Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Mental Health

The magic of pants that fit

the room of doom.
Striking fear in my heart.

Today was errand day. My new progressive glasses were ready, and I had to pick up my meds, too. On my way to Target, I heard the beginning of a discussion on sleep on MPR. I sighed because every other time MPR did something on sleep, it was how important it was to get seven to nine hours.

I FUCKING KNOW THAT. STOP TELLING ME THAT. TELL ME HOW TO DO THAT INSTEAD.

Apparently, this show was going to include that pertinent information, but I missed it because I was in Target. I’ll have to look it up later and listen to it to get the pearls of wisdom. I did catch the tail end, and the advice was to put an ice pack on your eyes. It does something to slow the heartbeat (probably ‘coz you think you’re about to die and everything shuts down) that makes it easier to sleep. I did wonder if you’re just supposed to leave the ice pack on your eyes as you fall asleep, and I wear a sleep mask, so what about that? But the doctor said you could use a frozen pack of veggies, which I have. I may have to try it. I’ve tried everything else, so why not?

Anyway, I got my new progressives, which the doc warned me would take time to get used to. He was a month into his first pair, and he was still adjusting. He said the trick was to really focus on whatever it is you’re doing, which is not easy for me to do. I have a tendency to multitask and scan things rapidly, so this will be an exercise in getting me to slow the fuck down.

It’s strange because if I move my head too quickly, the object I’m looking at sort of bends in the middle. I imagine it’s similar to what being on hallucinogenics is like. In general, though, everything is crisp and clear. It’s actually strange because it’s been ten years since I’ve had my eyes checked, and my left one has gotten really bad, apparently.

I also love that there is no line on my glasses. I remember the days when if you needed bifocals, you got that nice line on the glasses. Yes, I’m that old. I chose lenses that were a bit bigger this time with a black half-frame. I like them, but it’ll take getting used to as well.

I like them, though, and I take it as a sign that I’ve done something to take care of myself. It’s a big deal for me because I tend to put these things off for forever. See not getting my eyes checked in ten years. I probably would have left it off even more but one of the nose pieces fell off and one of the handles was broken. I had taped it together, but come on. I’m a grown woman. I should not be jury-rigging my glasses, damn it. I also had toothpaste around my mouth when I went to pick up my glasses. Mortifying! It’s from not looking in the mirror, and I need to start doing it because it was the second time it happened this week.

Continue Reading

Depression is a tricky bastard it is

I’ve been experiencing a medium-grade depression for roughly six months, and it’s time to admit it isn’t going away on its own. I gutted it out the first few months because I thought it was temporary, but now, I fear it’s not true. I want to mention that I always have a low-grade depression. Always. Some days, it’s very minimal. Some days, it pushes the line between low and medium, but it never goes completely away. There is an argument to be had whether it’s depression or anxiety or a combination of both, but whatever it is, I’ve come to accept it in my life.

I do not want to accept the medium-grade depression, though, because it’s actively hindering me. When I have a low-grade depression, I can still go about my life and do what needs to be done with little problem. With medium-grade depression, the intrusive thoughts are more intrusive, and it’s harder to ignore them or brush them away. In addition, the depression knows me and my weaknesses very well, and it uses the knowledge against me. Once I catch on to its manipulations and become immune to them, it changes its tactics.

For example. When I used to be severely depressed, an entity I called The Dictator would tell me that I was toxic, worthless, and no one would care if I died. It told me that the people I thought were my friends weren’t really, that they were just being nice. Why would anyone want to be my friend? I didn’t have any redeeming qualities. I was fat, loutish, uninteresting, and unattractive. I firmly believed this, and no one could tell me anything to the contrary.

Now, I don’t believe any of that. Well, I am fat, but that’s just a descriptor and not a pejorative. I also think I’m boring, but I’m willing to believe that’s just me being hard on myself. I no longer think The Dictator is a part of me, but I haven’t gotten rid of the depression. It’s changed its attack, however, because it’s a sly and sneaky bastard. Now, instead of telling me the above, it tells me that I’m worthless because I’m not doing anything with my life. I don’t have an office job. I’m not moving up in the world. I don’t have many friends. I’m not putting out content in a way that is meaningful, and no one gives a shit about my writing. I’m never going to be published unless it’s self-published. Maybe ten people will actually give a shit if i die, and I’m not counting online people in that number. Not because they’re not real and not because I don’t care about some of them (and they probably care about me in return), but because it’s simply not the same.

All of this is true. Well, most of it is true. Some of it is more a feeling thing than an actual thing, but it leans on the side of being true. It’s hard to argue with any of it, except for the content part. That’s on me. I haven’t done what needs to be done to even have a chance of being a known content producer.

Side Note: I hate that phrase, ‘content producer’, because it’s simultaneously pretentious and antiseptic. But, it’s become an accepted phrase, especially for YouTube/Twitch.

I don’t like the term ‘creative’, either, for someone who produces artistic content, but it’s better than content producer. I like artist, but I understand that it’s not very inclusive. In general, I just like to say I’m a writer.


Continue Reading

With age, hopefully, comes wisdom

 

but not when i first wake up.
All of this looks soooooo good.

I’ve been thinking lately about all the things I learned as a kid that are not relevant to me now. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to stick with the ideas related to health, mental and physical.

1. When and how I eat. If you’re around my age (late forties), I’m sure you were taught the four food groups, how much you should eat of each, that you should eat three square meals a day, and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that all of this is different now. Some of it is just science. There are now five groups (fruits and veggies got split up), and in the old days it was 4-4-3-2, that’s the way to eat for you (or something like that). I don’t remember which number goes with what group, but that was taught to me as a kid. Now, it’s ounces/cups per day, and the amount of each group has changed. I don’t have an issue with that. Things change over time.

When I should eat has always been a struggle for me. I don’t like to eat when I first awake, and usually it’s more than an hour after I get up before I’m even remotely hungry. In addition, I take a medication that requires that you don’t eat for an hour after you take it.

Side note: It would have been nice for my first doctor to tell me that when I was fourteen–which was when I first started having to take this med. He didn’t, though, and he was a bad doctor all around. Then again, he might have said it and I didn’t listen because I was overwhelmed with the new information and was exceedingly depressed at the time. Either way, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that my (new and great) doctor told me that I wasn’t supposed to take the medication with an hour of eating.

Anyway, I sometimes don’t eat for hours after I awake. It just depends. I have a history of eating disorders, so I’m trying to honor my body by eating only when I’m hungry. It doesn’t work all the time (or even most), but I’m working on it. As for the three square meals thing, I’ve found that I feel better if I eat a little bit several times a day rather than a lot three times a day. I think it makes more sense, too, to keep my hunger at a reasonable level, rather than have a feast or famine mentality. When I go out to eat, I never eat more than half, especially if I order an appetizer and/or dessert. I don’t like feeling stuffed, so it’s easier for me to eat many times a day.

I also have to take into account all my sensitivities. I’ve been gluten-free/dairy-free for almost two years, and I’m currently troubleshooting what else is wrong with me. Food-wise, I mean. I thought it was nuts, but now I’m finding it’s not. It might be hydrogenated oil? I’m not sure. I haven’t had a serious stomach issue in a week or two, which is nice, but I would like to pinpoint what made it happen.

Continue Reading

My mind is on my matter

and not much of that.
A lotta this….

I think I’m getting sick.

Again.

I have gunk in my throat that will not go away no matter how much I clear my throat or cough. I’ve been sleeping more, which is usually a sign I’m getting sick. Could it be because I’m depressed? Yeah, maybe, but that’s not how my depression works. I may be more immobile when I’m depressed, but I don’t actually sleep. My brain races too much for me to actually drift into oblivion.

Side Note: It’s one reason I don’t like meditation. I know it’s about clearing my mind and allowing thoughts to just flit away, but it just intensifies the flightiness and the frantic nature of my brain. There was a time, I was having flashbacks during meditation, and my teacher let me do walking the circle from bagua instead. I Googled it, and meditation can be harmful to people with PTSD. In fact, there are a lot of negative side effects that I never see mentioned, and while it only affects a minority of people, it would be nice for practitioners to be aware of it.

I’ve dealt with my sleep issues in a way that probably isn’t healthy, but it’s the only thing that works. I sleep when I’m drop-dead tired. Sometimes, I fall asleep while I’m watching a video, and I’ll wake up after twenty minutes, rewind the video, then fall asleep again. When I reach that point, I just don’t have the will to get up and get ready for bed. I just lie on the couch, having no will to do anything. I know I’ll feel better if I get up, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth, but I can’t make myself do it.

I also don’t sleep in a bed because I have really shitty sleep when I’m in a bed. I have no idea why this is, but I gave up for now. I sleep on the couch, and while my sleep isn’t great, it’s better than when I try to sleep in a bed.

Back to the question of sleep. I used to get four hours a night when I was at my most depressed. Weirdly, I sleep less when depressed. It sucks because the last thing I want to do when I’m depressed is be awake. I understand why many depressed people sleep twelve-plus hours a day because it’s the closest thing to oblivion while still being alive. If you don’t have nightmares, that is. I just could never force myself to sleep that long, and I have tried many, many, many different remedies for my lack of sleep that have not worked. They include melatonin, lavender (not recommended when you’re allergic to lavender), warm milk, warm tea, valerian (made me suicidal), St. John’s for depression in general, sleeping pills (couldn’t wake up, even after halving the pill and halving again. Obviously not tested on Asian women, per yooz), and more.

Continue Reading

My body hates me–and the feeling is mutual

I hate my body right now. This is not unusual for me as I’ve hated it for most of my life. I was a chubby kid starting when I was seven for many reasons, and my mother put me on my first diet. One of the things I remember her saying from that time was, “You have such a beautiful face if only you weren’t so chubby.” She was a big believer in vegetables and fruits, and she didn’t allow much junk in the house. All of this started me down the road of body shame to the point of body dysmorphia, It also gave me a food hoarder mentality, and I still don’t like to share my food.

Side Note: My mother has had body issues my whole life as well (yes, my life. I don’t know about life before me, obviously, but I suspect it was there from the start). She’s tiny–roughly 5’3″ and petite. She’s been heavier in the past, and she’s always obsessed with losing five pounds. It doesn’t help that she comes from a culture that is even more oppressive about women being fat (Taiwan) than America’s, so it’s something she unthinkingly handed down to me.

It shows up in small ways as well as big ones. Such as her talking about her diet whenever she was on one (which was basically thirty years). It was her policing my food to the point that I didn’t eat fruits and/or vegetables for years in my thirties because I was so pissed off about it. It was tricksy as her adopting the tone of ‘I’m only concerned about your health’ when I confronted her about it. Fortunately, I knew that was bullshit because she never said a word when I was anorexic/bulimic other than to comment jealously how my waist was smaller than hers.

It got so bad, I had to explicitly tell her that she couldn’t talk about my weight (this was when I was at my heaviest). Predictably, that’s when she wanted to make it about my health. Hell, she probably even believed it, but as I noted, she never had a problem with me being dangerously skinny other than to envy me, so it’s never been about my health. It’s been about how she hates having a big fat galoot of a woman for a daughter–except, she can’t handle having a too-small woman as her daughter, either. I don’t know what ‘just right’ would have been, but I suspect she didn’t know, either. It wasn’t about me, you see–it was about her.


Continue Reading

What a drag (on my health)

whiling away the hours.
My new home.

I’m afraid this is my new normal, being roughly 60%. Every time I get past that point, something happens that sets me back. For example, last night, and TMI for possibly grossness, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I’m twelve–side note: why are PB&Js considered children’s food?–and a minute later, I had to run to the bathroom. Exploding diarrhea all over the place (hyperbole! I made it to the toilet), and I stayed there for at least ten minutes. A half hour later, I was back again. I went to sleep a bit later, then was jolted awake in the middle of the night (not sure when) because my body was urgently telling me I needed to go. Again. I was more than half-asleep, and I almost fell down on my way to the toilet. I almost fell asleep on the toilet. I almost fell asleep on my way back to the couch. It was a surreal experience. I was basically pooping in my sleep, and I was just happy I made it to the bathroom first.

What was it that did it? My instinct is the peanut butter, but it could be the jelly. In fact, it’s more likely the jelly. I’ve had the peanut butter before, and I’m not sure I’ve had this brand of (blackberry) jelly before. It’s not the bread. I eat that all the time, and it’s not a new loaf. So, I’m going to do a controlled test today. I’m going to eat the jelly on its own, an then I’m going to try the peanut butter. Of course, the fact that I think it’s the peanut butter might unconsciously bias me.

I woke up grumpy and exhausted today. My energy is extremely low, and I just feel so blah. I’ve been trying to write this post for over an hour, and every word is begrudging. It’s not like me at all. I’m verbose to an extreme, and I can usually toss off a two-thousand word post in an hour or so. I currently have 350 words, and I am already running out of steam.

On a related note: I’m struggling with the second book of my current trilogy. The first one is finished. It’s rough as hell, but I really like the energy of it. The second one never really came to life to me, and I’m 92,000 words in. I’m thinking of scrapping it and starting over. I’ve had writer friends incredulous that I would actually throw away whole novels, it’s not an anathema to me. I wouldn’t literally throw it away or delete it; I would simply start another story. I might take some nuggets from the first story, but I would go in a different direction.

Side note to the related note: When I write a novel, I have an outline in my head. I write mysteries, and going into it, I know the perp, the victim, and the motive. I don’t always know how I get from Point A to Point B, but I know in broad strokes what my chain of events will be. I’ve had times when the motive has changed or shifted as I’ve written, but for the most part, the motive I go in with is the same one that remains at the end–more or less.

In this case, I started the first novel with a firm idea of all of the above. I even know mostly how I was going to get from Point A to Point B. About halfway through the novel, an idea came to me that I couldn’t ignore. It led to the main thesis of the second novel, and it recast everything in the first novel in a different light. Of course, I had to keep in mind that the first novel had to be able to read on its own. I finished the first novel with the second one in mind, and I was excited when I started the second.

Goddamn it. I just can’t today. I’m so tired and bone-weary. And my innards are still grumbling. That’s all for today.

Snow, my cold, and conflicting emotions

let it snow!
My happy place.

The snow, it is real. It’s been a steady accumulation over the last few days, and it’s making me a very happy camper. Indoor camper.

Side rant: I love snow. I always have. Ever since I was a little kid and played in the snow as I was bundled up so only my nose was showing. I’d go sledding (which I loved) until my fingers and toes were numb, and then I’d drink hot chocolate. Snowmen were a thing, too.

Winter was great because I loved the cold and because my allergies were mostly dead. I’ve been very open about my love of snow and cold, which for the most part has been fine. However, whenever I post about it or tweet about it, there’s inevitably one person who has to say how much they hate it. Or remind me that it’s a bitch to drive in. Or shovel. It’s gotten to the point where I preempt it by mentioning my gratitude in not having to drive in it when I talk about it in hopes I can be allowed to enjoy my snow somewhat unimpeded.

Snow is one thing that gives me pure joy. Can I please have that? It’s good to be aware of other people’s issues and whatnot, but at some point, I just want to revel in the fluffy white goodness.

Side note to the side rant: It’s different when I’m talking to friends who have to struggle with the snow affecting their commute or income (having clients cancel because of weather). I can empathize with them and their frustrations. It’s more the people who feel the need to tell me unprompted that snow is a problem for people. I’m not stupid or ignorant. I know this. And yet, it’s a bit too ‘there are starving children in Africa’ for me. There is nothing that doesn’t cause problems for SOMEONE. Does that mean always having to qualify one’s own pleasures/enjoyment/happiness?

Anyway. Back to snow. We’ve gotten 10 inches to a foot, and it’s lightly snowing now. It’s the fluffy and light snow, which is my favorite to frolic in. There will be no midnight nekkid snow dancing, however, because I’m still having sinus issues. The cough has diminished, but the congestion has increased. The needles pricking my nostrils feeling has come back again. When I woke up, my forehead was hot. I popped two (generic) Migraine Excedrin, and I’m hoping that will do the trick. I also have a raspy voice, which, while sexy, may be a harbinger of more congestion.

I’ve been incredibly crabby over being sick, but at the same time, really happy about the snow. It’s a weird mix of feelings that keeps whiplashing back and forth.

*a thousand needles prick my nose*

I hate having a cold!

*looks out the window at the gently-falling snow*

Oooooh, so pretty!

We’ve gotten between 10-12 inches over the last few days and are supposed to get a few more inches. Maybe this is my consolation prize for this cold dragging on. Either way, I’m enjoying it–just not as fully as I would if I weren’t sick.

Still. It reminds me of what I love about Minnesota winters, which have sadly become more tame over the years. Thank you, climate change. No, really, thank you for fucking up my favorite season. Trying not to be bitter because it seems a bit ungrateful as we’re in the middle of ALL THE SNOW, but I’m greedy. I want so much more.

Side note II to side rant: I want to say that if people want to bitch about how much they hate snow on their own FB walls/tweet about it–have at it. I know most people don’t feel the same way about snow that I do, and that’s fine. I’m used to being in the minority about–well, pretty much everything. Except loving chocolate. I think I’m in the majority there. So, yeah, I’m used to biting my tongue when certain subjects come up. When other Minnesotans grumble about the snow and talk about wanting spring, I just nod and smile. Or, if I’m in a feisty mood, I’ll say I like winter, but I understand how they feel.*

So on my own FB wall or Twitter TL, just fucking let me have this, ok? To hell with it. I may actually do nekkid midnight snow dancing tonight, my cold be damned.

 

 

*I don’t, but it’s a social nicety that keeps things moving.

Just fuck everything, but snow?!?

To no one’s surprise, I have a fucking cold. Warning: I will be fucking sweary in this post because I am so fucking sick and tired of being, well, sick and tired. A deep hacking cough, a stuffed nose that simultaneously feels as if it has pine needles jabbing into it from time to time. Add chest congestion to that, and you can understand why I’m irritated. Not just irritated, but downright pissed off. I have been sick on and off for the past few months, and every time I feel better, something else happens to me. It’s not as if I’m in the public all the time, a lot, or much at all. So why the hell am I getting sick? It’s a question for my doc the next time I go, which will be soon because I have to get my annual thyroid check for my meds.

Speaking of docs….Every year, I have to deal with my insurance, and I thought I set it last year so I wouldn’t have to do it again this year. I got a notice saying my insurance would end because I hadn’t re-enrolled, and I found an earlier letter with the re-enrollment form. I filled it out and sent it in with a brief explanation of what happened. I sent it in before the end of the month, and then this week, I got a notice that my insurance had ended last month. I thought about checking my mail today before I called the insurance office, but I didn’t because I’m lazy. I called, resigned to wait for over an hour as I had to do the other times I called them (this is a governmental office, so you know how that goes), but I got someone within five minutes. She told me there was nothing wrong with my insurance, and I had her double check and read it to me exactly to make sure. Afterwards, I went to check the mail because I was going out, anyway, and sure enough, there was my health plan letter. I had to laugh, but I’m relieved that it ended well.


Continue Reading

Checking in on my health

drink it all up!
Staying cozy and warm.

The vaunted snowstorm netted us a whopping three to four inches of snow. I’m not mad, really, just disappointed. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be eight to ten inches because we’ve consistently gotten less than has been predicted, so I’m not crushed as I would be otherwise. It’s lightly snowing now, and we’re supposed to get more snow during the big storm next week. Only a few more inches, but I’ll take it. We haven’t had snow hardly at all this winter.

As for the cold, it’s really fucking cold. Currently, the temp is ‘feels like’ -28. There is no feeling going on at that temp. That’s cold, even for me. I did have the window slightly rolled down when I ran to Cubs this morning, but it’s only three minutes from my house.

Fun fact: Some years ago, the windchill factor formula was tweaked so that it more accurately reflects how the wind feels on your skin. As a result, there will probably never be a -100 windchill again. We used to get them when I was a kid, and about ten years ago, I started wondering why I never saw -100 again. It tuns out that a new windchill factor was established in 2001, which was comforting to discover. It wasn’t just me this time!

Anyway, now I’m back at home, and taiji classes have been canceled due to the extreme cold. I had been considering going to the new class tonight (new to me, not to my teacher. She’s taking it over for her teacher), but even if the classes hadn’t been cancelled, I wouldn’t have gone. I’m not leaving the house for the rest of the day. I have my traveling mug of tea and my comfy throw over my legs. I’m hunkering down until this cold snap passes because it’s too cold even for me.

Unfortunately, I’m fighting off the crud. I feel on the cusp of being sick, which is worse than actually being sick. When I’m sick, I’m just dealing with being sick. I don’t really think of much else. When I’m maybe about to get sick, I can’t do anything to stop it, and it makes me pissed off. I don’t go out into public that often except to the grocery store, which, come to think of it, is a terrible place to go if you’re trying not to be sick.

It actually makes me angry that I can’t stop myself from getting sick. I’m drinking all the tea, including immunity-boosting tea in addition to my usual honey, ginger, lemon tea. I’m doing my taiji routine every morning (including stretching), which is a half hour. When I first started taiji, I didn’t practice at home at all. In fact, I was resentful of the idea that I should practice. I don’t know why. I was a bitter, negative, and deeply depressed person when I started taking taiji classes. I’m still depressed and negative, but not nearly as much as I used to be.

When I first started practicing taiji at home, I did it for two minutes. The first section of the Solo Form, and even that was begrudging. I slowly started adding to my morning regime, and now, I’m up to a half hour of stretching and taiji. It doesn’t even feel like anything most of the time. My taiji teacher says an hour a day is the most I should do, and I don’t have to do it in one session. Looking back, I can’t believe how much I resented having to do even two minutes of it every day.

Continue Reading

The consequence of not reacting

where did my head go?
I’ve lost my head over this.

I’m going to start out this post talking about Dark Souls because one, I love the series and will talk about it whenever I can. Two, I had a realization today about why I’m shit at parrying (in Dark Souls), and I wanted to muse on it a bit. Yes, it falls into the Wellness category because it’s  about mental health manifesting in a physical way.

Brief primer: Due to a traumatic childhood, I have an extremely high pain tolerance. I’ve mentioned this in the past that when we do chin na (joint lock) techniques on each other in taiji class, I have to be very conscious about when it’s reasonable to tap out rather than do it when I actually feel pain. In the beginning, I could only practice with my teacher because she didn’t trust that I wouldn’t get hurt else-wise. Part of that is natural flexibility in certain ways, like I can yank my thumb towards my wrist without even flinching when others jump after a little tweak. Most of it, however, was me training myself not to react to anything because I would get yelled at as a kid if I let one iota of a negative emotion show.

Come to think of it, that’s probably why I don’t talk about my depression much with anyone or I downplay it. I was either told I wasn’t feeling it when I was a kid, ignored, or scolded about it. When my mother actually did something about it, dragging me to a therapist when I was fourteen, it was at a local very religious school, and he had nothing for me. Yeah, it was a man, which only added to the problem.

I was also heavily bullied in school, and my mother gave me the age-old useless advice of ignoring it because that always works so well. The only two times I got a bully to back off (and both girls for what it’s worth) was the time I cried when a much older girl was bullying me. Her face immediately changed, and she complimented my hair and never bothered me again.  This was when I was six, and the only thing I took away from that experience was that it was so embarrassing to cry in front of someone else. Much later, I realized she was probably in a not-great home situation herself, but six-year-old me couldn’t understand why a teenager would want to be so mean to her.

The second incident was in high school. There was a girl (and I still remember her name) who used to pick on me every day in science class. I want to say physics, but that detail is fuzzy. My stomach would twist in knots every time I walked into the classroom because I knew the second I stepped into the room, she would be on me. Why? Who knows? Probably because I was easy to target as an outsider (fat, Asian, smart, and not knowledgeable about American culture at all). Remember, I was also deeply depressed at this time and probably had anxiety, although I didn’t realize that I had anxiety until much later, and the last thing I needed was some bitch picking on me in class.

I snapped. One day, she started in on her usual bullshit. I grabbed her hair, yanked it back, and told her if she ever bothered me again, I would fucking kill her. She blustered something about me thinking I was so big, but I didn’t. I was just fucking tired of her picking on me every goddamn day and no one doing anything about it. She never bothered me after that, and you would think the lesson I learned from that incident was that a bully doesn’t like to be bullied, but no. I was mortified at how I acted, even though I was pushed into it.

That’s part of the problem of constantly put down–you believe it’s what you deserve, and if you stand up for yourself (the general you), it feels wrong, even if the result is positive. It’s a vicious cycle, and it keeps someone who is downtrodden firmly under other people’s feet.

Continue Reading