I did it!!!

Whats-his-face (that’s his name now) is the instructor for the one course I’d decided “fuck it, I’m taking this no matter what!” The course met on Monday, so I had the opportunity to talk to him after class. He had the nerve to tell me to email him about something.

I glared at him until he told me, “You’re in the program!” And then I was so happy for the rest of the day, I didn’t know what to do with myself!

To be honest, being that happy all day was exhausting. It’s weird because I’m used to being kinda down, and in many ways that’s more exhausting, but I guess at least it’s familiar? Being really happy is strange and new – especially having it last all day. Maybe that’s what makes it exhausting?

I dunno, but I slept well and then I came to campus today and things have been working out fantastic! I went to talk to the music school miracle worker (aka admin). I expected a line, but she was free! There’s an ensemble I’ve joined that’s also a course? but it’s listed under undergrad… she registered me in a graduate equivalent so it will count toward my degree. She also told me I could substitute music therapy courses for certain requirements… I thought that would leave like a credit worth of work I’d still need to do – but actually we can use 2 courses to cover it completely! She emailed whats-his-face for me and he’s already agreed to make the substitution.

Also there’s a research methods course that I wasn’t able to register for because I didn’t know if I was in the program until after it had filled up… but the miracle worker said I might be able to substitute research methods in psychology. Which is really good because it’s the one requirement for the composition program that I wasn’t looking forward to.

Then I needed a new campus ID, so I walked across campus and went to the office, expecting to have to wait on line and pay for a replacement card. Instead there was one person in front of me and the admin said there was no record of me ever having a card. She had me fill out the form for someone getting their first ID card – which is free!!! I left the office carrying my new card within like maybe 10 minutes.

And then I went to a cafe that tends to get really busy, but there was only a short line. And the thing I wanted didn’t even require me to wait for someone to make it, I was able to just grab it and pay at the register – again, no line. It’s just fantastic!

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about life right now. Part of my brain is like “no way that’s gonna last” and I’m worried I might somehow jinx it? But you know what, no, it’s not gonna last. There are good days and there are bad days and there are days in between. This is a Good Day and I’m gonna enjoy it as much as I can!

Back to School

I still haven’t received feedback regarding my portfolio, so I don’t know what classes (if any) I’ll be taking this coming semester. So I don’t know what my schedule will be. So I don’t know if I can do certain things that I would like to do, etc. My whole life is in limbo right now, and it sucks.

eff that shit

I’ve decided I’m going back to school. Even if somehow I’m not taking classes (I’ll probably end up taking something) I can come on campus and use the facilities. Like practice rooms to play around with musical ideas I can use while composing. Or the library. Or even the rec center.

And I dunno maybe if I do these things it’ll put out the energy I need to make what I want happen. We can be optimistic, right?

I decided to try it today. The music building was practically empty so it was easy to find a practice room (that simply does not happen during the semester!). I did some warm-up exercises on the piano, then started to play. I ended up recording something weird and kinda fun and jazz-like? Then I listened to it and decided to play around with the audio files…

And then I was completely and utterly exhausted. Like quite possibly from lack of food – I just kinda grabbed a snack on the way out the door and hadn’t eaten in a few hours. But even munching some extra food I kept in my bag didn’t help much. Now I’m in the library not being particularly productive (I tried! but I couldn’t focus) and feeling like I want to go to sleep.

Which wouldn’t be an issue except that there’s an Italian conversation group I joined last month that I haven’t been back to. I really want to go, but like last week I completely forgot about it and this week I’m too tired to drive almost an hour, and I feel a bit awkward if I’m the only one who gets something to eat, and I had trouble hearing people last time? (which makes conversing in one’s native language hard enough, never mind a second language) and I don’t really want to talk to new acquaintances about “well I’m trying to go back to school but I don’t know if it’s gonna happen and in the meantime no I’m not working I just kinda sit around all day maybe playing games but not being particularly productive.”

My therapist suggested trying to steer the discussion in the direction of “things we’re interested in” and I could talk about music and composing and storytelling… but I dunno if I have the energy to steer anything. I just want to take a nap.

Preventing Violence through Courage and Compassion

I was so inspired to read about Antoinette Tuff, who prevented a mass shooting at her school by talking to the gunman – both trying to understand him, and trying to help him relate to her. She was terrified, but she did it anyway, and saved over 870 lives. Meet Antoinette Tuff.

copyright Every Joe / Antoinette Tuff

copyright Every Joe / Antoinette Tuff

The Healthcare Headache Continues …

I thought I had the answer: I would take a 3-credit course, in part out of interest and in part because it would make me eligible for my school’s “voluntary” part-time student insurance. But today I learned that there are no longer any part-time student plans available – whether that’s because my school dropped them, or the insurance company stopped offering them, I don’t know. I just know that I was very confused and frustrated when one part of the site still said I could opt-in to the voluntary insurance, but when I clicked the link it said no plans were available.

I’ve reluctantly accepted that they’re not offering insurance to part-time students, based on the mail-in forms having last year’s dates. They just didn’t bother to update the whole website. Lazy bums. (Acceptance doesn’t make me any less angry. It just saves me the trouble of trying the same thing over and over again just to be repeatedly disappointed by the results.)

I’m disinclined to trust the $400/month short-term insurance plan offered by an affiliate of my school’s insurance company. The very nice representative I’d talked to called back, reminding me to apply in time for coverage to start on the date I’d requested. She also re-sent the information she’d initially sent me. I’m tempted to call her back and thank her for her help. But the attached PDF clearly stated that prescriptions weren’t covered; when I tried to see if other plans were available, the one she’d recommended disappeared, so there were no plans available at all! I know I can call her back and ask questions, but I don’t want to risk wasting money (that I don’t really have) if the information she gives me turns out to be wrong.

In light of all this, paying nearly $2,000 to take a class purely out of interest became a lot less appealing – especially since a similar one might be offered for free on Coursera. I started listening to the lectures for one of my Coursera courses last night and found them to be positively fascinating. It felt so good to just soak in the information. No deciding what to wear, traveling, finding parking, potentially being late, awkward social situations, and consequences for not doing assignments required. So, I’ve decided to drop the 3-credit course I’d registered for at my school, and go the continuous matriculation route. A relatively small fee means I’m still a graduate student, really!

That still leaves the matter of health insurance.

I’ve decided against going to see a psychiatrist for the time being. The SAM-e (along with other factors) seems to be helping quite a bit, especially on days when I remember to take 2 doses of it (400 mg 2x/day, total 800 mg per day). It’s not perfect, but it’s at least as good as the antidepressants I’ve tried so far, with less adverse side effects (maybe because it doesn’t contain weird, unnatural chemicals?). It’s not exactly cheap, but I think I’m saving money over seeing a psychiatrist and paying for medication, especially if I need brand-name instead of generic. I can buy the SAM-e in 3 clicks and have it shipped to my front door – no phone tag, traveling, disclosing personal information to a stranger, and waiting at the pharmacy required. It might not be the best, but it works better for me right now. I can’t help wishing I’d found out about it years ago.

Health insurance suddenly seems a lot less important if it’s not the only way I can afford to treat my depression. Wakana doesn’t take insurance; I’ve been paying her at a discounted rate out-of-pocket. Insurance wouldn’t cover the SAM-e anyway. Hospitals are required to give life-saving care regardless of whether you have insurance. The only thing left is preventative care, which I’m hoping I can find a clinic for nearby. To my knowledge my state isn’t among the insane ones trying to shut down Planned Parenthood, so I intend to begin my search there.

(In case it’s not blatantly obvious, I hate going to see doctors. So, for most things, I wouldn’t bother seeing a doctor. If I’m miserable with a cold or something, I’d rather be miserable at home where I have access to things that help – like tea and soup – instead of at the doctor’s office.)

And in October I should be able to shop for an insurance plan on Healthcare.gov, so hopefully I’ll only lack health insurance until January. Hopefully.

Let’s be honest, I hate making these decisions. But this is the hand I’ve been dealt, and I need to do (or choose not to do) whatever it takes to protect my mental health. I’ve been burned by conventional medicine and the insurance required to make it remotely affordable, so I’m finding alternative ways to take care of myself.

Withdrawn

Dog woke me up early by barking to go out and have breakfast. I couldn’t get back to sleep, too plagued by anxiety. At the top of the list was fearing I might miss the deadline to withdraw from classes and receive a grade reflecting that I withdrew, rather than a failing grade – the latter of which, in addition to hurting my pride and GPA, might get me kicked out of school. I checked and sure enough, the deadline is TODAY.

I’m disappointed. Part of me was hoping that, if I talked to the instructors for the classes, I might be able to receive accommodations that would enable me to complete them this semester. I already have an appointment with one today, but the one who acts as my adviser can’t meet with me until tomorrow. And to be honest, considering what I need the accommodations to be, I really feel like I’d be shortchanging myself and my field if I completed the courses with them – what, to make this whole process easier and more convenient for me? Bah!

So, I went ahead and withdrew. 3 clicks, and the “withdrawal” grade is already on my unofficial transcript. I only have 2 classes this semester, classes that are awesome. I don’t have to jump through bureaucratic hoops, and I don’t have to take a medical leave of absence. I don’t even have to keep my appointment to take a midterm this afternoon.

It isn’t a scary thought anymore, it’s reality. I’m waiting for the whole world to start crashing down on me. But until it does, at least I can experience a small amount of peace.