Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

Baby Steps and a Shimmy

fuck the heat.
I can’t go on. Tell Shadow I love him.

First of all, it’s hot as balls today, which means I’m even grumpier than usual. I’ve griped about the heat before, but it’s frustrating to try to make some people understand why I hate it so much. It’s not just me whining (though I do plenty of that); it’s not me being a delicate snowflake (though I’m that as well). It’s a physical impediment to me being able to do what I want/need to do. When I feel overheated, which is at about 70 degrees for me, I can feel the energy literally drain out of me. It’s akin to depression in that it makes it hard for me to move. My bestie and I used to have a running joke about the heat versus the cold. When we went out during the winter, she’d shiver and say, “Doesn’t the cold make your spine crunch?” I’d reply, “No, it makes me feel ALIVE!” When we went out in the summer, I’d say, “Doesn’t this heat drain you of your will to live?” She’d reply, “I love it! It energizes me!” She’s from Florida, and I’m a born and raised Minnesotan, so that might account for a large part of our different outlooks.

Last Saturday, I was in the co-op parking lot when it was 92 degrees out. I felt the energy drip out my body in a profusion of sweat, and I could barely force myself to go into the co-op. All I wanted to do was sit down where I was and cry. I found myself mentally snapping at everyone in the co-op for the stupidest things. I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from being a bitch, and by the time I got back in my car, I was in tears.

I hate having to defend myself, but I feel it’s necessary because it’s hard to constantly be judged (even if it’s not directly aimed at me) for being almost inert in the summer. It’s a weird disconnect to hear other people talking about how gorgeous the weather is when it’s eighty degrees out and wanting nothing more than to shoot a million ice arrows into the sun. My brain slows down when it’s hot, and that’s the worst part of all. The one thing I pride myself on is that I am a quick thinker. Anything that impedes my ability to think is on my shit list. Valerian is another. I took it once in desperation as a way to sleep, and it slowed my thinking so much, I wanted to kill myself. That’s not hyperbole, by the way. It was bad. Alcohol and drugs are also on the list.

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Different Day, Same Shit

Woke up today and the sun was shining, which means I’m a cranky bitch right now. Well, crankier than normal, which is pretty cranky to begin with. The face-eating aliens are back, and they are having a feast of it lately. An added bonus is that my knees are feeling sore and tender, and I’m blaming it on the weather as well because why the hell not? My head is pounding, and I have no motivation.

I’ve been going down the Gordon Ramsay rabbit hole on YouTube for the past several days, mostly watching clips of him eating horrible food prepared to him by deluded chefs. However, I’ve also watched clips of him cooking, and oh, baby. He could banger my mash any time. Here’s a video of him cooking 5 dishes for winter. I miss winter. *sigh*

Anger and Frustration in the Time of Sinusitis

One of the worst things about being sick is how much it narrows my world. All I can think about is being sick and how much I hate it. When I’m able to write or go to taiji classes, I feel emotionally better, if not physically, but it’s far too easy for me to just let it slide. I also get angry at myself for being sick, as if it’s a judgment on my morality.

I know it’s time for me to practice my mental taiji with a dash of Zen. I can only do so much to get better, and then, I have to just take it as it is. I still haven’t been to the doctor, and one reason is because I’m afraid that she’ll say it’s all in my head. It literally is, all in my head, I mean, but I’m afraid she won’t find anything wrong. It’s the same reason I refused to get on antidepressants for the longest time. What if they didn’t work? I considered them my last resort, and if they failed me, then what? What if I go to the doctor and she can’t find anything wrong with me? Then I’m fucked, and I get to feel terrible about myself for feeling like shit when there’s nothing apparently wrong with me.

To throw a wrench in the works, I have hypothyroidism, and my doctor has been adjusting my dosage. The last time I got checked, my levels were too high, so she decreased my dose. Now, however, I’m feeling so groggy, exhausted, and draggy all the time. I quite expected that my follow-up blood test would reveal she had lowered the dose too much, but my levels were still too high. I don’t know what I’d do if the same thing happened again.

I’m used to feeling tired and not motivated, but this is beyond even my level of tolerance. I want to sleep all the time, but I can’t sleep (another one of my ongoing issues. Sleep). I don’t want to do anything other than sit on the couch. It’s not depression–I know what that feels like. It’s just sheer physical exhaustion.

I know I need to go to the doctor, especially since she requested a second follow-up. I just have to make myself do it.

Here’s the latest Mazzy video. She cheers me up, and that’s a good thing.

Death By a Thousand Cuts

good for you and tasty, too!
I’m Asian. Drinking tea is in my blood.

I’m sipping ginger lemon honey tea as I write this post for three reasons. One, it’s fucking delicious. Two, I’m trying to drink more tea as a way to wean myself off Coke Zero. Three, sigh, I’m fighting something off. I hate even typing those words because it seems like I’ve just recovered from my last flu or cold or whatever the fuck it was. I went on vacation and was feeling fine, but then the day before I left to come home, I was really dizzy when I woke up. As I sat up, a wave of vertigo overcame me, and I fell back on the bed. I get dizzy from time to time, but nothing like that. Eventually, I was able to sit up, but I was weak for the rest of the day. In addition, I started to feel a tickle in my throat. None of this boded well. The next day, I woke up and was immediately dizzy again. When I tried to get up, I couldn’t stay balance, and I had to sit back down. Ian had commented a few nights earlier that I seemed shaky on my legs. I had noticed my balance wasn’t great, but I just chalked it down to me being clumsy.

After returning home, the dizziness in the morning and the tickle in my throat continued. I have to add that my left ear is currently, um, gross. I get crud in my ears, then I pick off the crud, and they scab over. My left ear is like that right now, and it’s sore to boot. I put it down to me picking at the scabs, but maybe it’s something more. I really need to stop picking at the scabs, by the way, but it’s a compulsion with me. In addition, while I was on vacation, the weather went from fifty one day to snow the next to sixty a few days later. It dropped to thirty again, and I returned to almost seventy. I’m guessing that some of the shit I’m dealing with is my body protesting the wildly fluctuating temperatures. Yesterday morning was the first time in nearly a week I’d woken up without the dizziness (yay!), but the tickle in my throat was still there. Today, my nose is running like crazy, and my throat is a bit sore. No dizziness, though. So, yay? I did my shortened routine, but I decided to add some sword drills and the first rep of the weight set. Immediately after, I broke into sweat and stopped. Julie always says to stop when you break into sweat if you’re sick because taiji is counterproductive after that point.

I was able to do a full class on Saturday including a round of the sword (with my steel sword. Should have used my wooden sword, but I was so excited to do sword again, I automatically grabbed my steel one), but I paid for it afterwards. My thighs ached, and I was exhausted, but I slept hard that night–so that was a benefit. I took it easier on Monday, but I’m still worn out. I really thought I could add a little sword and some weights, but my body is telling me no. It’s saying, “Hey, we just went through a really nasty flu. You need to take it easy for longer than you realize/want to.” I hate being sick. It’s boring and no fun, and I can’t stop thinking about all the progress I’m losing. I know I can get it back at some point, but having to regain what I already had always pisses me off. It’s such a waste of time, but the other option is to not regain it at all. Sigh.

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Sickness, Hypothyroidism, and Depression, Oh My!

constant criticism running through my brain.
Weighted by the world.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling depressed. I have no idea why as there is no logical reason I should be any more depressed right now than I was, say, a month ago, but depression isn’t logical. I know that having suffered from it for most of my life, but it’s still frustrating to feel it descend upon me and not be able to do anything about it. It’s also weird to actually realize it’s happening as it happens because I used to just live in it before. It was like a warm coat that suffocated me as it clung to my every curve. I didn’t know what it felt like to be depressed because I never felt anything else. Now that I’ve gone several years without being chronically and debilitatingly depressed, I know what it feels like to be depressed.

You know how it feels? It sucks. It drains all the color from the world, leaving it a drab gray. It doesn’t help that the environment around me in the physical world right now is also a drab gray, so it’s matching my interior mood. The grass is brown, and the snow has melted. This is the shit time of winter, which is my favorite season by far. I love the cold and the snow and the crisp bright air. But, I hate it when it starts warming up and everything is dead. All the bugs are flying in the air, and it’s easy to get sick during this time.

I feel as if I’m going through the motions, even with things I enjoy. I’m tired all the time, no matter how much or how little I sleep. This is how I used to feel all the time, and I don’t understand how I dealt with it at all. I hate feeling like this, and it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. I remembered days when I had to force myself to brush my teeth, and that was the only thing I did all day long. I hated myself and my life, and I wanted nothing more than to not exist. I didn’t want to die, per se, because I was convinced that whatever existed after death was worse than life itself. However, everything in my being was telling me that life was a chore and that I shouldn’t be alive.

I’m feeling whispers of the same sentiment now as well. Why am I alive? I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to die, but I can’t be stuffed to actually care about being alive. I have good things happening in my life and in my friends’ lives, and I know intellectually that I have a lot to be thankful for, but I. Just. Can’t. Care. I try to talk myself out of it, but to no avail. To someone who’s never suffered depression–are there any people who haven’t any longer?–it’s incomprehensible that someone can’t just shake themselves out of a bad mood. That’s why there are so many annoying pieces about Top Ten Ways to Beat Depression! and such shit.
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An Ode/Eulogy to Valentine’s Day

Ed. Note: I wrote this on Valentine’s Day, even though it won’t be posted until the day after. Just so there’s no confusion.

I have a complicated relationship with Valentine’s Day. I have always professed to hate it, and I do, mostly, but it’s for more complex reasons than I normally admit. I would tell people when asked (and sometimes unprompted) that I deplored the commercial aspects and being told that I have to buy lavish gifts to demonstrate my love. I firmly believed that you could show your love in many different ways at any time of the year, and I didn’t need Hallmark to dictate when I should display my love, damn it. That was all true and sincerely felt, but there was a deeper, darker reason I hated it so much–it’s because it consistently let me down. Yes, even I, as jaded and bitter as I was, I had bought into the promises and dreams Valentine’s day had fed to me, lies, really, during my teenage years and into my twenties. I wanted the romance, to be wined and dined, and to be made to feel like a queen. I wanted happily-ever-after that was the bailiwick of fairy tales and Harlequin Romance novels. When I was in a relationship during those years, even though I would pooh-pooh Valentine’s Day, I would secretly hope that my partner would surprise me with a magical night. It never happened, and each time it didn’t, I became increasingly bitter. Even though I tried to pretend I was fine with having a low-key Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t. In other words, I was a lover scorned being spiteful towards my ex-lover.

During my thirties, I tried to make my peace with Valentine’s Day, even though I dreaded its arrival every year. I was not in a relationship more often than I was, and each Valentine’s Day was a stark reminder that I was single. Our society is very couple-centric, and it’s not like I need another day to shove my alone-ness in my face. I get enough of that wherever I go–you really can’t escape it anywhere. Back in my thirties, I desperately wanted to be in a relationship, although I would have vigorously denied it. I was an independent, strong woman, damn it, and I didn’t need no man or woman to make me complete. Yet, there was something inside me that longed to be one half of a couple. I couldn’t squash the feeling, no matter how hard I tried. So, much of my bluster about Valentine’s Day was because it made me feel my lack of a romantic relationship keenly, and I hated feeling that way.

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Sick, Tired, and Sick and Tired

Before I talk about my health, which I’m going to do at length, I want to add to my post of yesterday about what you can do to protest this administration. If you’re a Republican in a Republican state who is appalled by what is going on, you can have more impact on your legislators than I can. I know there are sensible Republicans out there who have given up on their party. I can understand why, but your party needs you. More to the point, your country needs you. Please do what you can to slow down or stop this train wreck.

Back to my health. I thought I was getting better, then I wasn’t. Then I rebound a bit, but now I’ve crashed again. My nose and throat are clogged. I have bloody boogers (literally. I’m not being British right now). I’m coughing and feeling very low energy. My temperature is very low, even when I feel like I have a fever. My normal temp is 97.5. Right now, it’s hovering between 95.9 and 96.9. I’m convinced this has to do with my hypothyroid meds being lowered. If I don’t feel better in the next day or two, I’m calling my doctor.

I’ve managed to do my morning routine every day, but I’ve had to cut it back because I’m just so fucking tired. I went to class yesterday, and we did just the right amount of taiji, but I was exhausted when I got home. I stopped at the co-op on the way home, and that just about put me over the edge. I spent most of last night on the couch, which made Shadow (my cat) happy because he could just lump around on my legs as I rested. Which he’s doing right now, actually.

I finished watching all of the episodes of The Great British Bake Off that I could, um, freely watch, if you get my drift. I watched some Chopped, but I was missing that baking goodness. I didn’t know there were other versions of the Bake Off show, and I tried all that I could find. Irish, American, South African, and Australian. There almost exact clones of the original, but they’re like low fat food–not very filling. What’s interesting about the Australian version is that the second season has an entirely different cast than the first season. After watching the first episode of the first season, I understood why. The male host was fine when he wasn’t mugging it up, but the female host was, not good. In addition, the female judge (Kerry Vincent) was horrible. I know the shtick is to be stern and foreboding, but there’s a difference between exacting and being a complete bitch. She was downright mean, and it was hard to watch. Paul Hollywood, one of the judges from the original, is constantly being teased for being mean, but he’s not. He’s firm and he has high standards, but he’s never cruel.

In the second season of the Australian version, the two (now female) hosts are pale copies of the two original hosts. They’re comedians (as are the originals) who make bad baking puns (as do the originals), but they don’t have the charm. The judges are great, though, which is arguably more important. I’m on the second episode, but I’m not sure I’ll watch the rest of the season. It’s just so unsatisfying after watching the original. I don’t feel invested in any of the bakers, and the show kind of limps along. I might go back to watching Chopped instead.

I’m grumpy because I’ve been sick for so damn long. Every time i get better, I get worse again. I’m wondering if it’s something other than the flu or a cold, although both can last a long time. I’m also pretty sure that the stress of the past few months is part of the problem. I have a wonky immune system in the first place, and my grief isn’t helping matters. I’m also blaming my cold/flu/whatever on visiting my doctor right before I got sick. Not only are clinics a hot bed of germs, they asked me if I wanted a flu shot, and I said no. I’m pretty sure I jinxed myself, but the few times I’ve actually gotten a flu shot, I’ve gotten the flu. After the third time that happened, I looked it up and discovered that doctors pick six strains they think are going to be prevalent in the upcoming year and that’s what the flu shot is aimed at stopping/slowing down. There are many more strains than that, of course, so you’re not completely inoculated with the shot.

I hate feeling like shit. I hate being a baby about it. I hate not wanting to ever get out of bed.

I’m going to meditate on Shironeko while I’m resting and try to emulate his chill.

Thumbs Up on My Yearly Checkup

wish my doc were this cuddly
Say aaaaah!

I went to my yearly checkup today, and it happened for the same reason it always happens–I ran out of refills on my thyroid pills. I get a yearly supply at a time (monthly refills), and the clinic will approve one more refill, but then they insist that I come in and get checked before they’ll give me any more. It’s fair, but I hate going to the doctor. Still, it had to be done, and today was the day. I was in a car accident nearly six months ago, and I decided to talk about that with my doctor just to make sure everything was in working order. I also had a few other issues I wanted to discuss with her, so I made a mental note of them before I left.

The session went well. She listened to my concerns and alleviated them. She didn’t think they were serious enough to warrant anything other than keeping a close eye on them. She told me to call her if anything got worse, and she made one suggestion for one of the issues that I’ll try if it crops up again. She gave me my pap smear, and we talked about my car accident. I mentioned that people were saying I should get my back X-rayed just to make sure I didn’t hurt it. I said I wasn’t having any back pains, so I didn’t know if it was necessary and that I’d leave it in her hands. She said I would have felt it by now if the car accident had done something to my back. I was reassured, and I’m glad I have a doctor I can trust. She’s a PA, but I find her as knowledgeable as the last three doctors I’ve used.

I told her about Raven dying, and she was sympathetic. That’s one of the things I really like about her–she feels as if she’s on my team. Even when she’s telling me to do something I don’t want to do such as quitting smoking, it doesn’t feel judgmental. When she looked at my weight and saw I’d lost five pounds, she was enthusiastic and told me to keep up the good work. I like that she’s more the encouraging type than the scolding type–as was the last doctor I’d seen*. That doctor rubbed me completely the wrong way, saying that there’s no such thing as smoking a little. Really? Smoking one or two cigarettes a day is exactly the same as smoking a pack a day? She also had a superior attitude which I didn’t care for as all. My doctor listens when I mention the research I’ve done–she takes me seriously. I feel as if we’re working together, which is the best way to get me to respond.

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Ignorance is Bliss–and Sometimes Necessary Escapism

relaxation is my game
Chillest cat ever.

Today, I woke up for the first time in two weeks not feeling an all-encompassing sense of dread. That’s not to say I don’t still think we’re fucked (I do), but I didn’t want to repeatedly bash my head against the wall for hours on end. It helped that we were supposed to get snow today, which we are now getting. Fat, fluffy flakes falling aimlessly to the ground. I hope it sticks. I love snow more than almost anything, and seeing it everywhere makes me happy.

I avoided most of the news today. Not because I don’t care, but because I was making myself sick reading about the new presidential team. I have very political friends, and they’ve been diligent about posting the latest news. I can appreciate that, and I think it’s necessary, but it can be overwhelming to see post after post about the horrors that is Trump. I’m still having difficulty accepting that this is the new reality, but glutting on the news isn’t the way to acceptance.

Wanna know what I did instead? I did my morning routine, which calmed me a bit. Then, I started a new Dark Souls (original) playthrough, this time as a tank. Those who have read my posts about Dark Souls know that I love the games* and play them pretty much exclusively now. I’ve tried other games, including Shrouded in Sanity, which is definitely Souls-inspired, but they all pale in comparison to the Souls games. Shrouded in Sanity tries so hard to be Souls, but with a few strange control changes. The heal button is Y instead of X, which is puzzling and too foreign for my brain to grasp. Plus, the camera is manual in a way it’s not in Souls, and there’s no shield. You get a sword and pistol, much like Bloodborne, which means you have to rely on parrying and dodging, rather than blocking. I am horrible at parrying. I’m too old, and my reflexes are too shitty for that. In addition, Shrouded in Sanity is a pale imitation of a Souls game, and the whole time I was playing, all I could think was, “I’d rather be playing Souls.”

When I’m a caster, I can stay a safe distance away from the enemy and keep backpedaling from them. When I’m playing melee, I use my shield to block and count on my high poise/endurance to tank the hits. This works very well except for a certain optional boss in Dark Souls 3 who shall not be named, mainly because he doesn’t have a name. No, seriously. He’s the Nameless King, and he’s my personal nemesis. I’ve soloed every boss in that game except him, and I am struggling mightily with him. Part of the problem is that I’m maining the Greataxe, which is very short. He flies around on a dragon, so a longer weapon would be more useful. I’ve tried other weapons, but nothing is as comfortable as my Greataxe, so I’m trying to make due with it. I don’t know why I’m being so stubborn about it, but it’s a point of pride at this point.

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Trying to Remain Mindful When Your Mind isn’t Willing

it's a wrap!
Is there a doctor in the house?

I hurt my hand the other day in the stupidest way ever. I was parking my car before taiji class when I realized that my back windows were open. My new car has automatic windows, and the directions are backwards to what I think they should be in my mind. I was already out of the car and impatient, so I reached into the car and pushed on the button, and it didn’t move. I became even more impatient and yanked no the button with the ring finger of my right hand. Immediately, I felt a tug in my finger, followed by a searing pain. I yelped and pulled my hand away as the pain radiated through my hand. When I went into class, I made a joke about it, but it fucking hurt. I used my water bottle (with ice in the bottom) to ice it down, and I participated in class as best I could. At the end of the class, I asked my teacher what I should do about it besides apply Dit Da Jow (Chinese herbal remedy, applied externally. No opium in this recipe, though). She said to bathe it in warm water or use a hot water bottle before massaging the Jow in. She didn’t think it was broken, and neither did I. I didn’t even think it was a sprain. At worst, it was a strain, but it hurt every time I opened and closed my hand into a fist. I asked if I should put a splint on it, and she didn’t think it was necessary. I agreed; it was probably better to move it as much as possible, anyway.

When I got home, I dunked my hand in hot water–as hot as I could stand. I left it there for several minutes before drying it off and applying the Jow. I massaged it in, careful to spread it all alound the injured area. Right hand, the base of the ring finger and the pinkie finger, and the pads underneath. My hand was painful, but not severely so. I continued to open and close it throughout the day, and to massage it thoroughly from time to time. I took a shower, which opened up the pores, then massaged more Jow into the injured area again.

The next morning, I had a purple bruise on my pinkie, rather distinctive, and it spread throughout the day until it was a ring above the top knuckle. It was stiff upon waking, which is only natural after sleep. I kept moving my fingers, and the stiffness grew less and less. On the other hand, the pain was more on the second day than the first. I knew this is normal, however, as the adrenaline that coursed through the body at the time of the incident drains out.

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