Last week, I wrote about how there are several things in my life that have changed without me actively trying to enact said change. Most of them I put down to taiji, and there’s one more I want to add to the list. It’s a weird one, but it’s fascinating–at least to me. Let’s talk about my hair for a minute. I don’t like much about the way I look, but my hair is my shining glory. Funnily, I mostly keep it in a bun these days, but I feel badass when I have it down. For at least a decade, it fell to my waist, just above my ass. In the past year or two, it’s grown about eight inches and now it falls past my ass. I thought I was making things up, but, no, my hair is appreciably longer now. I’m excited about it, but also a bit weirded out. I haven’t changed any of my hair regime, so what’s the difference?
At first, I said taiji. Why? Because that’s my go-to for anything positive in my life. It’s true 85% of the time, so it’s not a bad shout. This time, however, I don’t think I can give credit to taiji. Instead, I think it’s beacuse I drastically changed my diet two and a half years ago by cutting out dairy and gluten. I also cut out caffeine almost 100% later, I think six months or so, and maybe that’s part of it. Anyway, I think it’s the diet that has strengthen my hair, and at any rate, I hope it keeps growing.
That’s not the coolest part, though. Well, the next part is half cool, half not-cool. I have a lot of silver/gray in my hair. I’ve been eagerly awaiting for it to turn all gray/silver because I think that would be bad and ass. I want to look like storm, and then I’m going to cut it all off. At least that was the plan. I’ve become really attached to it (no pun intended), so we’ll see. That’s not the cool/not-cool part, though. The gray is reversing. I know it sounds crazy, but it is. I took it down to brush yesterday–
Side note: Part of my depression is that I am not always on point with my daily grooming. It’s one reason I wear my hair up in a bun–so I don’t have to deal with it. That’s fine and dandy, but it means that I sometimes can go a week or longer without brushing my hair. If I just left it in a bun, it might be ok (but probably not), but I have to redo the bun every few days, which means by the time I let it down, there are usually huge tangles in the underneath part of it.
Side note to the side note: I remember reading a series of tweets a while ago about a woman who had severe depression. She did not wash her hair or brush it in something like a year. Her hair was as long as mine, and she went to a hairdresser to deal with it. It was the hairdresser who was tweeting about it. The woman was still downtrodden and self-defeating, and the hairdresser decided she was going to do what had to be done to save the woman’s hair. For the next six hours, she brushed out the woman’s hair until she got rid of all the mats, tangles, and snarls.
Anyway, with the amount of hair I take, when it snarls, it takes a lot of patient coaxing to get them all out. In addition, it’s the worst in the exact back of my head, so it’s difficult to reach. I know the answer is to brush it every day, but that’s simply beyond my ken. It’s one thing that I hate about myself–how much mental and physical energy it takes for me to do simple tasks–and it’s one that I would like to change.
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I’m not a holiday person. At all. For many years, I had a revulsion to most of them for good and not-so-good reasons. Christmas: way too commercialized, long-drawn, and exclusive (in the true sense of the word, not meaning swank or posh). V-Day: made-up holiday making men feel pressured to buy expensive shit for their girlfriends (very heteronormative), make grand gestures, and it’s a recipe for disappointment. Independence Day: it wasn’t.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. A funny thing happened this year, though. I ended up not caring about Christmas in the best way possible. I don’t watch TV, and I have ad-blocker online, so I didn’t have to see the excruciatingly terrible commercials associated with Christmas, which really helped. Yes, it was irritating to hear the music on the radio or in stores, but that was really time-limited, which helped. So, here we are the day before Christmas (Christmas by the time this gets posted), and I don’t even know how I got here. I am surprised at how quickly this year went, but that’s a different post.
I tweeted and posted on my FB wall about how strange it was to go from hating Christmas to not caring about it (in a positive way). I think it’s taiji, but I’m going to attribute most positive changes in my life to taiji. Anyway. Here are my two favorite Christmas songs. First, Vienna Teng singing The Atheist Christmas Carol.
I’ve been thinking about relationships lately because, well, I’m not sure exactly why. Probably because it’s the end of the year and I get introspect as the year comes to a close. Thinking about it reminds me of how I realized I didn’t want to have children. Well, not really, but the aftermath was similar. The decision itself was easy. It was as if the heavens parted and the sun shone directly upon me. If I liked sunshine, that was. I didn’t have to have kids! I was filled with relief and went about my merry way.
Or I would have except I naively shared this decision with people who asked me about children and when I was having them. I was a young woman in my early twenties, so this came up more than I wanted it to. To me, I made a decision that only affected me, and that should have been that. Instead, I had people question my decision making several gross claims that were firmly rooted in sexism even if I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. This was in the early nineties when it was still preached that a woman’s #1 job was to be a mother.* It was the main tenet of both of my cultures, and I got so much pressure from my mother, but that’s another post for another day.
I was so young and naive to think that I could dare state that I didn’t want to have children without any blowback. Mind you, it wasn’t something I brought up out of the blue, but I was honest about it if someone brought it up. The reactions I received ranged from condescending–you’re too young to know/you’ll change your mind–to anger. Yes, I actually had people think I was judging them for their decision to have children because I said I didn’t want them. Honestly? I didn’t give a shit about their reproductive choices–just mine. But, I was pushing back on the status quo which made some people very unhappy. More to the point, I acted as if it simply did not exist, which really shook some people. In reflection, I realized that people who followed the status quo without thinking REALLY did not like those who didn’t.
I gave dozens of reasons why I wasn’t going to have children depending on my mood. I was too selfish (true), I was too hot-tempered (true), and I didn’t have the energy (true). My go-to snark answer was that I would be screaming, “Get the fuck away from me! Mommy doesn’t want to see you for three days”, and I couldn’t afford paying for a lifetime of therapy–but it was basically true. I don’t like being around other people all the time or having anyone depend on me (except my cat, and even he pushes it when he meows incessantly in my face in the morning for breakfast), and something I didn’t admit to many people was that I could see myself abusing a child. Not purposely, but because I snapped.
It was all faff, however, because while it was true, the simple answer is that I didn’t have children because I didn’t want them. I never have, and I only thought I’d have them because that was what I was supposed to do. I cannot tell you how free I felt when I realized I could choose not to have children, and it’s a feeling that has only intensified over time. Over a quarter of a century later, I am happier than ever that I don’t have children. There was only one time I briefly considered it, and it was because my mother engaged a 15-year campaign to get me pregnant from the time I was 25 until I was 40. During the heyday when she was nattering at me yet again about how motherhood was whatever she said it was because I blanked out every time she mentioned it, I had a flash thought of, “Maybe I should get pregnant to shut her the fuck up.” Fortunately, I immediately realized that was a fucking stupid reason to get pregnant, but it was a rough fifteen years.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do take time in the weeks leading up to it to reflect on my life. This is a grim time as I think my life is crap in general. If i had a hard reset button, I would slam it without thinking about it. Except. I wouldn’t want to give up my friends, taiji, Dark Souls, Shadow, my brother and his family, and, ok, maybe not a total reset.
But. There are always things I wish I were doing differently. Some are ongoing such as my desire to publish a book (though my writing is not going great at the moment), but others are pretty specific. Let’s start with the one I think I will achieve the easiest.
1. Learn the taiji Sabre From. I just learned the third row of six, and this one I will accomplish barring some unforeseen obstacle in my way. So, let’s add to it learn the Cane Form. I am through the first row of four, but it gets batshitcrazy in the third or fourth row. I’ve seen my teacher perform it, and it’s jumping all over the place. I cannot wait.
I also have to teach myself the left side of each form because that’s how it works. The teacher teaches the right side, and we have to teach ourselves the left side. It’s a good way to discover where I’ve been fudging it on the right side, and it reinforces the teaching. I have to brush up on the Sword Form left side.
A funny side note: I still haven’t taught myself the whole Solo Form because the Solo Form got drastically changed when I was teaching myself the third section. That’s the section with most of the changes, and I decided to let it settle down before trying to teach myself the left side. And, to be honest, I am still not a big fan of the Solo Form, though knowing the applications has helped as has learning the Fast Form. The Fast shorter form. Which is the new Solo Form. I would like to learn the whole Fast Form this year as well, but that is a little outside my control.
Side note to the side note: I have been struggling to make it to class for a few reasons, most of them health related. That in turn makes it difficult to learn new things because we’re all at different places. I would like to make at least one class a week in addition to my Sabre Form private lessons every other week. That entwines with another of my thoughts so you’ll have to wait for it.
Prediction: I will get this one. And I will be stoked to learn the next form, which I’m hoping will be the Fan Form. Or maybe Dual Sabres. With a side helping of the karambit. Which is not a taiji thing, but so fucking cool, anyway.
Still in the research phase of planning an elimination diet. Quite frankly, it’s mostly because I am balking at actually doing it. I know I have to do it or rather, I should do it if I want something resembling a regular life. Although, I may have to give up my idea of what that is. I may never have the same amount of health I did before I started getting this array of illnesses/allergies/sensitivities/whatever the fuck it is. Part of it is probably age. Shit just slowly starts to deteriorate as you get older. I like to joke that I can still stay up all night; I’ll just pay for it for the next three days.
Today, at Cubs, I looked at almost everything I eat on a regular basis. Not the cookies because I need my chocolate. For now. Although I did also get dark chocolate almond milk. I looked up every ingredient, and most of the ones I checked were low FODMAP. However, almost everything I buy has either onion or garlic in it. I stopped buying hummus and almost all sauces. In fact, the only condiment I am currently using is mustard. Oh, and some salad dressing, but I have a hunch that isn’t a good option. I had already bought it, and I’m cheap AF. Also, maybe I’ll resent it less if I ease into it. The chicken I buy has dehydrated onion powder on it. I bought it anyway because I can’t give up everything at once. Or rather, I have to steel myself in order to do it.
One of the other issues is that I have comorbid health issues. I already know I have gluten and dairy issues. I also have migraines, so I have to deal with triggers for that as well. As I wrote about recently, I figured out that caffeine is probably a trigger. Which is ironic as it’s also what staves off a migraine. Now, I might have to deal with IBS or something similar. And that road is hard and arduous. And I’m still stuck in the ‘it’s fucking not fair’ phase.The thing is, I know while it’s not fair, it’s not terrible in the grand scheme of things. I mean, it’s tedious and annoying, and it’s making me grim at the moment. However, compared to a million other things, it’s really not so bad. I just need to get over the fact that I’m so annoyed by it and move on already.
One thing I’ve learned from my research is that it’s not just high FODMAP and low FODMAP. It’s about portion size, which is something I am not good at. Or rather, I hate watching portion sizes for many reasons. One, it makes eating more of a chore than it already is. Two, it’s a slippery slope for me into eating disorder. Three, it’s tedious. But, in an elimination diet, it’s important because a low FODMAP food can easily become a high FODMAP one. Let’s take blueberries for example. 20 blueberries is low FODMAP. Anything over that is tiptoeing into bad territory. So, yeah, portions are very important.
So, I’m planning the FODMAP elimination diet thing, and I’m in the exploratory stage. One thing you must know about me is that I don’t do anything quickly. I take forever to make a decision, but once I do, I go in whole hog. My BFF once said after I got my cats that it seemed like I had made the decision with the snap of the fingers, but when she thought more about it, I had been talking about it for a few years. It’s the same with all the decisions I make. I think about it a lot, and then I research it to death, then I do everything all at once. It happened when I decided to lose weight, twice, to great detriment (because I have a really strong will once I actually decide to do something), and it was the some when I eschewed gluten and dairy. Only once in the two-and-a-half years did I decide to give it up–on my trip to Malta–and that was only for two days.
As I’ve noted before, I’m pissed that I have to do more. I’ve given up dairy, gluten, and caffeine, and that’s a lot of shit. The caffeine was the hardest to give up, but it’s the one I miss the least. To be fair, I do drink a cup or two of caffeinated tea every week or so, plus a caffeinated pop if I go out to eat. I bought some cold coffee this week and then got a piercing headache from drinking it. I woke up with a horrible headache–teetering towards a migraine–and I’m pretty sure it’s salt this time. Been eating a lot of chips lately, and even though they are reduced salt, it’s still not great. In fact, I’m eating some as I write this. I had given up chips a long time ago, but I’ve added them back in. I know I need to cut them out again, but it’s not something I’m happy to do right now.
I read a FODMAP article about how the person who helps her clients achieve a low-FODMAP diet liked to focus on what they COULD eat rather than what they couldn’t. I appreciate this approach, and I understand why she does it. However, it’s really hard for me not to be resentful about what I can’t have, especially because I don’t cook. Not only do I not cook, I don’t like to cook. I *can* cook, but it seems like a waste of time. I hate prep work, and I don’t see the point in cooking for one. Yes, I know about batching it and freezing portions. I hate defrosting stuff.
Here’s the thing. I have to give out about ten times the energy that ‘normal’ people do in order to do even the simplest things. This will be a factor in what I have to say later as well. So, yes, defrosting food is not a big deal. Really, it isn’t, especially with microwaves. But to my brain, it’s almost insurmountable in addition to nuking food in general. Yes, you can take it out ahead of time and allow it to defrost naturally–which I do with the roast chicken when I buy it. But, doing it for more than one thing is too much for my brain. For whatever reason, my brain shuts down when it’s more than a few simple steps, which is something I’ve adjusted for all my life. It’s difficult to explain it to people who don’t have the issue because it sounds stupid. Believe me, I know it sounds like bullshit when I try to describe each step it takes for me to, say, go to the grocery store. By the way, this is relevant for later as well.
I’m trying to put off gulping my migraine meds the minute I wake up, but it’s not going swimmingly. Some days, I’m able to stave off the headache, but sometimes, like today, my brain is throbbing very unpleasantly. It’s reaching the point where I need to take the meds or it’s going to get much worse.
Side Note: I used to take six Ibuprofen in response to a migraine. Obviously, that’s not a good thing to do nor is it effective, and it’s really hard on the liver, so I stopped. Instead, I started taking two Excedrin Migraine or the generic equivalent. Well, actually, three, but I cut back to two. Three is better, but two does the job as well. If I take it early enough, it drastically reduces the migraine if not eradicate it completely.
I read that Ibuprofen is more for generalized body pain rather than localized such as a migraine, which made sense to me. I discounted it as useful for migraines (both for me and in a general sense), but now I’ve read an article that it can actually help some people with migraines–50% of them. So, it’s useless to me, but not for others, apparently.
I worry about taking Excedrin Migraine every day. The Googles has given me a long list of possible side effects to each of the three main drugs in it. The basic gist is that I should ask my doctor–which I will when I find a new one. My old one left, and I haven’t found a new one yet because it’s such a pain in the ass. I have a laundry list of things to ask my new doc, which isn’t making me any more eager to find one.
I’m worried that my health isn’t going to get any better. Or rather, this is the new base that I have to accept. I’ve dealt with being dairy-free and gluten-free, and it’s fine for the most part. Caffeine-free was much harder to do, but I’m fine with it now. I am having a very difficult time with the idea that I may have to give up something else as well. I’ve already given up so much! Do I really need to eschew, say, onions? I also feel like a whiny baby because I don’t have Celiac disease, and there are others who have it much worse. Yes, I know it’s not a competition, but I feel like a punk for not being able to soldier through. It doesn’t help that I am friends with several high-functioning people, and I can’t help but compare myself to them.
Ed. Note:I got my days mixed up and posted a fiction post on Wednesday instead of Thursday, so today (Thursday by the time you read it), I am posting something that should have gone up Wednesday. To make things even more complicated, I was going to talk about my new health status, but in honor of Halloween, I’m going to talk to something related to that instead.
Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is probably no surprise to anyone. All the blackness! Black cats! Candy! Dressing up in fantastical costumes! What is there not to love? Turning off the lights and pretending not to be home when the trick-or-treaters are out! It’s all good fun. I’ve been watching some Halloween streams, and I’ve noticed something that has been a constant for me my whole life. What other people consider scary, I don’t. I really like the Eurogamer team because they have two chicks on it who are badass, but also very supportive–and I just found out they’re both bi! I knew one was, but not the other newer one–and they swear a lot. Women after my own heart. It would be nice if they could add a person of color, but I’m not holding my breath. That does not seem to be a thing at all in England, which is another post for another day.
Anyway, they are playing Visage both in their regular videos and in their Halloween stream. It’s a spiritual successor to P.T., and both women have screamed a-plenty while playing it. There are the usual jump-scares, and they are screaming with abandonment at top volume.
Side Note: It’s really annoying when the mic levels are varying for the different people in the video. I have a problem with really loud noises, and for me, really loud is several steps lower than other people’s. But I also have an issue with whispering just below hearing level–which is one reason I fucking hate ASMR. It literally makes me mad, which is the diametric opposite of what it should do.
I don’t get jump scares. I mean, I’ve jumped when something pops up in my face, but it’s more a startled reflex than actual fear. I’ve thought about why jump scares don’t get me, and it’s because I have PTSD. You might think that would exacerbate my fear reactions, and it does in non-crisis situations. When it’s a real situation, however, I get deadly calm. My theory is that PTSD, which is not helpful in real life, is actually useful in a crisis. The hyper-awareness, mind being zoomed in and alert, the shutting out of everything else.
Today is gray and drizzling out, and we need the rain. I like gloomy weather, but it doesn’t do much for my depression. Which I still have right now. It’s not as bad as it was on Friday, but it’s still (ma)lingering. Friday was the worst I’d had in quite some time, and it freaked me out. I could barely get through the one day, so how the hell did I used to do this on the daily? I passed much of my twenties in this fashion, and I’m amazed I made it to the other side. There were days when I considered it an accomplishment that I brushed my teeth. That’s how I felt on Friday. I struggled to get anything done, and I’m feeling it a bit today. The last few days, it’s been difficult to get my writing done. I’d write a sentence or two, then stopped. My head felt heavy, and my eyelids kept closing against my will.
Today, I’ve had to push myself to get my shit together. My taiji routine should take a half hour to forty minutes. I’ve stretched it to ninety minutes before by reading my phone as I was stretching. Today, since I wanted to go to Cubs afterwards, I managed to do it in forty minutes. My routine now consists of 10 minutes of stretching, 10 minutes of warm-ups, 10-15 minutes of weapons, 5 minutes of Solo Form, 10 more minutes of stretching. As I was doing my morning routine, I thought, “I don’t have to go to Cubs. I can go tomorrow.” This is one of the more insidious aspects of my depression–I can talk myself out of doing anything. Now, granted, I didn’t *have* to go to Cubs today, but it would have been a lean day if I hadn’t. Nothing wrong with a lean day, but I probably wouldn’t feel like going tomorrow, either. I made myself go today, and now, I can eat fairly well (given that I don’t cook).
I’ve been exhausted since my parents left. I can barely keep my eyes open, and all I want to do is sleep. Yet, when I try to sleep, I can’t. This is per yooz for me, though. I can be falling asleep every minute of the day, and then when I actually go to bed, I’m wide awake. I used to get frustrated about it, but I’ve accepted it as a way of life. My weighted sleep mask has been a god-send for keeping me asleep (except for the bizarre fact that it doesn’t have a fastener, but merely a slit to pull one end through, so it falls off. I should sew a button on or something, but, that’s probably not going to happen), but it doesn’t help me actually fall asleep.
I’m really tired. So tired that my brain is refusing to brain. So, for today, I’m shutting it down. Here’s Vienna Teng’s Lullaby For a Stormy Night. I may need to take a nap.
Last weekend, my taiji teacher invited me to her place this Saturday (last night) because her husband was on a retreat so she was baching it for the week. When she asked, my brain immediately came up with a million reasons not to go (even though we are friends and I like hanging out with her), so I did the Minnesotan response* (which I then explained to her in another context ten minutes later) of saying I would have to see how I felt that day. Then, after I went home, I thought about it more and realized that I had a habit of naysaying because I had such a difficult time leaving the house. I had to convince myself that there was a good reason to leave, then talk myself through the actual leaving. I hate driving so that’s part of it, but it’s also just that I am not able to control things outside my house to the extent that I can inside my house. Except my cat. There’s no controlling him.
I emailed my teacher and told her I’d be going (betraying my MN roots) and if I could bring anything. All was well until Friday rolled around. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed as the saying goes, and I was in the worst depression I’d had in at least a decade. It wasn’t my usual general malaise; it was a serious I hate everything about the world feeling. Plus, I was physically drained to the point where I could barely keep my eyes open. I had no idea why I felt that way or what caused it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Everything I tried to do was made impossible by the heaviness of my eyelids and my body. I would try to write, and my eyes would close.
I wanted to go to taiji, but I knew I would be putting myself and others at risk if I tried to drive. I emailed my teacher telling her I wouldn’t be in class, and then I immediately started worrying about whether I would be able to go to her place the next night. My brain told me I should just cancel (even though I told her I was still aiming to go) and promise to take her out for lunch later. I didn’t want to disappoint her, plus I knew that my depression made me catastrophize everything. I decided to wait and see because I might be better by the next morning. There was no reason to call it off with plenty of time to see if I’d get better. But, that’s how my brain rolls. It says everything is terrible and I might as well just give up because it’s no use. What is no use? Everything is no use.
The rest of the day was me struggling to get shit done. I did manage to do it, but it took about four times the effort, and the results were…not great. But I got them done. I went to bed or rather passed out against my will (I hate falling asleep sometimes), and when I got up, I felt much better. Still like shit, but at least it didn’t feel as if I were swimming in molasses. I decided I was going to taiji and my teacher’s place later, even though my brain was screaming at me not to go. Why? Because it hates me.
Side Note: I have a lot of anxiety, obviously. It makes me sympathetic to others with anxiety, but it also makes it difficult for me to be around others with a high level of anxiety. My mother also has a lot of anxiety, and while she used to keep it somewhat under control, now she just lets it run amok. Her constant stream of anxiety is the way the voices in my head sound, and I don’t need an outwardly manifestation of said anxiety.
I went to taiji, and it was productive. I will talk more about that later because it’s worthy of a post in and of itself. Afterwards, my teacher and I chatted for a few minutes before we went our separate ways *cue Journey*. I went home to relax a bit, but in the back of my mind, there was a little voice worrying about the evening. That’s the way my mind works. There’s always a little voice saying something negative. Over the years, I’ve been able to tame it to a great extent, but I can’t get rid of it completely. In the past, I would give in to the voices just to shut them up, but it was folly. It only stopped them for a second, and sometimes, not even then. It used to be a shout, but now it’s more a dull murmur.
At least I knew what I was going to wear. I have a new favorite pair of paints that I bought from Target. AVA And Viv. Burnt Orange. Pockets. Comfy waist. Wide legs. In other words, fucking perfect. Plus a black button down from Taiwan. The drive was terrific because I was able to take the freeway that is currently NOT under construction rather than the one that is a fucking nightmare right now. There was one other woman there, someone I had met before who is really kindhearted with a fey outlook on life that I found both fascinating and at times bewildering.
I bought two tubs of hummus, two packets of pitas, and one bag of gluten-free bagels. I also bought some dark chocolate hummus to try for myself, and it’s…ok. It’s bland and too gritty, though. I also currently have a dark chocolate vegan spread that is…ok. It’s too gummy, though. The best is from Peanut Butter & Co., but it’s a tad too gritty. They also have a dark chocolate hazelnut spread, but the shipping fee on a five dollar jar is ten bucks. Uh, no. I could get six for thirty from Amazon, but that’s too much for one person.
We listened to music, chatted, and had tasty food. The other woman brought corn chips, and my teacher made a great guac to go with them. She also had a tasty flavored drink made with cane sugar. I think it was cherry? I can’t quite remember. In addition, she provided dark chocolate-covered almonds and dark chocolate-covered nuts and Majula dates. For a second, I was concerned about the chocolate until I remembered that she was allergic to dairy herself so she would not buy anything that would trigger a reaction.
My teacher’s husbands has an impressive array of insects and lizards, and my teacher has an adorable cat. It was so cool to check them all out. There is a lizard, um, gecko, um, not sure exactly what species she is, but I told her she was me in lizard form. She’s stealthy and likes to hang out in the shadows, being more of an observer than a participant. The boy lizard, on the other hand, is gregarious, outgoing, and likes to show you his big testicles. I didn’t get to see them, but I cackled at my teacher’s description of him manspreading on the glass.
At the end of the night, I marveled to myself that I had gone through so much anxiety over the event because it turned out to be lovely and very low-key. That’s the way my brain works, though, and I doubt I will ever be able to get it to stop completely.
*Anything other than a yes is a no. “I have to check my calendar” is a no. “That sounds interesting” is a no. “I’ll talk it over with my husband/wife/spouse/dog” is a no. “I’d love to if I can ____” is a no. If you don’t hear an explicit, “Yes! I’m there!”, it’s a no.