Little Things That Make Me Smile

Hi friends! Since last week the blog was a little bit of a downer, I’m going to overcompensate for it with happy things this week.

Yesterday was a pretty cool day in grad school world (read- it was chill). I’m stuck on research since I ran out of an etching material and Amazon’s 2 day shipping is not shipping fast enough. So I decided to head home a touch early and get some reading in.

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Reading is way more enjoyable when you are outside and have a beer. If you have any doubt of my nerd status, I was excited about reading this…

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Yeah it’s a textbook. Yeah it’s complicated. Yes I am way too excited about reading it and finding useful information.

Since Steve was at the library studying, it was just me and Indy for most of the night. Usually when Steve’s gone, Indy is pretty mopey and sits on her bed and ignores me. Last night, however, she hopped up on the bed to be my Netflix-watching buddy. Only, she kind of missed the bed and landed on me and promptly decided I was much more comfortable. It was pretty damn cute.

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Other things that make me smile is the Wench house tradition of getting window decals/stickeys/idk-what-you-call-em-but-they’re-a-dollar-at-target. We typically buy things that spell out ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Easter’. These cheerful greetings do not last long because we enjoy rearranging the letters and seeing how long it takes someone to notice. Here’s the latest scandalous anagram…

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Note: this is a combination of “merry christmas” letters and “happy st. pat’s day” letters. It now says…. Scram pappy. Its a shart. thyme ryds. (sometimes we have to make up words since there aren’t enough vowels in the holidays)

Today was soooo pretty out! So Steve and I ate our lunch outside by the fountains! So pretty ‚̧

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We had some leftover spiced chickpea wraps that were stuffed with carrots, cucumber, and spinach. Super healthy!

Speaking of healthy…..(like my transition there??)….a side effect of both of us training and trying to save some money is that our diet has unintentionally cleaned up quite a bit! Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t grab fast food every day before, but we ate out a decent amount and that adds up! We’ve really started cutting back on eating out and such because we’re saving up money for…..(drumroll please)….A TRIP TO EUROPE!!!!

We’re going for 2 weeks and are super stoked! My family will be with us for the first week while we hit up Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Then we’ll go to Berlin, Barcelona, and have a short day in London. My brother, William, will be with us for most of the whole thing ūüėÄ It’s our first time to go to Europe so we are crazy excited and are saving up as much as we can (on our limited grad student budget) so we can live it up while we’re there!

Any suggestions on places to go, food to try, things to see…are more than welcome!

Keeping it Cool – Training Week 3

Hi friends! How was your weekend?

It’s a semi-slow start to my Monday, so I’ve taken advantage of it and tried to plan out my week in my bullet journal. But! Since it’s rest day, here’s my recap of all the training I did last week for Raleigh 70.3!

  • Miles run – a lot
  • Miles walked – some
  • Miles biked – like 50? 60?
  • Yards swum – too little
  • Goggles broken – F*$@ing pieces of $&^!
  • Times I have grossed myself out because I am covered in dried sweat, bug carcasses, and grime – Ewwwwwwww
  • Bugs eaten – none accidentally! or on purpose for that matter
  • Roadkill seen – squirrels, raccoons, ummmm some unidentifiable creature that could have possibly been an alien
  • Time spent training – 7:40 ish

 

 

Capture

 

Here’s the illegible training summary for my week. There are only 3 red blocks this time!! I didn’t post last weeks’ because yeah…..that was a lot of red. Now let’s break it down!

Monday –¬†As usual rest day! Aka Amanda drinks an extra beer day! Aka Amanda binge watches Game of Thrones or Dr. Who or Downton Abbey day! The best.

Tuesday – Aaaaaand here’s where we started to go downhill (mentally anyways). I got a good 12.7 miles in on the trainer in about 50 min which breaks down to around 15 mph. It’s always hard to wake my legs up and get them moving at a decent pace at the ungodly hour of 6am. I had my 2500 yd swim scheduled for that afternoon, but instead I found that my goggles refused to gogg and instead flooded any time I stuck my head under water. Sooooo the angry Amanda stopped by the store and got¬†2 pairs of goggles AND a cute running top just because.

Wednesday – Another shit day at work so I left early and went on my long run at home. Usually the hills I tackle on my long run by the NC Art Museum and Meredith College kick my ass. Luckily I was a little out of my head (reminder that running is 80% mental sport) so I did 10.0 miles in 1.5 hrs. A 9:11 min/mile pace. Btw these hills are what tore my IT band back in November so I have a bit of a vendetta against them. Curse you 15% grades!! This really wore my legs out, cause yeah, my head wasn’t actively managing my pace so I went a bit faster than I like to for 9+ mile runs. Oh well. At least it was a good challenge!

Thursday – The weekthatshallnotbenamed continues. I felt pretty good on the swim and even attempted a few flip turns. Although one time I totally missed the wall, I got water up my nose like 5 times, and I thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of the men’s swim team. Yes I know I looked like a fish out of water attempting those flip turns. No need to judge dudes-in-spandex. I did 1800 yds in 38 min (including all my rest breaks) so I’m pretty happy that I did the whole workout and finished 2 min early. It’s the little things ya’ll. The trainer ride ended up being kinda late at night and I watched Game of Thrones for my easy spin. Did 9.9 miles in 50 min. Nice and easy.

Friday – I woke up early to get a morning run in. I regret not taking my phone because those pink clouds/sunrise were¬†gorgeous. Seriously. Vibrant blue sky, pink clouds, and green grass. Love it! Did 4.5 miles in about 42 min and took it pretty easy. I walked a bit during this run since it was supposed to be an easy run. I also walked a bit cause I’m lazy. I also also walked a bit because it was pretty and I like looking at the pretty sky. The work day was pretty rough so I skipped my swim…..sad trombone.

Saturday РTotes did nothing. I drank green beer and grocery shopped like a champ!

Sunday – Brick day! Since it was a lovely day out, I went on my long bike ride outside! The second half of the bike course for Raleigh 70.3 is a LOT of short, steep, rolling hills. Which I knew about, but was completely unprepared for, last year. So, I’ve been riding the course backwards for all my training. I start close to the finish, bike out towards Jordan Lake, and that way, on my way back, I’m a little tired and it kinda simulates race conditions. Brilliant right?!? -looks proud of self- I was gonna take a picture of all my gear that I pack in my car for a brick, but the goldfish memory struck again and I forgot. Anywho, I biked out to a Sonic in Holly Springs where a bunch of teens were hanging out. And OMG I was so uncool. I overheard one girl asking her friends what was wrong with my shoes! ūüėÄ But I hung out for a bit while eating my granola bar and then hopped back on the bike to head home. I kinda regret not getting any fries or tater tots.

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All in all, I did about 39 miles in 2.5 hrs. Which is roughly 16 mph. I felt really good the whole time and only started struggling on the last hill up to my car. I then hopped off my bike and put my running shoes on for an easy 20 min run after with some not so awesome jelly legs. It did feel great to finish though!

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My main mistake on the whole day was not eating enough before working out for 3 hrs. Oops. I was a little hungry when I got home and may have tried to eat Steve -sorry Steve-.

This is my first ‘rest’ week of the training session so things will be a bit lower intensity this week. Luckily, the weather is supposed to be great so I should be able to get outside for most of it!

See ya tomorrow!

 

An Irish adventure

Yay date night! and it was the weekend that downtown was celebrating St. Paddy’s day too. Amanda taught me that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland which I’m a little skeptical of but it seems nice of him. I don’t know exactly how you drive snakes out of anywhere. Do you shout at them? Do you chase them with whacking sticks? Do you raise a large family of mongooses? I don’t think getting rid of a snake problem by starting a rodent problem is a great solution, and then who drives Rikki Tikki Tavi and his family out of Ireland? In any case, St. Patrick, if you’re reading this could you stop by and help us out with our copperhead problem?

Our plan was to go to Centro for dinner. When we got there, after 8:00, we were told there would be an hour wait. In my shocked state I allowed them to put us on the wait list and take my phone number down before leaving to find that the Hive was much better suited to our schedule. We walked in, sat down and had beers in hand within 10 minutes. That is when Centro called and said they had a table available, 13 minutes after telling me there would be an hour wait.

Dear Centro,

Your food is amazing, but get your shit together.

Love,

Steve and Amanda

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Amanda got an amber ale. They were all out of the Death by Hops cask of the night but I got another IPA that Amanda decided to try. Here’s a picture of her reaction, I think she really liked it!!!

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Next up: dinner. We were both pretty hungry by now. What is it about daylight saving time that pushes your dinner schedule back an hour or two? We still get hungry at the same time but just decide to be unhappy about it and find a snack before finally getting around to dinner. The loaded tots at Busy Bee/The Hive are amazing so we started with those.

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I got the left hand burger with onions cooked in some stout I think and sharp white cheddar cheese

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Amanda got a chicken sandwich with some kind of basil pesto, pear and honey. Amanda won this time and about bit my face off when I tried to steal it from her.

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After dinner we went to Tir na Nog for some Guinness followed by some cheap green beer. Immediately upon walking in Amanda joined two guys calling the hogs. They were so happy to run into another Arkansas fan I think they fell in love. This really set the tone for a great night of watching and interacting with very interesting people including one guy I overheard telling a stranger about how the settlers didn’t even have cell phones and they managed to find their way home so he didn’t really see what the problem.

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There was an Irish rock band called The Fighting Jamesons playing. The high energy, small venue show reminded me of my punk rock days back in the 90s. I went to lots of shows in little hole in the wall places with my old high school friends back then. I nostalgia’d HARD.

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My first time in a mosh pit in I guess 15 years was fun although I did get my glasses knocked off my face. They got pretty mangled before I was able to find them since there were drunken horses stomping around. Luckily I ordered them from China for 30 bucks so it wasn’t such a loss.

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While searching for them I found a set of keys and saved a couple from a ruined night. The girl looked like she was about to kiss me or Amanda or both of us after their frantic search ended with me asking if the keys were theirs.

We also saw an entertaining wrestling match between some guy and two cops. They tackled him to the floor of the bar and carted him off for a free night’s stay in a suite cell at the city jail.

We also saw some bagpipers at the bar for some authentic Irish celebration. Amanda was surprised to learn there is a bagpipe class available at State so I figured I’d let you all know too.

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All in all we had a blast. At the end of the night Amanda drove us home since my glasses were smashed. Thankfully we were not smashed and didn’t suffer too much the next morning. Probably a good thing that they were all out of jello shots ūüėČ

Have you had any adventures out on the town lately?

Blank Space

So if you haven’t figured it out from the last couple of posts that I haven’t had the best week, well here it is. It’s been a shit week. And since I said last week that I’d talk about grad school and depression, I figure there’s no time like the present to have that important, albeit sad, conversation.

TW: This super long post will talk about depression, suicide, and contain lots of curse words. If any of these topics is triggering or upsetting to you, please skip this post and stop by tomorrow when we are back to our usual debauchery.

Sooooooo depression. Yeah.

It’s no secret that going to grad school can amplify or even cause anxiety, depression, and/or other mental health issues. If you don’t believe me, just Google it. Seriously, people have gone to grad school to talk about how grad school messes up your brain. How fucked is that?!?

Maybe it’s due to the innate character of people to have the desire to go to grad school, mental health issues are going to happen to us whether or not we get higher education. On the other hand, maybe the culture and high-stress atmosphere that come with ANY grad school experience (Master’s, PhD, MD, any field) are to blame.

I’m not going to talk about what everyone else goes through because ya’ll can read and I don’t want to speak for others. So, I’ll talk about my struggle with depression and how I cope with it while in grad school.

I started going to therapy soon after I started grad school in August 2012. Why? Well I was completely alone in a new city, had no friends nearby, had just gone through a pretty rough breakup, was way overloaded with taking 4 classes and having a full time TA and full time RA, and had no idea how to handle the transition from undergrad to grad studies. Any one of those things is enough to throw some people into depression and I still have no idea how I functioned for a full month like that before getting help. Pretty sure 99% of surviving it was the pure habit of getting out of bed, feeding myself, etc.

I decided to go to therapy after one night and 2/3 of the way through a bottle of wine¬†perusing the internet for depression advice. I came across The Bloggess and Hyperbole and a Half, both of which are fantastic blogs and talk about depression and such. (totes check them out for a laugh) Since I’d been suicidal, I got put on what I like to call their ‘watch’ list, aka I was immediately escorted to a therapist and they get super worried about me if I miss an appointment and will have me meet with any other available therapist if mine happens to be out. The first year or so of therapy was spent talking about the damage my previous relationship had done. It took a lot of work. And I didn’t make much progress.

The lack of progress was mainly due to the whole school/research overload thing. My grades fell and I got my first C in my life. To some people that’s nothing to freak out over, to a perfectionist in grad school it was crushing.

So what was it actually like?

Well. Imma quote Allie Brosh here and say;

“The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.¬†¬†I¬†had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness ‚ÄĒ annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself.¬†And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there’s a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different”

There’s no way I can phrase that better. I’ve always valued the ability to remain calm under pressure and to be relatively unaffected by pesky emotions. So at first, not feeling anything was awesome. I could do anything without consequence! I was finally the kick-ass engineering, running, superwoman robot I had always dreamed of becoming! What I did not notice, however, was that although nothing bad affected me, nothing¬†good affected me either. I stopped wanting to run, work out, cook, sing, hang out, read, study, everything. Everything I enjoyed stopped being enjoyable. I had the capability of going through the motions, but had nothing to put into them.

So, because I’m a type A, perfectionist type of person. I forced myself to do them. How? Well, I signed up for races and put money down on it. Now, I¬†had to run or else I’d die in the marathon. (Yes, this is an exaggeration, but it’s how I had to think). There is a downside to this method. You start to resent what you used to enjoy. Sometimes my parents and childhood friends ask why I don’t sing anymore, well, I don’t want to resent it by forcing myself to do it. Depressing thought right? Now you start to get it.

I’m an engineer. That means I see life as a challenge or puzzle and there is a series of logical steps I can follow to get through any problem. No friends in a new city? Join a running club. Etc. So that is how I approached my depression for about 2.5 years. Guess what. There were some times when I got it right and was happier (changing labs) but overall, I was still emotionless and didn’t enjoy anything. So imagine my frustration when, after 2.5 years of logical problem solving to my depression, I WAS STILL DEPRESSED. AND I was drinking a lot as a coping mechanism.

To summarize, I suffered from severe depression and grad school for 2.5 years while trying a variety of coping mechanisms. Putting money down on a race or competition was the best thing, because it gave me a deadline¬†and it cost money and¬†sometimes endorphins. Increasing alcohol consumption…..not my best idea but whatever. Giving myself a damn break every now and then. Grad school is completely crazy and it will wear you down. It will make your depression worse. You’ll make it even worse by forcing yourself to work harder. Don’t do it and give yourself a break. I tried group therapy for a while, it was a female grad student group, and it was great but I was too depressed and anxious to get much benefit from it. Realizing that I was a worthwhile human being and owed it to myself to get into a better lab environment helped a lot, but not completely.

This past November was when everything really sunk in. Life was never going to get better. Nothing would make it better. I thought of¬†every possible road my future self could possibly go down and each one depressed me (family with kids?!?, successful career?!?, quitting grad school and becoming a barista?!?). I never thought about ‘killing’ myself. I just wanted everything to stop. Just. Fucking. Stop. No obligations, relationships, commitments, activities. Nothing. I didn’t want people to care about me so that I¬†could¬†stop existing and not feel guilty about it. There was a point when the semester got super crazy, where I almost purposefully drove into a tree. Not to ‘kill’ myself really (although I wouldn’t have minded that side effect) but to hurt myself enough to where I’d end up incapacitated in a hospital and not have to fulfill any obligations for, like, a month or so.

After telling my therapist about all that, we decided that I DEFINITELY needed medication. So I’ve been on Prozac ¬†for about 3 months now. I can actually¬†feel things now (although I can’t cry…the fuck is up with that?). It’s not an instant cure-all. There are still¬†weeks days when depression takes over. It actually takes a lot of work and the meds don’t magically make you happy again. They make it¬†easier to reach a state of happiness. I can function. I can go to work and actually get things done. I still can’t plan ahead anymore (planning out a week of groceries like I used to?! HAH!) and I still don’t have the levels of energy I used to. But I can do my job. Running isn’t a chore. Taking a shower isn’t an insurmountable task. The little things. I can do those. And that makes it a little bit easier to do the bigger things.

I’m going to stop here and take a break from this wordy post. See ya tomorrow!


 

Have you suffered from depression? (if so, you totally have people who love you and are here for you) What did you do to cope?

Goggles That Don’t Gogg

Hi everyone!

Hope you are all having a fantastic week. I definitely woke up originally thinking it was Saturday. Then I was kinda like “Oh that’s silly Amanda, it’s¬†clearly Thursday”. Then I realized it was Wednesday. It wasn’t my favorite way to start the work day.

Especially after having a bit of a rough Tuesday.

It’s generally agreed upon that Spring Break is awesome. Beach time, drinking, partying, making horrible decisions, all that good stuff. For grad students, Spring Break is awesome for different reasons. Awesome parking, no classes, catching up on research, all¬†that good stuff.

It also means that everyone under the sun has decided that this is the optimal week for MEETINGS! AAAAND MORE MEETINGS! 30 min meetings! 1 hr meetings! 4 hr meetings!

By the end of the day yesterday I was not a happy person. This was exacerbated by my body re-adjusting to my normal dose of antidepressants. This resulted in my mood looking somewhat like this..

I figured a trip to the pool would cheer me up and I had a 2500 yd swim planned. (Note the use of the word had)

My goggles broke about 500 yds in. Now for some people this isn’t an issue. However, I am blind as a bat and wear contacts and pool water + contacts = contacts decide to relocate to the rear of your eyeball. Not to mention that the last time I tried to swim without goggles and just closed my eyes, I ended up swimming into a ladder and getting 5 stitches in my eyelid. Sigh. Basically my swim was ruined before it really even began.

I would like to emphasize that this was NOT enough exercise to generate happy endorphins. And this was NOT the happy swim I had planned. My mood continued.

When I got home I decided that the only solution for my mood was an abnormally large glass of wine

This totally counts as a workout btw.

Let’s hope today goes a bit better!

-BTW those awesome cartoons are by Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half. She’s awesome and doesn’t post anymore but check her out anyways because she’s hysterical.