I wish I had sorted this all out at least a few weeks earlier so that I could get off on the right foot. I'm gunna be ok. It will all work out. .... thats why apparently I have ayurvedic energy called Kapha and when faced with the option of fight or flight, I choose the third option: FREEZE.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

No longer a concrete angel cuz I'm flying away (Bex- black/white)

I've been having a really tough time lately. I have more support with doctors and meds and therapy than most. I am extremely thankful that I get treatment at UCSD and at a clinic that is focused on serving the LGBT community, so honestly I am getting better care than 99% of Americans in my situation.

That doesn't mean I still am not struggling. I'm dealing with WAY more than any person my age should be. The only person that can pull me thru this is me. I've been really offended that the response I have gotten from my last blog has been largely negative. In that case, don't read it. If you have questions, concerns, comments, let me know! Even if it is to say, "I don't understand". Unless you people personally let me know you are reading this, I am going to keep writing whatever comes to mind as if no one is reading it. And that kind of response makes my ability to get through all this all the more difficult.

I'm sorry to see people moving on and out of my life. Some get jealous when I'm happy. Others are angry when they don't understand me. Some are interested in using me for information to hurt others. I write this blog for me, and me alone. I also write this blog to stand up as a voice of diversity.

I had a big (extended) weekend. Its the one year anniversary of a very painful series of events. In an effort to do something positive, I decided to explore some of the coastal parks near me. Staring at rock formation after rock formation that are breath taking and watching waves play over the coastline made me happy. The waves played over the rocks and stones, sand and vegetation, and tumbled over themselves. It looked as if they were living only to have fun. I realized that all that I've been through: with my parents divorce, getting sick, losing my scholarship and research at school, rebuilding my life in a new place, and then losing everything I built for myself all over again, made me forget how to have fun and enjoy life. I'm thankful that I'm experiencing this now and not when I'm older when I have so much more to loose. I'm still young. I can start again. The waves made me want to live a life that is worth living. To have fun. That life is meant to be lived only so that you can play.

So with my new insight I had my first day of school Friday evening. Then afterwards I went to "girls night" with a few friends (we have "girls nite" almost every week) and we watched Yes Man. Saturday morning I went back to Sunset Cliffs and while I had intended on finding the park and set up a blanket to read instead of exploring the coastline, I ended up in a three hour adventure that included fields of flowers (which is impressive when you live in a desert), hiking over rock formations, repelling down a cliff face to reach a beach, mini-caves, tide pools, and the feeling that I was on the TV show Lost at times with nothing but the water bottle and granola bar in my bag.

I returned home sun burnt in the shape of my sun dress and got ready to go to a country concert at Viejas Casino at one of the Indian reservations a bit inland. It brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad. Country music was one of the few things that kept me alive through High School, other than I had psychosis so bad that I was hearing voices, seeing things that weren't there, and convinced I was going to die when I was 17 in a car crash anyway. Why bother killing yourself if you know when you are gunna die and all you gotta do is wait it out, right? I'm glad I got through that despite my acting out and the lack of therapy I so desperately begged for... but I suppose its water under the bridge. Its something that I can look back and only take away the lessons I learned. One thing is for sure, I miss country music. And it makes me happy because its about emotions, hope, faith, and truth. I think I needed to let country go for a while to discover some things for myself. I also needed to find a place in my life where I wasn't constantly feeling ready to fight or flee; in survival mode. But I'm ready to play and have fun again. No one is going to bring me down unless I let them. People can say mean thing and do bad things, but if I acknowledge why it hurt and stand up for myself, I won't be the "victim junkie that can't escape" anymore.

I needed to survive and i did with the tools I had. I am learning how to survive with new tools that help me transcend.

"Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride

She walks to school with the lunch she packed
Nobody knows what she's holding back
Wearing the same dress she wore yesterday
She hides the bruises with the linen and lace, oh

The teacher wonders but she doesn't ask
It's hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she's loved concrete angel

Somebody cries in the middle of the night
The neighbors hear but they turn out the light
A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate
When morning comes it will be too late

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she's loved concrete angel

A statue stands in a shaded place
An angel girl with an upturned face
A name is written on a polished rock
A broken heart that the world forgot

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she's loved concrete angel

I'm flying away. I'm no longer a concrete angel. I'm rising above! I'm living my dreams. And i'm in a place where I feel like I am loved.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hellooooo? (Bex-Yellow)

Is anyone out there? I know there are other ppl like me. My blog used to be high on the google search but since I stopped blogging for a few years it has slipped. If you have a blog, let me know! I know my friends and family are reading this too!

Feedback and comments would be wonderful. I really need support. thanx

On a different note: I want to get my hair cut like Jude Law. When I deal with a few Alex issues, I'm going to get a wig so that I can be Vicki more comfortably. This a huge step for me. I'm terrified. I've been combing the internet and have found a dozen other people like me (gender-wise). I'm hoping to create a community.

Few people are blogging about bipolar either, although I haven't searched very hard. I'd like to say, what sux most about bipolar is that you are completely fine one minute, then you SNAP. You are free-falling into this emotional quagmire thats like quicksand. The more you struggle, the faster and deeper you go. The past few days as I have been at emotional capacity have been certainly a learning experience.

One the Celiac Front, well, unemployment is making food options scarce and gluten free, soy free, dairy free food choices that are balanced very difficult. The added impact of medications makes the whole thing more complicated as I struggle with my blood sugar, sodium levels, and staying hydrated. Honestly, leave it to me to be sodium deficient and have to find MORE processed foods to eat.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Molecular Biology (Alex- green)

I find myself at times obsessed with pharmacology. At other times obsessed with genetics. I intend on going into one of those fields, or maybe some hybrid field of the two. When something goes wrong with my body, my first reaction is, "did I expose myself to dairy, gluten, or soy?". If not, then "did I do something or eat something abnormal that might cause these symptoms?" If its still in the negative, I ask myself "Am I lacking something in my diet that might cause these symptoms?". If its still negative, I put the issue off, wait to feel better and look for more clues, especially if it happens again.

I've been really challenged by this Lithium thing. I'm having side effects that are not "normal". Lithium does not contain gluten dairy or soy. Changes in my diet or routine do not significantly affect symptoms. But when my symptoms are bad, water has no taste and my blood sugar levels are SUPER wacky.

I had noticed almost 3 years ago that when I'm "deficient" in salt I get sleepy and depressed. This is what precipitated dropping out of college. Later I learned that salt "deficiency" also makes my blood sugar problems get worse. So, I got in the habit of making myself a glass of salt water and drinking it on a regular basis. Albeit, salt seemed to have relatively little impact on my blood sugar compared to other things, so I never really paid attention to it unless I got really stressed out, which apparently led to getting salt "deficient".

Enter in Lithium. I got diagnosed with Bipolar. I started getting the same symptoms that I get when I am stressed. So I eat/drink some extra salt, and I'm fine. But when I started taking higher dosages, the salt didn't cut it. Thats when i realized Lithium is in the same chemical family as sodium. It may be indirectly or directly affecting the sodium channels in my cells that regulate water balance between the inside and outside of the cell membrane. The lithium was causing dehydration which led to headaches and bloating because water was being forced out of the cell. This in turn makes sodium levels lower inside the cell, creating a spiraling catch-22. Now, this is all an assumption, based on my biology classes, so don't quote me on this. but eating and drinking massive amounts of salt helped relieve the headaches and bloating. Problem is that purposely intaking that much salt was difficult to maintain, and I know most people don't need that much salt. It can't be healthy.

About 2 months ago I was having really bad symptoms. Sodium wasn't helping. I noticed, however, I was craving foods that I normally don't like. I realized that all of them have something in common. They are super high in Potassium. A quick search made me realize that potassium is in the same chemical family as lithium and sodium. Potassium is also critical to sodium absorption. So, I did an experiment. I increased my potassium intake and reduced my sodium intake. My symptoms diminished rapidly. Sweet!

I went out and bought a good multi-vitamin and have been taking it everyday. I finally started the Lithium Extended Release 2 days ago and had my dosage upped. I'm taking the symptoms much much better than expected. But I'm still struggling. The vitamins are not cutting it. I'm not interested in consuming half my salt shaker as salt water nor eating seaweed plain, and neither am I interested in eating gratuitous amounts of potatoes and odd foods that don't find as easily a comfortable home in my kitchen since it doesn't serve a veggie loving vegetarian anymore. My liquid trace-ionic minerals just ran out as well. What do I do?

First of all, what the hell is in the liquid trace-ionic minerals that makes me feel better when just plain sodium and potassium doesn't. Certainly, the salt I use and the trace-minerals have both potassium and sodium in them. Potassium is not the most plentiful mineral however. Its magnesium. Whats magnesium?

Magnesium is critical in the absorption of potassium. What foods have magnesium in them? Nearly every food that I don't like (which isn't many) or can't have (gluten, dairy, or soy) has magnesium. The few things that I do like that have magnesium in them I will at times binge on them for days. All of them have relatively low magnesium levels in them compared to the "better" foods, but still have quite a bit. Subsequently, I also found out that magnesium is the most critical mineral someone with Celiac Disease needs to supplement into their diet.

So, now I'm faced with a dilemma. Do I invest in more liquid minerals, do I take my recommended dosage of vitamins (I usually take a half dose) which are super expensive but have 150% the recommended dosage (and my body is still not absorbing 100% again), or do I start eating food that I don't like.

If I have more magnesium in my diet my body I will absorb & use potassium better. If I absorb potassium better I will absorb and use sodium better. If I absorb and use sodium more efficiently I can stave off side effects of my bi-polar medication (lithium) AND stabilize my blood sugar levels. If my blood-sugar levels are stabilized I sleep better, my body also doesn't react as if I'm in starvation mode, and I eat less food ($). If I sleep better and I am not always in fight or flight mode then my bi-polar episodes and mood swings are diminished.

If my body wasn't already craving magnesium in the foods i eat, I would never have discovered this. AMAZING how just one little thing can cause so many problems. Its a chain reaction of events!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

50-50 (Bex- Yellow)

Over the past 3 months I have been undergoing an intense therapy program. I'm starting to hit the deep stuff, and I have a feeling its only the beginning. Today i went to an orientation for a therapy program called DBT. (I don't know what it means) It was originally designed for patients with borderline personality disorder. Now its open it anyone. It teaches you life skills and behavioral changes. I didn't come away from the orientation very happy though.

I learned a lot about how my behavior triggered Adam. The whole thing really hit me in the face that our problems were 50-50.... even when he claimed I was the one who had the problem (obvious ones, yes). It also forced me to own up to my own problems.

The program will be good for me. I have a feeling it won't be easy though.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Best News in Months! (Vicki- Orange)


I have bi-polar. I need meds. All bi-polar meds but two have dairy in them. I can't tolerate dairy because the Celiac Disease destroyed my ability to do so. So, I can either take Lithium or Depakote. Depakote is apparently a dangerous drug with scary side affects. I've been taking Lithium for almost a year now, but I've been taking higher dosages lately and it is affecting me so bad I am not functioning well at all. Not sleeping well, my blood sugar is bottoming out at night (hypoglycemia), I'm bloated, always thirsty and dehydrated, headaches.....I have a fast metabolism so I need a higher dosage, but the side affects are limiting me to well below therapeutic levels.

I had a mini-manic episode 3.5 weeks ago. We decided 2 weeks ago to switch me to Depakote. But the health clinic only has Depakote Extended Release, so I have to wait 4 weeks for it to be special ordered because Depakote ER has dairy in it. Now, there are "safe" bi-polar meds with next to no side effects. But they all have dairy in them. The clinic I go to is part of the existing "public health care" program that Obama is trying to expand, which is the so called "Government Run Health Care". The clinics had most of their funding cut last year, so they are limited in resources. I don't have health insurance--- can't afford it---- but I get my meds and doctors visits, etc free from the public health care system (this is not to be confused with Medicare). To tell you the truth, I get better mental care without insurance than with it.

But anyway, just like last time, my manic episode was followed by a depressive episode. I have another 2 weeks to wait before I can switch off of Lithium to Depakote. I called my doctor today because my symptoms are getting worse. Apparently, there is a slow-release Lithium. Since my side effects are mostly caused by my fast metabolism, its worth a try. But then again, is it gluten free, dairy free, and soy free?

Thankfully it is.... and the order is being filled at the pharmacy now. Best news in months!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I love to cook! (Vicki- Red)

Another thing that is therapeutic for me, other than writing/blogging.... is cooking, and all food related activities including talking about food. (on a side note... I'm also obsessed with sound therapy and aromatherapy and am starting school in 2 weeks for massage therapy! I wouldn't mind learning more about art therapy either)

I've been neglecting my cookbook lately. I follow 150 gluten free blogs, have piles of cookbooks, and many friends from distant places. Being unemployed has forced me to learn how to live on a food budget that is reduced 75%. Honestly though, its been good for me. And my recipes have gotten tastier and reliable. The book is starting to take shape and show signs of personality. My goal is to let my cookbook guide itself into cohesion. So far, its been a profitable path.

This evening I perused 650 blog entries that I have neglected since valentines day. Found some interesting new facts, a new bar in Hillcrest serving gf beer, some novelty recipes (like goldfish crackers and dairy-free and soy-free sour cream), some new products to keep an eye out for in the grocery store, and a few recipes I want to try out.

I am thankful everyday that I love to cook (now baking is a whole different story and not exactly my idea of fun). I cannot imagine how I would live if I didn't, considering all of my food sensitivities and the Celiac disease. I have to be a devil in avoiding gluten, dairy, and soy. I'm so sensitive that even soy or gluten in the air will make me sick. Me being sick from gluten not only triggers a bi-polar episode (often more than 2) but renders me physically and mentally "injured" for weeks. But, I am very very careful AND I love to cook.... so in many cases, my disability is my blessing. Now if only I could say that for the bi-polar.....

one last note about something that just dawned on me. I love to talk. Often I love to talk about the same things, because they are what fascinate me. Or I like to talk about what I'm theorizing about. Writing/blogging many of these thoughts could be a significant part of me setting up healthy boundaries. I have spent so much of the last few months learning about healthy boundaries that I'm surprised that I didn't think about this before.

give me a moment here..... this is a revolutionary thought for my brain stuck in a box. I need to make sure I remember this when life gets much more complicated and I'm not at home all day.