Blargh.

Nov. 9th, 2016 02:49 pm
baratron: (Warning: Sick!)
So I haven't written anything here since July, which is impressively lax even for me. In short, I have been suffering from the worst chronic fatigue since I lived in the flat and eventually got diagnosed with hyperventilation occulta. I am playing Elder Scrolls Online and chatting to people via Skype and my ESO Guild's Teamspeak channel, but barely socialising at all otherwise, even online. It's just too much effort given my state of exhaustion. I've left the house about 10 times in 4 months.

I have also had an ongoing cold/cough/snot disease thing since June when I caught lurgy at the Download Festival. I get ill approximately every two weeks and stay ill for a week. I have had ongoing digestive TMI since a couple of months before June. And I've been throwing up at least once a day for the past, er, few months.

My GP and I were hoping that it was a Helicobacter pylori infection because that is relatively easy to treat, even if the treatment is unpleasant. But that test came back negative. Nor was there anything particularly exciting in my blood test results. So now I'm waiting for a gastroscopy.

Thing is, I am not at all certain whether there is anything wrong with my digestive system. I am permanently snotty, despite antihistamines, nose spray and eye drops, and the vomiting seems to be related to excessive overproduction of snot. I understand why they're starting by investigating the digestive system, because of all the TMI. But I dunno. My suspicion is that, rather than there being something actively wrong, I'm allergic and reacting to something which forms a major part of my daily diet.

I don't know whether I'm more afraid of the gut biopsy coming back positive for coeliac disease, meaning I'll have to radically change my diet; or negative, meaning I don't have to change my diet (yet) but we still don't know what is wrong. I'm inclined towards wanting to know, because I have been having increasingly bad symptoms since March or April, and it's now November, and I am getting worse rather than better. I was supposed to be back at university by now, not living in limbo.

In exciting news, I got a call from the hospital a few hours ago. Apparently they've had a cancellation and wanted to know if I could come in tomorrow. I was extremely enthusiastic, even after they told me the appointment is at 8.25 am. Unfortunately I can't eat for 6 hours before the appointment, which isn't too bad - but nor can I drink for 4 hours beforehand. This would be fine if I wasn't nocturnal, but being thirsty makes me anxious. I am not looking forward to having my anxiety provoked. Nor am I likely to be able to sleep given the time of day of the appointment - I will be too anxious about not waking up on time.

Good thoughts, and comments about how trivially easy and unstressful your gastroscopy experiences were, would be welcomed at this time.
baratron: (boris)
I am very stressed, anxious, angry, and upset right now. I literally cannot believe what has happened. I honestly don't know anyone who voted to Leave.

My friends - well yes, they tend to be left-wing, liberal, anti-racist Europeans. Of course they all voted Remain. But even my family voted Remain! My dad's family suddenly remembered that they are immigrants, and that they are in favour of a free market. My 89-year old grandmother who is horribly racist despite having black grandchildren and great-grandchildren - even she voted Remain! Apparently because she doesn't like Boris Johnson and doesn't want him in charge of anything, but that's still a better reason than a lot of people who voted Leave.

According to the front page of the BBC News site, 17,410,742 people, being 51.9% of those who voted, chose to Leave. Meanwhile 16,141,241 people, being 48.1% of those who voted, chose to Remain. That isn't a clear mandate for anything! Even if the figures were reversed, even if Remain had narrowly squeaked through... I would still be saying that the country is divided, that it isn't a clear mandate either way.

What bothers me is this. My mum manages a block of flats for retired people. In order to make changes to services offered, she needs to follow a Code of Practice which states that to make changes to the status quo, all of the following criteria must be met:
1. 66% of the votes received must support the proposal,
2. 51% of the total number of leaseholders must support the proposal, and
3. not more than 25% of the total number of leaseholders are against the proposal.

Leaving the European Union is many, many orders of magnitude more important for the country than any change to services provided by a block of retirement flats, and yet a 3.8% majority is apparently enough to make the change!

I just can't take this in.
baratron: (goggles)
So, tomorrow I have the viva (oral examination) for my upgrade report, which I am looking forward to about as much as anyone with anxiety would.

"Normal people" come out with comments like "Everyone gets anxious about exams". And I'm not saying that they're wrong. However a person without the actual psychological condition called anxiety is highly unlikely to get into a state where they can't function because they've lost one specific notebook, and it's 5 am, and they've been looking for an hour, and their partner is urging them to give up and work on something else in the meantime. And - get this - they even have all of the information contained in that notebook in other notebooks which aren't lost.

But they can't stop looking because there's a misfiring neuron in their brain which won't let them concentrate on anything else except the fact that the notebook is lost and so they don't have the material to look over and so they're going to fail the exam.

Yeah. That's just not a thing which happens to people who don't have anxiety. Parts of it, maybe. But the whole irrational chain of catastrophe? No.

It actually turned out not to be the end of the world at all because in rewriting the notes, I realised something that I hadn't worked out before, and now if they ask about it tomorrow I'll be prepared. But I could have done without that sort of episode of stress.

I feel fairly prepared now, but I don't like the idea of the time I need to get up in the morning. The exam is at 1.30pm, so I need to be on the 11.48 am train to make sure I have loads of time in case of, I dunno, snow. I REALLY don't think it's going to snow but my mother insists it's on the forecast, so getting up super-early in case the trains are more screwed up than usual it is. Urgh. My hair feels absolutely horrible but I do not have the spoons to wash it. It's do the exam with dirty hair or have clean hair and be too tired to function. Really, they are not examining me on my hair.

In related news, it turns out that the reason why my Department hasn't been following my Individual Student Support Agreement (ISSA) for the past year-and-a-bit was because they didn't have it. Somebody screwed up. I even know who the somebody was, but it's pointless yelling about it now. However, that was a big load of stress on Tuesday which I didn't need! The College is now using something else instead of an ISSA so I have to make an appointment with the Disability Office to get that sorted out, but not before tomorrow.
baratron: (Buttercup)
I am having a horrible, no good, shitty day.

Woke up after 8 hours of sleep, but was still so tired that I almost put my phone & train ticket in the bin instead of my used paper cup.

Went to College. Dealt with a series of idiots. You see, I discovered at the end of last term that my Library account expired on 30th November. The Library's records claimed I was a "dormant student, not in contact with the College", which is interesting considering that I have completed Enrollment and paid fees!

It is sorted now, but only *after* some twat in Birkbeck admin managed to fuck things up worse than they already were. At one point, not only did the computer think I wasn't enrolled, but it also thought I owed money for the two terms last year when I was on a leave of absence! And it wanted me to produce £314 out of thin air!!

Stressed beyond belief. Funny, that. Was ready to kill someone, possibly myself. Not even joking. I don't know if it's "normal" to get so stressed by minor administrative cock-ups, but I have an anxiety disorder plus another disorder which makes my body produce too much adrenaline, and I just didn't bloody need some twonk trying to fix the problem and making everything worse! Nor accusing me of not enrolling on time! (How would the College have known where to take direct debits from if I hadn't enrolled?!)

Then I tried to go to Camden. Discovered the bus was on diversion because Upper Woburn Place is being dug up, but half the stops didn't have any explanation of the diverted route. Eventually found a 168 stop at bloody Holborn - so far south that I'd have been better off walking to Euston. The worst thing is, I even knew about this diversion. I'd just forgotten.
baratron: (corrosive)
I'm about 80% recovered from the cold or flu virus that I had. Still have a horrendous cough that won't go away, and still have an unhappy tummy, but haven't thrown up again. Got my hair washed on Saturday, although I very abruptly ran out of spoons halfway through, so it's cleaner than it was but not as clean as I'd like it to be.

However, I've been oddly anxious/depressed since Sunday night. I don't know why I should be emotionally wobbly just as the weather's improving. I'm sure it's unrelated. I do have something to be anxious about, so perhaps it's that manifesting in my subconscious. Need to get myself sorted out since the College term starts again on Monday.

Tomorrow I have two hospital appointments at different hospitals, and since my usual local friend with a car is busy, it will necessitate the use of my father. Yay.
baratron: (angry)

Today my life is a fucking disaster & I want to stab everyone in the head. I was supposed to be attending a lecture on research very similar to what I'm doing, at UCL, at 1pm.

Woke up at 9.50am with Richard's alarm. Couldn't go back to sleep. Got up & had a Proper Breakfast (!). Arrived at Kingston station just in time to miss the 11:34 train - could have caught it if I didn't need the bloody ramp to get onto the train :/ Got the 11:49 okay. Arrived at Waterloo at 12:15, so far making very good progress. It's normally no more than 15 minutes from Waterloo to UCL by taxi... Sat in the taxi queue for 45 minutes. Got in the taxi just after 1pm. Arrived at UCL at 1.50 pm. All because of the student & anti-cuts demonstrations that I didn't know were happening today, which blocked up the roads for people like me too crippled to use the bloody Tube.

Didn't even attempt to get to the last 10 minutes of the lecture. Lurked outside to apologise to Philip & the person running it & the speaker. That took a huge amount of courage & I'm really quite shaky now. Want to do nothing more than crawl home & back into bed, but seeing as it cost me £26 (!) to get in, I might as well stay here. Guess I'm having a protein bar, "fruit flakes" (TM) & ginger biscuits for lunch, since I only have £1.88 left in my purse. Unless Richard happens to have no work to do (lol!) & can come up with food...

I "should" have just gone into London as soon as I got up - but I didn't bloody know I needed to. Really annoyed that I didn't check the internet news when I woke up - but I didn't know I needed to. I even generally support the demonstrations taking place. It's just that I wish I'd known they were happening e.g. last night before I went to bed, because now I'm fucking tired & stressed & grumpy & hungry & headachy, & didn't make it to the lecture I was supposed to be at, & would quite like to fall over and die, thank you very much.

Edit: Day has only improved... Headache didn't go away, so didn't dare go into the lab because solvents. The bus driver on the way back failed to see that I existed despite me pressing the "disabled" button to get off, and a total stranger decided to fall over me at Waterloo station because she wasn't looking. Ready to fall over dead now.

baratron: (squid!)
On Friday, it it was bothering me that not only was I not getting on with my college work, I wasn't panicked about how far behind I am. Yesterday, I went out and bought a goddamned lightbox. Since I got the lightbox, my ability to concentrate has come back...

...but so has my EXTREME STRESS about how late I've left this work! Now the panic is getting in the way. I would like it at the level of "motivator", not at the level of "paralyser". Stress stress stress.

Kind thoughts welcome.
baratron: (goggles)
Not in a terribly good mood. Have - hopefully! - sorted out my sleep patterns via a rather uncomfortable weekend. Now incredibly anxious about BiCon. As far as I'm aware, I'm the only person not on the team who's dreading it.

I always find BiCon immensely stressful. Not like alt.polycon, which I desperately wish was still happening, where I drop in and instantly feel at home. BiCon is too big, too crowded, too many people I don't know, too many people I don't want to shame myself in front of.

Mostly what gets me is panicking about having to provide up to three meals a day for myself by cooking. I... haven't been well enough to do that for a long time. Actually, I haven't even been able to cook one meal a day for myself for ages. I can do pasta with fake cheese or emergency chocolate cake (the 5 minute mug cake that you cook in the microwave), but that's it. Most of the time, we eat out or Richard brings home food after work, because I can't manage to cook and he doesn't have enough spare time to. God knows how I'd survive if I didn't live with someone who earns decent money.

And I'm having my usual panic about food intolerances. I accidentally ate some noodles-with-egg-in a couple of weekends ago, and the resulting 24 hours of digestive explosion (could go into details here - know that you'll prefer it if I don't) was enough to prove once again, if I ever needed reminding, that straying outside veganism is a VERY bad idea for h-ls. And the more stressed I get, oddly, the pickier I get about food. It may be London, but it's the other bloody side of London, where I don't know anywhere to get takeaway food that I can eat. And I don't know how to cope for up to four days without Costa (can handle Caffe Nero at a pinch - know for certain that no other coffee chains can provide hot chocolate uncontaminated by dairy. Nor can Costa outlets. Only the actual franchised stores).

So I'm working on the basis that I'll take my stuff over there on Friday at some stage, don't know how, and stay for as long as I can bear it. Maybe I'll calm down and have a good time. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll stay there during the day and come home at night. Maybe I'll stay there some nights. Don't know. Being totally avoidant about the whole thing right now.

Really don't want Geek Answer Syndrome right now. It doesn't mix well with bad brain chemistry.
baratron: (introspection)
I am going to a meeting at another university tomorrow. As a result, I am now pretty much paralysed by anxiety. It doesn't help that I couldn't sleep last night and crawled out of bed today with dark circles round my eyes like a panda. Had some very interesting thoughts about my inability to get to sleep, which I should write down at some point - but I could have done without having them at 5 am!

I just wrote the following load of witter in an email to Philip. It fairly accurately sums up how I'm feeling:

> I'm happy to get the 11:05 from Waterloo, if you would still prefer that.

Right now I'm thinking I'd *prefer* spending the day in bed - my sleep patterns are beyond messed up and I'm extremely anxious. But I have to start going to meetings with other scientists soon - total avoidance isn't a good strategy long term, and the sooner I start the sooner it'll get easier. Maybe. People Are Scary.

One of the things I've found weird is that when people find out you're a student, they automatically ask what you're working on and expect some sort of detailed answer. Given that I've only just started and don't really know any details yet, I'd be so much happier to talk about what THEY're working on. I think it's some sort of misguided attempt to avoid scaring me with their great knowledge, but I find it more intimidating than friendly. It's probably some sort of clash between my own poor social skills and other scientists' poor social skills.

There should be classes on interpreting body language and other interpersonal skills as a compulsory part of science degrees. Especially at nerd-havens like Imperial. Put me in a room full of geeks with the same social expectations, and I get on just fine. Put me in a room full of people who have been normally-socialised, and I don't even know where to start (#). It gets even more complicated when you *don't know* whether the person you're talking to has Geek or Normal social skills! And then the incredibly difficult mixture of people on the autistic spectrum plus people with high social anxiety plus people with no autistic traits or social anxiety who have no idea what it's like to have them.

(#) I avoid my family as much as possible for this reason, with the exception of my mum, who is as much of a geek as it's possible to be having grown up in the time when Girls Didn't Do Science and having had no formal education since the age of 14. Richard's family, however, are all scientists or engineers, so I can talk to them about things that *I* consider usual topics for conversation rather than the weather, That Television Programme or That Sports Team.


> I might need to do some other bits of work on the train, after we have done our formal meeting chat.

Well, yeah - I wasn't exactly expecting that we'd sit and chat about the weather or That Sports Team for an hour and half :) I may bring my laptop, haven't decided yet. Not feeling sufficiently brain-ful to make a decision about *anything*. I'm anticipating half an hour of panic in front of my bedroom mirror later on tonight while I try on every item of clothing I own that is even vaguely acceptable for the occasion. You might wonder why I'd bother, given that most scientists have the approach to clothes that anything is okay as long as it covers up the parts that should be covered in public and is not actively smelly. (That's the attitude I go with at college). But if you're female in a room full of strangers, people *do* notice what you're wearing and judge you on it. The few other female scientists there are THE WORST for this! (Ask $your_girlfriend, I'm sure she'll agree). So I need to try to find something that makes me feel comfortable and confident, but also has pockets.

I witter when I'm anxious,
helen-louise.


Also, I feel sick. And I'm supposed to get some work done tonight to bring with me tomorrow!

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