Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Mental Health

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.


Continue Reading

Consent is hot as hell

I’ve been struggling with anger in the past week, and now it’s come crashing down around me and has settled into a thick goo of depression. i have a hard time finding motivation for anything, and I have a fatalistic viewpoint. I mean, I do in general, but it’s especially bad right now. I have the tendency to be negative, and the pandemic sure isn’t helping.

Side note: My right eye has been twitching for no reason. This has happened in the past, but not to the extent it’s happening now. In addition, my sleep has been really fucked over the days. Not unusual for me, but it’s reverting back to early days sleep, which is discouraging. I don’t sleep enough, and then I’m drowsy all day. Then, when I try to sleep, I’m suddenly wide awake.

As my readers know, I am a big fan of advice columns. I call them my stories, and I have a loop I do every morning. One of them is, was, Doctor Nerdlove, and I need to talk about it. I want to say before getting into the controversy that while I enjoyed reading his column, I did not like his podcasts or his videos. It was puzzling to me how someone who could write a good column with solid advice could not do videos/podcasts well (in my opinion, of course). In addition, while I agreed with his general advice, his specific tips in dating were borderline cringe-worthy to me. His idea of flirting was aggressive and skewed cliched, and if he were to his tricks on me in real life, I would be very turned off. That said, his general advice was sound, and I allowed it to overcome the grimace I always had when I read his specific advice. This is relevant to the rest of the post, I promise.

So, there has been a spate of stories about sexual harassment in different branches of geek culture. Games and comic to be more specific. Doctor NL wrote a post about a mentor of his who was accused of…not exactly sexual harassment, but of sexualizing the attractive young women in his forum in a way that would assume de facto pressure. He had a lot of clout in the industry (comics), and a leg up from him would do a lot for someone’s career. Add to that the fact that comics are still largely white dudes, and it’s easy to see how he could use his power for evil.

In the comments, there were people who didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Distressing, but common. There was one dude who ‘just wanted to understand’ and kept asking questions. It was clear that he really did want to understand, but he was coming at it from the wrong angle. I had a Twitter interaction with an Asian friend that was crashed by a rando who was ‘just asking questions’ about a racial issue, but it became quickly clear that he wasn’t arguing in good faith. I muted him and moved along with my life. In the above case, however, it didn’t really matter that the guy was arguing in good faith because the starting point was so different for him and for the actual situation. He didn’t think the behavior was bad enough to classify as damaging, which was pretty myopic of him. But, it’s sadly common in that people often feel that they are the standard of norm. I’ll delve more into that in the future.

A few days after this, the doc then penned a post about his own situation. He was at a con in 2017 and was flirting with a woman at a bar. He’s in an open marriage, so there’s nothing there (unless he didn’t mention it to the woman involved). By his own recount, they flirted and had chemistry. He thought it was going well, so he reached over, gently wove his fingers through her hair, and lightly tugged.


Continue Reading

Never leaving the house again

I was borderline agoraphobic when I was in my late twenties. Hold up. Wait. back up. When I was a kid (stop groaning, yes, we do need to go back that far), I had no friends. I was a fat, socially-awkward, intelligent Asian girl in a very white suburb. My home life sucked as well, and I first thought about suicide when I was eleven. But even before then, I wanted to die. I didn’t like anything about life which has continued to this day. Wait. Back up again. I don’t want it to sound like every moment of my life is terrible. It isn’t. For the most part, it’s just that everything is low-grade meh. When I’m really depressed, life is torture. There are mornings when I open my eyes, and I immediately want to close them again forever. For the most part, though, it’s just me dragging my flattish (but not as flat as before taiji) ass off the couch and going about my business.

After college, I had a period of chronic and deep depression. There were days when all I could do was brush my teeth, and I would consider that a win. Now, I brush my teeth three times a day every day (and floss three times, too), but there are several things I leave undone. I don’t do laundry until I don’t have anything else decent to wear. Many people do that, I know, but it can be a month or two before I really feel the need. Given that we’re in a pandemic, it’s not as dire at it would be otherwise, but it’s still a factor of my depression.

At that point, I didn’t leave the house except to go grocery shopping and to get my meds once a month. Even that was a struggle, but I managed to get it done. Two things helped my depression–therapy and taiji. The two Ts, as it were. I reached a point where I was going out for my taiji classes three times a week, went out with friends once a month or so in addition to my normal errands. It was enough for me, and I was less blah than before.

Fast-forward to the coronavirus and the lockdown. The last place I went to (except pharmacy and gas station) was a nearby coop. This was late February/early March. I wasn’t wearing a mask, but I kept my distance as best I could and had my sweatshirt pulled up over my hands so I didn’t have to touch anything with my bare hands. This coop is small, and the aisles were narrow. It would be hard for two carts to go through an aisle at the same time, for example. I was already feeling slightly panicky, but at least most of the workers were wearing masks and gloves.


Continue Reading

Even more alienated than usual

I’m depressed. This is not new or unusual as I’m depressed all the time, but  I’m even more depressed than usual. Why? There are several reasons. One, obviously, Covid-19 and racism. Two, it’s summer. I fucking hate summer. Heat is the absolute worst. Three, I’m spending too much time online. This is my life in general. I tend to take negative opinions too much too heart, and it’s easier to do absence of context. I was reading a question on Ask A Manager, and it was about deliveries not being done correctly. The person asking (OP) wondered if she should go to management. She was very careful to say that she knew it was last resort and she didn’t want to get the person in trouble, but she wasn’t happy with the issues (not wearing masks, demanding she answered the door, etc.). Most people were pragmatic about it–talk to the delivery person through a closed door, put up signs, etc. But a small minority castigated the OP, calling her cruel and said that she was outsourcing her risk to others.

Now, let me be clear. They’re right. She’s paying someone else to take the risk that she isn’t. I know that I’m doing the same thing, and I’m profoundly grateful to the people who do my work for me. I’m not even taking issue with the ‘check your privilege’ attitude because it’s a good thing to recognize where you have privilege in order to decide what to do with it. What bothers me is that by throwing that out there, they are completely shutting down any communication that can be had on the subject. Scolding someone feels good in the moment, but it doesn’t really add to the conversation. I know I’m biased in this case, but I’ve always felt this way. Even when I’m the minority. Yelling at people about how awful they are isn’t going to get them to change their minds. I’m not saying don’t call out the issues, but name-calling and putting others down is not the way to do it. In addition, it can amount to bullying, which I see happening too often online.

In this case, some people pointed out that one person doing the shopping and delivery for a bunch of other people did cut down on the danger in general. They got jumped on, too. Again, I’m not disagreeing about the base point, but it’s more nuanced than that. In addition, the people typing angrily about privilege, well, they have it as well. They have something they are typing on, most likely a cell phone. Which was probably made in China and boxed by people at Amazon or somewhere similar. Places with miserable working conditions, and in some cases, the places had people jumping off the roof to kill themselves so they wouldn’t have to keep working.


Continue Reading

Feeling hopeless in the time of Covid-10

I was talking to my mother last night as she prepared to go to another city (also in Taiwan) where she did some teaching. She and my father were going, and they were going to have dinner with some friends they hadn’t seen in some time. The reason it’s notable, of course, is because we’re still in a pandemic, but it’s one that Taiwan handled admirable and is mostly past at the moment. That’s not to say they can’t have another spike or they should relax their strictures too much, but for the moment, they are sitting pretty.

So much so, my parents can’t quite seem to grasp how terrible it still is in America. I can’t really blame them, though, because many Americans don’t seem to get it, either. My dad keeps talking about when they can come back to visit, and I just wanted to scream at him. My parents are almost eighty and both had major surgery in the last two years. My mom’s had two in the last year. My father is in terrible health in general, and did I mention we’re in the middle of a pandemic? Not to mention that it’s nearly 24 hours of travel, and it’s easy to see why this is a terrible idea. They usually come at the end of July/beginning of August, and I really stressed to them that it would not be a good idea, and then my dad was like, “Maybe October?”

I just can’t. We haven’t even hit our peak yet, and the prediction is a spike in fall. I am emphasizing that Christmas is the earliest feasible time, and even that seems to be too soon for me. If I can’t convince them not to come, then I’m just going to stay in the basement all the time and not interact with them.

That aside, we were talking about what Taiwan had done in the early days (aggressive tracking, masking, and fining for breaking the rules) to be so successful and how that wouldn’t fly here because of American exceptionalism/individualism. I pointed out that with the various social issues America has, tracking could be problematic. That aside, however, I agreed that America was too individualistic for something like that to take effect. It doesn’t help that our pols are either clueless or willfully ignorant, and the pros have been offering conflicting information since the very beginning.

I mentioned that I felt hopeless about the whole thing because I was doing my bit, but it didn’t matter. Things were opening up, and we were going to see more cases in the near future. I went to the pharmacy and the gas station today, and there was a worker at the pharmacy who had her mask dangling by her ear. I internally rolled my eyes, but I didn’t say anything. Then she came out into the lobby to fiddle with the merchandise (probably restocking). Did she pull the mask back on? I couldn’t tell, but she didn’t have it when she came out the door and passed by me within three feet or so. In a fucking pharmacy! What is the fucking point if you’re going to dangle it from one ear? Then, at the gas station, the workers weren’t wearing masks (though behind plexiglass) and less than half of the customers were wearing them. I got out of there as quickly as possible, and I breathed a sigh of relief once I got home.


Continue Reading

Annual sinus issues in the time of Covid-19

So, I’ve been dealing with my annual sinus/migraine bullshit. Oh. I just thought of something. Caffeine can cause migraines as well as cure them (it’s finicky like that). I’ve been drinking caffeinated tea at night. That might be the cause of the migraines. I’ll give it a skip tonight and see if it helps.

As for the sinus stuff, I think it’s partly allergies (because I’m allergic to everything under the sun), but it’s also sinus stuff. I can tell the difference because I’ve had allergies all my life, and I’ve had sinus issues for several years. The former is your typical itchy eyes, runny/stuff nose, clogged throat, while the latter is ear shit, nose afire/pricked, and swollen glands. The third factor is the weather. I have no scientific basis for this, but I firmly believe that the barometric pressure changes plus the heat negatively affect my sinuses. I definitely know that ‘feels like 102’ negatively affects my mood. I keep my AC at 78, but I dropped it a degree yesterday because I was not gonna deal with a migraine, sinus crap, AND heat.

I fucking hate the summer with all my heart, and I always have. Not only because of the heat but also because of the allergies. Everything is in bloom, and it wreaks havoc on my nose. It’s hard to remember sometimes that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Not only because it’s been pushed out of the news, but because life around me hasn’t changed. I haven’t seen one mask in my neighborhood, and there are definitely neighbors who are not practicing safe social distancing.

And I end up feeling like I’m the weird one for completely shutting myself off. My father laughed at me the other day that when I had food delivered, I didn’t let them in my house. To me, it was a no-brainer. Letting them in the house defeated the whole purpose of delivery in the first place. And, our state soft-opened…a week ago? I think? Time doesn’t matter. Anyway, my brother said we should go to the noodle place down the street when it opened. Even after we agreed that nothing had really changed during the ‘stay-at-home’ time and the ‘stay safe’ time.


Continue Reading

Personal health in a time of societal crisis

The war is raging on, and it seems selfish to focus on my personal health. Alas, I am still me, even in these times of unrest, so I can’t completely divorce myself from, well, me. Also, all the words  I have to say about the ongoing situations are bottled up in my throat, making me strangely muted. I’ve been grieving–crying at the drop of a hat, and I’ve been praying to a god I don’t believe in for something, anything, and I’m not even sure what.

But, because of my autoimmune bullshit and the Covid-19, I am not going to the protests. I have to ask myself honestly, though, would I go if it weren’t for the Covid-19? My answer is, I don’t know. If my bestie were here, we’d go together. We’ve done it before. Would I go on my own? Not so sure. It doesn’t say anything good about me, but it’s the truth.

It’s weird. When my parents called the other night, concerned about my brother and me (more him because he lives in South Minneapolis), my father counseled me to stay in. “You’re Asian,” he said. “So you’re the other to both blacks and white.” He didn’t say it exactly like that, but it’s what he meant. He’s right, and it puts me in this weird other-land that makes it hard for me to figure where my place is in all this.

Let me make myself clear. I am 100% on the side of the protesters. What happened to George Floyd was horrific, and it’s a symptom of a very sick system. But I’m not black. I cannot speak to that experience. I’m also not white, and I’ve experienced racism myself. Especially in the time of the Covid-19 with the president stoking flames of hatred towards Chinese people, I am concerned about how I might be perceived if I go out into public. I’m not Chinese, but that’s a point without distinction right now. Add to that the fact that I’ve experienced mild racism at the hands of cops, and it leaves me in a weird place.


Continue Reading

Bruce Banner adapted for every situation

I’m sick. No, not with Covid-19. I’m fairly sure it’s not that. How? Because I don’t have any of the symptoms for it besides exhaustion. As I tweeted:

It’s a VERY wet cough, meaning there’s gunk clogging up my throat. My throat is also raw and sore. My nose feels as if there are tiny needles pricking it, and my head hurts. It’s not migraine-level, but I’m keeping an eye on it. I don’t have a temperature because I just checked. 97.5 per yooz. Also, I am pretty much a hermit these days, so my chances of catching it are minimal. Our state did a loosening of the Stay-At-Home orders (sigh), and my brother said, “Let’s do lunch!” I said hell no, and he said we could bring the food back to my house. I said and sit ten feet away from each other? Yeah, no. Not going to happen. Nothing magically got better because ‘Stay-At-Home’ became ‘Stay Safe’.

I’m not happy to be dealing with sinus problems, but I will say that it’s the first of the year, and I haven’t had any issues in the past two months–which is a first for me in quite some time.


Continue Reading

Paging Dr. Banner

Captain America: Dr. Banner. Now might be a really good time for you to get angry.

Dr. Banner (with a wry smile over his shoulder as he’s walking forward): That’s my secret, Cap. (Pauses, drops smile) I’m always angry. (Hulks out.)

I didn’t care much for The Avengers (the first movie, which is the only I saw), but this line stuck with me. Here it is in video form:

This is me, and I’ve never heard it put so succinctly. You don’t need the backstory of The Incredible Hulk to understand what Dr. Banner is saying, but it helps. Very basically, Banner’s Hulk mode runs on rage. In the earlier films/comics, he had a hard time controlling it. I haven’t read it in some time, so I might be misremembering it, but he tried to tamp down his anger and he would get caught off-guard by it and bad things happened as a result. In this movie, again, as much as I can remember, which isn’t much, he’s pretty chill most of the time. So, him saying this showed that he had gotten a handle on his temper and controlled it rather than it controlling him.

I feel this so hard. I am angry all the time, but I’m still in the ‘trying to control it’ phase. I dealt with it for two decades by numbing out. For many years, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was seriously and chronically depressed, and everything was stuffed way down deep. It’s hard to look back at the younger me without wincing at what a hot mess she was. But, instead of embarrassment, I feel sorrow and compassion for her.

I’ve been sick these past few days. Not sure exactly what, but it’s either sinuses or allergies. Perhaps both. We’ve been having weird weather (supposedly polar vortex?) with frost warnings at night. We almost had snow last week, but it was just a bit too warm. I’m so fucking exhausted. I snoozed on and off all last evening. I’m not able to do much of anything, and I have no interest in anything.  I know that’s depression, but it’s more than that. My nose feels as if it’s being pricked over and over again by a thousand tiny needles, and my brain is full of cotton. I concede it might be the cusp of a migraine, too, but whatever it is, I just can’t find the wherewithal to give a shit.

Continue Reading

Mental and physical health in the time of you-know-what

It’s May. I’m having a hard time grasping that little fact. I’m also having a hard time remembering when my personal lockdown started. I want to say it was…March…early? Late? Not sure any longer. I know it was before my birthday which was nearly a month ago. Time has lost all meaning, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. It’s also interesting how many people are having vivid dreams, which was something I assumed was only happening to me. There are reports of people dreaming about people who ignored social distancing, making the dreamer panic. Mine have had nothing to do with COVID-19, but they are very intense. It’s weird because I used to have extreme anxiety dreams and before that, outright nightmares. Now, however, my dreams are intense but not anxious dreams–well, not in the classic sense. They are the least-troubling aspect of my sleep at the moment, which is saying a lot.

I’ve given up on trying to regulate my sleep. I go to sleep whenever I go to sleep, and I get up whenever I get up. If I snooze at any given point, then I snooze. I’m of the mindset that whatever gets me through at this point is fine. Within reason, of course.

Side Note: I read all these people joking about drinking 24/7, and I don’t find it funny at all. I already thought people in America drink too much (let’s not talk about Britain), and I don’t like that the pandemic is being used as an excuse to get plastered. I do sympathize with self-medicating, but….Yeah, I’ll just leave it at that.

I mentioned last time that the one bright side to this mess is that my allergies and sinus issues have been drastically reduced, which strengthens my theory that nature is trying to kill me. I mean, it makes perfect sense that if I’m allergic to everything in nature, keeping it at bay will be better for me. Now that I’m able to test this hypothesis, I’ve found that it’s true. What does it mean for life after this pandemic clears (if it does)? I don’t know. It’s not realistic for me to not ever go anywhere ever. I mean, I could do it, but I don’t think it’s feasible for the long run.

I’m also thinking about what to do about life in general once the restrictions ease. People in my neighborhood are pretty lax about best practices, and it’s tripping me up whenever I see it. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a mask in my neighborhood, including when I went to the pharmacy. It’s bizarre, and it makes me angry. I’m working on letting it go and reminding myself that I’m hermetically sealed for the most part.


Continue Reading