Going Paperless: The Experiment and the Experience Part 1

It wasn’t an easy decision to go paperless. I have kept daily journals for years, and I have always loved having a journal in my backpack. But let’s face facts. I’m not getting any younger, and that backpack gets heavier every year. Also, living with schizophrenia means that I have a mountain of disorganized papers that match my sometimes disorganized thought patterns, and its become too easy to lose track of important papers. I’m also a student and I want to reduce my carbon footprint. So I opted to go paperless. What does this mean? It means that I purchased an Ipad sixth generation (I couldn’t stomach the price of the Pro for this experiment) and I plan to use it for all my school note-taking and journaling. This is going to be hard for me. Giving up paper. I’ve tried it before. But that usually meant taking a laptop everywhere,  and busting that bad boy out at the drop of a thought is cumbersome at best and dangerous in my neighborhood at worst. So I opted for an Ipad. I suppose I could have gotten a surface, but the Ipad has cooler covers, it’s smaller, so I feel more comfortable taking it out and, well, they only carried Ipads in the school bookstore.

So tomorrow I will begin my paperless journey; a  shame really since I just got a new journal for new years 2019. But maybe I can take some pictures  of it and use its cover as a cover and its pages as templates. Who knows? Not me, not yet anyway. But I think I was reading of an app where you can customize the templates. Now that would be cool. What was it called? If you know leave me a message in the comments section. I think its Goodnotes.

One thing you can bet on is that I’ll be writing away on that iPad; every time I look at my journal I think about how many trees died to make it. Yes, there are journals that use recycled paper or that use a fabric pulp by-product to make less of a carbon footprint. I have used both with good results. But I’ve really wanted to go paperless for a long time now.

Also to be fair, I looked at a number of tablets like the Sony DPT-RP1, the Remarkable and the Boox Onyx Note. What turned me off these werethe prices and that most of them don’t handle the kindle app or adding images on the notepaper paper. I often add photographs I print out to my journals. The Ipad with an app like Notability, One Note or Evernote seemed to be the cheapest and smartest alternative. I also wanted a way to organize my Kindle textbooks, school notes, and my journal into an all in one device. Once again the Ipad with apps won the day.

I also looked at 2in1 laptop tablets like the Dell Inspiron, but none of the ones that work with the active stylus were sold in the bookstore and while you are thinking “Mae, there are other places to shop than your university bookstore,” let me remind you that only your university bookstore takes your financial aid package into account if you want to purchase one. This was yet another reason I went with the Ipad.

I’ll also be looking at various apps to help me journal and note take. It might be that I need to use two separate apps, but I doubt this. Still, I’ll look at both journaling and notetaking apps.

Will this finally open up the world of Macs to me? A lot, I mean a lot of people love their Macs. Although I know there is going to be a learning curve coming from windows so I would love to find an app that works on windows machines and the Ipad, ideally, one that allows me to export and print. I know what you are thinking: Onenote! Yes, its free and I will certainly be putting it through its paces first. Along with the usual office suite that works on Apples,  I’ll have to see if it works on the Ipad. From what I read they will.

So while I’m impatiently waiting for my iPad to show up tomorrow, I will be looking at the various note-taking and journaling apps, such as (in no particular order):

  1. Pages
  2. MS Word
  3. Onenote
  4. Good notes
  5. Notability
  6. Evernote
  7. Day One
  8. Ulysses
  9. Journey
  10. Notetaker HD
  11. Complete Class Organizer
  12. Dyrii

I’d like to try them all, but money is a factor so the free options will be used first. Hell, if Onenote makes the grade, I’ll be using that if I can sync it to my win 10 desktop, thus eliminating the need (but not the want) for a MacBook.  Anyway, true believers, I’ll keep you updated…. And in the meantime, I’ll show you the case I bought. It certainly has personality, it looks like me journaling! Its from Dluggs on Amazon and cost about $14.00. I didn’t need the card holder but I like the fact that it has a pencil loop, when most of the didn’t. I hope the loop isn’t too big, none of those pens at the bottom look like my Apple Pencil…

Money Woes and Mental Illness

Dealing with money is difficult for a lot of people. In fact, for most of us living within our means is a pipe dream whose importance we hold out to others but seldom practice ourselves. But in truth it’s one of the few ways to live that provides you a lower stress level and lowering your stress level is a fundamental key to living successfully with a mental illness.

Now I’m not saying that all credit cards are the devil. When my computer died on me and I was able to use my (secured) card to purchase a replacement part it was a god-send (excuse the word choice, I couldn’t resist). But I have also fallen on the wagon before. When I was 18 and a freshman in college it was still legal for credit card companies to camp out a tables in front the doors. You couldn’t get through without them trying to sign you up for a “brand new credit card all your own, and here have this free drink coozie”. The problem is the number of 18 year olds who are fiscally responsible is virtually non-existent, at least in this country. Sure, I tried to be responsible. I had to try it out once my then friends and family said, just to break it in and to make sure it was real. I did. More than once. Those emergencies that card was supposed to be used for became emergencies of convenience: Left home without lunch, grab a taco at the cafeteria. Bus is 2 hours late or overslept? Grab a cab. Let’s just say that by time a real emergency (I got the flu of near-death from one of my schoolmates and needed prescriptions) came up there wasn’t any emergency credit left. It took me a long time to learn differently.

I’m 40 and my college loan debt goes past my eyeballs and right to my hairline; which is starting to gray but thankfully not recede due to the stress. I have loans from one of those loan-sharks in disguise, the ubiquitous rent-to-owns. The problems here are that 1. I might not get a job at graduation where I can pay off these loans in a reasonable time frame and 2. Anything you buy from a rent-to-own place you will still be paying on and paying off long after the warranty goes out. So what did I do?

I started over of sorts. I got a secured card and I make regular on-time payments. The same with the loan sharks, mostly. I’ve tried to cut down on the frivolous spending because let’s face it eating Taco Hell or Jack-in-the-Crack every night isn’t exactly loving me in the cholesterol department and I’m now at the age where I have to watch those kinds of things. Still, it’s surprising how quickly inconveniences can seem like emergencies. This is where that willpower your parents should have told you about kicks in. And it better kick hard. This is also where suffering from a mental illness can make things especially difficult. With anyone what you need and what you want can become troublingly similar. It’s even more difficult if you suffer from something like Bi-polar disorder. When that mania strikes, do yourself a favor and give your cards and cash to someone you trust who can hold it until you’re stable again. Or, at the very least keep receipts because I can promise you that you won’t remember why you bought half of that stuff and you won’t remember buying the other half at all.

For me it’s been a long, slow journey. Nothing is perfect. I still make mistakes, but I try to pay my rent and utilities before I lose my mind and go for those umpteenth packages of post-it notes and Washi paper (don’t ask, trust me, it’s a long story and you neither want nor need to know). I’m trying to establish a savings to turn to when emergencies hit, because they will, we know they will, they always will. I’m trying not to charge anything that I can’t pay off in full the next month, like my Netflix, Hulu and Gamefly bills. Why these? They are cheap, I have to pay them monthly anyway and paying them on time on the card establishes that positive credit history for the house I plan to buy sometime before I’m 80. No life is stress-free, but keeping your debt to a minimum can go a long way towards keeping you relaxed.

That Girl in the Corner Surviving on faith

When too much of a good thing is be too much of a good thing or That girl in the corner who lives on faith.

I’ve been working 2 jobs for several months and while the pay is great, my mental health is slipping. Fast.

I’m a classic type A personality. I’m a perfectionist. I’m that person you see working the extra hours and the holiday shift that no one else wants to work. I’m the one who volunteers for it gladly.

I’m also the one sitting in a corner at home crying her eyes out because she is just so damn tired.

But you would never know that. No, not really. I’m the nice girl. The charming girl. The never rude girl. The girl whose heart is secretly breaking.

I don’t know what to do or where to turn. I honestly love both jobs and am not sure which one to keep. But I have faith that I will make the right decision eventually. For people like me, people with a mental illness but still trying to work, a lot comes down to faith. Faith that you can make it as many days as possible. Faith that you’ll have a boss who will understand on those days that you can’t. Faith that somehow, all the bills will still get paid even if your income is cut in half. Faith that my sanity is more important than the cable that helps you to zone out and keeps you sane.

Hell, I’m not even sure I can afford to quit one of my jobs. But I have faith that something will work out. I must. Otherwise, I would have let my self succeed at one of those suicide attempts.

I think that faith is something we underestimate in ourselves. We have faith that this day will be better than the last. That is why we keep going. Because we believe that somehow things will get better.

There, that’s my two cents on that. But back to my predicament. Like I said, I haven’t decided yet. I’m trying to give myself until the beginning of the new year to decide. Then I’m hoping to have a better idea of what I can do with one income. I plan to bank the lesser income and see if I can survive without it. If I can’t then I’ll have to tighten an already tight belt to whalebone corset proportions. But I still have faith that somehow it will work out.

So, this month and next month will be the beginning on an experiment. I’m going to live on one income. If I can do that then I won’t worry so much. I know I will be okay. I’ll have to lay the rest of faith.

 

Mae.

Late Night Bed Obsessions

Why do we want the things that we want? For example, devil be damned, I want a bed. I don’t mean a mattress set, I mean a good, old-fashioned, ornate, beautiful, one-of-a-kind, headboard and footboard.

Do these things exist? Of course, they do. Are they in my price range? Of course not. I’ve been obsessing over the perfect bed for more than a year. Sometimes I find a nice one, but it’s not in my price range. Sometimes the bed is in my price range, but it is not what I love.

Sometimes I’m irrational. I understand this. Sometimes what I want and what is really happening or available are not the same things. This is par for the course with having Schizophrenia and a mood disorder like being Bipolar. Or so they tell me. But at least I know I this about myself. I know a full-size bed isn’t the most comfortable for me. But I also know that a queen size bed is simply too big for my bedroom. So, perhaps I should settle on a Full XL bed. This seemed to be the most practical solution at first until you realize that the mattress has to be special ordered and finding a cute bed for it is a bitch and a half.

And why do I need a bed anyway? Its just a headboard and a footboard. As one very good friend told me, it’s just aesthetics. But she can go non-aesthetic herself, in a good way. I CARE HOW IT LOOKS. I want something that I will want to wake up in everyone morning and go to sleep in every night. I love to sleep. Sleep and I are the best-est of buds. So, wouldn’t it make sense to someone like me to want to have the most comfortable and beautiful sleeping experience possible?

I’ve seen some beautiful beds. Some are queen; some are full. None are Full XL. Some of the full could be converted to Full XL, but that would take extra money. Let me be frank; it’s not that my full-size bed is physically very uncomfortable. It’s just not physically the most comfortable. I always feel like my toes are sliding off the end of the bed. Plus, it’s not like I’m particularly tall. I’m only about 5.6”. It’s just the way I sleep: straight up and down, coffin style, just on my stomach. Sometimes I sleep on my side and start the night in a somewhat relaxed fetal position, but unless I’m cold I wake up stick straight and on my stomach.

So what is a girl to do? All the cool real antique beds are full, and all the cool modern beds are queen, and I can’t afford both a new mattress and a bedroom set at the same time. So do I suffer in silence on the full and get an antique I can convert to a full XL or Queen? Do I strike out as an independent and go Full XL, hoping against hope that a bed will come up that will strike my fancy? Or do I deny the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune of a tiny bedroom and get a queen size mattress set and bedroom set, walking room be damned?

Why does something as simple as bedroom furniture have to be this hard?

I have other friends. They are going the DIY route. I think about this a lot. I’m fairly crafty and decent with tools. I can patch sheetrock.  I can paint. Surely, I could simply make a headboard and footboard. This appeals to me, and there are some YouTube videos that show you how to do this inexpensively. The problem is that they never show you how to make a footboard. Is it just like making a headboard? I don’t know. I can’t find a video for it. Besides, I don’t just want a bed. I want a complete bedroom set and for those of you wondering why I want a complete bedroom set; I just think it looks nicer. So what can I do? I did manage to find a few beds I love. They are queen, and they are not currently in my price range, but I could try to save up for them. There is one full, that could potentially be converted into a Full XL, but that price is also high.

So what do I do? I looked on Craigslist of course. There is a nice queen set for under $500 and a beautiful furniture set for under $700. The problem is that I can’t get both at once. Bed likes come and go, so the mattress set must come first. I guess I’m going with the queen because even though I’m losing 5-6 inches of walking room on either side, it just feels nice to sleep with my feet fully in the bed and weird when they are not. I’m also going to switch bedrooms. I live in a multi-room rental house and after fixing up the room, that’s room will be my bedroom and my current bedroom will be my library.

Why do I have so many bedrooms? I’m not rich by any means, but there used to be six members of my family living with me, and now there are only 3 of us left; the Grim Reaper touches us all eventually. I think my Mom and Grandma, both of whom loved to read and taught me to read would like that there the extra rooms would hold all their precious books (read: everything from the Harvard Classics to ancient Harlequin Romance Novels). Those books are precious to me too.

Two of the rooms are on the opposite side of the house (a large garage converted into two rooms) will go to Lil Bro’. Lil Bro’ gets to have an apartment like duplex with his own ½ bath, bedroom and living room. He’s an art major, and some of the things I hear coming out of that side of the house scares me. Trust me; he needs the space… for whatever he’s doing in there. There are some things as a Big Sis’ that you just never want to know about your Lil Bro’. Its kind of like the things you never want to know about your parents but so far worse that you physically break out in hives.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, yes. Beds and obsessions. So after looking long and hard at my budget. I decided to go with comfort first and get a queen size bed. Why queen? Because I can’t find a Full XL cheaper than a queen. You can damn money and the devil all you want, but you still need it to buy the things you want, and I don’t have the money for a full XL, I have the money for a new, decent queen.  Thank you, Gods, of Craigslist. The obsessive crisis is avertedlandscape-1449846381-womaninbed for now. But it will return. Probably around two weeks from now when I realize that the lamps I bought aren’t the perfect shade of ivory to match my new comforter set. But at least when I do sleep (those precious 3 hours a night), I will do it without my toes hanging off the end of the bed.

Hello, It’s me… It Feels Like The First Time, Again…

This must be what, my 3rd attempt and starting and maintaining a blog and my most personal. At least, it hasn’t all been wasted time. There hasn’t been much of any time lately, not really. I try to work, I go to school, I try to take care of myself and my family as best as I can. Oh, and some might say that I suffer from a mental illness. I currently think of it more like a difficulty than a disease, but that’s probably because my meds are working pretty well right now. There has been some hard times, though. Times in the hospital and out of it. Times when you wonder, if there really is a point to all the pain that seems to haunt us on a nearly daily basis. The rampant, rapidly changing mood swings. The fear that everyone knows that there is something that is just a little bit off about me and I don’t know why.

I’m finding out, more people than I thought are or were like this. Though my pain is my own, it can be comforting to know that you are not the only one in pain. I used to hate group therapy. I haven’t been in one in years, and the experience wasn’t pleasant. Though looking back on it now, I can see it’s appeal. It helps you realize that you are not alone. But maybe that is only when it is done the right way. I’ve been in some good groups, rarely, and in some, that sucked rocks so bad that I considered it a personal punishment. Maybe even one I deserved.

I try not to feel that way now. I’m desperately trying to finally take life one half hour at a time, because let’s face it, trying to handle a whole day of stuff can be scary. But I this is okay. This is the limit of my strength right now, and I’ve learned the hard way that trying to go too far too fast just leads me somewhere I don’t want to be, namely in the hospital in the middle of a group therapy. Not all hospitals and groups are bad. Sometimes they are needed. When I feel myself slipping too far (down or up), I know its time to go in for a checkup. Maybe I’m there for a few days; maybe it’s a few weeks. But when it gets to be too much, a good psych ward can be the haven you need to open up and start to handle things in a healthy way.

Let’s face it, over drinking, over-drugging, self-harm; they might make the pain go away for awhile, but it doesn’t last. Then, you have to either start the cycle over or flip the script and try something new. Why not try something that might actually make living with it easier? Notice, I said “easier” not “easy.” There is nothing easy about any life, and lives like these are way less easy than most. Sometimes, you’re the victim. Sometimes you’re a survivor. Sometimes you find the courage to get out of bed and go to do what you have to do (and trust me it takes a lot) and you realize that you’re a fracking warrior. In time, that battle may lesson or even end. But that struggle will be with you for awhile. I’ve already gotten used to it; now I am just trying to understand why and move forward.

If you’re a fan of Supernatural, then you are familiar with Jared Padalecki’s #AlwaysKeepFighting. This is what I do; this is what we do. This is what warriors do. Being scared, terrified, petrified is okay. It’s Being uncertain is okay. Sometimes to hide under the covers and cry until you’ve got nothing but dry heaves left is okay, too. Maybe this takes an hour. Maybe it takes a week. But afterwards,  I pick myself up and I start fighting again and step-by-gut-wrenchingly-painful-step, I start to be some positive form of me again.

So keep fighting, you’re worth it.

 

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Pic thanks to Pintrest