COVID-19, BLM, Working From Home and Virtual Learning

Much has happened since early May- the last time I wrote a post. I will bullet point some events below and expand on them further down.

  • My bosses moved back to France and I will probably be working from home through early 2021.
  • My university has announced a “blended learning” plan for the upcoming Fall semester. Some people will have mostly online classes, but I wasn’t as lucky. It is possible for things to change, but for the time being, I will be on campus as per usual. Woohoo.
  • Georgia is now #8 in the United States for highest COVID-19 cases and I live in the 2nd highest county AND I go to school in the highest county.
  • I am at my heaviest weight and none of my jeans fit. I mostly wear rompers because they are easy, loose-fitting, and breezy in this summer heat.
  • My partner and I participated in a protest in Atlanta in June for BLM. We went with some other friends and it was a really nice experience. So many people were there (all wearing masks!) with their animals and kids and homemade signs- it was truly a wonderful sight.
  • My sister has temporarily moved back to GA from FL (just in time, am I right??), but she will be returning in August.
  • I have finished the PS4 game Horizon Zero Dawn and I recommend it to everyone.
  • I got into a tussle on Facebook with my aunt. I am not one to engage with people on FB, but she commented on one of my posts and I replied.
  • I am set to graduate college next year (FINALLY!!!) and I am researching companies I want to apply at. I am also researching how much money people in HR normally make because I wouldn’t even know if I am being undercut.
  • I bought a new laptop (crying face) for $840 because my old one kept shutting down on me and I can’t have that happen during an exam or during something work-related.
  • I made the BEST strawberry cake last week and I am making it again in cupcake form tonight.

So, to expand on a few things:

In case there was ever any doubt about where I stand: Black lives matter. Black trans lives matter. Black lives matter. If you don’t understand those sentences, please see the image below:

Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 ...
Kris Straub/Chainsawsuit

If you still don’t understand, I literally cannot and will not spend any more energy explaining this.

Moving on.

Overall, I don’t care about my weight until I hit the point where my pants no longer fit, and, well, we’ve hit that point. I don’t really know what my plan is next month; I’m thinking it will involve lots of leggings, sweatpants, and dresses. The wintertime concerns me because I need to dress a little more warmly and most of my comfy clothes are rather thin. I have a friend who was going to get married in September, but I think it’s being pushed back. I started trying to lose weight about one month ago, but I’ve seen minimal change. The wedding gave me a nice deadline and motivation, but I fear that that has now left. We’ll see what happens.

The Facebook Tussle: The post in question was a screenshot of a tweet that the GA governor sent out requesting for everyone to please wear masks. Above this screenshot I wrote something about how it was the dumbest thing I had seen all day because just hours before I had seen that Governor Kemp was suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms for issuing a mask mandate. My aunt got upset because she felt like the mandate was taking her rights away and also cloth masks apparently may be more harmful than helpful, so people shouldn’t be forced to wear them. I laughed when I read “rights being taken away” and “rights slowly being stripped away” because from an LGBTQ person’s perspective, I know much more about not having rights than she does. That was just a small portion of the thread of conversation, though. As mentioned above, she went on to say that cloth masks might not be as protective as we think. This prompted me to DM her for the sources that claim this. She sent me an email chain from a woman I assume to be part of her homeschooling group; this woman put together a very extensive document full of links to various articles and studies (some are pro-mask and most are anti-mask, or at least questioning-mask). I was intrigued and I started reading. I got through the first 6. I didn’t just read the summary and quotes that were pulled by the lady, I clicked on the actual links and read the entire article/study. And I found some issues. I didn’t relay any of my findings to my aunt because I didn’t want to argue about it any more and I’m not interested in trying to change someone’s mind who doesn’t want their mind to be changed. Anyway, there were a multitude of flaws in those first 5 articles ranging from the actual authors redacting what they had written to data being used from 1920 to describe the current situation in California. There was also a study that revealed the most promising results of the anti-mask argument, but then I saw it was only relevant to healthcare workers in Vietnam AND they did not monitor hand hygiene AND all data was self-reported- lots of space for human error. I then just stopped reading. Personally, I believe that a cloth mask does not directly prevent COVID-19; however, I do believe that a properly washed and a properly worn cloth mask will greatly reduce the chance of transmission. Ultimately, it is up to the wearer to regularly clean both the mask and their hands.

So, I was planning on staying with the company I currently work for for at least another 2-4 years; however, I am not making the amount of money I want to be making. If I left this company, I would be leaving a lot behind: flexibility, autonomy, fantastic bosses and coworkers- the culture is really amazing. The problem is that I am getting older and eventually (soonish) I want to rent/buy a house with my partner. I want to adopt dogs. I want to have reliable health insurance. I want more job security. Unless my company steps in up in the next 12 months, I am heavily considering going elsewhere. Of course, it could take me a while to get a job- I have friends who graduated two years ago who are still applying day after day after day and it is so discouraging. I hope I have better luck.

I think that is all the expanding I wish to do tonight. I hope everyone has been doing alright and while things are quick scary in the US right now, I feel that a great majority has come together more than ever before to not just take action, but also to listen and to understand people who they were previously indifferent towards. Support Black businesses, recycle your plastics, and don’t be an asshole.

It seems that I am struggling.

I was telling my partner yesterday how I felt like I clean the dishes all the time- several times a day even, yet the dirty dishes continue to exist. While I was trying to voice this frustration, I felt my throat get a little tighter and my eyes get a little more wet.

I would say that ever since starting therapy exactly one year ago, I have been more uncontrollably emotional. That sounds far more dramatic than it actually is. Basically, instead of bottling things up, my body just naturally releases any anxiety, fear, or frustration, and, sometimes it is in the form of crying.

In therapy I discussed my constant need to be doing something. At the time that I began seeing my therapist, I had just gotten out of a program that had my attention 24/7 with no breaks- no joke. I went from that to having ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO. It was crazy. And I felt like I was going a little crazy too.

I immediately started looking for a new place to live, a new job, and I made sure that my class schedule for the upcoming semester was desirable. In between all that I made my best efforts to visit all the family and friends I hadn’t been able to regularly see before, during my service year.

Things got overwhelming, my body panicked, and I relied on therapy to get me through it. My therapist and I hit a lot of topics and they are all documented on this blog; you’ll just need to scroll back to maybe June of 2019. It was a lot.

This quarantine has been really stressful for me in regards to my mental health. While I enjoy being inside and away from people, I also love going out with my partner and I really like going to work and feeling like I did something productive that day. I find putting on jeans exhausting, but I like the way I look in them and it boosts my self-confidence.

I haven’t had the need to put on jeans to go anywhere. I haven’t been able to see the people I care about as much as I’d like. I also haven’t been working as many hours at work and my duties have slightly changed since the lockdown. Things are different in the world, but the way I measure my success and productivity is the same as it’s always been. I think this time has shown me that that’s a possible issue.

I know that I am more than my accomplishments. I know that simply doing a load of laundry is a productive activity. I know that not all progress is immediately visible.

But it’s hard.

I have decently high standards for myself and I’ve really been working on cutting myself some slack over the last year. Sometimes, though, I do get impatient and annoyed with the lack of tangible progress.

Regarding work, my hours have been cut in half and I was supposed to start working officially full-time by this point. My upcoming summer class is a math class and I purposely chose an on-campus day/time because I learn this subject best that way (I suck at math, big time!). My partner and I had travel plans and those were, of course, cancelled. I was also looking forward to exploring Atlanta more and trying new bars and restaurants; my girlfriend and I even agreed on a weekly date night where we try out only new restaurants on a list we created.

I also don’t do well with unexpected change. I suppose I do adapt rather quickly and I always get through it okay, but the immediate effects are always scatterbrained thoughts and mild panic.

So, yeah, things have been harder than I thought they’d be. It’s all good, though. I have an amazing partner and the weather is beautiful and I still have lots of things to look forward to. I wish us all the best for the remainder of 2020 and I’m optimistic that things will take a turn for the better.

Megan’s Birthday Month!

It is my birthday month. It is the season of Pisces I am told. I’m not really into astrology, but I’m told Pisces is “a sensitive water sign”. Cool beans.

Anyway, I am currently at school trying to take a test, complete a marketing assignment, and sign up for free Taylor Swift tickets. Part 1 of the test went well; I got 100%, so I hope Part 2 goes just as well. I know I’ll complete the marketing assignment; it is not difficult, just tedious. The Taylor Swift ticket website has me in a sort of queue, so that’s super exciting. Woohoo.

Some updates:

  • I officially graduate college next May with a B.B.A. in Managerial Sciences and a completed Human Resources track. I’m not sure if that’s worded correctly, but that’s that.
  • I have all of my braces on now. I got the rest of them glued on last Thursday. The pain is finally next to none; however, I still struggle chewing crunchy foods.
  • I will be starting full-time at my job on June 8, 2020. This makes me eligible for 2 weeks of paid vacation, so that’s cool.
  • I will start summer classes on June 8, 2020 as well. I am only taking one class: Corporate Finance. I am NOT looking forward to it and I know I will struggle; this is why I have only signed up for that single class this summer.
  • My German grandmother is visiting next May (for my graduation) and Chelsea and I will fly back with her (most likely, nothing is booked yet).
  • My hair is getting quite long; we are officially at under-boob level. Woohoo.
  • My dad almost adopted a Great Dane named Dash but then he didn’t. Sad day.

A Sad and Anxious First Day of School

Yesterday was day one of my Spring 2020 semester. I had only one class at 12:30pm. As per usual, I arrived an hour and a half early to make time for traffic, me getting lost, and any other emergency situations.

Turns out that I made the right decision in getting to campus ridiculously early because I spent 40 minutes trying to find parking that wasn’t full and would also accept my budget card that I just loaded $105 on. I finally found the sketchiest parking deck on campus; it also happened to be the one furthest from my class, so I got a nice walk in too.

The actual class was fine, but because of it being a new professor, new classmates, new room, new seat, etc., I was feeling a little jittery. I also hadn’t eaten enough or drank enough water- that’s on me. The whole parking situation didn’t help either, of course.

Unfortunately, my German grandfather also just died- as I was walking to class, actually, my mother texted me and my sister. So, that sucks. My mom just got back from Germany 5 days ago and now she’s going back for the funeral.

I have one of my evening classes today. I am trying to plan where to park because when I get out of my class it will be dark. I will attempt to park where I normally park because it’ll be after normal hours and the deck will hopefully not be full at that time.

Work update: work is going well, I hope they’ll ask me to be full-time soon.

For Me, A Big [and difficult] Decision

Ever since I can remember I have been involved in extracurricular activities in school as well as additional hobbies outside of school.

Between 1st and 12th grade, I remember being enrolled or a member of gymnastics, dance, soccer, Concert Band, Marching Band, Environmental club, Science Olympiad, Gay-Straight Alliance, German club, and a sort of anti-genocide/genocide awareness club. Starting in 10th grade, I also started working after school and after marching band practice.

At age 15, I started juggling school from 7am-3:45pm, marching band practice from 4:30pm-6:30pm, and when I didn’t have marching band, I would instead go to work from 5pm to 10pm. In between those three activities, I tried to hang out with friends and family, but it was a lot.

It’s seven and a half years later, and I’ve never slowed down since then. Today, I am enrolled as a full-time student with 6 classes, I hold a 35hr/week job, and I commit to working weekends at my uncle’s bike shop, as well as dog-sit/house-sit for my grandma when needed. Among all of these activities, I am also trying to make time for family and friends, as well as a new person in my life who is very special and important to me.

Yesterday, for the first time, I was told that I didn’t have to deliberately put such a heavy load on my schedule. When it comes to family and friends, I think they see me somewhat as invincible- and I think I tricked myself into believing that as well. Sure, I can put all this on my plate and I can get through it- but at what cost?

So, after my meeting with my (1,000th??!!!?) advisor next Monday, I will formally withdraw from my Marketing class. It’s not a difficult class, but it has added a lot of extra “stuff”. I will also be telling my grandmother that I cannot dog-sit/house sit in October; the drive from her house to school and my work is too much to do for one week. When I am at her house, it also requires me to work more from home since I have a dog to take care of, and that isn’t always ideal. Lastly, I will probably tell my uncle that there are a few Saturdays that I cannot work due to school.

The main point here is that I don’t know how to slow down. I don’t know how to say no to family. I don’t know how to budget my time so that it involves leisure and fun. I don’t know how to make myself accept that I am, in fact, not invincible, and that I don’t need to put myself through this all the freaking time.

So, I’m figuring this out. I’m going to do my best to put what I learned in therapy to use. I’m going to learn how to not be so hard on myself. I’m going to learn how to budget “fun” into my schedule and make it mandatory. I need to accept that saying no does not translate into being weak.

It’s a tough habit to break, but here’s to slowing the fuck down.

My Anxiety

My anxiety always feels like I can’t take in a full breath. It always feels like yawning and then not hitting the “top” of your yawn. It’s a heavy weight on the top of my chest. It’s shallow breaths. It’s a fear of not being able to breathe and not having anyone there to help.

Once on the brink of a panic attack, my legs and arms get tingly/partially numb. Everything around me begins to sound like white noise.

From there, it goes one of two ways: either I sit down somewhere and ride it out or I start trying to implement my coping skills and hope it goes away.

I have a few coping skills/tools and some of them are silly, but when you feel like you can’t breathe, there’s not much you won’t do to relieve it.

  • sitting down/squatting in an almost fetal position seemed to calm me
  • applying makeup, specifically eye liner or mascara that would require more concentration
  • eating food
  • brushing my teeth
  • shaking my hands and arms to get feeling back into them
  • podcasts for distraction
  • calling someone on the phone
  • writing in my journal

I also have collected prevention tools over the years and I don’t use them all, but I’m sure it would help.

  • When I first went into therapy I was told to use something called the Alpha Stim SCS.
  • Since the end of May of this year, I’ve also been trying CBD oil. Honestly, I haven’t felt much of a difference, but I also haven’t been taking it regularly for the past 3 weeks.
  • I’ve been drinking more water and eating more healthy foods.
  • Sometimes I take lavender pills.
  • I try my very best to get good sleep and enough of it, but that has been a lifelong challenge that I can expand on in another post.
  • I do not consume a lot of alcohol, and when I do, I limit myself to a single glass of wine or beer.
  • I stay away from caffeine.
  • I’ve been trying to move more through stretching, just getting up more at work, and actual exercise, but I’m lazy and sometimes I can’t be bothered even though I know it would probably help immensely.
  • I continue to push myself to do things that make me a little uncomfortable because you have to conquer the things you fear to overcome that emotion.

My anxiety has never kept me from going on adventures or living my life, but it has limited how far I would travel for those adventures and it gets annoying when all you want to do is enjoy yourself, but these “what if” questions won’t stop buzzing.

It’s a struggle, yes, but yesterday’s therapy session felt promising. Read more about it here.

Why Therapy?

I went to therapy for the first time when I was about 9 years old. It was shortly after my parents divorced. I had my first panic attack around that time as well. I think most of it stemmed from separation anxiety I had when my mother wasn’t close by.

When I got a little older, I didn’t continue therapy because I didn’t notice much change and I was also told that I would probably “grow out of it”. To some extent, I think I did. I don’t have separation anxiety anymore, but I do have anxiety towards other things.

Not dealing with loss and grief has been a huge issue for me that I was recently made aware of by my current therapist. If we define “loss” as the “ending of something” (not necessarily death), then I have experienced a lot of loss in my life that I have chosen not to emotionally or mentally process/deal with. As a result, my body stores those emotions as anxiety and it gets periodically released as symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks.

For a while, I thought I was able to track my triggers (loud music, crowds, thunderstorms, tornado sirens, yelling/shouting), but over time, the attacks seemed to be more random.

I was able to count the number attacks I had during 2018-2019 on one hand up until the end of May of this year. As I was looking for a home, a job, and I was also dealing with (I actually wasn’t dealing with it at all) a fresh breakup, I found myself hyperventilating at the nail salon. The old familiar feeling was back in full swing.

2 weeks, a house, and a job later, the panic attacks and anxious feelings subsided. I’m 99.9% sure that my anxiety was caused by the stress of not having a home or being employed.

Let’s fast forward to today- to today’s therapy session to be exact. Today was one of the best sessions I’ve had since starting. I’ve discovered a lot of things in the past 2 months. I’ve also acknowledged a lot of things in the past 2 months.

  • I am hard on myself.
  • I have a fear of failure.
  • To me, setting goals+achieving said goals=success/life purpose

Today was the first step of me including all parts of me in an acknowledgement. What that looks like is: “I acknowledge that when I think about [insert whatever makes you anxious/scared here (for me it was elaborate solo travel)], I get scared and nervous, but I also have powered through similar things that have also made me scared and nervous.

Instead of saying “X makes me feel scared”, I’m including the fact that yes, I feel this fear, but I’ve also fucking powered through fear before.

I’ve shut parts of myself down over the years. I’ve shut down Grieving Megan. I’ve shut down Angry Megan. I’ve shut down Sad Megan. I’ve even shut down Excited/Hopeful/Optimistic Megan because I have a fear of getting my hopes up and then being let down and feeling stupid for letting myself get them up in the first place. I’ve silenced all these parts of me and the voices that belong to them. Today was a step in letting them be heard.