You'll never guess what happened!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm engaged! As of Friday, October 28, I am engaged. I was home for the weekend and Thomas and I went on a fancy date to a nice restaurant downtown and he proposed!! I now have a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring on my tiny finger. He tells the story of the proposal better so maybe I'll have him post it to the blog instead of me. I started crying halfway through and then it just became sort of surreal. He was very nervous though. It was very cute. The whole restaurant clapped and celebrated with us. Two people sent us champagne and the restaurant sent out this dessert that was just divine. It was the best day of my life.

It's been so hard not to share all of the stuff on this blog! Not telling about 2 weeks ago when he asked the parents, not telling about the bridesmaids dresses, not telling about everything we talked about- anything! It's been a crazy weekend of Thomas meeting my family and premarital counseling and so many busy busy things. I couldn't be more thrilled about this. We are so good for each other. He is so patient and kind and wonderful and a 100 more awesome qualities. I'm going to post a few pictures because any girl reading this will want to know what the ring looks like- hahaha!

This is our first picture as an engaged couple. The whole restaurant was clapping and a lady came over to take our picture- of course I was laughing and crying at the same time! Notice the watch tan.

It took a long time, but we finally managed to get a decent picture of my ring. A round diamond (beautiful, exquisite) with two pear-shapped sapphire side stones. He designed it and I couldn't have picked out anything more perfect.

My youngest sister Madison did a sort of impromptu photo shoot with Thomas and I on the porch and the rest of the pictures are from that. It probably gives you a great idea of who we are as a couple. We are so in love, but we like to goof off, have fun and we are each others best friends. I can't ask for anything more.

All in all, I am so happy to begin this next phase of my life with my best friend.

Honesty, total, brutal, and complete

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's 3:57 am. I should not be awake right now. I had a dream during a nap this afternoon where we were in inter-galactic warfare and someone appointed me as General and let's be honest, I don't want to have one of those freaky days where the dream continues. I woke up from the sheer stress of it. There were very large missiles and lots of smelly and unwashed men. I have no desire to return to that.

I had a topsy-turvy day and I am very stressed out. I keep flitting back and forth between pacing outside my house in the cold, sinking into the floor being depressed, writing letters, buying groceries, checking the mail- anything, just anything to keep me from going back to that depressed state I despise so much. Part of it is because I am kind of freaking out. And my life is turning into a list. I shall explain.

I am freaking out about college. I show up at my advisor's office, also my NT professor this semester, fully prepared with my schedule outlined down to the times of the class and exactly what I want to take. We start to talk because I've been fairly honest with him this semester about how things are going and what is going on. He wonders if I can do 16 hours next semester. I wonder that too. I don't know what I can accomplish anymore. I wonder if I'll ever be good at anything ever again. It's a depressing thought, but not that far off. What if this is how my life is going to be? What if I am stuck in a state of mediocrity because this is just "how it is"? Am I forced to reckon with this every day? Is that what it is? Wake up and my thoughts today are how am I going to live my life and accomplish what I want to do today while I also work on how to keep my Bipolar Disorder in check so I don't freak myself and everyone around me out? Seriously? Is that the way it's going to be?


I don't want to live in a state of forced mediocrity. I want to do my work and get As. That's what I do. I get As. Until now. Now I just satisfy myself with passing. Passing. Scraping by. I'm going to spend the rest of my scraping. Depressing. What am I doing here at Clemson? Am I forcing myself to have a life I think I should have? I don't know that I'm doing this degree for myself anymore. I just don't feel like I belong anywhere. I'm not good enough for school, waitressing drives me nuts, but then what? What the hell am I doing? I'm wandering around, going through the motions, trying to help people when I can't even get through the day. I'm like a shell of my former self. Or a hologram- lifelike but not real.

And so my life turns into a list of things to do. Classes, assignments, grocery shopping (am I eating enough meat, did I get my veggies, must eat regular meals), driving home, getting a haircut, make sure Hannah meets Thomas, go to Madison's confirmation. I have to go to class, I have to complete assignments, I need to eat something, I must drive (but I hate it), must get my hair cut (for I am the definition of scraggly), Hannah should probably know the guy I'm in love with, and I want to celebrate Madison's confirmation. Why are the exciting things like chores? I want to celebrate. I want to have fun. Why can't I? Unfortunately for me and for my father, who thinks it's a little simpler than it is, I can't just change my feelings. No pulling myself up, even if I want to. My life is a list and I am a shell.

And my thoughts about God... I know that I wrote a week ago "Don't shut Him out." I'm not shutting him out. It's like we're both in a room, but I'm sitting in the corner and looking at Him out of the corner of my eye. I thought I trusted him, but now I'm viewing him the way I would a person I'm trying to keep an eye on. I'm not engaging him. No battle. No happiness. No praising. Just two people in an empty room, and I'm the one pretending to ignore him. It's an uncomfortable situation and I feel bad about it. Add that to the list.

I woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you'd gone,
Let the world spin madly on.
And everything that I'd said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you.
I just got lost
And slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on.
I've let the day go by.
I'd always say goodbye.
I watch the stars from my windowsill.
The whole world is moving,
and I'm standing still.
I woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here,
The day is gone.
I thought of you and where you'd gone
And the world spins madly on
And the world spins madly on
And the world spins madly on
and on and on and on
-"The World Spins Madly On" The Weepies

The more I listen to it, the more I feel it. Not that I wish I was dead, but sometimes I want to disappear. I guess I should go to bed, set my alarm to do assignments, pretend like I care, wish that parts of my life were different. I should change the name of this blog to something like "Really Depressing Thoughts, be prepared to end up feeling dejected when you're done reading this." My honesty isn't uplifting. What am I offering anyone?

My Aunt Tina

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Several years ago, my aunt Tina was diagnosed with ALS- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I'm copying a section of ALS from Wikipedia because it explains it more succinctly than I can, and sets the stage for why I am telling this. "Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of neurons located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input. The condition is often called Lou Gehrig's disease in North America, after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The disorder is characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, spasticity, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise. Sensory function generally is spared, as is autonomic, and oculomotor activity. ALS is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disease with most affected patients dying of respiratory compromise and pneumonia after 2 to 3 years; although some perish within a year from the onset of symptoms, and occasional individuals have a more indolent course and survive for many years."

I don't want to talk about the way she lived after the diagnosis or how she died. It is one of the most painful things I or my family have ever seen. I hope you never ever have to deal with this. But the reason I am writing this is because I want to remember who she was before this was ever a part of her life. And this is who she was.

She was lovely. She had beautiful curly light red hair. She was my mother's much younger sister. She had the best laugh and I still remember her voice, even if the memories of exactly what she said have long since passed. She couldn't talk at all in the end. She was vivacious and lively. She has two boys who look so much like her. My mom told me this story that when they were growing up they (she, my Uncle Jay, and Aunt Tina) had a cat. They also had a staircase with a banister that overlooked the living room. The couch sat directly beneath it. They would throw this cat (or drop him) on the couch to check and see if it would always land on its feet. I'm laughing and crying imagining this event and the three of them participating. My aunt went to the University of South Carolina where she met her husband Tim. She was really smart. She had this enormous capacity for love that she always showed. For christmas and birthdays she would often give us Barnes and Noble gift certificates- like gold to me! She had handwriting exactly like my mom's- the most perfect cursive script you could imagine. I have this postcard she sent me from San Francisco- back when postcards cost 15 cents to mail. It's on my postcard wall and I pulled it down to write this: "Hello Lauren, I hope that you are feeling all better! That nasty, old cough and ear infection should leave you alone. Papa and I miss you very much. Say hi to your Mommy and Daddy for me. I love you! 'Come see you!' Love, Tina P.S. Can I hold the baby?" On the front she wrote "BP Car Wash- it won't hurt you!" I was terrified of car washes when I was little. Terrified. I love this postcard and though you may not know me, this is who she was. Loving enough to write a two year-old a postcard. It may have started my love for mail! Who knows. Imagine my mom (picture of her on a previous post) with longer curly hair, laughing with my mom over some random thing the two of them shared. My mom loved/loves her so much. The perfect sister relationship. Anyway, she was amazing. It may not have a lot of specifics and of course I wish she had not died so young. So young. But they say that once you put something on the internet, it lasts forever. So may this last forever.

May this also raise some awareness about ALS and other neurological diseases. Check it out on wikipedia or other websites and participate if you can in research, funding, and walks or runs to raise awareness. It's a worthy cause for something that isn't as well known and something so mystifying. 95% of cases have no known cause. 5% are due to a hereditary genetic factor. A lot of people don't know what it is, but check out this fact, also from Wikipedia: "ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected. One or two out of 100,000 people develop ALS each year." Just a little soap box thought.

If heaven has the internet, I hope you read this Aunt Tina and know that you are still loved, remembered, and thought of often, as you would wish to be thought of. You are one of the strongest people I ever knew. You were admired and revered by everyone who knew you and if I have half of your strength going through life, I'll be set. To everyone else reading this, remember your family, the people you love the most- alive or deceased, know that they are special and tell someone else (even on a blog to a bunch of people you don't know, or a few friends) how much you love them, and remember them in some way today. I love you Aunt Tina.

I love the weekend

Friday, October 21, 2011

Well, it's another weekend and another "game day" weekend. It is very exhausting to be a Clemson Tiger this season. Seriously, it's a bit intense when your town is over-run by eager fans and families ready to be a part of a seriously long winning streak. The cynical fan is becoming just a tad more hopeful. Not having Friday classes is a dream. It's like having two Saturdays in a row. And it's scarf season! I love scarves. I don't know how many I have, but once the weather gets chillier, then it's a scarf a day! I can't wait to wear my Scotland scarves! They are so gorgeous and really unique. But it's Solid Orange Friday so I've got my orange scarf on to go to Rock the 'John- to kickoff, excuse me, tip off, the basketball season. It should be fun. I have gone to lunch with an old high school friend and got a package all the way from Scotland! Then I spend tomorrow (hopefully quiet) catching up on some homework. Rather boring post, I suppose, but better something than nothing. I'll work on coming up with something more cerebral for the next post. Maybe I'll post some pictures from Rock the 'John tonight. :) Oh yeah, and capping off the day with a viewing of Footloose.

Don't shut Him out

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes it's hard intentionally coming up with things. I was writing a letter to a friend when I told her about something that I think works for everyone. So here it is (with a few additions at the end): We do trust in God. But with God, would you rather he hand everything to you? No. That's not a relationship. You wouldn't feel anything towards Him. But you and me- we get angry with Him, we celebrate Him, we laugh with Him when we look at giraffes, we get pissed with Him when the diagnosis is Bipolar, we rejoice with Him at Easter and Christmas. We have a life because of Him. It may not always be great, but it's REAL. And isn't that what you want from God? Honesty? Reality? I think so. I think He knows that too. So laugh and get pissed. Just don't shut him out. Once you shut him out, then there's no relationship. Not even a tense one. Life is full of things that make us happy, sad, dejected, elated, and enthralled. Sometimes, often times, it hurts to feel those things. But we push and we persevere. With God something is better than nothing. It may not be poetic, but it's true. After periods of time where it feels like you're looking at life through wax paper, then He shows you glass, then times where the window is open- and you're left to fly.

Life can't be that bad

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a Debbie Downer when I post all of these bipolar tirades. I know that it gets me more hits than any of my other posts, so I will try to do them more often- just balance the really crappy days with days where I can rationally deal with it. Strike a balance. But I was looking through my iPhoto (Mac person if you didn't know) and I realized that my life can't be that bad when I'm surrounded by awesome people, a great school that I have grown to love over the last few months, and the beauty of God's creation. I'm going to give you some pictures of my life and a brief glimpse into my visual world.

My postcard wall, in all its glory!

Me, when I'm happy.

Mom, Dad, and Me- past and current Clemson students!

The famous balloon release at a Clemson game! Orange, mixed with red, white, and blue for Military Appreciation Day

Me and some birds at the zoo- fun, until they started pulling out my red hair to make a nest.

Having a TON of fun feeding the goats!

Me and a bald Thomas- best guy in the world, bar none.

Crowd rushing the field after the AUBURN WIN!!

And yep, I was in that crowd- Chacos and pom pom on the edge of the end zone. TOUCHDOWN! for a Clemson student experience!

Showers are powerful things

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Anyone who is Bipolar or Depressed can attest to the fact that showers are magical things. It may not be a completely blanket statement, but to people who sometimes can't make it out of bed sometimes, a shower is a thing of power. It forces you to be alone with yourself. Not sleeping, not the internet, not eating or whatever it is we do to pretend we're not where we really are. You might see it as a few minutes out of your day to get ready for work or school or it may be a thing to wipe away the day. If it's the later, you might also know what I'm talking about.

First you have to strip and then look at yourself in the mirror. This is not pornographic, it is powerful. Okay, take me. I just took a shower. I see someone who has waited way too long since her last hair cut, but that it is a lovely shade of red. My left eye is bloodshot because I've stayed up too late. I have 2 red lines across my stomach where it shows that I've bent over a desk for 4 hours cramming for my math test, then 2 hours in my bed decompressing with a phone call and tv. My hips stick out. They do. I think it's funny looking. My face looks tired. I need to shave my legs. The mirror forces you to recon with who you are. Great hair, lumps, and all.

Then the shower. Hot water, alone with your thoughts and shampoo. All that's happened today- waking up, getting out of bed, lunch with a great friend, English class where I bombed a quiz on the Wife of Bath, Math Lab where I dealt with not being terribly sure of the exam I have tomorrow, a trip to McDonalds because I craved a cheeseburger and I wanted some of those monopoly pieces they have, talking with my little sis and Mom (if you're reading this- you didn't call me back like you promised!), studying for Math for hours, getting lost in episodes of "Felicity", then freaking out that I got lost stayed up too late, shedding a few tears, and realizing that I warded off a panic attack!

A mostly triumphal day, I realized. I did things that I wouldn't have dreamed of last week. I may have bombed a quiz, but I WENT TO CLASS AND TOOK IT ANYWAY. I STUDIED. I was alive- a participant in life, rather than a spectator of lives around me. I talked for over an hour to my friend Sarah (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). I talked to Thomas for a long time. I laughed, poked fun at him, and remembered that I'm head over heals for this guy, completely in love with him. He came to visit Clemson for the first time this weekend. He held me as I cried, he stayed up for hours on Sunday teaching me math that I've missed, he walked me to class on Monday as I was slightly terrified of re-entering the world, he made me laugh, we had tickle fights, and he always reminds me that I am beautiful, special, worthy of life and that I have something to offer. He may not know this, but I went back to school for me. Back to class. But I went there because of him.

Being Bipolar changes you. You look at people differently. You fear that they won't understand you. I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I have faith in humanity. Most people are innately good. I tell people when I have to, secretly afraid of rejection, but people don't. Not for the most part. They may not understand. That's okay. But they're willing to listen or willing to learn or willing to love or willing to have faith in you. It's hard to express gratitude.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. . . -Leo Buscaglia

Being Bipolar also makes you think about how you change. I have Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. A vague diagnosis. In the "mild", "moderate", or "severe" category, I'm a "moderate." Though somedays it feels like I'm leaning toward "severe." But there are two sides of me. The part that I am when the Bipolar Disorder rears it's ugly, nasty head and the part when it's not so apparent. Being Bipolar is confusing sometimes. When the former happens, logic flies out the window and whatever emotion turns on is ON. You can't change it. At that moment it is what it is. The brief and rare moments of clarity are sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrific. Wonderful when you can think your own thoughts. Horrific when you realize what you were when the Bipolar was there. Depressed beyond belief or moody or reclusive or even mean or afraid or scared of things that aren't scary to a non-Biploar person. But let me assure you in the most animated terms- when you are Bipolar the emotions you feel at that moment are as real as they get, IF NOT MORE SO. It's not something you snap out of. It is supremely real. That is life. You can change your thoughts afterwards, you can realize that they're crazy, but while you're in it (and it can last for weeks, months), that is it. That's the hardest to explain- no, not explain, to make people believe. It is so so so hard and frustrating.

I want to be honest. The past two days have been good. I have been happy. Not temporarily, but for hours at a time. And I hope it lasts. For a long time. Oh how I missed school- highlighting and taking notes and knowing an answer. I am such a geek. I love being a geek. I love my life. I hate being Bipolar, but that's just a thing. A big thing, but still just a thing. My life- the essence of me- the geekness, love of letters, overly sarcastic, passionate about love, bold when I have to be, my love of writing, the fact that I own too many pairs of jeans, crazy about religions, crazy about God- is the same. My friends and family and boyfriend and professors- the fabulous people who add color, substance, love, and meaning in my life- are still there for me. My life is awesome.

Thought for the day:
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's one of my favorites because it reminds me of the true substance of life: not things or actions, but gumption, heart, bravery, integrity, and soul. Have a good day.