Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

A fine line between well-informed and overwhelmed

overwhelming anxiety.
SO stressed!

I was a reluctant adapter to social media, but now am a heavy user. I have written before how I’ve cut back on my social media intake by not checking on Wednesdays and Saturdays (unless there are very special circumstances). I’m considering cutting out Mondays as well because I still feel as if I’m ingesting it too much.

I get my news from Twitter, then I check it at other venues to verify that what I’m seeing on Twitter is legit. The downside to social media is that anyone can post anything, and there are many people who are gullible and prone to falling for everything they read. I’m rigorous about checking my sources, but I’ve fallen for the ‘satire’ pieces once or twice myself. I haven’t posted anything fake in years, but it’s always hovering at the back of my mind. I remember the last time I fell for a fake piece of news. I carefully checked the website, and it looked legit. It was MSNBC or NBC or something like that, but it ended in .de rather than .com, and my eyes had glossed over that part. I distinctly remember that one because I had checked it so carefully I thought. Now, I make sure to cross-check before I post/tweet anything, and I wish other people would do the same.

Side note: I really hate all the ‘satire’ sites that have cropped up lately. They seemed to have died down somewhat, but there was a time when it seemed as if every other piece of news was from a fake website. Yes, there’s The Onion, but everyone* knows it’s satire. In addition, it’s not just satire to make up a crazy story about someone without any social context to it. I remember getting caught right after marriage equality was passed by a story that Michele Bachmann’s husband had left her to live his very gay life. That was on me because I was too eager to believe that story, but at the same time, what was the point? Just to say, “Hur-de-dur, he’s closeted!”? Even if that were true, there’s no bigger picture to that joke, no social context jab that they were making. “He’s closeted” isn’t satire–it’s either a lie or the truth.

I do feel a twinge of sympathy for The Onion because it’s really hard to lampoon this current administration. Anything that sounds too outre, they’ve done. In addition, I would hesitate to spoof something even worse in case they decide it’s a blueprint and not satire. However, all those other sites can go straight to hell–they’re only doing it for the clicks.

Anyway, my mom called the other night, and she said, “So, about that president of yours.” I immediately said, “I don’t want to talk about him. It’s too depressing.” I have to think about him and his dreadful administration way more than I want to, and it’s the last thing I want to talk about in a casual chat with my mother.

I’m an empath, and it’s tough in these times. All my life, I’ve been able to feel the negative feelings of others around me, and it’s taken me decades to erect a decent shield around me so it’s not constantly bombarding me. It’s one of the reasons I suffered such deep depression. Not only did I have to deal with my own shit, I had to feel every bit of anger, sadness, depression, and pain around me. It was one reason I isolated myself so much–I couldn’t deal with the constant negative sensation input that I was feeling.

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How to be (mentally) healthy, wealthy, and wise

burnt to a crisp!
Sleep is hell.

I was listening to NPR or MPR yesterday on my way to taiji, and the topic was mental health. Funnily enough, when I talked about it with my taiji teacher, I called it ‘mental hellness’, which I think is often apt. Anyway, the topic more specifically was how can we talk about mental health and being proactive about it in the same way we now talk about, say, how to prevent a heart attack (the example given by the host). One of the guests was a psychiatrist, and he said there was one thing that was most important above all else. I immediately shouted, “Sleep!” I knew one-hundred percent that was what he was going to say, and I was right. He went on to say that after thirty years of practicing psychiatry, he had three linchpins of good mental health. Sleep was one of them, followed by self-compassion and a deep connection with someone else.

There was also another guest who was the director of a cultural wellness center (I gathered it was a mental health center for minorities, specifically black people), and she said it was important to tell the truth to yourself, especially right before you go to bed. If someone wrongs you, you acknowledge it and ask what you’re going to do about it. If you did something wrong, you acknowledge it, too.

I think all this is important, but I immediately thought of a few questions. With the latter woman, I wondered if this worked for people who continually blame themselves for everything, anyway. Like me. What I actually had to do was learn how to NOT blame myself for things that I didn’t actually do wrong. I will admit there was a side helping of resistance when someone else pointed out I did something wrong because I was already so self-critical, and it miffed me that I had to think of something else that I might be doing wrong. However, I also have to admit that part of the reason I blamed myself for everything was the ‘do it to myself before someone else does it to me’ mentality. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. If I was already being hard on myself, then other people weren’t as apt to come down on me. Then, I didn’t really have to do anything because, hey, I acknowledged I did something wrong! That’s enough, right?

My other question was for both guests. How do you help people get to the point where they can do these things? People are notoriously bad about recognizing their own flaws (and strong points much of the time), and we are not known for our self-reflection. So, yes, it’s good to tell the truth, but what if you don’t know what the truth is? I see many people walking around in denial, and it’s exceedingly difficult to get someone to see something they can’t–or won’t–see. In addition, what if someone is in a position where doing something about the truth is extremely difficult? Say, for example, an abusive relationship. I’ve learned that the time someone tries to leave is the time when an abusive partner is most likely to be deadly. So, it’s not as easy as, “I’m being abused. I must leave.” You have to plan it out very carefully and still recognize that it’s going to be hard. On the other hand, though, maybe just being able to acknowledge the truth of the abusive relationship and have others validate what you’re saying may be empowering in and of itself. I don’t know, and I would not dare profess that I have any kind of expert knowledge.

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Sleep, summer, and SAD; three of my least favorite things

Soooo sleepy!Today, I’d like to talk about sleep and summer, two things I really dislike. Or rather, one I hate with the heat of a thousand suns (the latter, which is ironic, don’t you think?), and one that hates me (the former). Let’s start with sleep with a quick primer on my sleep background. I never went to bed before midnight, not even a tiny person. I tricked my parents by stuffing the crack under the door with a towel/t-shirt, then reading for hours. In college, I had a 7:45 a.m. class, and I could never fall asleep before 3 or 4 in the morning. Needless to say. I wasn’t at my best for that semester. My favorite story is how I was looking for my alarm clock one morning (small, purple traveling alarm clock), but it wasn’t where I kept it. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find it. I shrugged and opened my mini-fridge to grab my morning Diet Pepsi and guess what was in it? You got it, the alarm clock. I put it on the sink across the room from my bed, which kept me from putting it in the fridge again. Any time I would go home from college for a vacation or break, I would sleep fifteen hours the first day I was home and get sick.

In my sophomore year, I spent an entire semester falling asleep all the time. During classes, while talking to other people, and while driving*.  It was embarrassing to wake up in class with a line of drool slithering down my chin and nothing but scribbles in my notebook (literal notebook. This was pre-phone/computer to take notes days). It was jarring to be talking to someone and then ‘wake up’ ten minutes later and have no idea what we had talked about. The other person never knew I was gone, which I’ll talk about more in a bit. As for the last, that was terrifying. ‘Waking up’ to be driving 70 mph is not a joyous thing, I’ll tell you that much.

Many many years later, I figured out that while I was falling asleep during the first instance (and still got As/A-s for all my classes that semester), I was actually experiencing dissociative episodes. This is self-diagnosed, and I hesitate to say I actually had multiple personality disorder (in part because it no longer exists as a diagnosis and is notoriously hard to prove), but I’m pretty comfortable in saying that I had someone else talking for me while I was ‘sleeping’ inside. I would posit the same for the third situation because I didn’t crash, and this happened more than once or ten times. How did it stop? I don’t know. It just…did. Luckily.

Fast-forward to after college. I slept roughly four hours a night. It was barely enough to keep me functioning, and I have done a million things to try to alleviate the problem. It’s legend, actually. Valerian root (made me suicidal), sleeping pills (couldn’t wake up), lavender (allergic to it), chamomile tea (did nothing), exercise (nothing), sleep deprivation (temporary boost, then nothing), melatonin (jack and shit), hot milk (nada), and other such remedies. None of it worked. Honestly, the only thing that helped me at all was–sex. A rousing bout of sex had me sleeping like a baby and for a bit longer. Not much, but some.

You want to know when I get the most sleep? When I’m sick. It’s the only time my body says, “Hey, you know what? We’ll let you sleep a little more than usual, but don’t get used to it.” It’s how I gauge when I’m getting better after being sick–when I start sleeping less. It’s frustrating as hell, but it’s a good gauge of my road to recovery. The problem is, right now, this is not happening. I’ve been sick, but I’m pretty much over it. However, my sleep is being stubborn in that after I’ve been up for fourteen hours, I’m dead tired. This is not usual for me. At all. So, I’ve been going to bed anywhere from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. and getting up anywhere from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Last night, however, I went to bed at 3:30 a.m. and got up at 8:30 a.m. My cat, Shadow, who has gotten used to me getting up at the crack of dawn, was not pleased at having to wait two whole hours for his breakfast. You would think he’d be used to being fed at weird times because I sleep at such odd times, but cats are creatures of habit.

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Same song, same verse

I hereby declare that I am formally and officially SICK OF THIS SHIT. 

I’m not dying, but it’s incredibly tedious, frustrating, and exhausting. I have crud in my nose and throat, and my ears and scabby and burning. If I’m not better in a few days, it’s to the doctor for me. That’s a big deal! I hate going to the doctor (and I irrationally blame my sickness last year on my clinic visits), but I hate being sick more. Here is Shironeko and buddy enjoying spring. Here, we still have snow (which makes me happy, but no one else).

In sickness and health

I’m slowly getting better, but I’m fighting off an extraneous sickness. My ears aren’t as crusted over as they were before, but they’re still not clear, either. I’ve been sleeping a ton, which is never a good sign. I did go to taiji on Monday, and while I took it easy, I was pretty tired by the time I got home. It’s snowing, by the way. It started yesterday (Monday) while I was in class, and it’s still going. It’s not much snow, maybe two to four inches, but it’s making me happy.

I need to start cooking. I hate that, but it’s true. I’m starting to have more sensitivities past dairy/gluten, and buying pre-made food just isn’t cutting it any longer. I’ve been playing a shit-ton of a Metroidvania-style game called Dead Cells, and I’ll write a post on it later.

I’m sleeping a ton, which makes me worried that I’m actually getting sicker. I don’t sleep much when I’m healthy, so I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the meantime, my motivation to do much of anything, which isn’t high to begin with, and that’s an indication that I’m still not well yet.

Anyway, here’s Northernlion playing Dead Cells.

The slog

Day whatever of being sick. I’ve lost count and my motivation to care. My left ear is still achy and scabby (so gross!), and the toilet is my best friend right now. I’m wondering if I have a sensitivity to something other than dairy and gluten, and if I had a guess, it’d be corn. Glands still tender, and I’m drinking so much tea/juice/ginger ale/water, I should just be floating around. I have writer’s block, which is frustrating the hell out of me. Everybody knows when you’re sick, chicken noodle soup is good for what ails you. Here’s Maangchi’s version.

A vague plan for better living

all tuckered out.
Were I so cute!

I’m fat. I have been most of my life except for the times when I was anorexic/bulimic. I’ve dealt with eating disorders (ED) for most of my life, and any time I try to lose weight in a sensible way, I plunge deeply into the abyss. No matter how reasonable I am when I first start, my ED-thinking takes over, and I end up in the same bad place. I will fully admit my desire to lose weight has always been for vanity reasons. I don’t give a shit about the health benefits–it’s all about looking in the mirror and feeling gross.

I’ve spent twenty years getting fatter and fatter. I lost weight more than once during that time, but it never lasted. One time it was because I was trying out antidepressants (for a second round), and they were making me feel deeply suicidal. I lost nineteen pounds in two months because every minute I was fighting the urge to kill myself. When I told my doctor, she kinda laughed and said, “Well, whatever it takes” or something like that. I immediately changed doctors because even though she was joking, that was completely inappropriate. Quick side note: SSRIs work well for me on the first go-around (Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa) for about a year. Then, the effect wears off, and I switch. When I re-try the same drug, it makes me suicidal. I don’t know why, but it’s highly unfortunate.

Anyway, I got off the Celexa right quick, and I stopped feeling suicidal, but I also regained the weight. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, and it’s way out of hand. I would have thought cutting out gluten and dairy would have led to natural weight loss, but my guess is it’s the rice. I’ve added it back into my diet, and it’s calorie-dense. Jasmine rice because it’s delicious. It also doesn’t help that I don’t cook and mostly rely on deli food. It’s not so bad when it’s the co-op, but when it’s Cubs? Yeah, not the healthiest food of all. Also, I gave up fruits for some years even though I love them because my mom was very rigid about them when I was growing up. I’ve started adding them back. I eat an orange every day because it’s good at easing aches and pains (as told to my taiji teacher from a weightlifter), and I try to eat other fruits. I have grapes in my fridge right now, but I haven’t been very good about eating them.

I’ve also decided I’m going to do the ‘add one healthy item a week’ thing with the hopes that snacking on healthy food will slowly overtake my desire to munch. Earlier, I cut out chips and popcorn, but I added them back for whatever reason. Side note: There are two ways to deal with cutting out ‘bad’ foods. One, cut them out completely. Two, slowly wean yourself off of them. I’m more of a number one kind of gal because if it’s not there, I can’t eat it. But, I’m nominally a grown-up now, so I’m going to try a combination of the two. One, once I’m done with my current bag of popcorn, I’m not going to buy any more chips/popcorn. Two, I bought individualized bags of baby carrots and a bottle of pickle spears. In theory, I’ll munch on those when I have an impulse for the salt. It’s kinda working, but we’ll see what happens once the munchies are gone.

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Aaaaaand sick again

Well, I’m sick again–to the surprise of exactly no one. I think it’s about 20% allergies and 80% a cold. Achy, alternating between freezing and burning up, scratchy throat that has me sounding like Barry White, and absolutely no energy. I’m tired and sad and grumpy, and I have no motivation to do much of anything. For today, here is ‘Die Anywhere Else’ from the Night in the Woods soundtrack. It’s one of the tracks I had to play in the game–i did not play it nearly this well. This is Alec and Scott, the two developers, playing the song.

Blah blah blah

I have another dentist appointment, something like the fourth one in four months.  The last was for a root canal, and this is for a filling. I have another one in a month for a cleaning, and it’s just too depressing to think about. I know it’s a natural consequence of not going to the dentist for years, especially when I have really shitty teeth, but it’s still frustrating to deal with. I’m trying to be equanimous about it, but it’s not easy. I know there’s nothing i can do about it, and I know it’s better to deal with them now than to wait on it, but it’s still not fun at all.

I’m also grumpy because we were supposed to have a foot of snow yesterday, and we got something like four 3.5  inches. 3.5 inches is not a foot! It’s better than nothing, of course, but it’s a bit frustrating that after the huge build-up, it amounted to much ado over nothing.

I’m also trying to find a new video game. I finished Night in the Woods (will write a post about it later), and it’s going to be difficult to find a game that resonates with me the way this game has. The funny part is that after my first playthrough, I was satisfied and liked the game, but I had real issues with certain aspects of it (including the ending and the big mystery), but then I saw Errant Signals’ video about the game, and he mentioned that it really benefits from another playthrough.

I saw a ton of things in his video that I hadn’t seen in my first playthrough, so I started another game. I made different choices, and I tried to be as observant as possible. I got a different ending of sorts, met more characters, got new scenes, and felt much better about the game as a result. Surely, I had seen almost everything, right? Yet, I still had over half the achievements to unlock, so there had to be more to find. What could I do but start a third playthrough? Which I did.

I don’t want to get into it much here because I will be writing a long-form piece about it later, but I have to say that this game burrowed its way deep into my heart, and I can’t let it go. I adore Mae Borowski the main character because she *is* me (or the me I was many years ago, although I wasn’t as mouthy as she was) in ways I’ll definitely explore later.

In the meantime, see Chloi’s review on the game. It’s pretty spot-on.

By the end of the third playthrough, I was firmly in love with this game, and it’s going to be difficult to find a follow-up game that will keep my interest the way this game has.

Oh, and the music is fucking fantastic. I actually bought the soundtrack, which I’ve never done before (for a game).

Anyway, I will be writing about it for Friday’s post. Keep an eye out for it.

Riding the Waves of Depression

I’m swimming in the sea of depression and riding the waves of crushing hopelessness. I’m having a hard time keeping my head above water, and some days, I don’t want to even bother. Today is one of that day. So, I’m just going to post a depressing video and hopefully wait it out.

I also have a doctor’s appointment to check my thyroid, lie about my depression, and maybe get my annual. Rightly or not, I relate getting really sick twice last year with going to the doctor, which makes me even warier of returning. Anyway, I hope it goes well. Here’s the depressing emo video.