Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Health

Mental health: the good, the bad, and the ugly

It’s been a rough week. Nothing big, but just little things over and over. A few nights ago, I dropped a bowl and shattered it in the wee hours of the morning. Totally my fault. I was trying to carry too many things as I normally do because I’d rather make one trip than two.

Back it up a bit. I’ve been feeling sick for nearly a week. Not ‘rona virus sick, but my usual bad cold/allergies/sinus/change of seasons sick. It’s worse than usual, though, because I’ve been getting the chills. That’s when I know I’m really sick. My sleep is for shit which is par the course when I’m sick as well. I mean, it’s normal for me in general to have disordered sleep, but it’s been slightly better since I started taiji. Still. I get six to seven hours of sleep a night, which is better than the four I used to get, but still not enough. I’m constantly exhausted, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Sort of. Basically, I’m resigned to my fate.

One of the symptoms of me getting sick is when I sleep for eight hours or more. It’s one of the few things I actually like about being sick. Ok, the only thing. It doesn’t make me feel more rested when I’m awake, though. The benefit is strictly that it knocks me out for a few hours more.

So, when I get sick, it can last anywhere from weeks to months. I haven’t been really sick since the pandemic started (one of the few benefits of never leaving the house), and I was naively hoping that I would be able to skip the colds this year. Nope.

Anyway, so that’s the background for the rest of what I’m going to write about. I dropped that bowl in the wee hours of the night a few nights ago right before I was going to bed. I was not happy about it, obviously, and I had to lock up Shadow in the guest room so he wouldn’t step on the ceramic pieces. I used treats to lure him there while I took care of the shattered pieces. When I went back to let him out, I fully expected him to yell at me for locking him up. Instead, he was cozied up on the bed and snoozing. When I opened the door, he opened one eye to blearily stare at me, but otherwise stayed put.


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Living the condiment life

all eggs all the time.
Shake the shakshuka into my mouth!

I don’t cook. I think I’ve been pretty goddamn clear about this. I don’t like to cook, which is not to say that I can’t cook. I’m not very good at it because I don’t do it often, but I know the basic principles. I will admit I do struggle with how to pace everything so they come out done at the same time. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still not natural to me.

One thing I’ve learned is that sauces/condiments are life. They can make a big difference in a simple dish, and it’s hard for me not to keep piling them on. For example, when I make a ‘burger’ (fake meat), this is the breakdown. I use vegan butter and lactose-free cream cheese on the bread, oh, and fake cheeze. On the burger itself, I put ketchup and mustard, relish, and bread and butter pickle chips. And spinach. So, yeah, it’s definitely hard to put my hands around it and sometimes my mouth.

I’d like to sing the praises of the Mina sauces. Yes, I picked up the first one in part because of the name, but also because I was curious about harissa sauce. Then, I discovered they had a shakshuka sauce, and I was more than intrigued because I had been thinking of attempting shakshuka for a month or so. It has onions and garlic, which I’m trying to avoid, but I can take in small amounts. I also am allergic to cilantro, but that’s just a taste thing. Ugh, soap.

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The desultory approach to my life

it's ya boi, straid!
Straid, my mentor in evil and Pyromancy!

I’ve been out of sorts since I’ve finished Spiritfarer. I’ve played a bit of Dark Souls III, and I always forget just how fragile you are at the beginning. It’s because I spend so much time beefing up so that by the time I’m in the end game, I’m pretty solid. Having so little Estus is not fun at all. By the way, that’s one thing DS III has taken from DS II that I do not appreciate–having to find Estus Shards in order to increase the number of sips from the Estus Flask. I much prefer Dark Souls in which you have five Estus unless there’s a Fire Keeper–then you have ten. You can get the Rite of Kindling from the Catacombs to have the ability to increase your Estus to 20 per kindled bonfire.

I will say that DS II had an interesting take on healing. You had to find the Estus Shards to increase your Estus Flask, but there are also Life Gems of varying size. They are consumables, and they take forever to heal you. But, they also break the game because pretty soon in the game, you can buy unlimited amounts of Life Gems. It reached the point where I carried 99 (the max) Life Gems with me and would use them between bonfires. I saved my Estus Flask for the boss fights, and it broke the game. Did I feel shame? No. It’s in the game. did I feel it took away some of the pressing danger? Yes. But, this game is brutally hard in places,  especially the Scholar of the First Sin edition; I took whatever advantage I could get. Did I consider not doing it? No.

My niece is playing Dark Souls II as a pure mage. She showed me a pic, and she has enough intelligence (50) to use the best staff, the Staff of Wisdom. It’s Straid’s weapon, and he’s my best boy. He’s one of my fave NPCs of the game, and it’s really irritating that I have to use a Forbidden Branch of Yore to free him. They’re plentiful later in the game, but at the point when I meet him, it’s a choice between him and the other Pyromancy trainer. I don’t like her as much, but she has the basics that I need.

I’m watching a playthrough of DS II as well, and I kinda want to play it now. I have a game started in which I’m roughly two-thirds done, not including the DLC. The thing is, though, I have no desire to do the plat, but I know that if I play it again, I’ll get sucked into doing the plat. The plat for Spiritfarer was relatively easy because I was so thorough while playing, I only had to do a little bit at the end to clean things up. I was able to do it in one playthrough with a bit of fudging (had to use a prior autosave in order to get both answers to a question I was asked), which is not a possibility for any of the Souls games.

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Spicing up my life

I want sex. It’s been more than a hot second since I’ve had it, and now is exactly not the time to seek  it out. There is no way to copulate with six feet between me and another person, and the idea of wearing masks…well, that’s not my kink. I know there’s Skypesex and sexting, but neither are what I want right now. I had no point with that, but I just wanted to throw it out there.

Let’s talk sleep. My schedule has taken a drastic turn for the worse. I’ve been going to bed as late as 5:30 in the morning, which, how the hell did I used to do this on the regs? Part of the problem is Spiritfarer, I’ll be frank. If I start playing it any time after midnight, all bets are off when I’ll actually end up sleeping.

There are deeper reasons, however, and they’re the same as they ever were plus exciting new Covid-19-related reasons. One, the longer I stay awake, the longer I put off having to get up for the next day. No, it doesn’t make sense, but my brain doesn’t care about that. Two, I just don’t sleep well. At all. The weighted blanket has helped as had taiji, but it’s still fraught with all kinds of bullshit.

With all that being said, what I actually want to talk about is cooking. I don’t cook. Or rather, I didn’t cook. I didn’t see the point in it because it’s a lot of work for someone who lives alone. Yes, I know about batch cooking and freezing and whatnot, but I simply didn’t want to do it. I don’t like to cook–yes, yes, I know that’s heresy in this day and age–and I resisted any urge to do so. There’s a whole lot of gendered expectations wrapped up in all that, but mostly, it was just too much trouble.

Here’s the thing about depression as I experience it. I live with a triage mentality every day. What absolutely has to get done and what can be punted down the line. For example, I’m doing laundry today. I should have done it at least a month ago. It’s a bit more acceptable because I don’t go anywhere, but I’m down to skirts and ripped t-shirts. Even in the Before Times, I pushed laundry until the very last moment, but this is beyond ridiculous.

If I make something a routine such as my wake-up taiji regime, then my brain just takes it as an immutable. Again, don’t ask me how it works because I don’t know, but it’s my way of tricking my brain. I get up, take my thyroid pill, feed Shadow, clean the litter, brush/floss my teeth, and then taiji routine. This is sacrosanct, and I don’t question it. Something like laundry, however, which is not done every day, it’s much harder to force my brain to do it. I’ve been meaning to do it for the past two or three weeks, but my brain has overridden all my intentions.

How did I make myself do it this time? Not entirely sure. I just started throwing things down once I woke up, but I had done that a few weeks ago as well. I simply wouldn’t allow my brain to detour from it, which is something else I can do from time to time. Yes, it’s like my brain is a computer that I have to override, which is annoying as fuck.

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Slipping away

I’m done. My sleep has been a hot mess, and how the hell did I ever deal with this in the past? I can’t believe I used to get by on four hours of sleep and that I used to go to bed at eight in the morning. One thing I was working on before the pandemic started was getting my sleep on track. I wanted to be more like normal people because…I don’t even know why. I think because while I like being awake when other people are sleeping, I do feel like even more of a freak for being on the opposite side of sleep for most people. In addition, normal life was hard to navigate when I was on the late night tip. If I had any appointments, I tried to make them as late in the afternoon as possible, but it was still hard to make it to them. And it would throw me off my game for the rest of the day.

It’s not a matter of restfulness, either, because I’m always tired. It’s just a fact of life. Much like I used to always have headaches. They were lowkey and I was able to ignore them most of the time, but they were there. It’s the same with sleep. I’m always tired. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I get. There are days when it’s worse than others, obviously, but it’s always there.

Anyway, I was making strides in my sleep pattern before the pandemic hit. I started pushing my sleep time…back? Forward? Earlier. Since I was consistently going to bed around five-ish, I pushed it back to four. After a week or so, I pushed it back again to three. In this fashion, I managed to get it to one/one-thirty. My goal was midnight, but I was ok with where I was at. Then, during the pandemic, it began to become a bit more elastic. It was one-thirty to two, which, while not great, was fine. Then, the phone call. My meltdown. The immediate panic.

Side note: Briefly, my mom called, and I knew immediately that she wanted to say something she knew I wasn’t going to like. I could tell because when I asked how she was, her voice got that tone that it gets when she has something unpleasant to say and she added a little laugh, which is also a tell. Of course, that put me on guard, and I was predisposed to dismiss whatever she had to say. I tried to be patient, but let’s face it. Things were tense between us whenever we talked, and I was not in the mood for difficult.


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Ch-ch-ch-changes…sorta

I feel like I’m drowning. Not physically, but emotionally. First of all, I’m exhausted all the time. That’s not unusual. I’m always tired, but I mean to-the-bone exhausted. I’ve been dozing on-and-off for the past week or so. I’ve been going to bed at weird times and getting up at even weirder times. I will say that the ZonLi cooling weighted blanket has been really beneficial in me getting some solid zzzzzs. It’s not exactly cooling, but it doesn’t make me hot, either. Which is about the most I can hope for with a 15-pound blanket. It’s a comforting weight that is weirdly neutral in hotness. I still can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that it is a blanket that is heavy upon me, but it’s not making me sweat. In addition, it’s cut down on the number of times I wake up in the middle  of the night (sometimes, I sleep through the whole six hours), which is amazing.

I think part of the reason I’m so exhausted is that I’ve been sleep-deprived my entire life. I’m getting more sleep now (and I think I’m on the edge of a cold, but that’s something completely different) than I have, well, ever, and maybe my body is saying, “Where the fuck was this my whole life?” I know you can’t make up a sleep deficit, but it’s like my body is trying desperately. The reason I think I’m getting sick is because I’m sleeping for eight hours and more, which is unheard of for me. Maybe the blanket is allowing it to happen? If so, it’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent. I’ve done so many things in order to sleep more and better, and none of it has worked. Only taiji has improved my sleep, and that was an indirect consequence that happened over ten years. Two hours in ten years? Not bad. If the blanket pushes me over seven, well, then, I consider it a big fat win.

I am curious to see how it works in the winter when I actually do want a bit of warmth from a blanket. I have a hunch it’ll be fine, but if not, then I can add another blanket. I’m not too worried about it because I don’t need much heat. Oh, I do have to keep my feet poked out at the bottom of the cooling blanket in order for optimum temperature control. It’s worth it, though. I still wear my weighted eye mask (that still falls off sometime during the night) and my earplugs (which fall out, too), and I still jam my head under a pillow. Speaking of, my new pillows are mixed. Or rather, my feelings about my new pillows are mixed. They’re fine, but they’re a bit…floofy? Too plump? I dunno. I’m not in love with them, but they’re fine.


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Slip, slip, slipping away

So as the pandemic drags on and we all begin to eat each other, I’m slowly sliding into apathy. There’s still the fury, but it’s buried deep. It’s not sustainable to be continually angry; it just isn’t. I’m also finally over my migraine, knock wood, but I still feel the ramifications. Like total exhaustion. I’m also having a bit of a (wet) cough, so there’s that. I know I’m getting sick because I slept for nine hours the other night. That’s unheard of if I’m healthy. Ish. Healthy-ish. I’m never healthy.

I’m just blah. Everything is meh. What does any of it matter when America is doing her level best to drag everyone down? The one chance we had to avert a large-scale tragedy was to take drastic measures back in February/March. Because we didn’t do that, we’re playing catch-up with no hopes of actually doing it. Not only that, we’re actively working against eradicating the coronavirus. I’m talking about the collective we, by the way.

I’m also reading more people saying we have to ‘get back to normal’ and try to achieve herd immunity. That for most people who aren’t at risk who get it, it will be like getting a ‘bad cold’. First of all, herd immunity seems to be far-fetched as we don’t yet know that you can’t get the coronavirus again. In addition, in order to reach herd immunity, if, indeed it’s possible, that’s millions of death. The person writing about it was talking about schools (on the board of a school I think? Very distressing) and how reopening was the best because bullshit, lies, and bullshit. They said those at risk should stay home, of course, but kids were not carriers.

Which, I mean….Sigh. First of all, kids can get it. Kids can be asymptomatic carriers. That’s not even mentioning that we’re shoving all the teachers on the frontlines now, too (not that they already weren’t in the line of danger, what with school shootings being what they are), and this person was distressingly cavalier about it. Not even acknowledging that the road to herd immunity (if possible) was littered with at least a million deaths. As I said before, I know my life is expendable, but it’s sobering to hear it out loud and read it over and over again.


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Taming the fury inside

It’s been a rough week. As I’ve chronicled, I’ve been dealing with a migraine and something else, not sure what, exactly, but it’s not the ‘Rona, thankfully. It might be a cold; it might be allergies; it might be something else. All I know is that I”m exhausted all the time, and it’s hard to do much of anything. My motivation is gone, and I have to push myself to get anything done. Is it depression? Partly. But it’s also something different. I know depression intimately, and while some of what I feel is that, some of it is not. I have a random cough, and it’s very wet. Is it a summer cold? Probably. Or allergies. My allergies are terrible, and even though they’re better because I’m mostly inside, they’re not gone completely.

I’m enraged by the idiocy in my country. I tweeted about it yesterday just to get it off my chest.

I read a tweet or FB post about how exhausting it is to try to do your best for the better good while realizing that there are people who aren’t doing that. More to the point, there are people who are actively doing what they can to flout the recommendations. It’s especially difficult because the people who need to be the most diligent about the recs are the same people with the most to lose.

It’s really difficult to know that I’m expendable to the assholes in charge. I mean, I knew that in general because I’m old, Asian, bi, and a woman, but it makes it even worse that because  of my shitty immune system, it doesn’t matter if I live or die. To see it repeatedly and not just by the president’s cronies really hits hard. I already struggle with feelings of self-worth, and this message certainly doesn’t help. To see it casually repeated, “Oh, it’s just the old and those with autoimmune issues who are at risk” as if we don’t matter…yeah, it’s not a good feeling.

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A little of this and a lot of that

I had a taiji class yesterday in which we did the whole Solo Form for the first time in…months? I think maybe since the whole pandemic started. The focus was on making sure that the knees weren’t locked, and by doing that, I didn’t get the backache I normally get. I was elated, and then, ten minutes after class ended (which was right after the Solo Form), I was hit with a blinding pain in my head. A migraine of epic proportion, and without warning. I mean, I’ve been having pre-migraine symptoms for a week, and I’ve been judiciously taking migraine pills, but I wasn’t feeling migraine-y before class. I don’t think I took pills yesterday morning (I’m trying not to overdo), but I certainly popped them after the pain.

The problem is that if I catch the migraine in time, then I’m fine with a very low level of nausea, pain, etc. If I don’t catch it before it’s full-fledged, then it’s bad days. Nausea, head pain, sensitivity to stimuli (more than usual), and general exhaustion. I popped two more pills this morning (two a day is the limit), but I’m still feeling the pain. It’s not as bad as it was yesterday while I was trying to tough it out, but it’s not as little as it would have been had I caught it in time.

I don’t want to say it’s the full Solo Form that triggered the migraine because one, I don’t believe it’s true. Two, I’ve been feeling pre-migrainey all week, so even if it was the event that popped the migraine, there was plenty of buildup to it. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the new foods I’m trying? They’re plant-based Italian sausage and plant-based whipped cream, so maybe there’s something in them that is a trigger. I’ve given up caffeine so it’s not that. Not eating much chocolate, either. Have added more fruits, though. At any rate, now, nearly 24 hours after the explosion, it’s finally starting to abate. A bit.

Veering sharply to another topic, there’s a post on Ask A Manager about an employee who cries all the time and feels everything deeply, sometimes even more so than the person she’s feeling for. The person writing in was her employer, and the employer wrote that the employee was a ‘self-described empath’. That set off people in the comments about how anyone who called themselves empaths were emotional vampires. And I sighed deep in my soul because of all the misconceptions. someone else likened it to vegans in which there were the loud self-proclaimed VEGANS and then there were vegans who just went about their lives and quietly ate their vegan food.

That person wasn’t far from wrong, nor was the person who said that the healthy empaths didn’t necessarily go around talking about it or calling themselves empaths. Nor the person who said that healthy empaths were often sought after because of their listening ear, and then burned out from being empathetic. I am an empath, and I don’t talk about it at all these days. It’s one reason I limit my interaction with other people because I can’t dheal with the negativity, even though it’s gotten better since I started taking taiji.


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Weight of my world

I’ve been wanting to lose weight for quite some time. Pretty much my whole life, actually.  My mom put me on a diet when I was seven, saying that I had ‘such a pretty face’ that it was too bad I was so fat. Those might not have been the exact words, but that was the underlying sentiment. For the next quarter of a century, that was something that came up all the goddamn fucking time. She rattled on and on about my weight, and she couldn’t even pretend it was about my health. Well, she could try, but I was smart enough to notice that when I was in my anorexic phases, the only comments she made were of jealousy–such that I had a smaller waist than she did. It was very easy to see that it wasn’t about health–it was solely about looks and weight. I had to tell her in explicit terms in my…wanna say early thirties that she was not to mention my weight at all. She did not take kindly to that, but I didn’t care.

In the past few years, I’ve become painfully cognizant of how fat I am. I mean, I know I’m fat. It’s not a surprise. As much as I try not to look in the mirror, I still catch myself on occasion. Most of the time, I quickly look away. However, once in a while, I stare in horror before looking away again. I hate the way I look except for my hair. Love my hair. Which is still growing. It’s a hoot and an amazement given that it didn’t grow for two decades.

I will state that I don’t give a shit about my health. Well, not overtly, anyway. It’s a big by-product of doing taiji, but I never paid it no mind. I only cared about the martial arts aspect, and if it was good for my health and mental health, well, then that was an added bonus.

Anyway, I’m trying to cut down on meat as I mentioned in my previous post. I used to eat two to three servings a day, and I’m down to one or two. My ideal is two to three a week for now, but it’s still early days yet. I just had the last of the Beyond Italian Sausages, and I’m sad that I don’t have any more. They were so incredibly juicy and had a nice spice to them. They tasted exactly like Italian sausages, and I would gladly sub them for meat any day of the week. I have a package of ground ‘beef’ (also Beyond) in the freezer that I’ll fry up later in the week.


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