Tag Archives: anxiety

Going Blank

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Sometime towards the end of grade 11, I started experiencing what I initially called “seizures.” It was the closest explanation I could come up with. My muscles would lock up and start shaking. It would center on one part of my body and radiate out. The longer the attack, the farther out it would go. A friend first witnessed one of these attacks during a skype call when we were in grade 12. He threatened to call my parents to get them to help me, but I refused, citing that I wasn’t supposed to be on the computer at that time. Mostly, no one knew I was experiencing these attacks. They’d come and go, sometimes I’d have them all the time, sometimes I wouldn’t have any. In 2011, I had the worst attack yet, it lasted over 3 hours. It started when I was at college, studying before heading home. Another student who I talked to on occasion noticed and asked if I was okay. She was my catalyst to finally seek medical help. I somehow managed to get myself to the bus stop, onto a bus, and to the hospital. I got in and saw a doctor relatively quickly. The doctor didn’t listen and barely looked at me before telling me that since it was an ongoing problem, I had to talk to my GP, and he sent me home. I experienced spasms for a further half hour after leaving the hospital before finally coming out of the attack. A bit later, I was able to record a video of an attack so I could show it to my doctors. I ended up seeing a neurologist who ran an EEG and sent me for an MRI. Both came back normal and he was dismissive. A second neurologist was equally dismissive on seeing the results and told me that my experience was psychosomatic.

I don’t talk about my past, prior to the whole no-sleep thing, very much on this blog, but I feel this little bit is important. The muscle spasms showed up sometime around 2007 and vanished sometime around 2014. About 7 years of intermittent painful muscle spasms that no one could explain. And since then, nothing.

Until a couple weeks ago.

A couple weeks ago, I started experiencing what I can only describe as going blank. I’ll be in the middle of something (never verbal conversation) and I’ll suddenly just stop. It’s about 50/50 if I stop and just stay in that position, or if I flop. Flopping is kind of like, my muscles go loose, like if I were drifting off to sleep. Either way, my mind just circles around the idea that I’m not able to think of anything else, that I’m not able to move, that I’m stuck. I’m vaguely aware of what’s happening around me, but I can’t focus on anything else. Slowly, I come back into my head and out of the blankness and pick up wherever I left off. Unlike the muscle spasms, this is happening around other people (though no one’s recognized it yet).

Also unlike the muscle spasms, I’m aware that I’m overwhelmed and stressed and anxious. The doctors said that the muscle spasms were psychosomatic, and perhaps they were. Going blank seems to be as well, for all I can tell.

Giving Control to Gain Control

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One of my newer friends and I had an instant connection when we first met two months ago. An interesting component to our friendship is one that came to light naturally. He is a dominant, I am a submissive. Typically these roles fit us in a sexual sense, but there were bits and pieces of it coming out as we were hanging out.

Several weeks ago, he was petting my head when we were snuggling and his arm drifted in front of my face. Playfully, I licked his arm. I repeated it every time his arm came within reach. He attempted to give me a wet willie and pinned my head when I kept squirming away. When I wouldn’t let him do it, he threatened escalation. I enjoyed losing the power in the moment. A couple weeks ago, I repeated the experiment of licking his arm, this time with the result of him putting his hand to my throat and threatening to cut off my air briefly. Typically, any touch to my throat has me ready to fight, but that minute of his hand there had me extremely calm.

Last week, I asked him if he’d take control of me for a couple hours, just as a one-off, just to see how it felt. He said he’d have to think about it and I let it be.

On Saturday, after I wrote that last post, I asked him if he’d take control of me on Monday. We’d already planned for me to be at his place that afternoon. He talked to his girlfriend about it then agreed. We set up some boundaries and a safeword. By the time we finished discussing it, I was completely calm, no trace of anxiety (for a bit), and actually excited for something for the first time in a long time.

Monday afternoon rolled around and I was given instructions before I even arrived. I was told what door to knock on. I was instructed immediately to do a wall-sit, before I even took my shoes off. I was given water and instructed on when I was allowed to drink it. I was instructed on different work-out things I had to do. He put in earplugs and limited my hearing severely (we both know enough sign language that there was no language barrier in this). For a time, he bound my arms. When I didn’t do things well enough or properly, he hit me. He had me tell him more about what I was after and he started planning for future times together.

It ended up being fully 3.5 hours of him in control of my every move. For me, it was 3.5 hours of feeling completely calm. There were two instances where I used the safeword to end what he was doing and he stopped immediately and didn’t go near that thing again. It was incredibly freeing to not need to think and worry. Most of the time, my mind was completely blank and relaxed. I wasn’t aware of the time, and I didn’t care. I wasn’t worried about buses, food, kids, money, time, sleep, anything.

He gave me homework, writing up a clearer definition of what I was hoping to get out of the situation. When he dropped me off, I started writing it. When he got home, he messaged me and told me that he let it get away from himself, that we hadn’t actually talked about making this a long-term agreement. I told him that I was writing his homework assignment.

We haven’t really talked more about it since then, though he agrees with what I wrote up (mostly a clearly defined set of rules/limits/boundaries, with a few pointers in what direction I want things to go).

Mostly, I’m excited and eager about it. I’ve only ever been with a Dom in a sexual setting, and then only for one-off’s that never went well. This will be my first D/s relationship with a clearly set defined rules. This will also be an entirely non-sexual relationship, purely power play. I’m looking forward to things that come from this, and I’m hoping that this will be one more little thing that can help me deal with the levels of anxiety that I’m feeling lately.

Present Knowledge Out of the Past

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Fair Forewarning: This post deals with intense emotional/physical trauma and abuse

The last two weeks, last three weekends, I have not so much as stepped outside my comfort zone as leaped outside it.

Two weekends ago (night of July 1st), I agreed to stay late in town to watch the fireworks, then go to a dance and stay over at a friend’s house. I have never gone to an adult dance or club before. And have basically never slept over at someone’s house as an adult (outside of relationships), despite several attempts at it.

Last weekend was Pride. My friends convinced me to march in the parade. I have never seen the parade, never gone to any pride events and certainly never marched before. Knowing how I work, I convinced myself to go to another dance on Saturday night and stay over at (the same) friend’s house then go to the march together. On Saturday when I was getting ready to go, I got a phone call saying the bloodwork I’d done first thing in the morning had come back and the numbers were off which meant I needed to see my GP ASAP. I had only just given myself my first low-dose of testosterone at the time. Later, at the dance, I ended up hanging out mostly with two guys who I had just met, dancing, and chatting. The night at my friend’s house went fine, and we got to the parade on time. However, after parting ways (he was marching with a different group), I couldn’t locate my group. I walked the length of the parade and asked for help, but no one could help me. That drove me to actually make a phone call, something I only very rarely do, to a friend who equally dislikes phone calls. I finally met up with my group, and that friend, and realized that I was in the middle of a full blown anxiety attack.

My last anxiety attack, and my first one (only ever had three) were in the first half of my four months of no sleep, three years ago.

I did the march, I couldn’t not. My friend I spent the night with had my backpack at his house, and my current primary support network was right there in the parade. So, I marched. At the end, where the celebrations were, I told my friends that I needed to be with them in some quiet spot for a little bit. We ended up sitting for close to two hours before I was okay to move around again. After that, the day went well.

The fallout has been beyond imagination.

The disassociation I experienced with the risperidone had far reaching effects. I’m still working on putting all the pieces together of what changed and what I lost and what needs finding again. I found one of those pieces at Pride last weekend and I never knew I’d lost it.

The anxiety attacks I had three years ago were paired with a heightened general anxiety due to lack of sleep and lack of control over my general life situation. But, they were isolated.

The anxiety attack I had last weekend opened a door in my mind to realizing what anxiety actually feels like. That door stayed open and I realized that I live my life on a daily basis just sitting at the edge of anxiety.

I’ve spent the last week trying to work through it and process why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. Certainly, I shouldn’t feel anxious about getting on a bus, something I do 4-10 times a day every day, but this week has taught me that I do. One of my coping mechanisms, one of my ways of processing things, is to have conversations. I will end up having the same conversation over and over and over again until I’ve completely exhausted all the people I can confide in so I can try to deconstruct everything that happened and everything that I’m feeling. I’ve spent my week in conversations.

Which brings me to this weekend and some of my big eye-openers about why I feel the way I feel.

On Thursday, I went to dinner with a friend. We had initially bonded over some awkward experiences with one of our mutual friends, but are working on expanding our friendship beyond that. Our conversation inevitably moved to the trauma of our lives. I ended up sharing one story that I’ve only told a handful of people. When I did, he told me that he knew immediately that was why I was having issues spending the night at someone’s house. After he and I parted ways, I shared the same story with my safe person that I marched with (the one I made the phone call to). He told me that he knew I was a victim of sexual violence, but didn’t want to pry. On Friday, I spent some time with the safe friend, his girlfriend, and another friend of ours. They convinced me to spend the night at the safe friend’s house so I could go do some construction work with the girlfriend and other friend in the morning. They seemed to think it would help. On the way to pick up my stuff, I told the other friend (who was giving me a ride to my house then to my safe friend’s house) the same story I’d told the first two friends on Thursday. They told me some of the ways that they did their healing and suggested a program for me to investigate to help work through what happened. If you’re not following, that’s three people in two days I told about this thing that happened. This morning, I woke up at my safe friend’s house and went to do the construction work. I lasted until noon before I had to say I was done and we all trooped home.

Four Years Ago (read at discretion)

Four years ago, I was living in an abusive situation. I was a live-in nanny for a family that did not have a healthy dynamic. They took advantage of me and my time. I was accused of not being honest about my experience and skills. I was manipulated into agreeing to stay multiple times when I tried to quit. I was so emotionally exhausted that there were several points that I broke down to tears in the middle of the day. As an escape, I rode my bike and I went to the local pub. In just 7.5 months of owning that bicycle, I put over 3,000km on it and wore the tires almost bare. I was a well-known regular at the pub and expected almost nightly from 7pm until 2 or 3 in the morning. I became friends with a very diverse group of people including a music producer, an engineer-turned-cook, and one of the local Italian Mob Bosses. I was also friends with some younger people who didn’t come nearly as regularly as I did.

One night, it was cold, icy, and I was tired and very drunk when the bar closed. I didn’t want to ride my bike home. A friend offered me somewhere to sleep for the night, said he’d take me to breakfast in the morning, then drop me off at the house I was working out of. I took him up on the offer and told him, very explicitly, “I’m not interested in doing anything, just sleep. I’m sleeping in my clothes.” He agreed that would be fine and we loaded up my bike and headed to his place.

When we got there, I realized we’d be sharing a bed. I’d been led to believe there was somewhere else for me to sleep, like a couch. Whatever, I’m adaptable. I reiterated that I wasn’t interested in anything but sleep and I was sleeping in my clothes. He wheedled and pleaded and eventually got me down to underwear and undershirt before we climbed under the covers. He asked if we could spoon and I agreed, though I wasn’t comfortable with it. He waited until I was almost asleep before he started working his hand under my shirt. I told him no, and pushed his hands away. He persisted. I asked him to stop, he persisted. I turned to tell him again, and he kissed me and stuck his hand in my underwear. He stripped me and had his way and then spooned me the rest of the night like this was an okay thing. In the morning, he woke me up to do it again. Then we got dressed and he took me to breakfast and dropped me off at the kids’ house like everything was all fine and grand.

And then he kept coming to the same bar and being friendly with me.

I kept telling myself that I should have known something like that would happen. That there’s a certain expectation when a man brings a woman to his home after a night at the bar. That I should have been more adamant in not taking off my outer clothes. That I should have just gone home instead of staying out that night.

It took two years of feeling negative feelings every time I saw one of his facebook posts to admit that it was rape. To admit that it wasn’t my fault. To admit that I was taken advantage of, assaulted. I told only three people initially. This weekend, two years later, I told three more. And now I’m telling, well, whoever reads this.

In my conversations this week, I’ve realized that a great many of my sexual/romantic relationships have had some level of abuse in them. My first two sexual partners coerced me into sex, convincing me it was something I wanted (which it was, just not with either of them). My second sexual partner (third romantic relationship of any level of seriousness) was emotionally abusive and manipulative and isolating. He played off my OCD to get me to do things and then made me feel horrible for not doing them perfectly. He slowly drew me away from my family and friends while not adding me to his own circles. My most recent romantic relationship had a certain level of coercion to it as well, to the point of twisting what I wanted into what he wanted when it came to my surgery (perhaps you remember my posts about that). When he asked for me back, I laid out certain things that could not be negotiated, that he had to agree to, that he had to accept, and he refused. One of them was that I am hard on the male side of binary, that I cannot be referred to with female pronouns/pet names, and that I need to be seen and treated as a guy. He told me that he didn’t know those things were hurtful (despite the fact that we’d talked about it the few times he did use them), and that he wasn’t gay and that he never saw me as either gender.

Finding Anxiety (mostly safer reading now)

Since Pride last weekend, I’ve realized what anxiety feels like. I’ve realized that I feel it every day. I’ve realized that it has a great many sources and there is a lot of work I need to do to bring myself back to a level of peace. I’ve also realized that I’ve lived with this daily anxiety for a very, very long time. I cannot pinpoint a single time when I have not had anxious tendencies, though some of them are certainly much worse now than they were 10 years ago when I was still in high school and before the sexual abuse.

I’ve been a compulsive picker (of scabs and skin) for as long as I can remember. My body is laddered with scars from picking and repicking my scabs and scars. I have had self-harm ideation for as long as I can remember. (This has never included suicide.) One of my earliest memories is of taking a hammer to my knee, purely to break it. I had a plan for how I would explain the injury to my parents. But I wasn’t strong enough to actually do any damage. I was 3 or 4 at the time. Since then, there have been many small successful self-harm attempts, but none needing more than a bandaid. I have had OCD manifesting in different ways since at least my preteen years. Washing the dishes was a very big problem for me for a long time (and one of my almost daily chores). There were needs to have things just right in order to actually do things, there still are. There was certain routines and rituals to using certain objects including the internet. There were obsessive tendencies to go through EVERYTHING of something (read a webcomic, beginning to end, even if it means staying up all night; read encyclopedias cover to cover, not just the entries of interest; sort through all of the photos in one location or all of the cards; look at all of the photos posted to a photo-sharing site, an impossible task that nearly broke me). There were needs to have things organized in a very specific manner (Dewy Decimal organization of my home library and, when I found it, my parent’s library).

In the last 10 years, I’ve added reluctance to engage in new situations or be in new spaces with new people. One new thing at a time, everything else must be familiar or I’m not okay with it. I have a reluctance to go over to other people’s houses, especially overnight. I’m less adaptable to any level of change unless it was rooted in something I control. And I have more obsessive thoughts circling around in my head.

Knowing what I know now about my mental-emotional state, I want to work towards finding a balance of some sort, finding some way to be at peace with my daily life. Knowing what anxiety feels like will allow me to know where my limits are and how far to stretch them. Having the friends I do around me will help me work through this in ways that are healthy, I hope.

Of Psychiatry and Surgery

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Nearly two weeks ago I had my last appointment with my psychiatrist. In it, we discussed where I’m at and where I’m going. There wasn’t much to the appointment, really. He determined that my dose on the sleeping pill was so low that it wasn’t actually doing anything and I should stop taking them when I felt I was okay to (most likely after my surgery). He also felt that the hallucinations I experienced were likely caused by my lack of sleep over a year and a half ago and that now that I’m sleeping properly, I shouldn’t need the antipsychotics. He suggested that once things are stable (so likely after my surgery), I should try going off the antipsychotics and see if the hallucinations come back. We were to discuss my sleep study as well, but the clinic didn’t fax the information over. As of now, I still haven’t heard anything, which probably means it found nothing of note, so don’t worry. The milestone I reached with this appointment is that it was my final one with a psychiatrist for the forseeable future. I’ve been determined to be stable, and in good mental health. There’s no need to continue to see a psychiatrist, though a therapist or counselor wouldn’t hurt.

Five days ago, I stopped the sleeping pills. The first night was okay. I had two rough nights, and the last two nights have been good. I think he was right and I don’t need them. Which is awesome because I’d rather avoid taking medication if at all possible. One down one to go.

Now we move into other territory:
Immediately before that psychiatry appointment, I called the office of my surgeon (for top surgery as the next step in my medical transition to manhood). I wasn’t expecting anything beyond knowing where I was on the waitlist. Instead I was given a surgery date: May 3rd.

At first I was excited. I told everyone. It was awesome, finally have a date! No more waiting! Once the initial excitement wore off, I got nervous and scared and started second guessing myself. I realized that the bulk of the excitement was for the fact that I’m finally able to move forward with my life, since surgery’s put my life on hold for so long. I realized I wasn’t sure my exact reasons for wanting top surgery other than knowing that it was the next step in transition. I also realized that I wanted to breastfeed my kids, which isn’t possible after the kind of surgery I’ll be getting. I freaked out.

I talked to a few select people who generally seem to think if I’m freaking out this much, I shouldn’t have the surgery. To better get a grip on where my head’s at, I scheduled an appointment with a (trans community recommended) counselor, a friend who is a counselor and trans, and the surgeon to see about getting a reduction instead of a full double mastectomy and still have it covered. These appointments are all within the next week and a half, so hopefully I’ll have a better sense of things by then.

I do know, that now that I’ve had a bit of time to think about it, I’m more used to the idea of getting surgery and am kind of looking forward to it again. I still talk like I’m going to get it and the more often I say “surgery’s in two months” the more used to the idea I am. Maybe it was just jitters, but better to get some handle on my thinking before I do it anyway.

I imagine, unless something radical happens, from this point forward this blog will follow my mental health in association with transition and living life. It’s good to know that my brief touch with mental illness was not a step on the true descent to madness.

First Diagnosis

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It’s been a while and there’s things to update.

After seeing my new psychiatrist a few times, he was prepared to make a diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed with Hallucinations NOS or nonspecified hallucinations. That means that I hallucinate with no known cause. It’s not linked to any other mental illness. It just appears independently. While I’m happy to have a diagnosis (and am glad that there’s not some greater mental illness), I’m disappointed that there’s no known cause. Maybe that will come with more time and conversations with therapists.

At my last appointment, I brought up the fact that I stopped sleeping and my psychiatrist decided he would start investigating. It’s been a year and a half since I stopped sleeping and finally one of my doctors is asking why. I’m so happy about it. The first step in that is a sleep study that will be done later this month.

At my second appointment with my psychiatrist, I got put on Latuda (instead of Risperidone). Within a week, I noticed a marked difference. I was connecting with the world significantly better. I was feeling more emotions. Customers were responding to me more positively. My coworkers commented on me being more positive and outgoing, so did my mom. It was incredible. I had no idea how disconnected I’d been, how distanced from the world I’d been, until I started to reconnect with it. Now I know, and I hope to never experience that again.

Unfortunately, Latuda isn’t covered by my insurance, so I had to change the meds again. This happened at my last appointment (a week ago) where I was put on Abilify. It’s too soon to tell how much it will impact me, but from what I’ve read of other’s use of it, it seems to work well.

In the non-mental health side of things, I’m still waiting on the CT scan of my pituitary gland to find out why I’m lactating. There’s still no word as to when it will be. I hope it’s soon.

In terms of transition, well, I found out that the three to four months until surgery after consult that I was quoted was wrong. It’s actually closer to nine to twelve months. So, instead of being at a point where I have less than a month until surgery, I’m waiting at least five more months. I’m disappointed, but I should have known better than to hope it would be so fast. Maybe there’ll be a cancellation. I do know that I have enough money saved up now to cover my expenses for two months off work, so that’s a stress off my mind.

In general, currently, I’m doing okay, a mix of good and bad. I officially dropped out of university. The program I was in just wasn’t a good fit for me and I failed both classes. I also realized that the work I want to do doesn’t require a degree, so why am I shelling out the money for the degree? I cancelled my loans for the second semester and am just waiting on hearing about repayment to find out what it’s going to cost me each month. Hopefully not much as it was a fairly small loan. My brother and sister in law got me colouring books for Christmas and I’ve been slowly working my way through them. I find it relaxing and engaging and it’s nice to do something other than just staring at my screen all the time. On the down side, I’ve lost a lot of motivation to do anything. I’m finding it very hard to convince myself to do anything and am not even getting out of bed until the last possible minute before I have to go to work. I’m not going out to meet with friends (not helped by my work schedule where I’m scheduled to work the only two days anything happens with my friends). And I’m not going out of the house to do anything except buy the necessities, go to work, and go to the doctor. I’m trying to find something more to do with my time, but I don’t even know where to start. I’m hoping the colouring will at least help. Part of the lack of motivation to do anything is impacting my sleep as I’ve lost the motivation to go to bed. I still don’t get tired, so it’s hard to convince myself that I need to go to bed. I’m finding more and more that I’ll only actually go to bed when I get bored with what I’m doing on the computer. In the last week, I’ve had 3 sleeps. I know it’s not good, and not healthy, but I can’t seem to convince myself otherwise. I’d rather stay up and actually do things than go to bed where I’ll stay until I absolutely need to get up, sometimes twelve or fourteen hours later.

Here’s to hoping things will improve.

Time Flies

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I suppose I should update, since it’s been a while.

I got in to see the counselors at the university, specifically, the counselor that was recommended by my counselor at the college. He’s a great guy, listens well, helped me get in a good headspace. I saw him twice before I realized I probably don’t actually need counselling right now. I’m in a pretty good space right now and don’t feel the need to work through anything.

I also got in to see a psychiatrist at the university. Finally. The appointment was over an hour and a half long and went through my entire mental health history. He actually read my files going back years. He took me seriously. I recognized my need for a diagnosis and is working with me on that. He gave three preliminary names of what I might have, but he wants more information before he actually gives a diagnosis. Schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, and Asperger’s (high functioning autism). He gave me a printout to have my parents fill out and they went over it when I was up to see them for Thanksgiving. Hopefully that will give him some clues. I’m ready to be armed with a diagnosis that will help me find ways to cope and make things better.

In a non-mental health vein, something happened with my physical health that has been weighing on my mind as well. A couple months ago, I started lactating. I saw a walk-in doctor first and she ordered a battery of bloodwork. I saw my GP a week later and he didn’t see anything alarming in the bloodwork but suggested I talk to my endocrinologist (who I’m working with through my gender transition because I’m on hormones). I saw him a couple weeks later and he was concerned by my bloodwork. My prolactin level was 99, normal is 25. He didn’t seem to think that it was because of my being on testosterone (though that’s a common problem) and ordered a CT Scan and some more bloodwork. I’m still waiting on the scan, but it should happen soon. He said that the scan would look for a growth on the pituitary gland which would cause the spike in prolactin. My research has found that the growths are fairly common and mostly benign, but I’m still worried. What if it isn’t?

In terms of transition, everything’s on track. I got in for my consult for top surgery a couple weeks ago, which means the surgery itself will be in three to four months, a lot faster than it was originally going to be. I’m excited and more than a little nervous. Part of the nerves come from wondering if I’m going to have enough funds saved up to make it through the two month recovery. I hope so.

I think that’s everything of note.

Counselors

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I’ve continued working with my sleep counselor at the college. She currently has me not reading in bed and getting up at 11am every day. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. It takes longer to fall asleep if I don’t read in bed, and I can’t seem to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning, even if I’m wide awake. I see the counselor again this Thursday and that’s the last time I’m going to see her. It just doesn’t seem like there’s anything else she can help me with. She has spoken with my GP and he’s going to investigate my potentially having restless leg syndrome and maybe send me to the sleep clinic to have an evaluation and see if there’s anything else going on. Beyond that, I don’t know what to do about sleep. Everything seems to circle back to it being a problem.

I saw my regular counselor at the college last Thursday. That was my last appointment with her. She’s given me the name of a counselor at the university (where I start in the fall) and I’m to make an appointment with him. She also agrees that I need to get in to see a psychiatrist. (I had a friend/coordinator helping me with that and he got nowhere with general psychiatry, same as I got nowhere with them.) The counselor reminded me that there’s psychiatrists at the university for students and suggested I get on with one of them. I’ll have to go to their doctor’s office and get a referral through them, but it should work and I should get in to see someone fairly soon, at least reasonably soon.

Other than that, nothing’s really been going on in my life. I need more going on in my life, but I don’t know where to start, especially since I’m not getting up in the morning. Maybe that’ll change with time though… maybe.