Abnormal Psychology

This semester I am taking Abnormal Psychology. The class bothers me, so far, for many reasons.

First of all, I thought I wanted to be a psychologist. But so far I feel like I am not understanding the more in-depth material which makes me feel less confident about guiding people through their emotional issues. Also, as I start to learn the (very dry) intricacies of psychology, it becomes less appealing. The rules of ethics are a bit too shady for my liking, and the many different research methods confuse me.

Aside from the academic aspects, many things annoy me about Abnormal Psych.

Very often we are given *extreme* cases for examples to understand terms. Murderers, kidnappers, and people who have acted out in extreme ways are often discussed. The discussions of these people are often followed by the teacher saying that most of the time, people with psychological disorders are not dangerous. But every time we talk about someone with a psychological disorder, they are presented as dangerous. What kind of light are you portraying people with psychological disorders?

We have been taught that asking someone if they are suicidal does not induce suicidal thoughts. It’s comparable to asking how someone is sleeping. If you ask someone how they are sleeping they won’t suddenly go from a desirable sleeping pattern to a poor sleeping pattern or vise versa. This bothers me a lot. Do people really think that asking if someone is suicidal will induce suicidal thoughts?

Why do we treat individuals with psychological disorders so poorly? Why do we outcast them? Almost 50% of the population has experienced a psychological disorder at some point in their life in America (if I remember my statistics correctly.) It upset me so much how psychological disorders are portrayed in the media!

It seems as though the medias logic is that if every shooter is psychologically disturbed (which they probably are) then every psychologically disturbed person is a shooter. Which simply isn’t true!

I can’t wait until I’m out of Abnormal Psychology.

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Packing, Packing, Packing!

Tomorrow I move back into my closet at college. I have very mixed feelings about all of it.

This evening I was looking in the deepest corners of my room for things that I could use in my dorm room as decoration. Last year, although my room was pimped out, my cork board was barren, especially compared to my roommates. She put old cards up on her board among other things to spice up her end of the room and that’s my intention this upcoming school year.

I do not get rid of my cards very much. I have birthday cards that are over ten years old, Valentine’s, Christmas, Graduation cards, you name it. I am realizing that I have hoarding tendencies.

It did not take very long for me to get emotional while sorting through my cards. I realized how much I am loved by such a large group of people. How my friends and family are proud of me and my accomplishments and understand my adversities.

It was especially emotional for me when I came across cards from my deceased grandfather that I called Grampie. Although I did not have a strong relationship with Grampie, he passed away when I was about fourteen and I miss him a lot. I wish I asked him more questions and I wish he could’ve lived to see me as a functioning person. He always asked if I was feeling better and I almost always said yes because I didn’t want people to worry about me.

Packing is very difficult. The teary-eyed experience of searching for cards made me not want to have cards in my room. Some things are too sacred for a dorm room!

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Overly Emotional

I do not understand my current fragile, emotional state that I am in.

Earlier today we were given a fairly large sum of lobsters by a person my mom affectionately refers to as, “The Lobster Fairy.” This individual gives us lobster annually for no real good reason other than to be a friend and to do a random act of kindness, from my understanding.

My mom was trying to find a place for the seven live lobsters so that they would be more comfortable and not stacked on top of each other in a cramped pot. I was also trying to take a picture of all of the lobsters. Even though I have grown up in Maine my entire life, lobsters are a specialty for my family and need to be documented, in my humble opinion. I tried moving the ice packs out of the pot so I could get a nice picture of the lobsters. When trying to remove an ice pack very carefully, I nudged one of the lobsters on accident. Where I then proceeded to apologize to the lobster. “Oh my God I am so sorry.” When my dad killed the lobsters later this evening via boiling water, my only instinct was to cry. They are innocent beings that do not deserve to be burned to death! How emotional am I? Why not hug a tree while I’m at it?

I also got upset with my dad this evening for no real reason and have been having dramatic waves between wanting to cry and wanting to yell at people.

I wish I didn’t feel so angry and hurt and that I could find my center. I had such a hold on my center just a little over a year ago and I lost it and I really am working on getting it back. Being the best version of myself involves lots of thought and self-awareness and sometimes I get so lazy but it is so important.

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Going Back to School

College is starting up again very shortly. I move back into my dorm on Sunday and my classes start on Monday. My school does not allow a lot of time for the upperclassmen to get acquainted but, I can cope.

This is both a good and very difficult time for me.

Aside from the somewhat normal stress that I am dealing with over packing and making sure that I know where my classes are (one website says that my classes are in one building, and the mass-emailed syllabus says otherwise) I am dealing with a lot.

Last year the transition was easier for me, and I’m guessing my parents, as well. Since I had not gone to school from fifth grade, going to college seemed spontaneous and almost miraculous. I had a very sudden transition of being a child who was crippled with anxiety to being a can-do, capable person. A week before school started I attended a week-long orientation with my program. The orientation involved making my program familiar with the campus, going on a camping trip, and building relationships between all of us. We learned about leadership skills and how to be group oriented among other things. It was a brilliant experience that I wish I could have again. Immediately after the camping trip, my program dropped me off at my dorm that I was supposed to move into, my Mom and Grandmother met me at my dorm, I moved in, and suddenly I was a college student.

It felt like a celebration because I was incapable for so long. No one seemed sad. My parents didn’t seem unsure of potential poor decisions I would make. Everything felt good.

Now, the transition seems more sudden. My parents will be moving me in and dropping me off at my dorm. There will be no ease into the situation. There won’t be any kind of orientation or camping trip. Now all of the emotions that were supposed to run during my freshman move-in are running now.

I am moving on to a different chapter in my life. I am becoming more independent and responsible whether I like it or not. I am an actual college student. And now, more than ever (even right before I started college last year) I am unsure if I am emotionally capable of being at college. My anxiety, after all, has been rather high for the past few weeks.

I feel like I am betraying my parents moving out this year. My parents haven’t said or done anything in particular. I regret that I don’t do enough with them and that I waste so much time doing stupid things. I am so sad that I have to be at school and not with them. I want them to know how much I love and appreciate them and it feels impossible to express. I wish I had done more things with my dad and played more piano for my mom.

After all of that being said, I am excited to see my friends from school that I haven’t seen in a while and have the social aspect back. I just really hope I can do it.

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Medical News

It is time to admit some things that are difficult for me to talk about.

A few months ago, while I was in school, I was nervously touching my face when I noticed a bump on my jaw line. It didn’t hurt but I figured it shouldn’t be there after comparing one side of my face to the other. Even though I discovered the bump late at night, I texted my mom that there was a tumor in my face.

The next day, my mom didn’t respond to my text because she assumed that my overdramatic-self was referring to an acne flare up. I told her about the tumor once more, she visited me to check it out, and since then we have been investigating this “thing.”

We went to my orthodontist to look at x-rays. The x-rays were very simple and lacked a lot of detail and were taken around the time that I was 12. You could see my “thing” starting to grow almost eight years ago. Crazy! My doctor ordered another x-ray to see what the “thing” was. When I went in for my appointment they didn’t take me seriously at first, thinking that I had a swollen lymph node or a minor cyst. After my x-ray they told me that I had extra bone growing out of my jaw. There wasn’t much to worry about, but I could get a second opinion on it.

So I was referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

The ear, nose, and throat doctor couldn’t do much for me. The jaw didn’t seem to be part of his specialty. He felt my face for a bit and told us he was going to order a CT scan because it’s more detailed and it will help them see if it’s actually bone or a cyst. He really seemed convinced that there was a cyst in my face or a bone spur.

I had the CT scan about a week ago. They did the contrast dye and everything. I was sure everything was going to be okay and that I would be able to get out of a potential surgery (I’ve already had two surgeries and an endoscope.) But I received the results of my CT scan on Thursday and it’s not looking great.

The ear, nose, and throat doctor said that the “thing” in my face is soft tissue and not part of my jaw, just on my jaw. He suspects a calcified lymph node but he really has no idea what it is and really seems to want it removed from my body. On the CT scan they also found an “abnormality” in my lung. The ear, nose, and throat doctor would like to have a follow-up CT scan on my lung to make sure it’s okay. The huge bummer is the lung “thing.” I don’t smoke or anything.

To make matters worse, I have already had surgery for abnormally large and more permanent cysts on my ovaries (both of them.) It seems that, no matter how well I eat and how much I exercise, my body just really loves producing unnecessary crap. I can’t help but let it get me down!

Right now everything is quite the cluster. Although the ear, nose, and throat doctor wants things a certain way, my regular doctor seems far less concerned. She would rather have a biopsy of the soft tissue, first, before doing a pretty invasive surgery. And, if the biopsy of my jaw comes back normal, to not have another CT scan to check my lung to avoid unnecessary radiation. I have been referred to see an oral surgeon, who wants to look at all of my x-rays and CT scans before he considers doing anything with my face.

A very unpleasant and scary situation.

I am feeling “done.” I can’t seem to catch a break. No matter my efforts, there always seems to be something. Why does my body have to be an over achiever and make these weird things? I have had three, now, and I am only nineteen.

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Judgment and Growth

People change and it is a fact of life. They may not change in their entirety or their underlined tendencies, but people can and do change. Alcoholics can become sober, gambling addicts can stop, overweight people can lose weight, ill people can become better.

Try to think about the kind of person you were a year ago. Then two years ago. Then five years ago. Then ten years ago. If you really choose to think about it, you are most likely not the same person. Or, at the very least, you have different habits and behaviors then you used to. Chances are, though, that you are doing things, now, that you said at one point you would “never” do.

I know that I am not the same person I was a year ago, let alone seven years ago. This is both uplifting and saddening. The most obvious uplifting part is that I am free of my anxieties. Sure, I still feel anxiety and get anxiety attacks. I still have a phobia. I still have GAD. However, my anxieties are no longer controlling me and my life. My every action is not dictated by my anxiety disorders like they once were. I have learned how to think, how to act instead of react, and how to word things in an empowering and honest way (it makes a huge difference, I promise.)

It is saddening because difficult times softened my spirit and I feel that I have become harder. This is something I have mentioned in the past and is not my main point.

I can not stress how much things have changed for me. I was once living a life paralyzed in fear.

I can admit that I was once unable to leave my room. I was too anxious to leave my house. I could not wait in the car for my mom to run errands, because being out was too nerve-racking. I can admit that I once rotated two outfits because it was “safe” in my head. I can admit that I wouldn’t eat for long periods of time (sometimes over a day) because I was so fearful that I would vomit, ultimately making myself feel sicker, and perpetuating the fear. I can admit that I had nights where I was up until seven in the morning with anxiety attacks. I can admit that, on difficult nights, I woke my mom up multiple times to help me with anxiety attacks that she had no power over. I can admit that I spent many nights crying because of the demons inside of me! There are so many things that I dealt with in the thick of my anxiety.

But now I am a college student. I have made friends. I go skating on a regular basis. I go out to a restaurants at least once a week. I do not have nearly as many crutches as I used to. I understand my anxiety isn’t something I can escape or that someone can take from me during a late night anxiety attack. I know my coping skills that work for me. I am a contributing member of society.

Unfortunately, there are people who believe that the current me is the same as the past version of myself. Honestly, I am proud of what I have gone through because it has made me who I am today. Without my experience I wouldn’t have the perspective or knowledge that I have now. My struggles and triumphs make me unique and stronger.

It hurts to know that there are people are so closed-minded that they choose to believe that I am some handicapped, incapable, Helpless-Hannah. I am not so weak-minded that I allow my struggles to control me. I do not need to be taken care of as much as some people would like to think.  My anxieties are not me. They do not define me. Learn about a person before you are quick to judge.

We must grow from and out of our pasts.

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Social Media Use

lately I’ve been trying to reflect on my phone, laptop, and overall social media usage. I couldn’t give you exact numbers, but I definitely use these devices and services quite a bit.

Almost all day long I am on my phone,¬†intermittently checking Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and, most of all, my messages. When I’m not on my phone, I am most likely checking my Facebook, Instagram, and messages on my computer.

I would like to blame the excessive checking on my experience as a college student. I tried very hard to not check my phone during classes and it was difficult to read my phone while I was walking. Whenever I had down time, I was checking my social media on my electronics – whichever one was most accessible and convenient to use. Ultimately, this is not an excuse for my antisocial behavior. But my observation has helped me realize some things.

I complain a lot to my mother about how she becomes very distant when she is on the computer that we share whenever I visit home, like now for summer break. But my mother isn’t on social media or using the computer nearly as much as I do. Why should I get upset with her when I use it so much more? I am probably far more distant than she is throughout the day (in general) than she is for the hour that she might use the computer. Also, as far as the whole year goes, I get to use the computer far more than my mom. Who am I to get upset??

Another thought on my excessive electronic and social media use: how much simpler it would be if we didn’t have social media. Imagine how much we wouldn’t know about everyone if we didn’t have social media. I would only know intimate details of the people I really cared about! I wouldn’t know that Stacy is going through a difficult break up, or that Tim was really high after oral surgery. We have normalized knowing everything about everybody! I think that should change.

Even though I am incredibly awkward on the phone and prefer text over phone calls, I wish people actually asked for each others numbers when they were interested in them (platonically and romantically speaking.) It’s more intimate to learn about a person through one-on-one conversation than to learn about their weekend from Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat and ask them about the specifics. Imagine actually going to your neighbors residence instead of socially awkward-ly stalking them on social media!

With all of this said, I have been making an effort and continue to make the effort to cut back on my social media!

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