I am feeling a bit depressed lately. It always takes me some amount of time to realize when I am depressed. I also just lost a friend of mine to stage IV metastatic liver/lung/colon cancer after she beat breast cancer. It is weighing on me heavily. As a nurse, teacher, and an advocate to many causes that were important to her, she touched the lives of so many people and I don’t think there is a person out there that could say a bad thing about her. The world is certainly less bright without her in it.
Since I kind of jumped into this blog without a proper bio, I thought today I would make that happen.
My name is Marie. My favorite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and my favorite TV shows are The Office, and HBO’s Six Feet Under. I live with two cats named Walter and Louie, and my other housemates include a husband and my younger sister who is occupying my newly renovated attic. One of my current “hobbies” is genealogy which for me involves connecting and collaborating with DNA relatives on Ancestry.com in hopes of finding some of my unknown heritage on my biological father’s side.
I was born in 1983 in a small town called Oneida, NY, about a half hour outside of Syracuse. I was conceived via artificial insemination by anonymous sperm donor at Upstate University Hospital. My parent’s split up when I was 6 and we moved to the Binghamton, NY area when I was 7, part way through the school year to live with my now stepfather. (This was the same year I officially found out I was donor conceived) I moved out not long after high school to attend cosmetology school in Syracuse. I spent about 12 years working as a licensed cosmetologist before deciding to go back to college. In the 2013 – 2014 academic year I went to a local community college with the hopes of becoming a medical assistant. I was always interested in the medical field and had planned to return to school, it’s just that the years flew by… This program got my feet wet, so to speak. Medical assisting was not quite the right fit for me so from there I decided to continue my education and completed the Health Information Technology (HIT) program. Had I known about this program I would have started there. It is a much better fit, with room to grow. I completed this and obtained licensure as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
I currently work full time as an inpatient medical coder for a large hospital system in my area. I spent the last couple of years becoming acclimated to my new career setting and I am happy to say I am continuing my education part-time to obtain a BS. The hardest part of the transition from the salon to a more professional atmosphere was getting my friends and family to stop asking me to do their hair!
I am a bit of a late bloomer in my career, as I was throughout my developmental stages as a child. Despite being born almost 9 lbs., I was always the shortest, smallest person in my class. My report cards in kindergarten and 1st grade said that I did not interact with others very much and spent a great deal of my time daydreaming. As I continued in elementary school, I was unorganized, forgetful, and consistently told that I didn’t apply myself. I especially struggled with math and would count on my fingers under my desk. I remember this gave me quite a bit of anxiety, feeling myself falling behind my peers. I believe this is where a lot of my insecurities began. I was also made fun of by most of my peers for being so small, and dressing in clothes that weren’t considered cool. On top of this I have these natural dark circles under my eyes and spent most of my life being asked if I was tired, when I wasn’t being told bitterly by overweight people that I needed to eat a hamburger. Anyhow, it wasn’t until I went back to school and struggled to take tests that I decided to get an official evaluation done by a professional. I found out I have had undiagnosed ADHD since childhood. I have adult ADHD. Retrospectively, finding this out made a lot of sense. In females, this often goes undetected, as it manifests differently, often without the hyperactivity element.
I also struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. But since it goes back as far as I can remember, I didn’t quite realize this at first either. I was diagnosed with dysthymia in 2003, which is now known as persistent depressive disorder (PDD). Some of the symptoms of this overlap with ADHD. I had my first bout of major depression following the breakup of my first emotionally significant relationship at age 20. My second bout came after the death (possibly suicide) of this same ex-boyfriend, about 3 years later. I could write a whole blog about that but to sum it up, I felt we had a deep connection that never went away. I have had bouts since but those were the most memorable.
Today, I find myself employing a host of defense/coping mechanisms to avoid feeling my PDD and generalized anxiety disorder, with the top ones being intellectualization, sublimation, avoidance, humor, and passive-aggression. I have tried talk therapy a few times, the most recent stint being a few months ago, without much success. I only use a med such as an SSRI when I hit a bout of major depression, as I really do not enjoy the side effects. The impression I get from therapists is that I am not sick enough to be taking up their time. Maybe this is true, but I could be downplaying some of my symptoms. My least favorite part of myself is my apathy, and anger towards other people, who I deem as inconsiderate or selfish. There are some days where most people seem inconsiderate to me. I am aware this is probably a jaded perspective that isn’t serving me very well. It doesn’t make it any easier to not have.
I don’t have many friends. The friends I attract tend to be selfish, and the relationships don’t last because of this. Making new friends for me is hard, I believe I come off as aloof, and cold, even when I like someone. So, it’s astonishing to me that I attract these one-sided friendships. I suppose I am probably much more amicable once I get to know someone. I feel like I have been let down by the people closest to me multiple times throughout my childhood, so it could be a self-fulfilling prophesy thing happening. The silver lining is I am a very solitary individual and don’t mind being alone most of the time. I absolutely do need people in my life though, as any human being probably does. I wish I was better at maintaining relationships and communicating my feelings.
True to form as a chronic late bloomer, I am only realizing all this core stuff about myself later in life than I maybe should have. But with knowledge truly does come power, and I can now really begin to work on some of this. DNA testing to try to find my missing biological family started to crack the shell a bit. It uncovered repressed feelings on the subject that I didn’t know were there, forcing me to examine them and how they were tied to my other childhood/adult issues. It is hard for me to determine sometimes where one begins and the other ends. Do the stages of grief still apply when you’ve known about something horrible for most of your life? In this case, I think they just might.
Losing one of the only true friends I was lucky enough to have is a reminder that I need to do my part in reaching out to the people I care about. I never got to say goodbye, and it is totally on me for keeping to myself knowing she was hurting again. I thought I had the luxury of more time, but she was gone just over a month after her latest diagnosis was announced. One of the last things she said to everyone on social media was basically not to be sad for her, but to instead take care of ourselves better, be healthier, do the things we know we need to do, and go to the doctor if we think something might be wrong. I can’t help but feel crushed, but I know she would not want me to be sad. I am going to try to honor her wish by not taking life/ people for granted. I know I can be a lot better to others and form healthier relationships if I can begin to address some of my own issues.