Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Personal Life

Personalized anxiety quirks

I was talking to my mother the other day–by the way, I curse my brother for teaching her how to Zoom. Not because she’s using it, but because she hasn’t quite got the hang of Zoom etiquette. She called me and asked if Zoom was working. She had sent me an email with an invite, you see, and I hadn’t clicked on it. I had to explain to her that if I wasn’t expecting an email, I didn’t check it–especially not that one. She kept rambling about Zoom and making sure it worked and she had sent me an email, and I had to tell her to chill the fuck out (not in those words, obviously) as I was clicking on the link.

Side Note: My mom has always been an anxious talker, but it’s gotten worse in the past few years. My brother and I were talking about it how you literally have to talk over her because she just won’t stop.

Side Note to the Side Note: This is actually true of both my brother and me as well. Not the anxious talker part (though that’s me), but just the talking part in general. My mom has complained to me about my brother talking so much as well, and I know that once I get on a tear, it can be hard for me to shut my trap as well. The difference is that I’m aware of this. I am working on it. I am pretty sure that’s not the case with either my brother or my mother. Oh, and my father also likes to pontificate from time to time, and he definitely has no idea when he does it. I just don’t talk to him as often as I do to my mother and my brother.

Back to the first side note. My belief is that it’s because my father has retired. I have no proof of that except that the chattering started about the same time he retired. My hypothesis is based on the fact that her whole life revolves around him. Now that he’s home the whole time, she’s probably talking to him more than not. He needs attention all the time, and she’s the one who gives it to him. He’s a very cruel and exacting person in that he’s both overweeningly arrogant and excruciatingly thin-skinned. He’s suspicious to the point of paranoid about people talking about him, and he can find something to take offense at in anything anyone says. So, my mom has to walk softly and constantly couch what she says in a way that he won’t take offense. It doesn’t work, obviously, which means more talking and frantic explanations.


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Trying to Goldilocks it over here

Love in the time of the covid-19 is so strange. First of all, my OCD tendencies makes me cringe every time I type it because everyone does it differently. COVID-19, covid-19, Covid-19….WHICH IS IT? Can we still call it the coronavirus? Do we *have* to say it’s the novel coronavirus? That’s the kind of thing my brain gets caught up in when I don’t want to think about the matter at hand. Speaking of, I was at Cubs today, and there were a lot of people not practicing good social distancing. Standing smack dab in the aisle whilst looking at their phones, not paying attention to anyone around them. I mean, I know they’re probably like that, anyway, but come on, people. Gonna have to switch and go at 9 p.m. as much as I  prefer to get it done first thing in the morning.

I’ve been having a problem with how I should be reacting to this. I’ve written about it in the past, but I have PTSD. That means I overreact to small things and under-react (or maybe rightly react?) to big things. I’m also having a weird reaction to enforced isolation–I’m mad at it. It’s what I do on a regular basis, anyway, and I really my alone time. A lot. More than I enjoy being with other people most of the time. I have no problem not leaving my house except for shopping and taiji in my regular life. Now, it’s down to Cubs once a week with taiji online Zoom classes, and it’s just weird. Like, my life is pretty much as usual though my brother dropped by twice this weekend. Which is strange. I mean, he does it every now and again, but two days in a row? That’s weird. Then again, he was in the neighborhood two days in a row, so maybe it was just that. I think, though, it’s that he’s an extrovert and is lonely for some conversation. The first time, I was in my taiji class, so he just did work in the dining room. The second time, we stayed ten feet away from each other and chatted. He is wearing a mask when he’s out. He has one of those masks that look as if he’s surviving a nuclear war and a plain three-layer cloth one. He’s doing social distancing, but he’s still showing houses and doing his realtor business. I told him he’s not invincible, even though he has a great constitution.

I’m not that worried about me, oddly. Mostly because I’m as isolated as you can get. But, I have flares of irrational fear that are hard to tamp down. It’s the uncertainty and the fact that it doesn’t seem different–but is so very different. Also, we don’t know how long it’ll last–that’s a big part of it as well. It might be two weeks (unlikely); it might be two months (more likely); who the hell knows? Nobody, and that’s part of the problem. There is so much conflicting news out there, it’s dizzying. I’m trying to keep my news intake to a few times a day, but it’s difficult to do. It’s everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I saw a lady wearing a scarf in Cubs, and they had a sign about social distancing by the cash registers.


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The thin line between preparation and flat-out panic

The world is in a tailspin right now as we all know. I’m trying to keep up to date about what’s happening without freaking the fuck out. I’m already anxious by nature, and one way I cope is by only keeping up on the basics. It’s kinda impossible to do right now, but I’m keeping it to a minimum. Why? There is only so much I can do, and having the news bombard me 24/7 doesn’t help. In addition, I pretty much self-quarantine, anyway, except for taiji and the grocery store. Occasionally, I see my brother, but that’s about it. I reluctantly decided not to go to taiji this weekend (Friday because I felt like shit and Saturday because of the self-isolation), but the only other concession I’m making is that I’m washing my hands more. I have a tube of aloe, which is good because my skin on my hands is cracking a bit.

Another thing is that I’ve realized I touch my face so fucking much. So. Fucking. Much. I’m trying to break the habit, but it’s not easy. I mean, I have to push my glasses up in place, but beyond that, it seems there’s something itching at all times. Plus, I’ll put my laptop on the coffee table and then prop my chin up on my hand while I’m on my side. Any time I catch myself doing it, I yank my hand away, but it’s still way too many times for my comfort. I just don’t know the perfect reaction to the situation, and I can’t match the panic I see around me.

My parents called last night because the number of cases in MN went from 2 to 14. My mom was freaking the fuck out, and she kept talking over me. She claims that my father is the anxious one and that he’s the one who made her call me. I tried to point out to her that may be true, but she was the one who babbled endlessly to me about how terrible everything was whereas my father mainly said, “You’ll be fine. RIGHT????” Neither is great, but I’ll take the latter over the former. My mom insists that she’s just going about her day and that her regurgitating her fears to me for a half hour isn’t anything unusual. My best guess is that as usual, she’s using me as a dumping ground because she doesn’t feel like she’s being heard by anyone else. I know my father doesn’t listen, and she’s the therapist among her friends. That’s sad for her, but I just can’t handle her anxiety on top of my own.


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Goldilocks and the three reactions

I have PTSD, and while it’s lessened over time, it’s still a thing. I can blow up the smallest thing such as an interaction with a stranger in which I felt I didn’t handle very well. For example, I was at the deli counter at Cubs a few days ago. I wanted the bottom rack of ribs, and I said it to the woman behind the counter. I made sure to say the bottom one twice, but she didn’t say anything at all to acknowledge she heard. She just went to get a container, so when she returned, I mentioned it one more time. She snapped that she had heard me, and I managed to say, “Great. Thanks.” In my head, though, I was thinking, “Look, bitch. The normal thing is to actually acknowledge that the other person said something.”

Side Note: There is something about the deli/baked good sections of my local Cubs that must be toxic because many of the people working in those areas are exceedingly unhappy. And, they take out their unhappiness on the customers as well as with each other. Sometimes in the form of bitching with each other, but also in the form of bitching at each other.

I immediately thought that I had done something wrong, and then I was pissed at her for being a jerk. But, ultimately, it wasn’t a big deal, and I was able to shrug it off after a few hours. I know that still seems like an overreaction, and it is, but in the past, I would have ruminated over it for weeks before forcing myself to forget about it. I make a mountain out of every fucking molehill, and it’s so fucking tiresome. I can make myself feel bad about anything until the end of time.

Here’s the weird flip side to my PTSD overreaction. When I’m in an actual crisis, my brain goes on hyperfocus and I become deadly calm. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but when I was in a minor car crash a few years back, my brain slowed down. I accepted I was going to be hit, and I relaxed as the other car hit me. As a result, I only got a massive bruise on my stomach either from the air bag or the seat belt. The other driver was a young woman, only 17, and she was in hysterics. She looked as if she had South Asian blood, so I felt the urge to protect her. She sobbed that her dad was going to kill her because he needed the car (some kind of SUV, I think) for his job, and I said he could get a taxi or use Uber or some such. I told her he was not going to kill her, desperately hoping it was true.


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The tension between

I tend towards inertia. I know that’s true in general, but it’s really strong in me. Even if I’m in a negative situation, I will suffer through it rather than take the necessary steps to change. For example–my health. Right now, it’s a hot steaming mess. I’m very bitter because I had almost three years…three? Two? It’s three. Beginning of May, 2017, is when I cut dairy and gluten out of my diet. So, two-and-a-half years of a decent digestive system before it exploded on me again.

I was reading a thread on AAM about Celiac Disease, and the OP was saying she had been gluten-free for two years. Slipped recently, and has had issues since. Doctor said she had to go back on gluten in order to be tested for Celiac. Her question was if it was worth it or not. I had a similar situation in that the last time I talked to my doc, she informed me I’d have to go back on gluten before I could be tested for an allergy/intolerance to it.

One of the commenters in the above thread said that she had to do that and while it was worth it in the end, she felt as if she were poisoning herself at the time. That’s exactly how I feel about it, though I had never really thought about it in that way. I already know that I have a bad reaction to gluten and dairy, so why the hell would I put myself through it deliberately? I’m pretty sure I don’t have Celiac, but it would be comforting to have an actual diagnosis. Also, adding back foods one by one is a way to pinpoint which specific foods make my stomach react. I would love to be able to add cheddar cheese back into my diet, for example, but I’m very afraid of having a negative reaction to it.

Intellectually, I know it’s not the worst thing in the world. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to sit on the toilet for an hour and have a raw asshole by the end. It’s not great to have a cramped and bloated stomach, either. It’s not going to kill me, though, and it’ll be gone in the morning. In other words, it’s an intense feeling, but a transient one. In addition, I’m in the ideal position to do this experiment because I’m never far from the bathroom.

I’m taking the reintroduction phase of the diet slowly, and so far, garlic is a no-go and onion and honey are fine. In the aforementioned thread, the OP asked if an instant negative reaction to any given food was enough or if they should give it time. I was interested in the responses which were varied. They seemed to tilt more to the bad reaction not getting better over time. I would love to be able to keep garlic in my diet, but the reactions were not great.

It’s a question of short-term discomfort versus long-term health. It’s the uncertainty that gets to me, though. If I could know that in a week or two I would be able to adapt to the food in question, then I would suffer through the immediate pain without qualm. I know that’s not the way this works, though, so I have to just deal with the discomfort as it arises. For now, garlic is on the no list. When I’m done with everything else, then I’ll see if I want to try it again. Because garlic!


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Too sensitive or just sensitive enough?

So. I’ve been big into D&D lately–trying to find good groups to watch. It started with the Oxventure crew with Johnny Chiodini as their DM, and it’s expanded since then. I have at least two issues with this, and I’ll start with the more general problem and then go to the more specific one.

There are not enough women of color in these groups. And there are definitely not enough women DM’ing.

Side Note:  This is a problem in general with gaming, but especially in the UK. They are really good with having women on their teams, but people of color, especially women? Not so much. It’s really annoying and discouraging because I prefer their style in general, but it’s started to bug me more and more.

I found one group that is all women and more than one woman of color, but unfortunately, I could not gel with the group. The DMs are also players, which made it very confusing, and one of the other women played a lecherous man who was really fucking annoying. Like, I wanted to punch him (the character) in the face annoying. So I fell off that pretty quickly. I gave it another shot, but I just couldn’t with the asshole character.

Which leads me to my problem with the D&D groups in general. I tried to watch the Dicebreaker one, but I absolutely loathed one of the characters. It didn’t help that I don’t care for the person in general, but his character is such a relenting asshole and a big bully. The way he was browbeating a woman (NPC) was really uncomfortable to me, and even though it also has one of the most adorable characters ever (Tim the Gobbo), I won’t be watching again. Not only because of this one character, but because of how the group treated the ‘animals’ (dinosaurs) in the two episodes. Especially the character I hate.

This actually ties into my issues with the Oxventure group, which I’ve started to dread more and more. Why? Because they seem to take more and more glee in being cruel to animals. Merilwen is an elf druid who specifically loves the animals. The others have treated it as a pain in their collective behinds since the beginning, but it was ok because it seemed like an inside joke. In the last four or five adventures, however, it seems much more malicious. Like they take glee in it. And while they’re always ribbing each other, it seems meaner than the way they treat the other members.

In the last adventure, Merilwen’s beloved (and passed) wild cat friend, Simon, showed up again as a hat on a hunter who used dark magic to make the animals go to him rather than have to go collect them. It was really disturbing, and while it was awesome to see Merilwen get scary mad, it really turned me off. In the comments, several people issued similar sentiments. One person even asked if Ellen (the person) had pissed off Johnny (the DM). Someone else noted that in the year, Dob found his sister; Corazon got some closure with his father and got the family mansion; Prudence got Frisky and The Darkness, pet grimoires; and Eggbert got a measure of atonement. Granted, he also lost a kidney, but still. What did Merilwen get? Her dearest friend being disrespected in such a horribly cruel way.


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Facing half a century with bewilderment

I’m turning fifty in a year and a few months.

Let me repeat. I’m turning 50 in a year and a few months.

Sorry, but my brain won’t get past that.

Where the hell did my late thirties and forties go? I know it’s trite to say that time flies and bemoan the loss of years, but it’s hard to believe that I’ve been on this earth for nearly half a century.

Honestly, I thought I would be dead by this age. I didn’t think I would make it out of my thirties, and for a while, I was fixated on the idea that I would die at age 55. My mom was 55 at the time, and it just seemed like that would be my time to go. I was…26 at the time? I think that’s right. Anyway, 55 seemed like a lifetime away, and now, of course, it seems disturbingly close.

I rarely look in the mirror, and when I do, I’m like, “Who the hell is this?” I’ve already had one person ask me with great trepidation if I were a senior (at a co-op on the day they gave senior discounts), but I’ve also had someone who thought I was at least ten years younger than I was. And, with my hair reversing the gray, maybe I’m a weird version of Benjamin Button.

It’s weird when I look back on my life and what I thought it would be like. Well, to be honest, I didn’t think it’d be like anything because I could not imagine a future. When I was a teen, I assumed I’d get married and have kids because that’s what you were supposed to do. I also assumed I’d have some kind of office job because that, too, was what I was supposed to do. Furthermore, I would go to church every Sunday even though I didn’t believe, and I would live a quiet and desperate life.


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The way forward is obscure

I’m depressed. I have to come out and say it because I’ve been downplaying it for over a year. Maybe two? I remember when it hit me, and I thought, “I’ll just wait it out. It won’t be that long.” My days of crippling chronic depression were behind me, or so I thought. I haven’t felt anything as mind-crushing as the depression I felt in my twenties, but that’s a pretty low bar to clear. I was passively suicidal in that I wasn’t trying to kill myself, but I wasn’t trying to prevent it, either. I would drive without my seat belt on short trips just to tempt fate, for example. It was a bad period of my life, and I tend to compare any current depression to that one to gauge how bad it is. That’s good on one hand because it reminds me of how bad it has been in the past and hasn’t been since. It’s bad on the other because then it’s easy for me to dismiss whatever I’m feeling now because it’s not like it used to be.

Side note: I have so many things I need to do that I have been putting off. Have a dead tooth taken care of. Find a new doctor because my old one left the network. Find a therapist because I know that I’m struggling. The downside of depression is that it makes reasonable tasks seem insurmountable.

Side note to the side note: I’m not doing well physically, either. I got a raging cold Christmas Eve, and I’ve been more sick than not since then. I had a week and a half of being relatively healthy, and then three or four days ago, I got slammed with a host of issues. The first being me sleeping eight or nine hours a night. I normally sleep six to seven hours a night, and one way I know I’m getting sick is when I hit eight or more hours. I’ve also had random chills, and I do not get cold. The only time I get chills is when I’m sick. The last three days (including today), I’ve woken up with a burgeoning migraine, and I’ve slammed two generic migraine Excedrin tablets the last two days, but I recently read that you can build up a tolerance to the meds and should not use more than ten doses (2 caplets in a 24-hour period) in a month, so I’m trying to ration them out. Today was not quite as bad as yesterday, so I did not take the Excedrin. I’m regretting it right now, though.

Side note III: Comorbidity is a thing, and I’m pretty sure my physical and mental health issues are interacting. Or rather, they’re making each other worse. One part of my depression is castigating myself for not doing whatever it is I need to do. My family is very industrious, and it’s hard for me to not see how I’m failing, even if I physically can’t do more than I am. I remember the last time I was in Taiwan, everyone wanted to walk to the top of a mountain. I knew I wasn’t going to make it, but I kept pushing on. I got hot and sweaty, and my heart started pounding. I didn’t want to say anything, and I suffered for longer than I should have. I was nearly in tears by the time I said I had to stop, and I felt so ashamed. And, I knew my parents put it down to me being fat (which they wrote to me about later in excruciating detail), but it wasn’t. Yes, I was fat. I still am. But even when I was at my fittest and walking four and a half miles a day, I still felt like shit while doing it, and I always ran out of breath going uphill.

Side note IV: I have the lungs of an eighty-year old. My last doctor told me that, and it was a relief to hear. I’ve always had a problem with breathing–I mean, I breathe, therefore, I am–and it was good to know that it wasn’t just my imagination. I’ve gotten better with the aid of taiji, but I’m still short of breath more often than not.

I have to push myself to do anything other than my normal day routine. Even then, I have to push a bit. I don’t want to do anything but just sit and stare blankly at the ceiling. There is little joy to be had in Whoville, and I pretty much just want to let everything go. Again, I’m not suicidal, though I have flashes of it, but I’m tired of trying to live.


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Letting go and moving on organically

I have difficulties letting go of how I see myself. I think of myself in terms of absolutes such as, “I am a negative person”, and “I am lazy”. Once I get an idea about myself, I can’t move past it. It’s fine with such things as, “My favorite color is black” because it doesn’t really matter if I change that or not. It’s not so fine when it impedes me, such as, “I hate  people.” I mean, it’s ok that I hate people, but it’s not realistic to think I’m going to go through my life never talking to people at all. Also, it’s not completely true. I don’t hate all people or even most people. Just certain ones, and if I have to be around lots and lots of people, then I hate the idea of it and not necessarily the people themselves.

I keep thinking about how I didn’t care about Christmas this year, in a positive way. Short explanation: I hate Christmas. Or rather, I did. For many reasons, I became grumpy about it right after Thanksgiving, and it lasted until New Year’s Day. I would notice all the Christmas bullshit around me, and I would gnash my teeth at my hatred of all things Saint Nick. This year, I didn’t even really notice it was Christmas until a few days before when my brother invited me over for dinner Christmas Eve. I wasn’t going to go, but then, to my surprise, I thought, “Why not?” I went and had a good time, and that was the end of Christmas for me.

I know it doesn’t sound thrilling, and in some ways, it scans as a subtle neg. “I didn’t even realize it was Christmas until it was over–that’s how little it means to me!” But, you have to take me at my word when I say it really is a positive thing because it freed up so much of my mind and heart in the months leading up to Christmas. I say it started the day after Thanksgiving, but oftentimes, it was earlier than that because Christmas commercials start earlier and earlier every year. I don’t watch any TV and rarely listen to the radio, but that doesn’t mean the collective unconsciousness doesn’t seep into my brain as well.

My point is that I didn’t force myself to be chipper and cheerful and to pretend that I love Christmas while internally seething. I didn’t grit my teeth and endure it while resenting it with every fiber of my being–which I’ve done in the past–I just didn’t care about it. It was so freeing, and it wasn’t something I could make myself do it. Which is one of my issues with how obsessed with positivity this country is. Don’t worry. That isn’t the main point of this post, but I had to throw it out there.

It was strange for me not to choke with burning resentment against Christmas this year, and I was at a lost as to what to do with it. I mean, being anti-Christmas had been a part of me for such a long time, I felt as if I lost a part of myself. It’s not a bad thing, but it is an adjustment. An absence of a negative is still an absence, and I still think about it from time to time. Fortunately, it’s not something I have to replace with something else, but it’s still something I have to adjust to.


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Sand slipping through my fingers

I’ve been thinking about the demo for the past week because I love weapons. There I’m just going to say it. I. Love. Weapons. I love them with a passion that is probably unseemly, but I don’t care. I don’t talk about it much because I recognize that it’s not interesting to many people. Fun fact: whenever I mention weapons on Twitter, I get women freaking out and men drooling. It’s an interesting dynamic, and a commentary on societal expectations. I’d read that female cops had a problem with men when they found out that the women were cops. There were usually two reactions. One was, “Oh, hey, now, that’s too intimidating for me.” The article I was reading said that was a disheartening response, but the other was even worse. The guys who found it hot and made assumptions about how the women would be in bed.

In my case, the women who tweeted me were appalled that I was into weapons. How could I be attracted to something so violent? There was an undercurrent of me being a bad feminist, and that’s something I strongly denounce. I started learning taiji as a matter of self-defense, and now, ten years later, I feel like I could actually use what I’ve learned to defend myself. I see weapons as an extension of that, even though I probably won’t be carrying them with me on the regular. I am currently learning the Cane Form, and a cane is something I could use in my daily life. Even better, a sword within a cane!

When my teacher taught me the 8 Palms of bagua and walking the circles, I had a flash of ‘that is my opponent, and I am going to kill them’ while doing it. I t shook me because I considered myself a pacifist at the time. The idea that I would even think something like that made me question myself, and I brought it up to my teacher afterwards. She assured me it was natural and that it didn’t mean I was going to become a homicidal maniac. In fact, she believed that having a safe place to express your anger and aggression was healthy, and I’ve come to agree with her.

At some point, I also had to examine what I meant by self-defense. or rather, how far I would go to defend myself. I realized that i would go all the way, meaning if it came down to someone else or me, I would choose me. This was a big breakthrough for me because I was so used to thinking my life didn’t matter and that everyone else’s life was worth more than mine. I don’t want to get into the whys and the wherefores, but needless to say, this was a heavy mindset to grow up with. When I first thought, “I will defend myself by any means necessary,” something shifted inside me. I could no longer claim that my life was worthless because my natural instinct was to do defend myself. It should be everyone’s natural instinct, but so many people get it beat out of them–especially women. We are taught to put ourselves last in every situation and to demur that we need more than what we are given.


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