Don’t.

I’m staring so relentlessly at the floor, I’m almost surprised when my eyes don’t burn holes into the tiles.

Don’t listen.

They keep speaking. I stare at the floor. At the table. At another person. At my lap. I stare anywhere, as long as I can avoid looking the one place I don’t want to look.

Don’t listen.

But I have to.

Don’t cry.

Don’t cry.

Damn it, don’t cry!

I keep my eyes on the floor, my gaze becoming more intense, as if staring at ugly floor tile could staunch the tears threatening to form in my eyes. Already forming in my eyes.

Damn it, stop.

But I can’t. When you’re a crier – a real, unrelenting crier – most things set you off. Being happy. Being sad. Angry. Frustrated. Disappointed.

Frustrated with yourself for crying because you’re sad and disappointed.

Don’t listen.

Don’t cry.

Just don’t.

My Battle Against the Mice: Part Two

I thought it was over.

I went on vacation a few days after finding the last mouse droppings. When I came back, I didn’t find any new signs of mice. I hesitantly went back to sleeping in my own apartment for a few days. I was ready to call my complex and have them remove the mouse poison so I’d feel more comfortable with my dog staying there. (Note: I asked them several times to use traps other than poison because of my dog and my neighbors’ pets. They ignored my concerns each time.)

And then last night happened.

I found new mouse droppings.

Not many. But there were some. I tried to tell myself they weren’t mouse droppings. I knew they were, but I tried to tell myself they weren’t. My anxiety usually convinces me things are worse than they are. It will convince me that I’m seeing mouse poop, even if it’s something else. But last night was different. Last night, I tried to tell myself it wasn’t mouse poop. I tried to tell myself that it was my anxiety. But I knew better.

So I took a picture and sent it to my boyfriend. He confirmed that it indeed looked like mouse poop.

ARGHHHHHHH.

Why can’t this be over? I already removed all food from my apartment except for that in my fridge/freezer. When I bought new food, I put it in a plastic storage container where mice can’t get to. They have no food source in my apartment. I don’t leave water out. I check the sinks to make sure there’s no sitting water in them.

My apartment complex is useless. I left them another voicemail yesterday asking if they could remove the poison and put down new traps. Today, I called and they said they’d put down new bait… OK, so the one thing I asked you not to do.

So even though my apartment complex said they’d take care of the problem, looks like it’s on me now. Time to buy some mouse traps and steel wool (oh yeah– because the apartment complex decided not to have the exterminator check the exterior of the building to see where they’re coming in because I’m the only one who has reported problems. OK BUT THEY ARE GETTING IN SOMEWHERE. Especially since I live on the second floor.).

But you bet I’ll be keeping my receipts.

My Battle Against the Mice: Week One

The last week, I’ve been dealing with a really disgusting problem: Mice.

Around 12:30-1 a.m. last Sunday night, after the Oscars, I discovered mouse poop in the corner of my dining room. That’s when the investigation began.

It was everywhere. It was in all the places I normally don’t see, so I wouldn’t know it was happening. It was under my sink (along with a chewed-through bag of dog food. Which is now gone, along with the rest of the dog treats I’d stored there.) It was behind my couch. It was behind my dresser. It was underneath the recliner that was right next to my bed. It was in my water heater closet. There were even a few little mouse droppings in one corner of my bathroom, underneath the bathroom cabinets.

The intense cleaning period started. I vacuumed everything (sorry to my downstairs neighbors for doing this in the middle of the night!). I Lysol’d. I disinfected. But the battle was far from over.

I finally gave in to realizing how late it was and knowing I had to work the next morning, and tried to go to sleep around 3 a.m. But 3 turned to 4. I couldn’t sleep. My anxiety — which can be very strong at times — was too intense. I couldn’t stop thinking about the mouse, the mice, being everywhere. Having free reign of my apartment. Crawling on me in my sleep. I finally fell asleep after 4, only to have dreams about mice and wake up at 7, unable to sleep again.

I called my apartment complex Monday morning. I knew maintenance was coming to replace my water heater, because there was a leak — which I now guessed might be mouse-related — and I asked if they could check to see if they thought mice were getting in there. They confirmed that they saw mouse droppings and said they’d call an exterminator, who would be out on Wednesday.

I still couldn’t sleep Monday night. The same thing happened. I fell asleep at my boyfriend’s in the evening, but then I returned home and couldn’t sleep (and not because of the nap…I nap almost every time I’m there).

So I let the terrorists win, as they say. I stopped sleeping at my apartment, instead staying at my boyfriend’s house. Which I’ve done every night since Tuesday night. I’d stop home for a little while after work to clean and check for new activity, then I’d go back to his house. (Thank you to him and his mom for putting up with me and my crazy. And Norm.)

Last night, I finally told myself I’d sleep in my apartment again. I hadn’t seen any new signs of mice activity that I knew of — every time I found new mouse poop, I attributed it to the fact that my vacuum hadn’t swept it all up before. It was in places I hadn’t been as vigilant. So, it probably wasn’t new.

But then my boyfriend used a Rug Doctor in my room, and I didn’t want to put my bed back on the wet carpet. I have no bed frame — just box springs and a mattress (which is part of the reason I don’t want to sleep in my bed) — and I was worried I’d trap water and moisture underneath, which would lead to mold. So back to his house we went.

Which brings us to today. I came home, determined as ever I’d actually sleep in my own apartment tonight.

And that’s when I saw it.

Two new mouse droppings under my kitchen sink.

Back to square one. Back to another round of sanitizing and disinfecting.

Back to extreme levels of throwing away unopened food. (I’d previously thrown away everything under my kitchen sink and everything on my counter, even though there was no sign of activity on my counter. I’ve now thrown away all food except for what is in my fridge — and that may even be next.

And maybe, back to being unable to sleep. Only time will tell. But I’m guessing if I stay here…I’ll be back to being unable to sleep. Even sitting on my couch, typing this, I look around quickly and alertly every time I hear the slightest noise in my apartment. And mice are nocturnal, mostly. What kind of sounds will I be able to handle hearing at night?

I know I shouldn’t be this terrified. But this is one of those things that is proving too much for my anxiety to handle. I can’t stop thinking about mice being everywhere. I keep checking for mouse poop at work, at my boyfriend’s, on the street. And I know mice are literally everywhere. And I’ve stayed places before where mice have been. But something about this is different. This is my home. And in my home, it’s not OK.

Since the exterminator’s traps don’t seem to be doing anything, we may be moving on to Phase 2: More traps and steel wool.

Until next time…

Being a Hypochondriac

I’ve known for a while that I have bouts of hypochondria. I think it traces back to when I was younger, maybe 11 or 12, when my primary care doctor sent me to a dermatologist because he didn’t like the look of one of my moles, and he just wanted me to get it checked out by a specialist, just in case.

I don’t remember the whole time between the two appointments, but I do remember one specific day. I was at the fair, I think, with my mom and sister. There may have been someone else with us, but I can’t remember now. I just remember that I couldn’t stop worrying about that mole.

I could see where my doctor had a small amount of concern. It wasn’t circular. Instead, it was shaped almost like a lumpy cross. I prayed and prayed that it was nothing. That I’d be OK. And I found it so ironic that my “Jesus mole,” as I had deemed it, was the one that caused me such worry.

That mole turned out to be fine. But I never forgot how worried I was. And I never forgot how the doctor told me I was at a higher risk for melanoma because of all my moles. And I never forgot that the doctor told me I had a large mole on my back that I should watch: As long as it didn’t change, it should be OK.

Fast forward to two years ago, when my hypochondria hit an all-time low. (High? It was intense, is all I know.)

I looked at that mole every day. But not just once a day. I looked at it almost incessantly. I would look at it again just one minute after I looked at it, telling myself I hadn’t looked well enough and needed a second look. I cried. I got to the point where I had a breakdown at least once a day, because “I didn’t know if it was changing.” I found a second mole to worry about.

I finally got put on an antidepressant to control my anxiety. The hypochondria was bad, but I also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks due to other causes.

That helped, but it’s not completely gone. Here are a few examples of what being a hypochondriac is, in my experience, over the last 12 years.

Being a hypochondriac is: Worrying that you’re pregnant when your period is late, even when you’ve never had sex, which would make it impossible.

Being a hypochondriac is: Learning someone you know once had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and determining that bump on your shoulder — which you thought was a cystic acne bump — is the same thing.

Being a hypochondriac is: Determining a spot on your leg is definitely squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma.

Being a hypochondriac is: Learning you have a mouse in your apartment and immediately researching the bubonic plague, its symptoms for humans and dogs, and how many cases in the US are reported per year to learn your chances…just in case.

Being a hypochondriac is: Worrying that a bump you feel in your shin is bone cancer before remembering you ran your shin into a car earlier that day when helping a friend pack.

Being a hypochondriac is: Having digestion issues and determining it’s colon cancer.

Anyone else living with hypochondriac struggles?

(Just to update, mostly so no one comments and freaks me out about how I may actually have something wrong with me: I’m seeing a derm for the back mole (which has not changed), leg spot and shoulder bump later this month. My primary doctor wasn’t concerned about any of them, but I want to get the mole removed anyone just because of its location, and I figure it wouldn’t hurt to ask about everything else. Oh, and my digestion issues only lasted a few weeks.)

Does a Daith Piercing Really Work for Migraines?

If you’re a chronic migraine sufferer, I’m sure you’ve heard of this by now: The daith piercing.

It’s rumored to work similarly to acupuncture. Supposedly, the spot on your ear where you get the daith piercing is a pressure point for headaches/migraines.

Keep in mind, this is all word-of-mouth. There haven’t really been studies on the daith piercing as of yet that determines whether or not it actually works.

From what I can tell, there seems to be a pretty even split: Doctors saying it doesn’t have a scientific basis for working, and migraine sufferers saying it has helped them.

I get migraines anywhere from once a week to once a month. The pain is excruciating, and you really can’t do anything sometimes. I spent my last Friday night falling asleep at 5:30 p.m., as soon as I got home from work, because I couldn’t do anything else. My usual cure for a migraine is medicine and a nap. Just one or the other usually won’t work. Something about the medicine+sleep formula seems magic. Unfortunately, you lose the hours that you sleep and likely the hours leading up to the sleep when the migraine was starting.

So when I heard about the daith piercing, I was intrigued. Could something as simple as a piercing help me suffer from fewer migraines?

I’m still considering whether or not to get a daith piercing, but right now my mentality is this: Why not? The only real downfall is some people say it can take up to a year to heal. But Body Piercing magazine‘s website puts that number at only 3 to 6 months. If it doesn’t work, at least you haven’t spent a bunch of money. Body Piercing Magazine also states most reputable piercers will only charge $40 to $50, though I’m sure the cost varies based on the cost of living in your city.

So now I speak to those of you who have had a daith piercing. Does it work? Or is it just another myth? Comment below and let me know!

RIP Alan Rickman

I shouldn’t be this sad. I know I shouldn’t be. Alan Rickman was an actor. I didn’t know him personally. I never met him. He’s just an actor in a series that I loved.

But I can’t help but be devastated today at the news Alan Rickman died. Because he may be just an actor, but he played such an important role to me.

I’ve loved Harry Potter since I was 9 — for 15 years, now. I started reading it while my grandmother was dying from cancer. It was an escape. It helped me feel happy when I was sad.

And I was so young. Harry Potter was a huge part of my childhood. And it’s still a huge part of my adult life. Because it’s what made me fall in love with reading — which is a huge part of who I am. Because it was the first series I fell deeply in love with.

So seeing someone who was such an important part of the franchise die? It hurts. Because he’s more than just an actor. He’s a part of my life, even if I wasn’t part of his. He brought a hugely important character from a hugely important (to me) series to life. He is part of the franchise that shaped me.

He’s not just another actor. So, I’m sad.

The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About

This is an amazing read.

Drifting Through My Open Mind

image: Shutterstock image: Shutterstock

There’s this thing that happens whenever I speak about or write about women’s issues. Things like dress codes, rape culture and sexism. I get the comments: Aren’t there more important things to worry about? Is this really that big of a deal? Aren’t you being overly sensitive? Are you sure you’re being rational about this?

Every. Single. Time.

And every single time I get frustrated. Why don’t they get it?

I think I’ve figured out why.

They don’t know.

They don’t know about de-escalation. Minimizing. Quietly acquiescing.

Hell, even though women live it, we are not always aware of it. But we have all done it.

We have all learned, either by instinct or by trial and error, how to minimize a situation that makes us uncomfortable. How to avoid angering a man or endangering ourselves. We have all, on many occasions, ignored an offensive comment. We’ve all…

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