Saturday, November 27, 2010

ain't feeling it today

I'm a little sick these last few days. I have a cough and a sore throat and sinus pressures. So that's not that good. I ran yesterday and then shivered for a while afterward, so that was probably not a good idea. I did however stay home last night when I could have gone out, and I got some good sleep. So hopefully I will get more good sleep tonight and wake up feeling better tomorrow.

As it is, I'm in a crappy mood. Which means I am more judgmental about my surroundings both physical and people, and so I am attempting to keep my distance. Which, in an apartment with six roommates and people coming and going all the time, is not all that easy. Also, I lost my camera, so I'm shit out of luck there.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Therapy continued

I didn't really delve into any issues in my last post. One of the things I am constantly learning is interpersonal interactions and relationships.

Five years worth of therapy have made me extremely self-aware, but didn't really give me practical tools for interacting with others on a daily basis. While I am able to be open and honest easier than ever, this skill doesn't help make new friends really.

But despite this I am making new friends. The issue is keeping them and strengthening existing friendships.

I am friends with an IDF veteran who was in Gaza and Lebanon. We were talking about social interaction and we both agreed that at times, certain social situations are scarier than combat was. The thing is, we were trained for combat. It is a simple situation. The enemy has this objective and I have mine. There are certain tactics and actions that are taken to advance that objective. In social situations, things are messy. I have no idea of what people want from me, what is happening. I received no training for this, and constantly feel out of my depth when interacting with my peers.

This is uncomfortable to me, however I am beginning to tolerate this feeling and go out and talk to people and actively participate in my social surroundings, whereas previously I would avoid the whole thing. So I guess that's progress.

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virtual therapy

I went to therapy once a week while I was in New York. For the last five years, on average once a week I sat down with a therapist, someone trained in the art of getting to the issues that are affecting me, and helping me delve through them.

I have been in Israel now for eight weeks. Eight weeks in which I have done many different things and gotten through periods of depression on my own. However, I am not stupid or naive enough to think that I don't still need therapy. At this junction though, I am going to use this blog post and future ones as my "virtual therapy" seeing as the commute from Ashdod to the VA in Northport, NY would be costly and not really feasible weekly.

In the past eight weeks, I have been able to interact and participate in daily life for the first time in five years. I live with 6 roommates in an apartment, and there are 38 other participants in the group that I am part of. I am "forced" to interact and be social every day with these people. I have a job in which I am required to interact with both adults but mainly children, and each day I am setting new boundaries for tolerant behavior. Whereas in the past, I did not have the self-control (or desire to have self-control) to do this, each day I am able to continue working with people and kids without losing my mind and making a "scene". So this is progress.

I have started exercising again, which is a physical antidepressant in and of itself. It is great, and I have lost seven pounds so far. I take my medication religiously, as always.

I am having more good days than bad, but I still suffer from debilitating bouts of depression. These get more pronounced according to my sleep cycle. There is no doubt that my sleep - both length of time and quality - affects my mood and my physical state. Unfortunately for me, I am not always vigilant enough to keep this under control.

We traveled to Jerusalem last week. I was up until 3am the night before, and had to be on the bus at 615. So on less than 3 hours of sleep, I went to Jerusalem. I was awake and walking around all day, and enjoyed the trip. When I came home, I paid for it physically, by literally falling down, and then I slept almost a day and a half straight. That is going from dangerously low amount of sleep to entirely too much sleep. And I am still paying the price for it today.

I have more "panic attacks" nowadays. I put them in quotes, because it's not like the typical panic attacks I used to have, it is physically different. I feel more physically drained, and tired. I don't have a raised heart rate, or sweat, or adrenaline, it is physically the opposite. Mentally, it is draining as well. So that's something I have been dealing with. I say more because I guess it is just a byproduct of being more active and participating in my life. I don't count the panic attacks as something I am really worried about, but definitely it is something I am monitoring.

When I am tired, especially after waking, I am a much different person. People who I enjoy being around, things I enjoy doing, bother me to no end when I am tired. I am irritable and mean and just generally a pissy person to be around, and I enjoy nothing. There seems to be such a small "window" of how much sleep is enough, versus too little sleep, or too much sleep. If I'm in this window, things are great, if I stray outside of this window, it invariably causes me problems that don't need to be there.

I felt really shitty this morning, and have yet to go into work, because I really needed to do this "therapy session." I feel a little better now after getting this out of my head, but I also acknowledge there is still more inside I need to sort through. So look for more of these "virtual therapy" sessions in the future.

Also: in case you missed it: I LOST SEVEN POUNDS SINCE COMING TO ISRAEL.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way

I'm in a bad mood which has morphed into anger and depression quick. At ulpan today, our wonderful teacher Hadas, who is Israeli, stated her views on Americans who volunteer for our military, and Jews who do the same in particular. Since I am the only participant here, the comments and conversation were towards me. While the cultural differences make me pretty sure that she wasn't attempting to really bait me into an argument or offend me purposely, she nonetheless did.

Now I don't like talking to people about the politics behind American involvement in Iraq. There are a myriad of reasons, but simply, the impression I'm left with from people who I do engage in these conversations is that they don't understand me as a person, and my views as an American. So I stay away from these topics. Hadas however plunged right in, and proceded to ask why anyone, let alone Jews, would join the American military and fight somewhere else, for a land that is not ours. That here in Israel, when you join the army, you have to because without the army, there is no Israel, no life, no Jews, etc. But for Americans, this is simply not so. There's no reason an American, let alone an American Jew should ever risk his or her life for something that is not necessary.

Well, first, I am attempting to look at the evening as a big step toward recovery, as I sat there silently in class and yes'd her to death, while keeping my cool even as I was getting extremely mad. I said nothing that I regret, I did not yell, I did not verbally assault her or anyone else. I wanted to, but I didn't.

After a few hours, here I am and I am obviously still quite upset about it. I don't know that I can continue with anything quite coherent and understandable, but I will leave you with a few points that are floating around my head right now:

* The state of Israel owes a portion (the size is debatable) of it's security in the world to United States support. This support comes in various forms, both economic and militarily.

* The invasion and subsequent regime change in Iraq removed an avowed enemy of the state of Israel, Saddam Hussein. The same enemy who in 1991 shot SCUD missiles at Israel daily. Who supported Hezbollah and Hamas.

* The American military actions throughout the globe don't fit in to the neat definition of "defending your homeland" as Israel's actions do. However, without taking the fight to America's enemies, the enemy would be happy as a pig in shit to bring the fight to us, ie. 9/11, or to our allies, ie. Israel.

* American military power and projection allow me to be able to travel to places in the world with relative safety. Terrorists and enemies are aware of the fact that the US has military power to project right into their backyard, and we will do so in order to protect our citizens.

Anyway, fuck all that. I'm tired of this shit. Obviously I still have a ways to go with this whole acceptance thing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

working out regularly

So I'm sitting here waiting for my pita to be toasted and my tea to steep. We had a house meeting tonight which really is one of those things that i have yet to "get" about civilian life, living with roommates, discipline - or all of the above. While all the sentiments expressed at the house meeting were good, and well-meaning, there really is no difference between tonight's and the last one we had. And now that I'm writing about it, it is painfully obvious that I am devoting too much headspace for this.

So on to what the title of the post is: I exercised four times this week, and six times this month, and that's just under 50%. That's where I want to be, or better, so I'm pleased at this.

Ok, food's done. I'm out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Today was the 235th birthday of the finest fighting force on the planet. On November 10th 1775, in Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the United States Marine Corps was born.

I celebrated here in Israel and it was fantastic. My friends set up the barbecue on the balcony and even got me a cake. It was fantastic! I am really touched by the effort they went through. I am friends with really good people and that's just an awesome feeling.

Last night we went out to Pigal, a bar here in Ashdod, and I had a great time. I met some friends there that I hadn't seen in a while. We drank and told stories and it was great. And in out-of-this-world news, I TALKED TO TWO BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. I was social and comfortable and it was really really cool that I was able to do that after not doing that for so long. (if you're unaware, go back to March and look for a post titled "social").

Also, the girl I hung out with in Tel Aviv called me tonight and wished me a happy birthday. I'm headed to Tel Aviv tomorrow night and we will probably hang out. Definitely looking forward to it.

On the teaching front, we finally have hammered out a schedule for each day and decided how the school wants to employ us so that we are now set up with small groups each period that we will continue with for a month. That way we can chart their progress and give intensive individual help. I am excited about it more now that we have a defined role and expectations for us to fulfill.

So basically things here are going fantastic! I went running on Tuesday as well as Saturday and Sunday so I'm getting into a fairly regular routine.

Hope everyone out there is doing great! Quick congratulations to my my cousin Matt and His wife Rebecca for running in the NYC marathon!

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday stretches

I went running yesterday and today. Both runs I also exercised on the bodyweight machines. I'll have to get a picture on here, they're actually really cool. Anyway both days my total exercise time was over 45 minutes. I'm a little sore but enjoying it. I exercised three times last week, so that's the goal for this week as well.

My cousin Matt and his wife Rebecca are running I'm the NYC marathon today so I hope they do great!

Things here in Ashdod are good, the weather is starting to cool off at night - which means somewhere around 65 degrees. Don't be jealous, not everyone can be as lucky as me.

Hope y'all are doing alright.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Good night

Well I'm on the way home from Tel Aviv. It was a good night hanging out and making new friends. Once I met up with her, most of my anxiety disappeared.

I'm pretty tired and a little drunk now so when I get home it's straight to bed.

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Of panic attacks and travels in a foreign land.

I'm in Tel Aviv about to get on a bus to see a friend of mine. I am pretty sure in the last 24 hours that I have had at least one minor panic attack. I didn't go to work today and that might have been part of the reason why. Last night I got a call from one of the teachers I work with saying she wasn't coming in to work today, and could I figure something out to do with the kids. That probably screwed with me a bit.

Tonight I called and am here in Tel Aviv to see a girl I met. So there's an element of social anxiety that is affecting me. Plus I got on the wrong bus out of Ashdod making quite a detour before I even got here. Add to that a complete loss of ability to speak Hebrew all of a sudden and it makes for one hell of a night so far.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weight gain

I'm relatively certain I have had a significant gain of weight this first month in Israel. I'm not too happy about it. This is not good, therefore I am going running.

EDIT: So, the scale I used was different, and after weighing myself on the scale I used previously, there is no significant weight change good or bad. 

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